Maria’s Quilt

Many might think it a foolhardy enterprise for a non-quilter to write a novel with a patchwork quilt as one of its main ‘characters’, but I was incredibly fortunate to be introduced to a true expert, teacher and fellow-author Lynne Edwards, MBE, who embraced the project with such enthusiasm I knew at once that our collaboration would produce something remarkable.

With her years of experience and expertise, Lynne knew precisely what fabrics, techniques and other influences Maria would have had during the various stages of her life, and we had great fun creating her ‘virtual quilt’.

Lynne has now kindly created the instructions for making this quilt, and we would both be thrilled should anyone be tempted to try it. Either click on this link to open the complete document How to make Maria’s Quilt, or click on each picture below which is then printable individually. Of course Lynne has not prescribed any colour scheme, and the blocks in the second frame from the centre, which Maria used for her applique figures, are left blank for you to personalise.

Quilter Judy Baker-Rogers has already started her interpretation of the quilt (click here) so please do get in touch by emailing me at liztrenow@hotmail.co.uk if you also decide to have a go – I would love to find out how you get on. Of course, any technical inaccuracies about fabrics, quilting and patchwork in the text of the novel are, of course, entirely mine.

Maria's quiltInstructions for making Maria's quilt 001Instructions for making Maria's quilt 002Instructions for making Maria's quilt 003Instructions for making Maria's quilt 004Instructions for making Maria's quilt 005Instructions for making Maria's quilt 006Instructions for making Maria's quilt 007Instructions for making Maria's quilt 008Instructions for making Maria's quilt 009Instructions for making Maria's quilt 012

88 thoughts on “Maria’s Quilt”

  1. Dilys Ireland said:

    i loved your book. it was recommended to me by a friend we are both quilters. some day i hope to make Marias quilt.
    Looking forward to reading your third novel
    All the best
    Dilys

  2. I am just on the last pages of your Book Its so good I do not wont it to end. As I am a quilter and worked with ladies like Maria in a hospital unit. Your book rings true. thank you for writing it. I think I might try and make the quilt. It will take some time !
    Thank you and Best wishes.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely email and so interesting that you worked with women in a mental hospital like the one Maria lived in. If you make the quilt, do send me some photos (to add to the ones already on my website!)
      Best wishes
      Liz

  3. Clair Hughes said:

    I read The Forgotten Seamstress over this weekend, as a quilter I loved hearing about the history of the quilt and would love to recreate one day xxx I have a hexagon quilt tgat I have acquired. It is pieced over papers, old envelopes and the like. I wonder what it’s story is? Xxx

    • Dear Clair
      Thank you for your lovely email and how wonderful that you have a quilt with the papers still inside. You can understand how intriguing I found the whole idea of a story hidden inside a quilt – perhaps one day you will uncover the story of your own!
      Best wishes
      Liz

  4. Hazel Kiteley said:

    This is an amazing book. I am a quilter and I am definately going to try to make the quilt although of course fabrics will have to be different. I love playing with colours and this gives me lots of scope for that. Now my priority is to pick up your first book. Hope it was as good as this one. Happy writing.

  5. Jill Reid said:

    Congratulations on a wonderful book. I loved the way the quilt is linked into the story. I will make Maria’s quilt as I have nearly finished my Mothers Hex quilt which she started in the 60’s and is the Grandmother’s Flower pattern. She would sew it on holidays and then put it away each year. Sadley she died in 1998 but on clearing out the cupboards we came across the quilt. I started to piece the remaining hexagons in January this year, looking at the quilt it tells a story in the fabrics (one is an original 70’s Liberty print from a dress my mother wore and a night dress my Grandmother made for me). The stiching also tells a story and is not as neat as Maria’s especially when you look at the area Mum pieced when the morphine was starting to get to a high dose! After talking with my sister we decided to leave the stiching as it is part of the history and brings a smile to our faces….its the green cotton against the cream material. Since reading your story I am going to leave some of the papers in situ as they also tell a story. Thank you you have made me very happy All the best for the future Jill xxx

    • Dear Jill
      What a lovely email and a moving story about your Mother’s quilt. I am so glad that Maria’s Quilt has been an inspiration and perhaps many years in the future someone will discover the papers inside the quilt and uncover its history.
      Do send a photo of your version of Maria’s Quilt, when you have finished it – I want to make a gallery of them on my website!
      With best wishes
      Liz

  6. Jenny Sansom said:

    Loved your book, did not want to end. I have a bit of patchwork but this has inspired me. I belong a group so will be singing your praises, and recommending your book to them. They will have to buy it as it is my e reader. Have just go the last telegram so can not wait to start. Many thanks for a beautiful book. Jennyxx

    • Dear Jenny
      Thank you so much for your comments and I am glad you enjoyed the book. Please encourage your friends to buy the book in paperback if they are able – this will help to encourage my publishers to continue publishing me! (they don’t take much notice of ebook sales).
      With best wishes
      Liz

  7. Pamela Niemi said:

    I am reading your book, having seen the article in quilting magazine, as I am a quilter. I love your book, and now I have seen your photo of Maria’s quilt, it all makes sense. Oh how I would love to make it. Definitely one for my ‘to do’ drawer.

  8. I also loved your book. I seem to be into Forgotten books: The Forgetten Seamstress/Daughter/Telegram! Also The Runaway Slave – very quilty too.

    The article by yourself and Lynne in BPQ is fascinating. You both must have had such fun. I have downloaded it and will behelping some students with it as it is a good starting point for a medallion quilt

    • Dear Michelle
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I am thrilled that you are going to use Lynne’s quilt patter for teaching your students – to think that my modest little idea for a novel about a quilt should be used as an inspiration!
      Great!
      Best wishes
      Liz

  9. Jenny Burgoyne said:

    Wow, what a beautiful quilt. I have just finished reading The Runaway Slave, and The Forgotten Seamstress is next in the pile of “must read”. I will definitely be printing off the instructions and giving this a go. I have a whole bundle of satin and silk type fabrics in the most glorious array of colours and this quilt looks to be the perfect project. Being fairly new to patchwork and quilting, it will give me the opportunity to try out some new techniques, and also get me back to doing a bit of embroidery which I have not done in a number of years.

  10. Linda Kerswill said:

    Dear Liz

    I have just finished the Forgotten Seamsterss and really enjoyed it as I am a quilter of over forty years and have worked with antique textiles on the Quilters Guild Heritage Committee.
    However I can’t help but feel that there is a chapter missing at the end of the book. What happened to Maria when Norah died and how did she manage make contact with Margaret/Jean enough to have photographs taken and hold little Caroline?
    Kind regards
    Linda K

    • Dear Linda
      Thank you for your comment. You are quite right, I did not spell out what happened to Maria when Nora died, because sometimes it is good to leave parts of a story to a reader’s imagination. There clues throughout the book, though! What actually happened is that Maria saw the newspaper cuttings when Jean’s son Richard died (remember, he was an eminent academic) and recognised the photo of the grieving widow/mother Jean from the time she had been a volunteer in the hospital. Richard looked so like the Prince of Wales (and had almost the same birthdate) that she became convinced there must be a link.
      She went to Eastchester to find Jean, and Jean (so riven with guilt for all of her life) confessed to what had happened and, on discovering that Maria was about to become homeless, offered her a home (this much we know from Caroline’s mother’s recollections at the beginning of the book) as a sort of housekeeper/houseguest. So Maria knew that baby Caroline was her granddaughter, but promised to keep it a secret for the rest of her life. How poignant is that!
      Hope this helps
      With best wishes Liz

  11. Linda Kerswill said:

    Thank you so much for outlining the details
    Linda K

  12. Dorothy Teel said:

    How beautiful, I wish I had the patience and talent to do something this beautiful, I even have a hard time sewing a straight seam on the sewing machine. I love the colors and I bet the book is a great read.

  13. Joanna Noel said:

    got the Last telegraph for free – enjoyed it so much I went eventually finished it at midnight last night and then having bought The Forgotten Seamstress last night, I started that at midnight and eventually fell aslepp at 4am this motning !
    I have now pre ordered Poppy Factory.
    I loved the Forgotten Seamstress …. I can’t sew for toffee, but was intrigued to see what the quilt could look like having finished the ebook 5 minutes ago –
    please tell your publishers they need to take note of ebook sales – they are the future… and the future is already here.
    please keep writing – and I look forward to reading Poppy Factory
    thank you for an Exhausting couple of days !
    thanks again
    Joanna

  14. Miss Dorothy Heeney said:

    I have just finished reading The forgotton Seamstress ,enjoyed it so much I did not want it to end .i have done a little Quilting but now having seen Maria’s Quilt I am inspired to make one .Thank you for a super book .look foreword to your next .
    Best Wishes
    Dorothy Heeney

  15. Jacqui Dawes said:

    Just finished your wonderful book. Now all I have to do is try & make the quilt.

  16. Gwen Deierhoi said:

    Just finished your second book, found just looking one day at the bookstore. As I love anything British, after living in Oxford in the early 80’s, I enjoyed the story so much and started reading it out loud towards the end to prolong the finish. I am not a seamstress or quilter but have mother and mother-in-law who are and was able to picture the quilt in my imagination. But the virtual one is so much more elaborate and beautiful than I had pictured. Thanks for sharing it with the readers! Now I am off to find “The Last Telegram.”

    • Great to hear from you, Gwen, and how lovely that you enjoyed The Forgotten Seamstress so much that you did not want it to end.
      Best wishes
      Liz

  17. Gwen Deierhoi said:

    I had pictured the quilt in my imagination but the virtual one is far more beautiful than the one in my mind. Enjoyed the book so much. Thank you.

  18. Sheilana Massey said:

    Loved the book and will recommend it to the book club. However, I can’t locate the ‘signatures’ in the quilt pictures… the duck, apple, violin, dragon and the mouse, oak leaf, rabbit, anchor. Is there a close up of these parts I can see?
    Thanks, Sheilana Massey

    • Dear Shelina
      I am not sure what you mean about locating the ‘signatures’ in the quilt pictures. Do you mean the photos of quilts people have made, that are posted on my website? If so, these are only their interpretations of Maria’s quilt, not exact copies. The real Maria’s quilt exists only in my imagination – and yours! Better that way, I think!
      Best wishes
      Liz

  19. Just downloaded the book on friend’s recommendation. How generous a gesture to give such explicit instructions for the quilt!
    I’m looking forward to reading and starting a new quilt!

    • Hi Marie
      It is the generosity of Lynne Edwards, the quilter who made the pattern. I hope you enjoy the book, and making the quilt. Send me photos when you have finished it, please!
      Best wishes
      Liz

  20. Sheilana Massey said:

    In the story, Maria created a duck, apple, violin, etc as a signature for David, and a mouse, oak leaf, rabbit, anchor, etc as a signature for Maria. Are these embroidered or pieced? Where are they in the picture? The Ms representing Maria are obvious.
    Thanks.

  21. Dear Sheilana
    In the book, they are appliqued. But the intention of the pattern is that people should make their own interpretations of the quilt, which is why this one doesn’t show any figures. There is no compulsion for anyone to include the duck, apple, etc, in their own quilts!
    Hope this helps
    Liz

  22. Dear Liz, I so enjoyed reading your book and have already recommended it to others. My sister is a quilter and my co-worker is British. I’m looking forward to hearing of their enjoyment as well. Now, I’ll try to find the other books you have written. Thank you so much for such a “good read”

  23. Loretta Hodge (Gloster MS U.S.A.) said:

    I just finished reading the Forgotten Seamstress and was so disappointed that it ended! Loved the story – and as an avid quilter and reader it seemed written just for me. I also enjoyed reading in one of your replies to another reader about how you pictured Maria and Jean making contact. Next up – will be printing off the wonderful quilt instructions to put in my “projects I must do” file. Tomorrow I’ll find “The Last Telegram”!

  24. What a fascinating story. I love it – not quite finished but hardly stopped reading since it arrived yesterday!!!!! Couldn’t wait to take a peek at the quilt Lynne designed f or you. Its wonderful and so vibrant – not her usual style at all. I have been fortunate enough to attend a couple of her workshops and she’s a great teacher too. I will try to start this quilt and have put it on my ‘to do’ list for next year. A FABULOUS READ and I am going to start the Last Telegraph next.

  25. MARIAN BALAAM said:

    Over the last two weeks have read both The Last Telegram and The Forgotten Seamstress and can’t wait to start on The Poppy Factory. I just love your style of writing and being a quilter was intrigued with the development of the quilt. Lynne’s (presumably?) interpretation is stunning and such a good representation of what I was imagining it would look like. Maybe one day I will find time to have a go…. Marian B

  26. Jill Pearce said:

    Have read the book and loved it, passed it on to fellow quilters. I have made the quilt with the help of Pauline Ledley. When she showed me her quilt I felt yes, I have to make one. Mine has different squares representing my family and I shall be handing it down to the grand daughters. Would love to send a copy to you but not sure how. Jill P, Southwell

    • Dear Jill
      How exciting! Another version of Maria’s Quilt! I absolutely loved Pauline’s version and always show photos of it when I go out doing talks about the book, so I really look forward to seeing photos of yours. Please just take a photo and send it as an attachment to my email address liztrenow@hotmail.co.uk.
      Thanks so much
      Liz

  27. Maggie Mcgowen said:

    I too have just finished reading about Maria’s quilt. Owning several of Lynne Edwards’ books and seen her demonstrations at various exhibitions, I thought I must find the instructions. I really enjoyed the book. Having got half way through I wanted to get to the end quickly so I spent all day yesterday reading and not doing anything else. My husband didn’t complain he was on day 3 of a jigsaw puzzle I had given him for Christmas. I truly enjoyed the Poppy factory too. I bought that because both my husband and I are ex forces and supporting the Royal British Legion I had to buy it. My husband is the local Poppy Appeal organiser. I did at one point reading the book begin to wonder if there was any truth in the story of Maria. But that we will never know. perhaps you should send them a copy!!!
    I will now go and find the Last Telegram. All the best with your next book. Happy New Year to you and your family. I am going to send a link of your website to my quilting and patchwork groups.
    Many thanks to both you and Lynne.

    • Dear Margaret
      Thank you so much for your lovely letter. I am really pleased that you have enjoyed the books. If you make Maria’s Quilt, do send me a photo!
      With best wishes for a happy and peaceful 2015.
      Liz
      PS the story of Maria is pure fiction!

  28. Maggie Mcgowen said:

    If you get enough quilts made, you and Lynne will have to stage an exhibition !!!!

  29. ingrid lüderitz said:

    dear liz trenow, in this minutes I have read the last sites of your book. I love it. patchworking is one of my hobbies. so I was glad to have found your story in my library. a big story.
    excuse my english. I had no practice in the last years :-))
    thousand thanks and greetings ingrid lüderitz (living in black forest, germany)

    • Dear Ingrid
      I am always delighted to hear from readers who have read my books in other languages. Thank you so much for writing and good luck with your patchwork (perhaps you will try the Maria’s Quilt pattern?)
      Best wishes
      Liz

  30. ingrid lüderitz said:

    dear liz, thank you for your answer: I am glad to hear so immediately from you! maria´s quilt pattern is milewide far from my ability 🙂 I love patches, which have lines to sew easy. but maria´s quilt is wonderful. thank you for your wishes. have a nice time and be further so genially writing 🙂 greetings ingrid

  31. Gabi Eckes, 55595 Wallhausen an der Nahe (near Mainz am Rhein) said:

    Dear Liz,
    I read your book last year, it is so wonderful and i was very inspiried from your virtual Quilt. I will made it for my son Michael and his girlfriend Lisa. They will marry on 6.June this year. The fabrics which i taken for the quilt are from old blouses and shirts from both. I hope you understand my ghastly englisch, I never need it. (I learnes it forty years ago, only two years at school.)
    many greetings from Germany

    • Dear Gabi,
      It is lovely to hear from Germany and wonderful that you have made Maria’s quilt!
      If you are able to, please send me a photograph of it to liztrenow@hotmail.co.uk so that I can post it along with the other quilts on this website.
      Best wishes
      Liz

  32. Liz. I believe you do talks about Maria’s quilt? Could you get back to me about this please?

  33. I have just finished reading The Forgotten Seamstress, and I was sad to get to the end – I wanted to know how Caroline’s business is doing and if she and Ben wound up together – in other words, I wanted more! My Mother is in the early stages of dementia (she is 89) so I could sympathize with Caroline. Also, I am a beginning quilter who is intrigued with the story of Maria’s quilt. How clever to incorporate her life story into the design of her quilt. I am inspired to try something like that myself when I get more adept at quilt piecing:) Thank you for such a well-written story!

    • Dear Pat
      Thank you so much for writing. I am delighted that The Forgotten Seamstress has inspired your quilting ambitions!
      With best wishes
      Liz

  34. OMG… this is one of the best novels I’ve read in years. A really good friend of mine saw it in a book shop and couldn’t resist getting it for me…I love to read and love to sew (especially patchwork). As I read the story I relayed it to my partner…she was as intrigued as I so when I finished I went back and read her the last chapter, ‘cos she had to hear it exactly as you wrote it. The excitement inside then when I discovered you’d been generous enough to give the pattern…I nearly burst!!! So I will definitely give this project a go when I finish my current one which is a bed-throw celebrating my 50th year. All the best for your future writing…you have made me smile a lot over the last two weeks… Lots of Love Pauline (Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland).

    • WOW, Pauline, what a terrific mail. Thank you so much. I am really glad you enjoyed the book. And please do send a photograph of your version of Maria’s Quilt when you have finished it, so I can put it onto my website.
      Many thanks for writing
      Liz

  35. Like so many others, I did not want the book to end. I don’t quilt, but I sew and the fabric descriptions were so real and so vital to the preciousness of the quilt. Friends have tackled various quilts as has my sister-in-law who is an expert, so plan to encourage her to read the book. She still hand stitches her quilts after machine sewing the pieces together & they are beautifully & expertly quilted. She has tiny hands like Maria.

    • Dear Maxine
      Great to hear from you and I am so glad you enjoyed the book. Maria’s tiny hands were a real ‘character identifier’ for me, as I was writing her!
      With best wishes
      Liz

  36. Joyce Benjamin said:

    Wonderful book. Im not a quilter, but the book made me wish I was! Loved Maria & was so happy that she eventually found her son & granddaughter. My heart ached for her Grandma Jean.

    • Dear Joyce
      So glad you enjoyed the book. Yes, my heart ached for Jean, too. Imagine discovering that your child is in fact someone else’s? Terrible. In fact I felt her plight merited a whole novel to itself. Perhaps I’ll write it, one day.
      Best wishes
      Liz

  37. Dearest Liz,
    I have just finished reading “The Forgotten Seamstress”, and I have to say that I simply fell in love with the characters and did not want the book to end! I am hoping for a sequel! You are such a wonderful writer… your words painted the most beautiful pictures in my mind as you told your story.
    I am a quilter of many years, and also do needlework…embroidery. So I now want to make Maria’s lovely quilt. I can hardly wait to get started on it. Thank you for writing such a lovely story… Much Love, and Blessings, Kate Gonzalez from Texas

    • Dear Kate
      Thank you for taking the time to write and I am so glad you enjoyed The Forgotten Seamstress. Sorry, I don’t think there will be a sequel to that one, but I have just finished writing my 4th novel which is about silk weaving in the 18th century, which I am hoping all you fabric-lovers will enjoy!
      Do send me a photo of your version of Maria’s Quilt when you have finished it.
      Best wishes
      Liz

  38. Ein tolles Buch (in Deutsch: die vergessenen Worte) !!! Ich habe es regelrecht verschlungen und jetzt finde ich hhier auch noch die anleitung. Was will ein Quilterherz noch mehr??? Vielen Dank und hoffentlich folgen noch mehr Bücher dieser Art!

    • Dear Silvia
      Thank you for writing – my school German just about managed a translation! I’m delighted that you enjoyed the book.
      With best wishes
      Liz

  39. Hi, we are from Germany, and should write an essay about you and your Book “Die Vergessenen Worte”, please tell us something about why you wrote this book and about the background. We enjoyed the book, big compliment.

  40. Thank you for answering, you helped us very much. Hope we get a good mark.
    Evelyn and Fiona 🙂

  41. Such a fabulous story. I started it last night after dinner and finished it this afternoon. Couldn’t put it down. Was very sad it had to end. I’ve been seing for 20 years and will read any novel with a sewing theme, so read this based entirely on the title. What a wonderful tale!

  42. Mrs Christine McCausland said:

    Dear Liz

    I met you this year when you gave our Ladies Group Capel Ladies a talk on your 3 books. I went to this meeting thinking oh this is going to be boring how wrong was I. My future son in law actually works at Stephen Walters for many years. So I was interested as soon as you started talking I read the book very quickly and have passed it on to my daughter who couldn’t wait to read it, she in turn is going to pass it on to her future mother in law who also has worked at Stephen Walters. I have just finished reading the forgotten seamstress and could not put it down was engrossed from the first page. Am about to start the Poppy Field my niece actually makes poppies for a living so I feel there are 1 or 2 connections with your books. I look forward to reading more of your excellent books regards Christine McCausland

    • Dear Christine
      Thanks for getting in touch and for your lovely comments. I am so relieved to hear that my talk wasn’t boring! My next book is also about silk but sadly won’t be coming out for another year because I have moved publishers (to PanMacmillan). But I hope it will be worth waiting for.
      With best wishes
      Liz

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