And this week I’ve had the best Mothers Day present ever!
All my chicks are back home for a few days, yay!
It’s been so good to hang out together, laugh, be silly, and have precious family time, including the future sons-in-law!
The times when we can all be together at the same time in the same place are becoming fewer, so we make sure we make up for it when we can!
I’m not only blessed with a faithfully loving mum, but I also get the privelege of being a mum, 3 times over!
I was so excited in my first pregnancy to become a mum, but nothing prepared me for how tough the exhausting role of mother would be!
To be honest, I found the earlier years much harder than the teenage ones! I continually lacked confidence, never knew if I was doing the right thing, perpetual exhaustion, extreme loneliness and post natal depression all played their part.
Despite it being the toughest job I’ve ever had (the wages and pension benefits are rubbish!) it’s also been (& still is) the most rewarding. The thing about having kids is they force you to go beyond yourself, to step outside your comfort zones and defaults and face your weaknesses and selfishness.
I’m thankful to my girls for stretching me and making me the person I am today. They inspire me every day and I’m ridiculously proud of the beautiful women they are, inside and out.
To all you mothers out there, you are amazing, keep going. It will be hard at times, but the rewards are deep and infinite. A great mother isn’t perfect (no such woman exists), she’s the one who gets up each morning and invests, sacrifices, referees, feeds, counsels, advises, all for no thanks, and then gets up again the next morning to do it all again!
What a wonderful term (& year!) it was! And I think, one of our most productive!
Here’s a little snapshot of some of the amazing makes my ladies have been beavering away at!
There are many more amazing projects and gifts that will be bringing smiles to lots of faces this Christmas.
Let’s just say there will some truly blessed recipients out there! My ladies are some of the most talented and generous people I know, and they have continued to inspire me all year!
For me, I plan to continue working on patterns, plans and projects for next year. But I will be taking a break over Christmas, to spend time with 2 of my girls, a little EPP, some reading and much needed rest!
Whatever you are planning over the next few weeks, I pray you will be happy and healthy!
I’m so privileged to be surrounded by inspiring women! My mum, my Grandmothers, my brilliant besties, not to mention my 3 amazing daughters who I’m ridiculously proud of!
And then there are all the lovely ladies who come to my classes. I’m honoured to know some of their stories, struggles and triumphs!
Several weeks ago I had the most wonderful encounter with a lady I have long admired.
This is Rachel McBride, visual artist. I first met Rachel several years ago at the Kings Hall, and immediately fell in love with her art.
Fast forward to November 2018, and I’m visiting Rachel’s newest exhibition in Newtownards entitled ‘At a Loss for Words’.
Oh my! Once again she took my breath away. Rachel has an unbridled (and in my opinion unrivaled) talent for expressing depth of emotion through colour and texture.
5 years ago Rachel lost her speech for a short period of time and wrote these words:
“If someone cannot communicate and interact with others are they just ‘a being’ and at what point do they become invisible or unknown to society? A frightening and disturbing thought which ultimately forced me to consider my world without the ability to speak.”
Rachel was born with Cerebral Palsy and has had to overcome many hurdles in her life.
Every time I speak with her I’m overwhelmed by her positivity, strength and beauty.
Her pet hate is being seen as an inspiration, but it’s always the first adjective that comes to my mind when I read the extracts about each of her pieces, admiring the incredible vulnerability and vigor within each piece and knowing the limitations of her body which she fights against to live a fulfilling and boundless life.
I can whole-heartedly recommend you to Rachel’s (free) exhibition, which continues at Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards until the end of this month. And you can sometimes bump into her in the gorgeous coffee shop she owns with her husband called Haptik (the food is ‘out of this world’ awesome!).
And you can read a great write-up about her in the Irish Times here.
What amazingly creative talent we have here on our wee island!
Waaaaaaaay back, in February, I facilitated a very good friend’s special birthday request!
16 friends squished into my classroom, each of them charged with making a patchwork block about their dear friend.
Shirley has been a nurse, midwife, missionary and lecturer. She is one of the most generous, caring and just people I know and I feel truly privileged and blessed to call her ‘friend’ these past 21 years.
It took a wee while for a few postal blocks to come in, and then I set to work, finishing up the sketching details and chosen texts, as well as assembling and quilting the quilt.
And then the final handover happened last week (took a while to get us both in the same country at the same time!).
I’ve made a little mosaic of the individual blocks so you can see more of the details (I promise they aren’t as curvy as they seem here – I took pictures of them while the quilt was on the line! It was windy!)
There is so much thought, love and creativity in all of these blocks, a moving tribute to our funny, coffee loving, brilliant friend!
Even though I had already gifted Shirley a quilt for her birthday back in February (read more about this quilt and the sew-in here), I wanted to contribute a block to her Friendship Quilt.
And here it is….
That’s Shirley in the middle (portraits were never my strong suit!) between me on the left (I told you portraits weren’t my strong suit!) and Rosie (amazingly this actually looks like Rosie!). We first met 21 years ago at Bible College, and are the self named ‘Breakfast Club’ (we still meet once a month for breakfast, coffee and catch-up!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this very special quilt and its very special recipient!
We have just had a wonderful bank holiday weekend here in UK. And what made it so wonderful? The beautiful sunny weather!
I spent the bank holiday Monday in Florence Court, Enniskillen, with 2 of my girls, having lots of photo fun, and enjoying this wonderful National Trust house.
It was a beautiful day, learning all about the women (upstairs and downstairs) in Florence Court’s history.
Also this week, the current issue of Quilt Now hit the shops, and in it you can find my Octosaurus Rex Quilt, designed for Makower using their Rex Collection of fabrics.
This quilt design is full of secondary patterns, and the larger Placement print is perfect for fussy cutting.
Here’s what I wrote as my source of inspiration:
“I live not far from the Giant’s Causeway, a 60 million year old formation of multi-sided volcanic stones. So I thought it would be fun to design Jurassic sized shapes around these cute dinosaur fussy cuts and fabrics. The Octagon blocks slot neatly side by side just like the stones at the Giant’s Causeway!”
There is a lot of piecing in this quilt, and it is a decent size at 60″ x 72″. However you could easily reduce the number of blocks and make a smaller quilt for a younger dinosaur lover!
So if you have a little one who is mad about all things Jurassic, then these fabrics are your perfect choice!
You can see the full collection here, and my Octosaurus Rex Quilt pattern is also available via the Makower UK website.
As a single mum to 3 gorgeous girls, her strength, courage and love for life has been (& will continue to be) my inspiration. Over the past 13 years we have laughed and cried together, prayed and worked together, and sewed together (Heather was a very talented quilter).
3 weeks ago, she had her last birthday, in hospital sadly. I had made her a quilt, which she got to see. It made her smile!
I wanted a bright, colourful and happy quilt for Heather, to reflect her sunny personality. These fabrics are called Soul Blossoms by Amy Butler, and the symbolic cream motifs are Friendship Stars.
She had a great sense of humour and was selflessly devoted to her girls. I’m blessed to have had many opportunities to spend with Heather these past 18 months during her illness.
We loved a good rummage in charity shops (she knew all the best ones), hours and hours in coffee shops (she was the best listener) and nights out at the flicks (even if she did nod off occasionally!). And of course, we both shared a love of fabric and sewing. She was even attending my classes until a few weeks ago (I finished the quilt she was working on and it was on her bed when she passed).
I will miss my lovely friend, and my heart is breaking for the 3 beautiful girls she leaves behind, on the eve of Mothers Day.
But we share the same faith, and while we said ‘goodbye’ on Monday, through love and tears, we both know that it is only ‘farewell’ until we see each other again in heaven. And then we will have endless years of fun, frolics and friendship together!
Goodbye my friend. You had courage, grace and dignity right to the very end. See you on the other side.
I’m so looking forward to getting started with my new classes in January. There aren’t many places left, so if you would like to join us for some creative craic, then please drop me an email to email@example.com.
Happy October to you all! The beauty of Autumn has arrived here in N.Ireland. Aren’t the leaves just gorgeous this time of year!
Many of you have been beavering away making Syringe Driver Bags for Macmillan Cancer Support.
I want to say a huge thank you for your contributions so far! More are needed on an ongoing basis, so if you get a spare 5 minutes to rustle up another one, we’d much appreciate it (you can get the tutorial here).
And here’s a thank you from the staff at Macmillan (modelling some of your bags!):
“Hi Judith, just to say a big thank you for the syringe driver bags we’re getting at the Macmillan unit. This is a few of the staff modelling them!!! They’re amazing! The workmanship is incredible! You have some very talented connections! Please pass on our thanks… so nice to offer something cheery and have a bit of choice when you have an attachment to carry around that you’re not that excited about!! BIG THANK YOU!!!! X”
What a great way to make a small difference in someone’s life.
Summer seems to have left us here! But I have some good news! My sewing room is finished and I’m fully operational once more!
And what better project to christen my new creative space than sewing for a good cause.
These are Syringe Driver Bags, used by patients to keep essential medication on their person as they move around. Earlier this year we received a request from Marie Curie Cancer Care to make Syringe Driver Bags for their unit in Belfast. The response from the sewing community was incredible, and we donated enough bags for the hospice and a local hospital cancer unit.
Well I’m putting out a call to all generous and creative sewers, to make more Syringe Driver Bags, this time for Macmillan Cancer Support unit in Antrim hospital.
I have been approached to make these bags, for current and future patients in the unit, and any bags donated over and above what is needed will be shared around the other cancer units too.
The bags required this time around are for adult males and females, in bright, cheery fabrics, and come in 2 sizes. The small bag takes a single syringe driver and the large bag takes 2 drivers. Both sizes have a velcro flap, and while the dimensions vary, the construction method is the same for each.
I do hope I can count on your generous spirit to support brave patients in this small way.
Here is the tutorial:
Measurements listed are width x height
Use 1/4″ seam allowance
Use reverse stitch to start and finish each seam
Make the Handle: Iron under 1/4″ along each long edge.
2. Now bring both long (folded) edges together and press. Top stitch 1/8″ from the edge down both long sides, starting with the open side. No need to top stitch the short ends. Put the handle to one side.
3. Make the Flap: Place the outer and lining flaps right sides together. Sew around 3 sides, leaving one short side open.
4. Carefully snip the corners at an angle (to reduce bulk) before turning right side out. Push the corners well out and press.
5. Sew the soft side of the velcro to the lining side of the flap, 1/4″ away from the closed end of the flap. Put to one side.
6. Make the main bag: Attach the remaining piece of velcro to the front bag piece. The top of the velcro should be 1.5″ down from the top edge (or 2″ for the large bag).
7. Join the front and back pieces and the sides, right sides together (as shown) stopping 1/4″ short at the bottom of each seam.
8. Join the remaining edges together to create a box (remember to stop 1/4″ short at the bottom).
9. Insert the base: Pin the base to the bottom of the outer bag, right sides together.
10. Sew the base in place, stopping 1/4″ short at each corner to pivot & turn (leave the needle down in the fabric and lift up the presser foot). As you pivot the corners, flip the underside of the bag away from you (see below).
11. Turn the bag right side out. Push the corners out and press the seams into a nice box shape.
12. Machine tack the flap onto the back of the bag, right sides together.
13. Machine tack the handle onto the sides of the bag (take care not to get a twist in your handle). Put to one side.
14. Make the lining: Repeat steps 7-10 for the lining, leaving a 2″ gap in a long side seam. Do not turn right side out.
15. Insert the outer bag into the lining, tucking the flap and handle inside between the layers. Align & pin the side seams and top edge.
16. Sew around the top edge (you may find it easier to remove the accessories tray on your machine here).
17. Pull the outer bag through the gap in the lining, and hand or machine stitch the gap closed.
18. Press the bag before pushing the lining into the outer bag. Sew around the top edge again, making sure to keep the flap and handle well out of the way.
And you’re done!
It would be wonderful if you could help me with this small measure of kindness. The 2 bags I’ve made have already brought smiles to the faces of the 2 recipients!
I will be the collection point for any donated bags, so please get in touch with me directly and I’ll give you my address (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanking you all in advance of your support and generosity.
It’s a happy day here at the Hollies Household because not only is the sun shining, we have just had gas installed in our new home! This means we now have long awaited hot water, cooking facilities and a little heat on chilly evenings! #livinglikekings
The quilt I’d like to show you today is long overdue its reveal!
My middle daughter turned 18 last February, and I got her birthday quilt started at Brit Bee Retreat.
My daughter loves travel/world themes as well as old style items, images and graphics. Also, she isn’t into pink or girly colours so much, so I knew I had to get the fabrics and colours just right.
I was browsing travel themed fabrics online and came across this Makower fabric called ‘Airmail Travel Stamp, Special Delivery!’ It was my perfect starting point and this became my ‘headline’ print. I used the colours in this print to guide me through the rest of my stash and scrap boxes.
I didn’t want to chop the Airmail print up too small, so designed an ‘on point’ block where large sections of the headline print would appear in the secondary pattern, with scrappy pieced dividers. A little white on white to separate the busyness and it all came together beautifully.
Keeping the scrappy prints to softer tones and small scale prints helped create an overall calm feel to the quilt. My daughter’s bedroom is mostly neutral creams and greys so I didn’t want the overall look of the quilt to be too bright.
I managed to get the quilt almost completed by the end of February, just a few weeks late of the birth date. And then a request came in from a magazine editor requesting a quilt for a summer edition!
This was the only quilt I had available in the tight timescale, so off it went to England, with an apology to my daughter for yet another delay on her quilt (she was most forgiving)!
The quilt was published in the August issue of Pretty Patches (still in the shops now) and it was returned to me yesterday!
I could finally present it to my girl, who I’m pleased to say, loves it!
She travels to Norway in September for 6 months and only wishes she had room in her luggage to take it with her (she might well be needing it over there!).
So that is the story behind ‘Around the World’ Birthday Quilt. Always a special make when it’s for a loved one, and only 6 months late!!
It’s going to be a very significant month for me, the start of a new chapter. But more on that when the time comes!
My ‘Meet the Maker’ interview this month is a lady who is special to me from when we both joined Brit Bee in 2011.
Susan is not only an incredibly talented quilter and designer (you will see her amazing work in leading quilting magazines such as Love Patchwork and Quilting and Quilt Now), she also has a wicked sense of humour and is an incredible cook and baker! I’ll let her do the talking!
I’m Susan Standen, a Canadian living in the middle of England. I used to blog at candianabroad-susan.blogspot.com but as I haven’t posted in a year it is uncertain whether I will resurrect the blog or not. Time constraints and demands of life meant something had to give and my blog was that something. But I am very active on IG as canadianabroad. I can also be found on Pinterest as Susan Standen – though you are as likely to find recipes pinned there as quilting inspiration!
2. What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?
I am a quilter. I have two teenage daughters and I was a stay at home mum. When they were younger I searched for a hobby that would be something just for me. I tried beading – seriously no patience for that, card making – bored me (sorry to all those card makers out there, no offence meant) and then I bought a cheap sewing machine. I made a Halloween costume, and then a friend fell pregnant with her second child and I decided I would make a quilt. I had no family history of sewing, let alone quilting. I had never made a quilt. I did not know anyone who quilted. But I made a quilt. I was hooked!
3. What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration? Who inspires you?
I love coming up with a new idea. Even when I started quilting I never used patterns. I would look for inspiration on the internet and when I found something I liked I would work out the quilt maths for myself, changing up the design to suit my needs. Now I sketch all the time on my tablet, twisting ideas around until they suddenly take a form that makes my heart sing. I don’t get pattern inspiration so much as colour combinations that inspire me from the amazing and prolific quilters that are online. Just a few people that I follow who have an amazing eye for colour are (these are all ig names) fionapoppymakes, sewgoclimbing, littleislandquilting, fabricmutt, slostudio, lizfromshush
4. What are your thoughts on the online quilting community, locally and internationally?
I wouldn’t be quilting the way I do if it was not for the online community. I quilted in a wilderness of my own until I found the incredible online community that is out there. I have never found it any less than inspirational, supportive, educational and fun. Happily I have never experienced any controversy personally, though I know it does exist at times. The very best thing that came out of connecting with people online is the bees I have joined and the closer friendships that I have made via these bees. The best bee, Brit Bee, has resulted in life long friendships that I treasure and have made my life a better place to be.
5. In your opinion, is there still a place for bricks and mortar quilting shops, or is shopping for fabric online the future? Which do you prefer?
While I shop mostly online, and am also in the enviable position that I get a great deal of the fabric I use given to me by manufacturers, I don’t think anything can beat a good bricks and mortar shop. Many fabrics that have not appealed to me online I have instantly fallen in love with when seeing them in person. Buying fabric in a shop is a tactile, and often out of control, experience that I would not want to live without.
6. What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished; competitions to enter etc.?
2017 is turning out to be my busiest quilting year ever and the flow of commission work has been so constant that I haven’t been able to turn my mind to goals or WIPs. That being said, as I get to make my own designs, usually in the fabrics of my choosing, I’m pretty much living the dream here. I have found the past couple of years I have not participated in online swaps due to a combination of time constraints and past disappointments (as shallow as that sounds, sorry) and I have never really entered competitions.
7. If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?
If a fairy godmother could be so kind as to provide me a quilting space of my own that would be awesome. Seeing as this is the stuff of dreams the new space would be very spacious, allow for copious fabric storage, another machine for quilting with a throat space that makes quilting far easier, and room for friends to join me in there when the opportunity allowed. I’m not asking much but I may have to move to achieve this dream space!
Thank you Susie for sharing your amazing work!
I always look forward to seeing Susan’s next quilt design. I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about my lovely friend.
Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!
I had a fun few days with my best quilty buddies, up a mountain, with glorious sunshine and sheep for company (there may also have been lots of cake and buns)!
There was lots of sewing done too, but alas I can’t show you that just yet.
What I can show you is a summery table cloth I made for the May issue of Pretty Patches magazine.
The clever peeps at Tilda Fabrics came up with a beautiful collection earlier this year called Bumblebee.
If you are a regular visitor here, you will know how much I adore Tilda fabrics. And this collection is no exception. Ditsy flowers and some of my all time favourite colours together – what’s not to love!
So when Pretty Patches offered me a bundle of Bumblebee to work with, I jumped at the chance!
I wanted to keep the design large scale to let the fabrics do all the talking.
Also, to maintain some drape, I didn’t use wadding, but simply ‘bagged’ the top and backing together.
One of the reasons why I love Tilda fabrics so much is because of their vintage vibe (and I love all things vintagey!). So a lacey trim around the edge seemed a fitting finish.
All I need now is for the summer sunshine to return for a little al fresco dining on my new table cloth!
May here has got off to a fabulous sunny start! I’ve even ventured out with no socks on!!!
A new month means we get to meet another wonderful ‘Maker’.
This month’s Meet the Maker interview is with Lucy Brennan (Charm About You) one of the demonstrators on the new sewing channel ‘Sewing Quarter’ (Freeview 78) and fellow Finish-A-Long host.
Hello! I am Lucy Brennan from Manchester, UK. I blog at www.charmaboutyou.com and you can find me on social media as @charmaboutyou.
2. What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?
I am a quilter and maker of sewn projects. Whenever I can I like to do hand sewing, whether that be piecing, quilting or embroidery. I made my first quilt while I was at university, which was a bit of a disaster! I began sewing obsessively in 2011. With two small children at home I was looking for a hobby that would allow me to be creative and making sewn projects fulfilled that desire. I enjoyed making tangible things that are used and loved around our home. I began making quilts for friends and family, then started an Etsy shop and sold at craft fairs. I found I enjoyed the process of making and designing more than selling finished projects, so gradually that became my focus.
My cousin Jackie and my Auntie Barbara were both a big influence on me. Jackie runs a long arm quilt business in California and my Auntie is an avid crafter and creates beautiful English Paper Pieced quilts. I learnt a lot from them both and they always inspire me.
I was also influenced by the online quilting community. There are so many wonderful blogs full of great tutorials and advice. Writing my blog and engaging with other bloggers is a fun way to document progress and share finished projects. I learn a lot from reading about creative processes, following the journeys of crafters and quilters through their blogs.
3. What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration?
Quilting really is my therapy. Having that time to make something, work with my hands, using colour and beautiful fabrics, creating interesting combinations and patterns; every aspect is both exciting and soothing to me.
I am often inspired by fabric and enjoy playing with texture and prints. Sometimes it can be shapes or techniques that spark an idea. I like to challenge myself by learning different skills and there are so many methods in patchwork and quilting, there is always something more to try!
Other quilters and crafters are always inspiring me and I really like seeing the range of styles and approaches that different people have. Social media, particularly instagram, is a great way of seeing lots of projects and discovering new makers. Seeing who I follow on instagram will give you a glimpse of the people that inspire me!
4. Tell me about your experience on The Sewing Quarter?
I was asked mid 2016 to become part of the design team at The Sewing Quarter, at the time it was all very secretive and it was really hard not to tell anyone. There were rehearsals, thank goodness, but it was still terrifying to go on live television! I was nervous, mostly about making mistakes or saying something silly but it didn’t take long for me to get more comfortable and it helps to realise we are all only human – it would be stranger if everything was perfect!
I used to lecture in Sociology, then later began teaching quilting classes, so I have been a teacher since 2002. Speaking in front of people doesn’t scare me but the strange thing about television is that there are only a couple of people in the studio and the people watching are ‘out there’! It always relaxes me when people message in and I enjoy that responsiveness. For me, as a designer and demonstrator, the fun is in the engagement with the sewing community. Getting messages from people who have been inspired to start quilting or return to sewing is so wonderful!
5. What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished?
I feel like I have been brave over the past year and I would really like to continue to push myself creatively. I have some exciting projects in the works and I hope to be able to do some collaborations with other quilters, which is really inspiring and fab!
Finishing some wips would be wonderful, I am plodding away on a few projects but work keeps me busy so I am trying not to put extra pressure on myself and just enjoy some quiet sewing time for myself.
6. If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?
More space! It would be so lovely to have a sewing room rather than the corner of our dining room. I would enjoy being able to spread out and not have to tidy things away (or add to the big messy pile of stuff on my desk!). If anyone has good tips for streamlining stash and notions etc. or storage ideas for small craft areas I would love to hear them!
Wow! What a talented lady! I hope you have enjoyed reading more about Lucy, and don’t forget to look out for her on The Sewing Quarter!
We have had a sunny start to the new month – doesn’t the sunshine make everything seem much better!
Well a new month means a new ‘Meet the Maker’ interview, and it is my delight to introduce you to a very special lady!
This is Trudi, aka Quilting Prolifically. Trudi is a fellow Brit Bee member and an astoundingly talented long arm quilter. She is known for her ‘feather’ work, which are all ‘free hand’ quilted. Enjoy!
Introduction: Who are you? Where do you live? Where do you blog?
Hi, I’m Trudi, I live in Lincolnshire and quilt in a very posh shed at the bottom of my garden. I can be found at my very neglected blog Quilting Prolifically and more visibly on Intagram as @trudi_wood
2. What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?
I am a professional Longarm quilter, designer and patchwork and quilting teacher. I learned to sew when I was about six from my mum, piecing scraps from her basket into clothes for my dolls. My mum taught me to make my own clothes, and so for many years I was a dress maker, making my own clothes and bridesmaids dresses and ball gowns for others. I was introduced to quilting by a colleague when I was working in Belgium. They gave me a catalogue for an American quilting shop, and my eyes were opened to so many more possibilities. This was back in the day when machine quilting was regarded as a dirty word and cheating, so I hand quilted all my quilts because that’s what everyone did. There came a point when there were more tops than I could ever dream of hand quilting in a traditional way, so I taught myself to free motion quilt on my very old domestic machine that didn’t even drop the feed dogs. In 2007 I bought a table top frame and soon learnt my Bernina was not up to the job so added a Juki 98P and learned how to quilt on a frame. In 2014 My Innova Long arm arrived and I love it! Last year I took the leap and left my day job and now quilt full time. I’ve also been teaching Patchwork and quilting, free motion quilting, and designing quilt patterns for magazine commissions.
3. What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration? Who inspires you?
I love the creativity, I have always created, loved colour, and sewing, so to be able to inspire others, help people see more than they thought about for quilting and to work on so many different quilts is a real joy. Inspiration can strike from almost anywhere, from the fabric itself, the design of the quilt or even the purpose of the quilt. I love my customers to be involved in the process as much as possible, as they will usually have a good strong idea and starting point . I have my feet firmly set in the traditional field from the word go, inspired by UK quilters like Barbara Chainey and Amy Emms, US quilters like Daine Gaudinski and Karen McTavish. I do love to mix in the traditional with a more modern feel to the quilting.
4. Why did you start a blog? What do enjoy most about blogging? Do you see a future in blogging with the rise of other social mediums?
I started reading blogs back in 2008/09, and just figured, you know what, I could do that! I set up a blog and posted wondering who would read it, and people did. I was quite shocked. My blog has been neglected over the last year or two, as the time required to dedicate to it became more than I could muster, and Instagram seemed so much easier with the demise of Flickr also. Its quick, its a snapshot of time. Its a really great community. Yes I’d love to get back into some regular blogging, because I still think there is a place for it. Sometimes there is so much more to that snap in time than a few words can express, quilts have stories, and its always worth recording those stories and sharing with other. You never know who you might inspire.
5. What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished; competitions to enter etc.?
I strive to grow creatively each year, and this year is no different, my words for this year are to Shine and Adventure, so to use those as inspiration for the work I do makes a great focus. I really want to get back to the traditional patterns and see what I could bring to them with a modern slant using today’s quilting techniques. I have so many ideas in my head, I need to get them into my notebook and pick just one for the Festival of Quilts.
6. If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?
Oh that would be easy, more time! Time to create, time to play, time to just see where ideas take me. To be able to do all that and still work a full week with time for a weekend would be just grand.
Isn’t Trudi’s quilting amazing! Hard not to be inspired under her tutelage.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about this month’s Maker!
Happy March everyone! It’s officially the start of spring! Yippee!
A new month means a new Meet the Maker Interview. This month, the lovely Jo Avery from My Bearpaw brings you a visual feast for the eyes! Jo and I first met in a pyjama bottoms class, sitting next to each other! She is a multi-talented quilter, embroiderer, knitter and crocheter! Enjoy!
My name is Jo Avery, I blog at myBearpaw and I am a quilt designer and teacher based in Scotland. I have a shop and teaching studio, myBearpaw, in Edinburgh where I teach a range of crafts. I organise an annual one-day sewing retreat, the Stitch Gathering, and I am one third of The Thread House (alongside Karen Lewis and Lynne Goldsworthy), a pattern publishing and retreat organising venture.
What is your craft/s? When did you start? Who/what inspired you to get started?
My big sister, Jane, taught me to sew when I was 6 and and I spent a large part of my childhood making things and generally sewing, knitting and drawing. When I was 10 Jane taught me how to make EPP hexies and I made my mum a reversible clutch bag from them (I bet it was just lovely!). Fast forward to me moving in with my boyfriend (now husband) aged 21 and the first thing I did was rush out and buy a hexagon template and some fabric off-cuts and started to make a quilt! I quilted on and off through my twenties and thirties while my kids were growing up and then got really interested again about 10 years ago.
What do you most enjoy about your craft? Where do you find your inspiration? Who inspires you?
I really just love to make stuff. I really need to be creative all the time. I have run my own business since I was 21 and there has always been a creative element to my work, whether it was writing, designing, visual merchandising or actual making as I do now. I am so happy and thankful that I get to be creative every day for a living, but really I don’t think I could actually live any other way.
I am inspired by absolutely everything and constantly! I never lack for ideas, they just pop into my head all the time, especially in the shower for some reason! I live in the countryside and so nature constantly inspires me but also seeing what everyone else is making on blogs, instagram and in magazines and books. I also like to partake in a wide variety of crafts like crochet, knitting and embroidery as well as general sewing, like bags and pouches (but not dressmaking!), and I think I get a lot of ideas from this ‘cross-pollination’.
Why did you start a blog? Do you see a future in blogging with the rise of other social mediums?
I had tried quilting groups back in my twenties (and they had been invaluable for getting me started and teaching me skills), but we had moved around a bit and so I was very much quilting in isolation when I finally stumbled on to a craft blog in 2009. I immediately realised I had to start my own and got my (then) teenage sons to help me set it up. I just loved the idea that I could share what I was making with others and communicate my thoughts and feelings about crafting, even if no one was actually reading it! Eventually people did start to read it and soon there was a whole community of quilting bloggers congregating on Flickr and in real life at the Fat Quarterly Retreat (where I met the lovely Judith!). I just love being part of this friendly, supportive, international community, it is a very special thing.
I think there was such a huge proliferation of blogs a few years back that it got too much for people to keep up with them all. So when Instagram came along everyone stopped reading and writing blog posts as it was so much quicker and easier to post on there. I love IG but I still like to write my blog, and for the same reasons as at the start – the ability to share and communicate with others. Plus it is a great archive of all my work, and almost like an online diary! I see myself always writing it no matter what happens, it is a good discipline to keep up and I love to write.
What are your creative goals for 2017? Are there new things you would like to try; projects you would like to get finished; competitions to enter etc.?
I really want to make time to work on competition quilts, or just the sort of quilts I want to make. I have been very busy with magazine commissions over the last three years and have made A LOT of quilts! At the end of last year I felt a little burnt out so am taking a bit of a step back this year and so far have only been doing commissions for small projects. I really don’t want to turn myself off making quilts by over doing it!
I am very obsessed by needle turn applique at the moment and want to do a lot more of that, but I have to be careful not to over do hand work as my poor old hands aren’t up to it anymore. My main goals are just to be a bit more relaxed this year and not to take so much on!
If a fairy godmother could grant you one creative wish, what would it be?
Could I have a time-turner like Hermione had in one of the Harry Potter books? There are so many things I want to make and so many ideas I’d like to pursue but I never have enough time! I am loving the BOM for Today’s Quilter that I am designing at present. It is all about my life in the country and I get to write a little piece about my inspirations every month and the blocks are a nice mix of different techniques, so I would love to be asked do another project like this please!
Didn’t I tell you you were in for a treat! Thank you Jo for sharing your amazing talent.
It has been my absolute joy and privilege to be part of an amazingly talented, caring and funny group of quilters called ‘Brit Bee’.
We formed in 2011 from the ‘Brit Quilt’ Flickr Group, and despite 3 member changes, we haven’t stopped sewing for each other since!
Our very first ‘meet up’ at Fat Quarterly Retreat, London, 2012. (I’m on top of a table, just in case you thought I was freakishly tall!)
Although we are spread across the UK, we try to meet up at least once a year (more if we can!). I have missed out on the last 2 retreats, and so was determined to make it to Bedfordshire for our 2017 retreat.
This year, 9 Brit Bee-ers and Cindy (a special friend of Brit Bee) spent the last weekend eating, chatting, sewing, eating, more sewing, considerably more eating, minimal sleeping and lots more sewing!
We may not see each other more than once or twice a year, but we fit so easily together again, like a well worn pair of much loved slippers!
It was such an easy atmosphere, we could wake up, grab a cuppa, and head straight to the sewing machines in our pjs, bleary eyes and dishevelled hair!
We also inspired and ‘nutured’ each other’s creativity, getting caught up on bee blocks, consulting on quilt design, helping out with tricky paper piecing. All the while getting caught up on life, our hopes, dreams, struggles and triumphs.
As always, the weekend goes too quickly, but the inspiration and refreshment from our time together lasts much longer.
I got lots of sewing done too, and will blog about these projects separately.
In the meantime, I will leave you with a picture of the Brit Bee R4 blocks I have received so far.
A lovely ‘owl loving’ friend of mine had her birthday this weekend!
‘Olive Owl’ first made an appearance in my Woodland Friends quilt last year. (And I’m currently teaching this quilt in my classes – it’s been so lovely watching a beautiful ‘Parliament of Owls’ appear!)
I adapted the pattern to create mummy owl, and her 3 babies on this Essex Linen wallhanging.
I love satin stitch applique, scraps and mini quilts wallhangings! And I’m pleased to say that my friend (a talented quilter herself) does too!
I managed to source an Owl wire hanger too (no pics sorry!).
So these cute birds are now too-wit too-woo-ing their way into their new home!
Another month means another ‘Meet the Maker’ interview, this time with an amazingly talented quilter called Leanne Chahley.
I have had the privilege of meeting Leanne in person, at Fat Quarterly Retreat in London 2012. But we had already become firm blogging friends before then.
I am in awe of Leanne’s work, and I know you will be too!
“My name is Leanne Chahley and I live in Alberta, Canada. I am a quilter, a knitter, and I also sew garments, weave, spin, crochet, and do needlework, cross stitch and petit point. I blog at she can quilt. I also write quilting patterns, love teaching, and quilt freehand without computers or pantographs on a long arm quilting machine. I have been knitting and sewing since I was 5 years old, and cannot imagine not having several creative projects on the go. For the last several years, I have focused on quilting, while always having a bit of knitting in my bag too.“
Why I quilt, where I find inspiration
“I quilt for fun. I love playing with colours, patterns and designs. My favourite work is improv, and I love designing my own quilts so that they are one of a kind. Having said that, I also like to revisit an idea and work in a series, so that I can explore variations on each inspiration. I also love to explore traditional quilting patterns and working to perfect techniques.
I find inspiration everywhere. From historic quilters, quilting teachers and quilting friends. From nature, architecture, flooring, and tiles. From emotions and feelings. From the colours and textures I see at the beach, in forests, in the city or indoors. I try to look at things from all angles, from near and far, and from all perspectives. And then I follow where the inspiration leads me.”
“I started my blog, she can quilt, on March 12, 2011. Judith was one of my very first followers and we started being friends when she commented on my third ever blog post. I started the blog to share my quilting journey with quilting friends. It has brought me many friends, a great number of whom I have met in person at quilting events. In fact I have met Judith in person and spent time with her at quilting retreats in London, England.
I use my blog to share my work, tutorials, patterns and ideas. I work to create community for quilters all over the world with sharing events like Scraptastic Tuesday and the Finish A Long. My blog also helps to remind me of where I have been and where I might want to go next with my quilting. And occasionally some knitting is featured too.
In addition to my blog, I am active on Instagram as @shecanquilt. I do have a Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook presence too, but I barely use them.”
Creative Goals for 2017
“I am hoping to use the coming year to make more quilts. I especially want to explore improv and my own designs. I hope to publish a lot of new pdf patterns and explore the feasibility of paper printed patterns too. I am looking forward to continuing being part of the blogging community as well. Finally I hope to enter a few quilt shows – as although I do not make quilts especially for shows, I enjoy the opportunity to share my work in person with people and it is fun to win the odd ribbon too.”
A special creative wish
“I would wish for a time turner so that I could fit more creative time into my days.” Leanne
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s Meet the Maker and Leanne’s beautiful work.
I hope you aren’t tired of seeing my denim pouches!
I was woefully late getting a birthday present to my friend, but now that she has it I can show it to you!
This one is a little different from my other denim pouches. I thought I would keep hexies as the dominant theme this time.
My Sizzix cutting machine makes light work cutting through the denim. And because I enjoying EPP-ing hexies so much, there are more hexies on the back, with just a hint of Aurifil Wool thread featuring in the base (couldn’t resist)!
Sometimes denim can feel a little masculine, so I made sure to add some feminine touches with the floral lining and pink zip!
While this pouch has been made from recycled textiles, I haven’t even made a dent in my hoard!
I guess I’ll just have to think up a few more ways to use denim!
A friend and quilter whom I greatly admire is Svetlana (SOTAK Handmade).
I adore her clean and simple contemporary style of quilting and she also designs and prints her own fabric!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Svetlana to kick start our new year.
“My name is Svetlana Sotak. I am a pattern designer, sewist, quilter, and an occasional screen printer and I blog over at Sotak Handmade. I love using simple fabric designs and creating uncomplicated, useful, everyday projects.”
Creatively speaking, what was your proudest achievement in 2016 and why?
“My proudest achievement would have to be learning to screen print on fabric and designing my very own sewing kits. It was definitely a challenging task of constant trial and error learning, but so worth all the effort. I’m hoping to build on the skills I learned and produce more kits in the coming year.
I also did quite a bit of hand quilting this past year. I must admit, I didn’t really expect to like it very much when I first started, but I found it incredibly relaxing and meditative and I’m definitely going to incorporate more hand quilting in my projects.”
What are your creative goals for 2017?
“I’m excited to keep creating and publishing more pdf patterns and kits. I’m also hoping to work more with leather, wool, and waxed canvas as I think they add an extra touch of polish and finesse to finished bags and pouches.”
If your fairy godmother could grant you a wish for 2017, what would it be?
“More time, definitely more time to create. And to read. And maybe learn some weaving. I even started pinning some of my favorite weavings to my Pinterest board so in case fairy godmother does show up, she’ll have some reference to go by :).”
What philosophy/inspiring quote will you live by in 2017?
“Lately I’ve been really intrigued with the idea of rational minimalism (you can find more about it here). I love the idea of having just enough, not too little, not too much. And I’m hoping that conscious reduction of clutter all around me will free me to enjoy my life and explore new opportunities more.”
Isn’t Svetlana’s work inspirational? Please hop on over to her blog and check out her many creations!
I hope you have enjoyed my first interview of 2017.
Today saw the end of another year of teaching my Patchwork and Quilting classes!
I teach 4 (sometimes 5) classes a week and the topics of conversation that take place are varied and entertaining!
To give you an idea, here are a few of my favourites:
English football (the less said the better!) The Great British Sewing Bee (and the ‘unique’ dress code of one of the judges!) How hot and wrinkled Egyptian cotton sheets can get (don’t ask!) How to treat achne! How to get rid of garden snails! How to disable your hockey opponent! Birthing calves and lambs (& babies!) 50 ways to deal with an unhelpful doctor (un-printable!)
Of course there are many serious and thought-provoking conversations too!
Today one lady said ‘getting old isn’t for wimps’, which was swiftly followed by murmurs of agreement from around the room.
I’ve just had another birthday, and while ‘half way to 90’ isn’t old, neither am I young.
My daughter and nephew also celebrating birthdays this month!
In truth this statement could apply to life – ‘doing life isn’t for wimps’. Among the 48 ladies I have the privilege of teaching each week, some are battling cancer or illness, divorce and loss, children with special needs, caring for elderly parents, teenagers, anxiety, worry and fear and many more life challenges.
One of our recent chats in class was about how to get through life with a positive attitude, seeing good and bad times as an opportunity to grow and learn, and how to have courage to live life with intention and purpose. How inspiring!
Doing life, and doing it well, isn’t for whimps! But each week my ladies turn up to class with a smile; they laugh, chatter, encourage, cajole, drink tea, eat biscuits and even sew a little!
They are choosing to do life, and do it well. There are certainly no wimps in my classes!!
Thank you ladies for sharing your thoughts, talents, hearts and authenticity each week.
Since I started blogging over 5 years ago, I quickly became part of a wonderfully giving and generous community of quilters.
I have made friends with folks around the world, we have laughed and cried together, shared our achievements, disasters, tips and tricks!
And now and again I get to meet some of these wonderful people in the flesh!
This is an old pic of me and Marie, who comes to Belfast each year, all the way from Oz! I’m so privileged to call Marie a friend, she is a talented quilter and a truly generous and inspirational person. Today we met again for coffee, and our short time together always goes too quickly!
And she ALWAYS has a gift for me!
Thank you Marie for my pretty roses, and your smiling and passionate heart!
Another way to be a part of this amazing online quilting community is to donate blocks.
I know lots of folks go running, run marathons, go to the gym, run 10k’s, every day of the week perhaps! To some it might not seem like a big thing, to run 5k, it is only 3 miles after all!
But for me, starting the 10 week ‘Couch to 5k’ programme in January was huge. Ever since being diagnosed with M.E. at the age of 19 I’ve had pretty rubbish stamina, embarrassingly so! While I’m thankful I no longer suffer from M.E. it left a definite mark on my energy levels.
My biggest fears were not being able to run the allocated slots; being too exhausted and sore the next day!! I needn’t have worried, and I couldn’t have done this without the support and accountability of my 2 lovely girls, one of my bestie’s and of course the inspiring and well run Jog Belfast programme.
Over the 10 weeks we ran through rain, sleet, snow, freezing temperatures and wind (there was the occasional sunny spell too!), I had to dig deep to go out on Tuesday nights after 2 days on my feet, into the cold and rain, Thursday nights with Ruth (in the cold and rain), and Saturday mornings (when I just wanted to stay in a warm cosy bed!). So I’m even more proud of myself for sticking with all 10 weeks.
It was thoroughly enjoyable, and while I don’t yet consider myself a ‘runner’ (my time was 42 minutes!!!!) I hope to continue running Park Runs on Saturdays and with Ruth through the week too. If I can run through the dark nights of January I can run anytime of the year, right!!
If you have ever considered doing a ‘Couch to 5k’ programme, I would highly recommend it. Join a group and improve your stamina and well being! Let’s face it, if I can do it, anyone can!