It started with a hexagon

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Hello again everyone,

This week has not been the best. I’ve had a lot of deadlines, it’s pouring with rain so I haven’t been outside in days and I’ve been feeling a little bit sorry for myself. But a little ray of sunshine dropped through the door this afternoon in the form of the Quilt Guild Regional Newsletter, Cobwebs. Not only was it welcome because I like to read about the exploits of other quilters in our region but I was also delighted to discover that it contained an article by yours truly about the exhibition that we held in February. I truly do love to write and perhaps in another life might have considered it as a career so it really was lovely to see my article, accompanied by all the lovely photos of quilts, in print!

Some of my friends aren’t members of the Quilt Guild so I thought that I would also include the article in tonight’s blog post. Happy reading!

It started with a hexagon….

There is something particularly soothing about English paper-piecing. You don’t need much, just a little bit of fabric, some paper, scissors, thread and a needle. Perhaps that’s why, in these stressful times, more and more of us are drawn to it.

For Christine Anderson, who set up the Patchwork group at the Canalside Heritage Centre in Beeston, it is a bit of a passion. And it is a passion that she has shared with a small number of enthusiastic crafters every Monday morning since March 2019. The fact that the group has been held at a centre with a particularly good café famous for its homemade cake is really just a bonus.

So, one Monday morning in Autumn last year we were enjoying our cake and discussing group projects – of which there have been several, including making two sets of cushions for the café and a children’s playmat – and someone (we’re not actually certain who now but we have our suspicions) suggested that it might be a nice idea to celebrate our first year as a patchwork group by holding an exhibition. We may have been hyped up on sugar but we all seemed to think that it was a marvellous idea. “Right”, said Christine, “leave it with me and I’ll investigate the options”.

The exhibition dates were set for early February in 2020, a time when we thought that the Heritage Centre would be quiet and would therefore benefit from the extra custom. As none of us had ever put on any sort of exhibition before I think that it’s fair to say that we weren’t really sure where to start. “Don’t worry” cried April (one of the group’s members) with ill-disguised glee, “I’ll write a list”. Which she dutifully did that same morning before sending it across to Christine and the other members of the group for discussion. (I do love a good list!!!!)

It turns out that there is a fair amount of work involved in setting up a patchwork exhibition, even a small one, and we developed a new-found respect for organisers of shows such as the Festival of Quilts! Once you’ve set the date you then need to think about marketing materials, advertising on various social-media channels, the logistics of displaying the various items and what equipment you might need, rotas for staffing the exhibition and of course you need to think about what you would like to display! February seemed so far away when we were having our initial discussions but, of course, the time passed far quicker than we thought and the last few weeks and days were spent frantically sewing, quilting and dealing with last-minute logistics. We even had our own bespoke quilt-frame, made by the long-suffering husband of super-quilter Gill!

Despite our worries it all came together beautifully, as we hope that you can see from the photos. We had over 350 visitors who left us some absolutely lovely comments in the guest book:

‘A wonderful exhibition, testament to the talent in your group. Love the information attached to them – helps understanding the pattern and its history. Well done!’

‘Wonderful, inspirational – going home to dig out some fabric!’

‘Thanks for the sense of calm.’

Those of us who staffed the exhibition spent the days chatting with quilters and non-quilters alike (as well as drinking tea and eating more delicious cake) and we even managed a little bit of sewing! It was so lovely to have the opportunity to share our knowledge of our craft and I think that we may have even inspired some to try EPP!

So, would we do it again? Well, we have agreed that it might be a bit too much to put together another exhibition next year but that we will consider it the following year. Watch this space!!

Bye for now 🙂

April

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing in strange times…..

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Well, I don’t think that any of us could have imagined such an eventful start to 2020. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we would all be confined to our houses without the option to even visit close friends and family, I would have raised my eyebrows incredulously and voraciously insisted that it absolutely couldn’t happen.

Yet here we are. I have been working from home for the past two weeks, the cat has seen more of me than she ever dreamed possible and, pause for dramatic effect, I was so fed up that I actually agreed to go for a run. Those of you that know of my aversion to anything related to exercise will know how serious things are getting.

We have been forced to take a break from normal life. It’s unnerving. But perhaps we quilters are better equipped to deal with this enforced confinement than some others. After all, we are always complaining that we don’t have enough time for sewing and that all of the expectations of life get in the way of quality quilting time. Now all normal activities have ceased we can finally get out that pile of UFOs and make some progress. Well, perhaps those of us who don’t also have to home-school their children for the foreseeable future that is.

So, what have I been up to since my last blog post nine months ago I hear you ask? Has there been any sewing at all? Well, I am delighted to report that there has indeed been some sewing and I even finished a few items! In February I took part in my very first quilt exhibition, which was a display of work by the Canalside Patchworkers who meet at Beeston Canalside Heritage Centre. This meant that I had a deadline for the sewing and it would seem that I am a great deal more productive if I have to work to a deadline…

I contributed four items to the quilt exhibition, one of which was the Dresden plate quilt that I made for my friend Sally, which you can read about in this blog post. The others included the modern wedding-ring quilt that I started to sew in 2016 (based on a pattern bought as part of a Craftsy class though I think that they are now using the Bluprint platform) and two mini-quilts. I was quite pleased with my contributions and it was really thrilling to see my work displayed in the Heritage Centre:


I am not sure if I will attempt another double wedding-ring quilt. It was quite challenging! Each arc was pieced using the foundation paper piecing technique and I found all that curved piecing quite time-consuming and difficult. As everything is pieced on the bias the fabric slightly stretched and I then had to spend a fair bit of time squaring up the blocks, which I definitely did not do perfectly (just don’t look too closely!!) I would have liked to have added a bit more quilting but I ran out of time (and patience) so just quilted around the curves.

The first of the above mini-quilts was made using a pattern from one of my Love Patchwork and Quilting magazines. I hoped that it might inspire a bit of general craftiness amongst our visitors, even if it wasn’t quilting 🙂 The second of the mini-quilts was hand-pieced using English paper piecing and it is one that I started in one of my regular sewing classes. It was intended to be a cushion but I think that it looks quite effective as a mini-quilt. Both of these will hopefully be hung up on the wall at home when I get round to it!

I absolutely loved being a part of the exhibition and, even though the organisation was a little bit stressful, we’re definitely hoping to hold another one in a couple of years. Everyone who attended was so enthusiastic and so complementary of the work that was on display. More than 300 visitors came to see us over the course of the week and I loved chatting to everyone during the days that I was ‘staffing’ the event (e.g. drinking tea, eating cake, having lovely gossipy conversations and, occasionally, doing the odd bit of patchwork). I have written an article for our local Quilt Guild magazine Cobwebs so I might share it on this blog once it’s published 🙂

There was a lot of frantic sewing in the lead-up to this exhibition and, once it was over, I felt a bit flat and stopped doing anything creative for a few weeks as I didn’t have any new projects planned and had finished my quilting UFOs. Thankfully, just before I fell into a sewing-related malaise I came across a new block of the month club offered by Alice Caroline (who are specialists in Liberty fabric) to make the Jewel Palace Quilt which is entirely hand-pieced and uses a huge range of delicious Liberty fabrics. I signed up in February so I didn’t receive anything until March, when the post brought three beautiful boxes filled with everything needed to make the first six blocks. I also treated myself to the Aurifil thread pack that complements the fabrics. So I have something beautiful and a mindful activity with which to occupy myself in these troubling times.

Thank goodness that, for the time being at least, we can still receive packages in the post so, for those of us who need it, we can still get our fabric fix! Do leave me a comment to let me know what you are working on during this odd time!

I hope that, wherever you are in the world, you are staying safe, that you have plenty of fabric and, for those who need it, you have gin!*

Till next time,

April x x

*Or tea, wine, cake, somewhere to hide when needed, you get my drift..

A fresh start…

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Quite a few of the bloggers I follow often start their posts with a series of pictures so I thought that, for today’s post, I would follow the same format:


It has been an eventful few months. Since my last post I have left one job, started a new one, viewed lots of beautiful quilts, joined a patchwork group, managed a little bit of sewing and taken up bullet journaling..

I left my previous role in early March without a new job to go to. I can admit now that it was quite unnerving. I hoped that I would be able to find something else reasonably quickly but I was equally determined not to rush into something that wasn’t right for me. I wanted to enjoy going to work again, wanted to sleep properly again, wanted to wake up without that horrid feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach every morning. Happily it took me just over a month to find something new and I hope that the new role will play a little more to my strengths. I have also changed my working hours to allow a little bit more time for sewing (and, ahem, blogging). Yay!

The first Monday that I didn’t have to go into work was quite strange. I thought that it would be liberating but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be productive. Thankfully I had a new place to be; a newly set up Monday morning patchwork group run by Christine of Strictly Fabrics. Christine had been asked to impart her wisdom and knowledge of all things EPP to a group of beginners and, following this, she set up a patchwork group which takes place at the Canalside Heritage Centre. Our first task was to create some new cushions for the centre’s café. We used lots of recycled fabrics such as old shirts, skirts and tablecloths plus a few bits and piece of our own. The cushions were ‘launched’ (put out in the café, not sent into space) in early June. The group will also be holding an exhibition early next year. I am both excited by this and perhaps a little daunted at the number of projects that I will need to complete but I suspect that this will be the subject of future blog posts…

As you can see from the pictures I have been lucky enough to see lots of beautiful quilts over the past couple of months. In April I went to the British Quilt and Stitch Village; a small but perfectly formed show. As well as the beautiful quilts there was also some lovely embroidery on show:

The show at Uttoxeter may be small but it is lovely as it’s held in a smallish space and you can get around everything in an afternoon. The first few pictures above are quilts that I particularly liked. I am always more drawn to those that are colourful and vibrant! There are also just enough trade stands to keep you entertained, which ensures that you do not spend the entire balance of your bank account on fabric…

As well as visiting Uttoxeter this year I also managed to visit the Kaffe Fassett exhibition that is currently taking place at the American Museum in Bath. For this exhibition, Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably took their inspiration from quilts in the museum’s permanent collection and reimagined them using their own fabrics. The exhibition was really excellent and we spent lots of time trying to match up the original quilt and the newly designed quilt (they weren’t always hung next to each other). Here is an example:

The first tumbling blocks quilt is the original and the second is the recreated design (as modelled alongside my two wonderful friends from university who also enjoyed the exhibition and, although I have not yet made quilters of them, I will persevere!).

Visiting quilt shows is always good for inspiration and motivation so I have lots of plans for new quilty creations. But all this creating does need to be fitted in with everything else, which is one of the reasons that I have taken up bullet journaling. It is sort of like keeping a diary but it’s also a place to put lists, plans and generally keep track of all of that life-admin. When I was poorly a few years ago I had CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) during which I had to keep a journal of this type and I’d forgotten how helpful it can be. If you look on Instagram there is lots of wonderful inspiration. You basically get a notebook (ideally a dotted one but I don’t think it’s essential) and you set it up in the format that best suits your life. You can make it very pretty but you don’t have to. I bought a book to help me and, as this is my first bullet journal, I purchased one with pre-printed pages so that I can just get going. I hope that it might also help me more with writing more regular blog posts!!

Well, I think that’s enough writing for one afternoon. I hope that this little post has kept you entertained, encouraged you to visit your local quilt shows and to get quilting!

April 🙂

A quite wonderful quilty retreat

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Hello again everyone!!

How can it be that ten months have passed since I last posted on this little blog of mine! A great deal has happened, including a hugely stressful restructure at work, which eventually led to my decision to resign just before Christmas. Sometimes you have to take stock of where you are in your life and consider what makes you happy. It took me several months to make a decision but I am convinced that it is the right one. I hope that the next role (whatever that may be!) might not lead to sleepless nights and perhaps I might even find a good balance between home and work again. I would, of course, love to spend my days sewing and quilting but I do need to earn money to purchase all of the fabric. Plus, as the cat reminded me, she still needs to eat…

As I mentioned in my last post, I  was finding it difficult to fit quilting into my normal life and was getting severe withdrawal symptoms. I therefore thought that I’d investigate a weekend quilt retreat and was delighted to discover the website for The Old Bakery. It looked so wonderfully relaxing and had such good reviews that I couldn’t resist booking a weekend quilt retreat there in the middle of May. And I had such a lovely time that I returned at the end of January this year!

I have considered quilting retreats several times over the past few years but have always been put off by both the price and the fact that you often have to share a bedroom with someone that you might not know. The majority of retreats usually involve a variety of organised classes too. A retreat at The Old Bakery, however, is a much more laid-back affair and you are free to sew as little or as much as you like. There is a beautiful (and wonderfully organised!) quilting studio in the garden with all the quilting accessories you could possibly need!

Alison and Mike (the owners of the B&B) were so welcoming and I don’t think that I have ever eaten so much food! In May (when the weather was quite beautiful) Mike even made pizzas in their pizza oven (the husband was very jealous!) for Sunday lunch.

It is utter bliss to have a whole weekend dedicated to sewing, to not have to worry about chores or cooking and to switch off completely from ‘normal’ life! In May, we also took a class with Alison (who is a very talented quilter) on the Saturday afternoon to learn how to make Seaside-themed wall-hangings. In January, however, we just got on with various projects, drank a lot of tea and enjoyed quantities of Alison’s delicious cooking! We also managed a trip out to the seaside at Wells. Here are a few pictures (including one of my good friend Emma, who accompanied me, thanks Em!)

I even managed to watch The Greatest Showman (pause for intake of breath by those who absolutely love it) which, for some reason, didn’t appeal at the time that it was released. That Hugh Jackman is quite talented really isn’t he?!

Enough of the rambling woman, what did you make I hear you ask? Well in May I spent some time working on a quilt which I finally finished and gifted to my very best friend just after Christmas. It was intended as a wedding gift. Let’s just say that I didn’t quite make that deadline. I was, however, still sewing on the binding whilst in the car on the way to see them…

There wasn’t a great deal of light when we took the pictures and, in case you can’t tell, the quilt is made with fabric from Liberty. I bought a bundle during a trip to Liberty in London and, when I saw it, I thought that the colours and patterns would work really well in a Dresden plate pattern. I added a grey background to make the quilt feel more contemporary. I was quite pleased with the end result and, as you can see, so was Albie the cat!

I also completed a quilt-as-you-go laptop case, which I was quite proud of:

I was trying to use up some of my scraps hence the eclectic mix of fabrics. It fits my laptop snuggly and I always get lots of comments when I am out and about!

I also worked on this EPP hexagon cushion, which I made for a friend. She chose the yellow and grey fabric to coordinate with her sofa. I added piping and I think that it really brought everything together 🙂

So, as you can see, my time in Norfolk was used very productively! It was just so blissful to take some time out, to eat, to sleep and to quilt! I definitely hope to return for another weekend this year, and I’m pretty certain that I’ll be able to persuade my friend Emma to join me!

I hope that I’ve inspired you a little bit this evening!

Happy sewing 🙂

April

On sewing for my sanity, UFOs and motivation..

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Today did not start well. I woke up with a severe case of the Monday blues and, frankly, things didn’t really improve. I ended the day feeling decidedly miffed and had formed a plan to put on my pyjamas, pour myself a large glass of gin and spend my evening wallowing. On reflection however, I have decided that this is not terribly helpful, and that it is pointless to expend energy on those aspects of my working life over which I have little control. Instead, I thought that I would end today on a positive note and share an update on my sewing progress with you all…

I spent this weekend in Yorkshire in the company of my husband and a few friends who had decided to take on the challenge of walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks in just one day. I was, of course, invited to join them. But, I’m not crazy (25 miles??!!). So, instead, I found a lovely little holiday cottage, promised that I would feed them all on their return and waved them all goodbye at 6.30 on Saturday morning. Following a few extra hours of sleep, I then proceeded to spend my day stitching (well, after one small trip to a nearby patchwork shop). Oh the joy of sitting in the sunshine sewing to the sounds of birdsong and a burbling brook. I truly felt that I was a world away from the current stresses and worries in my life. And I’m delighted to report that I finally managed to finish this lovely baby quilt using a disappearing nine-patch pattern: 

The fabric is Dashwood Studio’s Retro Orchard collection and I just love how well it coordinates with the ‘flurry’ fabric in the binding. The disappearing nine-patch pattern looks complex but it’s really very simple. You just need to create a nine-patch block then cut it into quarters and rearrange the resulting squares until you’re happy. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube if you need a little guidance..

If you are not a quilter, then you may be a little puzzled by my inclusion of UFO in the title of today’s post. I would like to reassure you that I have not recently been abducted and subjected to alien experiments (although that might explain a lot…). In the quilting world, the acronym UFO refers to ‘unfinished object’ and is used when we are discussing quilts or projects that, for one reason or another, we haven’t quite got round to finishing. The baby quilt was one of my UFOs and, if you read my last post, you’ll know that I currently have several others and I must admit that I have been struggling a little to find the time and the motivation to complete them…

I’m not sure if it is just me, but I find it incredibly difficult to dedicate a significant amount of time to my sewing when I also have to work full time. It’s very frustrating as I know that sewing is a very good way to reduce my stress levels but I sometimes feel so tired in the evening that it takes all of my energy just to cook dinner. If I attempt to sew anything significant, I invariably make mistakes and can’t concentrate properly. Weekends are often filled with other commitments too and, if not, there always seems to be housework to do! I’d be very grateful for any tips from other quilters with full-time jobs who are able to find some sort of balance! How do you find the time and how do you maintain your levels of motivation?

I am, of course, aware that only I can make the time to sew and, with that in mind, I have finally booked a weekend at a quilting retreat. I have been meaning to do this for at least a year and I am very excited about my forthcoming trip to the Old Bakery in Norfolk. I am going to pack my little car up with my sewing machine and plenty of fabric and head east for a weekend of uninterrupted, unadulterated sewing time. I won’t even have to worry about cooking. Bliss. Look out for a report in a future blog post.

Well, I hope that my little post has cheered up your Monday evening. I hope to share more on my sewing progress again soon. I will leave you with a couple of pictures of the view from the bottom of the garden in our little Yorkshire cottage:

Night, night

April x

Ponderings on a sewing journey…

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At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Couldn’t get to grips with my Toyota, no matter how hard I tried
Couldn’t figure out the tension, couldn’t put the bobbin in
Every broken needle and snapped thread sent me scuttling for the gin..

But I survived, oh I survived
I mastered all the basics and then I thrived
Watched the videos on YouTube, figured out my quilting foot
Made some cushions and a quilt and I was absolutely hooked

So I started a new blog and wrote with all my heart
About the trials and tribulations of mastering my chosen art
I’d like to spend my days sewing but I have to work to pay
for all the fabric, tools and notions and the odd cake in a café

And I survived, oh I survived..

Happy New Year! Oh I know that it’s been months and months since my last blog post. I hope that you like my little attempt at humour. I’ve been thinking about my sewing ‘journey’ lately. If you’ve read the About Me section then you’ll know that I really was utterly hopeless at sewing when I was at School. I was actually banned from using the sewing machines and that was really it for the sewing until my late twenties when I must have expressed some sort of interest and my mother in law found me a second-hand sewing machine.

My initial attempts at sewing on my machine were quite fraught and I seem to remember that there was a great deal of swearing, a lot of snapped needles and a lot of snapping at the husband (then long-suffering boyfriend). Initially, I think that I just wanted to make a few cushions for our sofa and I don’t quite remember why I became interested in patchwork and quilting. My mum taught me to hand-sew hexagons when I was younger but her sewing was mainly for practical reasons and, from what I remember, she sewed by hand. I can’t remember her using a sewing machine at all…

I started this blog in 2013 and I really think that I have learned quite a lot in the past four years:

– I know how to put together a quilt-top and bind a quilt.
– I have learned a variety of English Paper Piecing techniques.
– I know how to make blocks using the Foundation Paper Piecing technique.
– I can put in a zip and use my zipper foot.
– I think that I can just about put piping in a cushion!
– I can use my darning foot and have even attempted free-motion embroidery.
– I have even attempted some applique!
– I am still working out triangles..
– I have rediscovered a love of embroidery

Over the years, I have purchased a variety of sewing books and some have been more helpful than others. So, just in case I have any new readers who have made a resolution to learn to sew this year, I thought that I would list those that I have found to be the most useful:

– Quilting, Patchwork and Applique (published by Dorling Kindersley) – This book is really comprehensive and has very clear instructions with really good visuals too. Its contributors include some well-known quilters.
– Sewing in no time
– Quilting in no time
Both of the above are by Emma Hardy. Again, they feature really good step-by-step instructions and there are a variety of useful projects to help develop skills.
– The Liberty book of Home Sewing – Probably better to buy this once you’ve mastered the basics. It’s just really pretty!!
– Quilting on the Go by Jessica Alexandrakis – A good introduction to the techniques of English paper piecing.
– Material Obsession – Authored by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke. Really lovely quilt designs. I love Sarah Fielke’s use of colour.

Of course, whilst the books have definitely helped, I’ve probably learned the most from attending classes. Over the past few months, the lovely Christine of Strictly Fabrics has been teaching us a variety of new techniques particularly for EPP. I’ve not been terribly brilliant at completing projects but I am delighted to report that my first finish of 2018 is this hand-pieced clamshell cushion:

Clamshell cushion

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I bought this pack of fat quarters as I thought that the material was really bright and pretty. I particularly like the elephants! The colours are very vibrant and the above photos don’t do them justice. I must work out how to take better pictures using my phone! Perhaps that should feature in my new year’s resolutions…

I also used this fabric pack to make a tote-bag with a Dresden plate:

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This was given as a Christmas present to a member of our family who is also a Girl Guide Leader so I hope that she can use this to carry some of her crafty bits and pieces!

So where will my sewing journey take me this year? Well, for a start, I hope to finish some of the projects that I began in 2017. This includes three quilt-tops that all need to be completed and then quilted. I think that the end of last year was somewhat consumed with work so I hope to try to make more time for stitchery this year. I have also signed up to a Facebook event that is being run by Betty’s Sewing Box called A year in Stitch which is a commitment to add at least one stitch per day to your work for a whole year. I have a couple of embroidery projects that I am working on so I hope that I might be able to achieve this. Embroidery can be fitted into a lunch-hour or done in front of the television on these dark winter nights when we have little motivation to do anything other than hibernate and huddle in front of the log-burner..

Well, I think that’s enough of my ramblings for one evening. Wishing you a very happy and quilty new year that is filled with fabric and lovely projects!

April x

A fab day at the Festival of Quilts

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Well here we are again at my favourite time of the year; a time when quilters and patchwork-enthusiasts from all over the world gather (some with long-suffering partners in tow) to attend the annual Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. As my work-colleagues will attest, I’ve been going on about this fairly constantly for the past two-weeks and I absolutely couldn’t wait to spend a day immersed in all-things quilting. So I was up with the lark on Saturday morning and I positively danced to the train station to hop on the train (yes, that’s how excited I was..)

When I’m on the train I always play ‘spot the quilter’. Normally, attendees can be identified by: a) their handmade patchwork bags, b) the number of bags that they are carrying or a little hand-pulled trolley (in which, of course, to put all the fabric-purchases) and c) their comfy footwear. I don’t have one of those fancy gadgets that counts steps but I reckon that you’d cover a fair number at the festival. Not only is it a lengthy walk from the station to the exhibition centre but the exhibition space is absolutely huge so you do spend a lot of time on your feet. It’s therefore important that there is a plentiful supply of tea and cake and that tea-breaks are carefully planned into your day.

I could spend a fortune at the festival but I have to be very strict (this year I just needed to purchase a few additional Liberty fat quarters) so I mainly spend my time admiring the wonderful quilts. I took lots of pictures but here are a few photos my favourites:

I loved these fruity-themed creations:

This daisy quilt would be perfect in our bedroom. The stunning quilting gives it another dimension. I think that this quilt appeared in a recent copy of Today’s Quilter...

Daisy quilt

I wondered whether this quilt was hand-pieced:

Hand-pieced quilt

Was this one hand-pieced too?

EPP quilt

I thought that this was so joyful. I might even attempt to make my own version of the flowers:

Sunflowers and people quilt

I fell in love with this quilt. The attention to detail was just lovely:

Swedish quilt

My poor photo doesn’t really do it justice. I can’t quite remember its title but I think it was something like ‘My Swedish Home’. I took a close-up of of the sewing machine:

swedish quilt - sewing machine

I love the tiny hexagon quilt!

I was, as ever, drawn to the brighter and quirky quilts. This one caught my eye from across the exhibition hall:

Spotty quilt

I thought that the design would make a brilliant rug…

I took so many pictures that there may be more than one blog post that features these quilts! But I’ll leave you today with this bright and bold creation that I think might have won a prize:

Four seasons dresden quilt

As I’m working on a dresden-plate design at the moment, I spent quite a lot of time looking at this quilt (when I could get near to it!)

Well, I hope that, wherever you are, you are enjoying your evening/afternoon/morning!

Till next time!

April

A catch up and some quilty loveliness..

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Oh what a terrible blogger I am. It has been so very long since my last post. Unfortunately, I have had a few issues with the internet. Superfast broadband does not seem to have reached our little corner of the midlands and the slow speeds meant that it was rather difficult to upload any photos But I have finally managed to coax a few onto this site so hopefully I can lure my readers back with pictures of pretty quilts…

Life has been extremely busy for the past few months. I’ve been working very hard in my new job and consequently haven’t had very much time or even motivation to sew. I have a great many projects on the go however so I need to get back to it. Perhaps the longer days and a bit more sunshine will provide me with the encouragement that I need!

We finally managed to take a break just before Easter and we spent a week on holiday in South Wales. We found a lovely lodge near the town of Narberth which overlooked a little lake that was home to several rather fat (and quite chatty) ducks:

I called these two crested ducks Barbara and Belinda. They were always the first to arrive when there was stale bread on offer…

There is so much to do in Pembrokeshire and, of course, there is some stunning coastline to explore. However, all this paled into insignificance when I discovered that there was a quilt exhibition taking place nearby! The Landsker quilters, who are based in Narberth, hold an annual exhibition to showcase their work and, this year, it took place at Picton Castle, which was only 15 minutes’ drive from where we were staying. Oh happy days!

I made a beeline for the gallery as soon as we arrived at the castle (the husband disappeared off somewhere)and I was delighted with the beautiful creations on display:

This was my absolutely favourite quilt. I spent quite a long time peering closely at it to try to work out how it had been constructed. I love the contrast of the dark blues with the pastel colours. Really clever.

This small quilt also impressed me:

I do admire those quilters who can deal with curves. They quite frighten me!

My eye was caught by this rather cute catty creation:

I was quite inspired by this sea-themed quilt too:

I’ll admit, I mainly went to Picton Castle for the quilts but, if you’re ever in the area, I would highly recommend a visit. The gardens are just beautiful. Even in early Spring there were lots of flowers and they had a wonderful herb garden which featured several herbs that I’d never heard of before.

Just before our little trip to Wales I also paid a visit to the British Quilt and Stitch village which is held at Uttoxeter racecourse. There were, as always, plenty of stalls where I could have spent my life savings on fabric but I’m happy to report that I was very restrained (it is the Quilt Festival next month after all…) and I mainly spent the time admiring the competition quilts. Here are a few pictures of my favourites:

I just loved the brightness of the colours used in this quilt. And how sweet are the little ears!

I loved the bright colours in this quilt too:

And this one:

It rather reminded me of a scene from a Dr. Seuss book!!

This beautiful appliqued creation also caught my eye:

I just don’t have the patience required to create something like this!!!

I thought this quilt was rather topical. I think that its title was something like Should I stay or should I go?

I’m not a huge fan of what is termed as negative space in quilting but I thought that this quilt used it rather cleverly:

I thought that the quilting in this particular quilt was just stunning.

Well, I do hope that you have enjoyed perusing the quilty creations in today’s post. For those of you who are quilters, I hope that you have perhaps been inspired. I certainly am…

Till next time…

April

Armfuls of arcs…

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This week I have mostly been foundation piecing arcs for my next quilty creation:

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Aren’t the colours just beautiful? They are all from Dashwood studio and I picked them all out with the help of the lovely Anne from Quiltessential. Even though I know that the finished quilt will be really quite pretty I’m beginning to get a little bit, well, bored of all this piecing and I’m looking forward to moving on soon to creating the blocks. I’m not quite certain how smoothly this will go as it involves curved piecing and possibly the use of something that is, rather entertainingly (for me at least), known as a purple thang. I do not currently own a purple thang and I had no idea what this was until I consulted sewing friends on a Facebook group. Apparently this is a well-known little gadget for keen sewers…I am wondering whether I can just get away with using some sort of straw with a flattened end….!!

Last Friday I had a much-needed day’s leave and I popped down to London to meet up with my very best friend. We arranged to find one another at the V&A and I was somewhat affronted to be asked to surrender my craft scissors. I thought I’d use the train journey to work on a little embroidery kit so I just popped them in with the thread completely forgetting that, in this age of heightened security, they might be questioned. I was able to collect them again on my way out of the museum but I did feel a little awkward when I presented my little keyring and they then proceeded to open a plastic ziplocked bag with ‘EVIDENCE’ emblazoned across it…

We could have spent all day in the museum but we had a great deal of catching up to do so we perused a few of the exhibits before deciding that we needed tea and some sort of cake. The V&A is housed in such a beautiful building and the tiles may inspire a future patchwork creation:

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I also managed a little trip to Liberty where this beautiful collection of fabric just ‘fell’ into my hands:

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I’m not completely certain what I’m going to make with it yet. I’m wondering about making a quilt using dresden plates but I’ll have to peruse Pinterest for a few ideas..

My favourite crafty blog at the moment is Blossom Quilt and Craft. It provides an opportunity to practice my French and I can look at pretty quilts at the same time! 🙂 Its author, Alice, participates in a lot of Quilting Bees and I’ve decided that I might like to take part in one at some point in the future. So, as a first step, I have of course purchased another quilting book….quilt-book

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Amy Gibson provides patterns for 50 different 12-inch quilt blocks that can be combined into hundreds of different quilts. She’s completely updated the concept of the sampler quilt and offers a few designs at the end to provide a little inspiration! This book is currently kept beside my bed so I can read it at the end of the day and fall off to sleep dreaming of quilt patterns…

And on that note, I think it might be time to say goodbye for this evening.

Wishing you happy, fabric-filled dreams….

April x

Traditional versus Modern….

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Hello again everyone. Happy New Year! It’s been a while! My apologies for failing to update my blog over the past few months. Since my last post, I have been trying to regain my balance a little. Despite making several plans, I have failed to complete any sewing projects since September. I’m hoping that, as things get better, there will be more progress with the sewing.

As ever, I’ve tried to keep up with the world of quilting by reading various blogs and my monthly copy of Love Patchwork and Quilting. I am facing a bit of a dilemma at the moment as, although I enjoy reading LPAQ, there haven’t been many projects in recent copies that I have felt tempted to make. Whilst the projects are always very impressive, they tend to use a lot of block colour (sometimes focussing on just one colour) and they would probably be described as ‘modern’ quilt projects.

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I’ve recently been given a couple of copies of a new magazine, Today’s Quilter, (a new-ish publication in the Quilting World that is edited by former LPAQ editor Jenny Fox-Proverbs) and I’ve been considering this option too.

There has been much discussion in the quilting world about what’s known as ‘modern’ quilting. According to the website of the Modern Quilt Guild ‘modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colours and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid colour, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.’

Some of you will know that I joined the Quilters’ Guild a couple of years’ ago. They are the primary organiser of the Festival of Quilts and they always have a large stand at the festival. I was devastated to discover that The Quilt Museum would close due to a lack of funds so I thought that I could, in a small way, try to help by becoming a member of the Guild. All members receive a copy of the guild’s magazine, The Quilter, every quarter. In the most recent edition I read an interesting article written by Quilter Extraordinaire and All-Round Sewing Wonder Woman, Jo Avery (of My Bearpaw), who explained why she decided to re-join the Quilters’ Guild. There are several references in the article to ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ quilting. Jo identifies herself as a ‘modern’ quilter. Her quilts are always absolutely beautiful and, although they do contain elements of the ‘modern’ quilt, there is always an aspect of them that can be linked to ‘traditional’ quilting. Perhaps this is why Jo’s projects appear in a range of magazines that cross both spheres.

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So where do I stand in all of this? If I am going to make a quilt for our home, a rather lovely Victorian terrace, then I am perhaps more drawn to ‘traditional’ patterns. You will all have noticed that I absolutely love fabric designs that are based on old French patterns. French General is a favourite and I loved the designs of the fabric in the shops that I discovered in Marseille.

So am I a traditional quilter? Hmmm. I personally think that all art (as, indeed, quilting is an art-form) is a product of what has come before. Our quilting predecessors initially made quilts out of necessity. They didn’t have the luxury of brand new fabrics or all of the wonderful tools that makes our craft a little easier. The designs that were created were a product of society and circumstance. Now, perhaps, we have the luxury of choice. But we still use designs and techniques that have been around for centuries. We owe much to our quilting predecessors, even those of perhaps just a generation ago. We have simply reinterpreted the craft for the society and circumstance in which we find ourselves.

I still have much to learn so, for now, I think I will just keep reading and learning. I don’t think that I’ll ever be a designer but I hope that, whatever I create, my friends and family will appreciate my efforts. I think my approach at the moment isn’t so much ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’ but rather ‘hope for the best’ and ‘pray that my lines aren’t too wonky’ 😉

Till next time!

April