Quilting Tales and the Festival of Quilts

Following on from last week’s post, I’d like to mention a few encounters at the Festival of Quilts and tell you about my quilts.

I met a quilter (who I now know to be called Shoshi Rimer) whilst we were both drinking coffee in the area hosted by the fabric company Lewis & Irene (what a good idea) and when she described her quilt, I knew immediately which one it was. It had caught my eye as I looked at the ‘Pictorial Quilts’ section. It is called ‘Eve’s wardrobe’, and I thought it was really witty. I liked composition too, with just Eve’s heel showing as she walks out of the scene.

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I thoroughly enjoyed playing with fabric at the stand of Gulnara Polyanskaya from Russia. Any visitor to the show was invited to create a dress on the dressmaker’s dummy using only pins. I couldn’t resist the challenge; here is my dress and the young woman I met.

It was a real pleasure to meet her tutor, who she referred to as ‘The Master (Quilter)’. The girls had made clothes using patchwork techniques for the Fashion Show that evening at the Festival.

On the Saturday, I had the unusual experience of being interviewed and filmed about one of my quilts. This was being done by Bernina who are making a series of videos called ‘Quilting Tales’ to go on their website.

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They were interviewing a number of quilters who entered The Quilters’ Guild Challenge, which this year was ‘Stitch(ing) through time’. I chose to make a small quilt recognising the impact of the woman who taught me to draw, Jill York. I went to art college as a mature student with a portfolio of embroidery work. I knew that I needed to learn to draw and Jill was the person who helped me. One day when I went to her house, she got me to do a portrait of her and I later turned this into an embroidery on silk, which appears at the centre of the quilt. She was very patient, and had several key phrases which I still remember to this day when I draw (you can see these framing the central area of the quilt). The coloured areas are hand-dyed silk and they are machine-quilted, while the central area is hand-quilted. I called it ‘A voice from the past’ and included my drawing tools (a pencil and paintbrush) in the top corners and my sewing tools, which I also use to draw with (my scissors and a threaded needle) in the bottom corners.

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Hanging next to my quilt was Yvonne Panofsky’s quilt ‘The Garden of My Life’. She too was filmed, right after me, and we fell into conversation, exchanging thoughts and ideas in a way that was very touching. She led me, at my request, to her other entry in the Festival, entitled ‘Grieving deeply’, which was in the ‘Quilt Creations’ section. It was piece that packed a big punch: a crouched-over, seated figure at the bottom of a well-like vessel with areas of red on the outside and very dark grey on the inside. I found very moving indeed, certainly due to the effectiveness of the idea and also perhaps due to our shared experience of sudden grief.

Two other quilts in the Festival bore my name. One was a two-person quilt which will appear in the next blog post. The second was called ‘Flower Girl’ – described as ‘a quilt for a modern baby’ – which I entered in the Modern Section. I used fabrics from Ghana, printed by Woodin, which were a gift from my cousin-by-marriage Veronica.

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(Having heard a talk by Linda Seward at the Festival about what makes a modern quilt, I suspect that this may not have been quite ‘modern’ enough, so I shall refer to my notes before making the next one!)

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