Sunshine and Shadow quilt, 'Kindred Spirits' by Charlotte
Yde, Contemporary art quilts 2000
Top: An antique quilt
demonstrating the subtle
art of Amish quilts;
Middle: 'Kindred Spirits'
by Charlotte Yde
Bottom: Contemporary art quilts,
a showcase for talented
quilters across Europe.

When did you start quilting? Early in 1986 at an American patchwork and quilting weekend. Ive since taken every opportunity to attend workshops and seminars in any subject. The latest was last August spending four days, no four brilliant days with Pauline Burbidge.

Whats your favourite colour? Back in 1987, research into Amish quilts introduced me to the powerful use of plain, somewhat subdued colours. As our home is very understated in both content and colour, Im currently enjoying the use of textured creams with grey and black. Colour actually frightens me witless; therefore my pieces are usually monochromatic.

How much fabric do you have? My fabric stash is small, despite purchasing fabrics in half or whole metres rather than quarters. At the beginning it was altogether a different story. I could not pass a shop without buying something. And now, of course, there are the temptations of the Internet as well! My sewing room is very organised and tidy as Im uncomfortable with chaos. Fabrics are stacked in a cupboard, sorted by colour First they are washed by machine with the final rinse containing liquid starch. I use the more dated fabrics pieced, as backings. Since taking up oil painting and renewing my interest in watercolours, I sew less now than a few years ago. I also have the distraction of a husband and his other love, a boat.

Subtle colours are preferred by Nancy
Subtle colours are
preferred by Nancy

Hand or machine? Without doubt, machining. Four years ago when purchasing a Bernina 1260 Quilters Edition, the excitement in the shop proved too much. I hyperventilated and had to breathe into a paper bag to regain composure!

Where do you quilt shop? Im fortunate in being close to two of the best quilting suppliers - Country Threads in Bath (Jan Prior) and Patchwork House in Bristol (Anne Trueman and Audrey Browne). These women are vastly knowledgeable, are the most generous spirits and I trust them implicitly.

Advice for beginners? Travel, travel, travel. Attend as many lectures, workshops and seminars as you can afford. Have people give them to you as birthday or Christmas presents. Use the same fabrics for all the workshops you attend and make a quilt with the resulting samples, rather than collecting a bundle of UFOs.

Pauline Burbidge - Still Life Collage
Pauline Burbidge - Still Life Collage,
photograph by Keith Tidball

Most admired quilter? Pauline Burbidge. When viewing her quilts, something different is seen time and again. Carol Mowat - an extremely gifted quilter whom I believe to be one of those rarities - a true artist. Her work contains a subtle, yet surprising palette and she is one of the most modest and generous quilters I know and may call a friend. Charlotte Yde - I couldnt possibly emulate her if I live to be a hundred.

Whats your proudest quilting moment? The preview evening of contemporary art quilts 2000. Following months of organising and sleepless nights it was a triumph. So many exhibitors came from Europe to join us, it was like the League of Friendly Nations. On a more personal note, being chosen for frankly left me speechless.

And finally, are you interested in other textile crafts? To look at, yes. To make, no. My sons have seven kinds of a fit if I get my knitting needles out!

Nancy has been a quilter since 1986 and a teacher since 1987. See her website Fox Quilts for more details of her work.

Heimaey Walkabout - Detail, from Nancy's Quilt 2000 piece
Heimaey Walkabout - Detail, from Nancy's Quilt 2000 piece

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 10 Number 4 - April 2002