Sunday, 26 February 2012


Time is just flying by so I have had my head down this week,
working on my Jacobean positive/negative wall hanging which I featured a couple
of blogs ago. I felt I needed to get as much of it as possible under my machine
if I have any hope of completing it for exhibition/competition this year. I am
pleased with progress on the negative version which is now fully decorated with
stitches, and I have started quilting it with a simple grid. The reasoning here
is that there is so much stitchery on the coloured fabric that simple quilting
is the only option; I don’t want to go for over-kill!

Quilting Grid

Here is the backing fabric; I just love it!

Backing Fabric

Another project underway is a Memorabilia Box. I received one made
by Audrey Lee when I was 40, many, many moons ago, and now I make them as a
personal gift for a special occasion, for special people. At 10 ½” x 8 ½”, they
are big enough to store all the cards, banners and mementoes, that such an
occasion generates. I will be teaching this soon at Alston Hall for the
Shoreline Quilters at the beginning of April so I need to re-acquaint myself
with its construction and make workshop samples. As a spin off, I am also
teaching it at the Gresford group now that the log cabin bag has been
completed. Here is a sample made for my brother Owen and his wife Jean who will
celebrate their Ruby Wedding next month.

Memorabilia Box

Detail of Lid

The memorabilia box starts off with mount card, a near-plain lining
fabric and a busy outer fabric and threads that reflect the colours in the
fabric for the tassel.

Raw Materials

And now the reason I have had to get a wriggle on with my work
during February. Roger and I will be going away to Hawaii next Saturday for 3
weeks. I mentioned above that it was my brother’s Ruby Wedding. Well it is also
ours! We married nearly 40 years ago in what was then the Gilbert and Ellice
Islands Colony (now Kiribati and Tuvalu) and, because we knew our parents
wouldn’t make the journey to be with us, I chose the next best thing. We waited
for Owen and Jean to name their day, and then we chose the same date. This way,
I knew that my whole family would be gathering for a wedding and that they would
think of us and celebrate with us in spirit. We raised our glasses to each
other at our respective receptions. We went back to our island (Tarawa) for our
Silver Wedding Anniversary but it wasn’t the same without the people we had
known there. In Hawaii we will have our toes in the Pacific and be experiencing
island life again.

Wedding 1972
PS For Helen of Hobart; I didn't forget. Here's the picture of the '' wall
hanging of the Meerrkats that you requested.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


Today, as a snow storm lashes across the landscape, it is
just lovely being inside surrounded by quilts, cushions and colour. The log
fire is glowing, the cat is purring softly on the lap of a gently snoring ‘-but-I-was-watching-that!’
husband in front of the snooker (it would send me to sleep too!), and all’s
well with my world. Our granddaughter has been over for a play in the snow so
thank goodness I bought a sledge instead of the snow shovel I went out to
purchase a while ago, it is much more fun!
The past week for me has been dominated by the exhibition of
my Garden Gates in the museum in Llangollen. They were hung as Magie Relph’s
quilts were being taken down, so the process of mounting my exhibition took less
than an hour. Llangollen is a charming town on the banks of the River Dee with
much of interest for the visitor. Here is what the official website says about

Llangollen has many natural
wonders. There are mountains and white water rivers, including the spectacular
River Dee canals with horse-drawn boats, The Llangollen Steam Railway with
steam trains that chug along the Dee Valley, the Horseshoe Pass, the Horseshoe
Falls and all in easy reach of Chester and Wrexham. Famous structures, gardens
and historic buildings abound, Plas Newydd, home to The Ladies of Llangollen,
numerous National Trust properties surround the town and we have the highest
and longest aqueduct on the canal system. The Pontcysyllte aqueduct was built
by Thomas Telford 200 years ago, over a 1000 feet long and standing 126 feet
above the river Dee which is now a world Heritage Site.
But my reason for referring to Llangollen is to highlight my exhibition which will be
on until the end of March, and I am very proud to recommend it. The small museum
is just off the main street, in a purpose built many-sided building with an upstairs
gallery. The Gate quilts make a lovely collection and here are the pictures to entice
you to visit it if you can!

Right side

Left side


(Please note the sheep made from colourful plastic bags in the
foreground. I love it, a fancy a flock of them in our paddock!)

Close up


Sashiko Gate

Sunday, 12 February 2012


Another week, another blog
and there is always the dilemma about what to talk about in my quilting life as
it has been a busy and creative week. But, first of all, here is a picture of
the completed log cabin bag which I forgot to include last week. Cat hairs are

Log cabin bag

And here is a selection of bags made in the same style.

Cluster of bags

This week I went to Llangollen to see the Quilt Fest exhibitions by Ferret and Magie Relph. We approached the valley from Horseshoe Pass on a bitterly cold morning and this is what we
saw, or rather didn’t see! Llangollen was beautifully shrouded in an icy mist,
giving a ghostly atmosphere. Ferret’s quilts can be seen at and Magie’s at Their website
pictures do far more justice to their quilts than I ever could.

Llangollen from the Horseshoe

Also this week, I have been
happily sewing one of my not-so-latest projects. It has been put on hold for
many months because I had no idea how to develop it. It is a Jacobean wall
hanging based on my latest interest, positive/negative applique, which was also
the subject of my book last year ‘Dual Image Applique’ (AQS). It has been
folded out of the way in a box, just visible whenever I was in the loft room,
but my subconscious was obviously ticking over in its favour. I just decided to
get it out, sit at my sewing machine and get on with it.

Positive and Negative

When you compare the two
panels above, you can see that the panel on the left is composed of the
cut-outs from the panel on the right. The panel on the left is positive
applique because the shapes are applied onto the coloured background, the panel
on the right is negative applique because the fabric is placed behind and the
edges of the holes are sewn as in reverse applique.


In the detail above, you can
see the stitchery that has been concentrated in the coloured areas. I suppose I am making an attempt to modernise
the Jacobean style of embroidery, using the stitches available to me on my computerised
Bernina machine.

ASIDE: I have 2 Bernina sewing
machines: A 1230 (which I have had for nearly 20 years and which I wouldn’t
change for anything) and an Artista 630 (which I part-won in a competition but
which isn’t a patch on the older machine). The Artista was really a waste of
money and an example of an impulse buy simply because I had won money towards
any sewing machine. It was wasteful because, as a quilter, I was never going to
use the numerous facilities offered by that machine. Doing this project is
easing my conscience a little but when the time is right, I will trade it in
for something else.

The Artista has a vast library
of stitches and it is these that I am utilising in this project. For some lines
of stitching, I am using a computerised pattern, for others, I am using free
motion stitching. The negative version is decorated with computerised stitches.

Computerised stitches

The positive version is decorated with both computerised and free motion stitches.

Computerised and free motion


And I just want to remind you that Quiltfest continues through February to March 6th and my series of Garden Gate will be on display in the Museum from tomorrow. I will be there demonstrating on Wednesdays 15th and 22nd from 1pm – 4pm and Fridays 17th
and 24th from 10am – 4 pm (weather permitting of course!). I hope to see some of you there for a chat.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Another week, another
creative blur! It is still desperately cold in rural Wales but I have solved
the problem caused by my icebox of a studio. I found that I was avoiding going
in there because the space is so difficult to heat efficiently. So I was getting
nothing done at all which was frustrating! So I have moved my Horne’s sewing
table and Bernina sewing machine into our bedroom, into the only space it would
fit. Not an ideal solution but at least I can now sew in warmth and comfort and
I couldn’t be happier. It’s the little things in life eh?!

The water scene has been
completed, apart from the machine texturing. And I will add a dragonfly; thanks
you for suggesting it.


I have constructed the bag
this week and here are the final stages.
The bag and the lining are
constructed separately as per last week’s instructions.

Bag and lining

Insert the lining into the
bag, with WS together, and pin the edges together at 4 equal points. It helps if
the pins are put in vertically so they can be removed easily when you come to

4 pins

Pin more thoroughly to hold
the raw edges level around the top of the bag.

More pins

To bind the edges, cut a 2”
straight strip long enough to go around the top of the bag, with a small
over-lap (about 42”). Press it in half to make a double lining. Place the
lining down onto the machine, so that the outside of the bag is on top (Doing
it this way, the teeth on the sewing machine will ease any fullness in the
lining fabric to fit the outside fabric). Place the raw edges of the binding
level with those of the bag and sew around the top with ¼” seam allowance,
over-lapping with a folded edge. To prevent the lining fabric from slipping, don’t
take out the pins until you have almost sewn over the top of them.

Bind the edge

Fold the binding onto the
back and hand sew the folded edge onto the lining.


Handles: cut two 4” x 24” fabric
strips and two 1 ½” x 24” batting strips. Iron a ¼” seam allowance along the
long edge of each fabric strip. Position the batting strip onto the WS of the
fabric strip so that when the folded edge is brought over to cover the raw
edge, the seam is right down the middle. Pin and sew with a decorative stitch. Attach
to your bag to complete.