Stitching News December 2018

Christmas Greetings to you all!

Welcome to my Christmas newsletter! This month I have written about;

  • My Christmas card choice for this year
  • Preparation for my Christmas cakes; …and “what has that to do with patchwork?”  you may ask yourself! … Well, it’s all in the tools!
  • A quilt which I am endeavouring to finish for September 2019….I am hand quilting and it is huge!
  • My plans for my tiny wooden spools
  • My Advent calendar and a few other decorations!

Most of us will have been planning  for Christmas in various ways recently. Since my last newsletter I have been making Christmas cards;  finishing little presents; working through the rest of the present list; making Christmas cakes, and planning menus.

I made my Christmas cards towards the end of November.

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I actually made this little stitched panel about 12 years ago. It was an extra sample for a class I was teaching about using sheer fabrics. It measures 8.5″ x 5.

As you can see it is hand stitched, with hand dyed threads. I have trapped layers, (some of which are also sheers), under a top layer of sheer fabric. In other words, it is a sample of shadow applique.

I remembered it, when I was thinking about ideas for this year’s cards.

I photographed it, and printed the photos, in three different sizes onto standard A4 glossy photographic paper. The larger photograph size fits 4 photos to an A4 sheet.  One photo can be mounted onto a standard A6 single fold card; therefore 4 cards per sheet.

The middle size fits 9 photos to an A4 sheet. I also mounted these onto A6 cards, but because the photos are smaller, there was room to write the start of the carol…”while shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground… ” around three sides of the photograph. This particular size is a plus, as one sheet yields 9 cards!

The third size fits 35 photos onto the A4 sheet, and I make gift tags using these. I cut 2″ x 4″ units of plain white card, then fold them in half making a square gift tag. I trim the photos with my rotary cutter and mount one to the left of centre on the front of the tag, leaving space to write “Merry Christmas” along the edge of it. Inside, I punch a single hole near the fold, at the top of the card, to thread to loop a cord through.

The three sizes are photographed below! I just love the fact that the Christmas card and the tag are an item!

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I also made my Christmas cakes on the last weekend of November….probably should have done it about three or four weeks earlier! I thought it apposite that I should explain why my 6″ Omnigrid square is in the photograph below!

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You can also see my cake tin in the photo. It is the 12″ Lakeland cake tin that has dividers which can split the tin into various size units within the 12″ framework. Each year, since I bought the tin, I have made four six inch Christmas cakes to give to various members of our family. I use the Omnigrid square in the preparation of the liners for the four divided sections.

I cut baking parchment into a square; the size of the square is the width of the roll. Next I fold the square diagonally in both directions, centre the 6″ Omni square and draw around it’s edge. I then cut away a square at each outside corner of the large square, and make a sharp crease along the 6″ border of baking paper which is left along each side of the internal square.

When each surface of the individual 6″ cake tins has been lightly greased, the baking parchment liner can be dropped accurately into its area. The folded sides of the paper square can then be lifted up and will sit snugly against the walls, and will stick in position! It is fiddly, but it works well, and I feel the time taken is well worth it.

I really have my work cut out for the next few months, as I am aiming at finishing a very large bed quilt by September 2019. It is a present for my niece. I asked her  to measure across the top of the mattress and down to the bottom edges of the top mattress. It is a king sized bed, with a very deep top mattress.

Her choice of colour scheme was black white and grey, but she left the actual choice of fabrics to me We discussed design possibilities and she said she loved “traditional” patchwork but left the final choice to me.  I had a great deal of work to do before I could go shopping. I drew out an outline of the finished size, and had to divide it up, so that the central part of the quilt design fitted on top of the mattress with the borders hanging down the sides. I could then work out the size of the design elements. I worked out placements of the dark, medium and light values and the sizes of the various components within the quilt, and then roughly estimated quantities…and how many fabrics I would like within each value. I rounded all quantities up, and bought  a little extra of everything! With all that information written down, I was ready to purchase!

I largely used my machine to create and assemble the quilt top, but I am entirely hand quilting it. The centre is completed, and I am now quilting the borders, which are 15″ deep. The whole quilt measures 105″ x 108″. Most of this work was completed over two years ago. For various reasons, it was then put on one side, and I am just picking it up again.



Although it is a traditional design, I have amalgamated six borders reflecting the use of fabric and elements from the central panel. Squares, circles and pieced stars, of varying sizes, predominate. I just had to have a little bit of me, and what I do, in there somewhere! Hence the group of five little houses in one of the setting squares! The finished size of the setting squares is 3″.

The preparation of this square was started by drawing a 3″ square onto freezer paper. I drew the group of five houses within the square, allowing a 1/4″border between the group and the edge of the square. The drawn shapes were all numbered, and then cut up, and ironed onto the right side of my fabric choices, before cutting each shape  out with a 1/4″ fabric seam allowance around each shape.

The same freezer paper templates were then peeled off the front of the fabric, and slid underneath, in preparation for the English method of piecing the individual houses. (Each piece of fabric was tacked over the template, so that the raw edges were hidden. When each of the 5 houses had been assembled, it was pressed carefully, before the tacking stitches were cut and the paper templates removed. The reason for pressing them was to give a sharp crease at the edge of the houses, which would keep the raw edges in place. The next stage was to stitch the windows and doors  in place. Finally each house was tacked into its correct position on the 3″square, and appliqued in place.

Last month I teased you with a photograph of empty cotton reels, and asked you what I might be going to do with them! I have started!

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The reels are tiny; measurements 1/2″ tall  as well as 1/2″ across the end of the spool too! So they are almost “square”!

The very large spools in last months photo will not be used, as they are too heavy, but I have some others, only slightly larger than these here, which I will include!

By now, if you didn’t realise before, you probably understand that small is beautiful to me, and doesn’t phase me at all! I know that “small” is incredibly fiddly and fussy for a large majority of people, but there are some of us, who actually enjoy “small”!! “Small” often means easily portable too, which has definite advantages.

They will be part of a string of bunting…, but not necessarily for Christmas. The fabrics are all Liberty prints which I have sewn onto the spools. So far I have done about 50 and I have the same to do again, They will be threaded onto a cord, interspersed  with little flags, that I am also in the process of making. About 10 have been completed with a little channel on the reverse side to thread the cord through. When looking through my UFO’s the other day, I found some house bunting that I had started a couple of years ago. I actually got on really well with it but never finished it.  Note to self….want to finish that this year. Seeing it again really enthused me!

I will show you more, as the spool bunting progresses! Ideas pop in and out of my head, about this bunting, all the time!

Another spool item! During a holiday in Canada recently, we went to see a quilter who lived on the Cabot trail, and opened her studio to interested quilters. I loved her front door, which sported a wonderful row of cotton reels, which were “half shapes” so that they fitted flush to the wooden door. What a fabulous idea!

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Her name is Anne Morrell Robinson, and she is a prolific and amazing quilter.

She had a beautiful studio, which was huge! Many of her quilts were stacked flat and high on a large wooden surface,akin to bed size!

Downstairs she had another comparable stash which we were also thrilled to view.

Making quilts was her business, and she advertised and sold her work extensively.


I have long had a fondness for Advent Calendars. This year, a dear friend gave me a Sally Swannell Advent card.

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It is absolutely delightful, I didn’t know anything about this lady’s work, but she has gorgeous ideas and is worth looking up if you are interested;

I have some favourite Christmas decorations which go up every year. This is one of them; an advent calendar, which I made almost thirty years ago!

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It is in two parts. The photograph on the left shows the 24 days leading up to Christmas day. The pieced and appliqued squares are 3″ square. Each one has two little black hooks above it for a numbered cover to hang from.

When it is hung, on December 1st, I don’t put the covers on in any specific order, apart from the 24th, which is always covering the crib in the bottom right hand corner.

There are no pockets for sweeties or little presents,


The “game” was always to guess which picture was underneath the cover before it was removed each day! I made this when our two boys were about 9 and 10. They watched the progress as it grew over the course of many months, and even made suggestion for some of the 3″ blocks. At one point when I was wondering what to do next, one of them said “You can’t have an advent calendar without a Santa”! We talked about how he might be represented; “Coming down the chimney, of course!” was the answer!

When it was all finished and had been up for its first Christmas, my husband said; “It is likely that at some stage you are going to lose one or two of the covers…so perhaps you should make them “work”! He suggested that I make another hanging, that the covers could hang from!  So this was the idea I came up with!

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First, we had to work out a phrase with 24 letters in it!  “A  VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU” worked well! Then I could draw a working diagram.Red green and the same background fabrics were used.

I pieced it in horizontal rows, and hand quilted a Sashiko design on each of the coloured squares, using a Sulky gold metallic thread.  With the covers, I  stencilled the appropriate letter onto the reverse of its partner number, using a metallic gold paint. Then each letter was back stitched by hand to emphasise the outline, being careful not to go through to the front of the cover!

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Fortunately the numbers on the front of the covers had been quilted before the covers had been assembled, and were stitched with just a square of wadding underneath. Tehy were then layered with the backing square, and bound.

Now, number 1 has an on the reverse side; number 2 has a V; number 3  an E; number 4 has an R; and so on. You get the idea! The photograph shows 3 numbered covers and three covers with 3 letters.

So, by Christmas Eve all the covers on the advent calendar have been taken off, turned over and hung on the partner hanging, revealing the Christmas message.

It is a “working” Advent Calendar”! It is difficult to clearly photograph the detail on the second hanging, but at the top two corners I quilted a Christmas tree, and secured a bugle bead topped by a star sequin at the end of each “branch”, suggesting candles. The densely patterned fabric hides the small detail, unfortunately.  In between the words at the bottom of the hanging (position identified by the wooden red berries) I quilted holly leaves.

Here are a few other favourites!

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All are hand made, and some are typically very traditional which I love! There is nothing wrong with that!

The two 3-D tree decorations each consist of three identical oval card shapes. which have fabric glued to them, and the seam allowance glued over the edge, so that it is hidden when the shapes are sewn together.

In 2010 I recorded a video of this particular decoration, with Jamie Malden of Colouricious.  If you would like to see a detailed version of how to make the little decoration, just copy and paste How to Make Christmas decorations – Di Wells – Jamie Malden into a Google search and you will see a detailed tutorial on You Tube.  (You will need to delete the initial advert that always precedes any You Tube film!)

I made the Christmas houses about 5 years ago. They are double sided, with “snowy” roofs, and a Christmas tree on each side! This means that they can hang on a tree and the detail can be seen which ever way they turn! I over-dyed some very fine woven quality shirting fabrics. This took away the stark white background, giving a more muted result, and some texture too. The tiny fabric trees were cut out of a Christmassy fabric, and bonded in position. We hang several of these houses against our Cornish stone fireplace, at Christmas! They are suspended from a fine dowel threaded through the chimneys!

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I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, which will hopefully be filled with fascinating and inspired stitching!

Until January…





Stitching News November 2018

This month I am going to write a little more about the way I often like to approach new work. But, first I would like to put some cheerful autumnal colour into your lives, and show you a scarf I have made…

…along with the shoes that I bought! Let me tell you the story!

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Anyone who knows me will know I am a very “blue” girl!”. Most of my wardrobe consists of blue in some form or other! So, when I went to buy some new shoes at the beginning of this month, I wanted blue. I knew the style I wanted but they have not produced them in blue this year!

They had the style in red suede or black, and the red shoes were my size, so having said to the shop assistant that I definitely did not want red, and very particularly not suede, either…I looked around, but nothing else caught my eye….so I said “Let me just try on the red ones….and then perhaps you can order the black, in my size”!

Well I don’t need to finish the story. I fell in love with them immediately. They made me feel so happy! …but then I just had to make something to wear with them!!

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The photo above shows the other side of the scarf. The two sides have a mix of my own dyed fabric, and some commercial prints. I made the two lengths and then tacked them together, rights sides out. There is no inner layer, as I didn’t want to add any more “bulk”, wanting the scarf to be drapable.

Cotton fabric might not be the best choice for drapability, especially batiks, of which I have included several patches, but with all the stitching I have done, it feels a nice weight, and quite drapable, as well.

The two sides are pieced, using the same range of fabrics. The front has three appliqued patches as well. They have been applied by hand with a blanket stitch. I did this to add more colour and to break up the large geometric pieces. They have added interest, and offered obvious areas for a change of direction in the quilting. I have quilted throughout with a big stitch and hand dyed threads…a brilliant way to use up odds and ends! I turned in the edges, hand stitching with a tiny running stitch, and a fine machine thread.

I feel ready to burst through Autumn and definitely into winter now. Why have I never had red shoes before…? I love my scarf. It makes me smile, as do my shoes, and I will never get fed up wearing them!

Now, to return to my (often) preferred way of starting a fresh body of work.

As I explained in last month’s newsletter;   I have built up several bodies of design work over many years. All this experience has shown me the design tools that I feel “most comfortable” using when planning fresh work.

In the October newsletter I explained and showed you my approach for designing my first two house panels, and the third is on the drawing board. I drew this one on a distorted hexagon grid this time, shown below.

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I drew in my houses, removing many of the grid lines which simplified the design considerably.

I also really like the fact that there is still evidence of the hexagons as well

I thought it would be fun to create these houses with teracotta roofs and white walls, but couldn’t work out what to do about the background, so I painted it , and really disliked the result. I was disappointed, as I had already spent a lot of time on it!


This is all part and parcel of the lengthy process of designing, and let’s face it, far less costly in time and materials, than making it up, and then wanting to put it in the bin!

What to do next? I put it on one side for  few days, kept looking at it, then decided to cut away the colour I didn’t like in the background…..

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Now I felt I was getting there! I was beginning to smile again….I can see possibilities, that I hadn’t even considered before! May change the colour….as not sure if I want it so bland! On the other hand it is part of a “series” and as such offers a different palette!

The biggest transformation was that I needed to remove a lot more lines, to simplify the “negative space”. It was still far too busy,





In the grid photograph of the line design, I have already simplified, and may well do a little more, yet. As I was making changes to my working drawing all the time, I cannot show you how “busy” the original was, I’m afraid.

It has now become a very worthwile exercise to have done! It illustrates very clearly why it really is important to keep on….!

I can work with the ideas here, but will also work with the hexi grid design as well. As work and ideas progress, I will keep you up to date!

Moving on to a different process but using still using Fibonacci for my final design decisions

Below, the first photo shows a section of a drawing of a Welsh whole cloth quilt design from the Welsh Folk Museum in Cardiff. I had taken my students for a visit, and during the day the curator had given us all the opportunity to see drawings of traditional patterns from their archive. We were allowed to photograph and draw them. She was an extremely knowledgeable lady and we had an amazing day.

Working from the inspirational traditional Welsh pattern I developed my own  patterns. Whether I use them or not, it is a good way of experimenting!

I like to work within structured geometric units as the grid formation really suits my “organised” mind! It was an automatic way for me to work… I actually didn’t plan it like that, I found it was just happening! Below are a selection of pages from one of my work books.

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There are lots of ideas within all of this work as well as in the rest of my book, certainly plenty to come back to at any time!

Some of these ideas are simple, others far more complicated….but areas can be subtracted using L-shapes, or a cut out window, which can be trawled over a page. This really helps to isolate an area, and simplify detail.

Just writing about this has triggered  ideas that I didn’t have time to explore at the time! I would certainly want to experiment with collage and colour Autumnal colours and painted paper; magazine papers, and a dip into my “paper scrap stash” would be a great start!

At the time, these exercises and several more eventually led me to start planning for a piece of work, which would be a triptych. The fact that I have done nothing with it to date is irrelevant. It is all well documented and can be picked up and modified at any time in the future!

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As ideas formulate it is essential to be considering techniques and materials and a final size for any piece of work.  Contrasts; change of scale; texture; repetition, colour, and so much more are all really important to a successful result.

I must emphasize that there are many many ways to design quilts, hangings etc, and a mathematical way is only one. I can hear many sighs of relief, and imagine vigorous nodding of heads!

We are all very different, which means there is always a terrific energy in the wonderful work we see within our stitching groups, and in all the exhibitions we are lucky enough to visit.

The main thing is that every individual just enjoys what they are doing, and that it makes them smile! Which ever way we get there is personal to us. I find it endlessly fascinating to read how other people do it, so I hope this has been an interesting and insightful read for you, too.

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Now! What could I possibly be going to do with a box of cotton reels!  I will show you in the n  ext newsletter. I have started!



I will also explain how my idea for this year’s Christmas card has come about!




If you enjoy reading my newsletters, please recommend them to your stitchy friends. There is a real mix of information, ideas, mini tutorials etc in them. Hopefully, there is something for everybody.

I constantly hear from past readers, (and those are only the ones I come into contact with),  that they are confused when I mention my newsletter. They realise that they haven’t had one come into their own inbox for ages.

The very first blog I wrote explains the reasons for that, so if you also hear your friends say this, please inform them that they can follow the stitching news from the blog site, and start receiving it again. I cannot put them on my email list , as before, each individual must activate it themselves.

Happy stitching!






Stitching News October 2018

In Stitching News this and next month I thought I would explain my preferred methods and approaches to planning new work.

In order to do this I shall start by reminding you of my current work. In this blog I am really focusing on designs where I have used the Fibonacci numerical sequence; more detail of this later on!

Using Fibonacci as a base I can create grids, and once you understand the process of creating a grid….you can “break the rules” or even invent new ones!



This picture was taken a few months ago when I had just finished piecing this house panel but I had not started quilting it.

As I have been very busy since then, I am only just coming back to it.

I have now quilted in the ditch, but need to do some additional quilting which will pull the whole piece together!

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When I posted the photo of this piece, I had started quilting in the ditch, as shown here, but that was all.

I have just finished quilting in the ditch, this last week and have now started quilting the overall lines,  as shown in the photo below.



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I  marked my quilting lines with a hera marker against a ruler. They are perpendicular to the edges of the panel and purposely not equidistant!

The hera marker is a little plastic tool, which is easy to hold and has a flat “sharp” curved edge at one end, and a pointed end at the other. I used the curved edge against the ruler. When you quilt on top of this line it doesn’t show any more because it disappears into the stitching.



Notice the difference between the area where I have quilted the grid on the left and the area still to do, to the right of centre. I am just ruling the lines as I go.

These two panels are the beginning of my new series for the next exhibition and I will come back to them later in the blog. They have been designed on a distorted grid, which “sort of ” had a Fibonacci guide, to start with!

I belong to a small textile group; lovely talented ladies who all have different skills, and work in different media. Earlier in the year we started  planning for our next exhibition which will be in 2020. That may seem a long way away, but it is only a couple of months before it will be 2019!

I was really excited as I drove home from the meeting, and my mind was supercharged. What was I going to do? How would I come up with meaningful ideas for me, because I have to be excited and enthused about what I am working on or it will have no meaning or heart! I knew what direction my work would take, by the time I got home, and how to get started, which was really exciting! I did a little scribble on a scrap of paper as soon as I got home! That was the start!!

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Quite quickly I followed this up, cutting some narrow strips from a magazine gluing them down. and drawing within the grid. I had no definite plans when I did this, other than houses but was thinking about a structure, and how I might work with it!

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It is really important to jot any  thoughts down as soon as you have them. These may just be words; scrappy sketches, anything that may lead to moving the ideas along! You don’t need a  prepared sketch book…scrap paper, and envelope anything will do. When you get a chance you can become more organised. I have had several things collected together with a paper clip, and am only just beginning to sort them into order in my book.

You may not like your results when you are exploring ideas. I certainly don’t always like what I am doing. I spent a long time painting a back ground on my design for the third panel recently, and was very disappointed. It did nothing for me!! I eventually cut it up and something good resulted from this and I felt fired up again!  I have to admit though that it is as useful to find out what you don’t like, as much as finding out what makes you smile!! More of this later, too!

So, it is evident from the above illustrations that I am interested in grids!

Now, at this juncture I will give some information about my stitching background. 

For years I have travelled around giving talks about my stitched work to patchwork groups, and am frequently told “You are so lucky, Di, you have so many ideas!” I have equally frequently said “but they don’t just happen!” and hopefully by the end of this newsletter you will be able to understand what I mean.

I started a quilting supplies business called “Patches” in the basement of our home in the 80’s and started teaching basic patchwork classes at home. My mother taught me simple patchwork in my late teens, and I had built on that whenever I had the opportunity.

One thing led to another and I was asked to teach a patchwork night class in adult education. I was terribly nervous, but I prepared thoroughly and after the first two or three weeks or so, I settled into the routine, and loved it. The ladies were mostly completely new to patchwork and the classes hummed as they grew together in friendship, as well as confidence in what they were doing.

I was soon able to offer a day class in the College building, which suited me better. After a few years I was asked to teach City and Guilds patchwork. This was enormous for me as I had never done the course myself. It was new for the College as they hadn’t taught it before either! Eventually, under pressure, I agreed to help them out of a situation by just teaching for one term! I was told that it really was just to be for one term teaching technique, because they had a tutor who could start after that. Ha! Ha! That was the start of a HUGE learning curve…..and hours and hours and hours of preparation. One term stretched into many more years! I have to say that there was a very legitimate reason why the intended tutor had to back out.

I was delighted in the end that I hadn’t done the course before, because I was working through the syllabus, and in conjunction with a wonderful experienced teacher, Joan, who mentored, encouraged and supported me in College, I was enabled to approach and teach the course in my own way!

After a couple of years, I joined my students in their design classes for a year…and gained my design certificate. This gave me a set of new skills. We had a great tutor, and I loved the course, soaking it up like a sponge! I knew I had to really work hard as I would be teaching the whole syllabus after this. I had a body of work, with lots of samples which were a terrific resource for teaching. I developed more ideas for teaching purposes, which also fuelled my tank, producing fresh material for stitched samples etc. It made so much more sense that I was now teaching the whole syllabus.

It worked well, and I was so proud of the work that my students produced for their end of course exhibitions.

I was also privileged to spend three excellent week-long residential courses taught by Susan Denton in the mid 90’s.  I attended one per year, and had the opportunity to work through and develop ideas from a starting point through to stitch. Susan was instrumental in teaching me really basic design approaches for patchwork and quilting and even now I come back to that work, time and time again. I have further explored and extended those techniques, pushing them on another stage each time I play with them! This work rarely fails to suggest yet another idea;  I tweak the design ideas once more, and begin to smile, and hey ho, I am off on another journey!

My house panels, in the new series, are a prime example of this! Ideas are developing yet again from that original and extended body of work!DSC01143 (2).JPG

I started with a blank piece of A4 paper, and drew dots an inch apart all around the perimeter. I used these as a reference from which to draw some vertical and hoizontal lines (in red) to form my grid.  You will understand the purpose of the dots later in this story!

The red lines are major construction lines, necessary when joining small units into bigger units; a process which happens in every assembly of work with some form of grid.



The blue and red stitched house panels both start with this same grid. But I have drawn in additional lines for the little blue panel to give me more design options. I can see more “houses” now! For the red panel design I removed those additional lines, and drew two or three different additional lines, for the same reason. A slightly different result!

Designing with grids inevitably involves mathematics. I am hopeless at maths. (My maths o-level teacher, told me that I had an ice cream’s chance in hell of passing”! I did pass, and didn’t get the lowest grade either.) For me a grid is very liberating and gives a strong base on which to build. Over the years I have come to realise that I feel very comfortable with this way of starting fresh work.

I use the Fibonacci sequence often in my work, because I know it will always look balanced. The photograph below is of my quilt, “Glimpses”, which I entered into the Festival of Quilts this year it was entirely  designed around the Fibonacci sequence.

Fibonacci is explained further on! Keep reading!


With several years of Part l under my belt, I then began to teach Part ll, or the Diploma, as it became known. I spent two years gathering together a large body of work by working steadily through the syllabus; creating new exciting ideas as I grew in confidence myself, and learning a vast amount along the way! I took my finished body of work to show the then National Adviser for C&G in patchwork and quilting.  She said to me “if you had a log book I would be very happy to sign it off for you Di”.

Within the C&G Diploma course the students must gather a “mathematical ” body of work together. I loved this section of the syllabus, and explored and experimented with it endlessly, learning the basics and then bending the rules! This included distorting the grids and creating extension ideas. By the time I came to teach it I felt very comfortable with it, and was able to enthuse the students.

Look up Fibonacci! He was a 13th Century mathematician who,  by studying the patterns in nature, devised the mathematical sequence which produced perfect spirals and the way trees produced their branches etc.  The formula gives perfect results every single time and is used extensively in many creative environments and design processes. It is used in a very wide area of art and design; in architecture; music etc……

The sequence is:1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 etc. Simply explained, it is a series of numbers in which each number ( Fibonacci number ) is the sum of the two preceding numbers.

1+1=2  1+2=3  2+3= 3+5=8  5+8=13  8+13=21 and so on.

Say it out loud to yourself! It will make sense. The sequence does not have to be used in this given order.  The order can be altered. Numbers can be repeated, and you choose your own “unit” size. 1 equals your chosen unit size.

If you choose one inch as your unit size then the sequence would be: 1″ 2″ 3″ 5″ 8″ etc. I often work on a small scale, so I just use the start of the sequence often from  1-3 or 1-5.

If you chose a unit size of 2 cm, then the sequence would become 2cm 4cm 6cm 10cm 16cm etc. The order of the sequence can be whatever you like, individual units can be repeated as you can see in the Glimpses quilt above. The Fibonacci scale can be used on any grid, vertically and/or horizontally.

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Here and below are a couple of  pages from one of my sketch books when I was working out ideas for a section of houses in my Mevagissey quilt design. I used Fibonacci as a starting point.

In the top left corner, I see that I had made a tiny note that the unit size was 1/4″.


In the bottom right hand area, I had written the start of the mathematical sequence,  1 2 3 5 8,  and under each of those numbers I had noted down what each number would be represented as. The measurements would translate as: 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ 1 1/4″ and 2″….  I had also written notes of possible techniques to use.

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The paper weaving, on the right, above, uses strips of paper relating to the unit size I had chosen for my Mevagissey quilt. I have then just made some simple line drawings of buildings on the weaving. It totally makes sense of the weaving for this context. imagine the weaving without the drawing on it. It is still a well proportioned result, and could make a lovely cushion with torn strips of fabric, for instance! Weavings become more interesting with different width strips. The fibonacci sequence to takes all the angst out of wondering what width to use…..

All these ideas have a basic grid formation.

The following piece of work was designed around a postcard of Port Isaac, (shown below).  This is the village featured in the Doc Martin series!

I bought the postcard the day before I left to go home after one of the residential courses with Susan. When I got home Rob, my husband, asked me what I had learned. I said “I will show you”: I showed him the postcard and within ten to 15 minutes had drawn the bare outline drawing of the village on a curved hexagonal grid! I surprised myself! I had really stretched myself that week, but wow, it was well worth it!

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Apologies for the poor quality of the postcard photograph. It is a night view of the village to start with, and trying to eliminate the glare of the gloss finish on it was impossible for me!



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This was the hexagon grid I drew!  I had to rub out many “internal” lines on the grid, as I created the houses. When I added windows, it instantly turned the grid into the “village” scene. This drawing then became my master, from which I created all the templates for the little quilt! I  traced it onto freezer paper and marked every tiny piece of both copies with a letter or number to identify its rotation and position. The freezer paper shapes became my “papers” for the English piecing.

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I made it in 1999, a year after I created the design; almost twenty years ago!

An interesting fact is that all the fabrics were scraps I gathered from the waste bins at the end of my classes!



In 2003 I also had an opportunity to study for the HNC in Stitched Textiles, at College. It was a joy to be “fed” instead of “giving of myself” continually. I wasn’t able to attend the classes as I was teaching full time by then, so I became a distance learning student, working at home, but I could obviously liaise very easily with my tutor. During that 2 years I continued to build on my technical and design skills.

So, you may well imagine that I have many resources to be pulling design ideas from! They don’t just “happen”. They are the result of, probably, an accumulation of hundred’s of hours of work over the years!

Take every opportunity you can if you want to progress in your skills and ideas. Tenacity and “the doing” creates the ideas. If there is a will, there is a way!

Returning to the two quilts at the top of the blog. All the way home from the textile meeting when we had started to plan the next exhibition I was thinking back to the design work from my mathematical file and I knew that that would be my starting point!  The basis of the designs for the two quilts was Fibonacci. It gave me a starting point! I started with a blank piece of A4 paper, and I made a mark at every inch, all the way around the perimeter of the paper, and used these indicators for the grid. You can see the red lines going between the dots across the page. Sometimes I left one inch between the start or end of the lines, other times two or even three inches. Perhaps you can now understand how I can manipulate the Fibonacci sequence to my own ends. Nothing wrong with that! The grid inch markings give me somewhere to start.

I started thinking about my third panel a few days ago, and I will begin my next Stitching news with that!


Happy Stitching.

Stitching News September 2018

Dates for your diary:

I am teaching two workshops for Roseland Mews Studio this autumn. The first  in late October and the second one in early November. If you are interested in either of the days, please contact Jane Lockyer for details, as she organises the workshops, and takes the bookings for her business  Her contact details are on her website, as are more details about her classes    

Tuesday 30th October is a printing workshop. Learn how to make your own printing blocks and try them out on paper and/or fabric. We can all buy commercial blocks, they are readily available from many sources, but if you make your own, they are unique!

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We shall use compressed foam, erasers, and potatoes. Clearly potatoes wither and deteriorate after a few days, but they are great for spontaneous results, and will last a day or two. The other printing blocks will last forever! We shall use acrylic paints with a fabric medium, and print onto paper or fabric.

I will bring the paints, acrylic medium and compressed foam for those who do not have any. You will need to bring the other requirements on the list, which will be sent out by Jane. It will be a great “play” day. Above is a little note book I made with two gulls printed on the front. One is printed onto inked tissue paper, and the other onto card, that I have previously washed over with dilute inks.

Jane has actually moved house since these arrangements were made….not far, but she is no longer in the studio, as that has been sold. The classes will now be held in the Old  School, Menheniot, PL14 3QS. Go on up the hill, just a mile further on up into the village, past the turning to the studio. As you approach the village you turn right, and the old school is about 100 yards in front of you, with the church on the left.  She still intends to offer light lunches, as before,  for the ladies who would like them.

Tuesday 6th November is the second workshop to make a Hussif; an old fashioned name for a sewing kit, that the armed forces use for essential repairs when they were away on active duty.

Mine is a contemporary version, which hangs around the neck, and has three sections. The back pocket has an extra three little pockets on its back wall, for holding tools such as scissors, pencil, 6″ x 1″ ruler, etc.  Threads etc can be stored in the main back pocket. There is a front pocket, for other essential sewing equipment, and between the two is a thimble pocket, which is secured by a poppa. For this particular workshop, it is essential that students cut out all their fabrics before coming, and a thorough plan is given on the requirement list which Jane, who owns the business, sends out. This way, students go home with their project completed, rather than spending half of the morning cutting out!

In this months newsletter I have included:

  • My stitched projects over the last four weeks
  • A round up of the charity workshop
  • Pattern cutting course
  • New patterns
  • A new business venture for Julia and Vicky.

I have been beavering away since I wrote the last newsletter and I completed a little denim cross-body bag, made from recycled denim.  This one was specifically made as a gift.

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The two photos above show the front and back. The Kam Snap on the front is a closure for an inside pocket!

The bag has a red zip, and red lining, and although they are very understated I have stitched three red rows of red running stitch on the front, between the white stitching!

In the photo here on the left you can see the internal denim pocket.

I am very fond of these little denim bags, but equally delighted that this one is going to a new home!


I loved the book cover with the beautiful stitched Sashiko design on it in the August newsletter, and was itching to have a go myself! I worked a couple of samples earlier this month. Accuracy and concentration are required! Although, having said that, I found it totally absorbing, therapeutic, and addictive!

I decided to work on a piece of my hand dyed cotton and to stitch with hand dyed threads. These are the two panels that I tried out. They are the same design, but different colour ways and have been stitched on hand dyed cotton.

I learned a lot from the tints, shades and tones of the coloured threads that I used, and how the placements can change the appearance of the same design. The sample on the left will go into my “work book” detailing the technique, choice of fabric and threads.

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The sample  on the right, above, has become a panel in the front of another little denim bag…for me this time! I decided to add extra detail to that on the left hand sample and was pleasantly surprised at what a difference it made! I added a stitch across each of the stitches in the diagonal rows. It was an orderly and organised activity! just up my street!

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DSC00974 (3).JPGBefore I stitched the long rows of white stitching on the denim, which you can see in the photograph to the left,  I cut a layer of a medium to heavy weight cotton, just a little larger than the front and back of the bag. I tacked this to the wrong side of the prepared front and back. In effect this became my “layer of wadding!”

The denim itself is a really firm recycled jeans denim, and I didn’t want to add the thickness of a traditional wadding as it would have become too bulky for my liking.


The firm cotton gave the “weight” I was looking for before adding a lining, which was incorporated at the same time as I sewed in the zip.

If you would like to read about the zip and lining technique, I wrote a tutorial in the February blog:

You may notice now, that beside the tiny additional “cross stitches” there are small white French knots stitched regularly across the panel.

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I needed to anchor the decorative stitched panel to the underlayer, so that it wouldn’t “balloon”, and I chose to do this with the French knots. The use of white thread here, has linked it to the stitching on the denim as well.



I also made a stitched back pocket for this bag. The same dyed fabric was used for the outside and lining of the pocket, and a strip of denim helped to make the pocket wider.

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I have lost count of the number of little denim bags I have made since 2010! The first one I made was specifically for me. At the time I needed a small, compact shoulder bag which was literally just to hold purse, credit cards, phone and keys. I loved the reaction of friends when they saw it, and have made many since; some for sale, others for friends and family and I have always had one in use myself! No two bags have ever been the same!

I use mine so much that they literally do wear out. This month I reluctantly threw out my last one, which looked so sad and tatty. The bottom corners had seen many better days, as had the stitching. Indeed, I was quite ashamed of it, but it had been a terrific friend!  This will be a lovely replacement!

The charity workshop on September 11th at Cowslip Workshops was a terrific success. Huge thanks to those who supported us:

First and foremost to Jo, and her staff, for providing us with superb facilities and support; then the terrific ladies who came to sew all day;  the ladies who appeared from Cowslip itself which included customers on other courses; visitors to the shop and cafe;  other ladies working in the other half of the huge Barn, as well as some of Jo’s amazing staff. Many thanks to Rosemary and her terrific commitment over the last 18 months; huge thanks to the friends who had also sewn over the year, and had given lovely items for the sales table and raffle, and finally thanks to Rob, my husband who was invaluable helping with setting up, and manning all the stalls during the day, as well as counting up and letting all the ladies know that between us all we had raised a whopping £2,125, and not forgetting that he had made the marmalade for sale, as well!

I could never do as much as I do without his continued support over far too many years to tell you! More pennies will dribble in over the next couple of weeks, by which time we shall be able to split all the money in half and send to Cornwall Air Ambulance and ACA in Albania, where we support a sewing project for very poor women. They are taught sewing skills, which then enable a high proportion of them to become employed locally.

A significant proportion of those doing the workshop had travelled many many miles, between Hampshire in the south, and as far as from Herefordshire in the “north”! and many destinations in between and east and west! We were so thrilled and humbled by the way you all supported the day. These photos below just give a sense of the activity going on. It was a great day! I have not been able to show photos of everything, because of space constraints.

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Patterns for sale

Over the last few months I have been putting together some patterns which are presented in a brown, single fold card. As I explained last month, I am not going into a regular production.  I will try to keep a few available, for local sale, but at this stage am not envisaging sending them through the post.

Each pattern has a photograph on the front of the card. A small photograph with details of finished size and a brief description of the item is given on the back of the package.  Method sheets and templates etc are enclosed inside the card. It is then sealed inside a clear cellophane envelope. It is a laborious process, and the end result indicates nothing of the many hours of work involved! The March newsletter explained all the stages of preparation before a pattern can be packaged for sale.

All the items can be hand or machine stitched and all proceeds from the sale of them will still go to charity.  The four patterns are;


Funky Angel.  This is one of Rosemary’s designs, which she has kindly said we can sell in aid of charity.

Her outsized boots, wild hair and spindly beaded legs with knobbly knees just make me smile every time I catch sight of her!

The package contains; a list of requirements, and a page of templates, and a detailed order of work.

Price: £4.75





Concertina Booklet to create a Woodland Walk

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The photo which is in the front of the package shows a half completed sample that I have started working on for our three year old grandson. I have called it a Woodland Walk.  This sample will be displayed with the patterns; it is purposely only half completed. The remaining half illustrates what the dip-dyed pages looked like before I started working on them! I shall now begin another one!

This pattern is also “half kit”. It contains a ready dip-dyed concertina paper booklet, 3″ tall with 8 pages which are approximately 2.5″ wide….ready for the buyer to use their own imagination to produce an exciting and fascinating story…

It also includes two pieces of mount board, three small hand dyed buttons, and  a 6″ length of ribbon. A method sheet illustrated with coloured photographs explains how to make the mountboard covers for the finished booklet, with a button and ribbon closure. Ideas are also given for those who might need a nudge to get going!  Price £8-00

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An Angel Lavender Bag

The finished dimensions of the angel are:      height from the top of the head to the bottom of the dress is 3.5″. The width to include the wings is 2.5″.

It contains a list of requirements; a template sheet, and an instruction sheet giving a clear order of work. She can just be stuffed with soft toy filling, rather than lavender, if preferred! Own preferences for the adornments could make the little lady a real “one off”!

Price £4.75




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 Rooster Lavender bag

These very smart “Roosters about Town” pack a punch when filled with lavender!

Inside the package is a list of requirements; a page of templates, and a thorough order of work.

Price; £4.75




I intend to put together two more patterns, one is almost ready.

I have already stitched the subject of the second one, but was not considering that she might be a pattern at the time! So, I shall make another so that I can photograph the stages of construction! I will get those up and running this autumn.

The Pattern Cutting workshop that I booked myself on, earlier in September in Stratford on Avon was amazing! (Nothing to do with the item above!) … but a course to learn how to create a pattern for dressmaking clothes to my personal measurements.

I cannot recommend it highly enough! It was everything I had hoped for. Excellent teaching, in an inspirational environment, with like minded people. Cake, tea and coffee were on hand all day long, and we took a sandwich for lunch. Although we worked really hard, we also had fun.


Over the two days, which ran from 10am – 5pm, I learned how to draw out a master block of a front, a back and a set in sleeve to my measurements.

This master block, which has the three components all drawn onto one large piece of dressmaking paper, will always stay intact. Any “new patterns” which have changes, such as a different neck and perhaps pockets; slimmer sleeves etc, will be traced from the block onto more dressmaking paper, and the alterations will be made on the new pattern. Those pattern pieces can then be stored in a fresh envelope and the new pattern can be named! A little sketch or a photograph of the final garment can be stuck to the front of the envelope. I hope I am going to have fun this coming year!!

There were four of us on the course, (there is room for a maximum of 6 students for this particular course) and we were all creating very different basic blocks.

Mine was an “easy fit Jersey block”. I had taken three favourite items of clothing that I love, and suit me, and the block I created can be used for all three. My jacket wasn’t going to be made in Jersey, but as it wasn’t a “fitted jacket”, it still comes under this heading.

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Jules was a wonderfully calm, very experienced and delightful tutor, and she just moved seamlessly (no pun intended) between us, even though we were all working on totally different items! I was measured by Jules, and recorded all my measurements on a chart. About four further measurements were taken from a “standard measurement chart”, and I added those to my list. Then I drew out my basic block for a jacket front; sleeve and back. This was a  very mathematical process, aided by a calculator and a list of instructions relating to my personal measurements. I had never done anything like it before, so had to concentrate hard. Jules was always there to help us if we weren’t sure at any stage.

From my basic block I traced off the three patterns pieces and added seam allowances everywhere, other than the neck line. This meant that we could clearly see where the neck line would actually sit. I cut everything out, pinned the paper patterns to calico and make a toile of an edge to edge, hip length jacket. For those who don’t dress make, a toile is a practice piece to check the fit. I was pleased with it! I didn’t need to make any adjustments, so then I learned how to draw the facings onto the draft pattern

I  drew out my final draft pattern pieces, individual facing patterns and am now ready  to place them straight onto a chosen fabric choice, cut out and make up!.

I learned how to make a cowl neck, and made a paper pattern for that, and also made a calico sample of an internal pocket with an external placket. What a weekend! A terrific workshop; combined with a lovely evening/night, in between the two days, with good friends in Gloucestershire.

In the middle of August, I had the pleasure of meeting with a  group of friends and was able to catch up with what has been going on behind the scenes! It was particularly lovely for me to see Julia Chappell as we hadn’t seen each other for several years. Julia and her daughter Vicky, are both talented and experienced in the textile world, and they are extending their business in a fresh new way as you can read below:

“Chappell&Co’s quilted cushion cover kits takes the pain out of patchwork piecing!

No Patience for Piecing?


Here is a photo showing the contents of a kit.

Each kit has a faux printed patchwork cover, which when quilted actually looks pieced! At £26.50 for the full kit, it would make a great Christmas gift for a friend (or just for you).This kit is for a cushion with a white background.

Below is a made up cushion with an alternative coloured background but in the same design.but in


Julia had brought along a finished cushion to show us. The quality of the linen and the reproduction of the indigo colours were first class. When she produced the cushion, none of us realised that it hadn’t been pieced! She briefly told us the story of the very long, complicated process that they had been through in order to obtain not only the high standard of printing, but also the quality of inks that they finally managed to achieve. More information about the products is available by clicking on the link  I wish them every success.

More details can be read by clicking on the link to their Etsy shop:


Happy stitching to you all over the next few weeks!




















Stitching News August 2018

Dates for your diary:

The West Country quilt Show runs on the dates below. Click on the website to see what is happening. http://www./

Thursday 30th August 2018                       
Friday 31st August 2018
Saturday 1st September 2018
10.00am – 4.30pm

September 4th – 8th 2018  “chainREACTION” by Textile Maids; a group of ten contemporary textile artists based in Cornwall.jane

This is their third exhibition and incorporates aspects of textile art inspired by their own personal responses to a linked chain of words. The eclectic mix of techniques, from mixed media, patchwork, hand and machine embroidery and handmade felt, has resulted in a show of exciting and diverse contemporary textiles.

10am to 5pm Free admission; The Spring Gallery, The Poly, 24 Church Street, Falmouth. Cornwall. TR11 3EG      Contact 01326 319461

There will be a second opportunity to view this exhibition from October 10th-October 16th 2018, 10am to 4pm.  Free admission. The Blanchminster Room, Bude Castle, The Wharf, Bude. Cornwall. EX 23 8LGContact 01288 357300    N.B. Bude Castle has full disabled access.


What have I written about this month…?

  • The upcoming charity workshop
  • My visit to the NEC
  • Sashiko with a difference, and the making of a gorgeous book cover

Firstly I would like to say a huge thank you to those of you who sent me scrap fabric. Such generous selections of fabrics arrived. It was exciting receiving and opening up the packages. To date, I have put together over 80 packs, each one containing at least the equivalent of 1/4 metre. I have sorted and colour coordinated the fabric and tried to make each package interesting. After all, we usually think that other peoples choices are, much more acceptable than our own! I probably have enough fabric for at least another 100! It will be an ongoing project, but be assured all money received will be donated to charity.

Tuesday September 11th is our Charity workshop day at Cowslip Workshops, in the Big Barn. This year we are supporting Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Albanian Sewing project that Rob and I have been supporting for many years now. All money raised, including every penny of the workshop fees, will be split 50/50 between the two charities. We are so grateful to Jo, that we are able to use the facility of the barn again. I know we shall have a great day. If you are visiting Cowslip on that day, then please feel free to come in and see what everyone is doing. We shall have a good sales table; think Christmas presents!  Indeed we have lovely little “treats” with items for sale from £2 upwards….

We have delicious little scrap bags, tiffles, teddies and tote bags, as well as zip bag containers, delightful stitched postcards,  books with fabric covers, hand dyed threads, and so much more.


I am also selling four new small patterns, which would make ideal gifts. These contain method sheets with step by step instructions, and coloured photographs where appropriate. We shall have finished samples to illustrate the patterns.  Prices vary according to how much preparation and colour printing has gone into each package but they will be between £4.75 and £7.50.

We shall also have an “inspiration table”, and a raffle.

I shan’t be putting these new patterns on the Craftsy site, but will just sell them myself. It is very time consuming putting them together, so I am not “going into production” so to speak, but will aim to have a just a few available at a time.

After the workshop day my focus on stitching is going to change for a while. I want to get back to working on my house “series” which has taken a back seat recently. The ideas are developing, but the action has been temporarily halted!

I am also very keen to get on with making some clothes! More of that later.


I took some photos around the garden the other day, one of which was of shadows on the stones around our pond.

I edited the photo, isolating one section, DSC00889 (3)(below). I love the “cracked”, indigo/batik feel of the result, and it would be nice to explore this further too.

Not sure how, but I may do some collage, and paint exploration and then see what happens.

Sometimes, quite serendipitous results may occur, suggesting a totally fresh approach.




It was a beautiful day as we set off to visit the Festival of Quilts. As soon as we entered the NEC we were caught up in bustle and excitement. I instantly saw old friends, and briefly chatted, but we were all ready to make the most of the day.

There was a huge amount to see; such a diversity of technique; subject matter; size; colour palette; etc. etc….and it was good to see that range and depth. Exhibitions are only possible because quilters enter their quilts and stand up there willing to be counted!

Below are a few of my favourites. I thought there were some delightful hexagon quilts this year. I have just shown sections of the a very few quilts so that more detail shows.

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I particularly liked the range of blacks veering towards grey that was in the background of this quilt, and I loved the border. It was vibrant and and also beautifully accomplished.




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The very long thin hanging, on the left, hung from a wooden spool. It was made entirely of hexagons, some areas with the front face showing and some with the reverse side of the hexagons showing, as the close up view next to it illustrates. It is very hard to explain but it was very textural and from that point of view interesting. I loved the tiny hexagons and the interesting surface.



















The quilt below showed a fantastic use of hexagons and some wonderful tiny quilting detail as well

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The winning miniature quilt was simply outstanding, and has been photographed in many articles but my next favourite in this category was the one I photographed below:


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I thought the use of colour was beautiful, and the accomplishment of the exquisitely pieced narrow strips around many of the triangles was suberb. It held my attention for some minutes, as my eyes wandered over the surface.

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It was the quilting detail in the quilt above that caught my eye, not that the focus of the design wasn’t exquisitely executed!  Below I have shown detail of the quilting and when looking at that photograph in detail too, one can perhaps surmise how the whole design of the quilt has been constructed….


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Generally, my thoughts were that machine quilting was dominant this year. I do hope that hand quilting does not fade out from the big quilting shows. There is a totally different quality about a hand quilted piece of work; as well as a wonderful tradition to uphold and maintain.

I have always been inspired by the Japanese quilts, and this time was no exception; intricacy, tiny piecing, exciting indigo fabrics…it was a veritable feast for the eyes!


Finally the photo below shows me kneeling down by the side of my quilt, “Glimpses”, in the quilt art section;

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The exhibition seemed to be much more spread out and as such rather disjointed at times. Lots of walking to find all the quilts! This year I certainly felt my age, as I definitely needed more rests during the day!!

It was inspirational as well as thought provoking. As always, there were many quilts that I felt merited some acknowledgement, but had none, but it was a privelege to be able to see them.  I am well aware that I only saw a small section of the whole exhibition, but it was lovely to be there. I haven’t mentioned the numerous exciting individual exhibitions, but, again, accounts of these have been documented in many ways already, and will be in forthcoming magazine publications, as well. My visit was just for the one day, which in my book, is better than not at all!

I have been itching to be more proactive making my own clothes, but also slightly reluctant! When I was very much younger I made all my own clothes, not giving it another thought. I suppose my shape was different, fabric and patterns  were much cheaper and where we lived in Yorkshire I was always able to buy remnants for a real bargain.  Lets face it, these days good fabric is not cheap, and as such I feel nervous about starting and wasting it! Patterns are also horrendously expensive, and I don’t have the expertise to make alterations confidently.

Just before I left the Festival of Quilts I discovered the “Sewmesomething” stall and had a fascinating talk with the owners.

This company run pattern cutting courses, which is just what I need!  I was thrilled to find them and inspired by the conversation I had with Claire who told me all about it, and what I could expect to learn and achieve over the weekend  As a result I have booked a two day pattern cutting course September 8th and 9th. Their business is near Stratford on Avon….not exactly around the corner from me!   Oh dear! I shall have to go away again for a couple of days!

I am excited and really looking forward to it. More in the next newsletter!

Recently I met a friend, Boot (affectionately nicknamed by her family when she was young….and the name has continued forever!). She had been very diligently stitching for months, and presented me with a wonderful selection of stitched items she had made and wished to donate for our charity sales table.

One of the items was this absolutely gorgeous book with the stunning stitched cover, worked in a Sashiko variation. I was and still am mesmerised by the wonderful effect. The photo below shows the front cover. The fabrics she has used are a linen and cotton mix. She has used a perle thread, number 8 for stitching.

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In the second photo, which is the back cover, you can see that the fabric is of the same design but a slightly different colour palette, and Boot has also stitched a variation of the above Sashiko design

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The spine is in another fabric again which Boot has left plain. But the trouble she has gone to after piecing it to the front and back covers is commendable. She has couched a fine cord over the joins, but not only that! She has worked from the base of the spine to the top, then lifted the loose ends of the two cords over the top of the spine to the inside of the book, and the long length of these, finished with beads, now function as page markers. Inspired!!

I love the way that Boot has fixed the cover in place, by sewing a short length of a corded ribbon to the inside of the cover flaps and the inside of the main covers. shown in the small photo below.

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The ribbon sits at the inside edge of the flap. (Not too easy to identify, in the photo, because of the colour of the hard back covers which are also red!) This is done at all four internal corners, allowing the hard cover of the book to slide into place, and be firmly secured.

It is so refreshing to see Sashiko worked onto a patterned background fabric, with coloured threads. I am inspired. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

I am thrilled with the book, and have put a good donation into the charity funds, because I am buying the book. O.K. I am pulling rank here, but wouldn’t you? I will be using it as a rolling workbook! The whole project is so inspirational. I can’t wait to do some of the Sashiko myself. I am planning already!

Thank you so much Boot, for giving us all such a lot to consider, inspire and learn from. If you would like to understand more about the traditional sashiko stich and how to work it, click on blog below, which is fascinating and informative:


Happy stitching




















Stitching News July 2018

Diary Dates

PLEASE NOTE: I inadvertently made a mistake in the dates for Flowerpatch Quilters Exhibition which is at the end of this month. I corrected it when I was alerted, but would like to post the correct information. If you are going to the exhibition having read about it from my blog, please make sure you have the correct dates, which are:

Tuesday 31st July – Saturday August 4th  Flowerpatch Quilters 35th Patchwork Exhibition Central Methodist Church Hall, Launceston, PL15 8BA  10am-4pm  Entrance fee £2.

Friday August 24th – Saturday August 25th  Plym Piecemakers Quilt Exhibition – Celebrating 30 years.  Friday 10.00 – 4.00 Saturday 10.00 – 3.00   Entrance £1. Yealmpton Community Resource Centre, Stray Park, Yealmpton. PL8 2HF Enquiries please phone 01752 880385 or email  Raffle, sales table and Chinese Auction in aide of SSAFA Plymouth and Little Things.  Parking next to the hall and disabled access

What am I writing about in the July newsletter? 

  • Scrap Bags
  • Apron based on a Japanese design.
  • Cable keepers
  • Denim bag
  • Inspiration for another house panel

I hope you enjoy the newsletter this month. Many thanks to all of you who comment or email to say how much you do enjoy it. It is lovely to know that it is appreciated.

I am going to throw out a small plea/request/ask this month! Rosemary and I have been sewing, and preparing for our charity day sales table, and during the last week I took a guest down to “Coast and Country’s wonderful shop. I had a couple of items to buy and as I was looking around I noticed that Sally’s team had made a few tiny scrap bags, for sale and thought what a great idea.

They were tied up in little cellophane packets like sweetie bags. Very inviting, and of course a couple fell into my basket!

I thought about it as the day went along, and decided to make larger ones for the sales table. So I have been sorting folding and creating a nice little colour palette of fabrics. They have come from my scrap bag, and from donations from dear friends in the past who have contributed, wanting to support the causes I stitch for!  On this occasion a particular big thank you to Jenny in Gloucestershire for the wonderful selection that she brought for me when she visited Cornwall earlier in the year. We spent a most enjoyable day together.

DSC00876 (2).JPGI am putting approximately the equivalent of a fat quarter in each small cellophane bag, and will sell them for £2 each. They all contain a mixture of commercial and hand dyed cotton and occasionally silk too. Twenty packages so far have provided approximately 5 metres of scraps!! I shall continue!

This is where I need some help now! I am significantly denuding my scrap bags quickly, and wondered if some of you might be prepared to put some scraps in an envelope to send to me. If you are able, and would like to, please choose ones that you would like to receive if you were buying a scrap bag! A little bit of batik;  or hand dyed would be most welcome, a nice print or plain. Thank you so much. I will carry on sorting; and colour coordinating; provide the cellophane bags and ties; (hand dyed dishcloth cotton). It is invaluable! Please do not send anything after the middle of August. My address is: Di Wells, Cedar Lodge, Mevagissey; Cornwall, PL26 6RX.  Thank you again, in advance, on behalf of the two charities which we are supporting.

DSC00881 (3)All monies received as a result of the charity workshop is being shared between Cornwall Air Ambulance and an Albanian sewing charity that teaches desperately poor women sewing skills. This is helping to lift them out of poverty as members of many families are now are able to obtain gainful employment in the local factories. Self esteem and pride, is being restored to them, as they become self sufficient in financial terms. There is terrific work going on out there. We receive newsletter updates, a couple of times a year. None of us know when we may need the tremendous services of the air ambulance which has no government funding, relying solely on its charitable status. They are such a worthy cause to support. Finally I would like to say a very big thank you to those of you have signed up for the charity workshop. We are full, so I have closed the list now.

An appropriate mention now of an apron that I bought myself in Fowey, recently! You may ask “Bought, Di? Not made?” Well, yes! I saw it and instantly wanted to try it on, and loved it! It is not unlike the apron that Janet Clare wears for her workshops, and which has been made by many a quilter from her pattern. However, it was the story behind the garment that really attracted me.DSC00878 (2).JPG

It is made by “helen moore” and is part of “The Revival Collection”, and is based on a traditional Japanese design. It is more angular than Janet’s having a square neck on a square yolk. Her’s is very attractive but more curvy. I shall take a leaf from her book though and customise it! I am sure that you can’t possibly imagine how!

Below is a quote from the label attached to the garment:

“This item has been made in India from fabric scraps left behind by the fast fashion industry. Off-cuts from T-shirt factories have been saved, sorted, cut up and woven to create a new beautiful collection for your home. By making full use of scrap fabric the environmental impact is minimised, and the production process provides employment in good working conditions to a network of families.” 



The company produce a range of household textile goods, as you can see on their website.

I did contact them to ask if their recycled fabrics were available for sale. My query was responded to very quickly, and, again, I quote:

“At the moment we don’t have the fabric in the factory because the Revival range is made for us by our partner company in India…In fact the offcuts from the Revival fabric go back into creating the next batch of fabric so it is an ongoing recycling process”.

What a good news story! Up-cycling; re-cycling etc is coming much more into focus now, which I am sure we all applaud wholeheartedly.  Many of us have been doing this for several years, but it warms my heart to read more!


I have been making great use of the kam snaps I talked about in the May newsletter, making slim cable keepers, also from recycled fabrics.

DSC00849 (2).JPGIn this photograph  you can see that the first part of the keeper wraps around the cord, held in place by the first pair of kam snaps. It can slide up and down the cord, but will not come off either end. This way it is always there! No worrying about where you may have put it, the last time it was used!

I must admit, I used more than one or two kam snaps working out the placement etc.! However, once I had it worked out, and I could use the final correct one as my sample, they were quick and easy to make!


DSC00850 (2)The second photograph illustrates how neat and tidy the charging area is with the cable ties in use. I also do not have to fight with feet of cable when keeping the charger in their little bags when I take them away on holiday.





A new little denim bag is well on its way now. I have used a strip of masking tape to help keep me straight with my quilting lines! I have never favoured quilting pens of any sort, and have never, personally used one. I do use lead pencils in a sympathetic colour, and silver pencils, but nothing which has to be “ironed to erase” or “washed to erase”.

DSC00880 (2).JPGGenerally I prefer to use a Hera Marker, a Clover accessory. However, I am not seeing the mark it makes on Denim clearly enough to rely on it at the moment, so have deferred to the trusty favourite of years ago!

The way to use the Hera marker, is to place the fabric ready for marking onto a firm surface, put your ruler in place, and holding the shank of the Hera marker, firmly press the curved, thin edge of the marker against the ruler edge, drawing it down the required length of line. It will leave an indentation that stays for a long time. Sometimes it leaves a slightly shiny mark as well. Neither indentation or shiny line can be seen after quilting.

You can clearly see the masking tape in situ on the photo below.

Using a wide one allows me to quilt along two sides, before removing it and replacing it!


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I have almost finished the quilting. Then I have the zip and lining to stitch in, and a strap to make and add.  The colour of the lining will depend on what colour zip I choose! I will also attach an internal pocket to the lining, before final assembly.

Finally I will just show you a photograph of a small section of the walls that surround York. We spent a few days with lovely friends who live just outside York, earlier in the month, and we walked around the walls with them. For many reasons it was such a memorable and interesting day, but I took this photo which has given me the inspiration for the next house panel I shall stitch. I have recorded my thoughts and ideas, in notes and sketches etc, in preparation for when I can start working on the panel. The “series” has gone on hold until after the workshop day, but I am delighted with the start I have already made.

IMG_20180701_145619.jpg Here is the photo. The colour palette is just gorgeous, the soft creamy buttery colour, paler cream and the range of greys encompassing almost white to coal black,  They just grab me! Can’t wait to dye some fabrics and threads and get started!

I love the change of scale in the mix of stones, as well as the range of textures….lots to think about!






We also came across this gorgeous metal plaque attached to the wall, with its beautiful, incredibly ornate script. The individual letters really bear detailed scrutiny. They are so decorative and attractive. for instance look at the T right at the start of the inscription. I love the capital C with its curly top. The “f”, second letter of the word “of” and the beautiful k, all to be found in the second line on the tablet. It is such a script of its time, ? medieval, ? much earlier?Perhaps one of you can enlighten me.

Until next time; Happy Stitching!



June Stitching News

Diary dates:

July 21st & 22nd – Cowslip workshops Summer Fair at Newhouse Farm, Launceston PL15 8JX :  £2 entry fee 10am – 4pm – Saturday 21st July. 10am – 3pm

Tuesday 31st July – August 4th  Flowerpatch Quilters 35th Patchwork Exhibition Central Methodist Church Hall, Launceston, PL15 8BA  10am – 4pm  Entrance fee £2.

Tuesday October 30th  and Tuesday the 6th November I am teaching two workshops for Roseland Mews Studio, Liskeard.  Further details are at the end of this newsletter.


What have I been up to this month?

  • Using some of my eco dyed leaf prints to good effect!
  • Working on my next stitched panel
  • White line printing
  • Phone case


Eco printing on paper.

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The first time I had come across Eco leaf printing, was when a wonderful friend, Janine, invited me to stay with her, and she had made a beautiful book for me, of the printed leaves from her garden in the Middle East. I was hooked from that moment.

To the left is a photograph of the book.

I have experimented hugely since then and learned such a lot.

I have been making and selling cards with my leaf prints for a while now, so have changed tack this month, and  decided to make tags instead.

To get to my intended end result is quite a labour intensive process, as you will  understand after reading what is involved. If you have never tried this technique, it is very simple, but be warned, it is also addictive! First is the actual Eco dyeing process, which takes up most of a morning, and involves cutting and concertina-folding paper strips, which must be soaked in a mordant. White vinegar is the mordant of choice and I use a high grade wall paper lining paper for the printing.

DSC00851.JPG The actual printing process takes place in a steamer. This should be a steamer dedicated to this type of activity, (not one used in food preparation). I asked around and fairly quickly found the couple that I use, one from a member of my family, who had pushed it to the back of a cupboard, because it badly burned! and another from a very elderly family member who also had a redundant one, again pushed to the back of his cupboard, because he didn’t use it any more….that one is an old aluminium pan!

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I also use a 3 lb kitchen scales weight (on  loan from dear friend Susie)  in the steamer, as it makes sense to me that the better the contact with leaf to paper, the better the resulting contact print should be! The weight is made from cast iron, and therefore also creates a reaction on the paper and probably in the steam as well. Here is an example of when I put the weight directly on top of an Acer leaf. I actually like it! I have used a bronze metallic thread and just stitched around rust mark. Will probably make this into a card!


If I have both steamers on the go, which is most times! I use a flat Cornish stone from the garden, which fits in the second steamer.

Leaves are then gathered, and a leaf is placed in between all the paper folds. Two or three of the concertina folded packages are then tied together with string, checking first that every surface has a leaf contacting it. They are put into the steamer, with a weight on the top of the pile, and steamed for about two hours. I check the water level every half an hour, and make sure that either the kitchen windows are open, or that the hob ventilation is on.

Until recently, everything I have read has suggested they remain in their bundles and tied up, over night, and opened up the following morning. I have wrapped them in newspaper, changing it a couple of times during the first couple of hours, and have put a pile of books on top to give as even a weight distribution as possible and left them overnight opening them up next morning to remove the leaves, and allowed the prints to dry.  This is always the exciting part!!

Recently, however, I was reading another article in which the author, steamed for one hour, and opened the results immediately, so I have tried that, and had good results as well! For me, it is always a “trial and error” process. Everytime I do it I build up my own information, expertise and reference. I learn which leaves give a good print, and which don’t, and if I obtain between 50-75% good prints from a session of dyeing, I am delighted. It is often a higher % than that! Virtually all my information has come from the internet. Pinterest has some excellent sites.

I have been experimenting for about three years now, just on paper. There is still so much to learn, and I haven’t ventured into printing on fabric yet, but I will do before long!

So, the steaming is the first stage of the process.

Next I look through all the results, discarding those I don’t think are worth working with, and chosing the ones I want to use.

DSC00836 (2).JPG The chosen ones are trimmed, with a rotary cutter and ruler , then a piece of card is cut to size. This takes a lot of time because each leaf print is a different shape and size, so the card shapes have to be bespoke!

After each print has been mounted using double-sided Cellotape, a hole is punched in the centre at the top and a hand dyed tie is threaded through the loop. Then I sign each one, dating it with the year the eco print was created. I have never found that the prints deteriorate with with age, in fact, rather the reverse!

A selection of four different ones go into a cellophane sleeve, and a price tag is attached.

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These will be for the Charity day sales table. You can get an idea of the finished sizes, by looking  at the photograph above this last one. The unmounted prints are on a cutting mat so sizes can be estimated. The finished sizes are aproximately half an inch larger. The tags clearly vary in size, but a packet of these would make a delightful little spontaneous gift.  They are useful as book marks, gift tags, and little notes. Indeed, I wrote a get well note on the reverse side of one just this week, to a friend who is poorly. It is a little different to the commercial get well cards and we all know how much pleasure a hand made card gives.


The photograph below shows work in progress on my “second in the series” of stitched panels, using a distorted grid.

This and the previous panel, (shown in the May Blog) is loosely based on the Fibonacci sequence.

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The main grid remains the same as in the first panel but I have removed the two additional lines which I added to that original panel, and this time I have added two different ones. I have also created trees. Green is the complementary colour to red, and certainly adds an additional zing to this piece, along with the HOT colour palette! Both panels have their very own “chemistry”! I am currently hand quilting  this, and all the while my thoughts are developing for the third panel!

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This close up allows you to see more detail.

Although I am definitely a “quilting makes the quilt” fan, I do feel that in these small panels, less is more. They could easily become far too fussy. The spaces offer a place for the eye to rest! The scale of the work doesn’t demand more than simple outlining, in my eyes. I shall continue with that, as there is quite a lot more to do yet and then I shall be able to review that decision again.










White line Printing

I had a very interesting day recently when I was a student (what a joy!) on a “white line” printing day”. The workshop was taken by Nicky Harwood, who is just finishing a degree course at Plymouth University.

She was very enthusiastic about this method and had some lovely art work with her that we were shown.

The workshop was at Roseland Mews Studio,  Liskeard.

We were given a small rectangle of soft 3ply wood, and we had to draw a design or “picture”. It could be abstract, or representational. Then along each line we had drawn on our piece of wood, we cut out a groove with a craft knife. These grooves would ultimately produce the “white lines”, separating all the different shapes with our design. The grooves, of course, create spaces!

I chose to draw an abstract design which related to my present textile work. Below are two of my prints sitting side by side. I had experimented all day, and came back to water colours, at the end of the day as I preferred them. The one on the right is a water colour print on paper, and the one on the left is also water colour, but I printed onto fabric. In essence each print is a monoprint.


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We were encouraged to experiment with oil paints, as well as water colours. Personally I far preferred the water colours, finding them a softer palette with more control over the depth of colour I was trying to obtain. I felt that the oils were much harsher and “brash”, certainly for my particular design. I think that the uneveness, blotchy finish, call it what you will, of the paint on these two samples was due to the fact that the oil paint I had previously been using on the plate, was resisting the water colour a little!

Although it looks quite simple, there is a lot to learn about the technique, and we all did many prints each.  We worked on the same “plate” all day, and then took it home with us and each print was hand printed. No press was involved.

We fixed our printing plate in position with a large tab of masking tape underneath it. It was well secured, so that it couldn’t move.

Then we fixed the paper or cloth, to the left of the plate, with a long strip of masking tape. The masking tape acted like a hinge, being fixed about 2″ in from the  left edge of the paper. We creased the paper well, just beside the masking tape so that it easily lifted backwards and forwards. Plate and paper always had contact in exactly the same position,  as both were fixed securely in place. It was clever!

The plate was painted up a section at a time, and then the cloth/paper lifted across to the plate. We rubbed the back of the paper/cloth, firmly over the painted area, helping to transfer the colour from the plate, repeating this process until the print was complete. For me, this result is a starting point. I would love to experiment further and I shall also think about how I would like to work further into both the paper and the cloth samples! A most enjoyable day.

New phone case

When our German friends came to stay at Easter, I noticed that Karin had an intriguing case for her phone. I asked her about it, and she had made it out of a thick, commercial felt. She was happy for me to explain the design in the newsletter. I don’t have a photograph of Karin’s, but this is how I made a similar one for my phone, using hand made felt which is not as thick, and therefore not quite as protective as Karin’s, but I love it!

The felt I have used was very generously given to me by Janet, who is an experienced felt maker. The colours are gorgeous, and right up my street. So, once again, many thanks indeed Janet. Very kind of you.

It is definitely not as thick as Karin’s, but I felt it was quite sturdy enough for my requirements, and, indeed, I have been using it every day, and there is no sign of wear and tear at all.

The “intrigue” was the fact that she had a little tab at the back of the case, which she pulled up, and the phone lifted out! The tab only needed lifting an inch, and this was quite sufficient to be able to easily remove the phone.

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The first photo shows the inside of the case, before assembly. I had cut a slit in the top back of the case after stitching a felt tab onto the end of the tape. Then I threaded the opposite end through the slit so that I could assess how much tape I needed, and where I was going to machine stitch the tape to the inside of the front. It is only necessary to stitch down about 3″ of the tape there. The rest of it “lines” the case, and then exits at the slit. When the phone is in the case, it sits on the tape. When the tag at the end of the tape is pulled, it lifts the phone! Ingenious! When the phone is placed back in the case, it rests on the tape, and pushes it down, resulting in the tab, resuming its inital position.

I have used a tape which is a faux tape measure, and have sewn two measured lengths of this tape together for sturdiness! Strength is not particularly required, as the phone is not heavy.

The second photo shows the outside of the case, after I had machine stitched the tape into position, and prior to the felt being folded in half, wrong sides together, and the sides being stitched.

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The third and fourth photos, immediately above, show the assembled finished case. I added the support strap at the back of my case, as the felt doesn’t have the strength that Karin’s commercial felt has. I decided that anything that might help prolong the useful life of mine, and maybe reduce the impact of wear and tear was worth doing. It all works a treat! 


I am teaching two workshops for Roseland Mews Studio in late October and early November. There are spaces available for both. Details of costs, etc are on the Studio website;

The first one is a printing workshop. Learn how to make your own printing blocks and try them out on paper and/or fabric. We can all buy commercial blocks, they are readily available from many sources, but when you make your own, they are unique!

We shall use compressed foam, erasers, and potatoes. Clearly potatoes wither and deteriorate after a few days, but they are great for spontaneous results, and will last a day or two. The other printing blocks will last forever! We shall use acrylic paints with a fabric medium, and print onto paper or fabric. I will provide the paints and medium, you will need to bring the other requirements on the list.

The second workshop is to make a hussif, an old fashioned name for a sewing kit, that the armed forces would use when away from home on active duty.

Mine is a contemporary version, which hangs around the neck, and has three sections. The back pocket has three little pockets on its back wall, for holding scissors, pencil, 6″ x 1″ ruler, etc.  Threads can be stored in the main back pocket. There is a front pocket, for other essential sewing equipment, and between the two is a thimble pocket, which is secured by a poppa. For this particular workshop, it is essential that students cut out all their fabrics before coming, and a thorough plan is given on the requirement list which Jane, who owns the business, sends out. This way, students go home with their project completed, rather than spending half of the morning cutting out!

What a lovely month June is, and we have been lucky enough to have more warm weather. It is a busy month for all of us who have gardens; so much to do all the time!

Enjoy, and hopefully you may be able to find some sewing time. It is such good therapy!

Happy Stitching.

May Stitching News

Diary Dates:

June 8th, 9th 10th The Contemporary Craft Fair, Mill Marsh Park, Bovey Tracey, Devon, TQ13 9AF

July 21st & 22nd – Cowslip workshops Summer Fair at Newhouse Farm, Launceston PL15 8JX :  £2 entry fee 10am – 4pm – Saturday 21st July. 10am – 3pm Sunday 22nd July

September 4th – 8th 2018  “chainREACTION” by Textile Maids; a group of ten contemporary textile artists based in Cornwall.jane

This is their third exhibition and incorporates aspects of textile art inspired by their own personal responses to a linked chain of words. The eclectic mix of techniques, from mixed media, patchwork, hand and machine embroidery and handmade felt, has resulted in a show of exciting and diverse contemporary textiles.

10am to 5pm Free admission; The Spring Gallery, The Poly, 24 Church Street, Falmouth. Cornwall. TR11 3EG      Contact 01326 319461

There will be a second opportunity to view this exhibition from October 10th-October 16th 2018, 10am to 4pm.  Free admission. The Blanchminster Room, Bude Castle, The Wharf, Bude. Cornwall. EX 23 8LG. Contact 01288 357300    N.B. Bude Castle has full disabled access.


In this issue of the newsletter I am writing about:

  • A dressmaking book I am currently using.
  • A birthday gift I made with another idea for the gift tag!
  • The start of a new body of work
  • Kam snaps
  • A wonderful tip for stuffing narrow tubes (e.g. arms and legs on small dolls)

For two or three years I have been looking for a pattern for a simple little jacket. I have been looking for no fastening, just edge to edge, round neck; in essence an unfussy, long sleeved jacket. I have searched high and low for a pattern, without success. Then I saw this book on the bookshelf in Cowslip workshops:  DSC00807 (2)

If you are coming down to Cornwall and have never popped in to Cowslip workshops in Launceston, you have missed a real treat! It is only just off the A30, and a perfect resting place as you travel north/south, or on a return trip!

There is a wonderful Aladins cave of a shop, and a lovely cafe, perfect for coffee and delicious home made cakes, or, for a light lunch, an excellent selection of savoury dishes and salads are served. A warm welcome awaits everyone.

I looked through this book and realised that there are three of four patterns that I would like to make, so I bought it, and am making my first item. The book is written by a Japanese lady and has been translated into English.

To be fair, having had some experience with this book, I would say it is not suitable for complete beginners to dressmaking. I am not a beginner at all, having made many of my own clothes in the past. The latter three words being very pertinent! I am coming back to dress making,  so have managed to work my way through this initial process!

The patterns are on large pieces of paper, folded into a pocket at the back of the book. I had to send off for some dressmaking paper, to trace off the pattern as my stash didn’t have anything suitable at all.

It took me a long time to get to grips with all the pattern pieces overlapping each other. I also had to be constantly referring to the “layout diagram” which is found in the appropriate section on the jacket construction as some of the information about seam allowances (which are not constant) is only written on the small diagram of the layout in the book! Very confusing (particularly when that isn’t explained anywhere in the general instructions! I just happened to notice it!) I was also more than a little confused about the facings!

However, when I had sussed all this out, and had highlighted the appropriate size to trace, I was fine! It is a Japanese book, so it is not surprising that the sizes are definitely on the small side. I was careful to compare the pattern measurements with a similar item from my wardrobe.

I made a toile; this means I have cut out a test pattern made from an old cotton sheet, and stitched the main side and shoulder seams, and the sleeve, in place. By doing this, a kind friend has been able to assess the fit on me, and has made one or two adjustments, improving on my efforts! I shall now undo the main seams of the toile, leaving the pinned adjustments in place on the fabric pattern pieces. Then, by placing them back onto the paper pattern pieces,  I can mark the necessary adjustments. When I use the pattern again, it will be ready to cut out and just make up! Time that has been really well spent in my eyes!

A couple of weeks ago, 20180429_131816-1I made a zipped pouch for part of a family member’s birthday present.

She absolutely loves Orla Kiely designs, and her reaction when she saw this was “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” It was so spontaneous, and really made me smile!

For the gift tag, I cut a scrap of the material that was left, trimming it neatly. Then I cut a plain piece of white card, fractionally bigger than the fabric. I used double sided Sellotape on the back of the fabric…and lined up the Sellotape absolutely to the fabric edges. Stuck this onto the card, which had a blank side for a written message!


I have started developing a new body of work.

My continued theme is; surprise, surprise; houses! I have returned to two very different sets of design work that I developed many years ago… but have never used, and I have combined ideas from the two sources.

I intend to make a series of about four or five small panels initally; and then make more choices after that!

In this first panel I am concentrating on tonal values with a relatively neutral colour palette.

The patchwork top has been machine pieced. All the seams were trimed to 1/8th of an inch, at the completion of the seam.  This helped to reduce the bulk as seams met each other at junctions! It is now in the throes of being hand quilted!

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Kam Snaps! Last autumn, I was teaching a great group who have been coming down to Cornwall from Cheltenham for the last 7 or 8 years. During a lull in the proceedings Sue showed me a little wallet she had made which had a Kam snap fastener. Very simply, if you have not seen them or used them…a Kam snap is a plastic snap fastener, the two halves of which are inserted into the fabric, using a tool that comes with the set. They are made of a strong and durable type of plastic (polyacetal resin).

She was very impressed at its durability as she had been using the wallet very regularly and the fastening seemed very robust. So was I!

I am sure they have been around for a long time, but it isn’t until they become “relevant” that they become an interesting commodity, is it? Sue knows that I am constantly making items for sale and thought these were a great buy.  I bought a set online and love them. I hadn’t really had the time to try them out, until another friend came to stay, and she has used them for a while, and took me through the steps! What is it about getting old(er) that the confidence to just get on and try it out often needs a prod! Anyway Karen showed me, and I was then away!!

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There are several choices of  snap fastener colours, in all the sets, as you can see, plus the pliers tool to press them into position. You need an awl as well to make the hole in the material. It isn’t so clear in the photo, but my awl has the red handle and I have pushed the pointed end through the fabric to create a hole

For each fastener, you need four components; two rounded “heads”. which  look a bit like plastic drawing pins, and two opposing “fronts”. These two “opposing fronts” can be seen clearly in the photograph below.

Basically you press the pin of the  “head” through the hole and then rest the head on the depression in the black plastic part of the pliers. Next, place one of the “fronts” on top of the pin, and carefully but firmly close the pliers over it, tightly.

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It will squash the pin thus holding the “front” scurely in position.

The photo to the right shows that the first “head” and “front” (on the left) have been pressed in position. The second part of the Kam snap (on the right) has had the “head” pin pushed through  the material, as you can see,  and the opposing front part of the snap is lying to the right side of the pin. Repeat the procedure just explained. This completes the proces of the Kam Snap partnership! When the two components are now pressed together, they become a plastic “press stud”, aka a Kam Snap!

The link below will take you to the Kam Snap video where you can watch the process if you are interested.

I am very impressed and have made several items using them now. Whereas it takes me about 15-20 minutes to sew in a press stud, it takes approximately one minute to fix the Kam snaps.

I don’t know about anyone else but when I stitch the traditional metal press studs in place my thread invariably breaks. I always feel that there must be a sharp edge on the metal somewhere! It is really frustrating!  So, there is no contest! I am a fan!

One of my favourite blogs is written by a lady called Ann Wood

The link above gives you an idea of the sort of work that she does. It is quirky, and fascinating, and she gives some wonderful tips at times too. A tip in one of her recent blogs, and I apologise that I cannot find it to give you that link, is on stuffing tiny tubes that have been sewn for arms and legs on small dolls. When stitching four limbs for one doll I find it easiest to have two pieces of fabric, right sides together on which you can draw around your arm and leg templates all together, leaving two seam allowances in between them all. This avoids having really tiny pieces of fabric cut for each one individually. In the photo shown below, the arms and legs are both the same size for this project. Leaving the bottom of each “limb” open, I sew up one side, round the top and down the other side, securing the stitch line at the start and end of each leg/arm.  (N.B. I inadertently drew across the bases of these limbs which was incorrect!) They can then be cut up and trimmed to leave an appropriate narrow seam allowance.

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Ann’s tip for turning the tubes through to the right side, is to push a straw up to the rounded end, then using a fine blunt ended tool, start to push the end of the tube down inside the straw.

Personally, I found that once the end had been pushed in about half an inch, I could then remove the straw, and continue  to push the fabric down, inside itself, gradually turning the tube to the right side.



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I realised that I didn’t need to use such a long straw, so cut some of it off. This also had the positive result of making it more stable!

All these little tips can help to make “fiddly projects” so much less of a chore. and certainly far less time consuming. People who don’t do such activities, would honestly have no idea how much time can be spent turning through four arms and legs!!

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This lovely little rabbit, which is a Hatched and Patched pattern called “Bippity and Bruce (and friends)” was  a delight to make. I bought the pattern from Sally at  a couple of years ago. I noticed recently that it is still in stock.

At the time I felt that it was expensive, but I still bought it! She had a little basket full of “friends” and they were just asking to be made!! The addition of the clothes patterns is excellent and, of course contributes to the cost of the pattern. I have actually altered my pattern slightly. Two sizes are given and this is the small one. The clothes patterns are for both sizes, and include a dress, and “dungarees”! I have also shortened the dress pattern.

In the original pattern the rabbit’s face is asymmetrical. I preferred to make my rabbit’s face symmetrical, so made that adjustment. I love it. I love the lined dress, etc, and I don’t think it is unusual to make slight changes to a pattern when you have tried it out once. I have made several of these rabbits, and will make more!! The use of the tip, above, on turning the arms and legs, for little ladies like these is terrific! Now, in as much as I have got a lot of use out of the pattern, I feel quite justified in buying it in the first place!

Until next time….

Happy stitching!



Stitching News April 2018

It has been lovely to have had such good weather recently, and a pleasure to have had glorious hot sun very recently. I could visualise everyone out in their gardens, saying “phew, ain’t it ‘ot…”!

What is there to read about in this newsletter? I have had a busy time over the last three weeks; lovely visitors; few days away; only a rather limited amount of sewing for the sales table in September, as well as the ordinary stuff that has to be done! Contrary to what some people imagine, I don’t sew all day! However I do try to do something with a needle most days! As I have always said: ” a few minutes here and there, do add up”, especially when the alternative is no sewing done because “there isn’t time”! So I have included:

  • My favourite three sewing machine feet, and additional ways I use them
  • Personalising a gift by making your own gift tag.

My sewing machine has to be my “can’t do without” sewing tool. I have a Bernina 1015, which I  bought in 1987, 31 years ago. I use it virtually every day! It is a real workhorse; extraordinarily heavy, as it is all metal, but I love it, and wouldn’t change it for any other machine.

Having said that there are attributes which could be equated with other machines on the market, so some of the suggestions about how I use my machine could really work for others as well.

From its number, 1015, and its age, you can probably tell that it is a reasonably basic machine. It has about half a dozen decorative stitches, and the same number of basic functional stitches.  Recently I went away for a few days, this was the view from the little cottage window that I was staying in….20180417_120733 (1)

…and, YES, this is my sewing machine on the table! I apologise for the poor quality of the photograph, but it was very bright outside, and consequently, taking the photo from inside was never going to be good! The view is wonderful though, and does actually illustrate that I am away from home. Although we live in a Cornish village, our house is not by the sea.

I have always taken my sewing machine away with me, if it has been possible! I can then use it in those early morning hours, when no one else is up…etc. On this particular day it had rained steadily all morning, so I sewed very happily and then when the sun came out, we went out for a glorious long walk.

I recently had my machine serviced, and  what a difference. It was in dire need, I have to say, but finding the “right time” to do without it is not easy! It sounds totally different and very quiet now, instead of the clanking noise it was making! I have always regularly cleaned it to remove fluff from the bobbin race, and from under the needle plate etc, but, of course when it is serviced the whole of the machine front is removed. Each part can then be cleaned and adjusted if necessary. It needed a lot of that!

I mostly only use three feet!

The 1/4″ foot; number 37. This is a really versatile foot. I use it for four techniques;

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1. An accurate patchwork seam allowance

2. Topstitching

3. A very fine satin stitch

4. I also always use it, instead of a zipper foot, when inserting zips into pouches and bags. I wrote about this method in the February blog.

(N.B. All the blogs are listed and can be accessed by clicking on them under archives to the top right of the current blog. The function of the scissors in the photos is purely to support the foot.)

The 37 foot is sold as the 1/4″ seam allowance foot and I use it all the time for this purpose, when piecing. It also has a second purpose, which many people I talk to, aren’t aware of. You can see that inside each arm of the foot the width changes, half way along. This indicates that the measurement from where the change of width occurs, to the needle is exactly 1/4″.  This is really useful if you are sewing along a seam towards a corner, and want to be able to pivot accurately at the corner and continue stitching along the adjacent side, maintaining the accurate seam allowance. As you approach the corner slow right down for the last few stitches. When the change of width on the foot is in line with the end of the fabric, you can pivot, with the needle down and start stitching again, confident that at the point of pivot, you will start sewing again with an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance. So, with this foot on the machine you can accurately sew with 1/4″ seam allowance and also accurately judge when you are 1/4″ away from the end of the seam.

For top stitching I often use the inside edge of the 37 foot, as my guide. DSC00801 (2).JPGTo do this, try it out on a sample first. Fold a scrap of fabric in half. Line up the inside edge of the foot so that it touches the fold. Insert the needle into the fabric, and stitch slowly, making sure that as you stitch you are checking that the inside of the the foot runs along the fold line.

I like using the 37 foot to satin stitch.  It is imperative to do very careful sampling when estimating the width and length of the stitch.  There is only a very narrow gap for the needle to swing from side to side, so I take my foot off the pedal and turn the flywheel by hand while making this adjustment. Then I can watch the position of the needle as I slowly, manually lower it against the inside edge of the foot. The wheel is turned really carefully so that, as the needle swings across the width of the gap, making the zigzag for the satin stitch, I can make any adjustment necessary to the width of the stitch, ensuring that the needle clears both arms of the foot. As soon as I am happy with the clearance, I can use the pedal and work at normal speed again.

The small, neat satin stitch, worked with this foot, is a very useful technique which works well for me because I frequently work on a small scale! I use it either to cover the raw edge of applique,  or purely for embellishment. Below is a reminder of how I had used this stitch in the “remake” of the block I showed in the December blog. The stitch is functional as well as decorative here.

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The open-toed free machine embroidery foot, number 24, is my choice for free motion quilting, when the feed dog is lowered.

DSC00773 (2)It has an open circle which means that I am able to see exactly where each stitch is made as the open ring gives clear visibility right up to the needle.

There is another foot which is used for exactly the same purpose. It is very similar but has a complete circle. That suits many people but is not for me!

I have also used this foot  for free zigzag! I work out what width of stitch is suitable for the needle to swing from side to side, in the same way that I prepare for the satin stitch with the 37 foot, above.

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This photograph shows a very small contemporary hanging that I stitched many years ago, possible in the late nineties! I had visited an exhibition of work by a group, then called “The Six”, of which Bobby Britnell was a participating exhibitor.

I was really drawn to her work and particularly liked the textures that she had created. My impression was that she had used free motion zigzag over the surfaces of her hangings. I was keen to have a go. Because the feed dog is down you have the flexibility of increasing the the length of the stitch, by moving your fabric at different speeds. It is really interesting. Why not try a sample, just for fun!

you can see in the photograph that I have created a texture over the surface of my work, and equally, a different texture was created in the areas left unstitched. This added another design element to the end result. It is a contemporary little piece, and as such I deliberately chose not to make it square cornered

. You can see more detail if you are able to enlarge, using your touchpad; click on the photograph, then spread two fingers on the touchpad. You will have to scroll down slowly to find the photograph again, but the detail will show more clearly. Press ctrl+zero to return the screen to its normal size. The above, small (A4) sized hanging was my first attempt. I then followed this with another three small hangings still using the same free zig-zag stitch all over the surface. I learned how to stitch the zigzag row, then switch to a free straight stitch, to travel around the edge of the area I was working on, to get to the next area to be zigzag stitched. I used the open-toed, free machine embroidery foot, number 24 to quilt this entire little hanging.

My walking foot is in frequent use too.

DSC00777 (2)I have had this foot almost as long as the machine, and it is very straightforward to fit; something that I understand isn’t always quite as easy with the more modern Bernina machines and their walking feet.

When I put it on, I ensure that the needle is at its highest position. Then I turn the foot so that the side of it is facing me and slightly tilted towards the machine so that the peg on the machine can fit into the socket on the foot, whilst the arm with two small prongs is eased, simultaneously, onto the needle pin by the user.

(For the purposes of the photo I have used the end of my scissors to lift the arm so that the prongs are visible).

I use this foot for straight line quilting, and often for sewing bindings onto quilts too. I also use it if I am working with “difficult fabrics such as velvets, or slippery fabrics. The way it works is that there are two movable “feet” which sit on the top, towards the back of the walking foot. They move the top fabric through at exactly the same pace as the feed dog is moving  the bottom layer of fabric through, thus eliminating any drag on either surface. All the surfaces end up exactly together at the end of the stitching. The foot is quite sensitive to lumps and bumps in the work they are stitching. So if the foot does not appear to be advancing, (this often happens when crossing a bulky seam) stop sewing with the needle down, lift the presser foot, and you will notice that the little feet move forward. put the presser foot lever down again and when you start stitching the top-feed feet will work perfectly again.

It is still possible to stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, using this big and rather bulky looking foot, if you are able to change the needle position on your machine. On my machine I can move the needle two positions to the right and two positions to the left of centre. I am aware that this function is not always available on all machines.

The 1/4″ needs to be worked out accurately, not just judged by eye! The easiest way is to place your quilting ruler a bare 1/4″ over the edge of a piece of plain paper. Draw a line on the paper with a razor sharp pencil, angling the pencil into the edge of the ruler.

DSC00778 (2).JPGPlace the paper under the machine and the machine needle onto the pencil line. Put the foot down, checking exactly where the edge of the foot is in comparison to the edge of the paper. If it isn’t in line, then try a different needle position.

In the photo to the right it is obvious that the needle needs to be moved to the right. Lift the needle out of the paper, and then alter its position on the machine, and try again.




DSC00781 (3)In this second photo you can easily see that the needle position has been moved across to the right, now indicating that an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance can be stitched, using this foot, now!

When I teach, I notice that often students use their “normal” machine foot, and assume that it is sewing with 1/4″ seam allowance. It is always a good idea to check, using the method above, to see if it does indeed stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance. After all, we cut out fabrics allowing for that, so we do need to be aware that we are sewing with the 1/4″ too!

Additional machine feet are very expensive to buy, so it is always worth having a look to see if you can use one of your existing feet for any additional purpose.

A final little sewing tip!

I have been stitching with PVC coated fabric over the last couple of weeks. Not easy, but I remembered reading that if you put tissue paper between the PVC surface and the needle plate, you can sew quite freely, without the PVC sticking to the metal! I gave it a go, and it works fantastically! The tissue paper perforates when the needle passes through it, and tears away easily. No more frustration!

Giving a gift. The simplest little addition to giving a gift, is a handmade gift tag. I like to have a supply on hand and have got quite low recently, so I have been recharging the supply. I like to use erasers for small printing blocks. They are so easy to cut into with a pointed craft knife. Inspiration is all around us; in our gardens, during a walk in the lanes or park. You really do not have to look far. If it isn’t easy to get outside, then books, and magazines have a wealth of imagery and ideas.

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I have a shoe box full of printing blocks. Above you can see three or four with resulting gift tags. These are a selection of the few left, so I have cut some fresh card, and printed up a few more. I have used Koh in Nor paints, which are very vibrant. You can make them “calmer” by diluting them a little!

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When they are completely dry I like to use a very fine drawing pen (0.1) to very lightly sketch out the outline, and add detail. This sharpens the image. Compare the printed images above freshly made with the addition of the fine ink pen in the photograph below!

You have to work fast when applying the colour to the block and then printing onto the card, especially if the block has two sections for different colours, as in the Fritillary, because it dries very quickly. If the block hasn’t given a terribly good result, use your brush to add more paint on top of the print, but do it very sympathetically! There should be enough colour still on the brush without having to reload it. Reloading will give a stronger element which you may not like.  Mixed colours always add more interest.

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The blackberry leaves on the right, were certainly turned into a very usable tag, by the outlining. I wouldn’t have used it without!

DSC00787 (2).JPG If you are making your own print, but don’t think you could manage anything too detailed, it can be very simple, e.g. you could print using the end of a cork!

The tag in the picture to the side, was simply made by using an ink pad to apply ink to the end of the cork, instead of paint. The surface was not very even, but a texture was created as well as the outline shape. I painted over the texture, turned them into balloon type kites, and have written the child’s name, Sam, on the balloons. It took precisely five minutes! It could be used as a bookmark after being used as a gift tag!

If you don’t have any blank card, think “recycle”.

Plain card is often used in packaging. It is also used for “order of service” occasions in churches; weddings, funerals etc. Any that are left are usually destroyed. I am sure that the vicar would be delighted if they were used and recycled in a creative and useful way. I know someone who does this, and her vicar is really helpful.

Ask friends and family if they have any plain card that they don’t want. It is surprising who has what!!! Unused card wallets, used for filing documents would make great labels. It is easiest to cut the card into the correct width strips first. Cut one strip to start with, and cut that into individual tags. you may want different width tags, so cut strips as they are required. If you want to shape the top of the tag,  make a “template” from one of the tags by lightly folding it in half lengthways, then cutting off the top corners. Because the corners are cut off together, they will be symmetrical. Write “Master ” on this tag, then match the template to each cut tag, and draw a line against the template where the corners need to be cut off. The tags will then look neat and professional.

The gift tags in the first photo measure 2″ wide x  2.5″ at the longest length. The new printed tags I have made measure 1 and 7/8ths” wide x  2.5″ long.

If you use a favourite printing block (it may be a commercial one), then this might well determine the size of the tag.

Experiment, and see what works for you. At the end of the day, your own handmade gift tags will be hugely more appreciated, great fun to make, and infinitely less expensive than bought ones. I have friends and family who have saved every handmade gift tag they have ever received from me, which is really delightful.

Happy stitching!







Stitching News April 2018

Welcome to all my readers. I hope you have all had a very happy Easter.

What am I writing about in this month’s blog…?

  • One of this month’s sewing projects; a cover for an A5 ring binder file
  • Talking Threads DVD. This video was made about 8 years ago, but could have been made yesterday. It is a contemporary technique using mixed media where I am teaching how I stitch into tissue paper, and honesty seed cases.
  • I have also written a tutorial on creating “boxed corners”, for a pouch.


Firstly I would like to mention an interesting email I had from Sarah, one of my readers who lives in Plymouth. It was in response to the February Blog about the Hussif.  She wrote to say that she has her father’s Hussif and she has kindly given me permission to show the photographs of it here.

EAA83F1A-4674-4F8F-8C96-A112085763D0 HussifI love the design. When it is opened out, two spools of cotton are tucked into a purpose designed little pocket, specially for standard cotton reels. Behind them the user has a card of thread as well. They all fit together very neatly. There also seems to be a pocket behind the inside layer of the body of the hussif. Maybe that would have contained some patches, or a note reminding the owner of some simple tips…. some needles, still threaded, are pinned into this internal  layer, along with a couple of safety pins.




Here you can see it is rolled up so that it can be stored in the kit bag.Other people have been in touch to say they remember their father’s talking about their hussifs, and someone also told me that today’s soldiers must have one, too.


I like simple methods of storage which allows me to have what I need easily available!
DSC00746 (3)Several years ago, I made myself a quilted cover for an A5 ring binder. When I taught in College we were issued with A5 diaries for College use and I used to remove the hard-back covers of my diary, punch holes in the diary pages and insert them into the ring binder. I kept some poly pockets at the back as they are so easy for storing notes, reminders, or receipts etc in and I could slot these in between the appropriate pages within the diary. The ring binder is still very much in use, but I now use it to store all the relevant little projects I am using on an almost daily basis for sales table items for the charity workshop in September!

An addition I have made to the poly pockets, which works really well, is that I cut plain white card to fit snugly inside the poly pockets. This divides each pocket into two; a front and a back. I write the heading of one project at the top of one side of the card, and another project on the back of the card and can then store two projects in one sleeve! Economy and thrift! I like it.

Within the last couple of weeks I had to make a raffle prize for an Easter raffle at our quilting Group. It is a tradition that the committee members all make a raffle prize for a special Easter raffle at the quilt Group. I thought about this long and hard, and decided to make a ring binder cover for my raffle prize, this year.

A brief resume of my method.

Firstly I had to research where I could find an A5 ring binder folder! WHSmiths only had plastic ones, and I specifically wanted a board one. Eventually I found one in Office Outlet which seems to be a spin off from Staples. I took measurements of the folder I had bought, noticing that they were different from my last one, and wondering why, as they are both A5 folders made by the same company! possibly a conversion from inches to centimetres? Who knows!

I opened it out at full stretch, giving me the measurement of both front and back covers plus the spine. To this I added another 7½” for “flaps” which would wrap around the sides of the folder, to the inside. This gives a flap of 3¾” which the front and back of the folder slots into, holding the ring binder in place.


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I cut a piece of pelmet Vilene, to this size, and also allowed an additional 3/4″ in total to the measurement of the depth; (top to bottom). This could be trimmed if necessary later. This was to be the foundation on which to support my fabric. Pelmet /craft Vilene has some body and “clout” which would give the cover long life given reasonably careful use!

I folded and marked the position of the flaps, and the centre of the spine.

The central panel here has one of my screen printed flower seed heads and small button flowers and I machine and hand embellished it. I had hand dyed the buttons using disperse dyes.DSC00734 (2)

Next I cut some appropriate strips of fabric and “stitched and flipped” them over into position increasing the decorative surface above and below the initial panel until I had created the full depth of the front cover, (plus a little to spare!)

The first strip was placed right sides together, with the central panel and stitched with 1/4 ” seam allowance, then flipped over to the right side and pressed, which helped to keep it in place. A second strip completed the main panel.

I then placed this in position on the Vilene, making note of placement from the pencil markings I had previously made.

N.B. The panel for the front cover must be placed near the right hand end of the piece of Vilene. I purposely say “near”, rather than “at” the end. If it is right at the end, part of it will be folded under for the flap! Before actually securing it in position, just carefully hold it in place, and wrap the whole piece of the Vilene around the ring binder, to check that it is indeed the “front cover” and is in position correctly!!

The photograph below shows that I have added the first strip to the right hand edge of the panel, and this piece actually wraps around the edge, and will be topped stitched, 1/8th of an inch from the edge from the top to the bottom. This will hold the fabric firmly in position  and give a professional finish. (Many apologies for the poor quality of the photograph. I was working in the evening, and forgot that electric light is no good for photos and also gives awful shadows!)

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I machine”quilted” everything before I cut the next selection of strips to be applied to the left side. They were varying width strips, and were applied in the same “stitch and flip” method. This time each one was machine “quilted” in straight lines, before I stitched the next strip in place. DSC00757 (3)This ensured that they stayed flat, and didn’t wrinkle before the next strip was stitched and flipped.

Strips were applied right across the vilene, in this method. The two ends were trimmed so that about 3/8ths of the last strip could be wrapped around the edge of the vilene and top stitched in place, from top to bottom.

The folder was then opened out, and placed onto the Vilene side of the work, so that a final size could be assessed before trimming. I needed to allow 3/8th of an inch above and below the top and bottom edges of the folder, before trimming. This was for ¼” seam allowance for the binding, plus 1/8th of an inch for “wriggle room” when pushing the folder covers into the flap!

I drew pencil lines where I was going to trim to; and checked everything a second time before trimming! The bindings were cut and machine stitched in place, right sides together with the edge of the folder, then hand stitched  on the inside, to complete the folder cover.

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I am delighted to say that the recipient was thrilled that she was able to choose it, and I know it has gone to a “good home!”

Talking Threads is a DVD put together by Jamie Malden of Colouricious, probably about eight years ago now. She invited twelve textile artists, to take part in it. I was approached, and I spoke with her on the phone, to find out what would be expected of me!

After our discussion, I was happy to be involved, and delighted to have been asked. I was just asked to fill up my car with as much variety of my work as I could get in and given a date and address to go to! Jamie did tell me which particular aspect of my work she would like me to teach on the video, so I was able to make sure that I had everything necessary to explain and teach the workshop clearly.

The DVD begins with a very general chat about me and my approach to my work. This is followed by a teaching session when I had to teach Holly how to machine stitch onto honesty seed cases and tissue paper, creating a very simple design whilst going about it.

I showed her some pages of my work book, where I had done lots of sampling, and we discussed how I prepared the seed cases and the tissue paper before getting started.

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Holly was a complete natural. She had never ever done this before, and she was using my machine, (Bernina 1015). I purposely decided to take mine to use because I knew my chosen threads etc worked well with it, and I could set it up before Holly started stitching. She had maybe no more than five minutes to try out my machine, before filming continued!

Click on the link below to watch the video. (You will need to dismiss the ad that comes up first!)

How to Quilt – Quilting with textile artist Di Wells – Quilting Arts – YouTube

It was a thoroughly enjoyable, and a fascinating day! I think they were filming three or four artists each day, and I seem to remember that there were 12 of us in all. A DVD is available of all those of us taking part;

Last month in the March Stitching News, I wrote about pouches that I had made, and said I would show you how to “box corners” this month. Boxing the corners creates a kind of gusset at the base of the pouch, without having to sew a purpose cut strip of fabric in position.

Boxing the corners of a bag or pouch, to give shape and structure.

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This was the particular pouch I was giving details of. I gave the dimensions of the finished pouch as: length (i.e. top to base) 7.5″; width 6.5″ at the top of the bag, and 5.5″ at the base; depth 1.5″, and explained that “boxing corners”  creates a depth and a roomy interior. The reason that the pouch is narrower at the base is because when I created the “box” at the corners it took up some of the pouch size and space; changing the shape at the corner.  This next photo illustrates the  results. DSC00729 (2)

The bulk of the work assembling the pouch or purse, is completed first, and the two linings are placed right side together and pinned carefully, and the two main pieces of the bag/pouch are placed right sides together and pinned. The zip lies between the two sections.

Then, the assembly continues by stitching around the edges, with a 1/4″ seam allowance, starting one side of a gap at the lining end (through which the bag will be turned through to the right side ultimately).  The stitching continues around to the other side of the gap.

The following photographs explain how to create the box when you have reached this stage. (The February newsletter, where I was showing how to put the lining and zip into a pouch, simultaneously, explains all the stages, up to this point).

You must decide how much “box” you would like to create. In the photo of the pouch lying on its side, you can see that there is “depth” to the pouch.  The finished width of the “box” was 1.5″, so I had to cut a corner square away, measuring 3/4″; i.e. half the finished required size. Had I wanted a 4″ box, I would have cut away a 2″ square.
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Although we are stitching with 1/4″ seam allowance, the measurement  of the square to be removed, is made from raw edge to raw edge….not to the stitch lines. This can be seen in the photos above.  The ruler is identifying a 3/4″ square. I drew a pencil line around corner of the ruler, and cut out the square on the line. This  was repeated at the opposite corner.

DSC00725 (2).JPG  The next stage is to open out the corner, so that the side seam and the base seam lie on top of each other. Notice how the seams butt up against each other, and lie flat.

This should be pinned securely, and then prefer to draw 1/4″ seam allowance  before stitching accurately on this line, as well as reinforcing the stitching at both ends.


It is important that you check that the seams in the opposite corner of the pouch lie similarly, as shown below.

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The final photograph shows that the same procedures are then followed with the lining.

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Please refer back to the February tutorial, to read about pulling the bag through the gap, and finishing the pouch neatly.

I follow Stephanie Redfern’s blog, and found the April one about collage and owls particularly inspirational this month;

It certainly inspired me to look at collage in a different light! I have read and re-read it several times, and have no doubt I shall come back to it several times more!!

Diary Dates:

Sat 28th April 2018 – Sat 5th May 2018. (Excluding Sunday)  10am – 4 pm.  George Room, Subscription Rooms, Stroud GL5 1AE. An exhibition of textiles by Pauline Cullimore, Janet Grist and Sylvia Hammond. “Three by 3:  Homage to Vivaldi”.  Part of SIT Select 2018   Admission Free. These are three very talented ladies, (ex students of mine),  who will have a very varied selection of work on display, and for sale.

Malvern Quilts Spring Show 17th – 20th May; Three Counties Showground Severn Hall MalvernWorcestershire WR13 6NW.  10:00am – 5:00pm (4:30pm on Sunday).

Festival of Quilts – NEC 9th -12th August

Cowslip Summer Fair – 21st & 22nd July. Cowslip Workshops Newhouse Farm St.Stephens Launceston Cornwall PL15 8JX.

Happy Stitching!