Having devoured Patchwork & Quilting books, followed online tutorials and retaining a passion for her hobby for more than 14 years, Plum Cox remembers feeling like she’d plateaued with her hobby of Patchwork and Quilting. After discovering the accredited Patchwork and Quilting course at the School of Stitched Textiles, Plum was able to expand her knowledge, skills and confidence and go on to create her own designs, set herself challenges and gain more enjoyment from her hobby. This is her graduate story.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!”
This was my response to finding that there was a City and Guilds course that I could do without having to leave me house. One that I could take at my own pace. One that would allow me to submit modules when it best suited me. I was overjoyed.
I’d come to Patchwork and Quilting through poor health. I fell ill with ME/CFS in 1999 and was more or less housebound for the first three years. When I could manage to do something, I was trying to complete some cross stitch kits but the samplers that I wanted to do were too hard for me to concentrate on. I needed something that I could do with my hands that could be completed without the ‘find your place and check every stitch’ requirement.
Discovering Patchwork & Quilting
Inspired by Lynn Edwards’ New Sampler Quilt Book, I ordered a bundle of Fat Quarters and a duvet cover for yardage of plain fabric and set to work, learning lots of patchwork techniques as I went. I had no idea that from those uncertain beginnings I would still be busily learning still more about my hobby 14 years later, and still loving every minute of it!
I worked through the book although it took me some years before these learning blocks became the completed quilts that I wanted. My next venture was a ‘colour wash’ quilt made of dozens of half square triangles – some charm packs, some remnants and plenty of (rather too thick) cream calico. There are points chopped off, the most appalling quilting, a border that does nothing to enhance the quilt yet it was all mine. My first ever completed quilt. I was as proud as could be!
I carried on quilting, building my skills mostly by reading books and magazines and participating in online challenges (I’m a member of a stimulating online group, BQL – British Quilt List) as even one day workshops are still tough for me to get through. I’d reached a plateau though, and wanted to stretch myself more.
Discovering the School of Stitched Textiles
Then I heard about the The School of Stitched Textiles. It offered the perfect course for me. The submissions are all on-line by photo-filled presentations. You set your own timetable (although you are asked to complete the course within five years of registration with the City and Guilds authority). You can ask your tutor for help when you need it, but don’t need to have a constant dialogue with them if you are happy with what you are doing.
This was the lifeline that I’d been looking for, promoting my excited response! I was going to be able to take my skills up a level, but on my own terms. I was delighted!
The process of joining was easy and this set the tone for the course. A deep breath, a look at their online galleries of previous students’ work and I was ready to start. It took me three years to complete and looking back over my work I can see how my skills and confidence have grown with the guidance and support that was given. I particularly like the way that you aren’t invited to work on assessment pieces until you have ‘found your feet’ – very sensible! All along I’ve been able to work as quickly or slowly as I’ve chosen so I could fit my course around the restrictions that I have.
Discovering techniques and creativity
The design aspect of the course is really important. I’ve learnt that good design doesn’t just magically happen to the special few. It is possible for all of us to learn techniques of how to observe things. By applying different techniques you can allow your own designs to evolve – it’s really exciting! It was lovely to be able to to share celebrations and frustration with other students through the Facebook group that is set up for SST students too.
Now that I’ve got my Level 3 Certificate I’m hoping to go on and study further, perhaps taking the Diploma Course. I’m also setting myself challenges like making a quilt to give away (mostly to charities like Project Linus) every month for a year and to use the skills that I’ve learnt on the course to produce my own quilt designs. I’m lucky that I have the support of my fabulous husband who is very tolerant of my fabric and gadget stash and daughters who don’t raid these too regularly.
I’d like to think that one day I’ll be fully recovered from ME/CFS and able to teach other people something about the joys of patchwork and quilting. In the meantime I have my blog. I intend to include more tutorials on it to share my love of patchwork and quilting.
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