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 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.

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119 thoughts on “Maria’s Quilt”

  1. Caroline said:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your book as it had everything for me to read it in the first place!

    The details of the quilt were fascinating and I would love to aspire to make such a beautiful one! My background is textiles and fashion so that also made it all the more interesting.
    The history of the institution comes as a traumatic event to read about and very pleasing to know that these sorts of places no longer exist.

    I’m into genealogy in a big way and although a fictional tale it had all the elements that make a great story to uncover about a family member and for that reason too I found it a good read.
    I’m going to recommend the book to our book group as there are lots of key elements to discuss.
    I have now downloaded your other books and am looking forward to getting stuck in to those too.
    This one was definitely a page Turner keeping me up to the small hours and I’m sure the others will too.
    Thank you for your wonderful imagination in creating such a great story.

    • Hi Caroline
      Thank you for your lovely post and I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I’m not sure where you live but if in the US, my next novel, The Hidden Thread, is published in May!
      Best wishes

  2. Michele Clarke (now Moody) said:

    I can’t find a place to comment on The Silk Weaver, but just to say it is a really good read (another one!) and so interesting for anyone interested in textiles

  3. I finished Marie’s story today and it was fantastic. This is the book my quilt guild’s book club picked for this month and I cannot wait to discuss it with everyone. I could not put the book down. Loved the format. Beautifully written!

    • Thanks so much for getting in touch! I’m so glad you enjoyed The Forgotten Seamstress – and perhaps you might try my latest, The Silk Weaver (if you are in the US it is entitled The Hidden Thread).
      Best wishes

  4. Rene' Oliver said:

    I so enjoyed The Forgotten Seamstress I couldn’t put it down, I look forward to reading another of your books.

    • Hello Rene
      Thanks so much for the lovely comment – perhaps you might try my latest, The Silk Weaver (The Hidden Thread, in US)
      Best wishes

  5. Karen L. said:

    Hi Liz, I have only just finished The Forgotten Seamstress so am still a bit overwhelmed by it’s story. Each day I picked up this book to read, I was so reluctant to put it down. I had no wish to fix dinner or walk the dogs as I was in a hurry to finish it. (Yes, I am a slow reader!) Then again, I never wanted to reach the end either because then that would mean it was all over. I really enjoyed and became engrossed in the story. I especially enjoyed the way you went back and forth in time with some chapters being modern day (and the personalities involved) and others being the recorded voice of Maria (Queenie) with the pauses for coughing, laughing, drinking, etc.(I could almost swear that I was listening to the tape sometimes!) That gave me the chance to speculate on what directions this story might be head towards. It was painful to hear about the institutional aspects of the story, sad to hear about Maria’s loss of decades of her life, wonderful to hear about her connecting with her old friend/’sister”, satisfying to know Maria made a physical connection with her family, and exhilarating to find out the whole meaning of the quilt and therefore conclusion of the story. Even reading a bit about the history of textiles in the UK and conservators who try to save or stabilize historical pieces was fascinating and educational. I loved this book from start to finish and will be looking for your other novels as I cannot help but believe that I will enjoy them to the same degree. Thank you for writing this story.

    I also intend to read about your family history in the silk industry. That seems to be a story by itself well worth reading. I don’t live in the UK so cannot visit the places you mention but sure wish I could. I do however live near a town in the US which is well known for its textile history particularly the denim mills. Sadly the last of those mills has fairly recently closed but some of the buildings have been turned into offices and shops. It is fascinating to see the structures inside as they have tried to leave a lot of the architectural aspects in place. Some have searched for photos and mounted them on the walls. The weaving machines are gone but photos and historical information carries on. So many people worked there (several generations of families even) and there are still a number living so there are stories to be found.

    Sorry to have been so long winded but Maria still is wandering around in my head. I am going to look into the quilt pattern you have put forth. After all, I am a bit of a quilter!

    Karen L.

    • Thanks for your lovely email, Karen. Do send me a photo of your Maria’s Quilt when you have completed it!

    • Charlie Tabor said:

      Karen, If you like this style of writing, back and forth with time/dates, I finished my last of six Kate Morton(Author) books about a month ago. Like you, I’m a slow reader, and it takes a lot in keeping my nose in a book so to speak. And after reading “The Forgotten Seamstress”, I would’ve swore Kate wrote. Well done, Liz? My wife quilts, and after reading of all that went into Maria’s quilt? WOW!! Anyway, I would also like to see your version of Maria’s quilt. Charlie Tabor, Cheshire, Ohio, United States

  6. Barbara Millen said:

    So enjoyed reading The Forgotten Seamstress. It’s been snowing so I had the perfect excuse to stay in bed till I finished the book. I found it very emotional and the story of Maria’s incarceration at the asylum was heart rending. Unfortunately those things did actually happen to unmarried girls who got pregnant. The fact that she got to meet her granddaughter was a lovely resolution to the story. I greatly look forward to reading more of your novels. Thanks for keeping me company on a snowy, cold day! Barbara Millen

    • Dear Barbara
      Thank you for writing. It’s snowing here today too and your email certainly warmed my heart! Glad you enjoyed The Forgotten Seamstress and hope you enjoy some of my other books too!
      Best wishes

  7. Mel Terpstra said:

    I have read The Forgotten Seamstress twice and loved every bit of it! I am myself a seamstress and quilter. I have made the quilt and would love to send you a picture of it. For me it was a labour of love and healing after a difficult time in my life. I incorporated my mom’s and grandmother’s vintage hankies and some pieces of bobbin lace my mother-in-law made. Of all the quilts I have made, it is my pride and joy. Thank you for a wonderful novel.

    • Dear Mel
      I am thrilled that you have made Maria’s Quilt. It sounds wonderful, encapsulating your own history in the way Maria’s does (and as do all the best patchwork quilts, to my mind!). Do please send a photo to and I’ll put it up on this website (with your name, if you don’d mind).
      Thanks for writing, Liz

  8. Dear Liz,

    I am just getting into the book. I’ve had it for sometime. I can’t remember how I got it either. I had the great fortune, as a quilter, to take a class from Lynne and meet her. I worked on her The New Sampler Book. I have to quilt it but am a bit daunted! Anyway, I look forward to reading the entire book and I’m intrigued with the quilt. I just might have to make it! Telling a story is a gift and for that I thank you! Alia

    • Dear Alia
      Thank you for your lovely comment. Please do make the quilt, and when you’ve finished it, please send me a photo!
      Best wishes

  9. Dear Liz, I’m almost finished with the book and am thouroughly enjoying this read! I am also more interested in making the quilt and am slowly thinking it out. I have one question. What is the finished size of this quilt? I can’t seem to find it anywhere!!! Thank you.

  10. I read this book a few years ago and really enjoyed. I decide to re-read it again with my church book club. It is a page turner. I really look forward to discussing with my bookclub. A interesting story.

  11. Conny Fleck, Quilter vom Jungfernkopf said:

    Dear Liz,
    i come from Germany and I read the german translation of the book in 2015 and now a second time . As I`m a quilter I really enjoyed it and all members of my Quilting group ” die Quilter vom Jungfernkopf” from Kassel liked it too. A marvellous idea to show the patterns of the quilt on this page.If anyone has sewn the quilt it would be nice to see for other readers.
    Best wishes
    Conny Fleck

    • Dear Conny, Thank you for writing. I’m pleased your quilt group has enjoyed the book. And I agree, it would be lovely to hear from more people who have made the quilt, with photographs of their creations!

  12. As a quilter and a genealogist I found this book mesmerising – I couldn’t put it down. My own great grandmother lived as a ‘voluntary boarder’ in a mental institution for the last 18 years of her life (1926 – 1944).There was nothing wrong with her other than she was a chronic hypochondriac and none of her children were in a position to have her live with them. Believe me, they tried but it nearly sent my grandmother mad. I can’t wait to read your other novels now. Thank you!

    • Dear Anne
      What a lovely email. I am so glad you enjoyed it. The institution was based on a real place, and Maria’s experiences drew heavily on recordings made with former patients when the institution finally closed down in the 1980s. I was very shocked to learn about people who’d been incarcerated for most of their lives for very little reason. I do hope you enjoy my other work. Thanks for getting in touch. Best wishes Liz

  13. Beate Amberg said:

    Hallo Liz Trenow,

    das Buch the forgotten words, hat mir unheimlich gefallen.
    Umso weiter ich im Buch kam um so mehr fesselte es mich.
    Besonders die stellen an denen der Quilt genau beschrieben wurde.
    Da ich Patchworkerin bin – entstand in meinem Kopf der Quilt – und ich mache mich nun auf der suche nach der Vorlage und ich find ihn wunderschön.
    Die vorlage liegt nun auf meinem Laptop und ich den ich werd mich mal daran versuchen.
    Besteht eigentlich ein zusammenhang der Bücher the forgotten words und dem Buhc The Forgotten Seamstress ?

    • Dear Beate
      Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, The Forgotten Seamstress is the English title for Die Vergessenen Worte. I am so pleased you enjoyed it. Do send me a photo of the quilt when you finish it!
      Best wishes

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