Patchwork shoes b Karen Foley

Graduate Stories: Karen Foley

After completely our Skill Stage 2 Patchwork & Quilting course, Karen Foley shares with us her motivation, what she’s learned and why she has recently enrolled onto our Skill Stage 3 Patchwork & Quilting course. 


My name is Karen, a retired pharmacist, mother and wife. And although I  say  I’m retired I’m busier now than ever. I have always taken a keen interest in crafts and when I was a teenager I had tried a wide variety of hobbies including cross stitch, embroidery, candle making, knitting, crochet, and macramé to name just a few, I always found it a great way to relax.  

Sewing has always been there throughout my life either making curtains or fancy dresses for the children but it  had taken a back seat due to family and work commitments. So when an opportunity arose  I treated myself to a patchwork lesson at a local sewing shop.

After my patchwork lesson I was hooked, I rushed out and bought a jellyroll not having a clue how I was going to use it. My first quilt was from a pattern called summer in the park, which I enjoyed making but I soon realised I needed a lot of help to produce lovely quilts like the ones I was seeing in magazines and at local quilt shows.


A quilt by School of Stitched Textiles graduate, Karen Foley

A close friend had shown an interest in my quilt so I decided to make a quilt for her 60th birthday using her favourite colours and animals. It was going to be a test to see if I could give it away. Otherwise, I was going to end up with a house full of quilts. Once pieced, I discovered I didn’t have the skill or knowledge of how to quilt, so I started looking around for a course to help.

A purple and black abstract patchwork quilt

When I began looking around the Patchwork courses, I knew I wanted a course with a recognised qualification on completion. This would give me a good grounding on all aspects of quilting and patchwork which I could later take further if I wanted to teach or start my own group. 

My research for a course lead me to finding so many lovely quilting projects. I made these slippers as a Christmas present but ended up keeping them.

Other projects I tried include these two: On the left is a method called Happy Villages by Karen Eckmeier and the second is a Bargello wall quilt. Choosing the fabric was a great experience.


This is a quilt I have just finished for my daughter requiring  a whole new set of skills. 

Patchwork & Quilting Course

The most helpful thing that I have learnt is looking at different artists and applying that to quilting, looking at designs in my own photos and not being scared to put a power point together to show my work. I’m learning to find inspiration all around me, and I’m gaining confidence in what I do, especially with regard to design work.

The course has really taken me out of my comfort zone, the design aspects in particular and not using software but doing a lot by hand. I know I will feel very confident in designing and producing my own applique patterns.

I have learnt so many fascinating things from doing this course . Not only about patchwork and quilting but about different artists and their lives. While in Vienna, I visited as many Museums as I could to learn more about Klimt and his paintings normally I would have Avoided museums. 

There is great support from the tutors that always get back to you, as well as a closed Facebook group for the students to share ideas and encourage each other.

I have enjoyed the course so much I have started level 3, to understand more in depth the different aspects of Quilting and Patchwork.

Hand Embroidery




Machine Embroidery




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  1. Hi karen, like yourself I enjoy sewing and find that it relaxes me. I was a machinist in my first ten years of employment mainly overlocking I did a little flat bed sewing but after being made redundant from my machining job I went into shop work i now work for the NHS in a busy hospital.my mum passed away 3 years ago and she had bought a basic sewing machine from the shopping channel which she gave to me before she passed away she told me she knew I would make good use of it since then I have done little projects such as quilted bags cushion covers and soft toys etc I think this course could be good for me I also want to keep the promise to my mum and make good use of the machine she gave me.

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