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The Art of Quilting... also coming soon (ish)

Quilting - what an amazing idea! I remember an old college friends mum show me her amazing creation. From my what feels like an ancient memory of about 20 odd years ago, I believe it was a paper pieced item and very complex. I had never come across quilting until then, and never had much to do with it afterwards, yet it always stayed with me. Quilting is a very old pastime when money was scarce and times much tougher than now. These amazing frugal people - generally woman, due to the era, would craft a blanket out of the tiniest scraps - some so beautiful it is difficult to believe they were born out of necessity. Great time and pride would be taken over them and I want to learn how to recreate these fascinating items.

I am a stickler for old things and traditions, much older in my head than I actually am, I want to learn the traditional ways. Personally I will be hand sewing every block and not using my machine. I have made one quilted item which can be seen here and many of my blocks are 1" square. I love the ethos that something can be made from nothing - you just have to try. Sadly I did receive backlash and ridicule from the local quilting group I attended who could not understand me for two reasons - 1 - I didn't use a sewing machine - part of that is answered above, and secondly my machine eats little things - not sure why, but it does - (it is a quilting machine by the way - so I didn't expect it to, but obviously small pieces taste nice!). Next, they couldn't understand why I used such small pieces especially on plain areas. For me the whole point of quilting is the scrap value element - making an item from nothing and if my pieces are big enough for something else, then I am doing something wrong. I love the texture joined pieces create, instead of having a large void that needs to have a pattern added afterwards. I don't want to finish the blanket in a day, I want to add my blood, sweat and tears - sadly all three upon the insertion of the needle in the wrong part of my finger! I want my ancestors to discover my items and say, that belonged to great great great someone or other who was crazy and loved crafting things!! It needs to be me, and part of this whole journey is to learn more about who I am.

Which will come after knitting? I am not sure which will come first, crochet or quilting, I think crochet as it is easier to move around the house - quilting technically requires ironing, but I don't always do that. After all - the iron was invented in the 1800's and quilting began in the 13C or possibly earlier. I am also a tad confused and will need to research a little more as I have just popped over to the fabulous V&A museum and it looks as though what I know as quilting is actually 'patchwork'. Quilting is several layers stitched together in a neat pattern and patchwork is the art of making tiny pieces of scrap into blankets etc. I will research some more later - I would love to hear your views.

On another controversial point - piecing - personally I do not believe the peasant folk who made many of the patchwork blankets would have used paper. After all it wasn't until the mid 1800's that paper became easier and quicker to make from the now common wood pulp. If a peasant was having to make a blanket from scraps because they needed one, and they generally were not taught to read or write, what use for paper did they even have? Therefore, by my own consensus I believe these items would be made by eye and not paper pieced. The richer, middle to upper classes would have made those, but for fun rather than necessity.

I will attempt to make a hexagonal blanket one day, NOT paper pieced... just to see if I can do it.... Challenge set - completion date, several years I should think!! Not an essential task at present.

The images depict the blanket I created for my daughter when she was one or two. She was crazy about animals and still is. I have plans for several others something similar for my son and then some special items, but more on that another time.... Square sizes are 1" x 1" to a max of 4" x 4" (the image blocks) and variations in between.

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