World Book Night 2012

April 22nd, 2012

I’m just writing reference numbers into the 24 copies of Pride and Prejudice that I’ll be giving away tomorrow as part of World Book Night –

I’m planning to leave 2 or 3 copies with the fitting room attendants in various clothes shops in Croydon – Pride and Prejudice is about young women at the turning point of their lives, desperate to find a secure future – I hope the women who find my copies of the book will read it and be grateful for the choices we have now that didn’t exist in Regency England. I hope they’ll love the timeless characters, the warmth & wit of Jane Austen, and be moved to try her other books.

These photos were taken last year, as I was giving out copies of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold – here are two new book finders:

Vintage Yoyo Tote

April 16th, 2012

Actually, it’s only the main fabric that’s vintage – the yoyos are made from a contemporary fabric that just happened to be the right shade. The lining and covered buttons are in a plain cotton sateen.

This is a piece of fabric that came to me in the form of a skirt – found in a charity shop, washed, pressed & lovingly unpicked. Having got that far, the fabric sat in my stash for several years (shame on me!). My current resolution is “Use it or lose it”, so I’m being bold with my treasures.

***** photo to follow *****

Patchwork & Quilting – October 2011 – wash-bag set

September 13th, 2011

Waiting on the doormat, watching the letterbox for my contributor’s copy of October’s Patchwork & Quilting UK magazine – I’m looking forward to seeing my wash-bag and laundry bag project, made from a re-purposed man’s shirt (that’s a re-purposed shirt, not a shirt belonging to a re-purposed man – interesting idea, though).

Here’s a preview of the finished goods:

Wedding gift – wall hanging

September 10th, 2011

Just wrapped a present for two friends who got married over the summer – a hanging made using photos printed onto injet-printable fabric, with a background of turquoise & coral – the accent colours of the bride & groom’s outfits on the day. The free-motion quilting mimics the shape of the flowers in the bride’s bouquet.

I also made a cushion cover in the same style to send to the bride’s mother, who was unable to attend owing to ill health.

Sew Hip 33 – update

September 1st, 2011

There wasn’t room in this month’s Sew Hip article for all the photos that were taken – the last question mentions my “studio” book idea – here is the storage pocket hanging I mentioned:

I’m working on ideas for lots of other items to equip a sewing space – this is pure pleasure, as it means I can select favourite fabrics from my stash:

Sew Hip – Issue 33 – my “studio” Q&A

August 30th, 2011

Totally and utterly thrilled today to see the article about my “studio” – can’t get used to calling it that – in Sew Hip, Issue 33. There are photos of my workspace and of some of the things I’ve made. The article is in the form of questions & answers – it’s very strange to see it all in print. Strange, but great -thank you, Sew Hip!

Sew Hip 32 – September 2011

July 28th, 2011

The new issue of Sew Hip is out now – Issue 32, dated September 2011.

The group project to design a leaf block using Oakshott fabrics is shown, assembled and beautifully machine quilted (not by me!), on the front cover. My block is the bottom right. Instructions on putting the blocks together and making up the quilt are inside.

Also in this issue is my article on “Roses from the Heart” – telling the story of Christina Henri’s amazing determination to amass over 25,000 embroidered bonnets as a tribute to the women transported to Australia in the 19th century.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – tell the story!

July 28th, 2011

I love the Hungry Caterpillar designs from Andover Fabrics, and there are some striking quilt patterns available, but although these are pretty, they just use the fabrics for their decorative quality and allow the opportunity of telling the story to just slip away. And it’s a great story that many children (and their parents) know by heart.

This is one of the most beloved books for small children – with good reason – it has a wonderfully succinct and rhythmic text that teaches days of the week, number sequencing, names of fruits & foods and the life-cycle of the butterfly. Plus, it’s funny and beautiful to look at.

So, with a nod to the “day job” (Foundation Stage teacher), I’ve designed my own version using a panel showing three large images from the book, plus one fat quarter of the food illustrations and another taken from the “holes” endpapers. I used fabric from my stash for the green frames and dark purple binding.

The hanging is designed to go on the back of a door, and shows the sequence of events in the book, reading from top to bottom:

“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf. One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and – pop! – out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar.

He started to look for some food.

On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry.

On Tuesday he ate through two pears. But he was still hungry.

On Wednesday he ate through three plums. But he was still hungry.

On Thursday he ate through four strawberries. But he was still hungry.

On Friday he ate through five oranges. But he was still hungry.

On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake and one slice of watermelon.

That night he had a stomach ache!

The next day was Sunday again. The caterpillar ate through one nice green leaf, and after that he felt much better.

Now he wasn’t hungry any more – and he wasn’t a little caterpillar any more. He was a big, fat caterpillar.

He built a small house, called a cocoon around himself. He stayed inside for more than two weeks. Then he nibbled a hole in the cocoon, pushed his way out and…

He was a beautiful butterfly.”

Eric Carle (1966)


“K” is for Katie

July 28th, 2011

A quick make for my friend Katie’s birthday turned into a bit of a nightmare – I was tempted to try a woven fusible interfacing for the first time – seemed very pleasant to handle: light and flexible. Only trouble was – it didn’t stick. I managed to get a trial piece to adhere, but only by turning the fabric over & pressing from the interfacing side & this wasn’t a possibility with the technique I was using. Ended up having to pin every piece (121 x 2″ squares) & spend more time perspiring and swearing than sewing serenely. Moral of the story? Don’t try something new when time is against you. Still, Katie’s cushion turned out fresh & dainty in the end.


Last scraps

July 20th, 2011

I’ve made a lot (a LOT) of baby quilts over the past year or so, owing to the fecundity of my friends, & have ended up with dozens of tiny pieces of my favourite 1930s prints – too small for anything much other than cover buttons, and there’s a limit to how many of those anyone needs.

I couldn’t bear to part with all these little bits, so I designed a 9-patch variation quilt to use them all up. The predominant shades were blues & mauves, with some pink & orange, so I found light and darker blue fabrics to offset the pieces and give some visual impact. There’s lots of soft calico in there, too.

It turned out to be more of a marathon than a sprint, as all the little bits took a while to sew. Because I was using scraps, of course I couldn’t use any of the short-cut sewing methods I love (thank you Eleanor Burns and Jody Barrows for your continuing inspiration).

The quilting is an optical illusion – looks like circles, but it’s actually a short-cut technique. I’m experimenting, too, with straight-line quilting that begins & ends in the same place – cutting right down on the number of stray thread ends to sew in. Result!