Monday, 31 August 2009

Telling Tales

I thought I'd just share a few last photos from this year's Festival of Quilts. There was so much to see, I could have spent a few days wandering around! I found myself being drawn in particular to the quilts that told a story, recorded people's lives or commented on what's happening in the world today. Here are the ones I liked the most...

I really like the different layers, shapes and textures in this quilt...and the idea that layers of a family's history are being brought together in textiles.

'E.End Hamlets' by The Greenhill Centre. This quilt was inspired by the diverse neighbourhoods of London's East End. The colours were really doubt just like the lives and stories being represented.

This was one of the pieces in Lisbeth Williams's 'Family Archives' collection. It's a stack of quilted bowls, made from materials of significance to Lisbeth's family - her grandmother's dishcloths, handkerchiefs, old photographs, name tapes, letters, postage stamps and newspapers. Apparently, it can be added to by future generations. Such a fabulous idea!

'Eternal Enigma', by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs. I love the textures and shapes. It's more like a work of art than a quilt!

I love the drama that lettering can bring to textiles...this is 'Letter Landscape I' by Jette Clover.

'Financial Crisis - Friendships End with the Money!' by Bea Galler (Germany). It's been created by using block patchwork, embellishments and quilted using package string. It just goes to show that you really can use any medium to record what's going on in the world.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

All Sorts of Shapes

One of the things that jumped out at me when I was wandering amongst the quilts at the Festival of Quilts on Saturday was all the different shapes and patterns. This may sound a little silly, but I find some traditional quilts patterns really comforting. They remind me of vintage quilts, made from all sorts of fabric scraps with all sorts of history...a much-loved dress, an old pair of curtains that once dressed the windows of a familiar room or a favourite piece of clothing from childhood. Whenever I see traditional quilts, they make me think of the women in days gone by who would gather together to create a quilt whilst swapping stories and sharing a love of handicraft.

This hand sewn quilt was created by Sheila Wilkinson (Amersham). It's called 'Scrap City' and was inspired by "an overflowing scrap box and a wish for a hand sewing project'. It must have taken hours!

'Initial Confusion' by Jess Williams (Liverpool). Hand pieced and hand sewn...I'm discovering that quilters must have oodles of patience! I've got it in my mind that I'd like to have a go at using material from my scraps basket to create a quilt like this. I love the idea of each piece of fabric reminding me of a project I've worked on. I'll just have to hope that I can find some of the patience I'm going to need!

I think this is 'Every Colour is Welcome' by Rita Bos-van Kuelen and Emily Tate. If it is, then according to the catalogue, this quilt used every scrap its creators found in their cupboards! What a great way to use the stashes of fabric we all seem to collect over time (or am I the only one who buys fabric and then thinks, 'it's too nice to cut up, I'll save it for something really special'?!)

Quilts using squares...but look closely and you'll see circles too!

What a fabulous riot of shapes and colour. It reminds me of the spinners you can buy at the seaside for putting in the top of sand castles! It's called 'Infinity' and was created by Margaret McDonald and Susan Campbell.

'Three Sixty' by Lin Patterson (Eye). All the pieces are hand dyed cotton and silk velvet. It reminds me of Kandinsky's 'Squares with Concentric Circles'.

There were so many glorious quilts at the Festival, it's been tricky deciding which ones to write about. I've just got a few more I want to show you, but it'll have to wait until my next p0st!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Festival Fun

There are so many fabulous places to find creative inspiration. I visited just one yesterday in the form of the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham's N.E.C. It's the largest quilt show in Europe and is a complete treat for the senses. Not only is there a bountiful supply of work by hugely talented people on display, there are also oodles of eye-catching stands full to the brim with things to tempt you!

Here's a little look at how I spent my day...

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the fabulously talented Amy Butler! I'm going to be writing an article for Sew Hip magazine all about it, so watch this space. Amy and I talked about all sorts of things, from her new fabric line and favourite shops, to her cats, garden and travels. She's such a lovely person...I could have chatted away to her all day!

As well as the quilts that were entered into the competition by patchworkers and quilters from all over the world, there were booths featuring the work of well-known artists/makers, groups and students. The artistry on show was really quite breathtaking.

I was really taken with the quilts that were bursting with colour. I've always admired people who can work with colour...I'm not very confident in my own abilities with using it successfully. I was talking to Amy B. about this and she had some very wise words to say on the matter (which I'll share in my article for Sew Hip!)

This piece by Yoshiko Jinzenji really caught my eye.

Going to shows is a great way to meet talented people. It's wonderful to be able to chatter away to someone who 'gets' the whole creative thing and who shares a passion for tinkering with thread and fabric! I was thrilled to meet Janet Clare, who creates the most gorgeous designs using machine embroidery, fabric and her imagination (oh to have such glorious designs in my head!) She even gave me one of her little embroidery 'doodles', which I intend to frame and put in my work room (thank you so much Janet - a lovely surprise!) I'll be sure to include it in a future post.

This bunch of quilted flowers put a smile on my face as soon as I saw them. So cheery!

The creativity and skill of the patchworkers and quilters showing at the festival was really quite incredible. Many quilts were more like pieces of this one by a group called Damss, entitled 'Duomo di Milano'.

'Bushfire Sunset' by Lisa Walton and Nic Bridges - made using a variety of fabric strips, pieced together, with a silk organza overlay. The colours were really intense and it looked just as good up close as it did from a distance.

A detail from 'What a Hoot', by the Club Class Quilters. There were owls aplenty on this quilt, but I liked this little chap in particular!

This was one of the quilts in the Quilters' Guild Challenge and was made by Eva Melhus from Norway. Everything about the design appealed to me, from the subtle colours to the shapes of the cow parsley.

'Black Rose' by Bethan Ash. This quilt just jumped out at me...I love its graphic qualities. It's so different to the traditional designs that I think of as being 'patchwork and quilting', yet is sits perfectly amongst them.

Having had a fairly quiet summer in terms of creativity and textiles, I feel ready to start planning, designing and making again. I'd love to have a go at making a quilt from hexagons of all the little pieces of fabric I have sitting in my scraps basket.

There's still so much to share from my day at the Festival of Quilts, but it will have to wait until my next post...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A New Addition

Something arrived this morning that has cheered me up no end! I've been feeling a little under the weather this week and have been mostly reading, sleeping and trying to avoid daytime tv! Imagine my delight when a parcel wrapped in brown paper, tied with string and smelling of lavender was delivered by the postie this morning. Joy of joys!

What was inside...?

Mavis - my new bunny from The Vintage Magpie, created by the very talented Nicky. Mavis is made from hand embroidered vintage linen and I think she's just perfect! She's very happy to be with her other bunny friends...

...who have welcomed her into their little group! So, here are all of my Magpie bunnies..from top to bottom, left to right we have: Maggie, Mabel, Prue, Mavis and Agnes.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

A Vintage Treasure

Last year for my birthday, I was given the most fabulous gift of a vintage wooden sewing box. It sits in our lounge and I see it everyday. Every now and again, I open its lid and get all of its contents out, just to look at. I found myself doing this the other day and thought you might like to take a peek too.

I love the picture on the box's lid. It's a little worn, but you can still make out people in their finery attending some sort of soiree.

The top layer holds all sorts of bits and bobs, from thread and needles, to the box's original keys.

Take out the little shelf and underneath is a space for bigger things, including this cigar tin with old buttons, bits of tailor's chalk and other sewing paraphernalia.

I love buttons, so to find this card of linen ones in the bottom of my sewing box was a real treat. They're still as clean and bright as the day they were made!

Tucked right at the bottom of the box is this gorgeous book of nursery rhymes featuring...

...'Old King Cole'...

...and 'Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush'.

I think in time I'll add my own bits and pieces to the box, but at the moment I like the thought of someone else having stashed these things inside the little wooden box, ready to use when they needed them.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

10 Things Not Many People Know About Me

The lovely Philippa from 5ft inf has awarded me the 'Honest Scrap Award'. How's always good fun to 'win' something! As the recipient of this award, I must now divulge ten things about myself that no-one else knows (well, not many people anyway). So here goes...

1. I have a green Blue Peter badge...for a letter I wrote into the programme about recycling.

2. My favourite era is the 1930s and '40s (ok, so you might have had a slight inkling about this already!)

3. I love bunting! I think it might have started at an early age...this is me at a street party for Charles and Diana's wedding (with my Mum and Nan). Mum cut the bottom off the skirt she's wearing to make a small-sized version for me!

4. My wedding dress was light pink and 1930s-inspired. It was the ultimate indulgence as I had it made by a couture designer. It fitted perfectly (and made me wish all of my dresses could be made especially for me!)

5. My family owned a paint works in Sunderland. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in May 1943, so we'll never know if we could have been as big as Farrow and Ball!

6. I just love vintage haberdashery. I have all sorts of things in my (ever growing) collection.

7. Things in my textiles collection include a pair of Pretty Polly silk stockings from the 1940s. They have a seam up the back and everything! I'd love to wear them, but I'm too afraid of snagging them.

8. I'm a Bakelite nut! I've collected all sorts of bakelite things over the years and I'm always on the look out for new additions. My latest acquisition is the brightly coloured pot (on the right). I saw it in the window of a local charity shop and rushed inside to buy it before anyone else spotted it!

9. I was the rather proud recipient of the school Textiles Cup in the Lower Fourth and got to keep the little trophy over the summer holidays. I was never sporty at school so this was the only trophy I've ever won!

10. One of my most treasured possessions is a letter from Miep Gies (who helped Anne Frank and her family in the Secret Annex). I've always loved writing letters and was thrilled to receive a lovely response from Miep when I wrote to her.

I had to include this photo as it captures something that made me chuckle yesterday. It's in the very picturesque village of West Wycombe. Do the owners of this house not use their front door, or is it a jolly wheeze to avoid door-to-door salesmen?!

Monday, 3 August 2009


When I was at school, I loved nothing more than to swap things with my friends. I remember stickers were a particular favourite. Imagine my glee when a month or so ago I stumbled across a swap that was going on in Blogland, organised by The Further Adventures of A Thrifty Mrs. Always one for a challenge, I signed up!

I had to put my thinking cap on good and proper to think of what I could send to Beki (from The Ramblings of an Everyday Mummy), who I was paired up with for this event.

The rules of the swap said that one item had to be handmade, so I set to work making a little bag that could hold all sorts of bits and bobs that a girl might need when she goes off to a sleepover.

I used Amy Butler fabric (of course!) for the inside. Knowing that Beki likes butterflies (for I studied her blog closely for clues of what appealed to her!), I hid one under the bag's flap.

Knowing that Beki also likes buttons, I got a bit carried away and made these tags. I tied one on to each parcel, with a little hint as to what was inside.

Here's what I eventually chose to send to Beki...

...before wrapping them all up and sending them on their way.

As soon as I heard a knock on the front door this morning, I rushed downstairs to find a box covered in brown paper waiting for me. My parcel from Beki had arrived...and look what was inside! A wonderful stash of pink presents, each tied with lovely ribbon.

Needless to say, a frenzy of unpacking ensued! I was so thrilled with the fabulous array of things from Beki. So thoughtful! As I write this, I am sipping an orangey hot chocolate, topped with mini marshmallows in my new mug! The lavender heart handmade by Beki herself has already been hung in my workroom. I'm going to sign off now...and go and pamper myself!

Thank you, Beki!