History of the NIPG. March 1979 –

This section has been compiled by our President, Deborah Baillie  and  Irene MacWilliam.

Early days

The Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild was founded by our President Deborah  Baillie, facilitated by Laura Jones, head of the Textile Department at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. The first meeting took place in March 1979 and meetings have continued to be held at this venue ever since. Over the years we have had speakers and teachers from USA, Germany, Holland, Canada, England and Ireland.

In the 1980s the Guild made three group quilts.

THE FRIENDSHIP QUILT

Made by Guild Members 1983

Members of the Guild had talked about making this quilt since the summer of 1982. Molly Taylor was Chairman during this time, and after much persuasion at almost every Guild Meeting, the required number of squares were obtained in varying shades of brown.

Each square was entirely different, some made by machine and some hand stitched, after some slight adjustments to various squares it was possible to join them with strips of plain brown fabric. The quilt was put onto a large frame and  several patient members set out to hand quilt it as in past times.

In June 2003 this quilt was handed over to the Quilt Collection of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

RED BASKET QUILT

Designed by Jane Lloyd

Made in the late 1980s

This was a group quilt, made by members, designed by Jane Lloyd, with the Guild logo in the middle. The logo, also designed by Jane, was part of a competition to choose a design for a badge. The basket block and border pieces were drawn on graph paper  cut up and used as the paper templates.

The fabric and graph paper were placed into bags, some contained baskets, others borders. People could choose what they wanted to sew. It was hand pieced from red and white poly-cottons. Another group sewed the pieced top, wadding and backing together and it was then hand quilted.

This quilt is featured on the cover of “10 Years On”, a 36 page colour booklet published to celebrate the Guild’s 10th birthday. Pictured below with Quiltfest 1989.

THE SIGNATURE QUILT

Designed and made by Avril Halliday
Made in the late 1980s

This quilt was made, as many signed and embroidered articles were in the past, to raise money. It should really be called the Library Quilt, as the funds made went to the N.I. Patchwork Guild Library to acquire more books.

Made in traditional red and white, the pattern is a variation of Irish Chain – the design of the quilt depended on the number of red squares returned! These red squares were sold to members for £1 and they then took them home to embroider their names on them. This meant that the quilt was very much a group effort.

Valerie Stevenson cut all the pieces, Avril Halliday joined the embroidered patches together into the finished top. Molly Taylor, Barbara Bates and Avril tacked the three layers together one afternoon, on Molly’s dining room table! It had been decided early on to include this quilt in the Guild’s “10 Years On” booklet. This meant that the quilting had to be finished in time to

take it with all the other work to the photographers! Nothing works better than a deadline to speed things up.  The quilting consisted of straight lines and Celtic patterns.

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Quiltfest 1989

In 1989 to celebrate the Northern Ireland’s Patchwork Guild’s first ten years,  Quiltfest, a large exhibition with a weekend of talks and workshops was held in Stranmillis Training College, Belfast. Teachers and Speakers came  from England, Scotland, Ireland and from within the Guild.

“10 Years On”,  a 36 page colour booklet showing members’ quilts was published. The cover showed the Red Basket Quilt designed by Jane Lloyd and made as a group quilt by members of the guild.

An open competition of blue and white star blocks included contributions from all over the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and the USA. The ten winning blocks were made up into a wallhanging for the Northern Ireland Hospice Chapel. The rest of the 240 blocks were made into a quilt that was raffled; a large quilt to cover the Physio plinth; lap quilts and cushion covers for use in the Hospice. A video of the weekend was produced and Quiltfest sweatshirts with the guild logo were a great success.

This exhibition, in the historic Cathedral in Dromore, Co Down was a celebration of the year 2000. The theme for the quilts was Ecclesiastes 3 v.1-8. It was inspiring to view so many different interpretations. Ninety three quilts, each one a unique example of the quilter’s art, hung from rafters, balcony, pillars and walls. Visitors to the Cathedral were amazed at the beauty of the individual pieces and how together they created such an impact. The exhibition attracted over 3000 visitors.

The exhibition travelled to five other venues; Greenisland; Carrickfergus; Holy Trinity Church, Glencraig, Craigavad; St George’s, Belfast; and St Patrick’s, Ballymena. This was very successful as it gave an opportunity to visitors from all over Northern Ireland to view and enjoy the work.

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Round Robin Quilts for Nepal, 2003 

During 2003 a number of guild members made 21 Round Robin Quilts. Created on the ’round robin’ principle, five people worked on each quilt, using a particular format to give uniformity. The first person worked the central motif, the next a border of triangles, the next a border of appliqué, the next a border of squares and finally it went back to the first person for the final border and quilting. It worked surprisingly well and gave some unusual and sometimes unexpected results. After exhibition in the Island Arts Centre, Lisburn these hangings were taken by Jane Lloyd to a hospital in Nepal.

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Tactile Quilts for Blind Children, 2003

In early 2003 the guild was approached about the possibility of making tactile copies of famous paintings, for Jordanstown School for the Visually Impaired. In June two blind pupils from the school came to a guild meeting to receive the six hangings.

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25th Anniversary Meeting, May 2004 

To celebrate our 25th we had a show and tell of members’ first quilts. This was followed by a buffet meal attended by 14 out of 19 past chairmen.

Among them was Laura Jones the first Chairman.

Each guild member received a present of pieces of red and white fabric. Members were challenged to produce a new piece of work of any size using these fabrics for the December meeting.

President of the NIPG Deborah Baillie cut the anniversary cake. An anonymous donor donated money for the cake which was made and iced by guild member Anna Campbell.

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Hands Across the Border

This biennial exhibition, established in the early 1990’s, is organised alternately by the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild and the Irish Patchwork Society. Each Guild take turns to set the theme and the exhibition is held in venues north and south of the border.

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