Building Blocks

I have sadly neglected my blog of late – we have been so busy with all our animals here at Casa Davies , and I have had to concentrate on quilting in my spare time..which got me thinking..does anyone else have huge problems fitting all their blocks together for the final quilt?

I sometimes see a great pattern and just cant decide about the colour combinations or where and how to place blocks on the quilt. or I think I can improve on it (!) For example I decided to make a small quilt, similar to the one I had seen in Alex Andersons book on wallquilts. So I lay all the blocks out on the floor and decided to play with them..ImageSo it sat on the floor for 3 days while I played about with what i thought was my new design and nothing was working..Big frustration! In the end I went back to the original pattern which had broken up the blocks using two horizontal lines between the top and middle blocks- the spacing really helped to creat a bit of visual tension (along with my own for being so darned stubborn in the first place)

here is the finished piece ..Image

it sure looks pretty different from how I started!! What do you think?


Art vs Craft

I was surfing the web like you do, and came across a link to my old college at Woverhampton where I studied Sculpture back in the 80’s. One of my old tutors on there was a wonderful stone carver, John (Paddy) Paddison, who studied under John Skeaping.( Barbara Hepworth’s first husband, Skeaping was a gifted horseman and taught Sculpture at the RCA. he eventually retired at the age of 80 to the Camargue where he rode and broke in cattle!)



The reason I think of Paddy when there is always a debate about the craft or Fine Art forms of Painting/Sculpture versus ‘Conceptualised’ art form , is that at college he was very much seen as the old guard of the art school. Tutors then were very much promoting the ethos of concept art.Ideas were more important than learning the craft of painting or sculpture. I think their thinking was that if you could produce ideas, there were always technicians available to create your work, without the student learning techniques to a high standard, perhaps when time was at a premium, I don’t know.. It’s always been a contentious issue of debate, I have always thought that it is important to have the two forms of craft and art being side by side. What do you all think?


Anyway, back to Paddy. He  had his stone carving area in the yard downstairs in the Molyneux, in the plein air style..and my first year I opted for a module in stone carving..the only time this module was available was in February, in the freezing cold and open to the elements. I think Paddy thought that if we were keen then we would man up and keep carving through hail, rain and snow..which of course we did. He was a great teacher, always there to give a suggestion just when you needed it, and encouragement. I brought my greyhound in one day and he spent ages just looking at her and describing her lines and athletic build. It wasnt until later that I had the opportunity to see his wonderful work.

‘Flaying’ John Paddison-Stonecarving

I suppose the question I am asking is, where does art begin and craft stop..and what is the nature of craft? To my mind, someone like Paddy had both in equal measure. he had superb ability in making and fabricating techniques, which were acquired over a period of 40 years plus. he also had vision, and original ideas, and managed to use his material, in his case, stone to mould his ideas into a physical entity.

Working with textiles is very similar it seems to me. There has to be an understanding of,  and practical application of, techniques, a sympathy towards the materials we work with, and originality of thought in designing and creating pieces.


It’s so hard to master..I find just as I think I am getting the hang of Free Motion Quilting on the Janome, but so often, it seems to slip away and I am using the stitch ripper again – or my points dont measure up or basically I am having a really bad hair day regarding design and how things fit together. I know it all takes time and loads of practice, so hopefully, one day the lightbulb will go on! As I have started to get more involved with quilting, I am finding there is so much variety out there in the way people make and design quilts, from very traditional bed quilts  to wonderful art forms that are exhibited internationally. But all of them have that magic symbiosis of craft and art working together.

Hi everyone out there- my first quilting post!

I have a guilty pleasure …I love making things. I used to make sculpture, carving and steel work mainly, but even before that as a very young girl, I remember watching my grandmother make just about everything on her old Singer Treadle machine. That woman could sew! If it wasnt sewn, it was knitted and,growing up I used to spend hours kneeling on the floor next to her while she pinned out patterns and fabric. Hours were spent waiting for her while she looked through dress pattens at our local store.

I didnt think any of it had actually rubbed off on me until about a year ago when I started making embroidery and decided I needed to buy a sewing machine to hem up the edges of my linen to stop them fraying. I got as far as the dealer and bought my basic first machine, a Janome, which was wonderful. I really wanted to make a quilt though and bought a marvellous book by Alex Anderson and the first thing I made with it was a small rail fence quilt-not the seams for the embroidery which I was supposed to do (oh dear)! And from then on I was hooked.

So here is the very first quilt I made..on a small machine, and no idea how to cut anything out to an exact quarter inch seam or how to FMQ!

My first quilt-thank you Alex Anderson!!

So I made this first quilt using Alex Anderson’s quilt book and she ahd everything laid out so easily and straightforward I was able to folow it-not wihtout loads of mistakes on my part, using the seam ripper so many times and finally finished it. So pleased I completed it.

I get a  lot of ideas from looking at books and quilting magazines, and I subscribe to Fons and Porters Easy Quilts. So the next project was a throw for my son and his partner. The actual quilting consited of vertical strips of material and appliqued flowers added afterwards.

Another first. I am now discovering Bondaweb! So I found some real funky fabric- the cream fabric is almost Batik but with a bark pattern – I was delighted to find this as it looked really unusual  and really looked forward to starting on it

her is part of it under my first little machine, the  Janome-CXL301

Flower Quilt

I had to pin some of the leaves and petals first- the pattern has a running stitch weaving through the quilt,I had to draw this in freehand last of all and stitch this by hand. Now I know why I machine quilt- my hands are just not up to this!!

So finally finished it a week before last Christmas- was so relieved to get it done.

Still finding Free Motion Quilting difficult here so opted for a randomised swirly pattern. I watched a lot of Patsy Thompson videos..having to learn to sew from scratch is sooo hard. Really wish there was a group near home. Maybe it is good also,because if you really want to do a thing you will find a way!