As you may have noticed, many of the quilts I make can be about subjects that are a bit intense. The subjects are always important to me and I research them carefully before I start work, but it can be a bit depressing. So to lighten the mood it is nice to mix things up a bit and make something fun and lighthearted too.
Each year I make one or more small quilts for the Midsomer Quilting 12 x 12 challenge. You can read more about it here. Their challenge is open to anyone with some sort of link to the shop and an exhibition of the quilts submitted happens at the shop in Chilcompton, UK, in December. It gets better and better each year and many of the quilts are available to buy in a secret auction, the proceedes of which are given to a local hospice known as Dorothy House.
The theme this year is 'Think of a number'. After a bit of thought I have decided to go big this time and have designed 12 quilts as my contributuion. My mum also gets involved each year and in support of the 'plan' she is making 12 quilts too, putting her personal twist on the designs, but she is making them all by hand!
12 quilts....have you figured it out yet?
Of course, The 12 days of Christmas.
As I chatted with my mum about it we both thought the designs could make a great project for a group, a family or just one person to work on over the course of a year and end up being a lovely addition to the Christmas decorations. And thus the idea of a block of the month project was born.
Whilst I was up at Midsomer Quilting this past weekend teaching the second part of the Starry Night workshop I spoke to De, Chris, Birgitta and a few of the customers to see what they thought. The upshot is - it is on!
Just to give you a little sneeky peek of what they will be like, here are a few little snippets.
De and I haven't quite worked it all out yet - in fact, the quilts haven't all even been made yet, but we both envisage it working something like this:
Starting in January 2019 the pattern, fabrics and full instructions for one 12 inch quilt block will be sent to all participants. 27 days later the next you will receive the next instalment, so by the end of November 2019 you should have a completed wall-hanging / quilt/ set of 12 inch squares ready to decorate your home for Christmas. (There is no need to visit the shop to be part of the Block of the Month, making it great for those, like me, who live far away!)
The nice thing about the designs is that the blocks can be made using a variety of different techniques (which you choose is up to you); raw edge applique, traditional needle turn applique, free motion embroidery (think Doodle Birds/ Doodle Dolls) or even hand embroidered stitcheries. You could even mix and match!
To try and make things a little more interesting I think it would be nice if we could set up a closed private Facebook group for participants where we can share our progress, ask questions and generally have a natter about the project as it develops. Of course, if you are not a Facebook person then there is no need to worry about this - it is just an 'extra'.
I also hope to be able to make some short videos showing some of the different techniques used - so watch this space for that (I need to learn how to do it first - but January is ages away!!)
Finally, I am thinking I might like to offer a half day workshop for anyone who would like to learn how to hand dye the fabric you use for the project. It is just an idea at present as I am not sure if enough people would be interested to make it viable - but if you are then please do let De at Midsomer Quilting know.
The team at MQ and I will be selecting a variety of fabrics for the projects - and these will be available as part of the project.
I hope you like the idea - if you do and you are interested in finding out more (no commitment yet) then please get in touch with De at Midsommer Quilting (details below) and we will let you know once we have things worked out a little more clearly.
Thanks for reading.
Now I have settled into my new home in Plymouth I have finally found the time to start thinking about workshops again. I have been busy with so many other things for the past few months I have neglected this part of my quilting life - and I really miss it.
Thank you to the people who have been getting in touch with me about new bookings - it is always lovely to hear from you. Please do be aware that I do now live in Plymouth and therefore the distance that I travel to get to you is likely to be much more than in the past and that this might now require an overnight stay.
Doodling away in Honiton...............
I am happy to say that I ran a lovely workshop in Honiton last weekend, at Thimblestitch@Zoë's.
12 very lovely ladies came to my Doodle Birds workshop and we had a great day. More news on a new doodle workshop is below.
Spring Flowers in Avalon (well, I'm hoping spring will come soon!) ..................
Next weekend I am visiting the ladies at Avalon Embroiderer's Guild to run my colourful Flower Bowl workshop. It will be a nice change from looking out at a white snowscape! Apparently it almost never snows in Plymouth. Someone obviously forgot to tell the snow!!!! Below are some beautiful examples of the bowls made at previous workshops.
I also want to develop some new ideas for workshops that offer something a little different. I have had this idea in mind for quite a while, but not had the time to develop it. It all starts with creating this background............. does it look familiar?
Whilst on holiday recently I went to a very old 1920's Art Deco cinema and watched the film 'Loving VIncent'. If you haven't already seen it then you are really missing something very special. I had seen the trailers on the news and made a mental note to go and see it, but for whatever reason, I didn't get around to it when it was released. So, when I saw it listed whilst away on holiday I made the time to go.
You can watch the official trailer
And I am so glad I did. It finally kick started me into creating this small 16 inch quilt for a new workshop. It is currently a work in progress and I'll share how it looks so far it with you here.
You are going to have to like simple hand stitch for this one - my interpretation of Vincent van Gogh's 'Starry Night'.
So, what do you think? Will it work as a workshop? De at Midsomer Quilting has been lovely and encouraging me to get on and finish it. I plan to have it completed by May 19th when I will give it to De to put up in the shop to see what people think when they see it in the flesh.
And here is the other new workshop I will be teaching. It is called Doodle Dolls and is a new variation on my Doodle Birds workshop. I'm teaching it first at the all new Midsomer Quilting, May 19th. I am really excited to teach in their beautiful new workshop. Please contact De if you wish to book your place.
Speaking of which, now I live much further away I can't just nip up to MQ or Zoë's when I run out of wadding or that special piece of fabric. However, all is not lost - I received my first mail order fabric from De at Midsomer Quilting a few weeks ago. The new Midsomer Quilting online shop she is now running is perfect for people like me who can't easily get access to beautiful quilting fabrics and other supplies. My perfectly packed parcel arrived 2 days after I placed my order online - and inside the fabric was all wrapped up in beautiful tissue paper. Thanks to De and her online shopping team it was perfect.
I'm really looking forward to getting back to teaching and meeting lots of new people. Hope to see you soon.
Thanks for reading.
Click the button below to go directly to my Workshop pages.
I recently spent another fabulous day with the members of Walton Textiles, this time making beautiful rose gardens. We had a lot of laughs and everyone was tremendously productive, in fact by the end of the day everyone had pretty much finished their curved-pieced quilt top and covered it with sprays of flowers.
The nice thing about this workshop is that the pieced quilt top builds quickly. Once you get the hang of the technique of cutting and piecing the gentle curves (not difficult, just different!) you are off. In just an hour or so everyone had their quilt top done.
By lunch time everyone had a fabulous quilt top to work on.
After lunch we began adding the flowers. There are so many different options..... We discussed size, shape, colour and layout before everyone got back to work.
Amanda began quilting her fabulous quilt top towards the end of the afternoon.
I hope you agree, they are all fantastic. I know that at least one is destined to become a cushion, one a wall hanging, one a table runner and another is going to have a twisted log cabin border added. Ladies, I am looking forward to seeing them once they are finished!
To find out more about the 'Garden of Roses' workshop and download the accompanying brochure, please clickhere.
Thanks for reading.
I decided to make a little quilt this week for the workshop I am teaching on Sunday at Midsomer quilting. The workshop is called 'Not my grandmother's garden' and is very loosely based on the very traditional quilt made solely from hexagons - just like the first picture up above on the left. The first piece of patchwork I ever made (when I was 11 years old) was just 7 hexagons big, and I must say, it didn't inspire me to carry on with patchwork at that time. Too many fiddly bits for an impatient eleven year old! However, several years ago I made the yellow quilt (above) for a Quilting Arts Magazine challenge, and used the traditional hexagon quilt as the starting point. Hopefully you can see the hexagonal 'flowers' behind all the paint, thread and buttons.
The inspiration for this last quilt came from one of Monet's paintings of the waterlily ponds at his home in Giverny. The top section of the green quilt reminded me of a watery pond, and made me think of Monet. Changing the shape of the hexagonal flower into a rounded flower is the sort of variation I was looking to explore for the workshop. It also meant I learned another new patchwork technique - Suffolk Puffs.
To make my version of the lily pond I needed to start with a watery blue background fabric - but my stash of such fabrics is rather depleted at the moment, so I needed a quick way to make a suitable piece. I decided to try my hand at marbling with shaving foam, as I believe it is quick and easy (nobody ever seems to mention how messy, however!).
If you haven't had a go at this technique it really is fun - but I do recommend wearing an apron and having lots of newspaper and a large bucket of water and a bin at your side!
(Arthur Comstock - a little bird told me that you love the gelli plates, so I think you might like to have a go at this too!)
This is what I did...
The shaving foam on the tray can be used several times, spreading it out again and adding more paint. My foam did start to break down and 'curdle' after a while, so when that happened I scooped what was left into the bin and started again.
The whole process took less than 3 or 4 minutes per piece of fabric, so was a quick project which yielded several very nice pieces of fabric, each a little different.
I'll add some photos of the quilts made at the workshop as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading.
As you may well know, I have a bee in my bonnet about encouraging people to feel more confident about creating their own original work. I do understand why people want to come to a workshop where everyone makes a quilt that is almost the same as the model the teacher provides; you know what you are aiming for, you know which resources to bring, and you know what you will go home with. Job done. But that scenario makes me just a bit twitchy. If you are going to pay your hard earned money to attend a workshop why not go to one where learn to make something just a bit more than someone else's quilt? Why not take the first steps towards learning how to design your own? Sure, it is a bit more effort, and you do risk it not turning out the way you expect - but you also gain by creating something completely your own at the end of the day. You gain by learning more than just techniques - you learn how to create something new and how to take more control of the process so that next time you will be more confident when it comes to trying out something new.
That is what I am hoping for with these two new workshops - 'A Garden of Roses' and 'Not My Grandmother's Garden'.
A Garden of Roses workshop
In this workshop we will look at the two quilts above and analyse some of the design elements and principles I have used to arrive at the finished design. More specifically we will examine the lines, shapes, use of space & colour, and how these elements have been pulled together to ensure harmony, balance, contrast and rhythm to give an overall unity to the finished quilts. Don't worry - it wont be boring, and we wont spend hours on theory! We will just be looking at real quilts and pulling out what is relevant to us as quilters. Using this information you will then design your own quilt by selecting your own variations of the design elements and principles and get started on making it. It isn't difficult and I will guide you though the whole process, giving you lots of ideas for creating your own work.
I'll also teach you the techniques of free cutting and piecing gentle curves if you wish to incorporate that into your design and I I used make your own interpretation. Let
Of course, if you don't want to alter the design and you would simply like to make either of these quilts then I am very happy for you to do just that, so don't feel you have to get into the design process if you don't wish to go down that path.
Not My Grandmother's Garden
Once again, if you don't want to alter the design and you would simply like to make a copy of this quilt then I am very happy for you to do just that, so don't feel you have to get into the design process if you don't wish to go down that path.
For more information on these and my other workshops I have created brochures which you may like to look at. You can find information on all my workshops by clicking on the WORKSHOPS tab at the top of any of my web pages - or by clicking on the pictures below.
Thanks for reading.
Nesting flower bowls - they just keep getting more beautiful
It has been flower power all the way form me this past week.
It started on Wednesday with the ladies from the Wiltshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Quilters in Steeple Ashton
Then on Saturday and Sunday I was at Midsomer Quilting - creating even more fabulous flowers. I think we made enough to fill a whole florists, and not only that - we can all smile and know that the future of quilting is going to continue. The age range of the people at the workshops this week spanned from age 9 to ............... well, more than 21!
I think you will agree - they all look amazing. What I love the most is that no two bowls look the same. There are so many ways they can be varied; just by changing the colour from yellow to white - a sunflower can be transformed into a daisy. By changing the thread colour the visual texture alters the flower; smoothly stitched free motion lines make a gentle, delicate flower, whereas bold embroidery stitches make for a vibrant, flashy bloom. There is lots of room to experiment and try new ideas.
If you would like more information on this and other workshops, please click here
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the fun we all had this week.
Thanks for reading.
Since everyone at the workshop was already an accomplished quilter the quality of the finished work was excellent and lots of ideas were explored.
Thank you to Maureen, Liz, Birgitta, Chantal, Ann, Del, Sheila, Diane, Maureen, Liz, Barbara, Alison and Steve for a great day.
Here are some pictures of the day as it unfolded
Lunch was followed by...... more cake!
Exploring layers of transparent fabrics and different colour choices
Some of the semi-finished pieces
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the fabulous work the ladies of Hardy Quilters created. It was a great day with lots of experimentation and exploration with the techniques of faux trapunto, free motion quilting and the layering of transparent fabrics. Thanks, ladies. I would love to see your pieces when they are finished.
Well now that summer seems to be well and truly over I decided it was time to get on with the flowers. I spent the week transforming my big heap of colourful fabric into a lovely collection of flowers and now have a house full!
I made some old favourites and added a new flower to the collection. I hope you like them!
Midsomer Quilting Saturday 31st October 2015
Midsomer Quilting Sunday 1st November 2015
Pauline's Patchwork Saturday 9th July 2016
Blackmore Vale Embroiderers Guild 5th November 2016
Thanks for reading!
Doodling v Drawing
Let's just clear one thing up.
Doodling is not the same thing as formally drawing.
A doodle is a drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. So, if I sit down and focus on just drawing, then that is a drawing. To be a doodle I am drawing, but not really thinking about it.
Doodling has a bad reputation
Now - when I was in school, doodling was severely frowned upon as being a waste of time , or even worse, proof that you were not concentrating. How wrong they were!!! Recent studies by Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth have come to my rescue and give scientific proof (obviously the best kind) that doodling is NOT the product of a wandering mind, but, in fact, the complete opposite! Doodling is not my mind 'daydreaming' but rather a way to force it to stay focussed on the present.
In fact, much like chocolate and red wine, doodling has benefits. Who knew?
So what, exactly, are these benefits?
Doodles and Quilting
Which brings me on to my latest project: Doodle Birds. I am actually revisiting a technique which I tried out about 5 years ago, early on in my ventures into Free Motion Quilting. I decided I wanted to get better at FMQ - and there is nothing like a bit of practice to see improvements. It all began with a doodled bird.................... and this is where I have ended up.
It takes time and patience to create a Doodle Bird, but it has improved my FMQ enormously. If you think you would like improve your FMQ then why not give one a try? I will be teaching a workshop at Midsomer Quilting in Somerset on 14th November, but why wait? Get out a pen and some scrap paper, phone a friend and go for it! What have you got to lose?
For more info on the workshop click here.
Here are some pictures of the great work in progress.
The techniques we used included:
fused raw edge applique
using soluble thread
free motion quilting
layering transparent fabrics
cutting away fabrics to reveal lower layers
creating a net from thick thread
The workshop was quite intensive, and we didn't manage to complete the whole quilt in a day, as I had hoped. But everyone had a great time, and people who had never stitched free motion quilting before all had great success in stitching the scales onto their fish. It is always such a pleasure to see people learn something new.
Thanks so much for looking!