Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Quilt Now for 2017

Well as usual, there is plenty in the pipeline for 2017. One of those things is a new relationship with the lovely folks at Quilt Now magazine. I am thrilled that I will be having my very own supplement in issue 32 (out January 19th). This will be a foundation piecing supplement, and here are a couple of snaps of the projects I have created for it. There will be 4 in all and I am too excited.

I have also been working with Stix2 to develop an English Paper Piecing glue - and so we have one of my EPP projects in the same issue. I am just spoilt!
I also have a project in issue 33 - with the gorgeous Indian Summer fabric from those marvellous folks at Craft Cotton Company. Here's a sneaky peek of this one too! I can't wait to see what else 2017 has to offer!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Quilting journey part 1

It seems like ages ago but it was only just over a month ago that I came back from a mega trip with quilting and family at it's very heart, and I am sure that you will see quite a few posts about it over the next few weeks.
The journey started back at the beginning of October at Birmingham Airport with a flight to Montreal, Canada. My first stop is to spend a few days with family in Cornwall, Ontario with my Dad and then head for a week of sunshine with some of Dad's friends in Cuba.  I had a fabulous relaxing time getting a tan. Cuba is a poor country and so doesn't have a huge history of quilting, but I shared some English Paper Piecing techniques around the pool.
Dad and I enjoyed the weather as we relaxed, went snorkeling and even swam with dolphins.
After a week of sunshine,  we headed back to Canada to prepare for teaching. 

I had a great time introducing the Canadians to English Paper Piecing! These lovely ladies invited me into their homes and kept me topped up with coffee and biscuits as they got to grips with EPP.


I also taught another 2 classes at the Giroux Sewing Centre in Cornwall ON. I had a fantastic day and everyone made me most welcome.
We played with 45 degree diamonds and squares, and they loved it (at least they said they did!)

I was also lucky enough to spend some quality time with dad, his brother Nick and my gorgeous cousins and their kids. It was my birthday at the beginning of the trip, and we had a little family get together. The girls made me cards and drew me some lovely cards.
Uncle Nick made me the most incredible birthday cake I have ever seen! Slimming World cake this wasn't, and even though it was definitely calorie laden I did my duty and had a jolly good piece! It would be rude not too!


I made up for it with a bit of running!


Tuesday, 6 September 2016


After some comments made on my show the other night I have been contacted by a number of people offering help with my charity trip to Nepal next April. So I thought it would be a good idea to let you know what I am up to and why, plus how you can get involved. This is a long post so you may want to grab a cuppa before you begin.

What am I doing? Well I am asking myself that same question :) As someone permanently attached to my sewing machine, I have never been one for exercise or doing anything energetic. So what does a couch potato do for a challenge - why climb in the Himalayas of course! The challenge is on to trek to Poon Hill (3,210m) in the Annapurna region. The trek will take us through charming Nepalese villages where we will experience the culture of the mountain people of Nepal first hand. The challenge will be tough but the friendship and camaraderie along the way will be very special, and we are taking the challenge for very personal reasons. So why am I taking on the challenge of a lifetime?

Well, the beneficiaries of my trip are two groups. Firstly I am trying to raise £3000 for Heartburn Cancer UK who I feel saved my Dad's life. To help with that I have a just giving page where you can donate directly.

You can find my fundraising page here. Every penny helps people in the UK suffering from this terrible disease. Last Summer, and just weeks after his 70th birthday doctors found a big ugly tumour growing inside my Dad. Since then he has undergone Chemo and radiotherapy and on the 25th February this year a full Oesophagectomy at Addenbrookes in Cambridge. He is one of the lucky ones – he is on the long road to recovery, and he is getting better every day. This cancer went off like a bomb in the centre of our family and we have met many brave and caring individuals – both medical personnel and fellow sufferers (some who are not going to make it or have already sadly left us).
Now Dad is coming out the other side I felt that I needed to do something to help those who are taking the same journey that we did, and to say thank you to those who helped us. So I have chosen a challenge that befits the challenges that my Dad has been through, and continues to go through. Nepal is a place that he has always wanted to visit – and now he can experience it through me.

I am funding the trip myself so every penny that you donate goes to a great cause helping those dealing with this terrible disease, and helping to prevent more people suffering.

So here is a picture I wasn't sure I would see again - Dad at 71!
But you can't travel half way round the world and not try to make a difference in the country you are visiting. As a quilter I am fascinated by other cultures sewing traditions and so I had to make a quick Google search of quilts in Nepal and came across an organisation that gives me goosebumps! Quilts for Kids is an organisation founded in 2006 to provide work for economically-challenged women and to finance education for underprivileged children in Kathmandu. It operates in an encampment of Indian street beggars located in a large field in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu. The women of the encampment make quilts from fabric collected from humble sources, which they stitch together by hand to create works of art. The sale of a single quilt will send a child to school for a year. So of course I had to buy one! This is mine and I am so proud of it. 
It is a large quilt, and the hand stitching is delicious. Here is a shot of the back and the lovely prairie points that decorate the edges.

This was a quote from their website that touched me deeply and made me feel that I had to help! "Ours is truly a global community - stitched together with threads of compassion, kindness and creativity." Who can argue with that!

So how can you help these fantastic women in Nepal.  You can help the charity directly by purchasing a Quilt for $190 plus postage (and import duty) which will send a child to school for a year. On my part, I will be teaching these inspiring ladies a spot of English Paper Piecing once I have finished my climb, and I am taking sewing needles with me to give as a gift. I needed to choose something that wouldn't be too heavy (as we have to carry it up mountains!) and needles fitted the bill. So if you have packets of sewing needles lying around the house that you would like to rehome, then pop them in an envelope and I will take them with me to gift to these incredible women. Send me a message via my facebook page and I will send you my address to post them too. All I ask is that they aren't rusty! 

So as you can see, this challenge is personally going to be a tough one. I have lost 2 1/2 stone already as I train and prepare for the adventure, but there is stil a long way to go. Whenever I have a wobble about "biting off more than I can chew" I think about these two great causes that I am proud to be able to help and it keeps me putting one step on front of the other. I cannot believe how lucky I am to live in a country where cancer services are available and have been able to save my Dad. I know many are not that fortunate and some will not survive, but we have to continue the fight. I am also delighted to be able to help those brave women in Kathmandu who have to battle to build a better life for their children. For us here where education is taken for granted, I am reminded what a privilege that has been, and how much I want to be able to pass that on gift.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

So what is Bobbinfill anyway?

So every time I mention using Bobbinfil on one of my shows I am inundated with questions about it. So I have decided to answer them here.

What is Bobbinfil? 
It is a remarkably fine and strong polyester designed as an underthread (meaning it goes in the bobbin). Some brands are also called Underthread or Bottomline.

Why do you use it?
Bobbinfil is designed to balance top threads being sewn. It is finer than a standard thread so you can get more of it on a bobbin, meaning that you have to refill your bobbin less often. This is a godsend when you are working on large projects. The downside is that it often only comes in white or black,  though some brands have expanded their colour ranges. 

There are a number of different thread weights - some specifically designed for Embroidery Machines. I use 90wt for my Brother Innovis 90E embroidery machine and 60wt for all my sewing machines. You can experiment

Where do you buy it?  
There are 3 main brands of Bobbinfil that I have bought in the past, and there are probably more that I haven't tried. All 3 have worked beautifully for me. They are Brother, Sulky and Madeira brands but there are others available. I buy them when I see them in my local sewing shops (as a former shop owner I fully appreciate the importance of local shops and the need to support them. If you don't use them you will lose them!). I have bought them on prewound bobbins or on the reel which is my personal preference.  You can also buy on line. Like most things, a quick Google will bring up a full list of suppliers but being lazy I often resort simply to Amazon.


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

New Challenges - and a request for help!

I have been getting messages  asking if everything is 'OK' because I haven't been sharing many quilt project pictures lately. Thank you and yes I am fine! In fact I have been having a wonderfully crafty time working on projects but just can't show them yet as they are involved in my newest project. I am delighted to announce that I am the new Editor of Linen and Lace magazine. Whooo hooo! It is so exciting to be asked to create a vision for the magazine and continue offering great sewing projects for you all. This will be issue 3 of the magazie produced by Tattered Lace. As a result, most of my recent work has to be 'unveiled' at publication!

I was thinking that it would be great to get some of you involved too! If I get enough submissions I would like to add an "Ask the Expert" feature in the next edition. If you have any sewing, quilting or deep dish die questions, then please send them with your name and town (or let me know if you want them published anonymously) to and I will see what we can do about answering them in the magazine. Only the name and Town info will be published!

I also thought that it would be great to show projects from the first 2 issues of the magazine - so if you have a project that you have created from previous Linen & Lace magazines then please send a picture with a few words about it to the same address.

So if you can help, please get in touch!

Here's a sneak peak of one of the projects :)

I am so excited about continuing this fantastic magazine - now it is time to get back to my sewing machine to make up a few more projects!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

What a difference a year makes!

Well it is a year today (15th of May) since I sold my share in the shop. And what a year it has been! It was a bit frightening to let go of the safety net that was a regular place of work, regular hours and regular income, but I felt that it was time for me to move on to new challenges.  VAT returns and stock control just wasn't floating my boat and could never leave me enough time to be creative. So I held my breath and took the plunge. 

Now a year on I can reflect to see if it was the correct decision. Heck yes it was. Since then I have hardly stopped. I have had the opportunity to visit the Houston Quilt festival and Quilt Market, meet fabulous people at the Great Craft Extravaganza, Winter Crafting and Crafting Live, work closely with creative people across the craft industry and educated more crafters through TV. 

Linen and Lace Magazine is now a big part of my life (we are working hard on Issue 3) and I have just finished 10 projects for the Prima Makes magazine. I love the creativity that brings. I even get to be Artist In Residence this month in Winchester. Sometime a leap of faith is all that you need to start a enormously exciting and rewarding period in your life.

I am hugely greatful to all of you who have supported me over the last year, Paul, my family, friends and crafters who continue to watch and comment. I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A place to create - welcome to my studio!

Goodness me I hadn't realised how long it has been since my last post. This year has been flying past at breakneck speed and I have been hanging on :)

So what have I been up to? Well I have continued doing shows for Create and Craft where I get to share knowledge and tips with a huge number of people at a time. It is great fun and it is amazing how many people I meet out and about who have started stitching after watching the shows.

I have also been working on magazine projects this month - with 10 Christmas projects just completed for Prima Makes magazine, projects for Create and Craft club magazine currently filling up my work table and 20 projects for the next Linen and Lace magazine sitting on my design wall. Crikey! I feel tired just talking about it.

I often get asked how I can make so many projects and still get some sleep? Well the answer is that I have a fully optimised work space. It is a room where I can go and work, but once I have finished I can shut the door and get on with other jobs. Being able to leave jobs half way through without having to put it away saves time and effort - two savings which make a big difference over time.

So here are some pictures of my sewing haven! It is a double bedroom with en suite which is hidden away on the top floor of our house which makes it very toasty this time of year.

The long kitchen work surface hides storage behind curtains. The shelves are filled with boxes keeping oodles of sewing loveliness in check. I use a planner table for my sewing machine and main cutting mat, with another mat on the work surface for easy photography. The laptop is constantly on as I try to keep on top of the paperwork :)
I spend a lot of time in this room - and therefore the TV and the kettle (hiding behind the laptop) are also vital pieces of equipment. The quilts on the back set of shelves are samples for shows (the rest are out of site in the hallway) and the fabrics in the boxes below are fabrics from suppliers for samples and demonstrating. I keep these separate from my own stash to avoid temptation :)

So here is the real stash....

Should I be worried??? My lovely Paul helped with the thread storage and it reduces the danger of buying duplicates because all the colours are visible. Once I sorted out my threads I found I had about 20 different spools of white thread - this way I can make sure I use them before I go and buy another one.

Here is my design wall pinned to the wall behind my door. It lets me display my quilt designs as I work on them. It helps me choose quilt layouts and play with colour placement, as well as see the whole design come together in front of me.

So there you are - this is where I spend much of my days, though it doesn't always look this tidy!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Getting scrappy in 2016

I'm not a great one for new year resolutions.  They invariably fall by the wayside once the empty party wine glasses are cleared away. But this year I have made a quilty resolution to get my scrap addiction under control. Like many sewists, I hate waste and so save the smallest pieces. Now is the time to use them up!
So my challenge has begun, and with two sewing machine 4 day deals already this month , I aim to spread the word. So I started with a scrappy book cover using the fancy stitches on my trusty Brother FS130QC. 

This is the journal cover version that I made on air over a number of shows using scraps of Floral Demin fabric by Craft Cotton Company and contrasting red fancy stitching. A perfect gift for someone special! 
These are my scrap boxes full of scraps - and these are the boxes I am planning to empty! I showed these on my Tuesday show - and many viewers are posting pictures to my face book page with their personal versions. How exciting!

But because it is me - there needs to be a quilt in there somewhere - so I have started my own Scrappy Star Quilt. I designed the block myself and use the foundation piecing method to create the star. This star is made from 4 smaller blocks. These will then be stitched together with 1 inch wide strips. I cant wait to get a bit of free time to get on with it! 
So this may be one new year resolution I can keep :)