My love of corded and stuffed quilting runs very deep. I first taught myself the technique about 15 years ago after seeing it used in 1930s couture garments at the V&A when I worked there. I later discovered the Tristan Quilt, a 14th century trapunto quilt, which is in the V&A but it wasn’t on display while I worked there. Over the last few years working as a professional artist / maker / tutor and writer of books, I have continued to explore trapunto / corded quilting as much as possible. I have covered the technique in basics in my first book Sew It Up, and then in much more detail in Fabric Manipulation. I have also taught the basics of the technique to hundreds of people, including for the last 10 years at Festival of Quilts. I’ve continued to research the technique by visiting museums and arranging store visits to see original pieces (mostly 18th century), and collected old quilting books which occasionally mention the technique. I have already created a very brief history of the technique which is online here, and have copies of the two main books on the subject, but there is much they don’t cover which I want to explore.
I’ve now received a small professional development grant from The Textile Society to take this research forward on 2020. I will be visiting museums, exploring online catalogues and reading books to create a list of corded & stuffed quilting in collections in the UK, and start working towards a book which will cover both the history and the contemporary practice of this wonderful, under-appreciated technique. If you have any examples in your personal collections or know of any in museums, please do get in touch.
The two photographs are my own pieces made for publications, inspired by historic examples. I will be teaching the techniques again at Festival of Quilts in 2020 and will be running a masterclass at some point in 2020-21 too. Please join my mailing list to be first to receive workshop and talk information.
One 2nd & 3rd November 2019, my Criminal Quilts exhibition will appear for ONE WEEKEND ONLY at Gunnersbury Park Museum, West London. I will also be giving a talk / tour of the exhibition on the Saturday at 2pm. Tickets are £10 available from Gunnersbury website.
I’m running one short taster workshop at the Knitting and Stitching Show, this October at Alexandra Palace. The tickets have just gone on sale. One hour Introduction to Stuffed and Corded Quilting, Thursday 10th October at 1pm. The workshop is £15 and can be booked online now.
I’m pleased to have had another piece accepted into the Fine Art Quilt Masters at Festival of Quilts again this year.
Ruth Singer Tracery
Tracery will be shown in a large gallery with a lot of other really exciting textile pieces, 9-12th August. I will also be exhibiting my Criminal Quilts project in a gallery of its own too.
Ruth Singer Tracery
Tracery. Machine sewn patchwork. 2017
This piece was originally made for my 2017 solo exhibition Fragments, with the Quilt Association. Tracery is a direct response to the quilts in the Quilt Association collection. When I went to view the quilts I was entranced by the damaged ones and chose to make work which reflected this. Tracery has been made and unmade to create a quilt purely of seams holding the remaining threads together, just like the quilting stitches holding together quilts which would otherwise fall to pieces. To quilt lovers, my preference for the discoloured reverse, the wrecked by laundering, the paint-spattered and the pieced army blankets may be puzzling but I love the stories held in damaged or ordinary cloth. The humbler the better for me. I am interested in what it says about those who made it, bought it, sold it, used it, abused it, preserved it and mended it. My training in museum work taught me to look at objects from every angle, exploring every possible story to understand the thing as a whole, not purely as a visual object. As an artist I choose to look from one very specific angle and to explore that rich seam of narrative in as much detail as I can.
In case you missed it, I won the Fine Art Quilt Masters competition in 2016 which helped me fund and develop the Criminal Quilts project which I will be showing at this year’s festival.
Information regarding returning your quilt square including the address is all in the document below. Thank you
collaborative quilt return form
Thanks for your interest but I’ve now had over 100 people register which already makes an enormous quilt!
I am hoping to re-open this later in the year for exhibitions in 2019, so please keep in touch by signing up to my mailing list, following this blog or my social media including Criminal Quilts Twitter
My new exhibition Fragments is now open at Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes, Wales and continues until 16th September 2017.
The exhibition includes several new pieces of work inspired by quilt history and some older pieces which fit into the same theme including my paper quilt, the Criminal Quilts : Hanging and Star Quilt. The new work has developed from my research visit to see the quilts in February this year combined with my own collection of old and worn patchwork, plus at least a decade’s fascination with old quilts and their history.
Quilt Association collection
Two previous blog posts explore the process in more detail and all the pieces in the exhibition are described here.
My Criminal Quilts series originally commissioned by Shire Hall Gallery is probably my best known work including the 2016 Fine Art Quilt Masters winner. This winning piece will be exhibited in the Minerva Arts Centre this summer and the patchwork piece will be at Unit Twelve from the end of April. I’m really excited to be starting a new project taking this work further with Staffordshire Records Office in 2017-18. I’ve just received funding from Arts Council England to develop new work, exhibitions and community partnership projects based around the original archive material relating to Victorian women criminals.
To celebrate (or actually, co-incidentally) I’ve got a free workshop on Sunday 26th March at New Walk Museum in Leicester inspired by this series of work.
Inspired by Ruth’s work and using silhouettes of hands, create your own piece with a personal touch. Explore drawing and creating patterns on paper with your own hand outline and embellish with embroidery, fabric and paper collage. No previous experience is required. The workshop is FREE but booking is essential. Call the museum on 0116 225 4900 to book your place.