Quilting - New Zealand style

There is an estimated 27 million quilters in the United States alone, add to this quilters in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Europe and many other countries. That sure is a lot of quilters, and a lot of quilts! As a quilter and traveling teacher from New Zealand, I am often asked how different quilting is in our small South Pacific Island.

In the beginning, cotton fabric (the most popular patchwork fabric today) was not readily available. Many quilters used scraps from dressmaking and furnishing fabrics, and this is still often the trend for many quilters. Furnishings come in a large array of textures and prints, and are a great source of unusual designs, in particular large prints. Although I myself no longer use furnishing fabrics, I do enjoy the challenge of silk, lame and organza.

New Zealand quilters are typically like any other quilter in the world, they love to form quilt groups and guilds, organise shows and symposiums, go on shop hops and to quilting retreats, and donate quilts for charity such as the Cancer Society and Children's Wards in hospitals. Quilters cannot resist a day out stitching, sharing, conversing and indulging in the odd chocolate.

There is no particular New Zealand quilting style but there is a definite use of colour. Known as a ‘green' country with clean air and bright colours, this is often projected through to our quilts. You will find many use a great deal of blues, greens and purples, known as cool colours. In comparison, quilters in Australia are more inclined to use muted or earth-tones fabrics, warm colours, which portray their climate and surroundings.

Arts and crafts are a big thing in this small country, and I find quilters here break free of the traditional styles more readily than our American friends. Influenced by our strong embroidery backgrounds, many quilters add embroidery and detailed quilting into their work, thus many consider these quilts are textile art rather than quilts.

New Zealand certainly has an inspiring terrain with many natural and serene qualities. The birth of any artistic piece comes from within the heart and mind, however the seed is planted by inspiration from our beautiful surroundings. Thoughts grow and drawings become reality as passion flows from within. Textiles are chosen, manipulated and sewn to create a unique original art work using a variety of techniques, and so, another quilt is born.