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Phyllis Shead

Quilting greetings to everyone!
My first experience of Patchwork was via my mother who used to create crazy patchwork pieces on her manual sewing machine in the 1970s where everything was topstitched to keep it in place. I remember sporting a rather jolly waistcoat she had created having applied it over a denim garment I had at the time. Several years passed and in the early 80s I remember being shown some EPP by one of my nursing colleagues. It looked pretty but I can’t say I was impressed, it looked like far too much hard work. Several more years passed. I had two sons and a career in midwifery by then, but I started tinkering. I purchased a Husqvarna sewing machine costing £500 in 1987 (quite a lot at the time I think.) I distinctly remember my friend saying ’Buy the best you can afford'. This approach served me well and I had it for many years. I made a bag for my exercise mat composed of squares. it was quite pretty. I also made a cot frill and quilt top (like a pie crust) for my first son’s Moses basket, so cute! My first effort at a large quilt (I like to go large) was made of simple nine patch blocks composed of John Lewis polycotton sheeting. I quilted it on my new machine using a walking foot, as you’re supposed to, it was quite hard dragging it through the machine, but I pressed on relentlessly. When I finished, I noticed that I had incorrectly mounted the foot and the top hook had not been engaged! Grrr! won’t do that again, live and learn.

Further time went by when hardly any creative work was done as I was hard-pressed with two children and working nightshifts as a Nurse and Midwife. I also took time out to do an Open University Arts Foundation Course and learn calligraphy. In my 40s I had a career change, writing medical reports and working on computer safety reporting systems for drug side-effects (Pharmacovigilance). Having jumped from one high-pressure occupation into another one ( albeit office-based), it was very important for my mental health to have a creative and relaxing outlet. I decided to invest in some better equipment, and It was now the age of the rotary cutter! I was thankful to be able to treat myself to my first Bernina (yay!). Being fascinated by my new work arena (computerised systems) I was turned onto computer aided design software (CAD). Later I acquired EQ5 and Quiltpro. Many happy hours were spent creating virtual quilts with no actual sewing taking place!
Over the years I’ve tried many in different techniques; using templates, foundation piecing, shibori and indigo dyed fabric to mention a few, many projects which outstripped my technical ability at the time. I got very good at unpicking....
At some point I had to mentally step back and relax my unrealistic standards. You have to ask yourself ‘For whose benefit am I doing this?’ It’s for my enjoyment and not for inspection by the quilting police. Since then many projects have been started and some of them even finished.... see below made from a kit purchased when visiting a friend in Minneapolis USA. ‘Simply Fun’ by Glad Creations Inc. I went to evening classes with to work on my precision for this one. (Yellow background).

A quilting friend of mine once said that really, we have two hobbies; patchwork and quilting and building our stash. I of course have the obligatory UFOs which I’m working on completing.
We are going to fast forward to 4 years ago - since you probably don’t want to read my entire life story... My husband and I downsized from Welwyn Garden City to Isleham Marina. One of the first sticks of furniture being my beloved second hand Horn cabinet.

Even if you don’t feel you can justify buying such a thing, I would totally advocate you customising your work area to the correct height for your body - this is of importance to me being just ‘5 foot of fun’.
I was overjoyed when I discovered there was an excellent quilting group in the village! I’m fortunate now, being semi-retired to be able to spend time on a hobby I love.
I am currently serving on the Region 9 committee as Events Admin.

Live long and prosper*

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