Orpington Quilters

My Life in Stitches

My Life in Stitches - Diane and Yvonne  February 2020


Jennifer brought us another My Life in Stitches episode with Diane and Yvonne.


Diane started sewing even before she went to primary school .  Growing up in Cambridge, and learning from her mother, she made dolls clothes and later dresses for herself. Diane brought in a clever embroidery on binca that she had made very early in her sewing life.  She joined Orpingt0n Quilters in 2016 having already been very interested in patchwork and quilting and made lots of items mainly teaching herself from magazines and books.  We were shown a beautiful patchwork duvet cover and a colourful waistcoat shaped and designed by Diane herself.  She has an eclectic, scrappy patchwork style, a skilful sewer with a wonderful eye for colour.  She enjoys reading and learning from blogs and Facebook groups, and likes to follow, amongst others, the Bonnie Hunter Quiltville blog and website.


Yvonne started her sewing life at primary school, with embroidery and making doyleys for her mother.  She was able to study dressmaking at GCE level at school including ladies tailoring and she made her own dresses and wedding dress.  After a few years devoted to her family, she joined her sister-in-law in finding an interest in patchwork and quilting.  Her first quilt was handquilted and made from a jelly roll..  Yvonne has learnt a lot of her skills and techniques from workshops at Puddleducks and friends. She joined Orpington Quilters in April 2013.  Yvonne likes to make traditional quilts, in lovely pastel shades and she prefers to hand quilt all her work.  Her current project is the mystery quilt through Colour Wheel.  She has lots of other work in progress and showed us a particularly beautiful baby quilt with hearts that she has just finished for a friend.

My Life in Stitches - Sylvia, Anna and Carole   May 2019


Jennifer interviewed three of our long standing members who told us about their love of sewing and patchwork.


Sylvia grew up in a dressmaking family in Australia. Her mother and two sisters sew but she was introduced to patchwork and hand quilting hexagons when she came to England. She started log cabin while waiting for the birth of her first child but she made her first large quilt later in 1986 machine quilted which was a double bed design from Family Circle magazine.

No stopping her then. She made a beautiful wall hanging of nine Australian birds, applique with a mix of fabrics.  Sylvia likes Suffolk Puffs and in 2007 she completed a fabulous quilt consisting of 1591 puffs.  She joined Orpington Quilters in 1993 after having attended day classes at Kentwood on a City and Guilds Patchwork and Quilting course.

We were shown many beautiful and varied pieces, wall hangings, sampler quilt, meridian spikes,  farmyard qpplique, a stunning needleworked picture of her own house.  She has filled three photobooks with striking photos of her life's work so far.  And she has two quilts in progress at present.  A lot of her ideas come from her favourite book of Sashiko quilting based on circles or a grid. Her thimble is her favourite tool.  See her Australian birds below.



Unlike Sylvia, Anna doesn't come from a sewing household and she made us laugh at her description of the 'old witch' who taught nothing but pin cushions and tapestry at school, a very negative experience she said,  but much later when her family was still young she saw a class advertised at Kentwood with a creche which she was excited to join.  She described this as a mental health lifeboat and from then she signed up for a City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting course (mainly because it also had a creche!)   Anna joined Orpington Quilters in 2007 after returning to work (evening meetings) and she brought a variety of her handiwork for us to see - a friendship quilt almost worn out with use, a hand-made hand-dyed sashiko box, beautiful quilt completely hand sewn.  Anna finds a straight forward quilt design relaxing to make and enjoys watching the Missouri Star Quilt clips on YouTube.  She loves colour and her favourite tool is a non-shifting ruler.



Carole's mother was a milliner so sewing was in her family.  She had sewing lessons at school and used a sewing machine in her secondary school.  Carole was influenced by a much loved patchwork quilt that she was given by the Canadian Red Cross during the war.  She brought this quilt in to the meeting to show us.


Carole joined Orpington Quilters in 2012 and has always felt at home there.  She says she owes a lot to Mags and Carol (our former Secretary) for their sewing advice and guidance.  They have taught her how to patchwork and quilt.

She loves making scrappy quilts and hand sewing, and she is currently working on five projects.  Carole also showed us some of her amazing embroidery, see the Noddy below.

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My Life in Stitches  -  Polly, Carol and Norma   July 2018


At our July meeting we had the pleasure of seeing three of our members being interviewed by other members of the group.  It gave us a fascinating insight into the sewing lives of our friends.


Polly, Carol and Norma had all started sewing as little girls, and their passion has continued all their lives.  Polly used her ingenuity to make beautiful pieces despite not having much spare cash to spend on fabrics.  Her denim patchwork quilt made for her undergraduate son from his clothes was an inspiration.


Carol was making little projects from about the age of 4 and she brought lots of pieces in to show us as well as books she delved into for advice.  She told us that initially she had found choosing colours difficult and her first quilt was made in the autumnal colours of her garden.  Her second quilt was in the lilac tones of her bedroom and  the third showed how she was inspired to use a more developed colour palette.


Norma showed her talents for sewing long before she left school, helping her classmates to set in sleeves while the teacher was busy with other jobs!  She is a trained tailoress and has a C & G qualitifation in pattern cutting.  In recent years her expert patchwork and quilt making skills have been directed towards charity quilts.


Let's hope we can have more of these fascinating interviews.