Monday, 25 April 2011


This Sunday I fly to America, from Manchester to Chicago. I over-night there and then carry on to Paducah the next day. Both the cases are packed, a huge one full of teaching samples and larger quilts, a small one with clothes and the like. The size of one compared to the other illustrates exactly what I deem to be important for this trip! QUILTS! Although I will be ‘poshed’ up more than usual, I have chosen everything to mix and match and interchange. I know it will be fairly hot and humid there so I look forward to air conditioning and a gentle breeze from the Ohio River.

Little and Large

Last Sunday I had a birthday and spent a lovely day with family and friends, dining and chatting and laughing; what more could you want? My best chum has her birthday on the same day so we are usually try to be together to celebrate it. Mid-week, I held an impromptu picnic in the garden for with another couple of quilting friends, one of who was celebrating her birthday. We took advantage of the lovely spring weather and warm sunshine. Our mutual friend made each of us a lovely cushion using a vintage design. They are both charming, with appliqué and decorative stitching on tasteful linen. Mine is pink, the other was blue. We both loved them and say she ought to go into business!

Birthday cushion

This is the classy label that accompanied it.

Cushion label

As you can imagine, there has been much on my mind this week with all the preparations going on. So I have been calmly sewing a UFO design in order to think about this trip and jot down what I must not forget to remember not to forget to remember … you know what I mean!
The project is a teaching sample that I designed and taught a couple of years ago. It is fairly mundane sewing but, as it needed finishing, I used the exercise for relaxation and a chance to think. It worked! The stitching is complete and the cases are packed, with nothing is forgotten……one hopes!

Buttonhole appliqué

Stitch detail

When travelling, I love it when you get to the stage where nothing more can be done. This starts when you close the front door and watch the house disappearing in the rear-view mirror and it complete by the time you are airside of the terminal and liberated from your luggage.
I will probably miss a couple of weeks but do look in again to check how Paducah went and what I got up to!

Sunday, 17 April 2011


The days are just flying by as I ricochet from one thing to another. There is just a week to go now before I set off for Paducah in Kentucky. Next Sunday I travel from Manchester to Chicago; I overnight there to catch my breath and start to re-adjust before going onto Paducah the following day. Looking forward to it all now that most of the preparation has been done.

I sent my teaching stuff in advance with UPS, at great expense I might add, but it is less for me to carry and worry about in the long run. I recall with dread a teaching trip to the US many years ago. I stood forlornly by the carousel at a transit airport watching a case, identical to the one that had all my teaching stuff in, going round and round on its own! On inquiry, I discovered that the destination of this abandoned case just happened to be the same as mine so I was advised to get to the carousel first on arrival and make sure that I picked up my own case before anyone else did. I can only add that there were scorch marks on the floor of the arrivals hall as I sped to the carousel and stood right by the hole where the cases appeared!!!

I am happy to say that I have finished the Falling Leaves quilt that I was invited to make as a project for QUILT magazine in the US. This project, with those delicious Hoffman painterly fabrics, was featured as a work in progress in BLOG 45. Here is a picture of the completed quilt.

01 Falling Leaves

I emphasised the diagonal lines of the design by placing similar bright fabrics together in several places. To me this gives the feeling of shafts of light shining through the trees. Quilting lines in red help to unify the zigzag appliqué stitches with the inner border and binding.

02 Falling leaves detail

03 Falling Leaves

I am pleased at what I have achieved in the brief time scale. It will accompany me and be shown in Paducah and then be posted on to the magazine to be photographed for the Oct/Nov issue.

I have also had an article printed in the latest issue of Fabrications magazine here in the UK. Our group quilt, ‘Beyond the Jelly Roll’ was mentioned in BLOG 40 and my article charts the journey of 8 quilting chums from a room in the Hilton hotel during the Festival of quilts to a first at The Great Northern Quilt Show. This is how it starts.

I enjoyed writing it and if you can get the magazine, it’s a good illustrated read.

Now you wouldn’t normally associate the word ‘conceiving’ with women of certain maturity- the ones with the combined age of our national debt and enough power surge energy to light up a small town!! Ok, I admit to slight exaggeration but conceive we did, in a room at the Hilton Hotel, during the Festival of Quilts. Eight of us conceiving whilst drinking sounds totally inappropriate but fear not, what we effortlessly conceived was one great idea!

Another good idea has surfaced for a quilt. We have had one sewing session here and we are due another tomorrow to make the necessary progress for this year’s shows. Here’s a sneak preview of my panel-in-progress:

04 My panel

I shall of course miss the royal wedding and will actually be working on that day, doing a demo in the morning, a lecture over lunchtime and a 3-hour evening workshop. It’s a good job my personal invitation to the wedding was lost in the post! It will however be fascinating to witness the event from the American perspective.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


As promised last week, here is a glimpse at some of the student work-in-progress from the Shoreline Quilters’ retreat at Alston Hall. I love being there with them and it always amazes me that they deliver such exciting work. The swallows’ pattern is very complex and these pictures show just the cutting and fusing stages. You get instant visual results from the method but there is a lot of sewing ahead and it is fair to say that much of the completion goes on at home … sometimes!

1 Swallows (reverse appliqué)

2 Swallows (positive appliqué)

3 Swallows (reverse appliqué)

4 Swallows (positive appliqué)

5 Flower Wheel (reverse appliqué)

6 Flower Wheel (positive appliqué)

This week I went to Castle Court Quilters in Shropshire for the monthly machine embroidery day, where I become a student again and learn techniques that challenge me and make me step outside my comfort zone. I expect I could learn at home from books but where is the fun in doing that? And would I really allow myself to sit all day at my machine and sew? I think not. There are always quilting projects that require progress, household chores that never seem to end, telephone calls that disturb concentration, and there is an obsessive need in me to solve the difficult level of spider solitaire on the computer! So by paying to attend a class, I give myself permission to have a day away and I absorb as much from the class as I can.

This week Suzette taught us how to do faux chenille, a technique that has been around for many years in the quilt world. I have always loved the soft textured effects and now wonder why I have never had a go at it before! I am so proud of my first effort! And now my mind is working overtime wondering how I can apply it to my own work in the future. Just keep an eye on this space!

7 Faux chenille

8 Faux chenille (detail)

9 Order of fabrics

10 Faux chenille patchwork

Sunday, 3 April 2011


I have been teaching a course at Alston Hall, near Longridge, this weekend, at the invitation of the Shoreline quilters. Alston Hall is a lovely old house, well situated in its own peaceful and extensive grounds (sounds like estate agent jargon!!), and it is owned and run by Lancashire County Council. Ours was a full residential course, attended by my lovely quilting chums, and some have been with me for the 15 years I have been going there to teach. Obviously I am not flogging them hard enough to put them off!!

They certainly work hard (and dare I say eat hard?) whilst they are there, sewing above and beyond the timed sessions scheduled by the college. Although a theme is chosen for the workshop and the requirements list circulated, the sessions are flexible and people can bring their own work if they wish. Accommodation is good, the food is excellent, and the teaching environment is spacious and well equipped. I just love going there!

These are the variety of subjects I have taught over the past 15 years:

1997 Aspects of appliqué

1998 Easy Curved seams

1999 Through the Garden Gate

2000 Rose Windows

2001 Machine Trapunto

2002 The Lucky Dip Quilt

2003 Hearts and Gizzards Quilt*

2004 Snowball quilt

2005 Reversible Log Cabin

2006 Positive and Negative Appliqué

2007 Poppy landscape

2008 Painting with fabric

2009 Mosaic Flowers

2010 Log Cabin sampler and Still life

2011 Dual Image Appliqué samples shown below

Flower wheel cushion: frame

Flower wheel cushion: fillers

Swirling Swallows: Frame

Swirling Swallows: Fillers

The Flower Wheel cushions were fairly simple with large shapes and gentle curves, suitable for the less experienced. But the Swirling Swallows panels were much more complex and not for the faint hearted. I’m proud to say that over half the class had a go at these and, when I see some of the results, I will include them in a later blog.

I am already looking forward to next year when we will be doing Memorabilia boxes and fabric landscapes. Here is an example of such a box, one that I made for my friend Kate’s 60th birthday. Fancy me having friends over 60!! I realise that I too am over 60 but, as they are all so much more sensible than I am, they always appear to be older than me. I shall hold onto that thought!!!

Kate’s box

Kate's Box - Detail

*Apologies for banner abberation - I can't seem to change it!