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  • Stacey Chapman

The Freehand Machine Embroidery Artist Who Cannot Measure, Attempts to Make a Quilt....!

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Meeting Suzanne Campion, My Mentor, on Zoom

Jenni Smith, the incredibly talented quilter and organiser of this mass #skill sharing excercise, acted as our sewing version of Cilla Black and set up Suzanne and I on a blind #quilting date! Suzanne is super skilled #textile genius and has worked at the very highest end of the bespoke World of textile creation, so I am very grateful to be paired with such a talented person. And she is lovely too, so that is an added bonus and will be fast friends no doubt!

So, Suzanne got straight to the nitty gritty of how this whole thing works. She was thinking of tumbling blocks for my project, which to my mind coming from a #drawing background, is how to draw a perfect shaded block. Just with fabric. I like this idea and especially loved the idea of taking the blocks outside of the square as following precise rules frightens me a bit and doesn’t light my fire it has to be said, so this was music to my ears.

I shared my idea about working with a photo of my Great Aunt Agnes, known to me as Aggie. This eccentric, wonderful, fizzing ball of happy energy has been on my mind so much for various reasons during lockdown and it seemed to me that she would be the perfect project for this virgin quilting endeavour. I loved the idea of taking a fabric, printed image of Aggie, resplendent and proper in her nurses uniform, with crisp, monochrome edging and stitching on one side. Then on the reverse, the true nature of this creative inspiration, the most colourful explosion mash up of fizz and vigour could burst out in a vibrant celebration, in the full spectrum of #colour in every crazy #texture possible.

This is where the bouncing of ideas really took hold and Suzanne suggested that quilting stars could be formed so that they shoot off the side of the quilt. Wonderful. So we decided this was the plan.

As well as discussing all the #materials and equipment I will need and where to source things, Suzanne showed me how it works using card as a pattern and then cutting out the fabric pieces so they have a 1/4 inch margin all the way around. This can be done either by machine or by hand. Then they are sewn together with a ‘whip’ #stitch by hand or with a special regulating foot on the machine. I should say, I had opened our initial conversation by stating that sadly I cannot measure and struggle when it comes to numbers and precision, so I saw my ultimate challenge of this project is to challenge these ideas of what I perceive I cannot do and to work on this weak spot.

I immediately felt reassured that if I follow these basic rules of using the paper templates or #stitching using a measured foot, that I cannot go that far wrong. Time will tell....!

The only major problem I have encountered post our fist meeting - I cannot find the photograph I have in mind of Aggie. Gulp. I hope I can remedy this problem ASAP otherwise an alternative will need to be thought of quickly....


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