Quilts at a Regional Day in Chichester

Hope anchors the soul' which was a Block of the Month project for Today's Quilter magazine.

The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles is divided into regions and for thirteen years I lived in Regional 15E (North East). Now my home is in the South East, I am in Region 2. So it was, that I went to a Regional Day full of quilts, in Chichester. The day was organised by the Region 2 committee and introduced by Marilyn McInnes.

The Chichester Cross clock tower in Chichester town centre
The Chichester Cross Clock Tower in Chichester Town Centre

It was an enjoyable and informative event with two very engaging speakers, who each brought cases of quilts to share with the audience at the Regional Day . In the morning, Janet Clare gave an account of how she has lived up to her own maxim ‘She believed she could and so she did’. This motto is embroidered on her (now-famous) apron, which she originally made to act as a kind of work uniform to remind her that when she went to her work table she was going into a creative space. I loved that.

Designer Janet Clare wearing her embroidered apron
Designer Janet Clare wearing her embroidered apron

Janet is a trained designer who went to art college in Winchester. Her work is very personal, often capturing moments from her family life. She usually uses a muted colour palette, such as the one used in ‘Hope anchors the soul’ which was a Block of the Month project for Today’s Quilter magazine.

Hope anchors the soul' which was a Block of the Month project for Today's Quilter magazine.
‘Hope anchors the soul’ by Janet Clare

Like me, Janet loves vintage linens, like the embroidered table-cloth used in the quilt shown below. (See the post here and here about loving and using vintage linens.) The fabric is embellished with appliqué butterflies (and then with other insects, like spiders!). Janet was refreshingly unworried about the need for perfectionism in quilt-making. For her it is all about the design.

Appliqué quilt by Janet Clare with butterflies added to a vintage embroidered table-cloth
Appliqué quilt by Janet Clare

Janet was generous in her offer of hints and advice to other makers. For example, she suggested keeping a beautiful scrapbook as an inspiration source for design ideas. As a designer, she works in a sketchbook (sometimes for days at a time). She finds that this generates many ideas for future fabric designs (she creates fabrics for Moda) and for quilts.

In the afternoon, Gill Towell of GillyMac Designs told us about her transition from being a much-travelled telecomms executive to being a full-time quilt-maker and teacher.

Gill Towell speaking at the QGBI Regional Day in Chichester
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She explained that she had been influenced by colours and designs she had encountered in the places she had worked, including Russia, France, Australia and nations in the Middle East. She also touched on the emotions attributed to different colours, such as pink for love, red for passion and blue for calm. You can see how she has combined these hues in the pretty quilt shown below, which she brought to the Regional Day.

Quilt depicting hearts of many colours on contrasting backgrounds by Gill Towell, image copyright GillyMac Designs
Quilt by Gill Towell, image copyright GillyMac Designs

Gill’s work makes bold use of colour, as seen in the table runner below, which she also brought with her, to illustrate her talk. She encouraged all the members of the audience to grow in confidence by understanding better how the colour wheel works. Gilly often teaches children and also cited their freedom in choosing colours as an influence on her own use of colour.

‘Summertime’ table runner by GillyMac, image copyright: GillyMac Designs

The day was well-supported by traders, including The Eternal Maker who (oh joy) was selling self-selected scrap bags. I filled one in the morning and could not help but go back and fill another in the afternoon!

Useful links:

Janet Clare’s website is: http://www.janetclare.co.uk/

Gill Towell’s website is: https://www.gillymacdesigns.com/

The Eternal Maker’s website is: https://eternalmaker.com/

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am a quilt-maker, designer, writer and teacher.

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