Sheringham classes help patchwork revival

It has its origins in ancient Egypt and conjures up images the sparse homes of the American pilgrims, but, in recent years, patchwork has seen a revival, and is nowadays viewed as an art form fit to grace the modern living room.

Sheringham tutor Helene Smith, who runs one of the many groups springing up all over the country, believes a desire to create something personal, rather than just buying soft furnishings off the shelf, is behind the upsurge in interest.

'Patchwork was born out of need, when people had to make quilts from scraps of old clothing,' she says. 'But I think that, now, we want to be able to create things just for the joy of it.'

In the US, patchwork and quilting is a billion dollar-plus industry, and the UK is quickly catching up. Patchwork and quilting fairs and competitions are held all over the country, and are attended by thousands.

At the National Quilt Championships, held at Sandown Park, in Esher, Surrey, hundreds of quilts from all over the world are exhibited, with the thousands of visitors in attendance also able to take part in workshops run by 'stars' of the quilting world, or buy quilting and patchwork supplies from dozens of stands.

Danish-born Mrs Smith, who trained as an artist, has sold her own work at specialist fairs for many years and ran a craft co-operative from her Wyndham Street home.

'I think there really is an increase in handicrafts in general and what is nice about patchwork is that someone who may never have picked up a needle and thread can create a finished piece of work to be proud of,' she said.

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Mrs Smith will be running a series of patchwork and quilting courses in October and November, from classes for complete beginners, to projects to create baby quilts and table runners. For more information, phone 01263 821537.

For information on other quilting classes in the region, visit