my points don’t match, and other quilting tales of woe


recent goings-on in my sewing room

i was once showing a quilt i made to someone and they said, “i see you weren’t going for perfection on this one.”

here’s a thing: i don’t worry about matching points or sewing straight seams when making a quilt. sometimes they aren’t square. sometimes they don’t even lay flat.

i’ve been sewing for 5-6 years now and have learnt so much from books, the Internet and my college tutors about making quilts “properly.” of course, i still have much to learn.

i think a lot rests in my attitude towards quilt-making. maybe another crafty person might see the finished product as their goal, perfection in each block, accurately measuring and pre-cutting and pre-washing … but my heart lies in the process.

i usually use recycled fabrics (bits of old clothes, found linens, scraps of quilting cotton etc etc) which causes differences in weight, stretch etc. i often cut fabrics using only scissors, although i do have a rotary cutter. (it’s somewhere under a pile of scraps) i like to work at speed, improvise, chop and change. i am going for a different sort of finished product, an object, a functional item. it’s a cathartic process of cutting things up to make something new. i know i should pre-wash my fabrics, but i didn’t… oh well?

GB Loretta Pettway 1963

Quilt by Loretta Pettway of Gees Bend, 1963

when i became interested in making quilts, the women of gee’s bend were my first inspiration. they used what they had at hand, creating things they thought were beautiful from everyday items. their quilts were about design and composition and colour and also none of those things, because they were made for putting on a bed to keep warm.

this way of working that i have adopted gets a bit in the way when i follow a pattern (or try to). so if the seams are squinty and my blocks don’t match up right… now you know why:)

what is important to you when quilting? do you strive for perfection?




I haven’t dropped in here for a while…slowly getting back into the swing of things with some new stuff.

just a picture…


Sunday stitching.

inspiration … Jane Whiteley

I haven’t posted for a while due to my job taking up a lot of time… however I was as the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild’s AGM in Cultra yesterday which was lovely! My art college  friend Caoimhe and I were  invited to bring some of our work and she had her work all set out so professionally that I was pretty nervous… luckily everyone was very nice about my quilts which was a bonus! So thank you to NIPG!

So today I’m posting about the work of Australian textile artist Jane Whiteley. I found her work in the book Art Textiles of the World Australia Vol 2. during my final year and really fell in love with her concepts and ideas, plus the fact that she is a quilter. There’s not a lot of info about her on the internet and I don’t have any other books about her but I would just like to share a couple of images of her work (taken from the book) and why I love them!

Quilt for a Sleeping Person

Quilt for a Sleeping Person (Detail), 2009
silk and cotton gauze, indigo and acid dye

This artist’s work is to do with domestic life and the body. She reflects the ‘make do and mend’ idea that was promoted in post war Britain in her use of stained, worn textiles like bedsheets, towels, bandages. The above quilt is hand stitched, worn, mended again with red thread to draw attention to these areas of wear and tear. The cloth begins to carry the impression of the body of the user.

This same technique is used to make Sides to the Middle, Fingers to the Bone, 2009, which was included in the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition at the V&A in London, 2010.  This work comes from the domestic practice of ‘turning’ bed sheets when they become too worn thin – cut them down the middle and re-stitch them so that the sides meet in the middle.

“When I mend a cloth I am healing the body, for the cloth is the body. The body remembers.”

jane whitely large red cross

Large Red Cross, 1998
cotton bedsheet, flannelette and gauze, hand and machine stitched

I like this quilt because it combines the association of reassurance and comfort of a quilt with the image of a red cross, the symbol of emergency, first aid etc. Re-using domestic textiles is a theme that I share with this artist.

“I use cloth because it has a powerful human presence and has the capacity to express humanity, human endeavour, emotion. It is as if cloth takes on the imprint of energy, the memory of the body through years of use and wear. Conversely, the body holds within the memory of that cloth.”

Textiles have the ability to hold memory and tell stories, the darned and patched areas show the history of the person who owned it. What  is more personal than the imprint of the body on cloth. I think Jane Whiteley’s work illustrates the connection between human and textile, memory and mending.

I hope to research this artist a little more in the future and I hope more people will see and respond to her work.

are we there yet…

P1050308 P1050312I make things very slowly, apparently. Never sure if I’m doing the right thing.

Been a tiring weekend, ending with the marathon relay yesterday. Ran (and walked a bit) 3.5 miles … I’m not a runner but think I did ok!

Back to work tomorrow morning so I’m enjoying the sunshine while I can (:


slowing down


The bad thing about me making promises to myself is that I tend not to keep them. Examples include: my gym membership, that pile of half-read books sitting on my bedside table, the beginnings of quilts (wouldn’t even call them UFOs yet).

Today I had a day off work. So I had a little lie-in, read my book while eating breakfast, went to make some arty collages with the folks at a day centre I volunteer at, went for a run in the gym AND am now sitting embroidering while listening to Julie Fowlis. Progress!


wear and tear

P1050287Some unintentional  quilt ‘distressing’ – for once.

Ever feel like life is just wearing you down? How do you make time to fit everything in? Doing 10 things at once and not finishing a thing is my norm right now.

Moving along…

Some pictures…

So I made these little samples with the intention to try out tea dyeing.


Here they are again, machine embroidered with wee sayings.




I left three of them in a tea dye and three in coffee. Results may be interesting. Or less so.


Last but not least, two of my degree show quilts will be on display in an exhibition called Living Local in my area which opens this Thursday:) The show will be at Moneyreagh Community Centre until April 5th, and then moves to Dundonald Library on April 10th. Fingers crossed it will be good!



inspiration … Lisa Hochstein

Here’s an artist whose work I’ve only just discovered and would really like to share…

Lisa Hochstein, a US artist making mainly collage work which I really love… she uses paper strips in geometric and linear designs with lots of texture and pattern. Sorry to say I don’t know much more about her but thought I would mention her fibre art pieces.

Royal Crystal Salt,34" x 48"hand stitching on salvaged fabric

Royal Crystal Salt,
34″ x 48″
hand stitching on salvaged fabric

I don’t know if anyone else thinks this but I think my work is visually very similar to hers. She uses ‘salvaged fabric’ which is at the heart of my practice.

lhochstein clothesbacks

The Clothes on Their Backs
18″ x 52″ (each panel)
hand stitching on salvaged fabric

lhochstein hiddenpathway

Hidden Pathway
10.5″ x 13″
Hand stitching on salvaged fabric

Speaking about the process of collage making, the statement on her site says:

Preservation, destruction, and transformation are at the core of working in collage, leading to an ongoing sorting out of what to save and what to destroy.

…something I can relate to!

Here is a little detail of some of her stitching on a previously used sugar bag…

lhochstein pennsylvania-sugar-detail1-

Pennsylvania Sugar (detail)
9″ x 28″
hand stitching on muslin, vintage sugar sack

All images are on her website:


P1050186   P1050191

Back from my weeks trip to the coast and I was feeling super keen to start something new, so I began with an apology. So far loving making these extra small quilts although not too sure where it’s going. They are all memory related though, similar to some of my work from art school but trying to go somewhere new with it. Starting small is ok sometimes!

I might even get the hang of my new darning foot soon so I will just keep sewing:)

Jess Quinn

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