Deborah McGuire – Quilter, Writer & Historian

Deborah McGuire is a quilter, writer and historian.

Her work presents the quilt as an emotional object, exploring its role in domestic history, women’s history, material culture and regional histories.

Completed in 2021, Deborah’s Masters by Research Dissertation, titled ‘”Remember Me”. Domestic Textiles in Britain 1790-1890: Memory, Identity & Emotion’, uses the framework of the lifecycle to uncover the role of the quilt as an object of emotional communication throughout life.

Deb’s new 2022 PhD research project concerns itself with journeys through both temporal and geographical space, presenting the quilt as a flexible and meaning-full vessel which did emotional work over long periods as it travelled through the spaces and places of the long nineteenth century. Unfolding the focus outwards from the family, this study explores overlapping arenas; the smaller more intimate sphere of the body, senses and souls of makers, and wider spheres recording how quilts lived on through remembered afterlives, in alternative domesticities, reinforcing regionalities, and doing the work of nationhood. 

This thesis, titled ‘Emotional Journeys. The British Quilt in Space and Time 1780-1920’, is supervised by Professor Joanne Begiato and Dr Sally Holloway at Oxford Brookes University, School of History, Philosophy & Culture. See Published Work, Press & Media for latest work.

Deb is also a traditional handquilter, sewing British vernacular inspired modern new work on an extant Welsh quilt frame from 1900. Deb is a passionate advocate of the tradition of framed handquilting. You can read about her quilt practice here and explore the name PlainStitch here.

Deb contributes to magazines, podcasts, radio shows and YouTube shows and writes a quarterly column for The Quilter Magazine called ‘Modern Notes on Quilting’, reflecting on the quilting community today through the lens of the traditions of the British quilting past.

Deborah is an appointed Advisor to the Collection Committee of the Quilt Museum Collection and serves as a Non Executive Director for The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles trading arm, Festival of Quilts Ltd.

Deb originally trained and worked as an international FMCG marketeer, and has since been an entrepreneurial pattern designer, patchwork and quilting teacher, long arm quilter and a quilt shop owner. 

Deb is a member of the AQSG American and BQSG British Quilt Study Groups.

Contact: deb@plainstitch.co.uk or 19066614@brookes.ac.uk.