Do you ever have that feeling of "oh, that would make a good patchwork design?" Well, at the weekend I saw a fantastic Big Top tent which was just crying out to be a quilt design. Pitched at The Handmade Fair it was a combination of strong colours set against a glorious blue sky, with shark's teeth triangles around the edge and to top it all, decorated with bunting along the guy lines. Oh my, I practically swooned!
I’m having a sort out. Ha! If only the process was as short and simple as that first sentence. I moved home recently (well I say recently, in fact it was several months ago) and of all the 12 moves I’ve done, this has taken the longest. The reasons are various: firstly, the older you get the more clobber you acquire, especially if like me you’ve had different careers, worked for yourself and/or upped sticks and moved abroad; secondly, running your own business leaves little energy for box-unpacking in the evening. (I’m sure you’d rather I open boxes of luscious new fabrics that I’ve ordered rather than my own goods and chattels and dusty tax returns!) And lastly, since moving back from Sweden, much of my life has been in storage, and boy, had I forgotten what I owned.
On my last-but-one move in Helsingborg, we did it the Swedish DIY way – choose a Saturday, grab a load of friends, hire a van and go for it. Friends were amazed at the piles of books, quilts and fabrics that kept appearing from shelves, walls and cupboards. It was like a magic porridge pot that never emptied… However by 4pm we’d finished and were downing beers at the harbour in the late afternoon sunshine.
Fast forward to 2015 and it’s a whole different story. As each box is unpacked, I’m determined to have a prune of my possessions. However, as the many books, quilting magazines and forgotten fat quarters see the light of day, they all need reassessing before the big cull can begin. Just for starters there are 12 years of Quilters' Guild magazines to flick through, plus files of quilting and teaching resources dating back years. There are more patchwork books than most publishers and enough fabric to act as Hometown’s own supplier should Makower, Moda and Michael Miller ever run short.
The good news is it’s as if I’ve inherited a whole new library, and what tempting possibilities for all this fabric. So if you want to help me and my new streamlined self (deluded, but hey...) the pile of second-hand books and magazines at the shop is pretty impressive and continues to grow. All the money raised is being donated to the Macular Society www.macularsociety.org , so come grab a bargain and help me with my unpacking!
I spent a lovely 48 hours for the Bank Holiday weekend with my family in Cambridgeshire. Because of working weekends such family time is few and far between. Arriving at 9pm on Saturday night to a welcoming bowl of hot chilli, fresh bread and incessant chat was like an instant detox.
My niece, Alice, was preparing to head back to Edinburgh University, so the sitting room was piled high with boxes of books, essential supplies, mounds of warm winter clothes and a few luxuries squeezed into spare corners. It was rather like an explorer preparing for an expedition (not surprising seeing as her Dad works for British Antarctic Survey)!
One bulky item definitely heading north is a huge Bargello patchwork quilt sewn by my Mum, Mavis, and this got me thinking about other quilts that have grown up with Alice over the years. Her first cot quilt was individual, colourful and perhaps a curious choice of pattern for a baby quilt. It was a simple, plain Amish Pinwheel - in jewel bright and subtle tones. A lovely little quilt which moved from cot to wall as Alice grew. And the adjectives of individual, colourful and curious were so appropriate, not just for the quilt, but for Alice too.
A 'big bed' quilt followed - this time a string pieced scrappy quilt in soft pastels and and cream. Using a favourite technique, Mavis included tiny scraps, favoured fat quarters and I am sure, newly bought, must-have fabrics. The result is a happy, uncomplicated quilt, used and enjoyed over many years - probably now slightly faded through repeated washings and with perhaps a few snagged quilting stitches, from being dragged around the house and garden in its life as a blanket, tent, princess cape and picnic rug.
And now the big Bargello. This was a quilt that Mum sewed over a workshop weekend - but was never one of her favourites. Probably as she admits because the pattern was super-complicated, although the end result is a stunning quilt. But Alice needed a bigger quilt for warmth, and no doubt a feeling of home and chose this quilt (from the many available!) to take with her. And so the cycle of making quilts for loved ones continues.
So for all those parents, aunties, and Nans out there frantically putting the last stitches into quilts for students. Forget the late night quilting, pricked fingers and unpicked blocks. Just think of the love that you are stitching into every patch and the good wishes that you are quilting into every layer. Quilts are family history in the making and are cherished for years to come.
No, I'm not being ironic. I'm writing this post as a steady stream of rain is falling from a leaden sky. However, my mind is full of sunshine, summer and sea bathing as I visited a must-see exhibition in London yesterday. Called Riviera Style it's on at the Fashion and Textile Museum and has been extended until 13 September.
It celebrates the history of clothing worn in and by the sea over the past 120 years. Everything from demure woollen bathing suits right up to modern Olympic swimwear. My favourites were the beautifully tailored Victorian suits (several featuring a nifty use of ric rac) and the beachwear of the 1940s-50s whose fabric patterns and style would make any lover of retro textiles swoon. The designers at FTM have a lot of fun with their exhibitions. Riviera Style features a 1930s lido and fabulous railway posters from the early twentieth century.
FTM is a brilliant museum - worth going just to enjoy the building. You can't miss it - it's painted bright orange and is just a five minute walk from London Bridge station. Make time for a pre/post exhibition pit stop at the Museum café - featuring pastel coloured Tolix chairs, dinky plants at each table and an array of pastries, second to none. A dose of Mediterranean sunshine whatever the weather outside.
When does a casual interest turn into a burgeoning collection before settling on being an ongoing passion? Well Marion’s love of old quilts has definitely entered the third stage. Her first old quilt, an early 20th century simple squares design was made of rough plaids and pyjama flannels, and was bought at a small antiques arcade in Glasgow for the sole purpose of keeping her warm at night in a beautiful but freezing tenement apartment. Almost thirty years on and the collection numbers more than forty quilts. We hope to share the stories of these quilts with you from time to time.
Bobby-Dazzler String Quilt
This String quilt, was sewn by an unknown quiltmaker in Kentucky, USA probably between 1930 and 1950. It was carefully planned despite using scraps and the four hatchet shapes in each block have been set symmetrically to provide order in a very busy quilt. The entire quilt was hand pieced and quilted in a strong white cotton thread. The patchwork was in poor shape when Marion bought it in 2013. In order to restore it, the quilt was reduced in size and the salvaged fabrics were recycled to patch other blocks where fabrics had shredded and seams had ripped. The binding had also perished and was replaced with a compatible cheery red. During the restoration, one could see from the exposed seams how some fabrics, particularly the pinks and blue polka dot had faded – when made it must have been even more of a ‘bobby-dazzler’! And finally what is a string? Well quiltmakers use the term to describe narrow pieces of scrap fabric, usually less than 2 inches wide.
Don't forget that HOMETOWN is open this Sunday from 11.00-4.00. So no need to have a cotton crisis or be low on wadding, it's all here in-store. Plus if you need some fennel, fruit or flapjacks to go with your fat quarters, the Farmers' Market is open until 1pm in the Corporation Street car park.
We warmly welcome you to our website!
As the most colourful quilt shop in Kent, Hometown is filled to the rafters with luscious fabrics for quiltmaking, heavenly haberdashery and home accessories from Britain and beyond. We firmly believe that happiness is handmade and love to share our enthusiasm for quiltmaking and textile crafts through our regular workshops and exhibitions.
Here on our site, you can see details about our workshops, images of some of the products we sell in store - and more about our business!
Take a look around, pop in for a visit - and give us a call if you need any assistance!
Marion & the Hometown team x