Juanita Buchan lives on the south coast and is the mother of two lovely young ladies who inspired her winning entry at The National Quilt Championships this year. It was during a visit to Ardingly Quilt Show earlier this year that Juanita decided to enter her work into the show.
Like many of us, Juanita learned to sew at a young age by making her own clothes and in the seventies she visited an exhibition of Irish Quilts at Somerset House in London. This was the springboard for her journey into quilting. She made a patchwork quilt from old dresses, sewing memories into her work.
In the eighties when her daughters went to school, she enrolled on a City & Guilds course where she learned machine embroidery. She learned to do appliqué first and this led to thread painting. Juanita has spent many years developing the style which she uses so effectively today.
The entry for The National Quilt championships at Sandown Park, Esher, UK exhibits the latest stage of Juanita’s development since the early days of sewing patches together. The wall hanging was called ‘Shared Jeans’ as a verbal play on the girls’ choice of clothes and family genes, Juanita told me. It measures 53.5“ x 45“ and is almost entirely covered in fine, delicate free machine stitching . Mainly using Madeira threads 30 and 40-weight on her Bernina 1008, Juanita has taken 18 months to produce this wonderful work of textile art.
Every detail of the drawing is very carefully thread-painted or hand embroidered, occasionally “going wrong“, as Juanita put it. One of the two faces did not have a good enough likeness of her daughter, forcing her to remove it and to insert a new section from the back, by hand, which was anchored from the front by sewing more hair. Can you tell which one it was? I doubt it as it has been inserted so skilfully and merged with the stitching surrounding it.
Juanita spent 3-4 hours every day working on it. The raised effects in the faces along with the way the light catches the threads gives the work an added 3-dimensional look. You only have to look at the seams on the girls’ jeans to appreciate the immense attention to detail in this piece.
Juanita’s journey from the Irish Quilts to now has been a series of “What if’s”, learning from mistakes, pushing her capabilities to the limit along with a great deal of patience, perseverance, a bit of “I know I can make that if I try hard enough” and a passion for what is so very personal to her. Juanita loves working with textiles as they are “so much more versatile than other media”, she explained. “Quilts speak to you!”
I am looking forward to seeing more of Juanita’s work in future exhibitions. She is an extremely talented textile artist. It has been a privilege to see her work at Sandown Park this year. If you would like to see more of Juanita’s work you can visit her website:
Will you be the winner next year with a piece of fine textile art created with your Bernina?