Cushion the blow

Something is needed in the aftermath of the election to ease the pain. So here is an offering from me.

After completing the fox and panda quilt I had a bit of a creative spurt. I was keen to learn how to make curvy seams and also to try my hand at free motion quilting. I was inspired by all manner of things I had seen on Pinterest and also by Leah Day who runs a fantastic series of ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. Each piece is 40cm x 40cm so easily manageable and ideal for a cushion covers.

Here is some of what I churned out:

1) Green Grey Blue

PiecingIMG_1067 (1)

Curvy seams – harder than it appears at first.IMG_1069

Free motion quiltingDSCF7719

2) Ebola Why Ebola? Because whilst I was making this block, I was listening to a remarkable audio diary of a young male medic setting up a new treatment centre in Sierra Leone.

A former research colleague of mine said this block reminded her of C. elegans, famed for its role in uncovering the mysteries of animal development, and the first animal to have its genome sequenced in full. No doubt I will return to this as inspiration down the line!DSCF7716

3) Chocolate Frigates Another odd title but there is a recurring theme here. This time I was listening to a radio 4 drama about a navel chef preparing a grand meal for the top brass while coming to terms with the departure of his son to the front line in Iraq.DSCF7721

4) Pie Chart Actually this one was not accompanied by a radio show. This block has its roots in the chart now supplied by HMRC with personal tax forms. I never thought that tax would provide a source of inspiration! Clearly I evened out the spending but this was just for artist effect. IMG_1059DSCF7712

5) Half square triangles with gold and blue top stitching This one was made as a gift for my sister. The pale yellow fabric came from a dress that she wore when she was 12. The light blue silk belonged to our grandmother. The darker blue cotton was part of the lining of an old curtain of mine. DSCF8239

Sew on and sew forth

In December 2014 I got a quilt commission from my good friend J. As  the proposal unfolded it became clear that what was being sought was something far far more complicated than I had undertaken before. The specification was for a double quilt including a fox, a panda, to go in a room with a cappuccino coloured wall.

Skilling up

Rather than let the commission go, I decided to skill up and learn how to patchwork.DSCF7360 DSCF7361 DSCF7373 DSCF7376 DSCF8011 My mother had been an obsessive and hugely creative hand quilter. Much of her collection of fabric had been given away when dementia took her mind, but on clearing the house after my father’s death, a couple of large bags containing fabric scraps and samples came to the surface. What a fantastic discovery that was.

The patchwork quilt above is destined for Criquette, who has cared for my family at moments of real trauma. Embedded in her quilt are fabrics that once clothed each member of my immediate family.

Unlike my previous quilts, this one includes a binding, complete with mitred corners, another advancement to my technical arsenal.

Having learned the basics of patchwork I set about the Fox and Panda quilt for J, or more specifically, her daughter who lives in San Francisco. She sent me a link to Schenley’s paper pieced fox pattern which I bought on Etsy. I thought it would come with some instructions but there were none. So I spent hours learning about paper piecing on YouTube and then made the fox out of scraps. It turned out ok.


A thirteen pieced nozzle

The panda was harder to deal with. I searched high and low for a pattern and eventually settled on a rather complicated design by Juliet from Tartankiwi.  There are 13 individual pieces of stitched fabric in the nose alone!


Having cracked the fox and panda, I began to think about the overall design and colours. Slowly the quilt began to take shape.



DSCF7978Last month both quilts were dispatched across the world and I waited with baited breath to hear from the recipients and this is what they said:

‘What joy it was to unwrap something so gorgeous. We were stunned with the quilts sumptuous colours. It will be an heirloom for our family to treasure’.

‘A huge thank you for this amazing quilt! It looks absolutely beautiful and really fits into our home perfectly. The amount of detail and care that clearly went into it are amazing, thank you again. I know it was a huge undertaking so we’re super appreciative’.


The bright red fabric, the calico and wadding were bought online from Empress Mills who offer excellent priced solid cottons.

Backing fabric for both quilts was bought from Sew Creative in Cambridge. They are expensive, but their collection is good.

The floral prints, greens and browns used in the panda quilt were bought from MT Fabrics, one of several fabulous Indian fabric shops on Goldhawke Road in west London.