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Down Under...

Down Under...

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I’m told that there’s an acquired art to getting the nasally twang just right when saying that.  (Y’all is definitely easier.)

Welcome to Aussie Week on The Cutting Table.  While there are a few in the office who believe that this is nothing more than a shameless ploy for a couple of us to wangle our way into a trip to Australia - we thought we being a little more subtle than that! - there really is a lot to chat about.  Australia and Texas have a lot in common!

If nothing else, folks from other places think the two dialects/accents are either really cool or completely in-decipherable. 

We’ve both got deserts and coastline, though Australia has a whole lot more of that.  Surfing is big in Oz - that’s what locals call Australia.  In Texas… not so much.  But the University of Texas has a great swim team - and some of the best swimmers in the world come from Australia.  (This is Ian Thorpe.)


We’ve both got some very strange critters - wombats, koalas and kangaroos vs. javelinas and wild boars.  Did you know that there are more 'roos in Australia than people? 


In the completely weird critter category, I think we’re at a draw.  They’ve got the platypus...


And we’ve got the armadillo. 


We’ve both got some very wicked, dangerous snakes - pythons vs. water moccasins and rattlesnakes.  Cattle?  They’re not odd but both of us have a lot of them.  That may or may not be related to a shared love of barbeque.

I know… your first thought was to “put another shrimp on the barbi”, but as a Gulf-state, we’ve got great shrimp too.  With barbeque, it’s no surprise that we both also love beer.  And sports - playing and watching.  Though we call our “football” by different names, it’s definitely part of the culture Down Under and in the Lone Star State. 

Australia and Texas are also home to many very talented quilters - more on that (them?) later this week.  And both are home to family-businesses devoted to Moda Fabrics.  The Dunns.  The Keoghs.  Moda Fabrics.  PK Fabrics.


After more than 30 years in the textile business, Patrick Keogh got the idea of becoming the sole distributor of Moda Fabrics in Australia.  As one of the buyers for the Patchwork Division of Charles Parsons, he'd met - and gotten to know - the Moda crew at Quilt Market.  A more-than-twenty-year friendship with Mark Dunn helped facilitate the new venture and PK Fabrics opened for business in 2007.

A perfect match, don't you think?


The showroom at PK Fabrics - these are the most recent collections in capsets or fabric headers.

The first collection shipped from the warehouse was Roman Holiday by 3 Sisters.


And yes, the Keoghs till waiting to meet those elusive siblings. (Aren’t we all!)

Patrick recalls, “I always remember how many quilting-cotton distributors there were at International Quilt Market when I first started attending.  Maybe there were ten, including Moda.  Now there are over a hundred!”

Shane - Patrick’s son - has been working in the business since it began - as has his Mom.  She’s known as the “Bagger”, meaning she puts the double-rolled fabric in plastic bags and seals them.  Shane teases that it’s a bit of a running joke but it is an important job. 

No, this isn't Mom - Mum - at the rolling machine.


The fabric industry wasn’t exactly Shane’s plan - it just kind of happened.  After working for many years in Auto Electrical, other circumstances led to a change in direction.  His first “quilt market” was in Melbourne, Australia in November of 2007 - he thought it was “huge”. 

“All these people are here to buy fabric?… And they really want these ‘pre-cut’ things?”

(Yes.  And yes.)

Attending Fall International Quilt Market in Houston in October 2008 “blew him away”.  The sheer size of the market… and Sample Spree.  That was definitely an eye-opener.

Shane says that while PK Fabrics isn’t what he always wanted to do, he’s now exactly where he wants to be - “working for the family business and that includes [their] extended family at Moda.”


Though it has led to some funny situations at the Customs desk.  Two grown men with beards - and one with “ink” - are asked the purpose of their travel to the US.  Replying that they’re coming to the US for a quilt show is met with blank stares and a question - “a quilt what?” 

“A quilt show… a textile show.  You know, a ‘quilt’ where you sew all the fabric together?”

You don’t look like quilters” is the common reply.  To which they respond, “No.  No, we don’t.” 


One of the things I was most interested to ask them was about the differences between US and Aussie quilters.  As a group, several of us think that Aussie quilters are a bit more daring with color and pattern, and we wondered if that was a cultural influence, or something else. 

Patrick and Shane agree that some of it is cultural as the quilting industry hasn’t been around as long in Australia as it has here.  Some of the “tradition” isn’t as well established, leaving quilters more open to try new styles and themes. 

Shane goes on to say that “...with a population that is one-tenth that of the US, an Aussie quilter is more likely to be noticed when they quilt 'outside the box'.” 

If you're fortunate enough to travel to Australia and you'd like to find quilt shops that carry Moda fabric, be sure to check the PK Fabrics website for a listing of shops.

Do you know what one of my favorite parts of chatting with Patrick and Shane was?  Given their long history with Moda and the crew... they've got pictures from Moda Parties past.


There are more but I really like my job.

We've got more coming - we're checking in with a couple of our favorite Aussie quilters and I'll share some of my favorite online and Instagram Aussie quilters.  It's "eye-candy" of the best kind.

That's it for today - Happy Monday!