Today we introduce, Margaret Smith.
Margaret served on the Executive committee for a few years during the nineties, and has been an accredited teacher for 22 years and a judge for 20 years.
She loves sharing her quilting with so many people and especially seeing the joy on someone’s face when they’ve completed their first quilt. Whilst a judge she was privileged to go to Melbourne in 2010 as the WA Judge at the “Best of Australia Quilt Show”.
“As a judge, I have seen many, many, beautiful quilts. WA has so much talent.“
Margaret lives in the lovely little town of Pemberton (4hrs south from Perth amongst the giant Karri trees and she moved there with her husband from Perth in November 1999, to ‘retire”!!
Your early beginnings were?
I grew up in England with a mother and two grandmothers who were very creative. I loved school holidays with my two grandmothers because they spent time teaching me about knitting, embroidery, cooking and gardening. I remember being very small and sitting on my grandmother’s lap turning the handle on her Singer sewing machine for her (brave Lady!!!)
I was married in 1962 and later had two beautiful daughters and, in 1969, we emigrated to Perth as “ten pound poms.” We have never regretted making the move across the world. My husband was able to secure a position as town planner in his profession soon after arrival. Our first home here was in High Wycombe where we lived for 17 years.
I was able to work from home doing soft furnishings and wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses and ballgowns as well as looking after the two girls.
Have you always been creative?
Yes I’ve always been creative. When I left school, I worked as a trainee tailoress at a court dressmaker and tailors. (The owner had the Royal warrant to make clothes for the Royal Family) I spent the first three months making shoulder pads and handing pins to the boss in the fitting rooms!!!!
A year later, I was being part of making jackets and coats for special people. Leaving there 4 years later due to health issues, I then leant to make curtains and fitted chair covers for a shop in our local village. I also started to make wedding dresses for friends at this time.
In 1982, my mother in England joined a local patchwork group and, not to be outdone, I went to a patchwork shop in Kalamunda and within 6 weeks I was totally addicted.
“This is the quilt my mother made from Chintz scraps from curtains she made for other people”
Your first piece of quilting work was?
I first made cushion covers and small quilts. I do have a special quilt made in 1986 from hexagons left over from the quilt my mother made in 1986 for our eldest daughter’s wedding present.
“My first large quilt”
Have you won any awards, locally, nationally or internationally?
In the first WAQA’s first judged show in 1996 at the Claremont Showgrounds, I won third prize with my quilt titled “My Grandfather’s Flower Garden”.
In 1998, I won “Best of Show” with my quilt called “Ocean Dream”.
I have won quite a few first, second and third prizes throughout the years. I’ve won quite a few prizes in other shows.
“Razzle Dazzle” also chosen to go to Melbourne for inclusion in the Best of the Best at the Melbourne Show 2010.
– “Liberty Plates” Made with my favourite fabrics – Liberty Tana Lawn.
“Sunburst” The process was called “tiling”.
“A New Heart” celebrating 50 years of the first heart transplant.
“Potato Head Beach Resort, Bali” This really is a hotel in Bali. External treatment comprised of recycled doors and window louvres.
In your spare time you enjoy?
Gardening. I have a special cottage garden with a lot of cool-loving plants reminding us of England. My husband has an extensive vegetable garden. This helps keep me fit as well.
Do you have a favourite book/author?
I do not really have a favourite book but I enjoy reading historical novels from such authors as Georgette Heyer and Jane Austin.
Where were you born?
I was born in Cambridge, England and moved to a place called Findon near Worthing in Sussex to be near my father’s parents at the early stages of WWII. My father was in the RAF.
We moved to Perth in 1969 and were very happily settled there until we moved to Pemberton in 1999.
A little bit about your family, are they supportive of your quilting?
We have two daughters, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren all of whom are very supportive of me in what I do although they laughed at first at me cutting up fabric and sewing it back together. (My husband’s still laughing!!!)
Do you belong to any quilting groups?
When in Perth I was part of the Blackboy Hill Quilting Group. In 2002, I started the Karri Quilters Group in Pemberton which is still meeting in each other’s homes. I also belong to the Cherry Blossom Quilting Group in Manjimup.
We always have a quilt display at the Cherry Festival in Manjimup.
Favourite holiday spot?
I love the Kimberleys and Esperance. Can’t get too much further apart, can you?
You can’t live without?
Visiting our lovely family in Perth which is getting bigger all of the time now with great grandchildren coming along and the love we share with one another.
Do you follow patterns or like designing your own?
I love having a photo or picture and turning them into a picture. It’s always a challenge to try new designs. I make up most of my own designs.
Your favourite part of the whole quilting process?
Dreaming up my new designs and watching them come together no matter what processes are involved.
I have worked with special interest groups to prepare and make story quilts. The Karri Quilters were part of the group. One was for the 100th Anniversary of Pemberton.
Manjimup Baptist Church ladies spent many fun hours working on a quilt for the Church sanctuary.
“Celebrating Manjimup and the Church”
How much has quilting changed for you over the years?
I don’t follow trends but I do more pictures than previously. I’m inspired by what’s around me in the forest with flowers, colours and textures.
I love to see the diversity of our wonderful art/craft that has evolved over time.
“From Little Things, Big Things Grow”.
Any tips you can pass on to other quilters?
Relax and enjoy. Don’t keep saying I’m not much good. We all, started at the beginning.
Keep going and you’ll have greater confidence. I’ve been quilting now for nearly 40 years and am still learning.
Do you have any particular quilting preferences?
I don’t really have a preference although modern quilts are probably bottom of my list. I really enjoy applique. (I was guided a lot by Val Meyerink in applique.) I also really enjoy both hand and machine quilting.
Do you have a stash ( fabric, ribbons, threads?)
I have no control over my stash!!!!!! I have drawers full and baskets full. I am trying to use from my fabric stash but there is always that one piece you need to buy!! I go into a shop for threads and come out with more fabric because as I look around another project pops up!!!!
Do you have a designated sewing area?
I have a lovely big room looking out over part of our lovely garden and on into a small part of the Karri Forest with, in spring, an abundance of wildflowers. I clear up occasionally – mainly to find something I’ve lost !!!!!
Small or large quilts?
Most quilts I do now are smaller in size and I’m using a lot of my scraps in quilts which I give away. I’m now doing a new quilt for our newly redecorated bedroom. Also I love doing my picture and story quilts that come in all sizes.
Thank you Margaret and your able assistant, Gordon for sharing your story with us.