The Quilters' Guild of the British Isles has received £89,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting three-­‐year oral history project. Talking Quilts: Saving Quilters’ Stories will be led by volunteers and aims to document, preserve and share the UK’s rich and diverse quilting heritage and the stories of quilters.

Talking Quilts will capture the stories of today’s quiltmakers in their own words through recorded and transcribed interviews, together with photographs of their chosen quilt, creating a freely available digital archive. Volunteers will be trained in oral history methods for interviewing, transcribing and digital data storage. It will provide opportunities for the public to learn about our quilting heritage and the importance of quilting as a diverse social practice and its emergence as a creative art form.

We have a rich quilting heritage in the UK that dates back hundreds of years. Whilst there are excellent sources of published information about our textile history, we lack an archive that captures the memories and stories of everyday quilters. As communications are increasingly digital, the need for recording and preserving stories for posterity has become ever more important.

The project is supported by The Quilters’ Guild and is inspired by the Quilters’ Save Our Stories (QSOS) project organised by Quilt Alliance in the USA, which, for 11 years has recorded more than 1,000 interviews across the country and archived these at the Library of Congress in Washington. In the UK, Talking Quilts builds on a successful pilot study carried out using adapted QSOS methods by Dr Pauline Macaulay with volunteers from London Quilters.

“We are so fortunate to have the support of Heritage Lottery Fund to capture, document and share our quilting history, especially when interest in quilts and quiltmaking is growing across the UK”, said Dr Pauline Macaulay, Project Lead Person, Talking Quilts.

Dr Fiona Spiers, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, commented: “Quiltmaking has a strong traditional craft base and broad volunteer following. It is important that we recognise and celebrate the commitment and passion of quiltmakers and their contribution to the UK’s heritage. The Talking Quilts project will preserve this unique heritage by bringing its stories to life, letting everyone get involved and share their past.”