My Tunbridge Wells jewellery shop and atelier, where I showcase my contemporary handmade and hand-finished jewellery collection and work on jewellery commissions, jewellery repairs and reworks, is a few doors down from Pincushion Pantiles. It's a tough time for independent shops but there is always a lovely buzz around Pincushion and people travel from far and wide to attend their quilting and embroidery workshops held in the shop.
When my daughter was studying for her A-level in textiles she took part in a couple of appliqué and machine embroidery workshops at Pincushion Tunbridge Wells and found them really helpful. I've never tried quilting before so when I saw that there was a dog-inspired quilting workshop coming up I decided to give it a try. I thought I share some snaps and thoughts about the day with you here.
Pincushion Tunbridge Wells
Pincushion is a real asset to Tunbridge Wells. It's a specialist shop which is becoming increasingly rare. I really love the fact that Pincushion is just focused on selling what you need to make quilts. It also attracts a wide variety of quilt-makers from across the world to host sell-out workshops and visit the shop. Jenny, who runs Pincushion hosts sewing days each week where you come into the shop and sew with whoever is there. It's such a fabulous way to meet local sewers and make new friends. Jenny is also on hand to offer her expert advice and tips.
Dog Gone It
The 'Dog Gone It' quilting workshop was taught by Deborah Dorward who was visiting all of the way from Australia. The design is a 7 blocks across square and a mixture of needle-turn appliqué dogs (which could easily be adapted to cats or horses if you're not a doggy person). These are interspersed with stars which are created using the English Paper Piecing (EPP) technique.
We started the day by Deborah showing us some of the incredible quilts and quilted cushions she has made. My favourite was: 'The Simple Life' which has a muted colour palette and lots of animals and small scenes to discover. I loved meeting Deborah who was so warm and friendly and had a wealth of knowledge to share on all things quilting.
Try a New Craft
As a jeweller I work with my hands and have spent many years honing my craft. However, I never stop learning and I love trying and experimenting with new techniques. There's so much to be learnt from spending time with different craftspeople and although I went along to the workshop to learn quilting I came away feeling generally creatively inspired.
Who Are the Quilting Workshops For?
The workshops at Pincushion would suit a wide variety of different skill levels from those who are completely new to quilting (like I was) to those who already make quilts but want to hone their skills. Pincushion always keep the size of the workshops small so there is plenty of time for everyone to get the help and support they need.
The Art of Slowing Down
One of the things that is really special about crafts is that they encourage us to slow down, concentrate and get into a feeling of flow. I definitely felt this with quilting. In the workshop I completed one star and nearly finished one dog but in the week that followed I now have a total of six stars and a dog and I'm planning to keep going until I have a completed quilt. I've put this here in writing to hopefully make sure I do!
Make it Personal
Even though the whole group were working on the same design the different colour palettes and patterns we chose made each design really unique and personal. We each chose two different base fabrics - I picked out a cream fabric with small green flowers, and a sludgy coloured fabric as the background for the stars. I like the way you can recycle and re-use bits of fabric that you have already or buy small quantities for the appliqué part. Pincushion have a huge range of fabrics to choose from which are all beautifully colour-coordinated. I'm planning to try and incorporate some bits of fabric from my children's clothing, when they were small, into my design.
A Lasting Memory
As well as a unique handmade quilt, what I took away from the day was how important community is. It's something I really miss now I work in my shop rather than in a studio with other designers and makers. I used to be part of a large community in London and it was great to always have someone to talk to and confer with. I made some wonderful friendships during that time. It's so good to take time out to learn a new skill and meet fellow makers and craft enthusiasts. I want to say a big thank you to Deborah, Jenny and the team at Pincushion for a wonderful day.
Quilts from Around the World
I've always loved American machine quilts with their block designs and amazing top stitching and would love to try and make one, one day. I went to see the Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers exhibition at The Royal Academy earlier this year and was so inspired by this beautiful quilt.
You can explore Deborah's patterns here, including the 'Dog Gone It' pattern I worked on which is here. Discover more about Pincushion's workshops here. You can visit Pincushion Pantiles' shop in Tunbridge Wells - find the shop's address and opening hours here. You can also shop online for Pincushion's quilting fabrics and supplies here. I'm planning to share my quilt progress over on Instagram - you can find me here.