Avoid Christmas panic – make your own hanging heart decoration, or use one of our kits that has everything you need ready for you. The hearts you make, or the kits, are great stocking fillers or Christmas Eve box gifts.
Taking just the cotton print heart you have made, secure the thread in the centre with a couple of small stitches. Put the needle up through the small felt heart and one of the holes of the button. Take the neele and thread back down through the other hole of the button and repeat a couple of times.
Secure on the wrong side with another couple of small stitches. This is the stage it is easiest to add any personalised embellishment too.
Layer the 3 heart pieces with the print upermost.
Fold the ribbon in half and tuck the ends into the top of the heart. Secure with a couple of stitches, and test it with a little tug.
Using running stitch, sew from the top of the heart up and around the curve, down to the bottom point and then back up the other side, to 1 cm to the second curve. Secure the thread with a small stitch.
Use the hollow fibre filling poking it into the inside the heart, as evenly as possible. A pencil can help with this.
If you would like some scent, add some dried fragrant petals, such as lavender, or a couple of drops of essential oil to the hollowfibre.
Complete the running stitching back to the centre top and secure with another couple of little stitches.
Hang your completed hanging heart decoration with pride.
Hanging heart Kits
If you would like a kit to make a hanging heart decoration (available in three designs) then please go to my Etsy shop.
I offer to save you time, stress and money:
gift wrapping service (small extra charge)
I will send your purchace to your recipient with a greeting (free service)
I also have another DIY Christmas presents hanging kit available at my Etsy shop.
And as a blog reader you can use the code HCBLOG at the checkout for 20% off any orders from my Etsy shop over £10.
I show you that creating a replacement cover for an ironing board is quick, easy and inexpensive.
I love the convenience of my Ikea JALL table ironingboards which I use in the guest room and in my textile workshops. It was the Simple Sew Sheffield launch which made me stocktake and realise that one ironingboard was really not fit to be seen in public. I’m not sure I really want to “bare all” and show you how tatty it had got here, but in true before and after style, I have decided I will.
ironing board hack BEFORE
Not a pretty sight heh?
Ikea sell replacement covers for their larger ironing boards but not for the table ironingboard. I am really into up-cycling rather than replacing so I set about investigating how to make a replacement cover.
Going to my fabric stash I found a piece of cotton just the right size. It was a remmenant I was offered very cheaply at Economy Fabrics. This project needs 90 x 40 cm of fabric.
Taking the existing cover off, I found the wadding still usable and used it as a pattern, adding 5cm all around
Using the wadding as a pattern
I decided to improve on the single wadding and added some Insul Bright heat resistant wadding. This wadding feels more like felt and contains heat-resistant properties, often Mylar fibre which is used in the space programme. It is ideal for such projects as place mats, cool bags, tea cosies etc. where it is important to keep things hot, keep them cold or protect surfaces from extreme temperatures.
I was glad I did add this extra wadding as the board is not only more padded and so nicer to use, pressing seems quicker too. In order to prevent the two layers of wadding sliding around I sewed them together using a large zig zag stitch.
sewing wadding layers together
Binding the Cover
I used pink bias binding, to edge and create a casing to thread some cord through.
I often make my own binding but for speed I used some matching bought binding I had in my stash. This project used 1.8m of binding and 2 m of cord.
adding bias binding
Open out the binding and place right side to the wrong side of the fabric, on the edge of the cut out cover fabric. Sew along the fold line. This makes it easy to then turn over to the right side and sew along the egde to secure and form the casing. before turning over the binding and sewing the second line of stitching, clip the seam around the curved parts so that the cover will lie flat.
clipping the curves
Finishing the replacement cover
I used a safety pin attached to one end of the new cord to thread it through the pink casing I had made.
threading new cord through the casing
Make sure you secure the other end though! You may be able to reuse the existing cord, but mine had weakened too much.
To complete this hack, just lay the cover face down, place the wadding on top (of the wrong side) and then lay the iron board on top. Pull up the cord so the cover gathers up to fit the ironing board. Tie the ends of the cord together.
And voilla, you have made a replacement cover and a good as new, or even better, ironing board.
ironing board hack after – back
ironing board hack after – front
If this blog post inspires you to investigate updating worn out items, I would love to hear about your projects.
The Anneka Tunic Simple Sew pattern is very versatile, and can be made up in a variety of fabrics, but this time I chose to make it from upcycled denim with shirts for the optional lining.
Shirt detail and orange satin stitching (to match the jeans seams) add styling. Three jeans pockets made the new outfit even more practical for me.
I am teaching courses in Dressmaking with this being one of the possible pattern choices, and as a Simple Sew Stockest, can also supply the pattern for you to use at home, so please get in touch for more details.
Much hard wearing denim remains when jeans are discarded. My family provides heaps of fabric and charity shops are also good sources. Often it is worth asking if they have any that has not been put out, which may be even cheaper. If jeans are not of a fashionable style or if shirts have some wear or staining (which we can cut out) they may not have been but out on display.
I used a buttoned back pocket from one pair of jeans as a breast pocket, and a loop I liked from the back of a shirt added some extra detailing to the upcycled denim.
This dress can be worn over leggings and a top in winter and the front and back pleats give lots of movement for a busy lifestyle. I did extend the stitching on both pleats down further than marked on the pattern. This was more flatterning but still gives me plenty of movement.
I used a comfortable soft brushed cotton pyjama top to make bias binding for the neck and arm edges. Then there is no discomfort from upcycled denim rubbing at your neck or underarms! This also conveniently binds the outer and lining layers together.
Joining Lining Using Bias Binding
Hand Finishing Binding
When I tried on the lining for size before joining the layers, I liked it so much I think I will make a shirting dress for summer. What do you think?
If you haven’t tried upcycling clothes in this way, it involves choosing parts of garments you want to use. You sew these together to form a patchwork large enough to lay on your pattern pieces.
Join pieces right sides together with a 1.5 cm seam allowance.
Patchwork with Shirts for Annika Tunic
I then like using pinking scissors on cotton fabric seams to stop fraying. But you can use a zig zag stitch instead. Press seams open, and cut each piece straight before adding the next piece.
It is worth thinking about where you want certain pieces to be as you work, and the mix of pattern and colour. Upcycled denim has so much variety.
You can see here, I also added a small dart (on outer and lining) as I found the armhole gaped a little. It is worth regularly trying pieces against you, and trying the garment on, as you make them up to check for fit. I was able to make this adjustment before adding the binding. So I now know I need to do this for this pattern to fit me well.
Helen Moyes Designs – A custom made, re-purposed designer dress for the cost of some thread!
During the five months of the round robin, I looked forward to seeing how others interpreted the theme. The challenge included piecing, but not quilting, the rows, which were to be between 5 and 9 inches deep.
My Row Design
My Sheffield Quilt row was inspired by growing up and living in Nether Edge and Ecclesall. These leafy suburbs in South Sheffield are on the edge of the beautiful Peak District. So I wanted to include both the city and peaks I love. This combination of a green, culture rich city with easy access to the Derbyshire Peak District makes me love living here. In fact, a third of the city lies within the Peak District national park.
I upcycled some existing patchwork from a worn out skirt, signifying my love of creating with the discarded.
The greens spoke of a lush landscape with varying foliage, and I created a background of hills.
I added a sky-scape for the city of Sheffield, in dark, small floral print fabric. And I used the council logo as a basis for the design, enlarging it and cutting out the dark fabric (with bondaweb on the reverse) with embroidery scissors. Running stitches in black thread attached this to the patchwork background.
I added millstones in a textural fabric and the Peak District arched logo in green satin to blend the City with the Peak District.
As instructed, in August we each took our first row in a plain cream fabric bag. We were also told to include any fabric we wanted in future rows and a notebook with colour or style preferences, theme etc.
I noted the inspiration for my row in my quilt notebook and added that I was happy if the theme was interpreted in any way, with any technique. Furthermore I wrote: ” a traditional patchwork block may come to mind, or it may be an experience of Sheffield you have which inspires your row design”
The group bag monitor then redistributed the bags so each month we each received a different bag. So during August, September, October and November I received a bag containing an ever increasing number of rows and I made a further row. This year I plan to blog about the other sewing, as each completed quilt is revealed. However, here I will share about my Sheffield quilt.
This was the deepest row and ended up at the bottom of the Sheffield Quilt. The team member wrote in the notebook they hoped they weren’t being greedy as they chose five aspects of Sheffield to create:
Henderson’s Relish, because they were born in the previous maternity hospital opposite the factory that made this iconic sauce brand. Made in Sheffield for over 100 years, it’s spicy and fruity and known locally as “Enderson’s”, or simply “Relish”. The comedian Tom Wrigglesworth said that while ‘outsiders’ think Henderson’s Relish is Sheffield’s answer to Worcestershire sauce, Sheffielders think it’s the answer to everything. If you haven’t tried it and you live outside South Yorkshire, you can purchase online.
Stanedge Pole, where the quilter used to walk and learned to drive on the road leading to it. Stanedge Pole, also known as Stanage Pole, is a landmark on Hallam Moors close to Stanage Edge in Sheffield 10 (grid reference SK2468784429). On the crest of the moor the carved wooden pole (and it’s replacements) have helped the weary and confused navigate in driving rain or blowing snow from the 1550s.
Forge Dam Slide, near the cafe and by Ivy Cottage Lane, Sheffield S10, is a long metal slide. As the quilter said in the notebook, “the joys of living somewhere hilly is that you can get long slides”. You can see an image on Trip Advisor.
Cutlery, is what Sheffield used to be well known for, with the first reference to cutlery made in Sheffield in 1297. Now there are only a few small producers, including Ernest Wright & Son (whose stork embroidery scissors I used for the city-scape in row one). You can see sheffield cutlery at the Sheffield cutlery shop.
Wind, which the quilter remembers blowing the cherry blossom in her parent’s garden. The blossom blowing from the tree reminds me of frequent visits to Sheffield Botanical Gardens, from toddlerhood to the present day.
This row, which is in the middle of my Sheffield Quilt , concentrates on Sheffield’s industry. The quilter shared in the notebook how, like me, when she thinks of Sheffield her first thought is of the hills, and her second is of the rivers which led to industry. The quilter used a background fabric suggesting the contours of the earth and appliqued the Bessemer Convertor, strip mills, steelworks and cooling towers. I hand quilted along the rivers in the top three rows.
Five Weirs Walk Sheffield’s industrial landscape has been changing along the river Don with it’s five weirs since the 1980s. Now it’s a green ribbon of trees known as the Five Weirs Walk. This 8km takes you through the East End of Sheffield, past scenes of Sheffield’s history. There are Victorian buildings and scenes of the city’s industrial heyday: old schools, mills, factories and some contemporary sculptures.
The quilter shares “the leaves represent the regeneration of the industrial sites”.
Sheffield Tinsley Canal In 1819 the 4 mile Sheffield Tinsley canal was completed between the River Don and a new basin in the centre of Sheffield.
Some trade continued up to the 1970s but then it was neglected. Now the towpath is a walk out of Sheffield for all weathers and seasons, and I have enjoyed a cruise along the canal.
As shared by a reviewer on the park’s facebook page, I’ve been going to this park since the 70s as a child. A shame the lido went, but the cafe and all the facilities brought about by the friends of Millhouses Park have kept this beautiful space totally user friendly and alive.
The park was near Abbeydale Grange, the comprehensive school I atended, and is quite near where I live now. My children were taught to ride a bike without stabilisers on its gentle slopes and I enjoy the cakes at the cafe by the miniature boating lake depicted on the quilt row. I have walked dogs, played tennis and mini golf, and watched my sons play basketball and rugby at this park.
The blocks of the quilt row represent the sports pitches, paths and flower beds.
I added a “love blooms here” print to widen the row to fit the others and represent family times at Millhouses Park.
The common colours in the five rows for my Sheffield Quilt were grey and green. I chose a fairly dark grey textured “linen print” to divide the rows, highlight them and represent the “steel city”.
I chose a light grey with cream spots to represent living above “the snow line” in Banner Cross in Ecclesall.
Batting & Backing
My choice was a bamboo cotton 50/50 blend batting as this is eco friendly and anti bacterial. The makers recommend you hand wash it, so I did this in the bath with soap flakes. I then squeezed and rolled it in a towel to remove some moisture, before drying it flat.
The sashing, border fabrics, and batting for my Sheffield Quilt, were a gift from my son Matthew – from Billow Fabrics. I used a plain grey, soft fabric for the back.
Each month I am inspired by the stitchers at my quilters group. The Totley Brook Quilters are keen sewers and quilters who meet each month to chat and sew. Each session includes “show and tell” and it is amazing to see what has been produced. So this month I was able to show the top of my Sheffield Quilt – pinned and basted, ready to quilt.
I used a walking foot to do straight quilting rows on my Sheffield Quilt, rolling the quilt to work through the machine.
Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange
This binding gives a piped look you can completely sew to your quilt with the sewing machine. Use either invisible thread or thread to match the piping in the top of your machine and a thread matching the quilt backing in the bobbin.
Make the Binding
You will need: 1½” strips of your main binding fabric and 1¾” strips of a contrast fabric.
Cut sufficient strips of each of these to go around your quilt plus extra for corners and joining. Prepare the binding by Joining the strips of fabric with a diagonal seam:
Place fabric right sides together at right angles
Trim seam allowance to ¼” and press seam open
Next sew the two colours together along their length using a ¼” seam.
Press the seam towards the main binding fabric.
Fold the binding in half lengthwise, so the raw edges are flush. Then press so a strip of the contrast fabric is visible on the right side of the binding.
Now prepare the beginning of the binding strip:
Unfold the left edge of the binding, fold the corner in and press.
Trim the triangle leaving a ¼” seam allowance
Refold the strip
Attach the binding to the quilt
You will first sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Then fold to the front before stitching again. Place the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the quilt, with raw edges along the edge of the quilt. Using a walking foot stitch ¼” from the edge of the quilt.
To turn the corners, stop stitching ¼” before the corner of the quilt. Then remove the quilt from the sewing machine to fold the corner. Fold the binding up so that the diagonal fold points directly into the corner.
Next, fold the binding down again, aligning it with the edge of the quilt.
Continue sewing ¼” from the edge, all round the quilt, folding each corner.
When you reach the start, trim the binding. Then Insert it into the pocket created at the beginning. Pin and stitch in place.
Complete the Binding
Fold the binding onto the right side of the quilt so you can now see the narrow piping strip.
Pin carefully, being careful the match the corners.
Stitch in the ditch on the piping using a thread matching the piping, or invisible thread in the top of your machine and a thread matching the quilt backing in the bobbin.
Sewing my Sheffield Quilt during the Christmas holidays was also a time to catch up with family. So I thought how patchwork and family life are similar and I also about this quote from, The Christmas Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts novel).
“A family is an act of creation, the piecing together of disparate fragments into one cloth – often harmonious, occasionally clashing and discordant, but sometimes unexpectantly beautiful and strong. Without contrast there is no pattern, and each piece, whether finest silk or faded cotton, will endure if sewn fast to the others with strong seams – bonds of love and loyalty, tradition and faith.” Jennifer Chiaverini
I would love to hear about your experiences of quilting and/or Sheffield. Please leave a comment below, or contact me
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As it’s getting colder I would encourage us to cosy up and hygge!
All my household are rather “under the weather” and we have been doing a lot of coughing and sneezing. I bet you’re so glad that germs can’t be transfered through blogs! I have frequently heard the phrase “it’s the time of the year for colds” and I have needed to remind myself that coughs and colds do seem to be a fact of life and getting frustrated won’t help.
It would seem that in clearing our throats we have been making sounds like the the Danish word hygge. Hard to explain and even harder to pronounce, the Danish word ‘hygge‘ (pronounced “hooga” or “heurgha” ) translates roughly to ‘cosiness’.
In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. It’s all about creating feelings of happiness, friendliness and wellbeing within everyday life.
Helen Russell, writing in the Telegraph, describes hygge as “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”.
It’s being hailed as the route to health and happiness. The latest OECD World Happiness Report put Denmark at No 1, Iceland in third, followed by Norway and Finland, way ahead of the UK at 23.
The phrase “go easy on yourself” springs to mind and I often encorage both myself and others to celebrate what you can do rather than worrying about what you can’t do.
Hygge and Nature
Signe Johansen’s new book How To Hygge hails the Nordic people’s love of being in nature as the key to hygge and encourages us to exercise outside. Walking outdoors compared to on a treadmill automatically increases the calorie burn by ten per cent, due to factors such as wind resistance.
Research has found that being in a park or forest environment lowers stress levels, increases energy, boosts self-esteem and makes you less angry.
I have been wrapping up and getting outside as much as possible and have enjoyed some short walking breaks, enjoying the Winter light and then reflecting these in creating with wool.
One of the things I love about living in Sheffield, one of the greenest cities in terms of parks and woodland, is easy access to the Peak District National Park.
Take a Break
The Danish tradition of daily ‘fika’: a break to sit down, enjoy a hot drink and often a sweet pastry or a cinnamon bun. Taking breaks and having a good work life balance aids prodoctivity as well as . What are your favourite breaks?
A ‘Nordic style diet’ of whole-grain products such as Ryvita-style ‘knackebrod’, fish three times a week, root veg, berries, locally sourced fruits such as apples and plums and avoiding sugar-sweetened foods, lowers cholesterol.
The mentality of ‘hygge’ means enjoying the good things in life without feeling guilty, including indulging in the food that makes you happy. Despite this, the proportion of adults in Sweden who are obese is 14 per cent, compared to the UK’s 27 per cent. perhaps it is the ideal of moderation. The Scandinavians firmly believe in ‘lordagsgodis’ – Saturday Sweets. It’s ingrained in Scandinavians from childhood that you treat yourself on Saturdays. Studies show a treat every now and then can make a person more likely to stick to a diet.
‘Hyggeligt’ means “pleased to meet you”, and is also used to describe a chance meeting that felt warm and convivial. Spending time with those near to us is also key to our wellbeing. Forget perfectionism and remember the main thing is sharing food, conversation and your lives with people. Don’t just invite over your friends and let them sit there while you slave in the kitchen. A true Hygge host says” YES” when guests offer to help.
Candles and natural fires are a key part of this, and are a quick way to feelings of cosiness, and in my experience their gentle light are a great way to disguise dust! Combine with natural scent, such as using coffee beans, for an even greater cosiness.
You can find some of the scented eco soya wax candles I make using vintage cups in my Etsy shop
Crafty hobbies such as knitting or sewing are perfect to help to relax and calm your being, or curl up and read a good book for hygge refreshment.
Good housekeeping give us 11 ideas for a hygge home.
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking who is CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Meik says in Denmark “You hear hygge being talked about all the time – by everyone, no matter who they are. We talk about hygge things coming up that we’re looking forward to; we point out when something hygge is happening right now; then we like to talk about what a great ‘hyggelit’ (hygge-like) time we’ve had afterwards.”
Then the word can be used in many practical but different sentences describing Danish life – as a noun (hygge), an adjective (hyggelig) and a verb (at hygge sig). As in “hygge is important”, “I’m going to make sure my house is hyggely”, and “I’m hyggeling this corner of my house.”
However, although maybe hygge is not everything needed for wellbeing, I for one am looking forward to cosy moments. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things”.
How do you cope with the cold or darker days blues? I’d love to know your thoughts on the concept of ‘Hygge’
If you were to create a hygee box, what would you put in to it?x
It is five years since I had the chance to visit the Festival of Quilts at the NEC and I spent a fabulous, inspiring day amonsgst some amazing quilts. It takes a lot to get me to spend the day indoors when the sun is shining, but I was so captivated, I didn’t waste any time leaving the halls!
Also unusual for me is spending most of the time in silence, awed by the feast of colour, design and techniques. In fact my only real conversation was with South African textile artist Pam Stallebrass, which started when I overheard someone warning her to be careful using the poisonous Potassium Dichromate. The talk of poison was enough to bring me out of my silent trance and I was able to discuss Pam’s Playing With Light exhibition with her.
As I already teach cyanotype printing with light onto textiles, it was lovely to see Pam’s examples and discuss suppliers for the chemicals. I also really enjoyed learning about Van Dyke printing onto fabric. Van Dyke Brown Printing is nearly identical in simplicity and low cost, but yields a rich brown color as opposed to the blue of cyanotypes. I loved the feather images Pam had achieved and will be adding Van Dyke printing techniques to my workshop programme, so watch this space! Rest assured, I’m not going to be using the poison though.
One day was really not enough to get the most from:
20 international textile artist showcases
the display of nearly 800 competition quilts
300+ exhibitors selling specialist quilting and textile art supplies
So my strategy was to concentrate on the quilts knowing I could contact exhibitors at another time. This also meant I didn’t make rushed, non comparative purchases. So on the train coming home I felt quite virtuous reviewing my purchased 11 fat quarters, and a few of trims and threads. I do have a growing wish list though!
Did I agree with the judges?
The Winner of Best In Show, Sandy Chandler’s quilt was all cream so although expertly quilted, it left me cold. I was more inspired by another cream quilt: Some Flowers by Elsbeth Nusser-Lampe, which had a little colour, transferred using Vliesofix. This is a technique I might explore more and add to my Botanic fabric workshops.
I was often surprised by category winners as there were others I was more inspired by.
But the Winner of the Miniature Quilts category, OtherPlaces by Sandra Newton, would have been my choice too.
I feel the simplicity suits the category, and I was captivated by both the materials used and the dance poses and quote about places teaching us to dance.
In case you are wondering if I have gone off colour all together, my favourite in the Modern Quilt category was Bubbles of Joy by Anne Lilliholm Jorgensen
My Favourite in the Two person Category was a Modern Sampler: Black by Helen Howes and Helen Butcher
My Favourite in the Traditional Quilt category was Dahlia by Gillian Smyth
I’m not really sure I would categorise this as a traditional quilt, but it certainly produced a wow from me!
A Common Theme
I was indoors but was transported to the coast by the many seaside inpired quilts. The whole of the young category was on the seaside theme and my favourite was A Relaxing Day at the Beach by Agnes Shaw, which was a small deckchair along with a cloth book to read and won the 2nd prize in theYoung Quilter/Young Embroiderer 9-11 Category
A second deckchair, full size this time, was Sittin’ in the Morning Sun by Burgess Hill School for Girls, which won the Secondary School Competition
I loved the bunting detail here
Another seaside quilt that I spent some time enjoying won the Anne Tuck prize Finding Perspective by Jill Rose Brennan
Elements by Hilary Beattie
and Happy Memmories of the Seaside by Christine Ireland
Breaker on the Beach by Susan Vogel
On the Beach with Maggi by Linda Forey
Pebbles on the Beach by Sheilagh Webb
On the Beach – A Waste Land by Kathy Unwin
Memories of Times Past by Ann Beare
Gateway by Hilary Beatie
Keeping watch #2 by Roberta Le Poidevin
It was a thrill to have some of my work exhibited: My Bronte Challenge Quilt and my quilting group piece with Totley Brook Quilters
My looking into a window block is middle right
So do I think our group quilt should have won in that category? Probably not. There were so many wonderful group quilts, I would have found it hard to pick winners!
The winners were Sussex Spectrum, with Dyeversity.
Other favourite group quilts of mine were:
Stansted House Hampshire by Artworks
The Ochils in Autumn by Alva Divas
Tranqullity by Totally patched Group
and Liberated Black Line by Meon Textile Artists which was highly commended.
If you haven’t had chance to visit the show, you can still enter the festival competition until 29th August, 2016, to win one of the biggest quilting hampers of all time!
If you have managed to visit the festival I would love to hear what you thought. Please post comments below.
This week it is 200 years since the birth of Charlotte Bronte and I have stitched a small patchwork quilt to celebrate this bicentenary, as part of The Brontë Challenge.
The Brontë Challenge invited Yorkshire quilters to make a small quilt reflecting this quote from Jane Eyre:
“A certain little drawer, full of splendid shreds of silk and satin”
I challenged myself to only use both natural materials (silk, cotton and wool), and to only use items I already had in “my drawers”.
My circular quilt, reflects the turning of time and includes vintage silk tie ends, reflecting the romantic genre of Bronte’s novels.As I sewed, I wondered “who has worn these silk ties, and what are their stories?”
For the centre I used some hand pieced hexagons, I had been passed on by my friend Di, representing friendship, also a main theme in Brontë novels. Di had made these almost 50 years ago.
I used some cotton cream damask from my fabric stash for the base of my quilt front and up-cycled 2 layers of a “fulled” woollen jumper as the centre batting.
The quilting was also done by hand, using variegated cotton thread.
I also took some design inspiration from a patchwork quilt worked on by the Brontë sisters and their Aunt Branwell. This patchwork quilt remains unfinished but is double bed size. It is clear from Charlotte’s letters, sewing was not her favourite activity, but then it was more of an expected, rather than chosen, feminine activity in the 1800s and as a governess she was given lots of mending to do.
Measuring 187cm x 214cm, the quilt consists of silks, taffetas, velvets and cotton and has a calico backing. It has been hand-sewn and the stitches are neat and even. In some places, the quilt has faded and it is possible to see backing papers, such as newspaper, which was common practice in quilt-making at the time. The Brontës also appear to have used fragments of old letters as paper templates.
The quilt is unfinished and was passed on to the family of Martha Brown, the Brontë family’s servant. The Brontë Society purchased the quilt in 1924.
Over 50 small quilts, made to an even smaller than the usual “lap quilt” size specification I like to make, were submitted and are now hung as part of the exhibition. Mine was the only circular quilt, and my viewers choice vote goes to number 11, a more unusual collection of miniature pieces.
A few Sheffield Quilters made a new version of the Brontë quilt that is also in the Bankfield exhibition, alongside the original quilt.
This new quilt is named “Resurgam”, the latin for “I will rise again”, which is inscribed on the headstone of the character helen Burns in Charlotte bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.
Resurgam is designed by my friend and fellow Sheffield quilter Sarah Williamson in memory of her father, Sir Raymond Potter, of Halifax, who was born on April 21st 1916 exactly 100 years after Charlotte. I had enjoyed a sneak preview of the quilt at Sarah’s home earlier this year, and was especially impressed by the way Sarah had reproduced the idea of printed paper pieces showing through the worn almost 200 year old quilt. She printed onto fabric, and used some of that in the piecing of the recent quilt. You can read more about Sarah’s involvement in the May Popular Patchwork magazine.
I was invited to the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday evening taking my almost 90 year old mother in law as my guest. We thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Brontë bicentenary celebrations, seeing all the different interpretations and skill demonstrated in the quilt challenge.
Here are some that stood out to me:
I met the novelist Tracy Chevalier who presented the exhibition and whom developed a love of quilting during her research for her novel The Last Runaway whose heroine, Honor Bright, makes pieced patchwork quilts. Tracy has a quilt included in the Bankfield Museum exhibition.
You can read more about Tracy Chevalier and her quilting research for writing:
Readers of my previous posts, will know I have been reading Jennifer Chiaverini quilting based novels, and recently my friend Shirley and I got confused discussing our reading, wondering if we had been reading the same book. But no, I had been reading Chiaverini’s novel The Runaway Quilt
and Shirley Chevalier’s novel The Last Runaway
Both novels involve quilting and the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves, which explains our confusion!
Tracy shares her love of Jane Eyre: “Jane is the voice of the disenfranchised, speaking out while maintaining her dignity and ultimately triumphing. It was only on rereading Jane Eyre last year that I recognised something of my own heroine Griet in Girl With a Pearl Earring; she too comes from nothing and quietly stands her ground. This is a common enough trope in writing now, but it was groundbreaking when Jane Eyre was published to instant acclaim in 1847”.
If you would like to see these quilts, Splendid Shreds of Silk & Satin: A Celebration of Charlotte Brontë in Quiltsis at the Bankfield Museum, Akroyd Park, Boothtown Rd, HalifaxHX3 6HG. OpenTue – Sat:10:00-16:00 until 11 Jun 2016. Details
The quilts will also be displayed at the International Festival of Quilts 11 – 14 August 2016 at the Birmingham NEC. More details.
If you get to visit either of the exhibitions, I would love to hear your thoughts.