Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Irish Quilting

After I published my St. Patrick's Day blog post I got a lovely comment from Sherry Nugent, the editor of Irish Quilting magazine.  We exchanged emails and she promised to send me a copy of their latest issue, which I received today.

Since my husband is from Killcullen in County Kildare I've had some experience with quilting in Ireland.  When I first went over in 1996 everyone was fascinated with the small embellished piece I brought with me to work on during the flight.  Those with sewing experience were interested in the stitching part, but many more were surprised that this was what passed for "quilting" in the States.

Like many people here, (then and now), the perception in Ireland was that quilts were pieced out of scraps and made to be used on a bed.  Quilting as we had come to know it in 1996 did not exist in Ireland.  There were no quilt stores in the country at all and the fabric stores carried clothing and home furnishing fabrics only.

I was surprised by this and frustrated as I'd hoped to find a whole new world of fabrics and embellishments on my visit.  I also wondered why quilting hadn't taken off in Ireland.  After all, the Irish are known for their creativity and fine workmanship in many other arts and crafts forms.  Who hasn't been thrilled to own a piece of Irish lace, or an Aran sweater, or a piece of Waterford crystal? 

Well, it's taken a while but Ireland is well on its' way to joining the quilting world.  Irish Quilting magazine is a testament to how far things have come and bodes well for an exciting future for Irish quilters.

In  my earlier post I'd mentioned that I'd thought the quilts in the magazine were a little dated and too traditional for my taste.  The newest issue has a good mix of traditional and more modern quilts, with an emphasis on Irish decorative style.  Of course Stained Glass and Celtic quilt patterns are featured, but there's also a mix of other quilts that I can imagine many stateside quilters would want to make. 

These small quilts would be a fun project for anyone. I was thinking that the patterns could be downsized to make a really beautiful tote bag.  I can imagine making them in coordinating colors and combining them to make a larger wallhanging or bed sized quilt.

One of the things I was very pleased to see is that the magazine isn't a "copy" of an American one.  The styles are distinctly Irish and the article and designs are mostly by Irish quilters.  I'd hate for Irish quilting to become a derivitive of the American style.  There's plenty of room for different perspectives. 

I remember the first time I picked up a Japanese quilting magazine.  I was so excited about the non-traditional color combinations that I integrated that aesthetic into my own quilts.  I'm looking forward to seeing what elements of Irish style I can absorb.

As with any "foreign" magazine a lot of the fun comes from the advertisements and the different terminologies, (witness "wadding" for "batting").  Of course I'm used to this as I've been forced to learn Irish English because my husband still won't call a "jumper" a sweater or a "vest" an undershirt.  He's the only guy I know who can get away with saying he's "delighted" by something.  He's also famous for shouting "Go on Lads!" at baseball and basketball games, not the usual cheer here in California!

So, for me the ads are fun in a different way.  I get to peruse them, take notes, and make sure my husband knows that at least part of our next trip will be spent fabric hunting.

If you're interested in a high quality, interesting quilting magazine I don't think you'll regret picking up an issue of Irish Quilting. 

Happy Stitching!


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