I don’t know if any of you remember, but back in October I was slightly late getting my ‘Origin’ orders to their rightful homes because of a very important and lovely quilt project.

A great friend and mentor had come to my workshop one day for something or another and wondered what he could give to his wonderful wife for her 50th birthday. They were needing a bed cover to add colour to the room, in fact more specifically, the colour red after a Feng Shui reading indicated this colour was needed to add fun and joy to their life. I suggested I make a quilt.

I haven’t made many quilts bar some involvement in the making of a community quilt for our retiring head teacher and skirting around the perimeters of my mum’s many, many quilting projects.


I had, until quite recently, steered clear of quilts because I did associate them so heavily with my mother, wonderful as she was, but, still…defining oneself and all that? Anyhow, now that I am a big girl…I seem to be rather liking the idea of quilting.

I spent some time, including a tipsy evening with my sister Ann, trying to figure out how I wanted this quilt to look. I was not particularly drawn to the traditional pieced quilt but loved the haphazard abstraction of the quilts of Gees bend.

gee_youngstrips.jpg gees7-20.jpg geesbend8.jpg

I was also thinking about artists whose work I was drawn to and funnily enough, many of the paintings I loved had been inspired by quilts. Artist’s such as Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Rothko, Barnett Newman and Rauschenberg.

rothko2.jpg barnett-newman-adam-718345.jpg barnett-newman-2.jpg rrc_06.jpg 1218-paulklee-redballoon.jpg

I was also hugely inspired by some of our great contemporary tapestry weavers, Sara Brennan, Jo Barker, Fiona Rutherford and also a fantastic American quilter whom I stumbled upon… Lisa Call

sarabrennan3.jpg blush.jpg ancient_heart_fiona_rutherford.jpg lisa-call.jpg

My client wanted various symbols and some text incorporated in to the quilt, these included bunnies, sheep, pigs, blackbirds (remembered at the last minute), flowers and double love hearts. The text was from Gavin Maxwell’s book, ‘Ring of bright water’ – “It is no willow the wisp that I have followed here” in English and in latin.


The challenge was to figure out how to incorporate all these symbols and words without making the quilt too busy or too twee/Disney!

I finally settled on a design of strips/bands of colour on a base made of strips of neutral fabric. I had been told that Gilly likes soft fabrics so velvet and silk were used.


The strips were appliquéd on to the heavily quilted base and details then added on and around them.

I saw the strips as being like musical staves upon which the music of Gilly and Roger’s life is written, either that or bands of symbolism.

The upper bands held the love hearts, the lower bands more earthy inclinations…pigs, sheep and rabbits and flowers. and somewhere in between is the boat band…because they have one!

sheep-detail-copy.jpg pig-detail-copy.jpg

The quilt had to be completed the evening before Gilly’s birthday and was…only just. I finished at 3am and Roger picked it up at 5am to present with breakfast in bed.

Thankfully, Gilly was delighted and has told me it is a wonderful feeling to sleep under all the great memories and dreams of her life.


I absolutely loved being involved in this project and if any of you think you might like to commission a quilt for a loved one then please do get in touch.

All the best

xx Sarah

Posted by:mogwaii

Born: 13th March 1969 in Edinburgh Star sign: Pisces Where do I live? An beautiful island called Lismore Who with? I live with my gorgeous man - Yorick, and my beautiful boys Ruben (currently 14) and Tom (10) and we also have cat poppy, cat Bashy and cat Spyro. What do I do there? Water veggies in the polytunnel, loads of mopping up, picking up clothes, cooking and washing dishes. The rest of the time I'm in a blissfull state in my studio making things out of wool and designing the next must have (in my head!) and a lot of cycling to and fro My favourite Books: Right now...empowerment books like "The power of now" and "The Secret", but also John Fowles "The Magus" and "The kite runner" and I love the "Tao of Poo" My Favourite films: Babettes feast, Wings of desire and The colour of Pomegranites. My favourite music: Bach cello suites for designing, Dolly parton for making (especially her album Little Sparrow), Teddy Thompson and loads of other stuff! What did I do before moving to Lismore? * Went to school in Edinburgh (South Morningside primary then St. Mary's music school and then George Watson's) * Went to Brazil for a year, fell in love, learnt Portuguese and spun a lot of wool * Studied foundation in visual arts in Manchester poly and then went on to study BA Hons in textiles at Goldsmith's college * Made felt hats, sold them at Camden market and then eventualy Liberties and had Ruben in the midst of it all - moved to Pathhead * Tom came along and I stopped making hats. sung lots of Jazz, taught Brazilian and samba singing, recorded an album and started singing with La Boum * Tom went to school and I set up Mogwaii * Moved here in 2006 There you go!! xx Sarah (from left) Ruben, me and Tom (from left) Ruben, me and Tom

6 replies on “Gilly’s Quilt

  1. The quilt looks wonderful in real life, but I wasn’t aware of the context and it gives the piece a much deeper resonance. Especially struck by Rothko & Klee influences, quite apart from the rabbits and boats!

  2. The quilt is wonderful – not only did you consider the folks who commissioned it but you put so many of your own thoughts/ideas within it – no doubt this will lead to other commissions………I am somewhat envious of the area in which you live – it looks so beautiful and so peaceful ……..envy, envy….! Jill

  3. Stumbled across this site whilst looking for you re blinds for my bro’s BEAUTIFUL new house – I absolutely love Gilly’s quilt, really beautiful – as it was to see you too, and have a good old sing and a giggle (and a rant!). see you soon in Lismore I hope x x x

  4. Only just foundyour site and love reading it, the quilt is a joy, not only for the life that it holds for two people but the modernity of an old theme, I am sick to death of squares and the endless looking back at what was, great to see that craft looking forward, of course I want one too.

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