Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Special Quilt!

One of goals this year is to only buy fabric for my classes and to make quilts from the fabric in my stash and scraps buckets.

One of my lovely friend's had a big birthday this year and I wanted to try the Marcelle Medallion quilt by Alexia Abegg's book Liberty Love. When I bought the book and then watched the QAL on Instagram I was hooked.

I decided that I wanted to make this quilt for my friend, so set about making the centre last summer. I will admit it was a frustrating process that was not fun. The Y seams and the small pieces not connecting properly left me really annoyed! Since then I have found this paper piecing tutorial for the block which would make the process much easier!

I put it aside for a few months whilst I started my City and Guilds, but dug it out 5/6 weeks ago and started working on it for the friends birthday.

Work in Progress, and Lego in as usual in the background.
Because my centre block was the wrong size I had to adapt the pattern in a few places, but overall it worked well!

Once the patchwork was finished I set to work machine quilting it, but loads of safety pins where involved first!

Lots for lovely safety pins!
I decided that I would quilt each border with a different pattern:




Lots of tiny pebbles, swirls and star bursts!

As the borders grew I increased the size of the pattern to include a tree bark pattern and the some love heart paisley in the final border, along with the family names of my friends family.






On the back I used fat quarters from my stash. The quilt patterns show up really well on the backing. It is lovely!



I found some fabulous little houses for the binding, which made me smile and fitted in perfectly with the colours in the quilt top.



The finished quilt is so totally gorgeous, and it did cross my mind to keep it for myself!

Luckily I didn't and it is now living in my friends house and very much loved!


Sewing Info:

Pieced and quilted with Aurifil 2024.
Pieced and quilted on a Janome CXL301.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Oilcloth Bag Making

I am bringing my most popular workshop to Tetbury in June - Oilcloth Bag Making!

I have taught this workshop 3 times and each time there has been a waiting list of people who want to join the course.

At the weekend I taught he workshop at Prema Arts in Uley, Gloucestershire:


This is my favourite teaching space. Just look at all that space and huge windows with lots of natural light!

I but the oilcloth needed for the course. I try to pick a variety of spots, owls and camper vans.


It was a fun day!

The workshop involves:

Learn to sew oilcloth.
Sewing a zippered internal pocket.
Learn how to box the bag corners.

At the end of the day everyone leaves with a gorgeous new bag!




It is a wonderful way to learn how to use oilcloth!

The next 2 dates for this workshop are:

Saturday 14 June 2014 in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Email me for more information.

Sunday 13 July 2014 at Prema Arts, Uley. Email Prema for more information.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Being Too Much of a Mathematician!

On Friday I had the privilege of visiting the studio of local textile artist Sue Green.

Sue has a studio called The Cowshed Studio in South Cerney. It is an amazing space! It is huge and crammed with so much yummy fabric, painting supplies and examples of her amazing work.



We agreed to do a skill swap: I helped Sue understand all of the icons on Facebook and connected her new tablet to her phone, she talked me through my portfolio and taught me a new technique using tea bag paper - who knew right?

It was an amazing experience and one I hope to repeat regularly...

I learnt a lot, in fact so much that it has kinda blown my creative mind a little bit!

You see my portfolios are really neat and follow my process in a methodical way, they are so tidy... my work is really methodical.... I need things to be neat...





The thing is everywhere I look on the Internet textile artists are layered! They have portfolios and sketchbooks filled with content that is wonderful to look at, but is crammed in and all over the place to my eye... this is just isn't me at the moment....

So I have been worrying and worrying that I will never make it as a textile artist because I like things to be neat and structured.... it is the mathematician in me... I knew that the Astrophysics degree side of my brain would take time to wither, but what if it never leaves me?

What if the only way I can work is in a neat, methodical way?

I am still going to be able to work as a textile artist?

Can I follow my own processes of creation and still be a valid artist?

Having a little bit of a crisis....

My lovely friend Liz pointed out that I have passed both of my modules so far with no need to change my work, so I must be doing something right.... but still...





Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Colour: Yellow

The last primary colour is yellow..... sunshine!

In the UK at the moment the sun has been missing in rain for a very long time... we had a glimpse of it on Sunday.... but now we are back in a world of rain clouds and water....

So to cheer everyone up lets look at yellow as a colour!


Yellow is the colour of butter, bananas, gold and sunshine!

It is a colour that always makes me smile.


Like red and blue, there are lots of shades of yellow:


As a colour it represents reason, optimism, pleasure and happiness - you only have to think how to feel on a sunny day.On a sunny day the whole world feels like a much better place!

But it also has negative connections too. It is associated with cowardice, envy, jealousy and betrayal. Yellow as the colour of cowardice since the 19th century, but the exact reason it is associated with cowardice is not known.



In China it has major significance as it is the colour of happiness, glory and wisdom. It is a masculine colour.



Friday, 14 February 2014

Starting a new course

Yesterday was the start of the new monthly course in patchwork and quilting in Tetbury and it was a really fun day!

The idea of the course is to teach all the skills needed for making a quilt over 6 month period, with monthly classes and support between classes if needed.

So many people want to learn patchwork and quilting, but committing the time to weekly classes to learn the skills is a big ask in our busy lives. This course teaches new skills during the monthly class that can be used at home, at your own pace.

We are learning how to piece an Eight Point Star Block using HST.
Perfect for people who want to fit the classes in around everything else going on!

So yesterday we started the journey together by learning about rotary cutting, piecing and fabric placement.

It was great fun!

A very good friend started the course having never been interested in sewing before. She joined to support her lovely daughter who attends my after school club and has developed a serious addiction to all things sewing!

Once she discovered that patchwork is all about precision and attention to detail, she was in her element! She now has the patchwork bug!

I love giving people new skills and helping them to find their inner fabric addict!

A new course will be starting in September. If you are interested in joining please email me for more details.


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Colour: Blue

Blue is next on the list for exploration.

Blue is a beautiful colour, full of harmony and has the wonderful effect of calming people - just think of staring out at a bright blue sky.



Blue is the colour of the ocean and the sky, it is full of depth. There are so many blues in the world, each one conveys a different feeling to the viewer.



Indigo has a long history as a dye and is the colour of blueberries and blue jeans! The first demonstration of peaceful disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 was in support of the indigo farmers. The process of extracting the pigment from the Indigo plant is lengthy and leaves the worker with indigo coloured hands!

Ultramarine is a vivid, deep blue that was widely used in paintings to produce the intense blues we still see today. The process to get the pigment from lapis lazuli is so complex that Ultramarine was more expensive than gold!


One of my favourite paintings, Girl in the Pearl Earring by Vermeer in 1665, uses Ultramarine mixed with lead white to create the blue in the head scarf. It is an amazing blue!

Another one of my favourite blues in Cerulean Blue, which is a synthetic blue developed in 1812. It is the paint used by Claude Monet in his paintings and give his paintings an amazing grey/blue. When I was teenager my mum and I spent a wonderful 4 days in Paris exploring the Musee D'Orsay. We spent a wonderful afternoon gazing at Monet's paintings.

The Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877
There are so many different blue's to explore, from the ones derived nature to synthetic pigments. Each one is calming and has an interesting story to tell....



Thursday, 6 February 2014

Finding my home....

This last week has seen our house hit by a tummy buy. It started 2 weeks ago with my eldest son and then hit new highs on Saturday when my youngest son spent the day confined to the sofa with a bowl!

Unluckily it came my way...

It has in fact been a little bit of blessing.

I had spent January feeling incredibly restless.... Not really able to concentrate and get on.... Just drifting from one thing to another and feeling quite annoyed with life!

Kind of wallowing in my own self pity I guess...

But over the last 5 days of being pretty much confined to the house I have found my centre again, despite spending 24 hours not getting out of bed!

Sounds slightly strange right? Let me explain.

I am a creative, I NEED to sew, I NEED to do something visual (slightly strange for a person who has a degree in Astrophysics!) and I had stopped doing that. I spent last term teaching literally everywhere, everyday..... Running from one class to another in a crazy person sort of way!

Giving other people the skills to be creative.

I LOVE giving people those skills, I love watching them bloom - one of my students, who had never been near a sewing machine 18 months ago, is now making a selling her own items! It is great to see people become more confident in groups and within themselves.

But I forgot an important lesson... For ME to be complete I NEED to create!

I forgot to nourish my own creative soul, I forgot how it feels to spend hours creating something from scratch and feel the glow that you get!

Yes, I did work on my City and Guilds, but that is a plunge into the unknown every time I work on the required pieces. That work pushes me beyond my comfort zone, which is great, but also raises my heart beat in anxiety...

Patchwork: cutting and sewing, is where my journey began nearly 20 years ago. It is my creative home, full of warmth and lovely thoughts. That is the place I have rediscovered this week.

It is the centre of my well being....

The next time I feel that this single life with 3 kids and all the other baggage that knocks at my door is too much, you will find me with my sewing machine making patchwork.... I will be regaining my sense of balance so I can face the world without a heavy heart...