Barbara Weeks is responsible for for her very own European fabric mountain.
When did you start quilting? In the late 60s I trained in Dress and Embroidery. One assessment piece was a suede patchwork jerkin. Very fetching, I still have it! Teaching in some pretty tough London schools through the 70s, my own work went on hold.
Whats your favourite colour? BLUE! Cant have enough blue or enough shades of blue, though Im learning to put other colours with it. Barcelona! was very adventurous for me - all that orange!
Do you have much fabric? I play shops and pay a little extra to have my fabrics, mainly silks and silk blends, delivered on the roll. These stand in a box in the corner. Then theres a set of drawers with cut and bought fabrics. I collect black and white fabrics, batiks, Japanese fabrics and silks. Plus there is a large basket of sample dyed fabrics I take to show at talks. Dyeing is the starting point for all of my quilts.
What wadding and why? On my desert island with only one wadding it would have to be Hobbs Heirloom. Mainly cotton, it quilts beautifully by hand or machine and is great for quilts or wall hangings.
What machine do you use? I have a Bernina and an Elna. The old ones are the best! My favourite machine that I use at one college is a 1962 Elna. It still purrs.
Whats the most influential exhibition youve seen? Take Four Quilters (1998). I visited this twice in Manchester, and again at Nottingham. I really enjoy quilts given space in a large gallery.
Most admired living quilters? Ricky Tims, Pauline Burbidge, Lucy Goffin.
Do you belong to any groups? The New Horizons group was formed from students from North Herts College. We meet fortnightly and are motivated by the next exhibition deadline.
Any advice for beginners? Enjoy! Be yourself! Dont be intimidated. Join a good City & Guilds course!
Where do you sew? Ive gradually taken over the breakfast room. My main priority is plenty of natural daylight. I have a new studio planned (you may call it a conservatory). This is sitting in the garage waiting for Knobby the builder to do the foundations . . . I hope he reads Popular Patchwork and realises its now official.
How do you reconcile your time? Teaching City & Guilds takes a lot of my time, but is very rewarding and has to be my priority at present. My own work fits around this. When I do make a quilt, I have to go for it and work intensively. Without a deadline, Id struggle.
Proudest quilting moment? On a personal note, my 1998 exhibition collections. I found it very emotional to see these pieces together, knowing that this could not be repeated.
What about your inspiration? Working with creative studies courses strengthens my own visual awareness. Landscapes, contemporary architecture and impressionist painters are all influences. Im working with prayer flags, birch trees and stitched resist dyeing right now.
Any quilting goals? To enjoy my quiltmaking and hopefully to develop my work as new challenges arise.
Barbara teaches City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting at Missenden Abbey and Studio 39 in Hertfordshire. See her website Barbara Weeks for more details.
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