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Gwen Harlow

In 2012 I found a part finished hand stitched hexagons quilt that I had begun about 25 years previously. There was an opportunity to go to the Festival of Quilts and I thought perhaps it would inspire me to finish the quilt. It certainly inspired me, but the hand stitched quilt is still unfinished! I have taken to machine quilting like a person obsessed. So far I've made two quilts, the Pirate quilt and the Fairy quilt. These were for my grandchildren, who love them.

This year (2013) I again attended the Festival of Quilts, this time armed with my camera, and took lots of photos for future inspiration. I also became interested in picture quilts, and bought two relevant books, one about adapting from photographs, and the other about the stitchery. Kathleen Matthews signed the latter book for me, which was a nice surprise for me.

Meanwhile my cousin, on hearing that I had taken up quilting, gave me yet another unfinished hand stitched quilt! This we estimated was done by our great grandmother, or possibly great, great grandmother. It is hexagons again, but smaller than my own, and in a purely random pattern (pictured left). It is almost the right size for the top of a single bed, and I am not sure whether to attempt to finish it or leave it as it is. There are a few pieces of fabric with it that have been used in it. It's in patterned cotton, and I now find that I have just missed an exhibition all about the emergence of patterned cottons. However, this quilt has now caused me to take an interest in the research of quilts in general.

I have briefly checked out the family tree, but this in itself does not help to identify which grandmother began the unfinished quilt. I will need to research the cotton material used and attempt to date it. I have no idea where to start with this, which is what I hope to learn.

Now that I am retired, I have been really pleased to discover patchwork and quilting as a way of renewing my interest in sewing.

2014 update:
I visited the 2014 Festival of Quilts, this time my interest was largely in the pictorial quilts.
I visited the Quilt Museum, and the curator, Heather Audin, was kind enough to date the 'grandmother' part coverlet for me. It turns out to be late nineteenth/early twentieth century so it must have been either great grandma as an old lady, or grandma as a child or young lady.
I have now completed my third quilt, a large one 78 inches square, which I quilted and joined in sections. A learning curve! I call it the Roses quilt, and it is for my daughter in law who really wanted a traditional style quilt. It is made mostly from Kath Kidston fabrics.
I am about to embark on the fourth quilt, for my daughter, which will be a very modern pictorial type of quilt. It is black, pink and silver (her choice). Really exciting.
I have now joined the contemporary quilt group section of the guild. I feel that I will be able to be more creative rather than just stitching blocks, and I have a yen to make pictures.
I changed my membership from region 14 to region 10, as it seems more relevant to where I live.

2016 update
I am now more interested in art quilts, though still working through the pieced quilting methods I have not yet tried. I noticed that it is possible to purchase machines to take all the skill out of machine quilting, and I found this rather dispiriting. At least art quilts are original and skilled work.

2017 update
I undertook the Journal quilts challenge last year (Contemporary quilt group section of the Guild), and am doing the same this year. I made a seascape for my January one and I have decided to put it as my header photo. I feel that the journal quilts are a really good way of trying things out on a small scale. This year they are eleven inches square.

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