My favourite blogs

Sunday, 12 July 2020

July 2020 Cambridge Open Studios is cancelled - Open Windows instead

As membership secretary to Cambridge Open Studios much of the winter months are spent interacting with members both new and old, creating lists and planning, planning, planning.  
The 2020 yellow guide was almost ready to go to the designer when we had to cancel everything.  

I wasn’t planning to exhibit this year but almost 400 others were.  

Chatting to  member Kate Green to pick her brain on how she uses social media, we talked about how it was a great pity not to do anything this summer. Kate thought about this and asked if  the COS management team would support her plan to organise  a local ‘Open Windows’ emulating what was already happening in Brighton and York where artists started to display art in their windows. 

Of course, Kate has the green light and I agreed to do the emails. Up to date we have 140+ artists on board, the website features a ‘virtual’ window and  splendid animation created by Bob & Carol Banks in Ely. Other members have volunteered to do the maps and plan out a social media campaign. 


Finally, my window display. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

New Altar Cloth for The Leys School Cambridge

Recently, my dear friend Lynda showed me the patchwork piece she designed and made. It was, I think, her first ever piece of patchwork. She designed it as as new altar cloth for the chapel at the Leys School in Cambridge where her husband, the Reverend Clifford Meharry is retiring at the end of June as chaplain and teacher after 20 years of service.   With the end of term looming I offered my services to quilt and bind the piece. 

With much time on my hands, it was both an honour and a pleasure to do this for my friend. 

So, how should I quilt this piece?  The fabrics used were a mixture of old and new fabrics, mostly interfaced to give them some support. The prints were busy and after a bit of trial and error, I came the conclusion that free motion quilting would detract from the design. I wanted the crosses to really sing. 

Here I had a go at stitching 'in the ditch'. Didn't like this. Free Motion Quilting didn't work either as the quilt was rather heavy and the thread simply disappeared. 

Here is a close up of me using my walking foot and a built in stitch called 'serpentine' where I adjust the width of the wave as a well as the stitch length.  

Here are the settings on my new Janome machine which has a nice wide arm. Still getting used to used to it. I use stitch #20 adjusted from the default with a longer stitch length and a wider 'wave'. 

Here I am in my studio quilting. 

I wear textured gloves to make it easier to move the fabric around

Here is the finished altar cloth. Doesn't it look great with the stained glass? 

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Velvet Magazine - June Edition features me.

With July Cambridge Open Studios cancelled, we decided to hold an alternative event  instead. More on this another time. Publicity got underway for what we called  ‘Open Windows’ 2020 and Velvet Magazine were very keen to offer Cambridge Open Studios at least one article in their publication.  You can imagine how pleased I was to be one of the artists they chose to feature in June. Mine is the kaleidoscope piece. I made two versions of this design and both are for sale. I also have printed cards available. 

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Friend Agnes Asselin relaunches her website & is raising money for Ugandan children

I once had the good fortune to spend two glorious weeks in Brazzaville, Congo. My friends will already know how much I love African fabric. My husband was born and brought up in Khartoum in Sudan, so the affinity with the African continent is long indeed.

A few years ago I met a lovely lady on Cambridge market who created amazing pictures using colourful African fabrics.  The pictures are very unusual, individual pieces of carefully chosen fabrics are inserted into a special foam base giving the images a 3D effect. Often there are pieces of jewellery included.

Agnes Asselin joined Cambridge Open Studios, and became more widely known; we even once exhibited together one Christmas. For my husband’s 70th birthday in 2018, I commissioned Agnes to create a map of Africa. We still love everything about it.

For various reasons, Agnes decided to leave Cambridge to move to London. She gave up the ‘day job’ hoping to make a living  from her art.  In normal times you can find her on Greenwich  market.

I just had to take the opportunity to promote Agnes’ new website   Like me, Agnes feels close to Africa so to mark her new website she is raising money to support a charity for children in Uganda. Please go to to find out more about their work.

Visit where Agnes has listed pieces of her artwork and fabulous jewellery with a 50% donation to the Uphill Trust. You can also find Agnes' work on Etsy (AfricAgnes)

Images of African ladies, butterflies, cats and more.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Making Something New From Old, again

Last February or so I was approached to make a special gift by a local music teacher. Could I use the fabric to make a single bedspread?  I soon realised that there was not enough fabric to do this. ideas were exchanged by email, and we finally agreed on a cushion using as many fabrics as possible.

The little girl’s baby dresses were in very good condition but working with knitted jersey is not ideal for a  patchworker.  I stabilised the fabrics and cut out 5” squares to assemble together.  I arranged the blocks with light grey fabric in between which is known as ‘sashing’.  Luckily I bought the fabric and wadding about one hour before the shop closed for several weeks.

Here is the cushion laid flat and below is a slight better view, side on. I decided to quilt with a pebble design in the grey sashing which made to dress fabric more prominent. 

Finally, the cushion in its final home. 
Hopefully the item can be used for cuddling from now until the young lady leaves for university. 

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, I didn’t feel much inclined to do anything creative but the cushion certainly got my creativity going. So, I had fabric left over....had just enough to make a doll’s bedspread.  Here it is being tried out for size....

The cushion was meant to be a gift for a baptism in April and I hope it will take place very soon. 

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Pineapple Bed Quilt

My biggest quilt began over a year ago when I saw a tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilting Company. I usually do my own designs but I really loved this pineapple quilt made with 1 1/2" strips in white and solid multi colours. 

A pineapple block is simply a variation of the well known log cabin technique where you add strips around a centre. Here I began with a central square of colour bordered in white on first two sides, then the opposite.  With 100 blocks to go, I made a start....using my new Janome sewing machine. 

Seams pressed to the colour and the white added to complete the first round. 

First round completed, pressed and trimmed 

This images shows the third round being added 

Fifth round added and trimmed up - ever so easy to chop off the wrong bits! 

Each of the 100 blocks was in a different colour arrangement. I try not to 'over think' the layout but the task is made easier if you take photographs to view how the colours come together.

My finished quilt on display with it's proud owner at an exhibition hosted by Cambridge Quilters. It now lives on my bed. 

Sunday, 17 November 2019

A special workshop for Owls

Last week I was invited to run a workshop for a group of learning disabled young people in Sawston, outside Cambridge.  With some preparation done in advance we all made a selection of  Christmas decorations which they hope to sell to raise funds in early December.  It was a great honour to work with these lovely boys and girls who come together once a week as the ‘Owl’ group, part of the Papworth Trust  charity. Well done Charlie, Stacey, Victor and the rest of the class who all worked very hard using needle and thread to manipulate this fabric into a new shape. A big thank you to all for making me feel so welcome and looking forward to making something else in a few weeks.