‘Lost in a Quilter’s Garden’ is the title of The Quilters Guild Touring exhibition which has already appeared at venue in Exeter in September and will be at four more venues in the early part of this year. Coming soon is the ‘Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts’ Show at EventCity Manchester, 5-7 February 2016, then ‘The Quilt Show’ at SECC, Glasgow from 3-6 March 2016, followed by ‘Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch’ at the NEC, Birmingham, 17-20 March 2016 and then ‘Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts’ at ExCel, London 7-9 April 2016. There is a piece included in ‘Lost in a Quilter’s Garden’ by yours truly.
I made ‘In the Walled Garden’ specifically for this exhibition. The size is 104 x 83:
This quilt (or quilted hanging depicts an imaginary garden, although the different flowers in it are based on drawings and paintings of real flowers (such as Himalayan Poppies, Buddleia, Irises).
The inspiration came in part from having visited the glorious walled garden at Alnwick Castle, although my fabric garden doesn’t resemble the one in Alnwick. I also thought back to a lovely book from childhood: ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett in which the hidden door to a walled garden is found by the young heroine, so I definitely wanted this garden to have a door with the suggestion of something beyond.
On the bottom left, I have used broderie perse, where pieces cut carefully from a printed fabric are applied onto the background (a technique described as ‘cheating’ by one of my fellow-students on our Textiles degree!). I don’t think I agree; there are times when a judicious use of small elements, like the printed butterflies here, are just the thing.
A quilt is made up of three layers and often stitching unites the three, but not in this case. I love buttons and do, on occasions use them on my quilts: here, all the quilting is done with buttons.
Many other parts of the design, such as the flower petals, have been applied by machine stitch, some with a zig-zag stitch over a raw edge and others with free-machine embroidery down the centre of the petals, leaving the raw edges on show. I used hand-stitching in other places. There is both painting and printing on the piece, usually for a suggestion of stalks and leaves, as you can see in the two photos of details above.
I filled many sketchbook pages in preparation for this piece, but once I started work, I wanted ‘In the Walled Garden’ to develop fairly freely, to produce the ‘riot of colour’ found in a traditional English garden border, such as the ones my father used to plan and plant. All kinds of fabrics were used, including some hand-dyed pieces. The poppy heads are a result of some tie-dyeing, giving darker red petals with pale centres.
Maybe you will be able to come and see it.