Talking Quilts has featured in a number of key publications

Every quilter has a story to tell

Every quilter has a story to tell about the quilts they make. Quilts are made to celebrate, to remember, for healing or therapy, as art or simply for pleasure. Talking Quilts is saving the stories of present day quilters by recording their narratives, practices and experiences, creating a national collection of quilters’ stories in their own words, including sound and video recordings, photographs and transcripts.

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Talking Quilts update

You may remember the feature in the February 2015 issue by Talking Quilts Project Manager Vicky Martin. The project has been going from strength to strength since then and the Talking Quilts Committee invited me to attend a reception to celebrate the success of Talking Quilts: Saving Quilter’s Stories and the project’s exhibition, ‘Talking Quilts: Family Connections’ which was on display at the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham in August.

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It’s good to talk

It’s almost five years since Dr Pauline Macaulay brought together a group of passionate quilters to brainstorm the idea of an oral history project to record the stories of people who quilt. Here, our Features Editor, Jane Rae, who has been involved with the project since those early days, shares some reflections on the value of oral history and discovers that Project Manager, Vicky Martin, has been doing more than just talking about quilts.

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Listening in

The first time I read about the Talking Quilts project was in The Quilter and immediately I knew it was for me. I can’t resist talking to those who share my passion for quilting. I love to find out why they choose their fabric, how they decided on a piecing method, what is their preferred quilting style and, perhaps most importantly, why a quilt was made.

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Talking quilts in Today’s Quilter

Every quilter has a story to tell about the quilts they make. Quilts are made to celebrate, remember, for healing or therapy, as art or simply for pleasure. Inspired by Quilters’ Save Our Stories (QSOS) project in the USA, which has been running for 11 years, Talking Quilts aims to preserve the experiences of present-day quilters by building their narratives and practices into a national archive of quilters’ stories.

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At the sharp end: Where passions can lead…

I have become an oral historian. Who would have thought that quilting would lead me to this? But it has, and I’ll tell you how. I’ve been involved in the Talking Quilts project for the past five years. Pioneered in the UK by Pauline Macaulay, Talking Quilts is based on an American model called Quilters’ Save Our Stories (QSOS).

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A voyage of discovery

Earlier this year Dundee quilter Sandra Smith took part in the Talking Quilts Project and shared the story of the Discovery Quilt. It was made by a group of quilters and embroiderers based in Dundee, inspired by Maggy Howarth’s mosaic created for the Discovery Point Visitor Centre where Captain Scott’s ship, the RRS Discovery, is moored.

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The story so far

The three-year project is being led by volunteers. Quilters are trained to conduct oral history interviews using audio recording equipment, as well as to complete interview transcriptions. The interviews focus on a ‘touchstone object’ – a quilt or quilted object made by the interviewee – and explore the story behind it. The interview then broadens out to explore the quilter’s relationship with quiltmaking and the role quiltmaking plays in their life.

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