Virtual International Quilt Festival - Meet the Makers
Thanks to the wonders of Zoom, we caught up with four of the the quilters who sent in images of their beautiful travel-inspired quilts - Susan Abood in Sydney, Abu Dhabi-based Hanneke Reinalda - Poot and Michael and Greta Fitchett in Derby - to find out more about their designs and their quilting lives.
ECT: Please tell us about your quilts.
Susan Abood, Mon Ami
Normally I like to do my own thing, but when I saw this Verna Mosquera pattern, I loved it so much that I just had to do it. I went to Paris 11 years ago and it brought back memories going to mass at Notre Dame and casually walking around the Eiffel Tower. The scolloping was fiddly - getting those lovely little curves was really hard and I had to do the Eiffel Tower two or three times before I got it right - but I loved making the berets! I did the piecing by machine, but all the needle-turned applique was done by hand; it's more challenging but I prefer it.
Hanneke Reinalda - Poot, Travel & Destinations
I have lived in Abu Dhabi since 2014 and this quilt is a combination of all I have seen - the desert, the Arabic patterns, the camels, the mosques. The patterns appeal to both my scientific side (I am a bio-chemist) and my artistic one.
Michael Fitchett, Heart of the Alps
My wife Greta and I were on holiday in Murren, Switzerland when we walked around a corner and saw this view. I knew immediately from the way the light was slanting across the North face of the Eiger, sharp in the Spring sunshine, and how the drifts were accumulated in the gardens and piled high on the roofs that it would make a quilt design, so I drew it in my sketch book. Putting it together at home the following winter brought back so many memories, including seeing two men drag an enormous TV out of one of the little chalets and drag it away on a sledge!
Greta Fitchett, Docklands
I saw a photograph of the Docklands in east London long, long ago when it was still being built and I said to myself then, 'oh, there's a quilt in that!', so I kept it. Then, few years later, we actually went there and I took lots of photographs of the reflections in the windows of all the office blocks and the Docklands Light Railway. This quilt was inspired by those photographs. I created the blocks with free cut patchwork and applique detail and joined them with 1/4 inch sashing.
ECT: Please tell us something about your quilting lives; how did you get started and what do you love about the craft?
Susan Abood: My mother was a dressmaker and I've always been interested in sewing - although don't ask me to turn a hem these days! The quilting started in 1984 when a patchwork shop opened near where I was living at the time on the north coast of Australia. Since then I've made many, many quilts, done lots of workshops and met some great friends. I'm still very passionate about it - I love working with fabrics and the challenge of learning new techniques; I'm now on my fourth hand-pieced quilt. I don't need any more quilts of course, but I give quite a lot away to charity fundraisers and any new babies in the family always get a quilt.
Hanneke Reinalda - Poot: I learned sewing, embroidery and knitting from my mother who told me that if I wanted new clothes for my Barbie then I had to make them myself! Then in 2007 we went to India for my husband's job and I started teaching arts and crafts to slum children. I met a quilter and I thought I'd like to learn how to do that too. When we moved back to the Netherlands, I enrolled in a Textile Art and Art Quilting course at the DIY Textile School in Amsterdam and from that first morning I was lost. I learned all kinds of techniques to dye, print and manipulate your fabrics and studied other artists like painters, sculptors and textile artists. I found quilting combined the creativity my mother taught me with the research skills I used in my professional life as a bio chemist and I could put all my memories from India into it too. I studied for two years and now I give workshops and, for the last three years, I have been President of the Abu Dhabi Quilters Guild.
Michael Fitchett: It was Greta who first suggested that I give quilt making a go - she is an amazing quilter. I'm a graphic designer so what appealed to me about quilt making was that you can use bold blocks of colour to produce a graphic image. We work together on quilts and we have complimentary skills, although our styles are quite different - I like applique and she likes patchwork.
Greta Fitchett: I have always drawn and painted and kept sketchbooks, but for me that has always been the preliminary. I have never been happy with anything I have finished in paint or pastel, but I find that when the design goes on in textile it comes alive. It's the coming together of two designs - the patchwork and the quilting - and the tactility.
ECT: The last months have seen us all confined to our homes, has quilting helped you cope with lockdown?
Susan Abood: It's been a life-saver! We were renovating our house during lockdown so everything went into the kitchen, but my machine came out as soon as there was an empty space on the table. And even though my quilting groups can't meet up, we're still in touch on Zoom and we're all still working.
Hanneke Reinalda - Poot: I think all creative people have been so lucky during this time and quilting has been a huge comfort for me. Restrictions have been very strict here, but I am lucky to have a large room where I can put the music on and spend time doing something I love.
Greta Fitchett: It's been very important over this time - the only downside is that, with all the competitions cancelled, there are no deadlines so I've become very slow...
Michael Fitchett: I've become so slow I have stopped completely! I've been doing all the jobs around the house and garden that I've put off for ages instead. I have been looking through a backlog of colour photographs for design inspiration though, so hopefully it's only a temporary pause.