Recently I was lucky enough to beat out 2500 people to be able to take part in the Channel 5 TV show series, “The Wonderful World of Crafting”.  To say I was honoured beyond words at the chance of taking part was an understatement!

Few people know how gruelling a filming schedule is.  So  I thought it best to share that with you….

We filmed from start to end in FOUR WEEKS. Start to finish.  I will leave out the boring dates but the schedule filming days were as follows:

A full day filming with Kaffe Fassett

A full day and an overnight stay for filming at the American Museum in Bath.

Four full days filming at my studio and the Iron Rooms with the ladies

A day filming in London to pick the presenters.

Two days filming for my TV show on Hochanda.

Three days filming at the Craft Fair.

Two days to prepare kits and product to sell at the craft fair

My father-in-law died in the first week of filming so three days were spent in Scotland to attend funerals and try help my amazing husband cope with this awful event. I slipped a disc in my neck on the third week of filming and I could not work to full capacity.

From the schedule above, and having watched the show….  A lot of these VITAL things didn’t get a single second on air!

So that was the schedule.  And each day of filming at the studio needed a half-day to clear the studio of all signs of work and make it pretty for filming.

That was a HUGE amount of work and things to cram into 28 days….

Sound glamorous yet?  Nope thought not…  And that was just the schedule.  I had not made a single item for the show at this point I might add…

Then the directors arrive and set you VITAL tasks that mean the show will revolve around only these vital tasks they set.  Mine were to make a series of quilts.  Utterly unique and original to anything I had done in the past. My own creations and they needed to be full-sized quilts that were worthy of a whopping price tag….  Blink blink blink….  Okaaaayyyyyyy….  So on the spur of the moment Bargello was the only thing I could think of and I started making more than I ever dreamed possible.

So in that four week period I made FOUR Bargellos 80 inch square quilts and ONE Quilt top measuring 110 inches by 80 inches.  All my own design, using the same fabrics, the same borders, the same bindings and the same backings.  Simply so I could show the designs as the key pieces.  Show only the patterns I had created.   All needing to have patterns written and tested before the craft fair.

It was so important to have the quilts and tops ready simply because my day with Kaffe, after the American Museum trip, required the quilts for the basis of his guidance.  I arrive for the day and am set a further challenge by Kaffe to create something more inspired.  A divine day with an icon I have admired for his skills for ages.  But that day I hung beige fabric on his design wall and the poor man needed to help me badly and my word he did.

That was a Wednesday. Eleven days before the end of filming.  I had a final filming day at the studio and the Iron Rooms the following Wednesday and the Friday filming for the craft fair started at midday.  All works had to be finished by the Thursday.  So I had seven days to sew two quilt tops, design and source better-coloured fabrics for the Kaffe inspired quilt, film for a day and clean the studio for filming and to quilt the two remaining quilt tops and the Kaffe quilt top.  All the while having lost function in my left arm from this slipped disc.

I was in so much turmoil I was working from 7am to 3am the following day for almost two weeks only having literally two or three hours a day to make sure I hit deadlines.  I gained a stone and a half in one month eating as poorly as I did.  It was a nightmare.

I say all of this because those eleven minutes on the TV show didn’t reflect any of this.

Context is always invaluable.

The show airs.  I am told I stole another person’s designs, which until the day I die I will have to say no I did not!  My personal life has been called into question .. and I reject the inferences made about that too!.  The show was edited to look like I did no work on the last quilt and then they quote the figure of £2,000 for a quilt when the price was in fact £850 – quite some difference.  It was a massive let down for me.

And the comments began.

Even yesterday there were still comments I found hurtful were being made, questioning my efforts, the price tag on the quilt that featured in the programme [I think I have cleared that one up already} questioning the relationships and payments I made to my lovely ladies who help me [which is not for discussion .. that’s private!].   They questioned me meeting Kaffe, they questioned the way I speak about my ladies [my ladies really don’t mind me calling them my ‘bitches’ – it’s just a bit of fun]. they questioned the fact a male quilter was highlighted in the show [2500 were auditioned, from every walk of life].   All of these are mean, horrible comments that have hurt me to the core.

To make things worse. apart from suffering such comments, I have lost work from the show because my ideas were “Stolen”.

These are just a few of the highlights I had thrown at me from the social media fields where people feel they are allowed and can say and do whatever they like.  Some admins deleted comments.  Some admins blocked people from their groups because people behaved like that.  I just read them all and cried.  Long hard tears of utter sadness.  There were hundreds of them.  HUNDREDS.  Even now they continue.

I have quilted for five years.  That is it.  My life savings have gone into my studio and my passion.  I am able to say I have put all my eggs in this quilting world’s basket.  A world where I  feel certainly am not wanted.

I am a marmite person and many like me and many don’t.  But there were 2500 people who applied for the TV programme, both male and female, and I felt lucky to be chosen.   You can see from my comments above the amount of work involved too – it wasnt easy by any means.    But after the comments I am left wondering what the quilting world does want?

This situation has left me feeling bitter towards the comments made, to the TV programme and more.  I wonder how many people could have created the work that I was expected to do in the space of time I was given?  I wonder how everyone else would respond to the words that have been directed at me.   I wanted you to understand what brought me to this point.

I have quit my Hochanda show, and I have vowed I will never do any TV quilting show like the one on Channel 5 again.  It’s just not worth all the hassle I have had since.

My husband has begged me not to engage, not to rise to the bait.  He has said just let it go you can handle it so leave them to what they are doing.  But I am saying all of this in the hope that when you next decide to type anything about someone that might be unkind, stop and ask yourself if you know the full story.  Ask yourself if you could have done better in the 28 days filming schedule I had.  Ask yourself with the making of FOUR quilts in four weeks and making a further quilt if you would have needed help?  And if your friend’s helped you would you take kindly to being grilled constantly if you had paid your friends…  some things really are not for public discussion..

I will always be able to say I have got the best quilting friends this world has to offer.  These amazing woman worked their butts off to help me in what I will always say was my darkest hours.  The filming of this show was the very worst time of my life.  I have never been so stressed or tired.  I have never known pain like it and I am forever in their debt.  I never expected the treatment that followed either.

I really am proud to be able to call these people my friends.   They truly are the lights of my life!

When I moved into the Tring, I had a Facebook exchange with a neighbour about a planning application lodged by someone I had never met.  It became a very personal  exhchange  and the argument escalated ending up with me taking my key board to her house and asked her to say all of that to my face.  She was apologetic and made the situation real to her because when I was standing in front of her in tears by the actions she had inflicted on me, she realised there is a human person behind every comment you write.  Everything you type is screen grabbed forever.  Everything you write on the internet is there forever.  Whether the admin deletes it and you or not.  That photo exists of what you said.  The scars are marked forever and you never know.

I beg that everyone thinks before they write, and the consequence of that action..  I will ask you to think while I was unable to actually function without 32 pain killers in a 24 hour period you thought it was ok to kick a less-abled person than you when they were doing the best that they can.

I hope at least one comment less is posted after this.  But I doubt many will even get this far!

Responses

  1. Sue Rainbow

    I am totally gobsmacked and saddened to read this and l know our group members will be when l tell them. Your visit to us was so refreshing and anyone who has met you will know what a lovely and genuine guy you are. Don’t let it spoil things. There are many lovely people out there who are and will be supportive.

  2. Maggie Attfield

    Well, what a shocking lot of nasty people you have had to deal with! I missed the show but I did see some of the fall-out on UKQU. Remember, for each nasty comment, there are thousands of raised (but silent) eyebrows; don’t assume the majority agrees with them.

    I like your quilts. I can only imagine how much thankless hard work it was. And I do know how filming changes situations and comments.
    But, as my mum ( a quilter) always said, “ They are just jealous. And if they are bitching about you, they are leaving someone else alone!” So, at least, you saved someone else from suffering.
    Hold your head high and carry on!

  3. Ruth Garner

    Wow John! What a heartfelt message. The blog should be read by the many and not the few! I watched the programme and was amazed at the amount of work put in by you (and other crafters) in such a short space of time. I thought the price of £2,000 was realistic for a quilt as we so underestimate time, effort and cost of materials. How fab that you had a band of ladies helping you out and giving moral support. I say keep up the good work!