Fabric Auditioning

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent a lot of time in the studio piecing the block swap quilt. The seam ripper was my constant companion as I kept changing my mind on border widths and fabric choices. This is not how I usually work and so was a new experience. Improvisational piecing can be liberating but can also bring headaches. It didn’t help that I ran out of the white background fabric and so had to change my mind over the corner block sizes.

But now after all the difficulties, the piecing is complete and it is time to decide whether to add borders or not. I left the quilt top on the design wall and pondered this question for several days we. I have gone from one border to two and finally three. Then there is the choice of fabrics. The choice for middle border are between the fabrics framing the blocks on the quilt top. The dark blue are the on-point blocks and the teal fabric frames the square ones.

I auditioned and photographed fabric combinations to make a decision. Finally I chose the dark blue, as it will give a more subtle effect to the border than the brighter teal fabric.

My aim was to complete the quilt top in February, which I am pleased to have done. I had thought that I could quilted it too. However as usual I don’t have sufficient fabric in my stash for the backing so I am now waiting for some more fabric to arrive.

This has been one of the frustrations of the last year, but hopefully with the vaccinations rolling out we will be able to visit our favourite fabric shops again soon. It has been good to use up fabric in the stash, as I am sure that I still have more than I will ever use.

Must keep quilting


A Fabric Basket

What do you do with left over blocks?

Do you make them into cushions, bags, or something else?

Sometimes, when I am designing projects, I have sample blocks left over. I had a block left from the Newlands table runner pattern, which I thought would make a lovely fabric basket or tray to compliment the table runner. It can have many uses from a bread basket to a cutlery and napkin tray.

The basket or tray can be made to any size square or rectangle by adjusting the length of the borders. The sides can be made shallower or deeper by changing the width of the borders.

Download instructions -Fabric Tray from the free content section of the website.

It is a lovely project to use up those odd blocks. I hope you enjoy it.

Due to unforeseen circumstances I have had to change the date for the Newlands Table Runner workshop to Wednesday 24th February. If you would like to join the online day class please message me.



When does Work in Progress become an UnFinished Object?

As a textile teacher I have over the years created many samples, partially finished examples, step by step pieces, and some actually finished. The samples that are finished are not the problem. The step by step examples are. They have a habit of becoming UFO’s. I have quite a collection of flimsy’s – these are un-quilted quilt tops. I think my problem is that as soon as I have finished the piecing my mind is already moving on to the next quilt design. I am determined that this year I will make inroads into this collection, although I may need to find a way of creating more hours in the day.

Clare’s Block for the block swap

I am making a start with one of my most recent quilts, The lockdown block swap quilt of my Modern quilt group. I receive the last block this week from Clare in France and it fits in beautifully with those I have already received. This afternoon I had time to get all the blocks out on to my design wall and have a play with the quilt layout.

When I photographed each idea it became apparent that some of the blocks were darker than others. This helped me decide where they should be in the quilt.

I think that this is the final layout, and I have started adding borders to the blocks, which has really made them pop. I am getting a feel for how the final quilt may look but I may change my mind as the quilt develops. However it ends up, this is my Finish in February challenge. Are you doing a Finish in February challenge?

Fingers crossed that it doesn’t end up in the pile of flimsy’s.


Free pattern download for the Twisting Bears and Tropical Bears Blocks

Newlands Table Runner

I can’t believe that it is Friday already, Where has the week gone? There is never enough time in the day to get everything done. But I started the week with a pile of fabric and have ended with a new table runner.

I name my patterns after places in the English Lake District and this one is no different. I had a short list of four and with help from my family and friends, Newlands was the chosen name. I can remember walking Newlands pass with my sisters, parents and two Dalmations, on many occasions. Bilberry picking on the slopes and watching the dogs play in the stream below Moss Force waterfall. Lots of lovely memories.

I have been working with Tudor Rose Patchwork to develop this table runner for an online class on Wednesday 24th February. If you would like to join in with this new project please get in touch with the lovely staff at Tudor Rose. Online classes are a great way to continue our crafting in a social way at this time.

If you are looking for fabric for this class or a new project, Sandra has a lovely range of fabrics called Wild Flower by Fabric Freedom I have added photos above to show the central panel of the runner in the different fabrics. It always amazes me how different the pattern can look by changing the fabric. Looking at them I am getting itchy fingers to get back to the sewing machine.

Have you got a project on the go at the moment?

Happy Quilting


The End of a Busy Week.

Or is it the start of a new one? I am never sure with Sundays. Whatever it is, it is a chance to update my blog.

I received another block for the block swap quilt my quilt group started during lockdown last year. I couldn’t resist getting them all out and have another look at them all together. The final placement and design will have to wait until I have received them all but it is exciting to see them so far. Although everyone started with the same traditional block – the bears paw – they all chose different blocks to merge with it to create new designs. They are going to very personal quilts for each of us, with blocks made specifically for us in our chosen colour scheme.

I was excited to receive a large fabric delivery this week and have spent a lot of time looking at the rainbow of colours I now have to play with.

Talking of a rainbow of colours I chose a few more pages for my sketchbook. I have cleared an area in my studio for the sketchbook challenge and need to make time this week for the next lesson.

Yesterday I started the Ambleside quilt block of the month quilt course. Even though the group is geographically apart, it is companionable to work together online. It was a busy day, everyone completed the first block, and we also looked at the sashing and cornerstones. I gave myself a challenge with a linear patterned fabric, and will have to be careful with the initial placement to ensure the pattern all goes in the same direction.

And finally today it started snowing. We couldn’t resist an afternoon walk round the park. It looks so different in its white blanket. There were lots of families out making the most of the snow by sledging and making snowmen. Looking at the weather forecast it is not going to last long, tomorrow we are forecast sun. Every day is different and we need to make the most of every day. It is going to be exciting to see what the new week has in store.

Happy Quilting


A New Sketchbook Started

At the end of the year I treated myself to Laura Kemshalls Sketchbook Challenge. At times we all need a bit of a push to get going and this is going to be a great way to start the New Year. Yesterday I had a couple of hours to myself and I took the opportunity to start the course. I didn’t have time to get my art equipment out so I looked through papers I had already painted, printed, scrunched and stitched for the first pages of my sketchbook. This is a selection of those chosen.

I have chosen this to be the first page in my book as it is very vibrant. It is an acrylic wash on card, over printed with spirals and overprinted again with Liquitex iridescent green. This shows how old this painted paper is, as it is now Liquitex iridescent medium which you can add to acrylic paint of your choice.

Next is scrunched tissue paper glued to thick paper with PVA glue. Ink wash and Markal paint stick stencil.

Below – crumpled brown paper with an acrylic wash. Highlighted with gold acrylic.

Finally a long page for the sketchbook. Black wax crayon mark making with acrylic wash.

Already the sketchbook is starting to take shape and I am excited to see where this challenge takes me over the next few months. I will stitch these pages in place and look forward to the next video in the series.

Have you started a new project this year?


Back to cutting up fabric

As usual, after a busy lesson on Wednesday, I ended up with a lot of half completed samples. Yesterday I took the opportunity to sew some of them together and am very pleased with how the blocks are going together and the pattern they are making

The image below shows another variation that can be achieved by introducing more than two fabrics in the starting patches. The mirroring blocks will produce more complex patterns. To me this is one of the many joys of patchwork.

Today I have been preparing for the Ambleside Block the month course which is starting on Saturday 23rd. I have chosen fabric from the Rainbow Colours and Brighton collections by Stof fabrics. The main challenge I can see from this collection will come from the striped fabric. It is always interesting to use a fabric with a strong directional pattern and decisions will have to be made in the cutting, piecing and final block placement.

This is going to look very different from the first one I made and I am excited to see the finished quilt although as the course is over 7 months it will be little while. If you would like to join in you can book for the first class at Craft Courses

the Ambleside Quilt worked in Sweet Garden of Mine by Lynette Anderson

Tomorrow I have the first zoom meeting of the year for the Modern & Art quilt group. It will be lovely to see everyone again and to start planning what we are going to do this year. We have the block swap quilts to finish as well. I think that this is going to be a busy year and we are only 2 weeks in.

To finish the week on a high I was sent a photo of our granddaughter in the outfit I made her for Christmas. I am constantly amazed at how quickly she has grown. I think I need to start sewing again for her.

Have good weekend,


My Sewing Machine is Back – thank goodness.

Last week disaster struck and I broke a needle when finishing some placemats. Not a great disaster but when I changed the needle and re-threaded the machine something fell from the area around the needle shaft. Due to the pandemic, my machine didn’t get its usual service last year, and it was now telling me that it was time. I really hope that this little piece is not too important.

When I collected my machine today there was another piece with it. Luckily this turned out be the old cutting plate which had been replaced. It was a relief that it wasn’t another piece that had fallen off.

While I was without my main machine I turned back to the first machine I bought. A Brother Celebrity 10. A lovely little machine which may be 30 years old, but still sews like a dream.

Just as well really as I had a lot of four patch blocks to make for the zoom class tomorrow, when I will be teaching both the four patch block and a disappearing version. We will also be looking at patterns we can create from this block.

All is now prepared and everything is set up for the class and its time to catch up with The Great Pottery Throwdown which I recorded of Sunday. I am in complete awe of everything they produce and can’t wait to see what challenge they will have for their first week. There is also the Sky Landscape Artist of the Year on 13th January, and catching up with the Sky Portrait Artist of the year. January is certainly starting off in a creative way.


12th Night and Three Kings Day

January 5th, or Twelfth Night, is by tradition the time for the Christmas decorations to be taken down. I find it quite a sad day in our household as all the decorations are packed away for another year. Walls and corners or room seem bare as the garlands and the tree are taken down. Rooms go from being over decorated back to their normal state (which I have to admit makes cleaning easier)

The 6th January, is Epiphany or three Kings day the end of the festive period and the start of the new year. My Christmas panel with glitter film, shadow appliqué and cut work was inspired by the carol ‘We Three Kings’ The Kings, bearing their gifts are being guided to Bethlehem by the Christmas Star.

We Three Kings Christmas panel

But even though all the Christmas glitz and sparkle has gone, glitter film is a great way to add sparkle to any project. It can be heat applied to lots of different surfaces, from cloth and paper to wood and glass. It is easy to machine stitch and layer which made it the perfect choice for the panel.

Now it’s time for me to open up the sketch books again after the break, and to see where the blank page takes me, there may be glitter or not. I am hoping that the Festival of Quilts will take place at the NEC this year and that I manage to get an exhibition quilt completed for it, so I need to get sketching. This is my New Years challenge to myself. Have you made any quilting resolutions this year?


The pattern is available from Tudor Rose Patchwork Three Kings Also available is ‘Whilst Shepherds Watched”


In my studio I have a design inspiration wall. This is where I display some of the embroideries that I have collected over my years in textiles. This year I am going to share some of them with you

31cms x 41cms

The first is an Arpilleras which I purchased approximately 25 years ago, when we had a lecture about them at our local branch of the Embroiderers Guild. Arpilleras ( or cuadros ) are beautiful hand stitched, three dimensional appliqué pictures, depicting every day scenes and stories of Peru and Chile.

going to market
Feeding the llamas
walking with child

They originated in Chile. Many women had been left in a state of financial insecurity, due to high levels of unemployment and the ‘disappearances” of their husbands and children, during the Pinochet regime. The Chilean Catholic Church organised workshops, and then secretly sent the arpilleras abroad to provide a vital source of income to the women. They showed political scenes of repression and poor living conditions. Today they are produced in a number of cooperatives, and mainly show idealised scenes of rural life.

My arpilleras was made by Angelina Elera Vidarte, and she has added a pocket containing a note on the back. It shows a rural Andean scene with llamas and condors. The three dimensional figures are in typical Peruvian dress and are working at everyday tasks, looking after the llama, harvesting crops, going to the market and spinning. It is an exquisite piece of social stitching. The figures are only 5cms, and Angelina’s attention to detail is wonderful. I hope that I have the chance to visit Peru one day, it is certainly on my to visit list.


Have you any favourite textiles or embroideries?