Chun Castle from Chun Quoit by Susan Denton, an inspirational teacher for Judy
Chun Castle from Chun Quoit by
Susan Denton, an inspirational teacher for Judy

When did you start quilting? was fascinated by a friends work and wanted to find out more. In 1992, Val Mihok, (who runs our local quilt shop, The Quilt Loft), ran classes in her home. We sewed sampler quilts by hand. I was amazed at the new blocks each week and their variety. Since then I have been on courses with Susan Denton, June Barnes, Janice Gunner and Patricia McLaughlin, to spur me on to try different things.

What colours do you enjoy working with? My favourite colour depends on the context of the quilt. I like working with darker tones, especially Amish plains and rich bright patterned materials, with more purple, pink, turquoise, green and blue than other colours. My current piece, a landscape, has yellows, lime greens and browns, plus sky blues, with a little purple thrown in for good measure. I tend to use small amount of many fabrics in my work, on the lines of a scrap quilt. I find light colours, especially fabrics with little patterns, the most difficult to work with. They either disappear in the quilt or stick out like a sore thumb!

Excellent hand stitching in this All At Sea sashiko wall quilt for a Quilters Guild AGM challenge
Excellent hand stitching in this All At Sea
sashiko wall quilt for a Quilters Guild AGM challenge

Hand or machine sewing? I love to hand cut, piece and quilt. I am gradually overcoming my fear and incompetence with a rotary cutter, and sewing machine. Making things for my nieces small children that need to be strong and safe has helped me overcome my lack of confidence. They have cushions, and PE bags all very easy to recognise. Last Christmas I received a reconditioned Bernina 1015 and I have found machine piecing and straight quilting with the walking foot much easier. Even my free needle quilting is beginning to look like the real thing! For practice, we are all getting new quilted hot water bottle covers!

Preferred thread and wadding? I use Coates Dual Duty Plus hand quilting thread for hand piecing and quilting. Its strong and easy to thread into the needle and doesn't fray or splay much at the end. I find polyester wadding is easier to hand quilt, and have used Hobbs Polydown grey wadding as it doesn't show if bearding occurs when I quilt my dark colours..

What has been the most influential exhibition for you? This is difficult to answer! One that is still is A Quilt Odyssey 2001 by the Bristol Quilters. Many of the quilters were well known - Sandie Lush, Fenella Davies, Di Goodison for example. An interesting feature was Then and Now showing early and current work by quilters - fascinating. They had also organised a Mens Room with work by Ricky Tims, Colin Brandi, Pepe Turner and many more. There was also a lovely Storm at Sea group quilt, each block with a foundation pieced boat. I spent 4 hours looking, drawing and photographing, with a break mid way for a delicious cup of tea and home made cake!

An early quilt by Fenella Davis at A Quilt odyssey 2001
An early quilt by Fenella Davis
at A Quilt odyssey 2001

What are you working on now? I am developing a pieced landscape, started on a course with Susan Denton. It is my idea of the South Downs near Worthing and I am quite excited about it. It is large, twice A1, and not as abstract as I had imagined I would do, but it has the feel of the local hills.

Proudest quilting moment? I exhibited my quilt Frog Maypole at Hever 2000. When I collected it, there was a note to say someone wanted to buy it. Well, I didn't want to sell it. I had made it for my daughter who is mad about frogs, and it was hers. However, its very exciting to realise that someone else likes your work. Sometimes it is difficult to judge what you are doing yourself.

How many hours do you sew? If I have a project that must be finished I may spend twelve hours in a day. I suppose I average about four hours a day throughout the year. I am now retired and my children have left home, (more or less), so there are fewer commitments apart from the house and garden, my French horn, and my husband who is pretty tolerant. We eat pretty simply and I am not house proud so there can be plenty of time for quilts.

Detail from Frog Maypole by Judy, a wonderful combination of fabrics, vibrant colour and quilting
Detail from Frog Maypole by Judy, a wonderful combination
of fabrics, vibrant colour and quilting

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 10 Number 7 - July 2002