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?

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

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.


Dyeing the washing line

Decorating is nearly finished so I should have more time for crafting soon.  I’m going to catch up posting the projects I’ve been working on over the summer.

Inspired by a post on Facebook I’m making a few bowls for our craft stall .  I wind fabric around synthetic washing line and machine it together.  Pretty cool result.  I’ve ordered some cotton washing line and plan to dye it and sew it into bowls.  Failing that it’ll look pretty good in the garden with washing blowing in the breeze.


First bowl in progress slowed down by Meggett running off with the washing line and fabric but now finished.


I’ve booked a workshop on Art journaling by mistake thinking it was Journal Quilts.  Oh well the supplies list sounded exciting so I’m going to do it and who knows where it will lead.  While waiting for stencils, inks and other goodies to arrive I had a go at a page.

How can I fail to have fun with these
How can I fail to have fun with these

All a bit of a mess but I had a go and am looking forward to the workshop.


For the past few years I’ve been exchanging Birch Quilts for Birch felt pictures with a Chicken friend.  Her work is superb I’m so lucky.  It beats me why I wrote Beech instead of Birch on the page?  must be my marbles going.

Lesleys Silver Birch Felt
Lesleys Silver Birch Felt.  She had a lot more to do on the Autumn one but I loved the ethereal look of it as it is so she never got a chance!

DSCF7527 IMG_1431 IMG_1723and my quilts.  So just summer to make and exchange after Christmas.  I’ll miss the Birch challenge.

Another workshop in the summer was called ‘Treasured Splinters’.  We used a photo as inspiration and flip and sewed strips of fabric catching various elements into it such as silk, yarn, bits and bobs.  Our tutor had used the cliffs on the Yorkshire coast and added sequins and beads to represent water cascading.

I prepared at the last moment as usual and grabbed a photo an old friend in Australia had sent me of her new partners farm.  I took a vertical section through the picture and matched my fabrics to it.  Forgetting the dog!

Roo photoRoo photo

I loved making it but the result really disappointed me.  It needed some quilting and straightening.  I always go through a stage where I really don’t like what I’m working on.  So a piece was slashed out with the rotary cutter and quilted it trying to work air currents into the sky and ripples in the water.  I really want to get on and finish it now, need to get some stems and reeds in.  I don’t think it’s too far from the photo just needs facing and embellishing with beads, sequins and some hand embroidery.

splintered fragmentAdjustmentsplintered fragment5splintered fragment3 splintered fragment4

Roo Quilt

I want to enter it into a competition next year on the theme ‘where the heart is’.  My interpretation is that the triangles and bling represent the lily flowers fading and dying and new flowers regenerating and my friends lost partner and her new life with the man she’s found a new love with in this place.  I’ll post a better picture when it’s done.

All for now Bake Off calls.  Thanks for reading.


The day we lost Klimt

I’ve had a great summer at  Living Threads workshops.  My friend Jane and I took ‘Summer Fantasy – inspired by Klimt’ taught by Janet Humphrey.  I think we lost Klimt along the way but it was fun and I tried new techniques and found a great freedom creating by intuition.

We were asked to look at Klimt pictures and given some basic guidelines to lay down layers of fabric, sheers and net and sew into them.  Add any lace or embellishment and machine embroider as desired using the pictures for inspiration.

Jane's piece showing the layed down sheers
Jane’s piece showing the laid down sheers

This is my project I had put together at the end of the workshop using my hand dyed fabrics and some dyed scrim and sheers together with our tutors hand painted lace.  Another project on the list!  I’ve since added more machine embroidery and some bead and bound using bias dyed cotton.  Perhaps I should add some gold triangles to bring Klimt back?

cotton covered with stips of tulle pieces of scrim, and added embellishment
cotton covered with stips of tulle pieces of scrim, and added embellishment
Summer Fantasy
Summer Fantasy
Detail with added bling
Detail with added bling

There’s another cat in our house!  I scaled down a pattern by Amy Helmkamp.  Just the border to add and attach to a artist stretcher frame.  Not sure which fabric to use, maybe just black.  It was interesting to make because instead of using bias tape for the stained glass, you lay down the fabric on top of a black base.


I’ve booked a stall at a craft fair held in Belper in November under the name ‘Cotton Feathered’ with a couple of friends so I’ve got to get sewing.  I haven’t yet told them I’ve used our name for my blog, perhaps I should confess.  I don’t think they were too impressed with the name!

Talking of Belper here’s another couple of views.  One of the things I love about the town is the skyline.  If you look up above the shops there’s some wonderful sights to see.  And below is a new bead shop, yum but shame they don’t sell fabric as well.

roof 1 roof 2

I couldn't resist
I couldn’t resist

I’ll share the quilt I made from the other workshop when I’ve done some more work on it.  Thank you for reading.