Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Penny O'Connor at Flowerpatch

As usual Flowerpatch Quilters latest meeting was full of interest and included an inspiring talk by Penny O'Connor.

Penny told us that she has been sewing from a young age and has always wanted to work in art and textiles. She has studied many different techniques including fabric screen printing, dyeing, spinning and weaving to name just a few. After many happy years teaching Penny moved to Cornwall and now her love is machine and hand embroidery. One of her  designs came about after observing her hens - they hated getting their feet wet!

Other animals quickly followed - some quirky

and others simply beautiful.

I really like this new design 

and of course we have to include Christmas at this time of year.

These two pics show the myriad of items that Penny brought along for us to enjoy. She calls her free motion embroidery "just scribbling" - I only wish I could "scribble" as creatively!

Thank you Penny for such an interesting and friendly evening.

We also had our swiftly dealt with AGM and gave ourselves a pat on the back for raising £3000 for Cornwall Blood Bikes with our quilt raffle, etc. Monica B had made a table runner and 4 place mats in the same design and these were raffled among the members who had helped to make the quilt. Julia was the lucky winner. We chose our charity for 2018 and it is Guide Dogs.

There is a change of date for Flowerpatch's December meeting - it is a week earlier on Thursday 7th December. Please bring along some nibbles. We will be making Twinchies - 2" squares of loveliness, so please also bring sewing kit, fabric scraps, beads, buttons, embroidery threads, etc. - whatever you have at hand. As you've probably heard many times before - "here are some I made earlier!"

Happy Stitching
Anita x





Saturday, 11 November 2017

6 Minute Circles - Design 1

I've only recently discovered 6 minute circles and I'm feeling a tad excited about my first attempts to make something with them.

This is design 1 and I intend to add other similar designs in the coming weeks / months. These are still in my head or on scrappy slips of paper at the moment.

There are just two alternating blocks in this first design and each block finishes at 4" + seam allowance. Of course this can easily be scaled up when making something larger.

There are some very good tutorials online about 6 minute circles, but I do like to do my very own mini tutorial.
This is all you need to make the circle block.

  • A 4½" square made from strips of fabric - I sew the widest strips on the edges.
  • 4½" square of background fabric - I'll call this background fabric but it's actually in the foreground!
  • 4½" square of freezer paper with a 3" circle cut out
  • Sewline or similar fabric glue.
Iron the freezer paper onto the back of the background fabric, then cut out the centre approx ½" inside the paper curve. I fold the background fabric right sides together to do this more easily and neatly as I want to use this centre fabric later on.

Cut slits in the fabric edge almost to the paper edge, then press these tabs over the paper template with an iron.

Put a little fabric glue on the tabs, then place the background fabric on top of the fabric strips matching the outside edges of the block.

Now it's just a matter of sewing around the circle on the background fabric, as close to the edge as possible. I use a short stitch length to help me get around the curve more easily and evenly.
Trim the excess from the strips fabric while the freezer paper is still attached - this avoids accidents with the scissors such as cutting into the background. Then simply remove the freezer paper template.













Now for that piece of fabric that I cut from the centre of the circle. I made a circular cardboard template 1¼" in diameter and drew around this on the back of the fabric piece. Then I hand stitched around outside the marked circle with a small running stitch and gathered it up enclosing the cardboard template. Pressed with an iron, removed the cardboard, gathered up again and pressed again.

This small circle can be placed anywhere within the stripey circle

And here it is sewn in place.

I call the alternate block "floating rectangles" as I hope they look like they are floating on the background fabric next to the circles.
I just used scraps from my stash for this block so my rectangles are all sorts of different sizes, but if you want to use set sizes I suggest that you cut four rectangles which measure 2" x 2", 3" x 2", 3" x 3" and 3" x 2" and a length of background fabric measuring 1" x 10". When you sew up the block you'll find that it comes out larger than the finished 4½" but if you're a wonky sewer like me this is a real advantage as it can be trimmed to shape.

Here are the two blocks side by side.

Here are my 9 blocks pieced together

And here they have been layered up and simply quilted around the circles and rectangles using my walking foot on my sewing macine.

Finally I decided to free motion quilt on the background fabric with varyingly spaced vertical...ish straight.....ish lines to really make the shapes pop and I bound my mini quilt with some of the fabrics already used in the design.

I haven't thought of a good name for my design yet ....... possibly "see-through circles"?

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish it up Friday

Happy Sewing
Anita x







Friday, 27 October 2017

Living in the Woods

It's so satisfying to finish this small textile picture which I have called "Living in the Woods". I loved every minute of the making as this is such a personal picture. I thought about it a long time before actually starting because I didn't expect it to look anywhere near as good as it did in my head, but I'm really pleased with the result. It measures approx 12" x 8".

I was inspired to do this picture after seeing the wonderful landscape paintings of Jan Phethean , and also by the beautiful area where I live.

I cut a circular piece of lino to look like branches, and stamp-printed in brown on lots of different greens to make the trees and bushes, cutting a bit more from the lino after a few prints. These were then cut out in rough bush shapes and sewn on by machine, with raw edges. The really tiny pieces like the buildings are stuck on with Steam a Seam 2 and then most have a few stitches added.

I finished off with a pale, narrow flange and then binding in brown.

The picture isn't an exact copy of my house, garden and buildings, but looking at it gives rise to all the lovely feelings I have about being lucky to live here - it makes me very grateful and happy.

Feeling content - Anita x

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish it up Friday


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Lesley Coles at Flowerpatch

A return visit by Lesley Coles, to Flowerpatch Quilters October meeting, was an enthralling delight. Lesley brought along so many of her quilts, etc for us to see, spanning 4 decades of patchwork sewing from hexagons, through an abundance of Christmas sewing to her latest modern wall hangings. Here is just a small selection:

This small rectangular cushion lies on a riot of colourful quilts

This block is one of nine that make up a Sudoku quilt. Can you see the clever use of fabric so that no.1 square is made from one fabric; no.2 square is made from two fabrics, one of which is the fabric in the first square; no.3 square is made from three fabrics, using the two fabrics from before plus another; etc. etc? This means that the no.1 fabric is dominant and appears in each square of the quilt linking them all for a pleasing effect. The fabrics used are Oakshott.

Lesley is lucky enough to live near our beautiful Cornish coast and many of her later works reflect her love of the coastal scenery. These two small scenes are of Godrevy lighthouse and of engine houses on the cliffs.

I love the colour blend of these two pieces inspired by the sea, especially the addition of the subtle fish in this first pic which shows just a small section of a finished wall hanging

and this is a smaller wallhanging in similar colours - I like the strippy piecing.

Lesley is always full of new ideas and enjoys running workshops and writing articles for patchwork magazines, as well sewing for charity, herself and for exhibition. Thank you Lesley for a lovely evening.

October is the month when we present a cheque to charity. Money is raised by selling raffle tickets for a quilt and at our exhibition. This is the quilt that we raffled - Autumn Gold.

Cornwall Blood Bikes was our chosen charity for 2016/2017 and we were so pleased that four volunteers came to our meeting to accept the £3000 that we had raised. They were delighted with the amount ........... and they were delightful! Alan Moss gave a short talk about the organisation which has 70 volunteers in Cornwall. They are on call from 5pm to 7am the following morning and at weekends, delivering blood, and sometimes breast milk, as needed. This saves the hospitals having to use expensive taxis during these hours. Last year they totalled over 2000 deliveries on their motorbikes. Please do click on this link if you'd like to know more about the charity - Cornwall Blood Bikes and this is the article that appeared in our local newspaper. when we presented the cheque.

Next meeting is on Thursday, 9th November 2017 at Central Methodist Church Hall, Launceston, PL15 8BA and starts at 7.30pm. Penny O'Connor will be giving a talk about her lovely machine stitched embroideries.
It is also our AGM so please bring along any thoughts on how we can improve Flowerpatch and ideas for next year's charity as we will be voting on this.

Happy Stitching
Anita x

Friday, 13 October 2017

FMQ - Tips from the experts

2016 was supposed to be the year that I came to grips with free motion quilting and now, as we head towards the end of 2017, I'm still struggling!  At the Festival of Quilts I was lucky enough to see a FMQ demonstration by Philippa Naylor and just a few days later, at an exhibition of her work at Cowslip Workshops, Sheena Norquay was kind enough to share some of her FMQ tips.

So back to some FMQ practise .........

Philippa suggested using Microtex needles size 60 and these slid beautifully through the fabric layers - and I didn't break even one (much to my surprise). Instead of quilting gloves she uses a piece of anti-slip grip mat under one or both hands - this was great to use and so much better than my gardening gloves!! :)

Sheena said that she sometimes uses an embroidery hoop to hold her fabric layers. I didn't even own one of these and was surprised at how cheap they are! I bought an 8" one and found that it fitted quite easily under my quilting foot. It gave me a lot of confidence having the rim to hold - not that I didn't make lots of errors in my stitching. In fact once I'd messed up the stitching a bit it made me relax a little. Another of Sheena's tips was to always draw out your design on paper first to get your brain into gear and I found that it helped to actually make up some of my own designs.

So this is my rather wonky sample piece - it measures approx 9" x 9"

And I still find random squiggles really difficult!! :)

Happy wobbly stitching - Anita x

Saturday, 30 September 2017

More Sashiko - More Bags!

I just had to do another two Sashiko patterns and this time I knew they would be used to make a bag. I had enjoyed making my last cross strap, zipper bag so much and I use it all the time. I decided to do the Sashiko stitching on upcycled denim - we get through a lot of jeans in this house!!
These are the two patterns - they both start with a 6 x 6 grid of 1" squares

and this is the bag that I made - there is a Sashiko design on each side.

As the Sashiko is stitched on the same denim fabric as the bag I decided to add a fabric flange to set off the stitched panel and I thought you might like to know how I do this.

I usually want a really small flange so I cut a strip of fabric just " wide, fold it in half along its length and press it. I mark the stitched panel with a square around the design to show just where I want the flange fold to sit (unfortunately I only seem to have blue Frixion Pens handy so you probably can't see my line :) ) I stitch it to the panel quite close to the raw edges of the flange as I don't want these stitches to show after I add the blue denim border.

I sew the flange to the sides first and then to the top and bottom as this is the order I want to sew on the denim borders. This is to avoid bulky seams at the top where the zipper goes, and the bottom which I like to make boxy.

I cut the denim borders a bit wider and longer than I need them and I don't trim up the panel yet.

I carefully line up the edge of the border with the raw edge of the folded flange and sew a ¼" seam - this will give me my tiny flange.

After sewing on the two side borders I trim the seam allowance and the excess from the top and bottom of the border denim

After sewing on all 4 borders I top stitch around the panel.

These are the two finished sides of my bag and can you see that the panels aren't in exactly the same position? I make loads of mistakes when sewing, but this isn't one of them!! When I sew up the bag I don't want the seams in the back and front to meet on the side seam.

Now it's bag making time and these are all the things I need to make my bag.


  • 2 bag sides and 2 linings, all measuring 10" x 12"
  • An 8" zipper with tabs on each end
  • A denim handle, approx 40" long and cut 2¼" wide, folded with the raw edges inside to make 4 layers and top stitched
  • 2 handle loops (I originally intended to use the flange fabric, but decided that the zipper tab fabric looked better). These are 4½" long and were cut 1¼" wide and folded like the handle. It's a good idea to cut a longer length than you need so that you can discard the ends which can go a bit awry in the sewing machine.

I have posted before about making a zipper pouch, but this is a very quick run through of attaching the zip:

Bag fabric right side up, zipper right side down and sew along near to the edge.

Lining right side down and sew along near to the zip.

This is the zipper sandwiched between the bag fabric and the lining. The zipper tabs have been trimmed.

The other bag fabric right side up, the other side of the zipper right side down and sew along near to the edge.

Lining right side down and sew along near to the zip.

It looks like this - outside and inside.

That's the hard part done as far as I'm concerned and it just remains to sew up the sides, but I thought you might like to see how I position the handle loops just beneath the zipper tabs before I sew the sides together.

I also did a boxy bottom to my bag which you can read about in my post "Boxy Bottoms".
Here's another look at the finished bag.

I also made a bag in the same design, but slightly smaller, for my sewing friend's special birthday. I just had to use these very apt fabric panels. The left one says "best friends" and the right one says "piecing together a quilt".

This is the bag -

Well! - that's quite enough from me!! I hope that you have found something useful in the above - I know that I shall be returning to this post to refresh my memory when making my next bag!

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish it up Friday

Happy Sewing - Anita x