I live in West London and divide my time between a day job and working on a PhD thesis about the early career of British film director Maurice Elvey. My favourite film is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and my favourite book is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
I’m on Twitter: @MissElvey (that’s my main account for mostly film related stuff) and @TheSewingBea (second account for sewing related stuff). instagram: misselvey and blog over at http://www.isthereroomformetosew.wordpress.com.
I had a fairly major operation and had to spend some time at home recovering; I wanted something productive to do and started to make a patchwork quilt.
Where do you work on your quilts and keep your fabric stash?
I work on my quilts in the living room at home, often listening to audiobooks while I sew. My stash is everywhere. At the moment it is somewhat out of control….
I tend to improvise. I sometimes sign up for a block of the month programme and follow a pattern if there is a particular technique I want to improve, but usually I see fabric I like, buy it without a clear plan in mind, and then find a use for it, improvising as I go.
What is your biggest quilting mistake?
I started to make a quilt in sections to be joined together once all the different sections were quilted. I thought it would be a good idea to use up scraps of different wadding. I was an idiot not to realise that some of it would come out very flat, and some of it would come out really puffy. I never joined the pieces together because once they were done I could see how the sections didn’t match. Plus the fabric is purple and yellow. I don’t know what I was thinking but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Three main projects:
The most ambitious is a portrait quilt of Admiral, Lord Nelson made up of 3,200 one inch squares – all stitched by hand. I’d been researching a film about Nelson from 1918, and got interested in the huge volume of Nelson memorabilia, which includes textiles. One thing led to another….. and I found myself embarking on a massive time consuming project.
I’m also working on a sea shanty quilt – I like quilting words and shanties have great lyrics. Some should be sung on an outward voyage and some when homeward bound – and then there are songs about what happens when on shore. I thought they would make a good narrative for my quilting.
The third project is a small quilted wall hanging, again with wording. I had been toying with the idea of quilting some words from silent film intertitles and someone commissioned me to make something based on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger. It’s not a favourite film of mine but I’ve enjoyed sewing it. I put the final quilting stitch in last night and now there’s just the binding to do.
Do you stick to one quilt at a time or do you have several on the go at once?
I sew by hand not machine – and that means projects take a long time. Enthusiasm can wane part way through – so I always have several quilts on the go and often go back to things that I’ve put aside, sometimes for years.
Depends on the time of day.
Machine or hand quilting:
Hand quilting. It’s relaxing, and I love doing it.
The Pet Shop Boys.
What do you do when you’re not quilting:
The silent film research takes up a lot of time – tracking down material and checking background information like reviews and production reports. And then there’s the writing up.