My second interview in this mini-series is with Helen. Thank you Helen for being a willing interviewee.
Liz: So tell us a little about how you started quilting
Helen: I started quilting five or six years ago when I was first off work due to sickness (I have CFS/ME) and after a few months I’d got to the stage where I felt like doing something that I could pick up for a few minutes at a time and easily put down when I became too tired to continue. I was having trouble concentrating when reading/watching telly, etc. but I wanted to have something to do that would be fairly simple but satisfying. Up until then my only experiences of patchwork were my mam making some EPP hexagon pincushions for a school fayre (she spent hours making them and they were sold for a very small amount of money and she was so cheesed off she didn’t make any more!) and machine piecing a couple of simple cushion covers about ten years ago (using some plastic templates and a couple of FQs I’d bought from my LQS) and although I enjoyed the process I didn’t carry on. (Had I looked on-line and found some quilting blogs I suspect it may have been a different story!) Fast forward a few years and I realised that hand piecing could be the thing I was looking for – I’d always enjoyed embroidery and other hand sewing so I was fairly confident of my sewing skills and I realised that I could just do a few minutes and then put it down for a while without losing my place whereas knitting or crochet would need more concentration (and you can’t really stop knitting in the middle of a row, at least I can’t, without dropping stitches or losing my place in the pattern!). I was soon hooked and it came a pleasant surprise to discover that on the days I wasn’t well enough to sew I could flick through a quilting book or magazine or even just play with the fabric or think about future projects whilst lying in bed/on the settee – perfect! I don’t know how to describe my style, I’m not even sure I have one so I’ll leave it up to others to decide! I do know that I tend to like small pieces/blocks and traditional patterns made with modern fabric and also enjoy improv/liberated piecing – I’ve no idea what sort of quilter that makes me!
Liz: What inspired you to make your lovely ‘monster? (I had asked if Helen had named her quilt)
Helen: I’m afraid it doesn’t have a name other than ‘Mam and Dad’s quilt, I don’t tend to name my quilts! Mam and I were in the coffee shop opposite our LQS when she spotted something in the shop’s window and wanted to have a closer look. It turned out to be a panel and Mam decided there and then that she wanted a bed quilt featuring the panel and she knew just the person to make it! (In fact she loved it so much we were ‘forced’ to go inside and look for fabric! When she learnt the owners were trading at a quilt show at the end of the week (and taking the panels with them) she got so worried they’d sell out that the owner took pity on her and promised that if the panels were selling really well she’d put a couple aside for a few days!) Over the next week or so I spent quite some time designing a pattern that incorporated the panels (I decided to use two panels to make the design more balanced) and the Drunkard’s Path blocks and floating squares border that Mam had said she would like to be included – it was working out the sizes of blocks, etc. rather than the design elements that took the time, I kept finding that the pieced borders I’d designed would be three inches too long (or too short!) for the rest of the quilt! After lots of scrumpled up paper and rubbing out I finally had a pattern that worked and after three months of (machine) piecing and six months of (hand) quilting it was finally finished!
Liz: As this mini-series is what I call ‘monster’ quilts, did you plan on making the quilt as big as it is or was it an accident (ie miscounting of blocks)?
Helen: The size was deliberate – I measured my parents’ bed several times to ensure that it would be big enough to cover their king-size quilt/duvet and also be long enough to cover the pillows. The size became a bit of an issue when I was quilting – I would often get things caught up in the bottom of it and the only place I could keep it between quilting sessions was the settee – it ended up with a seat of its own!
I just love those panels. What a nice gift for your parents, Helen.
Liz: Do you have a favourite ‘monster’ that either you or someone else has made, and what makes it your favourite?
Helen: I don’t have permission for these photos and I’m not sure which quilt Lynne is planning to post about (it might be the one I mention) so I’ve included two. Pick whichever you like, I love them both! I’m also not sure of the sizes but I’ve always thought of them as big quilts!
There are many other big quilts that I love but these two kept leaping to mind whenever I thought about the question!
I agree with your choice, especially Hadley’s quilt.
Liz: Now that you have made one, would you make another?
Helen: I already have…..
and I’m planning another one – I’ve started the cutting but haven’t managed any piecing yet, don’t hold your breath as it’ll probably be the end of the year before I get a finished top!
If you want to get to know more about Helen’s quilty life (and Archie!), just go to her blog and say ‘hi’.
Filed under: Friends, Interviews | Tagged: Friends, Interviews |