Elephants in Wexford

Well no ..not real ones just on my quilt!!

I was online at one of my favourite places to buy fabric online www.fabricshack.com  

Well I was looking through all the fabrics for a childs quilt- even though mine have flown the nest and no grandchildren on the ground yet! I found this amazing funky fabric by Valori Wells there and I just had to buy it, but how to make a quilt out of very large animals??

Fabric by Valori Wells for Fresspirit Fabrics

Fabric by Valori Wells for Fresspirit Fabrics

I didnt even know what I was going to do but just loved these elephants..so my first design was born. That was such fun and many scribbles and overwrites. I thought if I cut out the Elephants using Bondaweb and appliqued them onto blocks along with star blocks it might work.

Embroidery panel hooped up and ready to go!

Embroidery panel hooped up and ready to go!

So I found some similar fabrics on the floor behind everything else and was thinking- the elephants are pretty, I thought the stars would need something extra, so I tried a few  embroidery patterns that might fit within the block on my embroidery machine.

I had an idea to blend machine embroidery with the blocks so this is what I came up with……….

DSCF2858 (800x600)

So this is what I came up for the free motion design on the star block……..

Free Motion on panel

Free Motion on panel

I found some matching Minky fabric for the back and completed all the blocks. The Minky fabric is gorgeously soft but I had used it before so didnt want to do anything to complex in the way of free motion quilting. it is a bit heavy for me to drag around on the machine but makes beautiful sculptural designs.

Minky Fabric on the Back

Minky Fabric on the BackAnd this is my finished Funky Elephant Quilt……………………..

And this is it finished , my Funky Fanta Elephant Quilt …..

Finished Quilt

Finished Quilt

I was so glad to get this finished, and folded up…no grandchildren to give it to yet though!! I am trying to find time to get on with my next project now although DH has promised me a revamp of my sewing room next week or so- its our spare bedrooma t the moment and I am working round a double bed and all the extras..have been promised a wooden floor and a sofa bed..Whoohoo!!!


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.

A Step Further.

At least I got my first page up without too many hair tearing episodes! Due to our Irish weather, and copious amounts of rain, I was able to spend all day yesterday tweaking my blog.

I saw a lovely pattern in a magazine that I thought would make a delish baby quilt but realised I would have to re-size it plus I didn’t like some of the design so went back to square one and redesigned it and added my butterflies to the quilt. What is it about butterflies? i really love them and Fabric Shack had some wonderful panels on special a  while back so guess I was just looking for an excuse to use them!

Free Motion Quilting is a whole other business though. Everyone says its practice and more practice, but I found it really hard to start with and there are times when you hit the sweet spot on the machine and it goes so well (for about 6 inches anyway!) I thought it might be quite cool to do wavy lines around the butterflies so that it looked like there was air movement around them..

Applique Butterfly on Pink baby Quilt

I changed the borders around,  and kept the ‘on point’ design which is a fairly universal  design I think. I appliqued the butterflies on using Bondaweb and then used applique stitch 45 on my Janome Horizon, had to fiddle about with the stitch length and width to get the right size. Boy am I glad I took Leah Day’s advice about having practice swatches. I generally am not so patient and then end up using the trusty seam ripper. her videos are fantastic. I have never had any lessons, but the Internet is wonderful -I watched her videos over and over on You-tube, not just the free motion ones but all the ones about starting off and bringing your threads to the front and all the other basic tutorials.

Baby Butterflies and Pink Quilt

Another rule I am making for myself is that I will try and post photos of my quilts and embroidery that is work in progress . That is something I didn’t think of before, I always like looking at peoples work before it gets to the final stage.It is really interesting to follow  how people have made things from cutting out the fabric to the finished article.

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!