African Mask

African Mask

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Quilting in Africa.

When I lived in South Africa, in the '80's and '90's, I had a business called Iris Creations. The reason for the name was that both my Mother and I have Iris as one of our names. I dyed and painted the fabric and my Mom did the sewing. Then one day I realised that maybe I should know a bit about quilting seeing as I dyed fabric for all the quilters in South Africa, and some people internationally too. :-D

I hunted about and found a lady who taught quilting from her home. She did a 5 day intensive course with a small discount in price if I could encourage another person to join me. Well I'd already decided that my Mom and I were going to do this together so that was a nice little bonus. :-)

We lived in a little farming community about 80 km from Pretoria, the Capital City of South Africa. The course was in Pretoria, so that meant we had to drive in every day. This wasn't a hardship at Mom and I were so excited about this, that we chatted and chatted and the trip passed in no time at all...
The course taught us 9 different types of patch working..we sewed a block of each type and then put them together to make a lap quilt.

The Patchwork that I found the most fun and of course the easiest was the Nine Patch. So I set about practicing it till, I think, I was fairly proficient. I then started to put together Nine Patch Kits, complete with instructions, selling them at the quilt shows and to quilt guilds around the country. This expanded into people asking me to design blocks with a specific theme, which I'd do..then I'd dye fabric for that theme, paint the blocks, cut all the pieces required and package them with batting, backing and instructions. It was fun but very time consuming.

One day my phone rang and to my surprise the caller was a lady from South Africa's Leading Needlework and Craft Magazine, Talking Threads! She'd heard of my quilts and wanted to do a story on them. I was flabbergasted and enormously flattered all at the same time ;-)
We got together and did the interview. I was asked to write up a tutorial on how I made these quilts. I didn't have a camera in those days, so I had to manipulate the whole thing through the computer. They loved it. I  was so excited! Then I didn't hear anything for a while. I was immersed in my work and so time flew by. Several months later they called me and ordered a whole lot of the Nine Patch Quilt kits. I asked what was happening and they said that they wanted stock for when the edition # 20 came out. I got all excited all over again, and was even more busy trying to deal with my regular orders and all this as well.

What they hadn't told me was.......................... My quilt was going to be on the front cover of the Magazine!!!  I was totally blown away when I found out!
The front Cover.
 Inside the Talking Threads was a full three pages showing my quilt and how to make it. Because the Talking Threads had stocked up with the kits..people could get them at a reduced price, a great bargain for beginner quilters.
My Quilt.
 The fabric had all been dyed by me and then stenciled on top of the dye. I had designed 4 different quilts so that people would have a choice.
Other Choices.
All in all it was a great time for me. My business was doing well and I was one happy lady. ;-D

Recently I tried to find out if Talking Threads was still pumping out their fantastic mag, but I couldn't find anything online. Not that, that means anything really..but I did wonder.

Still sailing....this is a scheduled post..just to keep you all on your toes.. lol


  1. Merica / AfrikaByDesign6 June 2011 at 22:43

    I was just about to ask if you were already back in port but then read the end. Fooled me! And kept me on my toes! Hope the sailing is smooth seas.

    But, you recounting this success story is inspiring and encouraging for all creators out there. Talent mixed with providence... :)

  2. Gaynor/Africapintail7 June 2011 at 01:33

    You can come back now Sylvie! Hope you have been working between wave motion. Great post.Thank you.

  3. I am back.....we arrived a day or so ago..made it across 4000 miles of ocean :-) thanks for the comments :-D

  4. Gaynor/africapintail3 July 2011 at 07:02

    feisty voyager welcome back

  5. welcome back intrepid sailor