Harefield Hospital Quilt Commission

I recently completed a really enjoyable commission for Harefield Hospital NHS Trust to celebrate their centenary. There’s a brief background on the project here. This quilt is inspired by a 1915 quilt made as a fundraiser for the first hospital on the site and the new quilt tells the story of Harefield Hospital since the First World War to the present day. Throughout June 2015, I worked with communities, staff, patients and volunteers to create this quilt full of details about the hospital. The quilt is made from traditional hexagon patchwork with over 400 individual pieces including the techniques of hand and machine embroidery, digital printing, screen printing and natural dyeing. The pieces are all hand sewn together and the quilt is hand tied.

The pieces used in the quilt were made during a series of workshops at the hospital, starting with screen printing and natural dye to create patterned fabrics to use in the patches. We used plants from the hospital grounds to colour the cloth and images from the buildings and archives as screen prints. Later workshops included digital printing, embroidery and making the 400+ hexagons used in the finished quilt.

Many of the patches are made from digitally-printed images using photographs from the hospital archives and photos I took of the grounds and buildings in Spring 2015. We have also used logos, plans, documents and photographs of recent events at the hospital.

Blue and grey fabrics used in the quilt are old and current nurses uniforms from Harefield. Written quotes include oral history testimony from staff and patients, as well as comments from the hospital’s Facebook pages. Regular contributors have hand stitched their names onto patches and some contributors gave photographs of family members or documents which refer to their relationship to Harefield Hospital and to social activities related to the hospital. Hand stitched outlines of leaves refer to the wards named after trees growing in the grounds. We have also included details of the red and white ANZAC quilt and photographs of the ANZAC cemetery at Harefield Hospital.

The quilt was entered into the Festival of Quilts open competition in August and will be on permanent display at Harefield Hospital from mid-September.

Harefield Hospital centenary quilt commission

I’ve recently been commissioned to make a centenary quilt for Harefield Hospital. The NHS hospital began its medical life as an ANZAC hospital, during the First World War. The then owner of the 18th century house and estate was an Australian and gave over his house and grounds to create a facility for his countrymen. The hospital continued to grow and in the 30s became a TB hospital and eventually an NHS hospital specialising in lung and heart treatments.

Harefield archive photo

Harefield archive photo

In 1917 a quilt was made to fundraise for the hospital and this quilt has inspired the new commission from Royal Brompton and Harefield Arts.

Harefield Hospital Anzac Quilt

Harefield Hospital Anzac Quilt

I’m running a series of workshops for staff, patients, former patients and local communities at the hospital in June to create elements of a new quilt which I will be creating for permanent display, alongside the original quilt, in the hospital.

We had our first taster workshops at the Anzac tea party last week and talked to lots of enthusiastic people about the workshops and commission. I’ll be blogging regularly about the development of the quilt and the project in general over the summer months up to the launch in September.

Harefield Hospital commission first workshop (Ruth Singer)

Harefield Hospital commission first workshop (Ruth Singer)

 

Show Season!

I’ve barely unpacked all the goodies I bought at the Festival of Quilts (last month) and apparently it is almost time for the Knitting & Stitching Show** – with the local Big Textile Show* in between.

Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham is always a favourite of mine – it is an hour away so I can visit as much as I like but also sleep in my own bed. There are exhibitions, there are workshops (I always teach a few), there is catching up with friends and there is always a lot of shopping! These days I only tend to buy small things – threads, needles and tiny scraps of fabric – rather than the huge bolts of quilt wadding and kilos of fabric you see people lugging around. I always make a beeline to the Embroiderers’ Guild stand to hunt through their ‘treasures’ – bits and pieces of old embroidery, samples and materials. I was very pleased with this lovely dragon this year. I’ll be sharing a closer look at him soon.

Dragon embroidery (collection of Ruth Singer)

Dragon embroidery (collection of Ruth Singer)

For the first time in a few years I didn’t have a quilt in the open competition. I didn’t have anything suitable ready for this year but I am already making good progress on something I plan to enter next year – sneak peek below.

Patchwork in progress. Ruth Singer

Patchwork in progress. Ruth Singer

I found the exhibitions at Festival of Quilts were not as interesting as usual, to my taste anyway. The Fine Art Quilt Masters was good but I thought a little limited compared to last year. This year it included a lot more actual quilt pieces, whereas last year the definition was much looser and it was a contemporary art textiles selection. Of all the pieces, I particularly loved this by Raffaela Gottardell. You can see better photos on her Flickr page and Pinterest board.

Raffaela Gottadelli

Raffaela Gottadelli. The Winter of Our Discontent

 

The exhibition of work by the group Art Textiles Made in Britain was great. I love the detail in Louise Baldwin’s pieces and the stitch work in Rosie James‘.

 

 

 

I also liked some of the quilts from the Russian Gallery, made by Elena Folomyeva. The simple colour schemes and graphic plants on textured white backgrounds are really lovely.

*The Big Textile Show takes place this weekend 27th & 28th September in Great Glen, Leicestershire. I will be there in studio capacity, selling books, vintage fabrics, haberdashery and workshop tickets. I’m also teaching Trapunto Quilting on Sunday afternoon and will probably be shopping the rest of the time!

As for the **Knitting & Stitching Show (8-12 October), I am also teaching a couple of Trapunto (spot a theme here?) one-hour workshops on Thurs afternoon and Fri afternoon. The galleries look great, particularly the work of my friend Caren Garfen and Black Sheep which I have already seen and it is great.  And of course, there will be shopping – you will find me trying not to spend hundreds of pounds on spectacular Japanese threads at Habu.

 

 

2014 textiles workshops

Just a brief outline of the new workshops to come in 2014, full details soon!

Workshops 2014
All workshops are 10am-4pm on Saturdays at Ruth Singer Studio, Leicester. £55 each or book 3 for £150

Miniature Art Quilts. 25th January
Criminal Quilts 2

Shadow Embroidery. 23rd February

Criminal Quilts 2

Cut-surface quilting. 22nd March

'Squares'  hanging, 2013. More details here

‘Squares’ hanging, 2013. More details here

Family Stories. 26th April

Whiting Laundry

Handmade fabrics. 31st May

Suffolk puff cushion

Smocking, Shirring & Gathering. 28th June  Rescheduled for 21st June

English smocking

Found objects and amulets . 19th July

Metamorphosis detailPhotos on Fabric. 30th August

Monumental Folly pincushion  25x15cm More  details here

Monumental Folly pincushion 25x15cm More
details here

Wild Dyes. 28th September Rescheduled for 20th September

mixed dyes

Trapunto Quilting. 1st November

Trapunto quilting

Transparency. 6th December. Rescheduled for 13th December

shadowwork detail

Trapunto quilting

One of the most popular sessions I teach is Trapunto or Italian quilting. My new book, Fabric Manipulation, 150 Creative Sewing Techniques, covers this technique in detail and includes lots of variations including shadow quilting, corded quilting and using stretch fabrics.

Time Bubble 1 detail
Detail of Time Bubble 1. 

I’ve been using Trapunto for years in small projects but this apron was the first major exhibition piece I created using the technique, stitched into a vintage apron.

round pincushion
Pincushion with trapunto, featured in Pretty Little Pincushions




Trapunto sample

I’m always on the look out for vintage examples of trapunto work, and recently bought a piece of corded quilting which I will be featuring on the new website later in the summer.  I’d love to know if you have seen or even own any vintage pieces with trapunto. 



Framed trapunto currently in the shop at NCCD



Detail of doll’s quilt in Pretty Little Mini Quilts
Trapunto purse in Quilt it With Wool


I am teaching trapunto this summer at Hampton Court Palace (2-day intensive summer school), and running 1 hour taster sessions in at Festival of Quilts and Fat Quarterly Retreat. 

Detail of History’s Hand.

Log cabin quilt

Just occasionally I get to do a bit of fun sewing. Not often enough. I had a bit of time off over Christmas & had a lovely few hours making a quilt from my friend’s baby, Tillie, who was born in early January. 

Quilt for Tillie

Quilt for Tillie

The bugs fabric is by Paula Ozier, there’s quite a bit of Cloud 9 in there too, as well as some Liberty, Kaffe Fasset & Amy Butler, and some plain organic cottons and the yellow border fabric (and backing) fabric is an old curtain. The blue with black sprigs is a V&A heritage print. 

Quilt for Tillie

It is quite unusual for me to use so many shop-bought fabrics but mostly they were scraps left over from other projects or samples I bought to find out what the quality was like. Or just because I loved the idea of fabric with bugs on it for a baby quilt. 

Quilt for Tillie

I am pretty obsessed with irregular, improvised log cabin patchwork at the moment; I’ve got a massive quilt on the go but can’t work on it until I have moved into the new studio where I’ll have space to spread it out!

Quilt for Tillie


I’m sharing the love with a workshop on this very technique in April.

Log Cabin Patchwork Cushion
Sunday 28th April
10am-4pm
Discover the delights of this traditional patchwork technique with a contemporary twist. You will learn how to create irregular, freestyle log cabin patchwork, incorporating beautiful vintage and upcycled fabrics, and make the finished piece into a cushion cover. This is patchwork for those that enjoy improvised designs, exciing colour combinations and hate fussy measuring and cutting.
£55 including materials
Intermediate (suitable for those who have used a sewing machine before)
 
Quilt for Tillie

My inexpert quilting efforts are very much inspired by the amazing Lucie Summers. I adore her colour combinations and designs. If you can get there, I strongly suggest you try and make a trip to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August. Inspiration, fabric and lovely people. What more could you ask? (oh, and I will be teaching there too!)

I’ve also just booked a teaching slot at Fat Quarterly Retreat too, so I hope I can learn a bit more while I am there!