Sunday, 30 June 2013

FQR - all about me!

In less than 3 weeks I will be packing up my sewing machine, supplies and overnight bag to head off to Fat Quarterly Retreat in London!

I am beyond excited about my weekend away!

To get to spend a whole weekend with fellow fabric addicts and quilters is a dream come true!

On the Fat Quarterly blog they suggested we write a bit about ourselves..

Well this is me:

My gorgeous eldest son took this yesterday - I am very camera shy, but he was was good with his grandads camera I let him take a photo!

So three things about me:

  • I am a sewing teacher, teaching adults basic sewing skills as well as patchwork classes in Arts centres around Gloucestershire. It is a job I love.
  • I am also a Scout leader. The weekend before the retreat I am on camp with 300 Scouts aged 5 3/4 to 70! It has made me giggle going to Baden Powell House for the Retreat!
  • Lastly by no means least, I have 3 monsters aged 5, 7 and 11 who keep me on my toes! They are my world.... although I am often told to not kiss them in public and to walk 5 paces behind!

That is me... well part of me!

Can't wait to meet everyone on our wonderful Retreat!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

A Riot of Triangles

I am in love with the colour of this quilt!

The triangles have been so much fun to make!

In the sunshine it looks like a wonderful fabric window panel! 

Makes me smile.....

Hoping my lovely friend Helen loves it too when she is travelling through Europe this summer!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Let's Get Acquainted!

This week is week 4 of the Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop 2013!

Plum and June

My date isn't for a month, but I wanted to share the blogs that have already hopped!

They are amazing, creative hubs of quilting!

Friday, June 7th
Nancy @ Owen's Olivia
Amy @ 13 Spools
Casey @ The Studiolo 
Nanette @ Yeah, I Made That

June 14
Julie @ Jolie Maxtin
Melissa @ Melia Mae Quilting
Adrianne @ On The Windy Side
Molli @ Molli Sparkles
Laura @ Little And Lots
Valerie @ Between Quilts

Friday, June 21
Leigh Anne @ Ella's Cottage
Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt
Sarah @ Quilt Candy
Jackie @ NW Patchwork
Erica @ Happy Fabric
Stephanie @ Simple Sewendipity
Lauren @ Seraphym

Friday, June 28
Green @ So Sew Green
Gwendellyn @ The Rainbow Revolts
Jessica @ Stitched In Thyme
Kathy @ Kayak Quilting
Michelle @ Factotum Of Arts
Kris @ Sew Sunshine
Camilla @ Faffling

They are inspiring and great fun to explore!

The hop so far has connected me with an oodle of lovely quilters and I have gained lots of advice from other bloggers - it's been great!

So go explore these lovely blogs.... NOW!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Power of the Needle and Thread

On Monday I had a meeting for a new project in Gloucester. It is going to be within a new environment to me and with working solely with men - another first.

In a world where people are disappearing into the cracks and there is more stress/pressure in all our lives, I strongly believe that stitching makes a huge difference.

Most days I work with communities where people are fearful of entering a 'class', their early life experiences have led them away from education. So there is a challenge to even get them into a classroom and to start the journey.

But I find once I have got them to come into the physical space they relax and they find that they can create.

I also find it is so much more than that. They gain confidence, they make friendships and they make connections. They talk about worries and laugh together. Their confidence builds with each new make. They change...

Recently my friend Gail Gibson sent me a newspaper article from the Oxford Mail earlier this month.

From Oxford Mail.
It talks about the link between sewing/crafting and maintaining good mental health. Building people's confidence and social skills through small sewing groups is a relatively new idea, but it comes from a long history of quilting bee's, WI meetings and craft groups that have been keeping people connected for many, many years.

More sewing/craft groups within communities would build connections and help the most vulnerable in our society to feel included - everyone can create. It is amazing to see the look of pride and enjoyment people have when they have created something for themselves. It is a amazing to see friendships blossom.

I found this video that highlights the importance of sewing in helping people to connect and improve their mental health. The Fine Cell Work group are amazing and shows just how the humble hobby of sewing can be used to benefit people in even the most unlikely of places!

This is why I love my job!

The hours are variable and the work can be famine and feast in nature, but I know the power a needle and thread can hold for people. This is why I pack up my car like sewing machine shop on wheels and drive into some of the most interesting communities in Gloucester!

My needle and thread are my tools for carving a little haven of happiness and joy for as many people as possible!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Making gifts...

At the beginning of this year I decided that I would start hitting the massive scraps pile I have generated over 16 years of quilting and make gifts for my family, friends and the boys teachers using them..

A fabulous idea in January, but now the end of the school year is creeping up fast and I have a long list of deadlines, Scouting stuff and general stress...

Anyway, I made a start last week with the blue cushion cover, which I love!

Over the weekend I started experimenting with using the idea to make a pouch. It is no where near finished, but it is looking pretty good:

I mixed scraps with the lovely Quilters Linen I got from M is for Make last week.

As you know I love FMQ, but there is something soothing about just using a walking foot to go in straight lines!

I love that I can pull the smallest scrap from my bin and make it work somewhere in the rose part of the design!

There is a way to go, but they will make perfect presents for teaching assistants - no pressure!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Going all blue!

Earlier this week I saw this amazing photo and blog post from Quarter Incher:

The colours and design are gorgeous!

Stephanie is taking part in the Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop 2013 with me, and her blog is full of fabulous ideas, quilts and fabric!

Stephanie followed a tutorial written by Cori at  Let's Eat Grandpa - I love the title!

The tutorial is really easy to follow, but the effects are amazing!

I didn't follow the tutorial completely as I needed to make a blue version today and I don't actually have a lot of blue - a serious situation that clearly need rectifying! So I made the sections bigger, but followed the same basic method of quilt-as-you-go.

Plus I didn't quilt the patterned fabric as I wanted to differentiate between them and the solid colour!

So the first cushion cover the one of boy's teachers is nearly done... and yes I did throw in some Liberty Fabric!

Only 6 more to go!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

FAL Q2 - Trip Around the World!

This week has been a momentous week with 2 quilts from my FAL Q2 list finished!

The first one has be delivered to the boy's school this afternoon!

I loved making this quilt top, but I don't like the finished design!

The process of making the scrappy along is so much fun and super quick!

To quilt it I decided to practice writing using FMQ. It is for the older children at the school so I quilted reading quotes into the quilt.

The thread shows up on some fabrics and not on others so the kids will need to look closely to find the words:

I loved quilting it! Putting words into quilts was great fun!

The quotes I quilted were:

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" Frederick Douglass

"I have always imagined that paradise would be a kind of library" Jorge Luis Borges

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" Groucho Marx

My favourite is the last quote!

Along the bottom I put the words Enjoy, Read and Learn.

It has turned out pretty fun!

Hopefully the kids at the school will enjoy exploring the words and snuggling under the quilt in their new reading den!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Strictly Solids BOM June

This month I wanted to try a more traditional block, but in the same bright colours of orange, red and white:

The block is called Courthouse Steps and is really easy to make, but really effective in bright colours!

It has it's history in the log cabin block. You can read more about the history of the block at Barbara Brackman's blog. It is the perfect block for a beginner.

You need one 3" square for the centre and strips of colour 1.5" wide.

I prefer to size the strips as I go, so that I am not guessing the size of the block as it grows and getting frustrated at having strips too short.

To start with, place your central  square right side up and cut 2 strips 1.5" by 3". Attach these to the sides of the square using a 1/4" seam:

Press the seams flat and open.

Measure the top edge of this unit and cut the next 2 strips for the top and bottom with a width of 1.5".

Sew them into place on the top and bottom of the block:

Press the seams open again.

You now have your first step!

Keep adding strips, starting with the sides strips. Make sure to measure the length of the side you are adding to before cutting and keep the strips 1.5" wide!

To get a 12.5" block you will need 5 steps on each side the central square.

I hope you enjoy making it!

Make sure you share the photos over on Flickr.

You can see the other blocks here.

See you next month!

Monday, 17 June 2013


A couple of weeks ago I found a gorgeous duvet cover in a pile of bedding at a charity shop.

I do trawl through 'boutiques' looking for fabric, wool, clothes. In and around Tetbury there are a few great ones... a few years ago they had Jimmy Choo boots on sale for £350!

So this lovely sheet came home with me and had been cut into 2 halves.

One half is now backing the quilt made from my first pattern - it is currently with some lovely testers.

My plan is to finish the quilt and then photograph it for the front cover of the pattern.. a cunning plan I feel!

The sheet is so soft and it the perfect backing for this baby quilt!

The front looks pretty good too - I cut into the secret stash for this one. Can you tell which fabric range they come from?

Best crack on with the quilting!

Linking up with Let's Get Acquainted over at Charm About You.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Mixing Yellow and Grey

Over the last year whilst I have been teaching across the county, I have often been caught the wonderful colours I get to see whilst I am driving.

Tetbury is on a hill, so to go anywhere you have drop down into the surrounding valleys. The drive to Gloucester is particularly beautiful, and as the seasons change there are new colours to see. On Wednesday evening driving home the skies were grey with rain clouds, they were the most wonderful backdrop to the fields of bright yellow flowers.

I often wish I could pull over to take a photo, but the roads are fast moving and windy so not the best plan! I have borrowed this photo which shows the colours I loved on Wednesday:

Photo from Geograph.

My mind automatically goes to fabric:

This Beaded Wave in Charcoal from M is for Make is a perfect combination of yellow and grey.

I LURVE this Storyboek Two - Sand Play, from The Village Haberdashery, it is lush!

And this Wallflower Waltz in Grey, from Eclectic Maker is wonderful!

Mix them up with some gorgeous solids!

Like this Essex Linen in Grey from Simply Solids, plus this Banana from Kona Solids:

Basically, yellow and grey together are amazing in fabric, just like they are in nature!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

WiP Wednesday: Binding

This week has been a long one already - it's only Wednesday morning!

A combination of domestic jobs, planning and accounts has left me with little sewing time... plus I have made the decision to get my running shoes back out after 2.5 years of avoiding eye contact with them! It is a slow start of walking at the moment, but it is a start.

All of this eats into my 6 hours a day window (school hours are just not enough!)..

The major achievement of the week is finishing Maxi's curvy quilt!

I will do some close up photos once all the thread is sorted out and the binding finished..

Speaking of binding, I know loads of people hate it. It is a slow paced job at a point in the quilt when you are just desperate to get the quilt finished.

But I actually really enjoy it. It is incredibly satisfying sitting down the with quilt and finishing it off by hand. Being able to see the quilting up close, and the feel the weight of the quilt on my knee is very comforting - especially when I know it is for someone I love with all my heart... It feels like the best and only way to finish a quilt before it can leave for it's new home.

I have also managed to get started on my name tag swap for Fat Quarterly Retreat in the Summer:

I pulled out my secret stash and had a good rummage for some Liberty fabric, which was great fun, but slightly worrying that my secret stash is getting too big....

Not much progress, but great fun...back to paperwork and teaching today!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Taking time out!

Last night my lovely friend Liz and I were treated to an evening of music and books at The Yellow Lighted Bookshop - it was a wonderful combination, believe me!

The wonderful Bookshop Band were performing.

I had missed them when they visited last year, so was desperate to go this time around. Luckily Liz fancied going too!

It was an hour of sublime music all based around books, which the band explained before they started singing. The Yellow Lighted Bookshop is a gorgeous and perfectly formed shop, crammed with wonderful books and staff. To see it filled with musical instruments was amazing!

This is my favourite song of the evening, although it was hard to choose, because it was written after the band performed last year. I suspect the 'strange man' is my lovely friend and Yellow Lighted Bookshop owner Hereward, which made me giggle! There is even a lovely lady there too!

I love The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, so this was brilliant too!

They are just starting out on a UK tour, so if you spy they are close to you - GO!