Halo Medallion star revealed

June and now July have been hot dry months here in Belper so I’ve not spent much time in my sewing room but I can share my mini quilt I made for the Spring UKQU Facebook group swap.

The quilt had to be under 24″ and kept secret.  The idea was to stalk the person on facebook and any social media whilst asking pertinent questions to the group in question about likes and dislikes in quilting, fabric and love of wildlife etc.,  My swappee was very obliging liking most things but didn’t use facebook much so it was challenging to make it personal.



She liked piecing and I chose colours from her likes and incorporated organic elements in the quilting.

It looked quite plain when pieced and I was undecided whether to add flower applique in the four corners or use it in the quilting.  I’m glad I went for the flower quilting but wish I’d surrounded it with the close line quilting I did around the centre flower which would have made it stand out better.

I am pleased with a lot of what I did but some areas particularly the pebbling looks clumsy.  More practice is needed.

The pattern is paper pieced, it’s the centre block from TQS’s 2017 block of the month Quilt ‘Halo Medallion’ by Sue Garman.  I haven’t seen any other versions yet that have been quilted to death quite so much!  Or that probably have as much unpicking as this one.


My good news is we have another little grandchild due in October.  Thomas is growing up to be such a bright little lad full of mischief like most 2 year olds.

Here he is playing trains with me and a quieter moment with mummy taking it all in.  I’m pleased to report he is chicken obsessed.



Exchanges and mosaic fun

Wow it’s been an exciting few weeks.  At last I exchanged quilts with Marilyn from Idaho as part of TQS’s International Miniature Quilt Exchange.  Unfortunately we weren’t selected for exhibition but having seen the amazing quilts that also weren’t selected I’m not surprised and it does mean we get each others quilts now rather than 2019.  Yippee.

Marilyn’s been a friend for years, we’ve exchanged mug rugs and taken part in the Loch Lomond show’s Chinese Whisper Challenge, so it was a real joy to do this.

This is Marilyns quilt for me representing one of her ‘ordinary days’ travelling to her quilt shop across the mountains. Wow  She’s fussy cut lots of interesting fabrics to achieve her landscape with real depth and loads of interest.  Can you see bears and deer?


and my quilt of my ‘ordinary day’ walking across the Derbyshire Countryside finding a quilt shop with an exhibition from Idaho and Marilyn’s quilt hanging in the window.

Wendy Watts 28820180316_174311Quilt joinWendy Watts 2

Mine is mostly held together with bondaweb and some free motion quilting.  Piecing Marilyn’s house quilt was a challenge.  The whole quilts are under 24″ so those squares are less than 1/4″.  The dog image was found on the internet and pieced from a photo.  I added hand embroidery to the sky, hills and to make the sheep.  All the time chuckling about Marilyn would think seeing her own quilt there and in the middle window.  To do that I took a photo and minimised it before printing it onto fabric and covering with tulle.


The other excitement is the receipt of another exchange quilt.  This one is the UKQU facebook groups spring mini exchange.  The challenge was to be partnered with someone.  Stalk them on FB, pinterest, their website, Instagram etc and after numerous questions to the group make something very personal to them.

My quilt landed on the mat on Monday.  I think Maria stalked me very well.  It’s a wholecloth that’s been stamped, sponged and printed then free motion quilted beautifully.  I love it and smile each time I see it. I took it to our quilt group yesterday and they loved seeing the box Free motion quilting in the background the first we covered.

These cards of her fantastic work and a homemade key fob came too.


Unfortunately the one I sent is still languishing at the recipients post office so I can’t share yet.  Unlike the first swap you don’t know who is making for you.  I’ve got to know Maria during the swap chatting about our quilt groups.  Strutts Stitchers (link to the website in the panel on the right) are going to do a post card swap with Maria’s group next year, which we are all excited about.


I’ve started quilting the row robin exchange quilt.  Lovely to take time and appreciate all the work someone has done for me, and I love free motion quilting – more to follow.

Barbs birdy


Following an episode of The Quilt Show I made these little mosaic quilts using a technique demonstrated by Cheryl Lynch and  my own designs..  The elephant one went smoothly adding the pieces of fabric to Appliquick web then ironing it onto the background and quilting it.  The second was more challenging when I ironed the release paper the wrong way round and it stuck very securely.  Solved by ending up with the adhesive on top of the fabric.  so the chicken should be facing the other way.


with Cheryl’s permission I held a workshop with Pentrich Patchers yesterday.  Love what they’ve done so far.



Now what’s the next challenge?

Zing it’s gone that was 2017

Zing it’s gone, that was 2017!  Oh dear my UFOs seem to be growing.  This is one made at  a workshop I attended with Jane at The Sewing Barn

We sewed a collage of fabrics onto a sketch, simple but really fun.  I layered the squirrel and quilted it, then after cutting it out layered it onto a background sandwich and quilted again.  Because of all the layers it’s quite heavy so I need to find a way of mounting it for hanging.  Perhaps on a stretched frame but the size is wrong!  Next time I’ll work it out backwards.  Jane’s hare is lovely she’s going to do more.


Next UFO is a 24″ triptych challenge for my exchange partner in Idaho.  It’s part of  TQS’s miniature quilt exchange with over 300 couples across the world taking part.  I’m really excited about it and we’re hoping our quilts will be selected for showing in Houston this year.  I’ll share it later in the year and explain more then but for now we have to keep it secret.

This UFO (one block made in a year – oops) is a collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and will be for me!

Kaffe quilt


I actually completed a couple of challenges for Worksworth Quilting.  The first was to use a given piece of red stripey fabric in an A4 quilt any theme.  Here’s ‘Where’s Wally’ and the other entries.  Amazing what everyone came up with.  Lots of seaside but it was summer.

The second challenge was an A4 quilt of one of the 12 days of Christmas.  2 turtle doves, I’m glad I didn’t get 10 lords a leaping.  I moaned for weeks until inspiration struck after seeing an image on Pinterest.  It’s just simple fused applique and fused binding.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the other days of Christmas, perhaps at our next show.

2 turtle doves


‘My Country Home’ BOM quilt is finally quilted and bound.  Only took 2 years and apologies to those who’ve seen it.


One of the big highlights of the year was to welcome Silvio into the family when he married Peter my eldest son in Copenhagen.  The building and room look amazing and they’re a handsome couple.


A photo of my immediate family blinking into the sun up at Middleton Top on boxing day before retiring home to one of my husband’s amazing curries and Exploding Cats.

Boxing day


and to finish I have to add a pic of scrumptious grandson Thomas

Thomas at 2




Painting exhibition, craft fair and Belper Quilting

It’s June already and tomorrow is the day of the craft stall at Peak Village near Chatsworth Estate.  Previously we mostly bought each others makes so hoping for more success this time if only to be able to buy more supplies to make things for the next craft fair.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the others come up with, Gill has a great sense of colour and makes really gorgeous understated items.  Sioux’s very experienced and her work is perfection.  Caroline is prolific and I’m amazed at what great ideas she has for projects.

I’ve made chicken pictures, book thongs, luggage tags and the usual bags and purses, baby quilt and embroidered birds.


Last Friday my painting group exhibited our work as part of a larger U3A exhibition of how creative we all are!

No pictures but imagine a room full of wonderful watercolour and pastel pictures.  We attracted people in by hanging fun bunting sized paintings on string along the corridor.  Wonderful I wish I’d taken pictures.  Instead I’ll share a few of my watercolours from the last few months. The vulture painting was to accompany a poem (named culture vulture) made into a bookmark to promote the WEA (Workers Education Association) in Derby.


So Chrissie and I have started Belper Quilting Group.   Up to 22 people turn up each time and we’ve stopped offering cake and coffee and they still come back so I guess it’s a success.   We’ve started making sampler quilts which most people join in or some do their own projects.  We’ve also made confetti quilts and I taught landscape quilting last time.  In the summer we’re learning Sashiko work and one member worked in textiles in his former life and is going to share his knowledge on dyeing followed by a practical session.

The family have been busy.  Eldest son Peter completed a middle distance triathlon last weekend and came 12th, the first I’ve watched.  Phew can those youngsters (and not so young) push themselves hard.  I did my best to encourage them from the side-lines.


Younger son and my daughter in law are doing a great job bringing up Thomas while leading busy lives.  He’s such a character and I find it a real joy helping out one day a week.  Here he is with his dad resting during a bike ride and with his granddad at Trent Lock.


Roll on July we’re off to France for a holiday with the family.


Catch up on Quilting

I’ve been a bit slow with quilting over the winter but one achievement is finishing the Lynnette Anderson 2015 Block of the month I’ve been doing with TQS.  Ok so it’s just another couple of borders and I still have to quilt it.  I am pleased with it and it feels like me.


Still behind with the ‘sew a row’ quilt exchange that’s been going on now for over a year. It’s been really hard to stay motivated over such a long time but I have received some wonderful work which I’ll show when I’ve put them together.  These are some of the rows I’ve sent with the themes of happy, winter, bright batiks, flavour of you (note chickens, batik, hand dyed and Kaffe Fassett), trees, beach and last one is jewel tones.


Our Wirksworth Group called Worksworth Quilting had a lovely couple of days sewing in Feb involving eating chatting and a bit of making.  I’d like to say my bag was made in a day but I spent most of the day undoing the quilting.  You lose the skills so quickly if you don’t quilt regularly.  On the wall next to it is a knitted wreath sent to me by a chicken friend as part of a Christmas craft swap.  Great eh!


Other quilting news is that together with a couple of friends we’re starting a quilting group in Belper so watch for updates on that!  If you’d like to come along please let me know.

So you see I’ve done a bit but most of my crafty time is spent watercolour painting which I’ll post about next time together with an update about my yummy grandson but I need to get the ok from his mum before I put any photos up.


Row Robin is back!

Wow Row Robin exchange is completed!  We had the big reveal last Thursday and it was superb.  It’ll be strange not having the coming and goings of these wonderous bags of fabric much to my husbands bemusement.

I was thrilled with mine it started as a bag of fabric – Kaffe Fassett Layer cake and a length of black fabric with a starter row and turned into a work of art.



I was gobsmacked its so beautiful and so many  lovely rows, the others have gone to so much trouble it’s quite humbling. (It may have been helped by the bag of chocolates I put in with my fabric, a book on chicken yoga and a journal full of jokes for scribbling in if anyone didn’t feel like sewing).

kaffe 2


Completing it ready for our exhibition in September as part of the annual Wirksworth Art and Architecture Trail is going to be a pleasure. This amazing event is held in peoples homes and venues across the town.  Taking part are 150 sculptors, photographers, textile artists, jewellers, glass and silver workers.

Here are the other Worksworth Quilters, the photo doesn’t do them justice.

Worksworth row robin

I’ve continued with TQS sew a row round robin which will be going on for over a year.  These are the rows I’ve received so far.  They are amazing!!  I’m so lucky to have such creative quilting friends near and far. The theme of my quilt will be birds.

rr received

This months Facebook free motion postcard swap’s theme is embellishment so embroidery, beads, buttons, lace etc.   Today’s tip is don’t embellish before free motion quilting and edging!  It’s off to The Netherlands.  Now do I put it in an envelope or argue with the PO counter assistant.  Last time I sent one with a bead on he said it would break all their machinery and no one would get any post.  It made it in one piece and there was no reports of a disaster at the sorting office!

July 16 July 162)

July 163)

Painting has taken up a lot of creative time since the beginning of the year.  I find it totally absorbing and although a lot is fit for the bin I’ve had a few I’m really pleased with.  I’ve made a separate gallery the link is above the blog title or click here Watercolour Paintings

Here’s a quick sample of a few


Finally my  yummy grandson is  6 months old now and really shouldn’t be drinking wine yet!!!

Thomas 6 months

Note the appropriate high chair.


Round Robin rows and portraits

Now I can share some recent projects.

This is a quilt made with Japanese fabrics for my sister in law in Guernsey who has been very unwell and currently having chemotherapy.  Actually it’s long overdue, her daughter has one and her dog!  Now should I make one for my brother?

The design is chain pieced and assembled without separating the chains but I can’t for the life of me remember how I did it.  It’s quilted on my domestic machine randomly with lots of practice for feathers and odd shapes.

My neice Rebecca holding it up.


detail of the quilting


I’m taking part in a round robin with my group in Wirksworth.  We each provided a bag of fabric and each month we swap bags and make a patchwork row with the fabric.  We’re not to share our work and about next July I’ll have my bag back with a completed top of about 10 rows.  What a great surprise it will be.  I include some Kaffe Fassett brights and black as a contrast.  The bags of fabric I’ve worked on so far have been very varied from chintzy flowers to farmyard fabric and batiks.  I’ll post pictures of them when we have the reveal in the summer.

A conversation with my online friends resulted in them wanting to do something similar from January.  We are making rows each month on a theme chosen by each person.  Mine is chickens and birds – that’s a surprise.  Some of the other themes are trees and leaves, sea sand and seaside.  etc.,

I received an amazing row for January all the way from Canada, the blocks are named after birds.  Some are called flying geese, birds in the air, birds of paradise and flock of birds.

Andree 1

This is the row I made for January  on the theme of trees and leaves that’s now in Illinois.

jdluka 2 I’ve another 2 rows ready to post to Texas.

I’ve also been working on a Lynette Anderson block of the month with TQS for the past year.  I’m a bit behind (3 months!).  Showing it will give me the incentive to get it finished. The original quilt is beautiful but I wanted to personalise it so the house and sheep have changed to chickens and a coop and most of the other applique has had a few changes. Just another couple of borders to go and then on with quilting and embellishing.

photo 2

Here is the original


I’ve been itching to paint again so tried another quilt technique to transfer to watercolour.  This time portraits.  I did the same as I would do if I was making a fabric portrait.  With Paintshop Pro I changed it to greyscale and then posterised the picture, printed it out and traced features using a light box onto watercolour paper rather than fabric and painted as opposed to applique.  The posterised picture was used for reference for light and darker areas.  It worked pretty well although this is probably thought of as  cheating by watercolourists. I’d love to be able to draw properly.  Who’d have thought quilting skills transfer to other hobbies.


12540947_10101855918373498_226764641871563134_n   Karen 1.21

and this is a similar attempt to paint my grandson Thomas.

29th Jan


He’s growing quickly now but just as cuddly and cute, pictured with his other granny.


I’m sorry to say I lost my  6 year old little chicken Coot yesterday.  She’s been unable to walk for a month and needed lifting around and special care.  Despite the vets best effort with analgesics and antibiotics there was nothing that would improve her quality of life or return function so we took the hard decision to say goodbye.  We had a lot of good times with her and she had a happy life in my garden.

Cygnet is here 018

Thank you for reading

Painting Quilts?

Happy New Year.

The year started with the sudden and early appearance of this lovely little chap on the doorstep of youngest son and my daughter in law.  Meet Thomas Henry my new grandson.

day 14.1

He’s a real joy  and I’m so looking forward to knowing him and watching him develop.  As you can see he has the obligatory quilt. His mum and dad are coping so well and you’d think they’d been parents for ever.  I was really anxious with my first even though I’d been a paediatric nurse and midwife!

A lot of the other sewing has been for exchange projects and gifts which haven’t been received yet.  I’ll share them when they are.

I’ve been a bit in the doldrums creatively, but happy knitting for little Thomas and I’ve joined a painting group organised by U3A in Belper.  My first meeting was this morning.  We were shown how to make the most of painting trees using perspective and shadow to make the branches grow out of all sides of the trees rather than stick out the sides.  It’s been many years since the few watercolour classes I went to when the boys were young and I’ve not painted since so I was really unsure what to do.  So a bell rang in my head and I decided to paint my quilts.  At least I had already thought of design, colour, tone etc., and can knock up the odd birch tree in fabric.

Here is my effort, I’m quite chuffed with it.  If it seems familiar to you, it’s a painting of one of the birch quilts I posted about previously.   Link to gallery .  I wasn’t brave enough to tackle the background.


I’ve plenty more picture quilts I can paint before I’m brave enough to do something original.  It’s a friendly group who aren’t afraid of poking fun at your efforts and encouraging you.  Roll on next month.

Thank you for reading




Monkeys on my mind

I’ve been a bit distracted for the past couple of weeks after my lovely husband booked a surprise trip to St Kitts.  What a great treat just as the winter is setting in.


We did a lot of fish watching
We did a lot of fish watching

There was so much inspiration there for quilting.  Unfortunately I left my sketchbook at home but the camera on my phone captured the essence of this fabulous place.  Please excuse the quality.

Bottles! Why on a tree?  Great inspiration for a quilt and the fungus growing in the rainforest.

20151116_103654 20151113_080741

I love taking pictures of trees and different barks.  The texture is so interesting.

20151113_083114 20151113_083128



At one location batiks were blowing in the wind and I was able to watch wax being applied and the cloth dyed.  And to top it all roaming around the hotel was this gang!  Joining them most days was a bunch of green velvet monkeys but I couldn’t get a good photo of them.



The workshop at the end of October was to embroidered love birds.

This is the beautiful piece we were to make

Our tutors interpretation

Mine was a little different and will be the sign for our craft stall.  It still needs some more bling.  We used woollen blankets our tutor had dyed and were given carte blanche to interpret as we wished.  A very relaxing day.

cotton feathered

Yesterday was time for another workshop, I’m getting to love these.  Dyed sheets were ripped up into strips and squares and sewn into various arrangements.

I chose to make a sampler with different ideas and stitches, when completed I’ll cover a journal with it.  I tried writing the details of the machine settings on the back but forgot after a bit.  With my last sewing machine I made a stitch bible with pages demonstrating each stitch in different lengths and widths.  It’s such a useful tool in different projects.  My current machine has 676 stitches with 160 embroidery ones so it’s going to be a long project but worthwhile.  Stitches can appear so different to in the manual.  For example the honeycomb stitch used for stretch seams can look like this

honeycomb stitch

This is my finished piece.


And Jane’s made from one piece of fabric, it’s so beautiful and soft.


I’m looking forward to the spring workshops but in the meantime we’ve Christmas to get through, a new baby in the family in January and next weekend is the craft fair.  I’ll report back on that.

Thanks for reading, keep warm.


Last flowers of summer

We had a free choice of theme for the fmq Facebook postcard challenge this month.  I used a technique I learnt from a friend at Worksworth Quilt Group .  She taught us to take fresh flower petals and leaves and layer between a fusible on a fabric background, cover with sheer fabric and iron.  The flowers on the quilt I made early in the summer are as vibrant now as then. Looking at it I think I scorched the yellow pansy.  Shame on me, mind you it does look a bit like marzipan.


I did feel guilty picking flowers from the few that are left in the garden for this postcard.

card1 card2 card3 card4

Layered, quilted, backed and hey presto a postcard winging it’s way to Oregon.  I wonder if customs will recognise them as real flowers.

I’ve completed my Treasured Splinters quilt I wrote about on my last post.  I learnt a technique from an online quilting friend to keep the edges straight using cotton tape.  As I was facing the quilt rather than binding it I had to adapt the method and slip stitched it to the back.  The facing then covered the tape and luckily the hanging sleeve will cover the stitches that have looped on the back.


The images can be clicked to enlarge

splinters 5  splinters 2splinters 1

splinters 3splinters 5

I love this quilt.  It’s been therapeutic making it, you lose yourself from the world whilst playing with fabric.  I hope everyone has a hobby that does this for them.

Thank you for reading