Jenny’s lockdown quilt a thing of beauty

Laura White
Laura White

Jenny Hutchinson has been making quilts since she was six years old, helping her Mother sew fabric squares cut from old dresses and curtain fabrics together to make quilts for relations. A lifelong interest was born.

Jenny worked in the fabric department in the first Habitat in London where she met Alec. This was the Swinging 60s in London! In 1972, she and Alec opened Strawberry Fayre, a craft shop in Stockbridge, Hampshire, selling locally made crafts, Alec’s handmade furniture and Jenny’s quilts. Jenny and Alec were the first to import cotton fabrics from the USA especially designed for patchwork.

In 1979, Jenny helped to found The Quilters’ Guild of Great Britain. She was on the Committee for 10 years, the last four as President. During that time, the membership numbers rose from 500 to 5,500.

The Strawberry Fayre shop grew and grew, until there was an annual quilt exhibition, in their barn, showing many locally made and antique quilts. Some of these were Commemorative quilts, marking an occasion or family event, wedding or birth of a baby.

Jenny and Alec came to Chagford in 1982, having closed the shop. They continued selling fabric mail-order until 2018. Now Jenny enjoys having a stall at Chagford Flea Market every Friday morning, selling hand-made quilts, fabric and haberdashery.

When her daughter-in-law and grand-daughter started knitting a square for every day of lockdown, it gave Jenny the idea of making her Lockdown Quilt. None of us knew how big the finished pieces would be.

“I chose a pattern that I thought went with what was happening on that day,” said Jenny. “The blue border around the outside depicts the blue sky because it was such lovely weather nearly all the time. Row 1, 2nd from the left is “The Virus” and last on the right represents communications, phone lines and broadband, as families contacted each other.

‘In row 4, the Union Jack fabric depicts the Queen’s speech and Boris Johnson catching COVID-19. Flowers and birds in the garden run all the way through. Primroses, planting seeds and the night we were all surprised by a frost which killed the beans! The last piece was when the grand-children went back to school, 29th June, and we thought it was
all over!”

The Quilt is on display on Jenny’s Strawberry Fayre Stall at Chagford Flea Market, every Friday morning 10am – 1pm. Jubilee Hall, Chagford.

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