Pastime grew into obsession

Quilter Debbie Pettinger works on her latest creation in her home studio, in Dunedin. Photo by...
Quilter Debbie Pettinger works on her latest creation in her home studio, in Dunedin. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A woman of two worlds, Debbie Pettinger switches from heavy packs and muddy boots to bright fabrics and creative patterns with ease.

The tramper and climber stumbled into her other passion - quilting - about 11 years ago when her children were young and her husband, also a keen tramper, would go away for the weekend.

"I needed something to do."

Passing a shop window, Mrs Pettinger noticed a quilt hanging up and thought she could make one herself.

Despite admitting her intermediate sewing classes "never really stuck", she took a beginners' quilting class and became hooked.

"I just like the construction and the way the colours all come together."

It soon became apparent she needed her own sewing space, so her husband built a studio off their garage, in which she hid herself away for about 30 minutes each day.

"But I might do a couple of hours at the weekend, especially if the weather is bad," she said.

Once every bed in her home had about three quilts, she started giving most of her creations away.

"I make them and pile them up. When someone needs one, or wants one, I give them a selection to choose from."

Mrs Pettinger joined the Quilters and Patchworkers of Otago about eight years ago and enjoys meeting regularly with fellow quilters to learn new techniques and gain inspiration.

"You get your enthusiasm from their enthusiasm and we sort of feed off each other."

However, her quilting pastime still surprises others.

"A lot of people know I do tramping and climbing ... they don't go together with quilting." However, the craft is not something she would be able to give up easily.

"It sort of grew from a little thing into an obsession," she said.

Bins of fabric line her studio and she is doing her best to work her way through it.

"I figured I bought for 10 years, and now I have enough for 10 years of sewing, before I buy another lot for retirement."

What makes a good quilter? "Patience and attention to detail, confidence with colour, as this is something a lot of quilters struggle with, and confidence to just do it."

What is the latest trend? Applique is becoming popular, as is making smaller pieces, such as wall hangings and table runners, as it is easier to try new ideas and techniques.

Any tips for new quilters? "There are no "quilt police"; no right or wrong way of doing something. Accuracy in cutting and sewing helps it all go together more easily, and will give a better finished result. Having said that, finished is better than perfect, so don't stress if things don't go together quite how they were supposed to. No-one will notice any mistakes, if you don't tell them."


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