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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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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..