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Meet the quilter: Kate Mansell

This week we welcome committee member Kate Mansell

How long have you been quilting?


Just after I had retired Phillip, my husband, came home and said that his choir were making a quilt in order to raise money for their annual charity fundraising and that he’d signed me up to help! The practice piece which I made was a star block using scraps and I still have it: I rarely throw away scraps! The rest is history... I was hooked and within a few months I joined Shropshire Quilters!


Kate's latest scrap quilt made with 1½” squares and inspired by John Piper's stained glass windows for Coventry Cathedral: 'a blaze of light framed and islanded in colour’


Do you still have your first quilt?


My first quilt was for my three year old Grandson. Alicia Merrett had inspired me with her free hand cutting and the exuberance of her work. I too love rich colours and rarely choose pattern over colour. To make the quilt I simply kept repeating the various techniques, which she had demonstrated at the workshop ,until I thought the quilt was large enough as I laid it out on the dining room floor!


Kate's first quilt, made for her grandson


My first workshop was to make a ‘kangaroo bag’. I used some old tartan curtains, some fabric from a car boot sale and a pair of Phillip’s woollen trousers. I still use that bag to take my equipment to workshops and sewing groups!


Kate's Kangaroo bag: still going strong


Do you have a favourite fabric style or colour?


I tend to design my own quilts and often take my inspiration from the natural world. I've just finished - though it’s been exhibited twice already - a quilted wall hanging for my husband, inspired by his colourful, fantastic dahlias! I belong to a group called UN:BOUND and we challenged ourselves to create a piece of work inspired by our name. This is my piece: I used as many techniques as I could in its construction, with unbounded joy!



The textiles were initially dyed with homemade dahlia dye, printed or painted; I embroidered, by hand or with my machine, then beaded and appliquéd some of the ‘visitors’ to the flowers. I felt the need to add a band of crazy log cabin blocks each with a free motion quilted dahlia. All the raw edges are joined with hand embroidery stitches.



What's your essential notion or tool?


My favourite tool is my stitch ripper(s); so many uses and a handy size.


Do you listen to anything while you quilt?


I prefer to sew in silence but occasionally I listen to some of my old record collection. Stitching is my go to therapy and I love immersing myself in a piece of work.


Can you share a top tip/online resource?


Quilters , I have found are generous with their time and expertise. I have learned sooo much from the women with whom I sew and I thank them for their generous gift!!


Have you had any quilting disasters?


Quilting that first quilt was a nightmare. I didn’t know that I had a walking foot... unpicking that central line was a laborious process. I decided to hand quilt the piece using ‘big stitch’ in various colours. I was delighted with my efforts and very proud of my work - so was my grandson - my neighbour liked it too and asked when I’d be taking out the tacking stitches (!).


Do you have a favourite quilt block?


My favourite block is a star and I’ve made them in many, many different designs.


Thank you Kate, its been lovely to get to know you!


And we'd really LOVE to get to know our talented membership too: if you'd like to share your quilting story please send an email to info@shropshirequilters.org for the Q&A sheet.


Visit again next Friday to meet another quilter...


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