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Cinematography at Quiltfolk

In 2022, my life as an aspiring cinematographer was completely and utterly turned on its head—in the best way possible!

My name is Chris White. I usually spend my time filming behind the camera or editing behind a computer, with my friend and editor James Tulley (the tall one), to bring what you have come to know as Quiltfolk Adventure Workshops and Block of the Month—presented by Jenni Smith and Kay Walsh. 

Our Adventure Workshops aim to inspire, educate, and showcase the craft of quilting from around the world and introduce you to a plethora of amazing characters, just like the beautiful pages of Quiltfolk magazine. They are produced to entertain participants, yes, but, more importantly, they teach new, unique sewing skills to makers of all experience levels

But how and why do turn these adventures into a six-hour workshop?

The Creative Process 

It all starts with a good brainstorm in our Yorkshire studio. As a team (Jenni, Kay, James, and I), we rely on each other to connect with possible contributors and source locations as well as the logistics of getting to and from destinations that we’ve never been to before. 

Personally, my two favourite Adventure Workshops have been Scenic Scotland and the Spirit of Hawaii—both of which had their challenges as well as some huge payoffs.

Quiltfolk Cinematographer Chris White.
Jenni and Kay on set for the live portion of Dutch Discoveries: Quilting a Thousand Flowers.

Behind the Scenes of Scenic Scotland

Scenic Scotland was our first attempt at filming an entire tutorial on location with the brilliant Sheena Norquay! This was something that took much planning, preparation, and a little bit of “winging it” on the side. The day before we set off, we were informed that the overhead rig we had ordered was still in Europe, so our first stop in Inverness was the local DIY store (Home Depot) to buy metal tubing, a saw, and a drill to build our own. 

The result of our last-minute problem solving? We pulled it off without a hitch to bring you some of the best overhead and sewing machine shots we have ever produced (if we do say so ourselves). Oh, and I also captured the leaping dolphin shot for the trailer after a lot of waiting around on a very cold Highland beach!

A behind-the-scenes shot from the tutorial portion of Scenic Scotland: Stitching the Highlands.
An overhead shot of Sheena Norquay’s quilted seascape for Scenic Scotland: Stitching the Highlands.

Behind the Spirit of Hawaii

Spirit of Hawaii presented a completely different challenge: Getting from our sleepy town in the UK to the stunning island of Oahu required more than 26 hours of travel and eight heavy cases of filming equipment. But once we were over the jet lag, we threw ourselves into filming historic flag patchworks and the Queen’s Quilt under domed glass in the royal Iolani Palace. I was nervous yet delighted at the prospect of finding a way to capture the stitches up close for our wonderful Adventure Workshop audience. 

As for making the Hawaii workshop look so beautiful, I feel like I can’t take any of the credit because the stunning landscape, friendly people, and touching stories alone made that

Filming Flag quilts in the attic of the Iolani Palace.
The Queen's Quilt
Flag Quilt at the Iolani Palace
Chris, Kay, and James with their eight equipment cases while travelling to film Spirit of Hawaii.
Filming the Queen’s Quilt under curved glass at the Iolani Palace.

Edits and Final Presentation

Once the adventure for any given workshop is captured on film, we say our goodbyes and head back home to begin the long editing process. Led by James, we take what is often more than 15 hours of footage and whittle it down to the best bits all so that they can be crafted into a beautifully polished six-hour workshop. 

The final component—and what as a team is our favourite and the most rewarding—is presenting the workshop to our amazing Adventurers: that is you! Jenni and Kay do most of the hard work here. But it really makes us appreciate the hours that have been lovingly poured into these workshops and reminds us of the friendships that we have made along the way. Your comments and feedback mean so much and give us the drive to keep improving with every new workshop!

Chris, James, and Willyne Hammerstein had a jolly time filming Dutch Discoveries: Quilting a Thousand Flowers.
Filming scenery and windmills at the Netherlands Open Air Museum.

Unscripted Stories 

For me, as I was growing up, cinematography was all about drama, explosions, and action— throw in the occasional romance and you have the perfect James Bond movie. But my experience with Quiltfolk has expanded those ideas wider than I ever thought possible.

The stories, people, and places are really what make our workshops unforgettable. Every time we travel to a new place, no matter how close or how far away from home, I am left utterly speechless. 

We have the rare opportunity to go into someone’s home and creative space and speak to them about their undivided passion for quilting, and, even better, we get to create a piece of content that will live on and showcase the amazing person that they are to a community of quilters that is forever expanding.

What’s Next? 

Our next Adventure Workshop, to be announced very soon, entailed building a crane to film a quilted national treasure in a historic castle before going on to a tiny landmark property brimming with irreplaceable objects. It never gets less scary!

But before then, our new, exciting Break the Rules Block of The Month program starts in April, which will cover nine memorable months of improvisational, boundary-bending quilting techniques.

Filming huge quilts with a crane for an upcoming workshop.


On a closing note, I want to say a huge thank you, not only to my teammates here in the UK, but also to the supportive, generous and all-out amazing Quiltfolk team based in Oregon who, unfortunately, we don’t get to see much, but they still make us all feel part of the family nonetheless. And, most importantly, an endless thank you to readers, viewers, and all of those who support us every step of the way!

About the Author

Chris White is part of Quiltfolk’s UK team and has been the lead cinematographer of the Adventure Workshop series and our Block of the Month programs.

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