I thoroughly enjoy the gentle occupation of hand-stitched patchwork. The quilt above is one of the ones I entered into the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK, last year. In the show, the title was ‘The Missed Exhibition’ and there was a back story (you can read about that here). Now, in happier times(!), it has been re-named ‘Bright Garden Borders’ because it certainly is bright. It began with a set of 40 Kaffe Fassett charm squares which formed the centres of the flowers. I picked the solids from my fabric collection, and then decided how to combine them in rows. The background fabric (also by Kaffe Fassett) was chosen at a later date. The idea behind the quilt was a re-working of ‘Grandmother’s Flower Garden’ where the background forms a path round the hexagon flowers.
The bright green along the border is fabric gleaned from some recycling: you can read about that here. In the quilt above, ALL of the quilt was hand-stitched including adding the borders, but these could be added by hand.
The finished size of the quilt is 70” (178 cm) long x 58” (147cm) wide. The quilt was quilted by hand, too.
I have now released this as a pattern, so you can make your own. If you are in the UK/EU please follow the link on the website under my photo to my Etsy shop and you will find a paper and an electronic version of the pattern for instant download. If you are outside the UK/EU please follow the link to Craftsy where you will find an electronic pattern.
The pattern is very easy to follow, even if you have never before tried English Paper Piecing (also known as ‘piecing over papers’). Like all my patterns, this one has clear, step-by-step instructions on how to make the quilt. with a photograph, in colour, of each stage (like the one below, showing the fabric being marked out). I also tell you how to layer up your quilt, do the quilting and finish the edges. There’s a useful colour chart and a diagram of the templates needed.
This is the very opposite of a ‘make it in a weekend’ quilt. You need to be patient with this one! This is an enjoyable, relaxing, slow method of making a quilt.
I have just been preparing (and then giving) a talk entitled ‘Coming to Textiles the Long Way Round’.
It took some time to get ready as it involved lots of visuals and I wanted to make it entertaining as well as informative. In the end it was very instructive for me, actually! I realised the extent to which I hadn’t really appreciated the ‘home-made’ clothes, so skilfully constructed for me by my mother.
I recognised that always being surrounded by fabric as a small child was probably very influential. I had to admit to everyone that I had positively hated sewing lessons at school: all that lining up to be seen and then having to endlessly unpick everything. Therefore to have come to a point where I am self-employed full-time in textiles because I am so passionate about them involved quite a journey. The talk tracked the many twists and turns along the road. In fact this great image found for me by Google summed it up nicely. (Thank you to the photographer, whose name is at the bottom of the photo.)
It was interesting to talk to the audience about the love of ‘slow’ work (some of them were hand-weavers). I have to agree; that’s the reason so many of my quilt pieces are quilted by hand, even if they are pieced (put together) by machine.
This is the most recent piece (the pattern will be ready for sale and in my Etsy shop very shortly).
It’s a baby quilt (obviously!) and will be one of a pair. The other is pink (of course) and it’s specially designed for the 21st century when the gender of the baby is often known before the birth, even though the name hasn’t get been decided on! So… time to prepare a quilt to be ready for the big day. It can be machine stitched of course, but the hand-stitching gives it a special quality.
Also, and this is a key point, hand-stitching is calming and relaxing for the maker. This was confirmed by an excellent radio programme on the BBC (Radio 4) broadcast on Monday 17 November 2014 and at the time of writing, available on BBC iplayer (www.bbciplayer.com), entitled ‘A needle pulling thread’. Many different examples of sewing were made, including an interview with a participant in the ‘Fine Cell Work’ programme. He referred to the calming effect of the “repetitive action of the needle”.