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Finding the perfect patch in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 13:26 11 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:08 20 February 2013

Finding the perfect patch in Suffolk

Finding the perfect patch in Suffolk

Lynne Edwards is an internationally-renowned quilt designer, teacher and author who has presented classes and exhibitions across the world and has many prestigious awards under her belt. Here she talks about her trade

Lynne Edwards is an internationally-renowned quilt designer, teacher and author who has presented classes and exhibitions across the world and has many prestigious awards under her belt. Here she talks about her trade




I started doing patchwork all by hand in the late 1960s, when there was very little around. It started with a visit to the American Museum near Bath. When I saw their collection of old quilts, I knew instantly that it was what I just had to do.
I was trained as a teacher, and began to teach the craft at evening classes as soon as I knew enough to be able to pass it on to others it was just too wonderful to keep to myself! Over the years the patchwork and quilting became more and more important, and nearly 20 years ago I started to teach a comprehensive course on all the skills for the craft, mixing handwork and machinework. The course became a book, and then three years later a second volume was published based on 20 more techniques.
More books have followed and I now have 120 regular students who meet as eight groups, each twelve times a year in the village hall in Chelsworth. I help them make their own quilts and introduce new ideas and designs for them to try. This summer has seen the publication of an updated combined version of the two original Sampler Quilt Books, which hopefully will give the next generation of beginner quilters the skills and inspiration for their own quilts.
Probably the trickiest part of my work is fitting in everything I want to do! Im like a kid in a sweetshop so many ideas, so much fabric that begs to be bought and so many quilts I long to make.
The two quilts that have given me the most reward are my two original sampler quilts, as through making them I learnt so much about all the techniques and designs, all of which has been passed on to literally thousands through the Sampler Quilt books. As a teacher I find this hugely satisfying apart from our two sons, this is what I am most proud of in my life.
People think that quilters are mad we cut up perfectly good fabric just to sew it together again. What they need to understand is that fabric is our art form. We paint with fabric. No painter has a box of paints that are kept apart: the colours are mixed, rearranged and blended to create an original piece of work. In just the same way we re-shape and arrange the fabric pieces to make our own one-off designs. Its all creativity, whether with paint, paper or fabric, and for us quiltmakers, totally addictive!
Away from my usual work I also get to teach abroad a couple of times each year, by invitation from quilt associations in other countries as interest and enthusiasm in the craft grows.
Last year I visited New Zealand, Kenya and Spain, as well as a few trips around the UK, although I do less of this now, as my Chelsworth classes keep me busy enough and of course I need to sew for my own pleasure and fulfilment too. Never a day without a stitch, say I!

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