Pauline Mang'ana, member of the Kenya Quilt Guild

The first time I cast my eyes on some quilts from a quilter living in Kenya then, I knew the quilting bug had bit me! I immediately advised myself that I was to learn this art and craft of patchwork in quilting, even if it cost an arm and a leg!

It was back in 2004 while I lived in Kijabe that Jana Mead, a member of the Kenya Quilt Guild , became my source of inspiration. I began to understand there was a sparkle of life at the end of the horizon, if I set my hands to stitch.

Later I enrolled for a course in Fashion and Design at Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts in preparation for becoming a quilter in future.  The college equipped me with much knowledge in sewing and today I run a fashion and design shop in Eastlands, the economic gateway into Kenya. My shop exhibits the excellence of my workmanship in stitching as seen in the photos.

Quilt by Pauline Mang'ana, member of the Kenya Quilt Guild

In 2009, my dream of being a quilter started to gain shape after I was invited to the Kenya Quilt Guild meetings. I acquired much knowledge in the area of quilting as I positioned myself in the Quilt Workshop Schedules  and translated much of this knowledge into quilts. I was convinced that a day would come when I would walk strong even after stumbling just like a child. I was now sure that what one settles for in life is what rules them. The main question was why settle for average stitching when one could  become phenomenal?

Quilt by Pauline Mang'ana, member of the Kenya Quilt Guild

In answer to this, I pressed on to get more education from the Kenya Quilt Guild teachers. It is at this stage that I decided to  connect with Raji Syan, one of the talented and knowledgeable Kenya Quilt Guild teachers, who teaches beginners or more advanced quilt students how to do hand piecing.

As I continued to be passionate about my classes with Raji, I knew that the door to the ordinary was completely shutting and a door to the extraordinary was slowly opening. The sky was now going to be the lower limit for me!

I overcame many mental obstacles and challenges including transporting my machine to class through public means.  I was, however, convinced that the endurance I practiced was the preparation to position me for greater things. Part of my dream in quilting was to create a platform where I would orchestrate quilting skills to present and future generations. I had a great desire to leave a legacy behind of imparting quilting skills to all.

To date, I have made over ten quilts, ranging from wall hangings to bed quilts.   I made my first quilt, the Irish Chain, while expecting one of my daughters. It was be a gift to her. The second quilt, the Kitchen Garden was a wall hanging and many more as seen in the photos. My love for hand quilting and appliqué is passionate.

Since then I have attended many quilting classes and learned new techniques including how to make quilting bags from African bead work using a crochet hook. I source most of my beads from Masai markets, which are open-air markets that move from one venue to another across the city. I have been able to bead and sell some  items like  glasses, bottles, belts and pens to other parts of the world.

Quilt by Pauline Mang'ana, member of the Kenya Quilt Guild

I have  also attended several workshops with International Teachers, who have visited and taught patchwork quilting or other needle arts in Kenya.  I now confidently enjoy sharing quilting  techniques with all the quilters I come across knowing that what Casey Leisure said is true: “An enlightened woman will not seek to be understood, she just enjoys the company of like-minded people.”

It has been a long journey for me and a challenge for me to do better even as I hold the position of the Chairman of the Kenya Quilt Guild Exhibition Subcommittee, and have the honour to sit in the Executive Council.  I extend my welcome to  many who want to quilt with a warning that once you start quilting, you many never stop!

Bernina Machine EQ2C is my choice of machine which makes my work very enjoyable and produces very gorgeous blocks. The machine is well maintained and  serviced by The Woman Shop at Sarit Centre in Westlands, which is the Kenya’s foremost patchwork quilting shop, selling fabrics, notions, quilt books and tools, and selling and servicing Bernina sewing machines.

In no uncertain terms, the overall excellence attained through all these trainings and experience is reflected even in the littlest of my quilt pieces.  Surely I can resound that “The sky is the lower limit; those who say the sky is the limit have no imagination!”

My passion for quilting has grown over the years and I will continue to press on to a higher level.