Taming the Borders and the Joy of Greenery

This year the Pantone colour was Greenery.  On a whim I entered the quilt competition and to my delight  won one of the prizes.  This quilt epitomises the clear bright May and early spring greens we had at the time of the competition deadline. I had started the quilt a few years before, never getting beyond a pile of wonky star blocks.  The competition gave me the impetus to get on and finish the top.  I was really pleased with the eleventh hour decision to add the blue border around the quilt.  This thin blue line really creates closure and provides a much needed edge to frame the overall composition.

The quilt is about to head off to Sandy Chandler (thequiltingcompany.co.uk) to work her long-arm magic.  I am very excited and cant wait to get it back again, attach the binding and hang it.

Quilt made by Anne Varley in Spring 2017 and entered into Pantone Greenery competition

This has been the UK August Bank holiday weekend and for once we have had a succession of warm sunny days reaching over 25-degrees. This clear light showed how a summer of rain has pushed the borders to tall leggy growth and the thugs in my garden needed a good hack back to allow autumn flowering herbaceous plants to come through and much valued fruit to be appreciated.

Pears hanging from their maiden branches
trimmed box hedges and a bit of bare earth a breath of fresh air after heavy covering with high summer border thugs

The box hedges also had a trim and a sense of order is temporarily restored before the late flush of rich October ombre of marmalade-coloured blooms before winter.

August Border in Garden cut back ready for the arrival of the annual, perennial, October-fest of marmalade blooms

We have heavy dews now and the mornings are tinged with red skies.  My early morning dog walks (coffee in hand) are truly special at this time of year. Much savoured and worth the early rise to appreciate.

August Sunrise

I also stop and take time to look over ripening produce.

Pumpkin turning orange in raised bed alongside nasturtiums (perched on an upside down hanging basket to protect from the damp soil)

During the evenings I was also putting together some borders on a quilt that falls into the ever expanding work-in-progress category.

This series of quilt borders focuses on appliquéd polygons, a double helix of 5/8th inch pentagon flowers.

Pentagon border drawing on range of green colours in my own garden

Looking out over my own garden and herbaceous borders this last year I have been inspired to use predominantly greens from the whole spectrum. Warm and cool, muddy and clear. With this in mind I headed to my scraps stash and started cutting out and constructing over 200 rosettes. A few fussy cut, but the majority just sewn together to show off the whole range of greens to their best advantage.  Some scraps were so small, but much loved, that I spliced them together, much as our 19th century quilting sisters had done in their creations; careful to match the patterns.  I am so excited with the overarching concept that I cant wait to see the full effect once I have sew the border together.

Pentagon flower using scraps of fabric from my stash with centre made from two very small pieces of treasured cloth
Beautiful and delicate very old fern in full growth

I am sure that they will form a strongly harmonious and balanced visual effect.  The tiny pops of colour accord with my own garden which I designed to (predominantly) showcase foliage, such as the old fern at my back door pictured above.  In my opinion, any greater presence of jewel colours would have drawn ones eye all round the quilt, not giving ones eye a place to rest and feel content with the overall quilt design.  I can’t wait to share this quilt with you next year!

Big Bold Beautiful Prints – the challenge

There are those fabrics in all of our stashes that fall into the big, bold or beautiful prints category. You either can’t find the right project for them or are too attached to cut them up. I have a number of fabrics that I lovingly take in and out of the cupboard, fondle and then return to their home.

Debbie of Dotty Dolly has set me the challenge of coming up with a quilt pattern to showcase prints in this category, to make the print the star of the show.

The challenge fabric is Orient by Free Spirit. It has an incredible 18 colours on the selvedge registration. It’s a big bold and beautiful print with great tones that give it a satisfying saturated magnificence! The mint green in combination with the pinks is particularly heartwarming. The circles provide a simple reference to use for a quilting pattern.

I looked through my own stash and found two lovely French General prints that I long to use to create a fabric-showcasing quilt.

So the challenge is on! I look forward to posting soon and sharing my progress.


A little sunshine!

I have been working on some samples for a workshop I’m running at Nynehead Court Orangery (Somerset, England) on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st October 2017 through Dotty Dolly. It’s all about circles and stems! I couldn’t resist adding in some birds from Di Ford’s beautiful fabrics. There is a little bit of embellishment to finish on the flowers and then ready to quilt.The backing took some thought, but eventually I selected Phillip Jacobs for Rowan Brassica. So soft for spending hours holding whilst I hand quilt. The other samples are coming on well too and the patterns will be available on the day and via this website soon. If anyone would like to join the workshop please either email me or contact Dotty Dolly

Octagons and Diamonds

This quilt on show at the Festival of Quilts deserves a special mention and a post all to itself.

Quilt tops like this make my heart sing. It is unfinished and has all its papers and spare fabrics with it for us to study. The papers date up to 1859. I think I will let the photographs speak for themselves! Enjoy!

Toil and Joy II

Today I headed north to Birmingham to attend the Festival of Quilts and catch up with wonderful friends.  The day has inspired me on so many levels and given me such food for thought and great design ideas! I can’t wait to go back again tomorrow.

To my sheer delight I also met up with Sallie Ead of Antique Textiles and Costume. She sourced one of my favourite quilt finds, a 19th century jockey cap quilt top. I last saw Sallie at the Selvedge Fair at the American Museum in Bath and it is always a pleasure to chat all things antique fabric with her. She did not disappoint! Today she had some lovely toile de jouy fabrics, some of which I was fortunate enough to bring home! This divine scrap has a hot air balloon just floating off to the right , seemingly carried by the gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the foreground tree. The middle-distance line of willow/ popular trees reminds me of the tree-lined straight roads in Brittany. The deep red on softest cream will be a pleasure to weave into a little quilt.

Sallie had a truly superb early purple toile that she generously held up to show we girls.

The vignettes divided by a trellis in my second purchase have really caught my attention. I have one width but 29 different scenes that are each as charming as the next. I can’t wait to get home and put it on my design wall. What a superb day!

My final find has filled me with excitement! A brown scrap of Chinese pagoda toile. I have photographed it with a fine brown stipe from Karen Styles Quilters’ Guild Collection – the vases and urns in the pattern will be a joy to sketch, enlarge and appliqué onto a border for a long narrow quilt hanging.

Toil and Joy

Kathryn and I ventured out this afternoon to have tea at one of my favourite west Somerset fabric haunts. The Courthouse is a three storey Alladin’s cave of beautiful things for your home, with a large fabric resource. The actual building is a thing of true antiquity with its warped timber frame giving just a hint of grandeur and a taste of things to come when inside. Pevsner describes it in architectural detail, but for me the galleries are stunning and what make climbing the staircase such a pleasure.

We sat in the rear courtyard enjoying a break from the relentless cold August (that should be our summer) drinking tea and coffee, swapping ideas for all things quilt and indulging slightly in the divine tearoom goodies!

So it was after having discussed Christmas quilting ideas for a forthcoming workshop that I stumbled across a part roll of the most wonderful toile de jouy – Harvest by Design Archives.

I have a deep affection for toile de jouy. When I was a child the wallpaper adorning my fathers office in our home was of sweet pastoral scenes in a charcoal grey. I would spend hours in there looking at the people combing the walls looking from one vignette to another, luckily never being tempted to colour them in! On the sublime days when he set up an easel and board for me, and got out his oil paints, I was allowed to play with his rich coloured pungent paints with the toile and his partners desk and his generous spirit in the background.

Leaping forward my affection for toile means there are a number of prints in my stash and I have used green toile de jouy from Colefax and Fowler in a past home to adorn a dressing table and have a small, but much loved collection of toile de jouy boxes in a corner of our kitchen.

My current favourite is Nina Campbell’s asticou. The fabric has such a soft patina and whilst cotton, has a very gentle, tactile, sateen feel. I have adorned the windows of a tall ebonised secretariat with it. But this soft red toile cotton is light weight and initially crying out to be made into an autumnal tablecloth. The scenes are of tools and crops associated with a good harvest. But it has played on my mind for a few hours and I sense it needs to be paired with a ticking or stripe and some scallops and possibly some English Paper Pieces borders… So tomorrow I will search through my (respectfully modest darling!) stash and find companions that will turn the fabric into a heart warming quilt.