Welcome to New Subscribers
Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. This is the best place to find out about upcoming new classes and events held at the Cadet Training Centre. You will also get information about local quilt exhibitions, shows and groups to inspire you. If you know of something that you would like to have included in the next newsletter please email me the details for consideration.
I hope that you find something to interest you in my newsletters, but even if there isn't anything on this occasion and you want to ensure that you keep receiving them please do open to read rather than looking at it in preview, and every couple of emails click on a link to read more about a class, or event, as this logs you as interested.
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To give students more choice you can now join this class at any point throughout the year.
Pick and Mix
One day a month for 12 months
£30 joining fee and then £55 per month
Join on any month
Starting from 12th January 2023 from 9.30am to 3.30pm
Click the button below to see the course dates, and see when you fancy joining in
Machine Service Day – Thurs 14th April 2023
It's important to arrive to class with a sewing machine that is in good working order. If you're machine is getting on in years you will need to make sure that it has been serviced regularly to avoid any problems that may spoil your sewing experience in class.
In a world where everything is going up, I’m pleased to report that getting your machine serviced is still good value. Tom has held his prices from last year so give your machine a much-needed wash and brush up ready to tackle the year ahead!!
Tom will be coming to the unit to service machines on 14th April 2023.
The cost per machine is £54 including PAT testing and this is payable by cash or cheque only on the day.
Scissors can also be sharpened at a cost of £5 per pair.
There will be space available for people wishing to wait for their machines or pop to the local shops (approx 1.5 - 2 hours). Otherwise, when booking, you can arrange to deliver your machine in the morning and be given an afternoon collection time.
Booking is essential as there are limited places available on the day so please book soon to avoid disappointment.
Contact me on 07881 948834 to reserve your place.
Underground Railroad Quilt Code
Secret messages in the form of quilt patterns aided slaves escaping the bonds of captivity in the Southern states before and during the American Civil War.
Slaves could not read or write; it was illegal to teach a slave to do so. Codes, therefore, were part and parcel of the slaves’ existence and their route to freedom, which eventually became known as the Underground Railroad. Some forms of dance, spirituals, code words and phrases, and memorized symbols all allowed the slaves to communicate with each other on a level their white owners could not interpret. Codes were created by both whites aiding the slaves, and by Blacks aiding the slaves. The Blacks included other slaves, former slaves or free men and women. In slavery, secrecy was one way the blacks could protect themselves from the whites; even the youngest child was taught to effectively keep a secret from anyone outside of the family.
Most quilt patterns had their roots in the African traditions the slaves brought with them to North America when they were captured and forced to leave their homeland. The Africans’ method of recording their history and stories was by committing it to memory and passing it on orally to following generations. Quilt patterns were passed down the same way. It is interesting to note that, in Africa, the making of textiles was done by males; it was not until the slaves’ arrival in North America that this task fell to the females.
The quilt patterns, used in a certain order, relayed messages to slaves preparing to escape. Each pattern represented a different meaning. Some of the most common were “Monkey Wrench”, “Star”, “Crossroads”, and “Wagon Wheel”. Quilts slung over a fence or windowsill, seemingly to air, passed on the necessary information to knowing slaves. As quilts hung out to air was a common sight on a plantation, neither the plantation owner nor the overseer would notice anything suspicious. It was all part of a day’s work for the slaves.
Characteristic of African culture is the communication of secrets through the use of common, everyday objects; the objects are seen so often they are no longer noticeable. This applied to the quilts and their patterns, stitching and knotting. It has been suggested that the stitching and the knotting on slave quilts contained secret information, too, as map routes and the distances between safe houses. Using the quilts, spirituals and code words, the slaves could effectively communicate nonverbally with each other and aid each other to escape.
There is still controversy among historians and scholars over the quilt code theory, and whether or not escaping slaves actually used codes concealed within quilt patterns to follow the escape routes of the Underground Railroad. As oral histories leave no written record, there is no written proof that the codes in the quilt patterns actually existed. What remains are the stories passed down through the generations from the slaves themselves, and, following the code of secrecy, many of the stories were never told.
Flying Geese: A signal to follow the direction of the flying geese as they migrated north in the spring. Most slaves escaped during the spring; along the way, the flying geese could be used as a guide to find water, food and places to rest. The quilt maker had flexibility with this pattern as it could be used in any quilt. It could also be used as a compass where several patterns are used together.
North Star: A signal with two messages--one to prepare to escape and the other to follow the North Star to freedom in Canada. North was the direction of traffic on the Underground Railroad. This signal was often used in conjunction with the song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, which contains a reference to the Big Dipper constellation. Two of the Big Dipper’s points lead to the North Star.
Monkey Wrench: A signal to gather all the tools required for the fleeing slave’s journey, meaning the physical tools, as well as the mental and spiritual ones.
Sailboat: A signal that either a body of water was nearby or that boats were available.
Drunkard’s Path: A warning signal to take a zigzag route to elude pursuing slave hunters and their hounds that are in the area. A slave spotted travelling south, for instance, would not be suspected of escaping.
Dresden Wheel: It is possible that the Dresden Plate could be a variation of the Wagon Wheel. Records indicate that the Dresden Plate quilt pattern did not emerge until the 1920s.l patterns are used together.
Wagon Wheel/Carpenter's Wheel: A signal to the slave to pack the items needed to travel by wagon or that could be used while travelling. It could also mean to pack the provisions necessary for survival, as if packing a wagon for a long journey, or to actually load the wagon in preparation for escape. Some records indicate this symbol meant a wagon with hidden compartments in which slaves could conceal themselves, would soon be embarking for the trip to freedom.
Crossroads: A symbol referring to Cleveland, Ohio, which was the main crossroads with several routes to freedom. On a less literal level, the term “crossroads” also means reaching a turning point in one’s life, where a choice must be made and then carry on.
Bear's Paw: Follow a mountain trail, out of view, and then follow an actual bear’s trail which would lead to water and food.
Bow Tie (or Hourglass): A symbol indicating it was necessary to travel in disguise or to change from the clothing of a slave to those of a person of higher status.
Shoofly: A symbol that possibly identifies a person who can guide and help; a person who helped slaves escape along the Underground Railroad and who knew the codes.
Tumbling Blocks or Boxes: A symbol indicating it was time for slaves to pack up and go, that a conductor was in the area.
Broken Dishes: A symbol referring to a signal that involved broken crockery at some future landmark.
Britches: A symbol indicating the escaping slave needed to dress as a free person.
Rose Wreath: A symbol that indicated someone had died on the journey. It was an African tradition to leave floral wreaths on the graves of deceased.
Log Cabin: A symbol in a quilt or that could be drawn on the ground indicating it was necessary to seek shelter or that a person is safe to speak with. Some sources say it indicated a safe house along the Underground Railroad.
Double Wedding Ring: This pattern did not exist until after the American Civil War. However, the Double Irish Chain pattern did and is believed to have symbolized the chains of slavery. When a slave saw this quilt displayed, it meant the rings or shackles of slavery could be removed. When marrying, slaves did not exchange wedding rings; they “jumped the broom”.
Setting up a Sewing Room
by Jackie Oliver
This was my sewing room a year ago.
Although I’ve been sewing most of my life (since making doll’s’ clothes from my grandmother’s scrap drawer), it was only about 10 years ago that I discovered patchwork and quilting. 3 years later, after retiring, I had more time to spend on sewing, and realised that I needed a proper sewing space.
Like many people, this meant the dining table, which often meant meals eaten on knees, and an increasing number of plastic boxes in various corners of the house.
So when we moved house last year, number one requirement on my list was a dedicated sewing space, and this turned out to be the unconverted garage, with access from the outside only. This article is about the process of setting up and kitting out my sewing room - still a work in progress!
Once the garage had been converted (door into the house, big windows in place of the garage door), my first thought was about what storage I needed! But after a chat with Joy, I realised that the sensible place to begin was my working space, and storage solutions could follow later.
For years I’ve wanted a Horn cabinet, and spent hours online poring over the various cabinets and what each type offered. However…these cabinets are expensive! Also, their major feature is that they fold away into a compact space, and actually I didn’t need this.
So the next step was to look at sewing tables. There seemed to be 3 choices- a basic table, a table with a lower platform for the machine, and those with a custom made insert to fit an individual machine model.
At the Festival of Quilts last summer, I tried out the SewEzi table, and was impressed- it felt sturdy, and was the right height. Last month I took the plunge and ordered the SewEzi Grande table with insert (£450), and also the accompanying extension table (£190) which provides an L-shaped working space.
The service was excellent- I ordered online, gave details of my machine model and got a quote later that day, which I paid online. The whole process could have been done by phone. 4 days later my tables arrived.
I was a bit concerned about assembling the machine table, but the instructions were straightforward and there were no bits missing! The machine insert fitted perfectly, and within two hours I was ready to go.
I knew I wanted a chair with wheels to whizz about the room easily and originally the plan was to have a Kirby sewing chair which was used at Cotton Patch classes a few years ago. This is still listed on the Cotton Patch website, but apparently is not available. I’ve bought a Horn Hobby chair from Frank Nutt, which is everything I wanted - adjustable back and seat, comfortable and supportive. Alas, it cost £289, but worth it.
I also had to consider lighting. The sewing tables are positioned under a big window and there is also a side window, so I settled for 2 overhead lights with daylight bulbs, plus a standalone adjustable lamp with magnifier for spotlighting. (Purelite magnifying lamp, around £70.)
I dithered about carpeting versus hard flooring. Carpet would have been warmer - but all those bits of thread and fabric! I ended up choosing laminate hard flooring, and will probably get a rug as well.
So that’s the development of my sewing room so far. The next stage is organising all my sewing stuff, from books and magazines to fabric and threads.
Watch this space…
Message from the editor:
Jackie this looks amazing and I’m sure everyone reading this will now be jealous! I can’t wait to see the next instalment.