Pacific Paradise

Layers of love – Hooked on patchwork quilting

Layers of love - Hooked on patchwork quilting

Tanneke Booth has a passion for breathing new life into old clothes such as men’s shirts and silk neckties by turning them into stunning patchwork quilts.

Good with her hands, the talented GemLife Pacific Paradise homeowner was an excellent cross-stitcher as a teenager in Holland but once she was introduced to patchwork quilting by a friend in Australia, there was no turning back.

“Much of my days now are spent working on patchwork quilts. It has become a bit of an obsession and I just can’t stop,” admitted the talented seamstress.

She explained that patchwork quilting was an age-old technique that makes full use of leftover scraps of fabric. The pieces, or patches, are usually simple geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, diamonds and hexagons which are precisely cut and sewn together for the edges to fit together exactly.

“Being good at mathematics helps because all the pieces must fit together like a maths puzzle, and that’s something I have always enjoyed. I also like the fact that you can reuse and recycle old garments and turn them into new and useful items that are so beautiful,” she said.

Tanneke said patchwork (or pieced work) dates back around 5000 years and is often used to make quilts, but the technique can also be used to make wall-hangings, bags, cushion covers, and various items of clothing.

She said that once you are confident in the craft, it is even more fun to share your knowledge and techniques with other keen quilters or join groups of like-minded people in special patchwork quilting afternoons or events.

At the end of last year, the mother of four and grandmother of three started a patchwork quilting group at GemLife Pacific Paradise which now meets from 9.30am to midday each Friday morning.

“We use the new craft room, and everyone works on their own projects, although we are talking about the possibility of doing charitable projects that we could start working on together.”

Tanneke is also a member of a group at Coolum which makes quilts for charities.

“We donated 15 to 20 quilts to various groups such as the homeless, those affected by domestic violence, palliative care patients and aged care homes last year and we do it because it feels so good.

“It’s like giving a stranger a big, warm hug, and letting them know that someone really cares about them,” she said.

She encourages people to work with others because it inspires them to try new things and broaden their own knowledge.

“You also learn little tips such as the importance of having three layers of quilting to ensure it can have a longer life. There needs to be three layers, stitched together properly for the quilt to withstand washing and the usual wear and tear.”

Making quilts is not for the faint-hearted because it not only takes a little know-how and skill but also a great deal of patience, according to Tanneke who says some quilts can take years to complete.

“I have finished quite a few but, to be honest, I also have about 51 unfinished objects or UFOs as we call them.”

Tanneke, whose first quilt graced her bed for 15 years, said many people start with something small like a cot quilt but it is all up to the individual.

She said that certain types of fabric can also inspire people to tackle a creative project.

“I fall in love with fabrics … they speak to me, which is one of the reasons I love patchwork quilting. I can’t deny it, I am hooked!”

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