Strip pieced quilt

When did you start quilting? About 10 years ago, after visiting a quilt show with a friend. It was a new challenge. I have always been quite arty so I was confident I could do it. I am self-taught but have attended local workshops.

What is your favourite colour? I enjoy all colours except orange and brown, which I find a little difficult to work with. I love jewel colours the brighter the better.

African log cabin

Size of stash and where do you keep it? The cupboards in the sewing room are full and spillover into the garage. I also have an antique chest full of fabric in the lounge. It is too much so my dear husband is building me a studio I think he just misses the furniture!

Hand or machine? Hand and machine. I like to do hand sewing whilst watching TV at night and using the machine during the day. I have a new Pfaff sewing machine and an older Bernina 1260. I am also lucky enought to own a Gammill long-arm machine for quilters.

Piece of advice for beginners? Start with a good teacher and do a step-by-step sampler quilt to learn different techniques. Precision cutting and knowing how to sew that quarter inch seam on your machine. I have a piece of cardboard taped at the quarter inch mark on my machine just to make double sure.

Where do you sew? I have the use of my husbands three-quarter snooker table in a sewing room, which incidentally, he has only played snooker on twice in the three years that he has had it.

Wall hanging

How many hours a day or week do you sew? That depends, when my husband is away (he is a marine engineer working two months at sea and two months off) I sometimes sew until the early hours of the morning. Im a housemother to six teenagers who board with me from Monday to Friday to attend the local High School. This leaves my mornings and evenings free.

What are you working on just now? A wallhanging depicting celebration of 10 years of democracy in South Africa. I am also busy with two sampler quilts and a king-sized Grandmothers Flower Garden

Preferred sewing thread? Threads? I had a shocking 140 when I last counted! For machine sewing I prefer Mettler and Güterman. However, for my long-arm Gammill I prefer Signature thread, which I buy from the USA.

Crazy quilt

What wadding and why? We have a problem with wadding. Our local wadding is only 150cm and needs joining. Imported batting is available but is quite expensive.

Nearest quilt shop / or shop you use most? We are so lucky to have the most fantastic quilt shop, Nimble Fingers, in Kloof, Durban. The shop is a quilters dreams come true. I just love it!

What about dyeing etc? I love dyeing my own fabrics but having a fellow quilter, Glenda from Amafa, hand dyeing on a large scale, I find it easier and less time consuming to buy fabric from her.

Do you teach and if so what is your favourite subject? I teach a beginner course with my friend Jacqui Robinson. We use cheaper cotton fabrics and the colourways are predetermined as I think it is so intimidating sending a new quilter out to buy co-ordinated fabrics. It is also cost effective, yet allows the student to master the techniques. Our block of the month costs only R100.00 (£10.00) including the lesson. I remember only too well how intimidated I felt when I first started 10 years ago and now I try to bridge that gap and teach from grass-roots level.

What happened to your first quilt or piece of patchwork? I still have it and have to smile when I look at it. I didnt know any better I used curtaining, polyester, cotton, basically any fabric type you name it, I used it! I didnt have a clue about strip piecing. Even now I cant remember how I ever managed to get a reasonable design!

What are your quilting goals? Quilt till I drop! I plan to make six single bed quilts fast quilts for my girls before the end of the year! And I must confess that I have a few UFOs that need to be completed.

Is there anyone else in your family that wants to quilt / does quilt? My Mom does embroidery and has started appliqué and quilting at the ripe age of 73! Keeping her busy is a hard job. My sister Elize is making a queen-sized Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt that is just about finished. Needless to say, the quilting bug has definitely bitten this family!

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 12 Number 8 - Summer 2004