The story so far
Enjoying the exploration of everything patchwork and quilting has to offer
I’ve been hooked on the wonderful world of patchwork since 2002 and it gets more exciting all the time! All that fabric to buy and fondle – all those projects to make!
I first encountered patchwork when I was in my early 20s and I visited the American Museum in Bath. 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.
Twenty years later when I took a job that was only part time, I felt I had time to start doing 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 do they? 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 – hand quilted because I didn’t know how to machine quilt and put together with the help of Lynne Edwards sampler book.
With my creativity fired, I was off and for couple of years made quilts – the two below were made for my god daughters – and I entered a wallhanging inspired by the Bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar into a WI Federation show.
After a few years, and with the house filling with quilts, I started designing cushions, bags, cot quilts etc and making up them up into kits for other people to make and my online patchwork business, Patchkits was born! Its aim was to help anyone to start patchwork easily – no need for rotary cutters and cutting mats as I provided everything cut ready to sew. And I included everything they needed (including needle and thread) so they could start as soon as the kit arrived. There were more advanced patterns and kits available for people to do once they had got the bug. I also started running workshop and providing one to one tuition at home and giving talks and workshops to quilt groups, shops and even ran a couple of complete starter classes for the Essex Federation of WI’s. I found that side of the business great fun and really rewarding.
This was at a time before broadband and paypal and e-commerce was at its infancy for all but the serious commercial enterprises. And patchwork kits weren’t that common in the UK either – I like to think I helped to start that trend here. I ran Patchkits for 7 years but in 2014 the pressures of my day job became too much to combine the two any longer – cutting up fabric for kits after work when you aren’t getting home till 7 or 8 at night to fulfil orders to go out the next day really became quite exhausting.
And so patchwork went back to being a hobby and I enjoyed make quilts that were not destined to be samples or writing patterns, cutting up fabric for kits and packing up orders!
Since the early days I’ve found patchwork and quilting to be not only a creative outlet but wonderfully relaxing (well apart from when it goes wrong and needs to unpicked!). I find myself completely in the moment and all the cares and worries that seem to be part of life, are put to one side for a little while. It’s wonderful therapy isn’t it? I love not only the amazing colours I work with but the fact that fabric is tactile – and when quilted, becomes wonderfully textured too.
Some years ago my partner and I decided there was more to life than our day jobs and we wanted a slower pace of life, doing the things that made us feel fulfilled and alive. For me that is working in the garden, spending time with my horses and of course patchwork & quilting. We moved up to Suffolk and began to make the transition to a new life. Having converted the upstairs of an outbuilding into a sewing studio, once more I have a dedicated space to dream about patchwork projects, to fondle fabric, sew and quilt. And I’ve been able to get my long arm quilting machine up and running again – that has been bliss – not only because I’ve had a pile of quilt tops to quilt but because I love long arm quilting! “Quilt as desired” for me is an invitation to complete either what I or someone on else has poured hours of time and often real emotion into creating. Only when it is quilted, is a quilt complete, finished and ready to reveal to the world!
Like many quilters, while quilting on your own is fine, it’s also great being part of a quilt group too. I very much enjoyed being a member of two local groups when I lived in Essex. There’s nothing close by here in Suffolk and while I’m successfully resisting the urge to set one up myself, I’ve rejoined the Quilters Guild which has enabled me to take part in regional events and join the Suffolk Modern Quilt Group. Being on the border with Norfolk, I also belong to the Norfolk Quilt Group. In September 2019, I was co-opted to the board of trustees of the Quilters Guild at the national level for a period of three years and am really looking forward to lending my more commercial and business skills to assisting in the delivery of its strategy and goals for the benefit of its members and the wonderful collection of quilts that it holds.