Tag Archives: Quilting

City & Guilds Final piece finished at last

So, after 28 months of studying, my last assessment piece for my City & Guild patchwork and quilting certificate is now done. It has been a fascinating journey to get here – and I am proud of having made the leap I wanted to when I started: from traditional patchwork to art quilt. I never expected it would lead me into art college, but that’s the roller coaster that life is!

Here are some pics of the finished piece – it’s a triptych called Broken Memory , looking at the pain of suffering from dementia and watching the minds of those you love disappear. I would like to think others see something of this in the final pieces, each of us knows someone who has had the pain of a broken memory.




The photos don’t do the textural detail and justice. I think you have to look at it close up. I want to show this at Festival of Quilts this year, so you’ll just have to come up to Birmingham to see it!

Now let’s just hope my C&G assessors like it as well….!

A Wassail bowl, and an emerging idea

So here is the result of the experiment with making a wassail bowl. I wanted to see if I could create a woven object made using a mixture of basket weaving techniques and quilted materials. I really like the idea of making baskets, but finding access to natural woods and weavers in London is a challenge (without the risk of getting arrested for chopping down parts of Royal Parks!). So, is there an alternative way to make ‘wooden’ sticks? This was my first attempt as to whether the idea might have legs.

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Result: ok, better quality than my samples so far. The interfaced quilted pieces (side stems and top border) worked very well as they had enough rigidity, However, making long enough pieces of narrow strengthened fabric for the long weavers turned out to be more of a challenge, hence the use of the fabric strips. The colours were chosen to reflect the vibrancy of the apple trees and what they need to thrive: sunshine, water. Nice and cheesy, but not convinced this adds much. Also a question – this may be pretty but you can’t actually use it for drinking from; does the lack of functionality void its purpose?

Reflection: I have been unwell this week and in a lot of pain, and as you might expect not really on top form. I used making the bowl partly to get some work done, but also as a distraction from moping around the house. It is interesting therefore to notice that I think this comes across in the object. Not specifically the being in pain, but that the feeling and intent behind the object was shallow and a bit, well…, obvious.

So what to do differently?

Well a couple of things have sprung to mind. Firstly, that I think there may be something interesting in exploring the basketry using textiles thing, but making more of it materially as opposed to just substituting fabric for wood. Particularly if I can make best use of the texture of the material in the final form. Also if the material is stitchable, why not stitch something onto the weavers; build blessings into a blessing basket?

The second thing comes back to intent. Yesterday I had a nice chit-chat over a bowl of soup with my friend and co-MADM student Anita. I shared that I have been worrying about how to up the quality of my work while still exploring new things (since my last chat with Maiko in December). A couple of key things Anita said in response have resonated with what I had been thinking after my latest making experiment. This is my take-away from it:

  • Try to push the boundaries of what you do. Don’t put your skills in a box and label it “quilting”
  • Think about the materiality of things, it could be anything you look at which could be used and translated into an object
  • What do materials say to you, what do they make you think about?
  • Ignore the technique, think about what feelings you want in the object

Good learning (thanks Anita), I think this is going to be this term’s challenge, and a very important one to resolve to get real emotions into my practice. I have decided my way into doing this is going to be through ‘intent cards‘. This is a technique I’ve used in writing rituals, which now seems very applicable to translate over into my making. Each thing I make needs to have proper intent in making it. To ensure this, if I explicitly define this intent before I start making a new sample and then work to it during the making, there will be more chance of achieving it.

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Let’s see where this takes me!

Happy Friday xxx

City & Guilds final assessment piece: work started

I have made a start on my final assessment piece for my City & guilds work which I am endeavouring to get finished before the second term at Camberwell starts. This is going to be my Big Exhibition Quilt, ready for FOQ 2015. The piece is titled broken memories and I am seeking to capture something of the pain of memory loss through old age, dementia or Alzheimer’s. My design is to make three panels, showing a increasingly fragmented and pained mind. This was the original sample; I have a few more ideas on how to improve from this.

Well, the first steps are now done, with completion of the three painted panels (acrylic ink in limited colour palette on white cotton lawn – when wet almost see through) which will be ripped and patchworked onto a cotton background. I’m using inks for this as it keeps the softness of the fabric intact in a way fabric paints don’t. I am still waiting for an order of oakshott cotton to turn up before I can get the full panel pieced and ready for quilting.



One of the things I noticed since my last assessment piece, is that my approach is now different from before I started the MA course. I am thinking more about the materials and what they say in the piece. Not just the surface design speaks, but the surface itself. I also see how important preparation, intent and planning is, even when the physical act of making (or in this case painting), is improvisational. This isn’t something I though before – improv was only just sitting down and seeing what happened.

More to do, but good progress so far.

ANT xx

City & Guilds assessed piece #4

Due to various circumstances, I started my MA course at Camberwell without having quite finished my City & Guilds Design & Craft level 3 certificate. I still have two more assessed pieces to go, and the odd sample left to do.

This week, I have taken time out from my MA work to focus on getting assessed piece #4 completed ready to hand in to my tutor on Friday. I would like to get everything done before Christmas so I can fully focus on the MA work.  I think I might finally be there with this one, although I won’t have the write-up done by Friday! The task was to do a 3D box in any shape, and use any of the techniques we have sampled over the last two years which I have not used in my previous assessed pieces.  I decided to concentrate on the surface design with this piece and use fabric painting techniques and ‘thread painting’. Theme: Autumn!

This is the final piece: Photo 22-10-2014 10 49 09

And a collage showing the making story: pumpkinstorySo, what do I think, and what could be improved next time?

  • Technique: I started with brusho fabric dyes, which turned out to fade very quickly and be a bit washed out.  I switched to setacolour faric paints which gave a much more vibrant colour. Learning for next time:  I should have made a few more samples actually, looking at a range of options for the background.  I went with what was in my sketchbook and didn’t like it on the piece, so changed it on the go. The thread painting worked really well, and I used my hand-drawn scarecrow design to add some moodiness to the corn field stitched around the rest of the box.
  • Design: I like the unusual pumpkin shape for the box, it is much more interesting then my first draft (which was a square box with commercial pumpkin fabric!). I simplified down the lining design a little as there is only so much bling which looks good.  I had thought to do the lining via the ‘bag method’ but this turned out to be impractical for keeping the pumpkin shape on the inside.  This left me with a sudden puzzle on how to finish the edges. Zig zagging looked scruffy so, I came up with the nice idea of making a vine to wrap around each edge and use this to hold the lid on as well.  I think the lid hasn’t quite worked as well as intended – perhaps this needed a thicker interfacing to make this stand up.

Overall, good and meets the brief, but would review the structural design for next time. I liked the surface design techniques (as it involves paint) and I really enjoyed making the stitched vines.  I will review to see which of the techniques used would be useful to carry into my MA Project.

So now I just have my final piece – a full size art quilt – to do next!

ANT xx

Things we do in bed

My visit to the windy and rainy Kent countryside today ended up at Danson House and the ‘Things we do in bed’ exhibition of traditional and contemporary quilts, curated by writer Tracey Chevalier.

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The quilts were displayed in the five bedrooms of this rather grand 18th century house, reflecting the many different reasons we go to bed: Birth, Sleep, Sex, Illness and Death





Gallery of my favourite pictures from the exhibition below

The exhibition was small but very powerfully laid out, and as we discussed in Karen’s workshop a few weeks ago – very carefully curated to give a very clear narrative. I found the exhibition reminded me of why I started making quilts in the first place – the power of personal memories and hidden stories you weave into the making; plus the history of centuries of tradition in making such an intimate, personal object which is there to give comfort, warmth and security.

The most powerful piece for me was the pair of quilts by Michele Walker, which were made to reflect her grief for the loss of her mother – the first just after her death, and the second quilt 10 years later. You can tangibly see the change in her emotions through the textiles. This expression of feeling is what I have been aiming to achieve since I started art quilting and journalling. I don’t want to lose this feeling in my own work now I am on the MA course, and I need to make sure I can embed this into any material I choose to work with. I came out wanting to jump on the sewing machine. Perhaps I should take this as a sign that I ought to explore the edges of what I make, and be careful not to lose sight of what has made my work good so far. I have started doing this with stitch, but perhaps I should repeat the exercise with fabric as my next mini-project.

Still feeling like I am on a roller-coaster and not sure what to think about what’s going on – there seems to be so many options hovering about and I can see how easy it will be to spiral into a thousand alleyways to explore. You really are on your own journey – for all of the seminar discussions and sharing etc, no-one can tell you what to do, what to think, or where to go next. Exciting, challenging, a bit scary? I hope this is just how I am expected to be feeling at this point in term 1.



Journal Quilt May – A feast full of fish

As promised, here is a fishy tale ready for the end of the merry month of May.  As the first of my Journal Quilt pieces I thought I’d start off quite basic, and try to combine a few techniques I’ve used before with one or two I hadn’t.

I started off by thinking in design terms of what I was trying to do.  I had only just written a father’s day card (a whole month early) and so was thinking of my dad.  Those who know him, will know he is a fisherman.  Not your blow-the-wind-southerly-fishing-for-a-living type of man, but an avid angler who never seems as happy as when the rod’s in his hand.

So fish then.  A good theme. I did a little sketch of the sea floor with some seaweed and a few fish swimming by – it was very Finding Nemo.  It was also very bad (and I’m not showing you!). So I created a new sketch, trying to turn my somewhat naive seafloor into something more abstract. This is what I came up with.

Well it’s a starting point! From paper to fabric then!  I started by splitting the design into 4 segments, creating the background of each segment then embellishing individually before appliqueing all together.


1. Sun-dappled water

I made this by doing some simple square patchwork using hand-dyed fabric, so it looked sort of watery.  I mixed up the colours to give the impression of sun shining through the water (aaah). White bubbles were then added using the most wonderful Bondaweb – which fuses the fabric onto the top layer.  These were satin stiched around the edges to make them look more bubbly.

2. Fish

These were actually really easy – as they are essentially flying geese (or should I say flying fish) made by using applique triangles bonded onto the background.

3. Deep water

This was a good excuse to practice some more free motion quilting in new designs, by leaving the background plain and then quilting the waves ontop. I had thought to add seweed but decided it looked a bit naff.

4. The bottom.

Ok, so I really cheated here and just used patterned rock fabric.  Well wouldn’t you if you had some perfect sea-floor rock fabric just lying around?

Each of these segments were sewn together using a blind-hem stitch of my machine.  Never actually used that setting before and am rather impressed I have to say.  Think it’s normally used for trouser hems (though I best not tell my HB that, or he’ll expect me to fix his). Once it was all one piece, I added backing and wadding and quilted it all together.  I got a bit over-excited when doing my waves, and thought to try out another new technique: stitched writing – that incredibly fun, even if I need a bit more practice!  The geordies in the audience might recognise the lyrics…

The finished piece:


I’ll keep this for when the boat comes in 🙂

Happy stitching!