Welcome to my blog
I’ve explored the wonderful world of patchwork for more than 10 years now and it gets more exciting! For 7 years, I ran an online patchwork kits business but last year the pressures of my day job became too much to combine the two any longer.
I’ve been enjoying taking some time out for the last year of not writing patterns, cutting up fabric for kits and packing up orders for my very kind partner to take to the post office.
I learnt a lot with Patchkits – both running a business and also the challenge of designing simple but attractive kits for newbies to patchwork. It also gave me the excuse to buy a long arm quilting machine to help me make up the sample quilts more quickly and easily. But it was time for a change and the work pressures gave me the excuse.
I’m fortunate to come from a generation whose mothers sewed so I grew up learning to sew, mainly on an machine and exclusively clothes. When I was 18 my mother also taught me how to make curtains.
As she had made my clothes when I was at home, I was largely a fabric fondle,r little realising this was a significant clue to becoming a quilter in later life. I was never much good at knitting but took to canvas work/tapestry with enthusiasm and from my early teens made cushion covers, bags, pictures and even a piano stool cover. Although I did some printed designs, I really enjoyed stitching Bargello designs.
When I left home, I began to make my own clothes as I couldn’t afford the clothes I really wanted to wear. It was a time when independent fabric shops could be found in most towns and the choice of fabrics was mouth watering.
When I was in my early 20s I visited the American Museum in Bath and had my first experience of quilts. I was stunned by their beauty, the workmanship and longed to become a quilter. But about to embark on a legal career I assumed patchwork was too time consuming to do along side a full time job. So I stuck to making clothes until such time as bought clothes became affordable.
Twenty years later when I took a job that was only part time, I decided this was the time to take up patchwork at last. The only patchwork class locally was City & Guild so I signed up and the rest as they say is history!
Well not quite – things never go quite to plan. While I got a lot out of City & Guild,such as learning all the various techniques and starting to explore design, I found it wasn’t really for me. Having just discovered this amazing world of patchwork, I wanted to pause here and there to explore a technique more and this just wasn’t possible with a 2 year course and full syllabus. I was very taken with blocks – such a variety and then made even more interesting with the placement choice of fabrics.
So I decided to start making a sampler quilt using 4 patch blocks, each in 2 colourways. This was my first quilt
I’ve always intended to make further quilts using 5, 7 and 9 patch blocks but so far other quilts have got in the way.
Chatting with friends I’d made at City & Guild some time later, we talked about how to make a living from patchwork. Making quilts for other people didn’t seem necessarily the way forward – a lot of work for which one struggles to be properly paid. The alternative of just selling the fabric didn’t seem creative enough. So I came up with the idea of a middle way – designing and making up kits of fabric for other people to make and my online patchwork business, Patchkits was born!
This was at a time before broadband and paypal and e-commerce was at its infancy for all but the serious commercial enterprises. But as they say, fools rush in where angels fear to tread and one great advantage of starting in such early days was that I learnt a lot about running the business before it all took off.
Apart from the technology, there was also the small issue of I had limited experience of designing patchwork and never written a pattern. When I first started, the plan was to buy in patterns and match fabric to them but this proved quite a challenge to as many patterns used lots of different fabrics and finding similar fabrics to those used in the pattern wasn’t easy either. Also I realised that most people who would be interested in kits, would generally be beginners and so many patterns assumed quite a lot of sewing and patchwork skills. So there was nothing for it but to get designing simple bags and cushions -
I did make up patterns from other designers too -