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The quilt-maker who turned a hobby into a cottage industry

Each quilt is a custom-made labour of love

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The quilt-maker who turned a hobby into a cottage industry

November 10 2010
Victoria Woodcock

Homespun, crafty and, well, chintzy… The patchwork quilt appeals to that same sense of homeliness that is created so effectively by the likes of Toast and Anthropologie. But with buzzwords such as “authenticity”, “provenance” and “heritage” in heavy rotation in the design world, handicrafts are getting with the programme. Earlier this year London’s V&A museum even managed to turn the humble quilt into a major exhibition that attracted some 141,000 visitors.

For an unadulterated dose of cottage-industry-style craft – to temper tastefully high-end design, of course – look no further than Philippa Smith, who from her home in West Sussex has turned her hobby into a business, Demerara’s Quilts.

Smith sticks to the traditional American geometric pattern to the letter – something she learnt in 1980, when she joined a quilting group while living in Greenwich, Connecticut. She will work to commission, and colours, size and pattern can all be specified, creating designs that run the gamut from modern monochrome (Stars at Sea, first picture) to the more cottage-quaint (Cotton Reels, second picture; Chintz Rectangles, third picture). Fabric samples are sent to the client for approval and, once the colour scheme is honed, the time-consuming process of hand-piecing the patchwork together begins. “The one I’m working on now has taken 50 hours and is not yet finished,” says Smith.

What you end up with is a proper, homespun labour of love fit for the smart Upstate log cabin, the chic chalet in Gstaad or the cosy bothy in Wales.