Wednesday, 28 January 2009


I have 5 pieces to do for this year in my City & Guilds course. One of them is a bag and I had already decided to make a bag for my cutting mat, rulers and cutters as that is something I need.
When I was out shopping at Christmas I found this book - I kept looking at the designs and thought how well they could be adapted to patchwork - and I just had to buy it! Mondrian was a Dutch artist and the works that interest me were all painted in New York in the 1930s and 40s.
He used a limited palette of white, grey, black and the three primary colours - blue, red and yellow. The designs all follow a defined but varied grid pattern. I thought how easy this would be to convert into fabric - how wrong I was!

I am working first on the back of the bag - the piece is 21 x 25 inches. I drew a grid onto backing fabric and then I bondawebbed the fabrics on.
Everything was great so far!

It took all Sunday afternoon to produce enough black half inch strips to lay between the blocks but so far so good! When I pinned the black strips on it was obvious that there would be too much movement when I sewed so I decided to tack the strips down. This was very difficult as the strips still kept moving and it was very difficult to tack through the bondaweb. Also I needed to be careful to have enough overlap to cover the coloured rectangles but also keep the lines straight. The nightmare had begun!

In the end I decided I needed to just get on and sew it but after many readjustments and lots of unpicking I just could not get it straight. This has proved a very big challenge - and I still have the front to do. Even though it is not perfectly straight and square and I going to carry on - mainly because I have invested so much time and energy in it! City & Guilds should be a challenge and I wanted to stretch my abilities and I am certainly doing that.

On a lighter note these paintings of Mondrian have influenced other areas of modern culture.

Nike trainers produced in 2008

A pac man game where the little men actually 'eat up' one of Mondrian's last works of art - 'Broadway Boogie Woogie' painted in 1942.

And hair care products with a Mondrian inspired logo. Despite the problems I am having I love his work and am determined to get this bag done for Feb 7th!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Cath Kidston Bag and Mystery Quilt Update.

I have finally completed Step 1 of Double Delight, Bonnie Hunter's New Year Mystery Quilt. There are 120 of these 3.5 inch blocks! The layout is not how it will be in the quilt but I thought it was better than just showing one block. I have had loads of help from the cats while doing this quilt but this photo shows Maisy during one of her shifts!
This was one of my Christmas books and I decided to make one of the bags from it which was actually completed on Dec 30th - I just forgot to show it.

Unusually the pattern calls for both heavyweight and quilting cotton so I was able to use some heavier cotton that I bought for £1 per metre on Rotherham Market some time ago. I really liked it when I saw it so bought 2 metres. When I got home I discovered that it was actually a Cath Kidston fabric called Pop Flowers. The next week at the stall I asked for some more and he told me that it had all gone - someone had told him it was Cath Kidston and had bought it to sell on ebay! So now I study the Cath Kidston catalogue religiously so that if any more crops up I will recognise it straight away!

Most of the other fabrics are from repurposed shirts except the lining which is a vintage cotton curtain I bought from a car boot for 30p.

It is a bucket style bag with loads of space in it - I have put a couple of press studs on the top binding so it can be folded in when not in full use. The bottom is one of those funny folded triangles which I am not sure I really like but I do like the bag as I feel that it does capture the vintage shabby chic look I was trying to achieve.

Monday, 19 January 2009


I have been at College all weekend and realised that the first year students are rapidly catching up to the point I had reached with the blogging of my first year work. To recap, the first year consists of 5 modules with associated artwork and samples.
Module 4 was based completely on my visit to Arizona in March 2008 and this sample was inspired by Chiricahua National Monument which is a remote but spectacular place. It consists mostly of eroded rock formations which are ideal design sources. As always you can click on all the photos to see more detail.

A few photos to give you a flavour of the place and this photo was used as a design source for my artwork.

The artwork is done in pastels.

First we painted a background onto bondaweb - now mine did not work out as well as it should - it is just too dense. I think this is because I used Heat and Bond instead of the regular bondaweb. The brown rock is needle turned using my favourite freezer paper on top technique and then the details were embroidered on using metallic thread.
I was not very pleased with this sample but it was a great learning experience - I do need to do more work on the painted bondaweb technique because I know it can give much better results than this.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Cupcake Artwork.

Each City & Guilds piece has to be accompanied with a workbook where you record things like design brief, construction notes, evaluation and of course artwork.

I have photographed some of my art work as I like to have a record on the blog of all the work I have done.

This artwork was my original design that I have now abandoned. It is done using string printing.

This one is a collage done with funky foam and corrugated cardboard.

This final piece was done using the string print again but this time with pastels. This is the one that caused me to change my mind yet again as I loved it so much I decided to make it into a wallhanging.

It reminded me of an Andy Warhol painting - I made the quilt top and took it to college - I could not decide if I liked it or not when I saw it made up. Anyway the consensus was that it worked so I was really pleased. I can't show it yet as it is all tacked and ready for quilting so I will have to leave you in suspense for now!

I have really moved out of my comfort zone with this one as it is so different from what I normally do. However this does mean that I am growing as a quilt designer and learning more about the types of design I like. All great reasons to be doing the City & Guilds course.

The moral of this tale - ALWAYS do your artwork and loads of designs on paper before you start sewing!!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Birthday Block Swap December - Mardis Gras

Sad to say that I am still behind with the Birthday Block Swap but hey it is only Jan 4th today so things are not all bad! This block is for Peggy who lives in New Orleans and it will be in the post to the US tomorrow. Peggy's theme was Mardis Gras and at first I was really stumped on this one. Luckily Peggy posted up some blocks on the same theme that she received in the last swap so that gave me some ideas. Basically she wanted blocks using the traditional Mardis Gras colours of purple, green and gold. I have used some of my hand dyed cottons for this - I have tried to photo this block twice with little sucess - but trust me the colours are much better and darker 'in the flesh'. The block is called Cheyenne from the Judy Hopkins 'Once More Around the Block'. I liked it because the central gold and purple pieces made a 'cracker' shape. Hope Peggy likes it too!
As you can see I made two other blocks as well - these are using some printed Mardis Gras fabrics I found in my stash. I was not sure if they were ok because they may have too many other colours in them. Anyway I enjoyed making them and I am sending them to you as a bonus Peggy - they will be ok for the back or for some cushions!

Since New Years Eve I have been busy with a new project. For a few months I have been reading Bonnie Hunter's blog and admiring her scrap quilts. Anyway she has started a new Mystery Quilt, Double Delight and I could not resist.
There are 120 of these units which need the other two shirting triangles added - and that only completes Step 1. However I am finding the repetitive nature of doing these little blocks very calming and enjoyable. Bonnie is a very generous quilter who has loads of free patterns on her website along with the steps for the mystery quilt.