“I have always loved fabric – I can often be found stroking cushions,clothes and bedding in shops.”
Nicki Conway, of Quilterdown, is all about the material things – not possessions – but cloth. Her one-woman-and-a-cat business uses vintage, recycled and upcycled fabrics to create new and unique quilts, cushions and lampshades. Her work owes a debt to the past – and not just in the retro materials she creates from.
“As a child, I was surrounded by fabrics,” she explained. “I have been sewing as long as I can remember. My mother used to make all my clothes and I learned at her knee. As a new wife I made curtains, cushions and such for my first home and I have always made clothes.”
Nicki first started stitching quilts after a visit to a vintage fair around ten years ago.
She said: “I walked into the room and was suddenly surrounded by the most amazing vintage fabrics. I was gobsmacked and inspired. From that point, I knew vintage fabrics were my future.”
Starting out with a quilt as a birth-gift for her god-daughter her quilting enterprise began to grow and the hobby flourished into art which in turn grew into her own business, Quilterdown.
Drawing inspiration from the world around her – whether it be the customer, tiles on a floor, Pinterest or the fabric itself – Nicki works alone in her South East London shed, an oasis of calm amongst the birds and trees of her garden.
“Quilting makes me happy,” said Nicki. “Working out a design,putting it together and seeing it work gives me pleasure!! Even a really simple design is wonderful to put together. I make a lot of baby quilts and receive a lot of pictures from parents – it’s so wonderful to see a beautiful baby lying on one of my quilts!”
She added: “Quilting will always be my world. I love the maths involved, despite never always being rubbish at maths, the cutting, the design, the fabric choices! I love working with a customer to make something utterly unique.”