How I started quilting

 was introduced to patchwork and quilting by my mum whilst I was a student. I didn't have any fabric, I didn't have a sewing machine and I didn't have a clue about feet and inches, having grown up in the (metric) Netherlands. However, she started me off with log cabin foundation (hand) piecing, posting me step-by step instructions whilst I was at University, rather than trying to explain it verbally.  How do you make sense out of 'draw a design onto the wrong side of a foundation fabric, place fabric onto the back which is the right side and stitch from the wrong side through the foundation to secure the fabric on the right side'?

Over the years I started getting more adventurous with a very basic hand-me-down Singer sewing machine and my fabric stash started to grow, as did my comprehension (and accuracy) of the non-metric measuring system, although to this day I often still need to count the number of lines on my rulers to work out half of 15 7/8ths! 

Having been a member of a few quilt groups, and more recently of Cambridge Quilters, I have met a huge number of fellow quilters and with their help, as well as a more modern Janome sewing machine, I was pushed out of my comfort zone.  Whereas I was previously more comfortable with a step-by-step pattern, I have since attempted to create my own 'designs' (which more often than not involves me just putting my foot down and seeing where I wind up!), as well as adapting existing patterns. I have been particularly inspired by Janet Clare and Philippa Naylor's free motion quilting techniques, 'drawing' with a sewing machine, which is a far cry from my hand sewn foundation pieced blocks following straight lines. I recently created a Fowey harbour scene, adapting a painting by a local artist, as well as a double quilt for my South African husband. 

I really enjoy being a member of Cambridge Quilters, where anybody at any level can learn from our friendly and hugely talented members and generous workshop tutors.  And a warning to anybody venturing into the world of quilting, she who dies with the most fabric wins!

Karin Ruthven

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