I began to patchwork and quilt in the 1970’s using all my material scraps and made a cot quilt for my son. It didn’t get used much because my husband and I began our overseas life working in helping to develop water resources for irrigation . I spent 18 years doing this and apart from the work, it was so enriching with respect to fabric styles. For example being 5 years in Indonesia in the 70s when batik was just beginning to move away from the traditional methods to becoming free and colourful immediately meant that you experimented with patterns for patchwork. A couple of years in Cairo exposed me to the tent makers and I managed to persuade one of their workers to make me a bedspread with subtle colours not the usual reds and yellows. A further 10 years in Southern Africa (Lesotho, Botswana) introduced one’s eyes to strong vibrant patterns and colour. These are all around us nowadays but then it was very strange. Wherever I moved to another abode, my little portable dual voltage Elna went on the plane as hand baggage.”
You have been a supporter of the Quilt SOS project for a number of years now – what made you get involved?
“When one has been making quilts for some time, you will always come to a point in your life that your family doesn’t actually need any more. The grandchildren have had their baby quilt, their fun quilt and even their teenage one. You also notice that they don’t want another one – they love the old one you made and regardless where they are, it is nearly always in their room somewhere. On the other hand, you have now retired from full time work and have more time. So SOS is the ideal home for me to continue with my hobby. It is doubly special because with my career in development I have been exposed to hardship where youngsters need something to hold onto and realise that it is theirs and that someone loves them.”
“The time I take making a quilt very much depends upon the fabric I have in my stash. Many of the elderly ladies from the Quirky Quilters have been very generous in donating their Liberty fabric to me. I take any, old skirts, blouses etc. along with lengths they had bought in the past meaning to make something but never got round to it. I then pin them up on my design wall and off I go. I love doing Foundation Piecing because it means my points look neat. Frequently there won’t be enough of one particular pattern and so I have to adapt the design with either a central panel, an odd border etc. or even buy a fat quarter to complement. This is the fun part because you feel that you are abiding with the traditional essence of quilt making. Generally I take about 3 weeks on the patchwork and another couple of weeks to quilt. I like to hand quilt the borders if appropriate because it makes the quilt appear so much softer. This also keeps my knees warm when I am watching the tele in the evenings.”
We love the colours you put together – what inspires your colour choices?
“We all have some favourite quilt colours. We always say in our club that we can identify who made a quilt just by their colour palette. I think I have been influenced by the Art & Craft movement. I love muted shades of blue, teals, purples, dusky greens. I rarely use strong primary colours – I find them too strident and it is difficult for me to promote that ‘warmth factor’. I have also noticed that I rarely use pinks.”
Which is your favourite of the quilts this year and is it hard to part with them?
“My favourite quilt this year is the purple, green teal one- apart from being my favourite colours, it was also my favourite technique, foundation piecing. This was just how I like to work, not enough in my stash to make every hexagon in purple and green but I do have some batik around which looks great. Oh dear, I haven’t enough for the border – oh yes I can add a bit of that skirt my friend gave me. The pattern of the batik cried out for me to practise free motion quilting whilst the foundation pieced areas needed hand quilting. Of course it is always hard to part with something you have loved making but that it the point of SOS- we are passing on our love.”
Which is your favourite quilt pattern to use or are they all your own designs?