Friday, 21 November 2008

Christmas meeting

Although we haven't got to the end of November yet, Christmas will be upon us before we can say, 'tree skirt'! So it was good to have the opportunity to get together and get some nspiration for Christmas presents, makes and goodies.

There is no shortage of talent in Piecemakers, and we had six different demonstrations of things which could be made for Christmas.
June showed how to make little Christmas tree decorations from circles of scrap fabric - a perfect project for in front of the television on a cold night.

Carolyn and Lena showed how to make her gorgeous little children's bags with little pockets for Crayola crayons on the front. Not only an appealing present, but one with the ability to keep a child busy colouring too.

Di showed how to make gorgeous necklaces from a tube of silk or organza and a few beads. I can see these being made to match every outfit over the party season! Gaynor was busy making lovely little Christmas decorations with a circle of fabric and some beads. Ingenious.

Muriel and Chris showed how to make coasters for under wine glasses from a few charm squares. These would take minutes to make, and would make an ideal last minute present.

And I demonstrated my reuseable Christmas gift bags. People did come and look at my demo - honest! I didn't sit there alone all evening!

Ann brought a stall full of lovely handmade items for sale. She's a very creative lady and has lots of items for stocking-fillers.

Of course, lots of people took the opportunity to catch up with the gossip and quiting news,

and then to tuck into the delicious refreshments which had been made by the committee. Thank you ladies.

The committee were in generous mood, as there was a free raffle, with lots of intriguingly wrapped parcels! Sharon is having great difficulty deciding which one to choose!

Then to show and tell.
Nik had made this stunning quilt from blocks made by the memebrs of Flutterwheels. It's a pity I haven't worked out how to get closeups of my photos, as the quilting on this is beautiful.

Muriel and Chris have joined the Bramble Patch's strip club - no, not that kind of stripping, but using the very popular jelly rolls!

There are lots of possibilties for using these precut strips.

Muriel has been very busy 'finishing off' and had finished this lovely Magic Tile quilt for her daughter. What a masterstroke using purple as sashing!

Some organised people had brought things they have made for Christmas. Eileen showed this clever Christmas table mat with Father Christmas and his reindeer flying all round the edge.

Sue made everyone laugh when she explained that this clever little tree decoration had been realy difficult to make, and had taken her ages. To add insult to injury, she had found the pattern in 'Patchwork and Quilting' on the children's page!

Let me take this opportunity to wish every one a very happy Christmas and a healthy and quiltful New Year!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


AGM's aren't usually the most popular or enjoyable of meetings, but this one managed to be both! The attendance was good (except for Di, who was off enjoying herself elsewhere!) and as usual everyone seemed to have a good time.

The actual business of the meeting was fairly uneventful. Membership is good, funds are good and both meetings and workshops are popular and enjoyed. There were a couple of comments about the provision of half memberships (created because several members live on canal barges and are only in the area for the winter months) and refunds on workshops (only available in exceptional circumstances) which have been noted by the committee for further discussion. Since Di has stepped down as chair, there is a vacancy, which will be filled in the short-term by members of the committee taking it in turns to chair and organise a meeting each. Gill chaired this meeting very effectively. (She would make an excellent chair, hint, hint!) Some little thankyou gifts were given to Bunty and Andrea for organising the Group Quilt, and myself for keeping the blog. (It really is easy and if anyone wants to know how to set one up for photos of grandchildren or family contact etc I'm happy to show them.)

Then to the real events of the meeting. There was a reappearance of the ever-popular sales table. Elaine had had a rush of spring fever and had cleared out lots of fabric she knew she'd never use. Lots of people knew they would use it! Then there was the usual mixture of patterns, books, wool, and other goodies to buy.

There were three demo tables. Sharon showed how to make individual buttons from Fimo. Special buttons are really hard to find and very pricey, so this was a great idea.

Paula showed how to do hand quilting. She marks her fabric with watercolour pencils, which give a clear line, but wash right out.

I showed how to layer quilts the no-crawl way (from an original idea by Sharon Schamber) which people found very clever. It's one of those ideas which are so obvious, you can't work out why you haven't thought it up yourself! I have layered double quilts like this, so it works for any size of quilt.

There was also plenty of chance to catch up with the latest gossip or quilting idea over a cup of tea.Christmas is coming, and in show and tell, both Carolyn and Paula showed Christmas items they have made.

It's never too early to get thinking about the Festive Season!

Ruth had made this little prem quilt for Linus, along with a larger one in the same fabric. Thanks Ruth.Andrea showed this stunning row quilt which had apparently been languishing in her UFO box for quite a while. It seems she went off the colours while she was making it! They look stunning to me, but then, I always like a bit of lime green in a quilt!

At the end of the show and tell, Sylivia presented Bunty and Andrea with a thankyou from all the group for their hard work with the group quilt. She had been delegated to buy two bunches of flowrs, but ever practical, had decided that flowers are very short-lived, while a plant can go on for ever (well, not in this house, but I'm sure these plants will have a long life!) She bought a jasmine plant for each, with the thoughts that it could give pleasure indoors during the winter, and then move outdoors in the summer months. What a great idea!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Charles Rennie Mackintosh evening

I had been looking forward to hearing this talk by Dora Mack for months, and it all went a bit pear-shaped (for me; I think everyone else had a good time). I arrived at the hall, having realised I was making the teas with only enough time to call at the corner shop for milk and biscuits, to find that I had left the tea box in my garage! Poor Beverley had kindly given me a lift, and so had to take me home to fetch the essentials of the meeting! This meant that we were late back to the hall and Dora was in full flow when we crept in and took our seats.
That was when I realised that I had also forgotten to bring my camera, which means no photos in this post. What a shame. Dorahad brought some lovely books, pamphlets and images to illustrate her fascinating talk, and I was not only unable to photograph them, but also to look at them, as I was busy making teas and coffees! Here is a Google image of the famous Rennie Mackintosh rose as a consolation.

I was lucky that Stephanie took pity on me in the kitchen, and kept the kettles boiling. It would have been a disaster to have had no refreshments!
Then, when all was under control, and caffine had been dispensed, Di dropped her bombshell. She has decided for personal reasons to step down from the chair with immediate effect. We were all so disappointed that nobody stood up to give a vote of thanks or anything. It was perhaps as well, as everyone was feeling a bit emotional, and it could have ended in tears. I would like to say a big thankyou to Di for her work over the last three years as chair, for all her hard work, unfailing good humour and encouragement to us all. All we need now, is for someone to step forward to fill this empty position on our comittee.
As ever, show and tell was inspirational, with a good number of Linus quilts happily scooped up by me. I promise to take my camera to the next meeting, so watch out!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Highly commended!

Yesterday I went to the Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, which is where our quilt 'A Forest of Seasons' was exhibited. I know it must be very difficult to hang so many different quilts and make them all look wonderful, but we were disappointed last year that our 'Cosmic Wonders' quilt didn't seem to be looking its best. So this year I was delighted to see that the quilt was hung prominently on a corner under a spotlight. It looked great!

Then, to my amazement, I noticed a little label on the side, saying 'Highly Commended'! Apparently (according to Mary Mayne, who is one of the judges) they only award a first, second and third in each category, and reserve the highly commended awards for when it has been really close! It was enough to see our quilt at such a huge exhibition, displayed so well, but the icing on the cake was the award.

Here are Andrea, Gaynor, Bunty and Di in front of the masterpiece, looking like the cats that have just got the cream (well, all except Andrea, who seems to be still in a state of shock, quite understandably!)
The quilt was attracting a lot of attention, and lots of people got out their cameras to take a photo of it. The idiosyncrasies of each block fascinated many, and people enjoyed pointing out the birds, animals, catkins, flowers and clever use of buttons, lace and other embellishments. One lady said to her friend, 'Oh, another tree quilt. Well, it's certainly nicer than the other one,' which must be a sort of back-handed compliment!

Although the workmanship and creativity displayed in each and every block is wonderful, I must say that the way that Andrea and Bunty assembled those blocks is outstanding. The way that they have been put together so cleverly, to unite the individual trees, but also to create space between them so that each can be appreciated, is superb. I'm sure that was a major factor in the quilt's overall success.

The quilting is beautiful, and compliments the blocks beautifully. I especially liked the way that the trailing leaf border has the names of the different seasons along the top and bottom borders,

and the names of the participants along the sides. The quilt will be 'raffled' amongst the participants at the next meeting, and I think the winner (and I hope it's me!) will be delighted to take this beauty home. Well done everyone - it's a stunner!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Mile a minute evening

We like to have a balanced programme of speakers, hands on sessions and demonstrations to stimulate our members. This month's meeting was a hands on session, making Mile a Minute (sometimes called Chaos Crumb) blocks.
Lynda Hill lead this meeting, and showed the lovely sofa quilt she had made for her daughter. She started by showing crumbs (small pieces of fabric) and strings (long strips of fabric) which are the pieces which often end up in the waste bin. She gave a clear demonstration of how to make the blocks, and then people began work.

Well, not everyone was in sewing mood, which is fine. Chris, Rose and Gill used the time to catch up with the latest gossip. Sometimes you need a bit of time with like-minded people to recharge your batteries!

Lots of people got down to work. Paula is a past master at making MAM blocks, but Jenny and Eileen were first timers. They found it hard to have no set pattern, but soon enjoyed the freedom of not having to match or cut very liberating.

A kind of production line was organised at the other end of the room (maybe their proximity to the tea bar and the caffeine fumes inspired them!) with some people sewing, some cutting and some ironing. Excellent.

This doesn't mean they didn't make time to chat. Bunty had previously confessed that she found the scrappiness of these blocks too stressful for her precise mind, and although she had made several blocks which she donated to Project Linus, she really couldn't make any more. She went round encouraging and helping out other people - or nattering with Gaynor!

Some people wished they had brought along their ironing basket, as it would have been a good opportunity to reduce it slightly, in between ironing the strips!

Most of the people who had been on the Mary Mayne workshop had brought along finished quilts or tops for Show and Tell. Here are the Rainforests, (sorry the photo is a bit dark - I suppose it's quite authentic, though!)

and here are the Spring hangings. It's always so wonderful to see different interpretations of the same thing. Even though the two projects demanded similar colors, the results are quite varied.

Bunty had done a class on the internet, called 'Daisy Days' and hsd made this charming hanging.

Stephanie makes a quilt for any member of her family who is getting married - what an undertaking! The latest couple wanted a cream quilt! Stephanie has very cleverly used two shades of cream to make this stunning quilt.

Gaynor deserted her usual pinks and blues to make this colourful quilt, called 'Peep-bo!' It will delight any small child.

There will be no meeting of the group in August, so I hope everyong has a great summer, and I look forward to more activities in September.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Mary Mayne workshop

Last Thursday Mary led a workshop for us. there were two choices of projects, one was a spring wall-hanging (based on her gorgeous winter one, which some people have already made) and a rainforest quilt. Unfortunately I had to work that day, so was spared the agony of having to decide which one to do, but meant that I couldn't share in the fun.

As usual, there were plenty of takers for the workshop, although the hall is big enough to give everyone plenty of working space.

I'm guessing that this is Mary's rainforest sample - unless someone was extremely speedy (and talented!) on the day. The batik fabrics are perfect for this lush environment.

Jill looks a little bemused in this photo, but the strips in her hand show that her spring scene is progressing well.

It's always good to stop for lunch - not only does it refuel the body, but refreshes the mind as well. However, I hope Mary, Paula, Jill and June didn't eat all of June's delicious Rose Petal cake by themselves! They would have slept through the rest of the day!

Here are the spring scenes all ready to have their foliage put on,

and the rainforests ready for their final embellishments. Mary proved to be a patient and inspiring teacher, and we are already talking about inviting her back!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Mary Mayne

We had been looking forward to hearing Mary Mayne talk about her quilts last year, but unfortunately her daughter was ill, and she had to cancel. We were pleased to hear that her daughter is now much better, and that the talk was well worth waiting for.

Mary is a quilter very much to our tastes. She is a traditional quilter, with self-taught beginnings and an excellent sense of humour.

Here she is, with a huge pile of quilts behind her. She started patchwork by making hexagons over papers (a common introduction to the craft), but when she came to join them together, found they were actually octagons, and wouldn't tessellate at all! She quickly moved on to machine piecing, and has never looked back.

Here is a quilt which she made from a pattern she bought in America. The original pattern was for a very large quilt and Mary scaled it down (with the designer's permission) to make it more manageable.

This small quilt was inspired when she had to move her son's trainers from the middle of the floor - why do they all do this?- and discovered the lovely pattern on the sole. She used the trainers as a stamp to print on fabric, and took pictures which were the basis for the centre design. Many people have seen (and made) this fabulous Christmas quilt, which Mary designed. It's a mixture of patchwork (Ohio stars and log cabin blocks) and applique (snowmen, angels, reindeer etc), with borders of trees and stars. It's great fun to make, and Mary can supply the pattern on application.Here is the quilt many people were keen to see, as it was the basis for one of the quilts Mary was to be teaching at the workshop the next day. It was inspired by the Australian Rainforest.

After Mary had finished her talk, people were very keen to see the quilts close to, and admire them in greater detail.

Others had their minds set on taking home a bargain from either the Project Linus Rummage table or this sales table where the donations go towards our charity of the Air Ambulance.

After a lovely cup of coffee it was time for the show and tell. Sylvia showed the quilt she has made for her grandaughter Sian. It's a masterpiece of scraps!

Andrea had brought this gorgeous stack-and-whack quilt, and I heard several people round me say, 'I've always wanted to do a stack-and-whack quilt myself!' It would have been interesting to see the original fabric.

Bunty must have been meticulous in her piecing to complete this sizzling interlocked chain quilt. It practically shimmers!

Beverley is expecting two grandchildren very shortly, and has obviously had to make them both a welcome quilt. This one with teddies on it must have been great fun to make.

Sue likes to be ready early for Christmas. This was a mystery quilt which she started last year, but didn't get finished in time for the festive season. Never mind, that's the beauty of Christmas, it comes round every December without fail!

Carolyn had taken some pink Linus blocks, and alternated them with some lovely blocks with dogs on them. This will delight a dog-loving little girl. There were several other small quilts donated to Project Linus for the neo-natal unit. Thank you to everyone.