Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Simple Sampler Reunion

We had such a fun party yesterday. More than 50 women and at least that many quilts again, all squashed into our local village hall to share our quilts and talk sewing and meet old friends and make new ones at our Simple Sampler Reunion.

The story of the Simple Sampler........

Once upon a time a long time ago I tried to make a quilt. I spent several years trying to make a quilt. It took that long to learn how to make a proper one, from books, self taught ( no internet!). When I finished it was small and brown. I was discouraged. I lived in a new town with young babies and I was the only real life quilter I knew.

Then came the internet - suddenly there were other quilters, like me, who liked what I liked...but they almost all lived in America or Australia. I was a less lonely quilter but I still just had cyber sewing friends. Cyber sewing friends are (lovely, but) not a substitute for actual real life sewing friends. Really. They're just not.

One day I confessed to another real life person that I knew that after my babies were in bed, at night and at nap times, I made quilts. They said they'd love to learn how to make one (thank you Netty and Rachel W) - then another and another of my real life friends wanted to make a quilt (Jane, and Chris and Ines and Claire and Pat and RachelB and Annie and Christina, Hels and Sarie and Harriet and Nikki DB, Becky, Cat and Lynne). We started a group called The MakeClub and we met in my front room for 5 years. I taught all my real life friends (and their mums, and  neighbours!) to make quilts - some of us had some more babies, we made them all baby quilts,  yay I had turned my friends into sewing friends!

The quilt that I designed to show my friends how to quilt was called the Simple Sampler. It wasn't all that simple, in fact it was pretty comprehensive for a beginner, but I had to be called that so I didn't frighten them off! They all made a Simple Sampler ( or 3, Jane?). They showed off their newly made quilts and other people wanted to learn, too. Would I teach them too please?

Shyly I offered to teach a real class, for paying people. I agonised about it. A lot. But when my last baby started at play school 2 mornings a week I did it. I called my little venture PlainStitch. My motto was (and still is!) Modern Simple Sewing. No bossy rules, no fiddly nonsense. Lovely clean modern quilts at are of today but made in lovely old fashioned ways.

Simple Sampler was the class I always wished I could find when I started to learn. Lovely people started calling and e mailing asking to come to my class.(Thank you Jane D - you were my first e mail and yesterday your latest quilt was so beautiful it made me cry!)

Today I got to spend the morning with so, so many of them! From those first classes  to now I have shared such a special time with these wonderful ladies. Each quilt and it's maker have a special place in my memory. I remember every block!

Yesterday we all came together and shared those special first quilts - then wowed with the quilts they're making now. It was a complete overload for the senses. People packed into the hall, so much laughter and some tears, cake and tea, warmth, so much warmth and kindness and support. It was a special day.

Simple Sampler has come a long way. More than 50 people have made a first quilt at this class and this class is always busy long before the start date. It remains my favourite class to teach even though we teach so many more at PlainStitch now. It's the magical first step, opening peoples eyes to creativity, colour and such a nurturing hobby.

I do have a LOT of sewing friends now! Real life sewing friends. Such lovely friends. Thank you Simple Sampler. Thank you all. From little brown quilts great oaks, choc full of colourful quilts, grow x

ps Send me your pics of the event and i'll add them to the post! x