Monday, 19 December 2011


I spent a wonderful day printing fabric down at Betchworth. I am doing a whole Wet and Wild course down there starting in February so I wanted to see what the set up was.  And so I played with the thermafaxes that I had:
This piece started off as a hand dyed pinky-beige colour which certainly did not owe me anything so I was quite pleased with the result of this overall pattern.
This was the base print on some cotton sateen and I then followed it with layers of black and a wonderful named ink "Metallic Chocolate" - says it all really doesn't it.

Then I played using a large wood block which I bought in the summer. I did this on some commercial fabric.
This is on a commercial cream/yellow tone on tone

This was a truly awful olive fabric which I print twice - it looks a lot better than it did. I should have taken a photo of it before I started but you will just have to take my word for it - it was certainly one of those fabric that I seriously wonder why I bought in the first place!!

The setting of the barn is spectacular and we even had snow in the morning. This is the view out of the window
I am now in clean up mode for Christmas. I really need my kitchen back so the cutting board is having to be hidden for the duration of the holidays.

I have three quilts all sandwiched and ready to be quilted over the holidays so hopefully will have at least two finishes by the end of the year.

Hoping you all have a very peaceful and happy Christmas and holidays.

See you in the New Year.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cool Britannia

I promised ages ago that I would show you a photograph of the challenge which had been set by my group for their Christmas present exchange. As I said before the theme for the present should be Cool Britannia.

Well I did it:
and here is a close up
Now I suspect you are asking what my thought process was to end up with this small offering. Well - Cool Britannia to me means that era at the end of the 1990s here in Britain when Tony Blair was Prime Minister and he was cosying up to lots of pop stars and artists. There was a special group of artists known as the YBA (young Bristish artists) who  were making artistic waves at the time. None more so thatn Damian Hirst with his shark installations and other wonderful weird creations. Well I did not think anyone would want a depiction of those but I love his spot pictures and so I thought I would produce my own homage to his work.  The quilting is done in a kantha style.

I have just spent the most marvellous morning printing fabric - I have never done this before and I really loved it. I used some fabric that really did not owe me anything so I did not mind if I made a complete hash of it all but I really loved it.

I have three thermofaxes which I have picked up at various shows and was just too scared to use. So here are the results so far
The thermofax was the lighter design and then I used a credit card to  put some outline on.  I am thinking it looks rather like a city scape and am wondering what it would look like in shades of brown and grey - watch this space!

Then I used a fax with a flower motif

This definitely needs more work - other colours etc. but I quite like the fax itself.

But my favourite is:
My teacher (hi Maggie!) was very encouraging and made me be much freer than I would normally be - I kind of like things in rows and planned which is was the blue flowers were but then I dabbed on some of the green flowers, followed by the yellow and then the blue/black and finally the sheer white.

Now the challenge is to cut it into three inch squares and see what one could do with it.

I am off to Committed to Cloth tomorrow for the day so I will do some more printing and see what happens.

Is this going to make me give up buying commercial fabric - I am not sure but I think it certainly has possibilities.

Happy quilting.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A quick finish

I spent the weekend machine quilting this quilt
The first thing I have to confess to is that I did not do any of the applique - I bought this piece about five years ago in an interior decorating shop. I also have another one which I will probably do this weekend as well.

But I wanted to use it as a top in order to help practice my machine quilting - I did it in spurts of about 20-30 minutes over three days.

I used a wonky heart and  loop pattern which I just made up. I know that Patsy Thompson has a pattern very similar to this but she goes into the heart at the top and I started from the pointy end. I could not get to grips with her way of doing it. Funny how everyone is different.  Am I pleased with this - well the hearts are certainly wonky and on a few occasions unrecognisable but I think I am being very picky and no-one will notice the flaws.  On the plus side the quilting is fairly even and luckily the varigated Oliver Twist thread I used was very close to the check so you can't see it too much. I used a Wondeful Invisifil thread on the back which was really good - very fine and in an ecru colour did not detract from the fabric on the back.

Gosh I have to finish as I keep on seeing all the mistakes in the close up of the quilting. I need to post this or I shall delete it in horror!!!

Happy Quilting

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

December challenge

Now that I have completed the Beth Ferrier top I need to think about machine quilting it. This is truly scary so I have decided that I am going to practice every day in December. I have just put together this quilt sandwich
(Apologies for the appalling photograph).  I bought this length of fabric with applique already done on it years ago in an interior decorating shop so I have decided it needs to be quilted.  I can do small samples like everyone on the machine but I need to practice on a larger piece - this is approximately 60" square.

So every day, little by little, I will quilt for about 20-30 minutes and hopefully it will be finished before too long. Then I have another top exactly the same so perhaps both will be finished by the end of the month.  At least it is a good way of using up the stash.

Happy quilting.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Wednesday, 23 November 2011


My spare room has just been taken over by a lodger and so I have had to move out all my magazines which were cluttering up the place and I now have a knock on effect. Some of the magazines I love and will be keeping but that means they have to go into my sewing room and the fabric previously stored there has retreated to my secret hiding place. Total chaos is ensuing and I am having to go through lots of old magazines which the view to passing them on to my various groups. So I am in house keeping mode and not doing any sewing.

Have just discovered a new website, run by Keepsake Qulting called Uptown quilting which seems to specialise in more modern fabrics. I went to a local quilt shop the other day and bought two fabrics by Valori Wells

Can't you just see this fussy cut into different flower heads - I might even use it on my Roseville quilt.

Also I just loved this next fabric
I even bought 2 metres of it - no idea what to use it for yet but I can just sit and look at it for a while.

Also decided that I needed some more Lecien fabrics. There is a wonderful new Lecien block of the month pattern which has just been released, called Vintage Tiles and I am wondering about doing it. The sutblety of the applique design is fantastic. Have a look. Some of the flowers would also look marvellous in really bold colours I think.
And finally I had to feed my spot habit a bit
So I am off to cut up more magazines

Happy quilting

Monday, 21 November 2011

sorry for not posting

I am sorry that I have not posted for a while but I have been having really bad computer problems which, fingers crossed, are now sorted.  Who would have thought that buying an IPad and trying to get it to talk to a Microsoft computer could be so difficult.

Anyway, in my absence I have been sewing like mad and have finally completed the Beth Ferrier block of the month. It is so big - about 102 inches square, that I can't lay it out anywhere in the house. So yesterday I took it to church with me and laid it on the floor and then photographed it from the balcony.
That is as good as it is going to get.
I promised myself that it would be finished by the end of November and so I am at least a week ahead of myself!!

Boy this was a lot of work and of course it is not finished yet - but I am going to put it aside for a while before I start quilting it.  First I need to practice my machine quilting a LOT before I start on this but also I am going to send it out to be machine basted using water soluble thread - thought that one up in the middle of the night and asked the local long arm quilter if it was possible.  I could not face all the pinning or taking out all the basting thread.

So now I have to get on with my Christmas exchange on the subject of Cool Britannia - I have the idea and now need to knuckle down and do it. As some of the members of the group read this you will all have to wait until the great reveal on 9th December.

So happy quilting wherever you are.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

2 borders

I have finally managed to sew two of the inner borders to the central panel - it is almost getting too large to photograph but here is a snapshot
Miracle of miracles, I have also discovered how to use the monopoly thread - lots of practice but I finally worked out that if I reduced the top tension a bit the thread did not break any longer. Thank goodness for that - was beginning to think it might be the machine but hey human error as usual.

I am just bought an IPad as well to read all the blogs and yahoo group messages that I seem to receive on a daily basis (I turned on my computer on Monday morning - having not been on all weekend) and had 72 emails to go through - far too many so hopefully I will be able to keep up to date with everything. Needless to say the reason for buying it was for work and now I can't get emails to appear on the IPad on that account. I feel another visit to the Apple Store coming on later in the week - goodness I hate technology when it does not work!!

Off to help a friend in need with her Bernina 820 - she has been so busy that she has not been sewing much and has forgotten all the helpful hints we were given by our dealer.

Happy quilting.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Just back from a wonderful morning's teaching of the applique method I use. Much credit goes to Beth Ferrier for teaching me this in the first place. It was a lovely group of five people and we managed some leaves and a flower each. Here is a picture of their finished efforts.
I have got one or two more teaching sessions coming up so it will be interesting to see their results as well.

I am still trying to complete the borders for the Christmas quilt and it is happening but very slowly - funny how work seems to get in the way!!

Off to one of my quilting groups tomorrow where I am hoping to hand sew lots of the pesky blue dots!

Happy Quilting

Monday, 17 October 2011

Beckenham Quilters exhibition

Spent a wonderful Saturday morning at this quilt show in South East London. I have a friend, Maxine, who is a member and it is always good to go and see her work
This is her contribution to the group's challenge to make a small quilt based on colour shade cards. As you can see she is injected three D pieces into the Delectable Mountains block. Sorry about the picture but it was at ground level. The flashes of different colour and dimension really brought this to life.

Here are some other quilts I saw
This was a wonderful Kantha quilted piece by Wendy Parke

A fantastic trilogy of picture on Art Deco theme by Linda Mercer

I just loved these januty boats by Jean Bagley

This was done by  five artists: (from left to right) Janet Tibbalds, Chris Hughes, Bonnie Foster, Sandra Tait and Alison Kirkby. The title was Five by Five

I loved this wool applique hanging by Rita Shilling.

Also the group had done a workshop with Edith Morris on her kaleidoscope technique. Once again all the quilts show so well how different fabrics can produce totally different results. Here are one or two examples

Made by Jill Harford

Made by Linda Mercer

Made by Alison Kirkby

I love the whole show - great coffee and marvellous homemade cakes as well as a few traders. My ideal way of spending a Saturday morning.

Happy quilting

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


I have been rather too busy to sew in the last week. I spent the weekend helping my friend Maggie Barber run her stall at Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitching Show here in London. She was part of the graduate showcase, having just completed a diploma in Stitched Textiles at Windsor. Here is some of her work
and here are some details of her work

There were also two other graduates from Windsor in the same area and other students from other colleges around the UK.  It was a really enjoyable experience to find out what it was like to be on a stall rather than just a punter at the show. But totally exhausting.  And I should definitely have been chained to the stall and not allowed to roam freely on occasions.  The shopping was wonderful and  as I had three days to trail the bags home, I did a certain amount of damage to my wallet.

A wonderful collection of batiks which I could not resist and then yet more spots!!

and finally a collection of felted wool
When am I going to get around to using these - goodness knows. But I want to try some wool applique when I have finished the two large quilts so I had to get the supplies in didn't I!!

Meanwhile I have been busy sewing on the tassles to the Beth Ferrier quilt

Of course I managed to totally miscalculate the number I needed, so I have another four to produce and then the centre of the quilt will be finished.

Happy quilting

Friday, 30 September 2011

I have been sewing - honest

I have realised that it is ages since I last posted but work has been really busy and also I was fiddling around with the Christmas quilt and did not have anything really to show you.

But now I do.  The main parts of the first border are finally sewn
I was slightly disappointed by the look of it I msut say - it looked really dull but then a revlation occurred
Look at the difference the small turquoise dots and the white narcissi make - it really does come alive.
I am sewing all the dots on by hand - frankly it is quicker than trying to do them neatly on the machine and they should not take more than an evening to do. The narcissi will be machine appliqued.  I have been having problems using the monofilament thread with The Beast so it has all been sewn in a sage coloured Bottom Line thread which does not show very much at all.

I have also done a bit of work on the centre of this quilt and will try and post a photo over the weekend. It is becoming quite large already and finding somewhere to hang it in this house is not an easy thing - I will have to get my portable quilt stand out and take a photo.

Happy quilting!

Friday, 16 September 2011

A daft exercise

Last week when I was teaching my Thursday group one of the students wanted to do a quilt using the Raising Star pattern by Judy Martin.  She had half metres of fabric and we duly cut all the strips.
The pattern is basicly a star within a star
Sorry about my crude drawing.  The point of the block was to use five different fabrics with no white tone on tone.  While I was helping her cut it, we both noticed that she would have a lot of extra fabric over - I said that that was the reason every quilter I knew had a stash BUT it got me thinking.

I have a mass of fat quarters which I am always keen to use up but I wanted to use ALL of the fat quarter up - or at least have so little over that I could chuck the remainder without feeling guilty (I know some of you keep every last scrap but for me life is too short!).

So I decided to redraft the block and see how many blocks I could get out of a fat quarter.
This was my cutting plan for an 8" finished block. Knowing that some of my fat quarters have come from the States over the years I worked on a 19" x 18" fat quarter size.  (It is very confusing when over here in Europe our fat quarters are on average 1 1/2" longer and measure about 20" wide x 19 1/2" deep.

First cut was three strips of 3".

Then cut into 3" squares and finally cut diagonally to produce 32 half square triangles.

The next strip was of 2 1/2" squares for the outer corners and the centre square.
The next strip was 1 1/2" for the inner corner pieces

And the final two strips were cut 2" for the inner half square triangles.

I find that when I am chain piecing a lot of triangles, I am quite happy if they are a bit oversized as I like to square up each one individually. That way all the elements are the same and you don't have to waste so much time squaring up the blocks at the end.

So it was all cut out and then I started to lay it out on a piece of uncut fabric to get an idea of what it would look like.  Well imagine my surprise when I could get four blocks instead of two.

I know that my placement of the patches is not perfect but you get the drift. Actually I thought this was quite good for a first attempt.

But the original block required 5 different fabrics so I am not thinking that if I cut all five together in the same way I will be able to make 10 blocks (referring back to my sketch at the top)
1 fabric for the centre square
1 fabric for the inner star points
1 fabric for the star indents and corner patches
1 fabric for the outer star points
1 fabric for the outer indents and corner patches.

Oh dear I feel another quilt coming on - don't have time to actually do the sewing of it at the moment but  a really good mental exercise and worth pursuing in due course I think.  You have no idea how many tries I had to work out the cutting plan - up to 1am on two nights and again at 7am when I realised I was doing it all wrong!!!!

The initial object was to see if I could get 2 complete 12" blocks out of a fat quarter - I can tell you now the answer is no you can't but and 8" block can be quite delicate and you only need about 49 blocks for a lap quilt and that would reduce the stash nicely.

And here are the bits you are left with
and if you are using American fat quarters you won't even have the long strip at the bottom to throw away.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More fabric

I have not had any sewing time this week so I thought I would just show you a collection of fabrics that I purchase when I was up in Norwich - do I need more fabric - NO but this was so lovely and different to anything I have got that I just had to have it.
All very Japanese. It is all washed and ironed and neatly stored in a box. I don't have a pattern in mind yet but the colours are all very muted so will need to be used all together I think.

I am still struggling with all the bunches of grapes and hope to have time tomorrow when I am meeting one of my groups to glue some more together.

Happy quilting.