It’s three weeks since I last showed you my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt, which means it’s time for another Hand Quilt-a-long. Luckily Kathy, who organises the HQAL predicted that with all the festive preparations many of us would have little to share, she was certainly spot on with me!! However she had a brilliant idea to share a bit about how you got into quilting…as it happens I did a talk at my Embroiderers Guild last month which I was planning to share with you, called ‘My Journey in Quilting’. I managed to flannel it out for about 45 minutes, so here’s a precis!
I was a bit surprised last year to be asked to do a talk on quilting, I still thought of myself as a bit of a newbie in quilting, there’s so many things I’m still learning or trying to master, then I started counting how many quilts I’ve made…OK maybe I’m a WIP instead (work in progress). Even I was surprised to see just how many I had to show them!!
My journey started really right back at the beginning with my childhood. One of my earliest recollections is being sat down with a square of binca and some embroidery threads, I was probably about three years old at the time, my mum was probably trying to keep me quiet!
I grew up in a crafty household, my mum was always making things, trying new crafts, when I was 5 and started school she started teacher training college, specialising in arts and crafts with primary school kids. I think she used to practise on us, we did potato printing, tie-dye in the kitchen, basket weaving (soaking lengths of cane in the bath) we made pots from the clay in the garden. My dad made us weaving frames from a square of wood and lots of nails.
My mum used to get the Needlewoman magasine and if we saw something we liked, she encouraged us to make it, her favourite phrase was ” There’s no such thing as I can’t ” this is how I came to do my cockerel embroidery at the age of 7 and the Lyre bird which I started the following year (but it took me 42 years to finish!!)
My mum also used to get totally absorbed in one craft, get all the gear, books, join a club, or if there wasn’t one she would start one, she would continue for several years before moving on to the next craft. I would join in…lace making, spinning, smocking, embroidery and quilting! She also taught her school kids, especially the craft club, they did lace making and quilting.
When I was about 20 I went to an exhibition with her, I seem to remember it was entries to a Laura Ashley craft competition. In those days (1980’s) Laura Ashley was a bit like Cath Kidstone is now. I saw a quilt, “Ooh, I like that!” …”Well make one” was my mums response.
So I did! My first quilt was a very simple nine block pattern with a Laura Ashley rose in the centre. It was machine pieced and hand quilted, in those days people still turned their noses up at machine quilting, rather than appreciating it as an art in it’s own right. I rather rashly decided to make a double size quilt so it took me forever to quilt it. I still have it, though it’s thin and faded. I haven’t got a full photo of it but it’s second to bottom in the pile!
Roll on a few more years, I made baby quilts and Christmas wall hangings, still all hand quilted.
Move on to 2012, I went to a WI exhibition, up at Kipling Hall I think, there was a beautiful stained glass window quilt on display…”Ooh, I like that”…so I made one! It took me longer than it should have to work out a design – we have a stained glass window at home and that was my basis for the design. I’m particularly proud of this as I made it before I had any equipment, so measurements were done with a tape measure and cutting with a pair of scissors – those bias strips cover a multitude of sins!
I still didn’t really catch the bug until 2015 when I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate. One of the stalls, ‘Hannah’s Room’ had a gorgeous batik quilt hung on display, …”Ooh, I like that”… there’s definitely a theme here, maybe I shouldn’t go to shows!! I bought the batik layer cake, extra fat quarters and the book and went home and made it! It was probably another two years before I finally finished the quilt as it took me that long to find the right shade of green for the inner border! I called it Pimms and Lemonade.
My daughter was impressed and asked me to make a black and white version for her newly decorated bedroom. It’s surprising difficult to find a variety of the ‘right shade’ of black and white! We added a bit of grey blue and she was happy with it.
Around this time I also discovered quilting on the internet, namely Pat Sloan, she does several free quilt-a-longs through the year, great instructions and a great on line community on facebook too. Everyone is encouraging and ready with little tips, it helps seeing all the different colour ways too. My first BOM was vacation time, I was really encouraged by how it came out and I learnt loads.
At the 2015 WI Centenary show I went to a talk by Stuart Hillard (of the first GBSB programme) I chatted to him afterwards for ages as he showed me how to spray baste quilt and then machine quilt on a domestic machine, he was really encouraging.
Soon after it was my son’s 21st, he asked me for a quilt, I was quite touched! I chose a chevron design in colours I thought he would like. It’s probably the most demanding quilt I’ve machine quilted as I decided to quilt down the chevrons with different patterns – manoevering the quilt like that was challenging to say the least!
2016 I started quilting big time, I did three BOM’s. I did another Pat Sloan one called my Secret Garden which my mum has now. I also fell for a Lynette Anderson quilt called Anderson’s Farm. This was an applique quilt and I realised pretty quickly that I couldn’t manage the needle turn needed for this quilt. I reverted to bondaweb and blanket-stitch in order to have a completed quilt. This BOM also made me realise how much I appreciate the on-line community of other BOM’s as with this one I really felt on my own.
The third BOM of 2016 was the Splendid Sampler, again organised by Pat Sloan (and Jane Davidson). This time a new block was released twice a week. There were 100 6″ blocks designed by 80 different quilters, so there was all sorts of techniques I’d never even heard of before, like foundation paper piecing! I learnt a huge amount. It was also doing the little embroidered blocks that made me realise I could do ‘proper’ embroidery (not just cross-stitch) and thereby encouraged me to join the Embroiderers Guild. I also learnt the technique Quilt As You Go to put it all together.
I then started to make quilts for friends, a jelly roll race one was for my walking buddy. We joked that the light squares were the food stops and the black squares were the comfort breaks! It was all in the purples and greens of the moors we love to walk on.
Helen wanted a bright and cheerful one to brighten up her Army room, she was into elephants at the time so this one is called Nelly’s Parade. I also made quilts for close family friends
After my experience with the Anderson Farm quilt I wanted to learn how to do applique properly, so I signed up for Sarah Fielke’s Down the Rabbit Hole quilt, again there was a great on-line community and support from Sarah. It’s been a huge quilt to make and I’m still quilting it, I love it! I’ve even signed up for Sarah’s next one!
My latest quilt to finish was A Quiet Charm, a hummingbird themed quilt for my niece. I found the individual bird patterns on Craftsy and then designed the quilt around them myself. She loves it!
WIP; I’m stitching the Splendid Sampler 2, though I probably won’t make all 100 blocks, I’m also stitching the Spring Wreath BOM by Raggedy Ruff Designs, learning machine embroidery along the way. DTRH will probably take some time to quilt! I’ve already decided that the Coming Home quilt, Sarah’s next one, is off to the long armer to be quilted when it’s done!
So that’s it, my life in quilting! It was quite amazing when I started collecting various quilts back from people I’d gifted them to as I had about 20 to show my guild, and I know there’s at least another half dozen around the world!
So maybe not a newbie any more!
Hand Quilt Along Links
This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to shareand motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress andencourage one another. If you have a hand quilting project and would liketo join our group contact Kathy at the link below.
Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Susan, Nanette, Sassy , Edith, Sharon, Karrin, and Gretchen