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April 2024 Newsletter Intro

Introducing myself, Jenny Fagan, a long time player.

I remember at about 6 years of age sewing dollies clothes on my mother’s Singer 19 treadle (1948), and the fascination of fabric, colour and texture.  My mother was a dress maker and had a shop before she married in Nelson in 1949, so I think it’s in the ‘jeans’. I love all sewing machines and have a collection of vintage and more modern machines, from a Wilcox and Gibbs chain stitch 1898 treadle, Singers of all years from 1919 through to 1960 and 1970’s – in tables and in cases and treadles.  A few old Berninas and Janomes as well. An Industrial Singer, and my friend loaned me her Industrial Mauser Chain Stitcher to try out. I’ve been consumed by quilting for the past 25 years. I use my 750 Bernina QE most days and just purchased a Hand Quilter 18” with full frame, so glad I did, a big game changer.

I keep myself busy making small gifts in Kiwiana fabrics and selling them at the Cruise Ship Market in Picton through the summer. Lots of fun, love talking to the tourists and lots of quilters, including a few men who service sewing machines. I use my Singer 99 Hand Crank at the market if I feel the need to finish off a few things while I’m sitting there. Through the winter I sew for myself.

My husband and I moved to Blenheim to retire 10 years ago from Auckland. Eight years ago I was introduced to the Marlborough Quilters and have been a member, committee member, Convenor and Convenor of our Marlborough Quilters biennial quilt show three times. I am a member to the Friends of the Barn which make community quilts. Also a few quilting groups that meet through the week.
I’m a keen knitter, and can do all the usual hand crafts, soon to have a go at Torchon lace making.
Being more of a traditional quilter with piecing, I do like hexagons sewn on the machine, foundation piecing and appliqué, and trying my hand at some art-styled projects. I do my own free-motion quilting.

My preference is machine work, at a young age my mum taught me all the sewing techniques. I do love the Cook Island Taivaevae, on my last visit to Rarotonga to stay with one of my brothers, I sat down with the old Aunties (I’m related to) and did some hand work with them on a piece of my own. I really enjoyed the whole process and the joy they put in their work.

I’m of Cook Island decent on my paternal side “Greig (Ngari)” family of Rakahunga. I inherited my grandfather’s Taivaevae quilt, a large Bethlehem Star, that was made by his mother and given to him in 1919 when he returned wounded from WW1. The colours of the fabric have not faded since it was made. It was pieced and sewn together on a chain stitch machine and backed with a single layer of fabric, as was the style in those days.  I’m so blessed to have it, you can feel the love and time spent putting it together, they dyed their own fabrics and at that time a sewing machine would have been a prized item. My grandfather’s mother’s father was a trader across the Pacific so it was something he would have bought in the United States and brought home for the wife.

The Taivaevae that you see now is made to reflect all that is beautiful in the islands, opposed to that made in the late 1800’s influenced by the French nuns that taught hand sewing and introduced the European style of quilt design and embroidery. One day soon I’ll make my own in the island style of fauna and flora.

Well that’s enough about me, I look forward to meeting you all at the GNZQS.