How I learned to quilt (and why I still do)
My first blog post! Where to start, what to say? Well, at all my workshops someone asks how I learned to quilt. So, let’s start there….
One New Year’s Eve, about nine years ago, we were celebrating with some great friends. We all decided to make new year’s resolutions to learn a traditional craft. The husbands wanted to butcher pigs and us girls fancied learning patchwork and quilting. I can’t remember where the idea came from, what other crafts were in contention or how we decided. But it was meant to be.
We booked a two-day beginners course at the Patchwork Dog and Basket in Lewes (which is no more, sadly) and were taught everything we needed to know by hand. Which was a good job because, back then, I didn’t have a sewing machine or the faintest clue how to use one. Apart from replacing buttons, I hadn’t sewn a stitch since primary school. But I made a patchwork quilted cushion cover. I was delighted with it and completely hooked.
At home, I made another cushion and started hand sewing a throw quilt. I bought books and fabric. And more fabric. I discovered quilting blogs, Pinterest and, later, Instagram. My friend bought me a sewing machine. And that was it. Like Forest Gump said, I just kept on quilting.
But why? I had two babies, a big job, a house that needed work and all the same life stuff to do as everyone else. Sometimes when I tell people what I do now they say, “oh I’d love to do that but I don’t have time”. They’re probably being polite but it always makes me wonder how I do have time. I guess I make time out of scraps of it here and there – a patchwork of time that I piece together because I get so much out of sewing. I make useful things: quilts that keep you warm and look nice. I tend to make them as handmade gifts. It’s my way of showing love and friendship and seems more thoughtful than an Amazon order (but don’t get me wrong – I depend on Amazon for everything else).
I love the creative process of choosing colours, fabrics and patterns for my next project and changing things along the way. I never know for sure how something will look until I’ve finished it. That’s a big deal for me as I’m a control freak about almost everything else. I crave the time to myself to sew, listening to music or podcasts, faffing with fabric and thread. My mind switches off from everything else and focuses on what my hands are doing. It’s calming but energising, slow and steady, there’s purpose without pressure and it’s not difficult. It’s my me-time, my digital detox, my self-care and my meditation. I can’t imagine my life without patchwork and quilting.