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Textile Tangents: Beatrix Potter Sends Our Adventure Crew Down a Fabric Rabbit Hole!

There is much excitement at Quiltfolk’s Adventure Workshops HQ in England as we piece together the patchwork puzzle of quilts in the life of one of the world’s greatest children’s authors and illustrators: Beatrix Potter. 

Our nine-month journey of discovery across the English Lakes will culminate in our live workshop on June 7 and 8, 2024—and, even as we write, new conversations and opportunities to dig a little deeper are coming to light. Thank goodness we live only a stone’s throw away from this stunning national park, and our crew can capture on film all of the newest developments.

We have had the rare opportunity to research the 1863 Potter Wedding Quilt (pictured above), a textile of great significance—and putting it into a social and historical context alongside conservators, curators, and experts has been absolutely thrilling. A textile treasure for the wealthy classes in Victorian Britain has turned into the perfect catalyst to investigate the patchworks of this period as well as wedding quilts across other social sectors and quilts made in Cumbria, where Beatrix spent much of her life away from the bright lights of London.

And no Adventure Workshop would be complete without a sewing project. Kay and I are both enamoured with our mini Potter-inspired quilts (pictured below) which allow us to share a host of new skills with our students, who always take our designs to the next level with their own creative flair and fabric stashes. This one is small and super manageable in the summer months, celebrating flowers and nature. 

Along our journey, we have filmed the preparation video in a greenhouse, stitched on an estate where Beatrix spent time sketching animals as a teenager, and built a crane to film quilt details that had never been captured before now. We also snuck in a visit to Platt Hall to study a swatch book bursting with fabric samples from Potter & Co’s world-renowned calico printing mill. And we viewed examples of Cumbrian quilts with the Curator of The Quilt Collection at the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, Heather Audin. Plus, a few unannounced surprises are in store for workshop attendees only!

In previous adventures, additional stories tend to come to light after we share our travels with attendees—so with members of the Beatrix Potter Society joining us as well as hundreds of quilters worldwide, we may end up much further down the rabbit hole in the months ahead. 

If you haven’t already, we hope that you hop along and join us for Beatrix Potter: Quilt Tales From the English Lakes! All experience levels are welcome, and no preparation is necessary.

About the Author

Jenni Smith is a quilter and author of Quilting with Liberty Fabrics and has been Quiltfolk’s Workshop Director since 2021.

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