Thursday, 18 October 2012

Patchwork - Pretty and Practical!

These remind me of the fabrics I used for my daughter's dresses when she was a toddler!

I’ve just finished making ‘Presentation Boards’ from all the design motifs that arose from the first Module of the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course.

I hoped that by putting them all together on a Pinterest Board, some sort of ‘Signature Style’ would immediately jump out at me. Alas, it didn’t – but I can identify two main styles in the patterns I’ve created so far and they're just about as equal in number as they are different from one another!

There’s my bold, bright, colourful style, often based some collage I’ve made.

Another one based on the 'postcard' stripes I made in Week 1!

And then there’s what I’d describe as my ‘Granny Print’ style – pretty mini-prints, ditsy florals, reminiscent of the fabrics I used to make my daughter’s dresses in the late Sixties, obviously unintentionally influenced by Laura Ashley.

At the opposite extreme in terms of boldness, brightness and colourfulness!

Laura Ashley swatches - from the archive

Of course, there were a lot of scraps left over from these sewing sprees. I don’t remember where I got the idea – maybe from a BBC programme about quilting and its power to relieve stress - but I used my leftover snippets to make patchwork in the Seventies.

I made cushions and tea-cosies and an outsizzed pocket on a plain apron. But most of all I made little pram quilts for friends who were just getting around to having their second and third babies!I have some photos of them somewhere, but at the moment they are eluding me. They were not unlike these New Baby Congratulations Cards, except that they had a frill of white broderie anglaise all around the edges and the hexagons were tiny!


Later, in the Nineties, when the grandchildren started to arrive, I again got out my patchwork! But this time I made larger cot-quilts that could also double as a play-mat. And I based most of my designs on Islamic patterns and used bright, full chroma colours!

These are photos of two of the quilts

Since I started sketching/doodling in the evenings I haven’t had time to make patchwork by hand. The last quilt I made was in the winter of 1997-98, when I had just moved to Hereford. The Victorian terraced house I bought needed a huge amount of drastic ‘refurbishment’ and until the builders had finished, I couldn’t unpack much. So, although the house did have a functioning heating system, it had skirting board radiators and they were behind all my boxes so it wasn’t worth turning the heating on just to heat my boxes!

I managed to get at a box containing fabric remnants and I started a full-sized quilt for my bed. As the evenings grew colder, the gradually growing quilt kept me warm as I sewed, and I didn’t need much heating, proving that the art and craft of patchwork and quilting is truly a way to save money, in more ways than one!

This door curtain that I made with the sewing machine more recently, didn’t save me money, apart from hopefully saving on the fuel bills by keeping out some of the draughts!

I bought most of the fabrics rather than using up scraps because I couldn’t find one fabric that had all the colours I wanted for my curtain. It took me much longer to make than I expected and it didn’t keep me warm in the evenings. As for being a stress-reliever, I think it was the opposite – trying to get all the corners to lie flat, using the sewing machine wasn’t easy!

But I’m pleased with the way it solved the problem of combining all the colours I wanted!

Patchwork to the rescue again!


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