Alongside designing and writing books, Pam and Nicky own The Quilt Room, which has been in business now for 40 years. A fortieth anniversary is something rather special and certainly a milestone to celebrate. When Pam first opened the shop way back in 1981 there were just two other specialist quilt shops in the whole of the UK. Those shops are unfortunately no longer around and so The Quilt Room is officially the longest established quilt shop in the UK, which is a huge honour. Nicky was a toddler when The Quilt Room first opened so it is fair to say most of her life has been spent amongst quilts and fabric.
So much has changed and evolved over the last four decades. It seems inconveivable now that when our shop first opened no-one had thought of cutting with a rotary cutter! When this technique arrived on the scene it revolutionised the making of patchworwk quilts and Pam embraced those speedy rotary cutting and piecing methods. Customers were enthusiastic to learn different innovations and The Quilt Room workshops were always full, with tutors coming from all over the country to stay. In 1992 The Quilt Room Patchwork & Quilting Workshops were published followed by The Quilter’s Workshop in 1993. Then came a book by That Patchwork Place, who were producing a series of books from quilting shops around America, and we were the first shop to be featured in their ‘International Series’ in 1995.
In 2005, Nicky made the decision to leave paediatric nursing and join The Quilt Room. In late 2006 we bought our first longarm machine from the States: the magnificent Gammill Statler Stitcher, which was the first Statler Stitcher in the UK. Suddenly we were able to make and finish our quilt samples in record speed. Longarm quilting was at that time beginning to pick up pace, and now we have two longarm machines with a huge client base. Our website has also progressed from the simple design we used over fifteen years ago, to our current website – a beautiful and comprehensive online portal to all that The Quilt Room offers, for customers from all over the UK and abroad. We have spent many hours over many years building our website to what it is now, and are hugely proud of it.
There have been so many fun occasions to look back on and certainly one of them was sewing the BBC Woman’s Hour Quilt in 1993 to celebrate women’s suffrage. It went on display at the House of Commons for a week as part of their festival ‘Women Into Politics’ and then moved to the Victoria & Albert Museum where it is now held.
Another highlight is Quilt Market – the trade show we attend in the States every year – in particular, Spring Market in 2007 which was held in Portland and coincided with the release of our first David & Charles book, Jelly Roll Quilts. We had a blast promoting the book with our first ‘schoolhouse’ and shared many laughs, giggles, and cocktails with other talented quilters. Quilt Market is such an inspiring show and is often where we draw a lot of inspiration – in fact, it was at one of these shows in 2006 that we were gifted our first jelly roll from Moda and were asked what we thought of it. Another year we were told we must bring tuffets back to the UK – and yes, we did!
If there is one thing over the last forty years to be grateful for, then it is our Quilt Room team. Our team is something rather special – the majority are quilters and passionate about fabric. Even those who have worked for us who were not initially quilters have been persuaded to make something! We have had many lovely ladies work for us over the years, some we have now sadly lost. We have shared a few tears together but most of all, huge amounts of love laughs and support.
Looking around our shop today, the fabrics are eclectic, colourful and inspiring. Pam remembers that she started the shop with four bolts of fabric – brown, brown, brown and brown – different shades of course, but yes, they were all brown! Nicky’s love of colour and Pam’s love of vintage blend perfectly together and the shelves are a joy to behold – and there’s very little brown to see at all…
So, here is to our fortieth anniversary and let there be many more to come!