Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My History in Quilts

Yesterday I had a lovely free day to sew - I could have done the housework whilst the boys were are school..... I know that made me laugh too!

So faced with a day at home instead of teaching due to the floods I opted to work on Christmas presents and tidy the studio. One of the quilts that has been sitting on the side half made is this one.

It's name is Pinwheel Perfection and is made using the 1930's reproduction fabric called Chloe's Closet charm squares that I have been hoarding for quite a long time!

It is a present for a friends daughter who I think needs a cuddly quilt to snuggle under whilst she watches TV.

I have posting pictures from Instagram to Twitter for a quite a while, but recently I linked to my personal Facebook account. Which means pictures of the patchwork I have been working on appears on my Facebook page for the first time.

Yesterday I bumped into a friend at the supermarket, who said they loved my recent work. This prompted a response of I have been quilting for a long time you know, it's not a recent thing...

Then I realised that to her it is a recent thing. She hasn't been to my house and had the tour of the 20 quilts that currently reside there, neither have I been sharing photos on Facebook of my work...

It is funny how this complement got me to thinking about the hobby that has been with me for nearly 17 years. A hobby that I now live, sleep and breath - and teach. A fabric obsession that started with one magazine article in Prima magazine all those years ago.

My first ever quilt is sitting on the sofa. It is a king size churn dash design, which is starting to look a bit worn after 17 years of use. The boys now make dens with it or cuddle under it to watch TV.

The whole history of my adult life is right there in the quilts dotted around the house. My first quilt, the quilt made after a relationship split, the pram quilt my middle son had (he wears it as a cape now), the quilt my mum spend her last few day under and the one I made to remember her life...

To anyone who visits, they are just quilts. To me they chart my life from the age of 18 and they each carry a memory, a message and some of them have pain attached to them. They mark important parts of my life.

They are priceless........

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Making a Fabulous Advent Calendar

A couple of weeks ago I saw Karen Lewis from Blueberry Park tweeting about her hand printed Advent Calendar kit and I just knew the boys would love it!

Over the weekend we were having a Christmas craft weekend, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to put together the kit. When it arrived I had the idea to quilt the hand printed panel whilst applying the pockets.

I choose some fabulous spotty fabric from Tanya Whelan which I found in my secret stash for the back. The instructions are fantastic with the kit, so I followed them to create the pockets by ironing the sides and stitching along the top of the pocket. These I them pinned onto the printed background - there are handy white notches to position the pockets between.

I then quilted the pockets onto the panel. The boys choose the positioning of the pockets so they were random:

They really enjoyed helping to place the numbers with me. Once all the pockets were quilting on, I cut round the calendar and started attaching spotty binding to match the back of the calendar.

Once the binding was stitched in place I hand stitched some red ribbon in place so we could hang the advent calendar.

The boys are chuffed with their new Advent Calendar and can't wait for Saturday so they can start finding the gifts I will be putting in there!
The kit from Blueberry Park is fantastic and the details on the panel are fabulous! I love all the hand printed details! 

Monday, 26 November 2012

A Crafty Weekend

It has been a weekend of rain, rain and more rain!

Luckily Tetbury is on a hill, so only a couple of parts in the valley flood, but all around us there has been flooding. My thoughts go out to anyone who has flooded, fingers crossed the weather eases over the next few days...

As it has been such terrible weather and leaving Tetbury through flooded roads seemed like a crazy idea, we have spent the weekend in the house. We did have one walk into town to get magazines and have some hot chocolate:

My magazine was the lovely Mollie Makes and the boys had National Geographic Kids and the Cbeebies magazine:

The Cbeebies magazine was a Christmas special and mini has worn his Santa hat all weekend! I have to say that magazine has been a great spend. Mini has spend all weekend armed with scissors and sellotape making Santa, elves and other decorations!
I have been busy on the sewing machine finishing our advent calendar from the fabulous Blueberry Park.

I will review the kit tomorrow, but needless to say it is great!

I also made some Christmas bunting for the living room. The boys have asked for more!

We also baked our first batch of Christmas biscuits, which was great fun!


In the last 3 years I have spend this time of year concentrating on getting bags and pouches made for craft fairs and orders. This year it has been brilliant to be able to spend a weekend just doing things with the boys to start celebrating Christmas. As you can see we are starting to get into the Christmas spirit..

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Being Thankful

I know I am a few days late, but a virus that knocked me sideways last week meant I haven't been feeling very thankful!

As I come out of the haze of constant headaches I have been able to look around me...

I am thankful for my 3 precious boys. They are simply gorgeous, funny and full of life. They drive me nuts with the constant fighting, but they also make me laugh and fill my life with love and hugs!

I am thankful for my close network of friends, who are always there to listen and give me a hug. Without them my life would be much harder. I am thankful that they listen unconditionally to my worries and never judge me. I love them all so much!

I am thankful that I get to do what I love everyday. I get to teach something I am incredibly passionate about. I get to work with wonderful people to boost their confidence and give them new skills. I am thankful I can do that!

I am thankful that we have a warm, safe home and enough of everything we need. In a world where people are struggling to survive, I am thankful that we are together and safe.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Weekend Sales

This weekend is a mega sale weekend in the States - I watched a really disturbing video of shoppers in in the US beating each other up trying to get to phones....

For quilters and fabric addicts it is a brilliant weekend to go shopping!

This morning I found some great sales that will last until Monday evening:

The wonderful Fabricworm have a fabulous 30% off their sale section, and their sale section has some amazing fabric!

There is some amazing fabric in this section and with the 30% off it all becomes even more appealing!

I really want the Chicopee, some Amy butler and Monaluna if you fancy treating me...

It's not just fabric shops that are having a sale, Craftsy is offering classes at a huge reduction:

It is a great way to try out a class, I have 5 classes on the go from the fabulous Leah Day, Angela Walters and Elizabeth Hartman. It is like having them in my studio talking me through the work I am doing, which is a bargain at $19.99!

I know these sales are across the pond, but there are some bargains here too...

M is for make has a fabulous sale on! A whooping 20% off everything using the code 'BlackFriday' after the paypal checkout. I have to say I took advantage of it and bought some Liberty fabrics that I have been swooning over for ages....

The fabulous Justine from Simply Solids has a sale too!

Use the code 'turkey' and you get 15% off everything... I am slowly building a stock of Kona solids so I might just have to add to it this weekend....

Go look, you know you want to!

Friday, 23 November 2012

It's all gone hexy...

For the last few months I have slowly been working on my EPP for my HexyMF quilt along.

Slowly putting the hexagons together into flowers:

Th plan had been to put them together according to the Hexy MF pattern, but since have put together 40 flowers I have changed my mind...

When I put them on the design wall to have a look at, I moved them around and decided I would like to try a different layout:

The idea is to have hexagons, single flowers and flowers placed into bigger hexagons.... this had led me to having to decide how to put the hexagons together...

I either attach them to a single background or make more hexagons using the background fabric and grow the quilt slowly.

Being me I opted for the second option! So have started cutting out hexagons from my precious Mode Weave so I can start putting the quilt together... I may be some time!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Another HST design...

Earlier in the week I posted about planning a course and using half square triangles as a starting point for beginner patch workers.

I had been able to put together quite a few ideas with the HST, but my after school club on Tuesday took it to another level!

Whilst taking turns cutting their fabric they played around the with the HST on my designs board and came up with this design:

Now to say I was impressed a is an understatement!

They are 3 10/11 year old girls who love to sew, and are great fun to teach, but the fabulous design they have created was something else!

They inspired me so much... there are so many more things I can do with HST!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

FMQ on the edge..

Yesterday was a manic day - today isn't much better!

I taught in Cheltenham and it was my last session with a lovely group of people with mental health issues. Unfortunately 2 of the group couldn't come so it was a small quiet morning with only 2 learners. I will miss them...

I dashed back and started getting ready for a pampered ladies evening at the boys school. Loads of yummy stalls and beauty therapies for the mums. I took along the Janome's to show case what I do and let people overcome that initial 'I can't sew' feeling!

I had a fab corner in the hall with climbing bar - perfect for hanging quilts on! So with 2 sewing machine set up to go I settled down on a third to do some FMQ

I was living dangerously because I had taken the foot pedal off and I was using the start stop function to FMQ for the first time. I love on the edge right?

Luckily my adapted foot fits onto a Janome just fine, so I set off..

FMQ using the start stop button is an interesting experience...

First, you have to set the machine to the right speed - you can't slow down or go faster. It stays at a constant speed. Which was daunting at first, but not too bad once I had got used to it. It does take a bit of fiddling to get the speed right!

Then there is the whole issue of being too used to using a foot pedal to stop! I am slowly getting used to using the start/stop button, but my foot still taps the floor looking for the pedal! Once you remember you need to keep and eye on where you are going and press it in plenty of time, it is fine!

Overall I really enjoyed not using the foot pedal. My stitches are not great, but then who's are when they try something new out?

Plus it got me lots of interest as to why I was wearing dodgy white gloves, which let to interest in sewing classes, both one-to-one private classes and the patchwork class I will be running at Prema. So the evening was a success!

Plus the boys tried out the new nanny/babysitter and she survived! Will find out their feedback when they wake up!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Going HST Crazy

Part of preparing for my 5 week course at Prema Arts, Uley in March has prompted me to think about the skills I can teach in 5 short weeks...

5 weeks is not a long time, and people will come wanting to get all the knowledge they possibly can about quilts. You simply can not get it packed into 5 weeks... but you can give them skills they can build on...

This is where the HST - Half Square Triangles - come in. They are great because you cut squares (learn rotary cutting skills), you sew along straight line (helps learn accuracy) and it gives you a shape that is soooooo versatile!

Here are a few of the designs I have put together just playing with HST I have made:




These are just a few of the ways you can pay them out. As you can see they are a good choice to give the learners skills and design decisions!

As my middle son just pointed out, "there are millions of ways you could lay them out mummy!" So show me your HST patchwork please!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Quilting is a passion

On Friday I had a private lesson with a lovely lady. She came initially because she lacked confidence in what she was doing and sewing was relatively new to her. But just 3 sessions has built her confidence to try things and she is making the most wonderful little girls clothing from Oliver and S patterns... I mean seriously gorgeous clothes!

Now she is slowly dipping her toe into patchwork and quilting - I will get her addicted!

We were talking about the work taken to complete a quilt using free motion quilting, about the time needed and patience... She took one look at the quilting and commented that the person it is for must be very special!

She is right, this quilt is for a very special person in my life:

This was taken just before the last 2 rows were added! It is a queen size quilt so it will grow with the person.

When it came to the quilting, I decided I wanted to add lost of texture to to the snowballs and the negative space. So sun bursts in the snowballs:

The negative spaces evolved into swirls, both small and large to fit the space:

The squares are staying quilt free.

It is a huge amount of work and I even set up Ellie the Elna in the kitchen so I can quilt when the boys are playing, even 10 minutes work on it helps...

I would hate to say how many hours of quilting have gone into it so far, and I am barely half way through it!

So the sentiment that I must love the recipient very much is true, but I am also pretty selfish - I am using the quilt to build my skills. I am getting to grips with using my domestic sewing machine for FMQ a huge quilt.

Plus  it is a joy every time I sit down to work on it. It is never a chore - I love patchwork and I love the quilting phase too!

Every time I quilt it I think about the years of service this quilt will give. I think about the adventures it will go on, the places it will see and the comfort it will give. I think how my quilts have bought me so much joy and comfort through the years and I am giving that gift to someone just starting on the journey of adult hood... that is a gift worth working on......

Saturday, 17 November 2012


I always greet the weekend with mixed emotions... no work (this weekend at least), but housework to catch up on and 3 hyper active monsters to keep entertained...

The routine is the same if we don't have to rush somewhere:
  • Mummy has coffee
  • Boys fight - mummy intervenes
  • Mummy tidies up a bit
  • Boys play nicely
  • Mummy hides in bed reading blogs and looking at handmade shops/blogs
  • Boys fight - mummy drags them out to run it off....
Getting some space to just be alone is kinda hard and the boys don't spend every weekend together so the first couple of hours on a Saturday morning are a contest of the testosterone to re-establish who is top dog - mummy!

So I whilst we are in the second playing nicely phase I thought share some of my blog finds recently.

I think I must have been very slow in discovering the blog of designer Anna Maria Horner. And I kinda regret that... her blog is a stunning visual peek into her world. I mean serious gorgeous! The pictures are perfect for drooling over with a mug of coffee. There is so much to ogle at and so much inspiration that I could happily pass away an entire morning just here.....

blue elephant stitches is the wonderful blog of quilts, quilts and more quilts! There a pictures to drool over, tutorials to follow and so many gorgeous things to look at it is hard to drag myself away from it. I haven't explored every part of the blog, but I plan to! The creations and colours are so vibrant and fabulous that you can't help feel inspired to go and sew!

Another new blog I have been checking in on is block-a-day. It is a gorgeous log of a fabulous crafter and her journey through life. I like taking sneak peeks at other peoples worlds and realising that we are all pretty much the same... it is comforting to know you are not alone!

Hope to you enjoy the blogs.

I would to see your favourites if you fancy sharing....

Friday, 16 November 2012

Designing and Sewing Day

My weeks at the moment have turned very busy with 4 groups across the county.

The classes vary in abilities, social skills and life styles. Each one is different and each one has it's own challenges, but all of them are fun!

Today is my one day a week at home when the boys are in school and I can play with designs and ideas in between private lessons.

So today I need to think about a quilt for my 5 week course in March... I have these scrummy fabrics lined up:

Pic courtesy of M is for Make
 Along with some serious amounts of orange and grey solids from Simply Solids.

The challenge is to design blocks that will teach the learners new techniques. 5 weeks is a short time to learn all about patchwork and quilting so I need to be quick and snappy so that learners can get a taste of patchwork skills and have a go at some quilting...

With me so far?

So..... breaking the 5 weeks down into a schedules is the starting point:

Week 1: Introduction, cutting and piecing: squares and half square triangles

Week 2: Sewing it all together to make a quilt top.

Week 3: Putting backing, wadding and front together.

Week 4: Quilting using a walking foot.

Week 5: Binding

This is a rough guide and it is part of the course that 'homework' is done in between classes. So if people want to make a bigger than laptop size quilt then it needs more homework! Equally people who have not time outside class with have a smaller quilt..

So I need to make a demonstration quilt - it is a hardship I know - that will show the learners what they are working towards.

I plan on starting this afternoon between my morning class and the school pick-up and after school club!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Making it all work....

Life has been a roller coaster here over the last few weeks...

My lovely big boy is turning into a hormonal mess at 10 and is struggling going between houses. A change in routine should help, but I am kind of mourning the loss of my boy and nervously welcoming the 'teenage' years...

It has occurred to me more than once life is passing by very fast and am I doing the right thing?

Am I raising my boys to be best they can be?

Every parent faces this dilemma. Everyone one of us is trying our best to give out babies the best - even when they are 24!

I work long hours preparing for classes so I can be the best, but I try really hard to fit that work into bedtime or times the boys are occupied. I teach mostly during the school day and try to fit everything to school plus breakfast club and after school care...

I want to lift us off the benefits system that hangs like a cloud over my head....

But this is bloody hard work... and I have no-one to turn to of an evening and say "Help, did I do this right?" " Are my boys doing OK?" " Am I screwing this up?"

I could pack it all in... Just sink back into the cushion that is income support and stay at home with the kids... I could wear pj's and watch TV all day...

But I feel that is the wrong example to set... I feel that getting up, dusting myself down and building a career, first in bag making and now in teaching is a good role model for my boys. It teaches them that no matter what life throws at us - and believe it has thrown some real curve balls - we rise up and fight on...

Yesterday I had my first unannounced observation whilst tutoring a group. In essence someone turns up without warning and sits in the corner of the class and watches you..... listens to your questioning technique, how you engage the group, your paperwork, you.... they aren't judging, they are seeing if you need support in your teaching - OK they are judging you!

It is nerve wracking....

But today I learnt the reason I do get up and get out:

I am bloody good at what I do!

There I blew my own trumpet - pretty rare for me if you know me. Not good at taking compliments, ask my friends Liz and Helen!

I got goods and outstanding, which means I am doing a fabulous job.

So, this brought me on my long drive home back to the question of whether or not I am doing the right thing... is this feeling of pride OK to feel? I feel pride for my boys achievements everyday, but is it OK to be chuffed with myself? Can I show my pride to my boys?

I am like all working mothers. I wrestle everyday with the need to be me and create my place in the world versus the needs of my children. Do I let them down?

Today, I don't think so. I think I have decided today that I can't expect them to grow into men who have self worth and pride if I don't demonstrate it. I can't expect them to have a strong work ethic, if I don't demonstrate getting up and going even when we have a stinking cold and bed is calling.

I can't expect them to bounce back from the curve balls their lives are going to throw them, if I don't demonstrate how mummy did/ does that everyday.

Just like my Cubs this week on a night time trail, I have to lead from the front and help them to follow. I have to point out the hazards and help them to sort through them.

To do that I need to do what I love and be myself. I love teaching, I love bouncing round and getting people to chat and sew. I love seeing people achieve things they never thought was possible.

I don't know if I am doing the right thing... only time will tell me that, but I know I can't go far wrong teaching them the life skills they need by demonstrating them, even if sometime I am grimacing through the stress of life.....

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Adult Classes and Parties

Ever wanted to learn how to sew but not being able to attend a convenient class?

Or just been given a sewing machine by a well meaning relative, but you don't know how to use it?

Fancy having a hen party with a difference?

I will be teaching private sewing lessons in the New Year for individuals and groups in a location of your choice!

You choose the time, you organise the place and I will bring my gorgeous Janome sewing machines, and everything you need to learn how to sew!

Workshops Available:
  • Getting to know your sewing machine
  • Conquering zips
  • Bag making
  • Patchwork and quilting
  • Hen party sewing
At the moment I am able offer these workshops to groups in Gloucestershire, Bath and Swindon areas.


For a group of up to 4 people it is £30.00 an hour, plus materials and 40p per mile over 20miles from Tetbury. Each extra person is £10 an hour.

The minimum booking is 3 hours.

If you are interested please contact me and we can organise how to get you sewing!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Neglecting fabric...

Yesterday evening whilst the computer churned out paperwork for my teaching today I decided to have a looking through all the fabric resting on my top shelf.. you know my secret stash...

I had looked in there last week whilst trying to find backing for the advent calendar I bought from Blueberry Park. I am quilting the calender so I wanted a suitable backing - I found 2 metres of red dots from Tanya Whelan!

2 whole metres that I had squirrelled away and totally forgotten about!

So that got me to thinking, what else do I have hidden away?

Well, some solids in blues, greens and browns... oh and a heap of white...

There are lots of Tanya Whelan pink fabrics that I have been collecting scraps of for ages.

I have a modest collection of Sweetwater fabrics that I treasure, but how to use them hasn't come to me yet...

I have my growing collection of Flea Market Fancy Legacy and a heap of Katherine's Wheel by Nel Whatmore....

I have some Children at Play left over from making this quilt earlier this year:

And scraps from this gorgeous quilt:

All this yummy fabric has been hiding, hidden by me for projects to come...

Part of me worries I will never use the fabric... it will sit there hidden from the light, not being seen by anyone except me when I get the basket down...

In true fabric addict style, I will never stop adding to my collection. I will always hoard beautiful pieces of fabric!

And one night I will be hit by an idea and the fabric will be bought down and brought to life in a gorgeous new quilt!

Which fabrics have you got hidden away? 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Quilt Love

A few weeks ago in a copy of Mollie Makes there was a piece about a fabulous quilt designer called Cassandra Ellis and her new book, quilt love.

The Yellow Lighted Bookshop in Tetbury is my local indie bookshop and absolutely amazing at spotting new titles and getting them in to tempt me.... my bank manager sees this as a drawback, but I see it as fabulous customer service!

So they got a copy of quilt love and put it on the shelf for me to discover! I am always trying to sneak a look at the lovely titles they get in so it didn't take me long to find it, but my bank account said no..

Until last week when I had saved some pennies and decided to treat myself - I have been in a couple of times every week to stroke the book...

And I have to say I love it!

I am patchwork purist... 100% cotton all the way, always and forever...but I want to be more experimental and that is what quilt love is all about - experimenting with different weights of fabric to create gorgeous quilts.

The patterns are really clear and each pattern has a little story with it, which I love reading!

The book is crammed full of lovely pictures and gorgeous ideas for using up precious scraps.

If you fancy a copy go and pester your local indie bookshop or The Yellow Lighted Bookshop who will happily post orders out.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Going all Turquoise!

As you know I have started my orange stash building with my bundle from M is for Make, and I have added to it with loads of solids from Simply Solids... the orange goes really well with grey and turquoise!

So today I have been collating my favourite turquoise fabrics:

Kaffe Fassett can't be wrong with this gorgeous Turquoise Spots from Saints and Pinners.

This Mod Century Tweed Texture from Fat Quarter Shop is great for adding texture to a quilt.

I love this from Cloud 9 at Backstitch. Fabulous triangles getting busy!

A slighty different but very funky selection of this Kokka Fabric called Hello on Blue from M is for Make.

The are a gorgeous selection of Turquoise..... which colour next for my stash building?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Getting my Solids Fix

This week I have been commissioned for 5/6 classes and workshops at Prema Arts in Uley.  They range from a Mother and Daughter workshop for Mothers Day to a 5 week patchwork course.

Although the classes are in in the New Year I know they will be here quicker than I expect and I need items to show as examples of what we will be making....

Cue the fabulous Simply Solids online shop owned by Justine.

I have the wonderful bundle from M is for Make to play with and I wanted to mix it with some solid grey.

Kona Solids are my solid of choice. I love Kona solids because the colours are fabulous and they feel so soft!

Justine has a growing choice of colours to choose from and 2 shades of grey. The Kona colour chart is a really useful tool to narrow down your colour choices, but I wanted to test them out next to the bundle, so I ordered a metre each of Ash and Charcoal.


The fabulous Justine sorted out the order and it arrived really quickly. The packing was gorgeous and there is even a square of another colour so I can have a look at another Kona solid.

Sign up for the Simply Solids newsletter and you get news about the shop and codes to use when you are stocking up on your solids - I may have ordered a huge parcel of oranges and browns this afternoon using this months code....

I'll keep you updated with the progress of the plans for the quilting classes.