Last week I was in the North-West of England, to give a talk to Southport Quilters. Since I live near Durham in the North-East, the drive took us up over the North Pennines and the weather was good and the views spectacular.
My talk is entitled ‘Coming to Textiles the Long Way Round’. This is because I have taken a very circuitous route to where I am now! I originally studied French and Spanish at Cambridge University and then worked in educational publishing for many years, including time as a freelance editor and picture researcher. When my children were young, I did a once-a-week embroidery class, which led on to a City and Guilds Certificate in Design and Embroidery, which in turn led in to a five-year part-time degree course: Textiles and Surface Pattern at Cleveland College of Art and Design, validated by Teesside University. After doing teacher training, I taught for thirteen years in schools, before launching my small business ‘Amanda Jane Textiles’ in September 2014.
I shared with the audience photos from each of these stages, showing what I was making (or sometimes drawing) at the time. There was a Powerpoint presentation with photos which was projected onto a screen, as shown below.
Behind me on the table you can see a black suitcase. This was one of three, completely filled with quilts, which I brought out, one at a time, to illustrate my talk. One of my earliest quilts, made in 1994 was called ‘Those were the days when my daughters wore dresses’. It was a slightly ironic title, because in that year my girls were aged 10 and 8 and no longer very interested in wearing pretty frocks! You can see from the quilt how lovely the printed fabrics were in the clothes they had worn as little girls.
The quilt had hand embroidery all round the border and was hand-quilted (with bold, relatively large stitches), as seen below. I still enjoy bold hand-quilting and embroidery on quilts.
Our eldest daughter died suddenly twelve years ago, and I shared with the group the way in which quilt-making helped me in the dreadful months following that event. Our two sons were due to go to university in September of that year and so I made quilts for them in their absence (they were in Australia and then New Zealand on their ‘gap year’). Concentrating on designing, cutting, piecing and quilting engaged my mind and gave me something positive to do. This is one of those quilts. There was some bold hand quilting on this one too.
After the talk, there was plenty of time to talk to group members about the talk, the quilts and their own experiences.
The quilt I am holding (hand pieced and quilted) is Bright Garden Borders. If you fancy making one like it yourself, you can find the pattern here.
The skirt you can see me wearing in the photos is made with my own design ‘The work of my hands’ in a white denim fabric. This is the design close up (it’s basically my work table on any given day!) and you can find the design (black on white) here
There is also a version in grey on white here. It can be printed on a wide variety of different fabrics, but I particularly like the weight of the Dogwood Denim, especially for a winter skirt.
After the talk, there was just enough time for a short walk on the sand at nearby Ainsdale beach. In this part of the country, the sea goes a long way out with each tide – you can just see it in the distance. The sky was blue and the air was cold!
(If you would like me to talk to your group, please get in touch.)