Needlework & Patchwork
I have a friend who is passionate about quilting. She travels on the back of a tandem collecting ‘fat quarters’ as she goes. Cycling across America, a total of 4376 miles, she bought fat quarters in colours that reminded her of the area she had passed through. On return she spent several years turning them into a beautiful quilt. She has now just finished doing a similar bike journey in the Canadian Maritimes and will return with her ‘fat quarters’ to make another quilt. I cannot join her in her enthusiasm for quilting but here in Burnham we have equally enthusiastic and skilled people who as far as I know don’t ride tandems – that isn’t a necessary requirement, but patience is. To make a quilt you first need to know patchwork and our U3A has two Needlework and Patchwork Groups. I think before I go any further that I had better explain that a ‘fat quarter’ is a piece of material measuring 18”x22”; strangely patchwork items are still measured in yards, feet and inches
Eileen Timmins runs both of the groups, one meeting Wednesday fortnightly and the other monthly on the fourth Friday. Her enthusiasm for this craft and her knowledge on the subject is infectious. I spent some time looking at her work where she explained some of the basics to me and showed me her sampler squares. These squares, made from materials in contrasting colours and many designs form the basis of a new quilt that may take her up to 18 months to finish.
Both groups were started this year, one in February and the other a short while later. Eileen says that although the groups are small in number, and there would be room for a few more, it did mean that everyone was able to get some help when needed. Eileen has started them off with the making of a patchwork bag, which she explained is a foundation for teaching the basic ground rules of patchwork: cutting out (using a roller-type cutter), making edges, creating curves, using paper patchwork and much more. The members bring along their own sewing machines, chat a lot, laugh a lot and feed off each other’s ideas.
Some of the work inevitably involves hand sewing. The next project is most likely to be making a ‘jelly quilt’ where lengths of many variously coloured fabrics come in a roll, are cut in strips, joined together, cut again and then formed into a lap quilt.