Stitching and stencils

Adrift in the warmth and haze of a real English summer, it’s almost time to head out for our holidays.  This, as you will understand, calls for much planning and gathering of suitable projects to take along so that maximum use is made of the time.  So far I can only count 5 project bags, but maybe a few more will get added in before departure – or maybe I’ll just take more drawing stuff, and there’s always that neat little notebook app (Penultimate) if everything else fails…..  One of the bags contains the last 3 blocks (I think) for the Antique Rose Star project which should finish at a mere 23 blocks if I can bring myself to stop making them –

Antique Rose Star blocks

I can’t decide whether to take any hand quilting projects this time, or limit myself to just piecing.  There are three designs that are almost finished, this is the most recent, which you saw as lines and mirrors in an earlier post –

quilting detail

almost finished

and the two earlier ones that need a few more stitches –

design 1

design 2

A really good pre-holiday boost came with the arrival of a sample set of  new stencils of my designs from Quilting Creations – these will be great to refer to in the Tentmaker Applique class and will hopefully meet some of the many requests for this style of design in stencil format.

stencil sample

stencil sample


stencil sample

The stencils have been developed from my Egyptian Treasure pattern book, and should make marking for a quilt like this an absolute breeze

quilt detail

Which gives me an idea of something to put in even more project bags for the holiday – maybe a little applique, or some shadow quilting too?!

Further south

On from Nynehead Court to the delights of Exeter for two high temperature days with South West Quilters – most appropriate to be presenting the talk on Tentmaker applique and a class based on Tentmaker applique. ( As a quick aside, those of you who are Facebook people may know that there is a page for the Tentmakers (try The Tentmakers of Chareh El Khaimaya) which will give you the latest news and updates on their current situation. )  Before the talk I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a finished project from a previous Tentmaker class


a very large Tentmaker piece, commissioned back in the 80s from one of the studios in Cairo

commissioned Tentmaker piece

commissioned work

and a super quilt based on the blocks in my Egyptian Treasure pattern book – (still available via

the maker

quilt section

quilt section

I think everyone who teaches and/or designs will say the same – it’s a unique thrill to see finished work that is based on your ideas and patterns, and seeing these pieces was a real highlight of the day for me.

The class on Sunday was held in one of the most perfect village halls – exactly the right size for the number of students, with windows and doors open to the equally perfect weather.  Everyone was most industrious and soon had the design marked onto the background fabric ready to begin placing the bias tape and building up the lotus flowers point by point.

part of the class

bias in placeDSCN4142bias and points

stitching in placestitching in placepreview

setting out the work

There were some seriously covetable hand-dyed fabrics in the room – here’s just one set –

selection of hand dyes

Here’s a tiny section of one of my class samples –

section of sample

and a reference picture of the full-size, real thing covering a space on the street in Cairo. A timely reminder of the original scale of these amazing textiles –

Tentmaker hanging in Cairo

Thanks to all the organisers and volunteers who made the weekend such a success – hope it’s not too long before we meet again.

Stealing time

Having spent a lot of time wishing I could, and being envious (see my last post) I’ve decided to try and get active and get going with some of the many projects and “should-do’s” that are on the list.  Not a huge amount of success to report so far, but I may have found a way to help myself be more productive, particularly with regard to hand stitching.  I’m very lucky to have my own dedicated space at the far end of the house for my books, desk, office things, sewing machine, fabric stash, guitar etc – on a good day I’ve even referred to it as a studio!

But, it’s perhaps not the best setup for hand sewing.  Well, I could sit up here, but with winter in prospect it would be really good if I could find a comfortable spot to roost downstairs.  In the 20 years we’ve been in this house I’ve never really established a handstitching spot – how did that happen?  However, all that may be about to change!  A couple of days ago I looked at the kitchen dresser

and realised that one of the drawers contained only junk that could be quickly got rid of  cleaned out and then – lo and behold! a whole deep drawer to myself, downstairs, near the fire, a good enough light over my left shoulder and a chair nearby to move quickly and easily into position when required.  So there will be no evidence – everything can be shoved carefully put back into the drawer, the chair moved back and my precious sewing time will remain securely shut away.  All at once, the prospect of hours and hours of stitching seems almost real, made up of little bits of time stolen throughout the day.  Several of you will understand the fun I had sorting out a second complete sewing kit, plus bag to contain same, and making sure all the projects were complete in their own bag, plus the battery Ottlite, quilting snap-frame and anything else I thought might come in useful.

Before this wonderful revelation of a new stitching space I had a great trip down to Newport S Wales to teach Tentmaker applique to Gwent Quilters.  Good weather, easy travelling and enthusiastic quilters made it all very pleasant and a good time was had by all –

I couldn’t resist breaking my journey down to Newport with a stop at Oakshott Fabrics near Cheltenham – now this really is eye candy for a weary traveller!

And who could resist these totally yummy silks ? – they just had to come home with me

Somewhere lurking in one of these sketchbooks (and why have I got so many?)

there may be a plan for for some of these silks.  And that would be another project to put in the new drawer!

One show after another

The past few weeks have been fairly hectic and I’m now home for only a few days to turn around and get ready for Quilts UK at Malvern next week.  Last week was the much-anticipated trip over land and sea to the Open European Quilt Championships at Veldhoven.   Judging, teaching and demonstrating alongside an exhibit of some of my vintage quilts and some of my Tentmaker pieces, plus LOTS of quilts and traders to enjoy, an excellent hotel (and food!) and many lovely quilters to meet – how hard can it be??  You can find videos from the show and all sorts of other goodies over on the OEQC website – do go and take a look for yourself, and perhaps make a plan to visit next year.

Here’s a detail of what, for me, was one of the outstanding quilts in the show – “Serpentin“, a wonderful wholecloth that was pretty near perfect in every way, and an equally wonderful surprise when I discovered that it was made by Andrea Stracke.   Andrea and I first corresponded with each other way back in 1993 or 1994 I think, shortly after “The Essential Quilter” was published, and it has been a great pleasure to see her work at UK shows.

The detail and workmanship on Jane Rollason’s quilt ” Elizabethan Flowers” was pretty good too –

Then there was a quilt from the inimitable Sandie Lush – ” Whig Rose

A really quick glimpse of just a few quilts in the championships –

A charming detail from Sheena Norquay’s sampler

I did manage to acquire a few fabrics –

(- some of these are from the last visit to Cupcake Cottons in Burford just before I left for the show.  Thanks for a great day, Jackie & Steph, I’m looking forward to next year already!)

One of the features of the OEQC show is the number and diversity of guest collections.  Two that were very popular were from Reiko Kato and Joes Meester & Isabeau Reinders Folmer

My Judge’s Choice was “Hommage a Monet” by Hilde van Schaardenburg

It was fun to see the Dutch edition of Essential Quilter for the first time –

and to see some of those quilts from the cupboard on display.

The last day of the show I was teaching Tentmaker applique and was so busy I almost forgot to take pictures –

And if I don’t stop now this post will be far too long and I will be even further behind with the preparations for next week.

Happy stitching!