Friday, 31 January 2014

Monthly Patchwork and Quilting Club!

I teach so many different aspects of sewing, from beginners to dress making, but my true passion is Patchwork and quilting!

One of the lovely students at my class last Saturday came along with her daughter and sent this amazing feedback:

“Just want to say my daughter and I enjoyed the workshop. Anna was a very encouraging and relaxed tutor and her passion for quilting and sewing came across from the very start.“

And she is right -I love spreading fabric and quilting addict wherever I go!

So when the students on Saturday mentioned a monthly group that would teach them how to make different patchwork blocks and then how to take those through to a full quilt, it got me thinking...

I put the idea out on Facebook and for 4/5 people interested in joining within an hour!

So, not one to sit around at all I have been looking for a venue with enough light and space to accommodate 10 people who want to learn patchwork.... and today I booked one!

The Monthly Patchwork Quilting Club will start on Thursday 13th February in St Micheal's Church Hall, Tetbury from 11.30 until 2.30pm!

The aim of the group is to learn how to accurately cut fabrics, how to piece blocks and how to machine quilt a quilt over the next few months.

You do not need any experience, just a willingness to learn and I will give you the skills to make beautiful quilts for your home!

The group will cost £25.00 a month and will included use of equipment, including a sewing machine during the session and support between meetings if needed.

To book your place please email me for a booking form and class joining instructions!

Thursday, 30 January 2014


As you probably know my 'day' job is working for Adult Education in Gloucestershire delivering sewing classes to groups of vulnerable learners during the day and recreational learners in the evening.

Adult Ed. is funded by the Government so comes under the remit of the OFSTED...

That very word puts fear into teachers up and down the UK. They send in teams of Her Majesties Inspectors (HMI) to check that the standard of teaching is up to their guidelines - they check everyone one nurseries to Adult Ed...

They can have access to any class that is running and move in and out classes at will... they are pretty daunting! It is never great when a HMI is standing at your door! My heart sinks...

So yesterday evening there stood at my classroom door was a HMI. I had to be fair been warned that he might be coming, which is kinda worse because you have more time to worry!

He introduced himself and said he was staying 40 minutes to observe the class and my teaching... oh joy!

I started the class in my usual way. I have had been through 5/6 visits from HMI in my career teaching and Childminding. The best way to cope is to hand over your paperwork and get on with the job..... whilst trying to ignore their presence! (Kinda like the Silence from Dr Who - if you aren't looking directly at them you can ignore them!)

All was going to plan and everyone was chatting, working and I was teaching people different things as they completed the tasks...

After 20 minutes he said 'Anna can I have a word outside please. She might come back in crying everyone.'

20 Minutes??? 20 minutes??? oh **** what have a done wrong.... A small snip it  my thoughts as I wandered slowly towards the door. These guys hold your teaching career in their hands...

He started by asking me about who assesses my paperwork and then what grading I usually get... so I told him and said usually a 'good' with some elements of 'outstanding'... He kept me in suspense wondering if he was going to say that I should be graded 'needs improvement'.

Then he said "That is an outstanding lesson and you are clearly an outstanding tutor!!!"

I think I actually started breathing again at that point!

He went on to say I am good at tracking my learners achievements, I offer encouragement, I create a relaxed atmosphere and my learners are clearly making great progress, and enjoying themselves too! My paperwork is brilliant and I should be proud of my classes...

I almost fell over with relief!

So I can officially say I am an 'Outstanding' tutor and not be bragging too much - it is a fact!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Book Review: 500 Quilt Blocks

Yesterday I taught a beginners patchwork workshop at the New Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester.

I love teaching at the New Brewery Arts Centre, it is such an inspiring place with lots of lovely artist all in one place!

As always I was planning my session and knew I needed a demonstration piece to show the learners - nothing worse than not knowing where you are going on your learning journey! A sample of where everyone should be aiming is a great teaching tool and provide inspiration.

So sat in my studio watching the rain fall I was trying to think which block would suit beginners, include some cutting but not too much and be manageable in 6 hours...

This is where the wonderful book 500 Quilt Blocks by Lynne Goldsworthy and Kerry Green comes in.

Image Courtesy of Lynne Goldsworthy

This fabulous book contains a huge amount of patchwork knowledge - don't be fooled by it's small size, it is jam packed with great blocks!

I love skimming the book and finding blocks that I would like to make, but as a teacher it takes a lot of the stress out of workshop planning because the measurements are all written clearly. It means I don't have to work all the maths out as well everything else a lesson plan needs. 

Image Courtesy of Lynne Goldsworthy

The book even has a few variations for each block - differentiation for my learners readily available!

Image Courtesy of Lynne Goldsworthy

The book also has some items to make with the blocks they have made.

Image Courtesy of Lynne Goldsworthy

This book is a fabulous addiction to any quilters bookshelf, but it is particularly useful for beginners starting on their patchwork wanting to explore different blocks.

You can of course get your copy from a certain International book selling website, but do considering visiting your fabulous Indie Bookshop to get your copy- you get a smile when you shop with them! I spend so much in my local shop, the Yellow Lighted Bookshop, I occasionally get a bacon bap and a mug of tea whilst browsing books!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Sewing Together

This week has been a wonderful week for sewing!

Brickwall Cushion for Patchwork Class.

For the first time in a long time I have managed to get some patchwork done and not just that I actually got to sit and sew with some amazing people!

My day job is encouraging people to work together, to build friendships and skills whilst sewing. But I find that I often spend my time alone sewing. Sewing in my studio or sitting watching TV with the boys...

Which is why I decided, along with Sonia from Fabric and Flowers, Modern Quilt Guild Chapter in Gloucestershire. This week we had 2 wonderful meetings: a sewing day on Monday and an evening meet last night.

It is such great fun to be in a room with fellow fabric addicts working on our own projects, sharing ideas and chatting about life in general.

As a guild we are new and we are looking for new members who would like to meet other quilters of all levels. Everyone in the group enjoys sewing and quilting, and we all work at our own skills level. Chatting and sharing our projects helps everyone to build their skills and builds new friendships.

So if you fancy meeting other fabric addicts, learning new skills and sharing some cake email for more details.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

City and Guilds Module 2

On Monday evening I submitted my portfolio for my second module.

This time I investigate shape and worked within the theme of Industrial.

At first I was bit daunted by the prospect of the theme. Industrial conjures images of grey, black, lifeless structures... a bit daunting for a person so obsessed with colour!

I started to think of all the places nearby I could visit that would fit the theme and the railway museum in Swindon sprung to mind. STEAM is a wonderful collection engines and information about the Great Western Railway works that once stood on the site. I had a discovered a place that fitted the theme but was full of colour - yay!

After a morning drawing engines. the Caerphilly Castle in particular, I knew I would be fine!

Here are some of the results of 9 weeks of work:

Primary Source Drawing

Primary Source Drawing
This front wheel of the train became to the focus of my design developments. It amazes me that it is relatively small but worked so hard!

Developing design ideas

Working with hand stitching to create the the idea of turning motion.
I became intrigued by the turning motion of the wheel and the pattern the centre detail of the wheel makes. It's like watching a hub cap turning when you are driving! So I wandered off into an investigation of mark making with swirls.....

More design developments!

One of my favourite pieces in the design development!

Cable Stitch
I am learning to just then the colours I use come to me as a comfortable feeling. In this design  development it was blues, purples and greys. Out came the dyes and these gorgeous purples were created!

Couching Stitch

I also have to produce larger resolved pieces that use different materials:

The wheel centre with writing.

The final resolved piece that became my experimental piece.
During each module you pull together 5 samples of the embroidery stitches being taught during that module and then a larger experimental piece. For this I wanted to depict the things the Caerphilly Castle would have carried on it's 1 million mile journey in service.

Experimental piece.
It was an interesting journey investigating different recycled materials, painting embroidery canvas with dyes and dyeing other elements of the piece. Using Feather stitch to sew the coins in place was a fun experience!

What do you think?

It such a fun journey to be on, but as a person with a mathematical mind I do find it hard to not have a definite answer! It is now time to wait for an answer from my tutor as to whether the process and final design are good enough!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

New Stash Club

Over the last few weeks I haven't been fabric shopping in the traditional quilters sense. I have been buying prepared for dyeing fabric - loads of cotton velvet, cotton organdie, silk and cotton lawn!

So yes, technically still fabric, but not my usual shopping habits of gorgeous quilters weight, designer fabric... starting to drool now!

I need patterned fabric for my classes, so I can't afford to let my stash run low whilst I am concentrating on my City and Guild Course. This is where stash clubs like the wonderful Sew Solids Crew comes in!

Simply Solids is my favourite place to buy Kona Solids. Justine is super fast at getting fabric goodies to my door and she is lovely! Need I say more?

Last year I was part of the Sew Solids Crew for solid colour and I now have a wonderful stash of colours, some of which I would not have bought for myself but have come very handy. This year Justine has launched a mixed club - a mix of solid colour and textures basics, which is a wonderful combination at a great price.

It also means my stash will stay topped up even if I am off experimenting with Procion Dyes!

Go check out the new clubs, they are great value for money and the best way to build a quilters stash.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Our First Sewing Day

A couple of months ago the Gloucestershire Modern Quilt Guild was formed!

We are a small group of fabric crazy, quilt lovers who have started meeting once a month for gossip, sewing and sharing ideas.

At the last meeting we decided a sewing day would be a great.... a day spent in the company of lovely new friends, sewing projects and sharing lunch - what more could a fabric addict ask for?

We are meeting in Stonehouse on Monday 20th January for some sewing goodness. Our meetings are open to anyone interested in quilting, including beginners!

Our next evening meeting is Thursday 23rd January at Prema Arts Centre in Uley.

For more information about either of our Guild meetings please email me.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Beginners Patchwork

I have a few workshops coming up this term that I am really excited about!

The first one is a beginners patchwork course - Make a Patchwork Cushion.

It is on Saturday 8th February at St Mary's School in Tetbury between 10am and 4pm.

You will learn how to:

  • Use a rotary cutter.
  • Make a patchwork block using simple squares or half square triangles depending on your previous knowledge.
  • How to sandwich your block together for quilting.
  • How to use a walking foot to quilt.
  • How to make a cushion from your quilter block.

All of these skills will be covered as well as information about threads, needles, wadding and other resources a quilter needs!

The cost for the day is £45 including wadding, teas and coffees.

You will need to bring 5 fat quarters or equivalent, 0.5m backing fabric and matching threads.

If you are interested in learning more about this wonderful hobby, this is workshop for you!

Email me here to book your place.

Sunday, 5 January 2014


Usually on a Sunday I highlight some of the lovely new fabrics that are around at the moment that I love. It is a fun post to put together, but it also helps my students who I see during the week - I am spreading my fabric addiction throughout Gloucestershire!

I am planning on getting back to the posts, but this today I wanted to share some of the amazing textiles artists that I have discovered on my City and Guild Journey.

The first is Anne Honeyman.

Anne's work is simply stunning! She uses soluble fabric to create amazing structures with that are delicate, yet complicated. I have played around with soluble fabric and it is great fun. I am full of admiration of Anne and her ability to create stunning textiles with it.

The second artist is Alison Holt.

Alison is an amazing artist who creates pieces that look like photos. You could almost reach out and touch the crashing waves above! Her ability to create perspective and texture with thread is stunning. She is teaching in Gloucester in October and yes I have booked onto the 3 day course!

I hope you enjoy exploring their work as much as I have done.

They are so inspiring!