Saturday, 12 August 2017


A while back @dittanym destashed some curtain/upholstery fabric samples on facebook and I was lucky enough to get them.  The fantastic thing about free fabric is it allows you to try out things that you might not have otherwise had the chance to, because although I know I am very fortunate, fabric is very expensive on the whole, and the dread fear of wasting it is often quite off-putting.

Anyway, having this fabric was quite liberating and I thought I would chop and sew and see what happened.  It was also fun having the constraint of working with pieces of a fixed size - on average, they were about 8x12 inches.

I didn't measure anything, though halfway through the quilt it did occur to me that it would have been at least useful to work in multiples of a particular measurement in order to actually get blocks to fit together!  I did some cutting down to fit and didn't worry about the results, moving things around and discarding things that didn't work like the acid yellow pieces.

I've never tried Pojagi but will have to give it a go as I am getting increasingly interested in the effect of quilts against the light.  I discovered when making this quilt that nasty cheap polyester batting allows the light to shine through beautifully.

It's now awaiting some decisions on quilting - half of me wants to try out some really major perle stitching, but the other half doesn't want anything to get in the way of the shapes and the beautiful chambray colours of the fabric.

Bear with me because the following story is relevant.  A while back when one of my children was very small and learning about the Egyptians she got very keen on the idea of embalming.  This prompted her to suggest that she could embalm her goldfish.  When we pointed out that she was fond of the goldfish and perhaps we shouldn't hurry it off its mortal coil she said hopefully that perhaps she could get another goldfish that she didn't like as much!

Anyway, faced with dithering about how to quilt the project above I thought perhaps I could make another, sacrificial, quilt and have a go on that to test the effect.  So I made this one.

It's made using the neutrals from the same sample book.  I used to do a lot of etching and relief printing and I wanted to get that kind of effect which is a bit hard to capture in a photo.

It's only a tiny quilt but the problem is that like a sacrificial goldfish I've got to quite like this one too, and now I'm dithering about both of them.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Four in Art: Stained Glass Shadows

This quarter's theme for Four in Art was chosen by Elizabeth.  Our annual theme is Light, and the quarterly sub-theme is 'Stained Glass Shadows".  I found the shadows above in the National Portrait Gallery, but Elizabeth posted some very beautiful inspiration pictures on her blog here.

I don't have much to say about my contribution - there's not much to explain, except to say that I was fascinated by the way the shadows in Elizabeth's photos read as purple and made use of this colour in my quilt.  I thought for a long time about the challenge, but what I could not find a way to capture what I really liked - the quality of light which she neatly described as 'powdery' - in fabric.

In the end I decided just to try to reflect the saturated colour, and the way that the 'shadows' cast by stained glass lose the definition of the original and become blurred, with colours merging into one another.  I also like the sharp edges and gaps that you see when the 'shadows' fall on a shaped surface.

The beautiful colours of shot cotton are as close as I could get to the quality of the colour and light, and I tried to blur the lines of the shapes with heavy variegated Aurifil thread quilting.

I wouldn't say that this quilt uses any exciting or novel techniques but I have tried to express what I find beautiful in the light cast by stained glass and reflect my response to the theme.

The other Four in Art members can be found below - please do visit them to see how they were inspired by the theme.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Four in Art: Light - Light in the Darkness

As you may know, I belong to the quilt group Four in Art, and each quarter we reveal a quilt which we have made according to our annual theme (this year it's Light) and the current sub-theme.  The sub-theme for this quarter, which was chosen by Camilla, is "Light in the Darkness".

The thing that makes me most happy about belonging to this group, apart from the inspiration and encouragement from other members, is the sheer luxury and fun of thinking about the themes.  This theme was no different - there were so many ways to think about it.  

The first thing I thought about was light in the darkness of space - how we still receive it from stars which may be long dead, and how the colour of it carries information about their composition and temperature.

Light in the dark is a source of comfort and helps you to find your way - the 'light at the end of the tunnel', for example. It has an effect, both in practical terms or as a metaphor in a religious or spiritual context, on people who are imprisoned or lost.

The idea of light as something which adds clarity to our 'vision' is ingrained in our language when we talk about 'shedding light on a situation', so that we 'see the light', or 'see things in a different light'.   The opposition between dark and light is used for the difference between order and chaos, truth and falsehood, and between reason, or knowledge, and ignorance.

So there is a bit of all these things in this quilt. Seen from a distance the rays are just a comforting or guiding light in the dark, either in a physical or spiritual sense.  Closer up, they are pieced with a text print about astronomy and mathematics, so they could represent the light coming from the stars in our sky but also represent our attempts to shine a light on our experience using evidence-based thinking (which I don't believe is incompatible with religion).  Most of all I wanted it to be about the light of knowledge, truth and reason in the 'post-truth' era of 'alternative facts'.

You can find the other Four in Art members below, so please visit them to see how they have been inspired by this quarter's theme:


Light in the Darkness

22 x 22 inches
Black Oakshott cotton
Text print
Freemotion quilting in black thread
Hand quilting in two shades of perle cotton
Faced binding

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Four in Art: Light - "Shimmer"

This year's Four-in-Art challenge theme is Light, which is really exciting and full of inspiration.  The sub-theme for this quarter is 'Shimmer' and this was my choice.

I chose 'Shimmer' because it's such an evocative and beautiful word, and while it's not onomatopoeic there's something about the word that really does sound like what it represents - to me at least.  I was curious about this so I went off and read up a bit on phonosemantics which is about the idea that there's a relationship between sounds and meaning - that particular sounds convey a particular idea by themselves; there's a connection between them. There are various ideas about what the connection is - you can read more here.

 'Shimmer' means 'shine with a soft, slightly wavering light'.    (Shine, soft, slightly - lots of sh and s sounds in that definition.)  Some of the shimmery things I thought of are moonlight on water, or silk or sequins (more s sounds) on a moving body.  It's a much softer effect and quieter than 'Glitter' - and does it fit halfway between that and a 'Glimmer'?  I wonder.

Anyway, enough rambling.   This is "Shimmer".

The inspiration behind this quilt was the facets of the cut glass doorknobs in my living room which fascinate me every time I go past them.  What I wanted to capture is the effect of the light bouncing off the individual facets - how when you look at them they keep the integrity of their individual shapes, but that these shapes are still broken up by reflections from within the room and also by reflections bouncing between them.

For something to shimmer, for it to have that wavering quality, there needs to be some movement involved.   Like the doorknobs, my quilt is static, and the reflected light doesn't softly waver as it does on water - unless it's hanging up in the breeze... The shimmering happens when the person looking at it moves, so although you can see some of the effect in a photograph you'll have to take my word for the rest.

Actually, it was fairly breezy, and I need to take some pictures on a less overcast and windy day - we ran out between showers.  Here's my lovely assistant, stopping the quilt from blowing away between shots.

I'll write about the practical details of the quilt in a separate post.


36" x 32"
Gold silk dupion, gold metallic silk, Oakshott and Kona cotton
Aurifil 50wt

Please do visit the other four-in-arters and see how they interpreted the theme.


Instagram #fourinart


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A while back I saw a beautiful super mini quilt by @dianaeowen on Instagram and liked it so much that I commented that I wished there was some way I could persuade her to send it to me.  It was only meant as a joke, but she wrote back to say that she would send it to me in return for some hoop art!

So, I stalked her Instagram account a bit and made her this, which I hope she will think is an acceptable swap:

The picture is for someone who likes quilts, cats, dahlias and babies. Unfortunately, in this scene, the babies are being naughty in another room so she's had to abandon her plans for a sit down with a cuppa and a bit of piecing, and now the cat has stolen her chair.

I had a lot of fun thinking about the details, like the embroidered steam coming from the abandoned mug.

I was particularly pleased with the tiny reel of thread which is about a cm in size.

It's a lot of fun disappearing into an imaginary world to make pictures like this, even if I usually have to surface to make dinner.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Four in Art: Colour - "I've Got the Blues"

Each year the quilters of Four in Art take a theme,  throw quarterly sub-themes into the mix and produce a series of quilts inspired by those themes.  Today we are revealing the quilts we have made for this year's annual theme "Colour", with the quarterly sub-theme "I've Got the Blues".

Please check out the reveal posts from the other FIA members - as always I'm excited to see what they do:

Instagram #fourinart
This sub-theme idea is a lovely one and should have been perfect for me because blue is my favourite colour and it represents many things that I love including the sea, but I really struggled this quarter. Earlier this year I made a quilt for the "Colour"/"Music" challenge using fabrics in various blues and rather exhausted my blue fabric inspiration, so I spent a long time thinking about the theme - which is always my favourite part of the process - and trying to come up with an interesting idea.

In the end, I decided that I would go again with a musical connection and try and combine that with the sea - taking blues in sea colours and combining them with flashes of gold, which could represent flashes of light on the waves but would also be positioned in a way that could represent the notes in the chords of a twelve bar blues.


So far so good, but when it came to implementing this plan I soon realised that it was not working as an art quilt.  This set me thinking about what art is - for me it does some of the following

provokes a reaction
makes you look at commonplace things in a new way
represents or encapsulates an idea
is aesthetically pleasing
or aesthetically challenging
employs new or unusual techniques in order to achieve these things

I wasn't happy that what I was making would meet any of these criteria and completely lost confidence.  There didn't seem to be anywhere to go from that point.  I So here is part of "Dead End 1: I've got the Blues".  It earned its title!

Failure and creative guilt

If you think of the creative process as involving starting with an Idea, going through a Creative Struggle and finally ending up with a Product you can beat yourself up at any stage!

So I feel bad that I couldn't take the idea and turn it in to the thing that I wanted, and I feel bad that I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to power on through, and I feel bad because I have not got a finished piece to show.   Maybe we can cut ourselves some slack sometimes and adopt the point of view that there are no failures in art because, as in science, each route you go down and discard as unproductive is actually enlightening in its own way.   Meanwhile I am very apologetic to the other Four in Art members!

"Dead End 1" - unfinished quilt detail

You can see other quilts I have made for FIA if you click Four in Art in the categories links in my sidebar.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Bloggers' Quilt Festival: Anemones

Every year I really love working my way through all the entries in the festival which Amy puts so much work into.  As usual there are many beautiful quilts on show here and some amazing talent.   I hadn't planned on entering anything this year but I love Amy's encouragement that "Whatever you do, don't let the beauty of what someone else has created keep you from sharing your own project" so now at the last minute I'm entering this in the Art Quilt category.

There seems to be a number of different opinions on what an art quilt is - does anyone agree?! - and I hope that this qualifies simply by not being abstract and/or geometrical.  This quilt was made for the blogging quilt group Four in Art - we post quilts quarterly which we have made to a theme chosen by members. The theme for the quarter in which I made this quilt was 'purple passion' and was part of this year's concentration on the wider theme of 'colour'.  I chose to make a quilt representing anemones in shot cottons in the red/blue/purple spectrum.

The background is made of tiny pieces of different low volume fabrics quilted into place with close lines, the jug is pieced, and the anemones and leaves are appliqued.

The centres and stamens of the flowers are embroidered with french knots.

If you want to, you can read more about this quilt (and see more pictures) here.

I'm grateful that we have this chance to join in and to visit and enjoy so many different makers' works. Thank you Amy!


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