Welcome one and all to my first Blog Post for the UK Quilters United. This is a really exciting time for me and of course for the group as a whole as they embark on their new website. First of all I want to wish them all the very best with this move – I am certain that it will move the Quilting Fraternity forward leaps and bounds into the 21st century.
So as this is my fist blog post I would like to introduce myself.
I am Fiona Garth and together with my husband Tim we own and run The Royal Bridlington hotel where for many a year now we have run Patchwork and Quilting Retreats, offer a Longarm Quilting Service and through our website and at Quilt Shows throughout the UK we are the purveyors of the largest range of Extra Wide Backing Fabrics in the UK.
My interest in sewing has extended right back to a very early age when I used to sew alongside my aunt. I got a brand new sewing machine for my 10th Birthday. It was a Singer with lots of fancy stitches on discs. I soon started making clothes for my Mum and I would often come home from school to find fabric and a request for a dress for the next day!
Approximately 10 years ago my Mum once again surprised me with a new sewing machine. This time it was a Janome 11000 which came with a quilting kit. I had never made a quilt, so I ordered a book from the internet then later the fabrics and I made a quilt. This got me hooked. Tim’s ‘cousin’ offered to come down to Bridlington to provide some advice and so the Patchwork courses began. We got a group of ladies together and Susan Briscoe provided a three day retreat for us all and then the acorn was planted and the Oak tree started to grow.
From this one course we now run well over a couple of dozen retreats / workshops per year both out of season, winter through to spring and also in the summer months.
Like most quilters, I thought I would just quilt my own tops, but my pile of UFO’s soon grew with the workshops and the other students likewise. I would rather make a new top than battle with a large quilt under my machine – its hard on the eyes and shoulders. We decided to invest in a Longarm Quilting Machine and after much research we chose an ABM Innova 26 inch with Lightening Stitch & computer (affectionately known as Rodney & DelBoy!) We flew out to Utah for extensive training – but I will tell you much more about this later. Of course with the growth of the Longarm side of our business we then identified the need for Extra Wide Fabric and we now also import specially made extra wide traditional batik direct from Java.
All in all over the last 10 years we have had a massive learning curve but at the same time we have had some wonderful experiences and met some amazing and talented people from all around the world – although none of this was in the original business plan!
Over the next series of Blogs I will be telling you all lots more about our journey from the early days to the current day. Indeed I would also love to tell you about my latest venture into the world of teaching for a local Charity, The Hinge Centre, as their Arts and Crafts Coordinator providing Arts and Crafts for therapy and development to all sectors of the community.