Sunday, 24 August 2014

Map quilts after Alicia Merrett

I may no longer be able to go to the Festival of Quilts but thanks to social media and people's blogs it is easy to see some of what I missed.  I also decided this year that as I am saving a lot of money by not going, I can afford to buy new books.  So I have bought three to start me off.

First up is Alicia Merrett's book to go with the exhibition she had at  This book is a brilliant idea.  It combines a catalogue of the exhibition, photographs of other map quilts she has made and a short workshop on how to make map quilts. And of course there are more in the galleries on her website.   As I am a map junkie I have loads of ideas for subject matter but it is a good idea to check out the techniques first.  I have studied with Alicia in the past so I am familiar with her method of curved piecing but I decided to make a trial piece to remind myself of the method.  A good idea this as it is very easy to lose track of what you are doing and that means you will not have a real map.

I began by going to my 'sweetie jars' of small scraps and found plenty of pieces for the houses.  It was a really good way to use up lots of leftover two inch pieces from bindings.

Then I turned to my large basket of green scraps to choose pieces for the fields.  I have done lots of work in green in the past but I realised that a lot of the scraps were patterned or had too much contrast of colour for this exercise.  Also I seem to have much more yellow green that blue green.  However, I was determined to make this piece from what I already have.  Following Alicia's instructions I laid all the pieces out, having done a drawing of a mythical village.

Then I promptly lost the plot of the design as I sewed them!  Finally I told myself firmly not to be such a perfectionist and remember this was just an exercise.  So here is the top.

I need to tidy up the edges and then it will be fourteen inches square.  As the weather forecast for the Bank Holiday tomorrow is dire I hope I can do the quilting tomorrow.  In my head I am asking how I can take Alicia's principles and make the technique mine.  This one would be instantly recognisable as 'hers' and I think that is one of the main problems with taking workshops.  I am wondering whether I should do something from an old map in 'old' colours.  I have plenty of rust dyed fabric which might work.  We live on a crossroads which is one of the oldest parts of the village and I know it was there well over a hundred years ago, so perhaps that should be my next one.  There are also the two villages we lived in before moving down here.  Then thee is the area where I spent the second part of my childhood which is now a suburb on Wellington but was originally a farming settlement and which has a wonderful straight road going right down the middle of it!  I can see I am not going to be short of subject matter.

I also noticed on Amazon that there are several books on map quilts so I am wondering if it is a bit 'flavour of the month'.  Certainly having access to things such as Google Earth and various map apps. means you could tell the story of your life in this form!


  1. I am really interested to see how you make this more your own. I agree that taking workshops does end up with imitations of the tutor. It is encouraging to me that you carried on. I wouldn't have started because of the whole 'I don't want to be a poor imitation of someone else' syndrome. Consequently I never start anything!

    1. I am thinking of doing something based on an antique map for my next one but this still does not address the question of how you make the style rather than just the colours, your own.

  2. A good start I think - now you can go off in your own direction - and make it your own.