Have you ever thought about joining a Quilting Group .. its great fun.  I asked a good friend of mine .. lets call her Artemesia .. how she came to join the one I go to.  This is her story.

“Do work hard at French and English,” said my school sewing teacher as I, aged 12, trailed back to my table, seam ripper in hand. What she meant was ‘make sure you get into the Latin stream then I won’t have you in my class.’ Fortunately for her – and probably me too – I did. However, the experience left me determined never to go near a sewing machine for decades.

From being a child I had always liked something crafty, such as making lavender pods and straw dollies, but my absolute passion was horses and I tended to think needlework was for softies. Nowadays, as the years have gone by, I’ve had to face up to the fact that my beloved mare’s and my days of jumping hedges and ditches are behind us. Then, wandering round a county show, I saw the most wonderful display of quilts.  It was a lightbulb moment. I knew – “I want to make these.”

I trawled the net devouring every site on quilting and patchwork.  I even started to build up my stash. I bought a Janome sewing machine on Ebay and was ready to become the next Jenny Doan or Jennie Rayment. Excitedly, I took the machine out of its case and stared and stared at it.  It terrified me! Echoes of the many discouraging remarks from my old sewing teacher reverberated round my head. So, I packed it up again and never touched it for another two years – but I did keep buying attractive fabric, so the beginnings of an addiction were there!

One day, a friend said she’d seen something about a quilting taster day being organised not too far away, so I booked the day off work and registered immediately.  Taster day – well most of the participants had some experience and for others it was a tick box experience with one person trying to outdo another. “We did (name of well known flower arranger’s) master class last month” met with the reply “It’s on my list. However, I did do “Patisseries Made Perfect” and I thoroughly recommend it.”  Out came the Janome.  First thread it up.  Well I didn’t know that the sewing cotton didn’t go on top of the bobbin winder, or that you could change the speed or alter the size of the stitches. Despite the strange looks and a few heavy sighs in response to my inane questions I made it to the end of the day. Wrapping up the session the organiser asked if any of us wanted to join her classes, I said “I’d love to, but they are all daytime on weekdays,” to which one obviously flabbergasted participant exclaimed “Oh, you work do you!” Although my quest for regular quilting classes/opportunity wasn’t solved, I departed giggling, The whole experience had like being in a sitcom with Hyacinth Bucket playing the lead.

I wasn’t deterred.  I found a one-day Saturday workshop offering cathedral window tuition, which was OK, but I think I needed something more basic.  Again, I was up against a weekday afternoon class to continue there. Further research showed more opportunities, but again they were during the working week. Why is there an assumption that quilters and patch workers are not in employment?  I thought I was going to have fall back on online learning, which is not my favourite option.

Then, a miracle happened! I was working with a delightful person whose company I had commissioned to make some videos for work. Over a coffee I mentioned my desire to become a quilter.  She was only involved in a group locally that met once a month on a Saturday and invited me to come along. Bingo! That’s how I became involved with Our Quilty Pleasures. A very eclectic group of lovely ladies, most of whom work. When I joined it was stressed that they weren’t teachers, but happy to help however they could.  Just what I needed! They ignore that I’m a novice; encourage me to get involved with their block of the month for Quilts for Care Leavers, and other projects such as fidget mats, join their outings …  and have just about convinced me that my sewing machine isn’t going to bite me.  What’s more, I am quilting! So, my journey is complete, from being a total quilting virgin to becoming a full-on addict enjoying fabulous support from this quilting community.

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