15 January 2009

Gwen Marston

I first read about Gwen Marston's quilts back in the mid 1990s, through a series of articles she wrote in Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts. Actually, it was two series - one called 'Quilting it Your Way' and the other called 'Folk Art Applique'. Both were equally interesting to me.

In the quilting series, Gwen explained how to design quilting patterns that would fit your quilt. She covered straight lines, curves, feathers and many other designs. She hand quilts and so do I, so the articles had much to engage me.

It was the folk art series, though, that appealed to me the most. Gwen studies old quilts and is inspired by what she finds there. She cuts a lot of pieces free-hand and has made hundreds of small applique quilts that definitely have character.

I have recently rediscovered these articles and am inspired to try some applique quilts of my own. I've never done applique before (apart from a few small fused pieces) and want to try to develop some needleturn skills. I love making small quilts - my journal quilts taught me that.

But what made me in thrall with Gwen Marston was when I read an article in the April/May 1996 issue, called 'At Home with Gwen Marston'. It described her home on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan in the USA. As I live in a large city in a hot country, it was a novelty for me to read about a quilter who lives in a remote country environment where there are snowy winters. When I read that Gwen offers an annual retreat on the island, attending one of the retreats became a favourite daydream.

Well I haven't been to one of her retreats but I have followed her work over the years and you may like see some, too. Gwen's website is here. Details of the retreat are here. You can see some of her quilts on her workshop page, and you can read about her books here.

Gwen is definitely one quilter who has inspired me over the years. Who are your inspirations and why? I'd love to hear about the quilters you follow and what it is about their work that you love. Please leave a comment!


  1. Jenny Bowker and Dijanne Cevaal immediately spring to mind!
    Although I'll probably never make a quilt like Jenny's, I am inspired by her interpretations of her subject, and the emotions she manages to convey.
    Dijanne's work i love, because of her wonderful use of colour and the fabulous quilting she uses. The quilting is not merely a finishing off. It is an integral part of shaping her images. If I could become proficient in drawing in stitch the way she is, I would be a very happy woman!

  2. Anonymous5:13 pm

    I ,too, have been inspired by Gwen Marston. Her first articles in Ladies Circle were "Quilting your Way" with Joe Cunningham, not sure of dates but prior to 1990's.
    Applique is not my strong point, but I did use her method to freecut a vase of flowers and do some basic applique and handquilting.
    I enjoy your blog and this is a reminder to revisit my treasured L.C. mags.


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