How I started quilting 

My interest in craft and sewing has been with me since childhood, though there were few opportunities to practise. My grandmother, who I never met, was a seamstress in a Milliner’s shop in Poplar. My mum made many of my clothes and was never far away from a sewing machine.

I have a deep interest in colour, shape and line and am just as happy painting and drawing. Fabric, however has a texture which is very pleasing.  Other crafts I do are tapestry, knitting, and cross stitch.  I think of myself, however, as first a gardener then a quilter.

In 1970, I made my first piece of patchwork from a magazine article - a hexagon clutch bag. In around 1998, I began a City and Guilds Patchwork and Quilting Diploma near to where I was living, in Harlow. In fact, I retired from my job as a College Technician in order to give me time for this pursuit. (My working career began in 1964.)

In around 2000, I joined the Ash Valley Quilters in Hertfordshire and also the Embroiderers’ Guild for a while. Then, having developed arthritis, I took the opportunity to study for an OU Degree in Humanities and Religious Studies.

In 2010/11, I got creative again and joined Cambridge Quilters and soon got involved with the Committee, producing the programme leaflet and newsletters, and the noticeboard.  Whilst recovering from a hip operation, I began to remember all the things I learned in my City and Guilds course, during 2000-2004. 

I very much enjoy hand-sewing. Currently I am working on some traditional quilting involving patchwork. Practical items appeal to me most, and I thoroughly enjoy the ‘designing’ stage of my quilts. A lot of my sewing notions come from charity shops, the older the better, and my favourite shop is ‘And Sew On’ at Blake End, near Braintree. I join in with Great Chesterford’s Charity Sewing group whenever they meet, if I can.

Being in Cambridge Quilters is a wonderful experience and I have enjoyed many workshops: Sandie Lush, Gill Theokritoff and Carolyn Forster to name just a few. I am collecting Carolyn Forster’s Block of the month and hope to work on that next year, (featured in ‘Today’s Quilter’ magazine).



Janet Allen  


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