Wednesday, 22 December 2010


We have more or less finished the Christmas preparations, which we don’t think about it until December 1st. Then we write and send out all the cards, hoping for news updates and answers to the questions we ask. This year has been more difficult with the weather conditions but as long as we can get to the main road, we are fine. Just the turkey and Stilton to pick up from the farm shop now and we are ready for guests. I do wonder what all the fuss is about sometimes, after all it’s just one big roast dinner with trimmings and a fancy dessert when all’s said and done.

Final touches are still being added to the presents I like to make for friends. Here’s a picture of one of my gifts for a special dog-loving friend! It’s a garden ornament dressed up like a dog’s dinner in her gown and evening bag. I hope it causes a laugh on Christmas Day!! The daft things you do eh!


Dog’s dinner

I love every tinselly-thing about Christmas, from the nativity to the brussel sprouts, from the awful cracker jokes to the silly games. Over the years, I have made loads of fabric quilts and decorations as teaching samples. So all I have to do is get them out of the loft and dress the rooms; they’ll certainly last my lifetime! Here are some pictures of our home dressed and ready for Christmas.

Our festive fireplace

Xmas stocking

Kitchen quilt

Patchwork tree

Manic Christmas fairy

My friend Gwenda made this fairy for me. It has unruly hair, a toothy grin, tassels, a squeaky middle and it even sports a thong! Makes me smile every year.

Star quilt

Table centre

Robin and cards

Now that the Robin is on the wall, and the cards are hanging, all that remains is for me to wish you love, peace and friendship at Christmas time.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


We are in the grip of an early winter, with snow and severe overnight frosts causing havoc in the region. Situated on the side of an exposed hill, we are ¼ mile from the main road along a farm lane. Thawing snow gets re-frozen overnight to create a skating rink by the morning. But this doesn’t bother me because if I can’t get out, I have the leisure to concentrate my mind on my creative endeavours. So…

The Positive and Negative Jacobean quilt is more or less designed, with the top section needing just a few tweaks for the practicality of cutting and sewing. This is always something to remember when designing for quilts – whatever you draw on paper has to be stitched eventually, so keep the lines simple.

Top panel of positive/negative Jacobean

The vertical panels are all cut out with the negative shapes or fillers sewn onto the coloured fabric with a tiny zigzag stitch. The positive frame has yet to be started and this is what they look like on the design wall, awaiting attention.

It’s worth recalling the chocolate elephant approach to my work from blog 29!

If someone put a huge chocolate elephant in front of me, much as I would like to eat it, it would completely outface me. However, if that same chocolate elephant were smashed into hundreds of small pieces, I would willingly make a start, as each piece would be a manageable size to eat. In the same way, I reduce my quilt design into smaller manageable sections.

I try not to think of all the shapes that I have to sew, but deal with them one at a time, whilst thinking ‘that’s one less to do’. With music on in the background, the time goes and the shapes gradually get done. I also give myself realistic deadlines …. ‘by the end of this week, I will design this panel or complete this section’ … etc. It what works for me.

Positive frames

Another piece of work, on hold for 3 years, has surfaced and needs finishing because of its seasonal appeal. It is a Christmas flower arrangement on a windowsill, complete apart from the necessary machine quilting and texture. Such quilting has a two-fold effect: it keeps the individual bits of fabric in place and adds decorative detail to bring the picture to life. Fingers crossed that it gets done for THIS Christmas.

Christmas flower arrangement

At the machine embroidery class I attended 2 months ago, our brief was to take inspiration from a painting. I decided to try sewing on a canvas base, hoping that it was stiff enough to prevent distortion from all the over-stitching. We painted a layer of fusible first and ironed it, when dry, onto our fabric to create background colour. This was an excellent way to start as it defined the picture before we started to build it up with layers of fabric, sheers and stitch. This is the picture so far.

I took my inspiration from ‘Flowers in Oils’ by Noel Gregory, published by Search Press. This is what it looks like after the day’s workshop.

Still life embroidery