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.
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.
Festival of Quilts
10-13th August 2017
This year’s Festival of Quilts will be a celebration of my winning the Fine Art Quilt Masters prize last year. I am giving a talk about the Criminal Quilts series past and present and the stories behind the emotive and engaging photographs which inspired my work. Bookings open in April here
Talk: Criminal Quilts: The story behind the Fine Art Quilt Masters winner 2016.
Friday 11th August 13.30-14.15. £8.
Ruth Singer will discuss the complex story behind her winning ‘Criminal Quilt’, inspired by archive photographs of women criminals. In this talk she will explore the background to this work and how it fits into her other research-led art textiles work and ongoing projects exploring heritage, personal stories and textiles with a narrative. Ruth will also discuss the techniques and materials used to create this and other work.
Criminal Quilts – Ruth Singer. Photo by Ashley Brown
‘Caroline Pulley’s Quilt’ More details here
I am also running a half day workshop exploring the techniques I used to create this work.
In the Shadows. Reverse appliqué with transparent fabrics.
Thursday 10th August 13.30. £41
Take applique and layering to the next level with this exciting technique of using transparent fabrics layered and cut away. Using delicate silk organza, you will learn how to prepare and hand stitch a design by hand and create the subtle shadow effects by removing layers of fabric. We will also cover embellishing with shadow embroidery stitch and trapping fragments between the layers. You will create a small sampler during this workshop which can be incorporated into larger project if desired. This technique was used by Ruth Singer to create her Fine Art Quilt Masters winning piece in 2016. Materials will be supplied, cost £7 to be collected by the tutor on the day. Suitable for all levels. Book here
Ruth Singer. Criminal Quilts: Hanging. Winner of the 2016 Fine Art Quilt Masters competition
As usual I will also be running one hour introduction to trapunto quilting quick and easy workshops.
Thursday 10th 10.30am, Friday 11th 10.30am & Sunday 13th 10.30am.
£13 per workshop. Book here
Earlier this year I was asked to make a project for DHG (Dyeing House Gallery), an Italian supplier for felting, dye and textile art supplies and I opted for a trapunto quilting project. Exploring their exciting catalogue of wool products was very inspiring and I chose the giant yarn with the idea of making HUGE corded trapunto along with beautiful wool gauze (called Etamine) to create a shadow quilting effect. The free tutorial is here. There’s also an interview with me on their site. There are lots of great tutorials and ideas on their site, it’s well worth exploring.
A trapunto wall panel project I designed for Today’s Quilter is now published in Issue Twenty.
Trapunto or stuffed / corded quilting is semi-forgotten technique these days and it’s my mission to bring it back to life with new contemporary designs. I have been researching and practicing trapunto for about 10 years, inspired by the oldest surviving example, the 14th century Tristan Quilt in the V&A. It was popular in the 17th century and had a brief resurgence between the wars in the UK although it has a more continuous tradition in France where it is called Boutis. I love trees – both naturalistic and stylised versions and a branch makes a design for a sampler where you can try cording and lots of stuffed variations.
My love of trapunto continues unabated and I am always looking out for interesting pieces in museum collections and antique textile sales. It’s been a delight to be asked to produce designs for books and magazines (another one due out this autumn) and to teach this technique as much as possible. I am teaching trapunto this year in various places including one hour tasters at the Festival of Quilts and a full weekend intensive stitching (details TBC) in October. My short history of trapunto is here. I am working on a short online course for beginners trapunto too which will be available later in the year.
Alongside the fabulous Interlace exhibition I am taking to the Knitting & Stitching Show next month, I am also teaching one-hour introduction workshops in English Paper Pieced Patchwork and Introduction to Trapunto Quilting. Workshops usually sell out before the show starts so please book online in advance.
English paper pieced patchwork Weds 13.00
Trapunto quilting Thurs 13.00 & Sun 11.45
Rowan leaves to represent Rowan Ward. Hand embroidery.
I will also be exhibiting and teaching at the Dublin & Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Shows.