Veronique Diligent describes herself as a very small fish in the big pond of stitchery but we beg to differ. Talk for a few minutes to this captivating stitcher and you enter the world of her garden in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne – a couple of hours drive from CGT’s home base. Her love for gardening is entwined with her love of textiles like a meandering vine. Her garden is her muse and she finds inspiration in the form and colour of the flowers and foliage she tends, in the quiet scratching and nattering of her backyard chicken family and the ever present conversations of native Australian birds.
Veronique’s love of Australian flora and fauna flows into everything she touches. The name of her website – Wattlebird celebrates Australia’s distinctive native bird genus: Anthochaera- the wattlebirds, part of the huge family of honey eating birds that feed on and pollinate flowering plants across Australia, New Guinea and into the Pacific Islands.
Veronique’s current Instagram profile picture is one of her favourite native Australian flowers – the marvellous Hakea Laurina – known as the ‘pincushion Hakea’. A fitting emblem for an avid quilter and embroiderer we think.
The Pin Cushion Hakea, along with other iconic and fantastical Australian flowers like Kangaroo Paw,
Banksia, Wattle, Sturt Desert Rose and the Sturt Desert Pea feature in Veronique’s stunning Jardin
de Poche quilt design called “Around the Bush”. A creation of the pandemic lockdowns in Melbourne through 2020 and 2021 when everyone was reacquainted with their own backyards, as she says: “I needed to do something for the amazing Australian flowers”.
It was the process of designing and stitching Around the Bush that led Veronique to first contact us
at CGT. She was searching for 3 colours that seemed to be missing in the vast array of thread
available. The first? As Veronique tells it: “A proper red – the kind that you see in the flower of a
So when Veronique decided to call Katie at CGT, she was hoping she might persuade us to make
these 3 colours for her. Instead, she was asked to design an entire range of variegated threads:
Feathers and Petals. I was so excited I didn’t sleep for two days” she laughs. “CGT threads are
magnificent” she says, “and it was a privilege to be asked to design a thread range – it opened up a
whole new world for me”.
“I first saw Veronique’s Jardin de Poche quilt when a friend attended one of Veronique’s classes”, shares Katie of CGT. “I fell in love with Veronique’s style of embroidery, the way it dances between simple stitchery and fine embroidery and the way she uses different stitches to colour the designs. Her designs make you feel like you are meandering through a beautiful garden, in awe of Mother nature’s beauty, or in the case of Australian natives, her sense of humour”. The CGT team were thrilled to work with Veronique, who made developing the Feathers and Petals range so much fun. It was not without a sprinkle of challenge in nailing the perfect Hummingbird green. It took 9 attempts to get it just right. The 8th attempt almost had it, just needed a little more oomph. So we applied a technique of double dying we'd used previously with Hugs ‘n’ Kisses in our Signature range.It worked!
Veronique finds it hard to pick a favourite out of the range, but does admit to be being “very partial”
to orange and adores the thread Ginger Lily which CGT’s Pam created for her. Another special
mention for Veronique is the thread King Parrot because, as she says, the variegations in the thread
mimic the experience of seeing the flash of colours from this gorgeous bird as it flies through the
Listening to Veronique talk about the plants she loves to grow in her garden, we’re struck by the fact
that she was already in her 20’s, a backpacking traveller from that most European of cities, Geneva,
before she saw an Australian garden and she was living in Melbourne and pregnant with her first child in 1996 before she even began learning how to make a quilt. Look at her now!
Veronique laughs, recalling her journey backpacking through the world in 1988. “I was on my way to
South America” she says, “but I never got there”. She landed in Sydney after roaming through South
East Asia and, despite its iconic Opera House and famously beautiful harbour, she was not smitten. “I
didn’t take to Sydney” she recalls, “it was too hectic for me. My English was terrible and when I
asked where I could get my colour film rolls processed, someone told me I should take them to
Of course, Melbourne is a very long way from Sydney. in the words of Australian troubadour of song, Paul Kelly: it's exactly 13 hours on a bus “From St. Kilda to King's Cross”. But in 1988 she hadn’t quite got a handle on Australian humour. So off she went, with her backpack stuffed with undeveloped film of her travels, to Sydney’s bus station and got on the overnight bus to Melbourne. It was fate. “I’ll never forget arriving on the bus straight into the city of Melbourne at 6:00am: I said to myself this is home – this is where I want to live”. And so she did!
Veronique went back to Geneva and announced to her family that she was migrating permanently to Melbourne,
Australia. Her wonderful Swiss mother, a noted china painter and artist, was unhappy. But
Veronique was adamant and in 1990 she packed up and came to Melbourne to make a new life. She
met her French husband through the Mitcham Arts Society and as she tells it, simply fell into
learning to quilt while pregnant with her first child. She was out in her garden one day when her
neighbour leaned over the fence and asked her whether she’d like to learn how to stitch a quilt and
a teddy bear for her baby. She took to it like a duck to water, working her way through quilting
techniques with her neighbour, including needle turn applique. Veronique’s design style is reflective of her collected life adventures, combining many different patchwork and embroidery techniques.
A year after her daughter was born, Veronique and her family returned to Europe and lived
and worked in Grenoble, France where her son was born. In 2005 the family returned to Australia –
and now they’re here for good. As she tells it “We are now sitting between two chairs” – Australia is
home, Geneva is her history and her needlework designs reflect collected adventures.
Stitchery is different in Europe she remarks: “There are lots of traditional embroidery classes in
Europe and lots of beautiful cross stitch practiced there – but here in Australia you can be exposed
to the whole gamut of stitching including quilting – which is definitely not a mainstream craft in
Veronique sees extraordinary opportunity for stitching in Australia. It’s here that she learned her
craft and she marvels at the range of classes and stitchery groups that thrive here.
Her fluency both in French, her language of birth, and English, that she’s come to know so well since
landing in Australia in 1988, allowed her access to the world of Quilt Mania – quiltmania.com – the
publishing phenomenon that provides the main entry point for stitchers to access European quilt
Veronique has worked as a translator at Quilt Mania’s annual shows in Alsace and in February this
year she provided stitchery classes to attendees. Passionate about teaching and sharing
inspiration, she’s looking forward to this opportunity happening again next year. “What I like most
about teaching classes is when a person comes thinking they cannot do it – and they leave realising
that they aren’t a person with two left thumbs at all.” “I learn so much from students” she says.
“the flow of information goes both ways – between teacher and students – back and forth”.
When we ask her what’s coming in 2024, Veronique talks about her plan to develop a Jardin de Poche quilt to reflect the Four Seasons – and take it to the world-famous Houston Quilt Market in November 2024. When CGT asks her about a tempting Instagram post recently about “something special coming up in 2024” Veronique is discrete. “I’m not going to tell you too much” she smiles, “only that it involves Brenda Ryan’s thread #15 Broderie and Lady’s Slipper VD 12 from Feathers and Petals.”
She has a small group of stitchers – which her computer programmer husband has christened Veronique’s Beta Group: former students and now old friends – 6 women who sit with her trialling
her designs and giving their unvarnished feedback. They’re sworn to secrecy of course – but
Veronique laughs at the thought that plied with enough cakes and tea they’d be at risk of giving up a
few of those secrets. We understand! What could be more wonderfully tempting than a circle of
stitchers and tea and cake?
Special Offer: All customers who purchase the complete Feathers & Petals set, will receive this gorgeous Japanese style rice bag pattern that incorporates every single one of Veronique's colours for FREE!
Shop the ‘Feathers & Petals’ Range Now -→ /collections/feathers-petals-by-veronique-diligent
Shop the ‘Jardin de Poche’ pattens -→ /collections/veronique-diligent-patterns-kits