A Great British Quilter

Great British Quilter

When Sarah Ashford isn't making quilts, she is writing, Instagramming and podcasting about them. We met up with her to find out more.

ECT: Why quilting? 

SA: There's so much scope for creativity. I love everything about it, from the fabrics, colours, designs and patterns right through to the finished quilt, which can then be kept and cherished for many years. Quilting is a really great way to learn new skills and techniques too..

Sarah Ashford Rainbow Curves

Rainbow Curves quilt by Sarah Ashford

ECT: When and how did this quilting passion begin?

SA: I've always been into textiles in some form, but the quilt-making seeds were sewn about 12 years ago when a fabric shop opened up in my local area. I bought some fat quarters and that was it. Since then I've committed myself to learning as much as I possibly can about the craft.  I've taught myself a lot, but there's still so much more I want to learn and experience!  I don't think I will ever tire of quilting.

Pineapple Block

ECT: Tell us a bit about the quilts you design and make - your inspirations, aesthetic, signature technique etc

SA: I definitely class myself as a modern quilter.  I like bold colours, fun modern prints, a lot of negative space and I tend to use a lot of white so that the colours really pop.  I'm inspired by so many different things - it could be the colours in a photograph, the shapes on floor tiles, or it a new technique I want to try out.  Recently, I challenged myself to make a small quilt incorporating the ancient art of Japanese Sashiko.  I wanted it to have a traditional yet contemporary feel, and I think I achieved it.

Sashiko Quilt

Sashiko Quilt by Sarah Ashford

ECT: You are co-founder of the Great British Quilter Instagram challenge - what is that? 

SA: I came up with the concept in 2017 to showcase and celebrate the talent of British quilters. The co-founder, Charlie Mankin of Sydney Rose Designs, and I posted a prompt every day through September asking quilters to respond with a photo, post and the hashtag #greatbritishquilter.  Throughout this challenge, quilters got to introduce themselves, share where they lived, tell us about their favourite British quilt shops, (both bricks and mortar and online) their favourite British fabric designers, their sewing machine, a favourite quilt they made, even how they take their tea!  It was a huge success and I've been running the challenge with a different high profile quilter each year ever since. 

ECT: The brand's really grown since then

SA: Yes, we now have an Aurifil thread box and my Great British Quilter Back to Basics fabric collection will be available in stores at the end of February 2020, which is a real personal triumph for me.  I can't wait to see quilters using it in their work to make beautiful things. The second series of the Great British Quilter Podcast is about to start too. I will be interviewing different people in the industry about their quilting stories and experiences. 

Great British Quilter


ECT: You're travelling with us to the Noord Groningen Quilt Festival in June - what are you looking forward to most?

SA: I'm so excited to be going to Noord Groningen, somewhere I've not been before, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing a different culture and all it has to offer. I am especially excited about going to the quilt show! It's always so inspiring to see the work of other quilters and to be at an event where everyone shares the same passion - meeting the very talented Herma de Ruiter and learning more about her work and quilts will be a particular highlight. But most of all, I'm looking forward to spending time travelling and exploring with like-minded people, which I know is going to be so much fun. 

Why not join Sarah on tour? Find our more about the Noord Groningen Quilt Festival 2020 programme here