A 150TH ANNIVERSARY QUILT

As some of you may know, when I’m not quilting away in the attic or messing around with dinosaur models, I pretend to be a grown up at my regular day job at John Lewis in Cardiff.  John Lewis is a chain of department stores that, owing to their generous partner discount, sees a large chunk of my pay spent recklessly in its stores various haberdashery departments.  The Cardiff branch is the only one in Wales and I’ve been working there since 2009.  Whilst I usually work in stock management, I’m no stranger to the staff on haberdashery and my face has become a regular feature whenever new fabric lines arrive for sale.  My love of patchwork and quilting has become common knowledge and I’ve since worked on the department, providing cover during busy periods and sharing my passion with other, would-be quilters.

Last weekend, John Lewis, founded in 1864 as a draper shop on London’s Oxford Street, celebrated its 150th anniversary.  The event was marked across the country, with all stores holding special in-branch events.  A television advert was filmed to spread the word, along with the hashtag #JL150, and a range of specially commissioned products were created.  Amongst these was a whole collection of fabrics, taking inspiration from original samples in the archives.  With its roots firmly in fabric, I was asked to create something over the celebratory weekend using the 150 collection.  What else could it be but a quilt!

Since it had to be completed over the weekend, I chose to make a scaled-down version of my Drunken Tiles quilt (let’s be honest, I was still over the moon that I’d been published and couldn’t get enough of it!)  As I mentioned, all the fabric came from a new collection printed especially for the anniversary.  Bold, geometric patterns mixed with softer florals and vibrant solids, they certainly had a heritage feel to them, whilst placing one foot firmly in the ‘now’.

The top came together speedily and the FMQ brought in the crowds, all anxious to find out more about the technique (“Oh, I thought a computer did all that!”).  I backed the quilt with a gorgeous teal solid to highlight the variegated thread, and the binding was a charming dot print I used in one of the tile centers.  I really enjoyed making this quilt and interacting with the customers who passed by as I was sewing.  It certainly did a lot to spread the word about men who quilt, with some people having to do a double take as I pinned on my binding!

I initially heard  the quilt was to be raffled off to support a local charity, though now I think there are plans to hang it in the branch restaurant as a reminder of the 1050th anniversary.  I’m quite honoured that the quilt will be a permanent fixture of the branch and look forward to any future occasion where I can get my quilt on and get paid for it!

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