Sunday, 26 June 2011


I have had a sad and unsettling week. My 95-year-old mother fell and ended up in hospital with a broken nose and dislocated shoulder. Though reluctant to leave the confines of her cosy home, she was eventually persuaded to go into hospital for a couple of days monitoring. That was 12 days ago. I was on stand-by to go and settle her back into her home when the need arose but unfortunately had to travel to visit her in hospital as she struggles to cope with pneumonia and associated complications.

Perversely, the process of worrying about the oldest member of the family helped to concentrate my mind on the quilt for the newest member of the family, Ben Luke Osmotherley. It has worked out well and will be gratefully received. Another family baby is due to arrive in August so another baby quilt will be underway soon.

Ben Luke’s quilt


I used variegated thread and free-motion machining to add detail around the edge. As this is intended as a floor quilt, one assumes that it will be in and out of the washing machine so machine quilting is best in the circumstances.


Periodically I go into cleansing mode in my studio, usually when I have finished a time of concentrated sewing (as in the case of the Gresford ‘Festival of Crafts’) or when I can’t see the floor any more!! But on this occasion I was asked for a picture of me in my studio by an American magazine so I had to tidy it up first!! And here’s the proof.

Me in my playroom

In sorting through the many and varied part-finished projects this time round, I have made the decision to finish the ones that I am enjoying and which challenge me creatively. Conversely I have given myself permission to discard or reclaim fabrics from projects that I am not enjoying. Where such choices can be made, I can’t see the point in continuing with projects that are not enjoyable. Being aware of them on my design wall only reinforces a feeling of failure in not completing them, so once they are gone, so is the pressure to get them finished! The design wall is clear, the canvass is blank and the creative mind is de-cluttered and able to accommodate something new. I am happy again!

The ‘Christmas Flowers’ hanging is a project worth finishing and won’t take too long.

I am machine sewing it through the batting only and from the back the stitching detail is more evident. The main function of the stitches in these painterly projects is to prevent the fused shapes from lifting. That said, thread and stitch decorative details bring the flower, leaf and ribbon shapes to life and define line and movement.

Back detail

Front detail 1

Front detail 2

Once the texturing is done, a backing fabric with an escape hatch will be used to complete the wall hanging (see Hollyhocks in Blog 53).

Out of interest, nearly £5,500 was raised at the Festival of Crafts in Gresford. This was rounded off to £6,000 from club subscriptions and this princely sum will be divided amongst the church and local charities. A fine result and worth all the effort!

Sunday, 19 June 2011


It has been such a busy week with my involvement in the Festival of Crafts in All Saint’s Church in Gresford.

Putting up on Monday took most of the day, from the practiced procedures of receiving and labelling of the exhibits, to the displaying of them to their best advantage. Each member of the team has her own allocated job and it may come as no surprise to learn that I do the quilts! The group owns 8 large quilt frames so we can hang 16 quilts back-to-back, to be displayed on the vertical. These are such an important part of the exhibition (and that’s not because I am biased!) because they draw the eyes from pew level towards the ceiling and fill the aisles with colour. They give immediate and expansive impact to the whole show. …And yes I managed to get all my exhibits ready; I actually finished about 7:30 on Sunday night.

Kansas Troubles

My Kansas Troubles quilt had the privilege of resting on a sculpture of a 14th Century Judge, just one of the many artefacts housed in this ancient and fascinating church. The windows in the Lady Chapel are over 500 years old and the christening font is said to date from the 15th century. In St Catherine’s Chapel, there are interesting images in the ancient glass. One shows the figure of St Appollonia holding a pair of pincers with a large tooth. She had her teeth extracted during her martyrdom and is now the patron saint of dentists and toothache sufferers … not a lot of people know that! Another interesting snippet is that St Catherine was martyred on a wheel, giving rise to the expression "Catherine’s Wheel".

Two-fabric sampler

My two-fabric sampler was draped over the choir stall fronted by a decorative tiled floor and backed by dark heavily carved choir stalls. Underneath the individual seats of these stalls are ornately carved misericords, depicting some quite irreligious images!

My quilts

My quilts for twin beds, which have been quilted by chequebook, (i.e. I paid someone else to do it on a long arm machine!) were finished and exhibited together mid way down the church.

View 1

View 2

I hope you get a general impression of the variety of the displays and the wonderful surroundings of the fabric and structure of the church. It really is a privilege to display one’s work amongst the crafts and skills of ancient carvers, stonemasons and stained glass artists.

View 3

You can just see my Hollyhocks wall hanging at the back of the church along side a friend’s wrought iron gate.

View 4

Outside, in the churchyard, there are many ancient yew trees, carved gargoyles and funny faces. It’s a fascinating place!

Yew tree


Funny face

PS This picturesque village, with its ancient church and duck pond was catapulted dramatically onto the national stage on September 22nd 1934. On that fateful date, 266 miners were killed in a huge explosion that ripped through one section of a local mine. Such was the force of the explosion and the ferocity of the resulting fire that the decision was made to seal off the pit and entomb the miners where they lay. It was reported that 160 widows and over 200 children lost husbands and fathers.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


On June 4th, I spent the day as one of the demonstrators at Gresford for Annual Quilting Day. I chose to devote the day to making Olympic Pennants. The organisers of the Cultural Olympiad are trying to amass 14,000 pennants so that they can give one to each athlete participating in the London Olympic and Para Olympic games. I designed a simple motif with large shapes and managed to make 6 using the 2-4-1 method from my latest book ‘Dual Image Appliqué’.

2-4-1 Pennants

More pennants

Even more pennants

Rather than prepare a normal binding, I used a quick fused method to complete them. Ready-fused fabric was cut into 1”strips, straight on one edge and fluted on the other. These were ironed around the edges to give an attractive no-sew finish, only suitable for wall hangings where no laundering is anticipated.

Quick fused binding

My on-going project this week has been layering the baby quilt ready for machine quilting. After pressing the backing fabric, I place it RS down onto a carpet. I pin the edges firmly into the carpet to keep the fabric taut, without stretching it.

Backing fabric

The cotton wadding (batting) goes onto the backing, with the pressed quilt top on top to complete the quilt sandwich. I use safety pins all around the edge first to hold the layers taut and then I pin at 6” intervals. For machine quilting, basting the layers would not be advisable as the stitches can catch on the machine foot and be difficult to remove if sewn over.

Pinning the layers

For speed, I have decided to work in rows across and down the quilt with a multicoloured thread. I am sewing straight stitches on the striped fabric to divide it into 9 squares and decorative stitches on the 9-patch to add interest. I need to complete this quilt soon and send it off!

Quilting detail

I started this blog with a mention of Gresford and I am going to finish it in the same place. Tomorrow I will be involved with a team of dedicated workers putting up our annual display of work in All Saints church at Gresford. Called the ‘Festival of Crafts’ this exhibition can be viewed daily from June 14th – 17th; Tues to Thurs 10:30 to 8:00 and Fri 10:30 to 6:00. Admission is £2:50 and as well as crafts from our group, there will be exhibits from the Wrexham quilting circle, Yale College diploma students, Gresford art group and the British Woodcarvers Association. The church, fascinating in its own right, will be full of craft and colour, with lots of quilts. If you are in the region, take the time to come and see for yourself! You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


This week I have had to make significant progress with my Hollyhocks wall hanging. I have submitted it as one of the exhibits for the Gresford Festival of Crafts on June 14th – 17th! The tools are pinked and fluted rotary cutters and the building block are squares made from ready fused strips of ‘painterly’ fabric.

Tools and block

Little progress had been made at the start of the week and it has hung on my wall like this for ages. The squares are staggered in their placement and I like to use diagonal strips to give movement to the background. The flowers are free cut independently.

Background and flowers

Progress was concentrated and rapid this week and the wall hanging quickly took shape. I have always found that I work better towards a dead line; perhaps it is the fear of failure that concentrates my mind and motivates my actions!


Hollyhocks detail 1

Hollyhocks detail 2

Rather than bind the edges I prefer to use a turn-through finish, a method I picked up from US teacher Melody Johnson. I use cotton batting because I need to iron the fused picture onto it and ‘Warm and Natural batting’ is my preferred choice. The batting and backing fabric are trimmed at the same time as I straighten the edges of picture so I know that all three layers are exactly the same size; this is important! The picture is ironed onto the batting to stick it in place and then I prepare the backing fabric with an escape hatch. A 1 ½” strip of fusible web is ironed onto the WS of the backing fabric, about 2” from the top edge, and I cut through the middle of this with a rotary cutter to leave 1” at either end. The backing is then placed RS down onto the picture and batting layer, and pinned thoroughly so that there is no movement during sewing. If the trimming was accurate the edges should meet perfectly. I then sew all around the edges with a ¼” seam allowance, with 2 diagonal stitches across each corner.

Escape hatch

Once the corners have been trimmed, the picture is turned RS out through the escape hatch. The corners are gently eased out with a blunt tool to make them rounded and the edges are pressed to make sure that the backing is not visible on the front.

Turning through

It has not been quilted yet but the three layers are together and the picture lies flat and straight. This week will be spent adding texture and detail by machine to bring it all to life and to secure the fused pieces of fabric.