Quilt Spot March 2020

I had a feeling that being in lockdown, and spending more time at home, would somehow mean more time for watching telly (and hence more quilt spots) or for learning a new craft or skill, more time for baking, cleaning, and/or gardening. But I was wrong. I don’t have more time; if anything, I have less, as I’m working from home and homeschooling. So I’m not learning a new skill, or baking dozens of cakes, or spending ages in the garden… or watching telly for that matter. So my quilt spots this month are comparable in number to previous months. And this month, it’s just the one. But what a one.

The movie was the gritty drama ‘Mudbound’, based on the novel by Hilary Jordan, set in rural Mississippi from 1939 to the years following World War II. The movie mainly focuses on the lives of two young veterans, one white, one black, Jamie and Ronsel, and the issues they face on their return home, including post traumatic stress and racism. It’s a very powerful and moving story, and also very bleak at times, with some harrowing scenes depicting racial violence.

The other main characters are Jamie’s brother Henry and his young wife Laura, played by Carey Mulligan, who move from the suburbs to the Mississipi Delta to live and work on their new farm.

Laura may have had romantic notions of what life in the country would be like, but these ideas are quickly quashed when she gets there, as the following passage from the book describes:

“… I often felt overwhelmed: by the work and the heat, the mosquitoes and the mud, and most of all, the brutality of rural life. Like most city people, I’d had a ridiculous, goldenlit idea of the country. I’d pictured rain falling softly upon verdant fields, barefoot boys fishing with thistles dangling from their mouths, women quilting in cozy little log cabins while their men smoked corncob pipes on the porch. You have to get closer to the picture to see the wretched shacks scattered throughout those fields, where families clad in ragged flour-sack clothes sleep ten to a room on dirt floors; the hookworm rashes on the boy’s feet and the hideous red pellagra scales on their hands and arms; the bruises on the faces of the women, and the rage and hopelessness in the eyes of the men.” (‘Mudbound’, Hillary Jordan)

I spotted a quilt on the bed in Ronsel’s family’s shack. His dad lies on the bed, incapacitated after a nasty fall, but keeps himself busy making a basket. The quilt on the bed features course dark fabrics, probably scraps from some sort of utility cloth, in reds, blues and cream, with decorative hand stitches sewing the various patches together forming what looks like large radial sunburst patterns.

Quilt Spot – ‘Mudbound’
Quilt Spot – ‘Mudbound’, quilt detail

It’s a hard-hitting story which may not be top of your list of must-see movies at the moment, but well worth seeing at some point.

Have you spotted any quilts in movies, series or on the telly? Let me know! Share your spots with me.

Till next time!

Mel x

Click here for an A-Z list of my quilt spots.

Block of the Month – April 2020

Block D – April 2020 features 7 narrow strips and a larger rectangle set against a background of contrasting fabric. The strips and rectangle can be cut from the same fabric or you can choose different fabrics and colours for each piece, the choice is yours.

You can use the colour-in sheets at the end of this blog post to try out different ideas. You will need a different fabric background, and preferably one that will make the strips stand out.

Block D – April 2020

Click here for all the ‘Block of the Month’ blocks published so far.

Materials:

All measurements below include a seam allowance of 0.25″.

For the strips (pieces A) from patterned/solid fabric:

A – 7 x (3.5″ x 1″)

For the rectangle (piece D) from patterned/solid fabric:

D – 2″ x 5.5″

For the background (pieces B, C, E), ALL cut from the same fabric, ideally from a contrasting fabric to the strips and rectangle:

B – 6 x (3.5″ x 0.75″)
C – 3 x (1″ x 5.5″)
E – 2 x (6.5″ x 1″)

The finished block should measure 6.5″ square including seam allowances.

Piecing:

Sew your cut pieces as indicated below, sewing right sides together and pressing seams to one side as you go.

Quilt layouts

Below are some ideas of quilts you can make using this simple block and also combining it with blocks from previous months (January 2020, February 2020 and March 2020). You can play around with your colour/fabric choices to achieve some stunning effects.

The designs featured below are based on either a 5 x 5 or a 6 x 6 grid, which would result in quilts with a finished size (not including binding) of 30″ x 30″ or 36″ x 36″, respectively.

Whatever size you go for, when you come to piecing the quilt, first sew together the blocks in each row. Press seams in each row in alternating directions, and then sew the rows together. Create a quilt sandwich with wadding and backing fabric, then quilt as desired, bind and add a label to complete it.

Colouring-in sheets

Try out different colour schemes with the colouring-in sheets below. To print the sheets, right click on the image and select ‘open image in new tab’. Then you can print the page – make sure your print settings are set to what you want. My preference is to fit the image to the page so I get a full sheet with the picture.

You can also enjoy my other free patterns on my blog:

Happiness quilt and Pirate quilt.

Small patchwork bag charm and Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre.

Keeping busy during lockdown…

Well that’s the first week done! It hasn’t been easy. Combining working from home and home schooling is proving to be extremely challenging! And I’m also missing my friends, and all the groups I usually attend. But I’ve managed and we’ve managed. And it’s fine. And every other family is in the same boat!

Usually I equate staying at home with having more time on my hands. But I’m finding that that isn’t necessarily the case. Despite this, I am determined to save some time for myself, to work on my sewing projects. With this in mind, I have started a new quilt.

I’ve already named it ‘Blossom’ as I’m using my own fabrics from my ‘Blossom‘ range and the blocks featured are ones I’m publishing as ‘Block of the Month‘ this year.

Fabrics in my ‘Blossom’ range – available in my Melony Patch Etsy shop

Today I managed to squeeze in some time for myself and I’ve completed the first block. Because it’s not a block I’ve already published, I’m only providing a sneak peak photo!

My new ‘Bloom’ quilt – first block complete!

Whilst you’re in lockdown, you may be looking for a new project to get your hands on. Remember that there are some free quilt and craft projects on my blog, as well as the before mentioned ‘Block of the Month‘ to keep you busy.

I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

Till next time,

Mel x

Slowly adjusting to the current situation… whilst making progress on the wellbeing quilt

Across the globe people are having to make adjustments to their daily lives to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This week has seen a dramatic change for me and my family. For me, at work we’ve had to suspend all of our wellbeing activities because of the need to avoid all unnecessary social contact, and we are all now mostly working from home.

With regard to schools, my eldest’s secondary school closed from Wednesday as a number of staff were unable to go into work, all for Covid-19 related reasons, and since then, we decided to also keep our youngest away from her primary school. So both girls have been home schooled since then. And then there was the flood of cancellations of clubs, socials, events, etc. All of a sudden our lives seem very different.

In an attempt to keep positive, and organised, I had in mind a very clear vision of what our new ‘life’ – or routine – would look like. But it’s proving harder than I thought to stick to the plan!

It’s fair to say that I’m going to find it hard combining working from home with home schooling, finding family time – and having ‘my own time’ too (!), making time for exercise, etc, etc. I’m sure it’ll get easier, though the situation itself may get harder. No-one knows or can predict how this pandemic is going to evolve.

As always I’d like to finish on a positive note. Working from home has given me the opportunity to focus on projects that have been on the back burner for a while, simply because there are always other matters more pressing to get on with.

Panels for the Wellbeing Quilt

One of these projects is the Wellbeing Quilt which I started last year. This week I’ve had the chance to really start making progress on this quilt and am really pleased with what I’ve done so far. I won’t say much, or show many photos of work in progress, as I’d like to reveal the final quilt when it’s finished. But it’s been a good day today for me, combining work with my hobby. The temptation is to carry on working (as it’s a quilt!) but I must remember to put it aside now so I can enjoy the weekend with my family.

Hope you all keep safe and healthy.

Mel x

Label done, quilt washed… and now ready to use…

Whenever I finish working on a quilt, I like to wash it before I actually use it. This is for two reasons. Whilst working on a quilt – ie doing the sewing and quilting – the quilt is either in my sewing room or in the living room, and probably gathers a lot dirt from all the handling and lying around. So it probably needs a good wash before use! And secondly, I love the ‘puffy’ feel you get from a freshly washed quilt.

Lovely ‘puffy’ look and feel of my freshly washed Happiness quilt.

Although I actually finished my ‘Happiness’ quilt a little while ago, I did not completely finish until a few weeks ago… as it still needed a label!

For my quilt labels, I like to add a little phrase that gives a little insight into what the quilt means to me or how I was feeling when I made it.

I found it harder than usual to come up with a phrase I was happy with for this quilt. I had designed it years ago, but the years that followed, which were when I started piecing the quilt, were marked by some difficult events. Initially I felt like I had to make reference to that in the label, as working on the quilt was a little escape for me. However, I didn’t want a ‘sad’ message on a ‘happy’ quilt.

Given that I think, that on the whole, I am quite a positive person – I try to find the good in everyone and everything – in the end I decided to make reference to that positivity; I felt this would honour the meaning behind my quilt, whilst also acknowledging that experiences we may face on a day-to-day basis, or over a period of time, are not always easy.

The phrase I settled on was: “Look for the good in every day… and happiness is sure to come your way.”

A positive message on my Happiness quilt label.

Do you write messages on your labels? I’d love to know, share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Till next time (I’m off to snuggle under my quilt!)

Mel x

Click here for the full instructions to make ‘Happiness’ quilt.

Block of the Month – March 2020

Block C – March 2020 features 7 strips of increasing widths, arranged in pyramidal form. As with previous Blocks A (January 2020) and B (February 2020) the strips are of a patterned or solid colour fabric set against a background of contrasting fabric.

The strips can be cut from the same fabric or you can choose different fabrics and colours for each strip, the choice is yours. You can use the colour-in sheets at the end of this blog post to try out different ideas. You will need a different fabric to the one/s used for the strips, for the background, and preferably one that will make the strips stand out.

Block C – March 2020

Click here for all the ‘Block of the Month’ blocks published so far.

Materials:

All measurements include seam allowance of 0.25″.

For the strips (pieces A1-A7) from patterned/solid fabric:

A1 – 1″ x 1″
A2 – 1.5″ x 1″
A3 – 2″ x 1″
A4 – 2.5″ x 1″
A5 – 3.5″ x 1″
A6 – 4.5″ x 1″
A7 – 5.5″ x 1″

For the background (pieces B1-B7, C, D), ALL cut from the same fabric, ideally from a contrasting fabric to the strips:

B1 – 2 x (3.25″ x 1″)
B2 – 2 x (3″ x 1″
B3 – 2 x (2.75″ x 1″)
B4 – 2 x (2.5″ x 1″)
B5 – 2 x (2″ x 1″)
B6 – 2 x (1.5″ x 1″)
B7 – 2 x (1″ x 1″)

C – 6 x (6.5″ x 0.75″)
D – 2 x (6.5″ x 1″)

The finished block should measure 6.5″ square including seam allowances.

Piecing:

Sew your cut pieces as indicated below, sewing right sides together and pressing seams to one side as you go.

Make sure the centres of the A shapes in each strip are lined up neatly to get the pyramidal effect of the block.

Quilt layouts

Below are some ideas of quilts you can make using this simple block, and one includes blocks from previous months. You can play around with your colour/fabric choices to achieve some stunning effects.

The designs featured below range from 6 x 6, 8 x 8 and 10 x 10 grids, which would result in quilts with a finished size (not including binding) of 36″ x 36″, 48″ x 48″ and 60″ x 60″ respectively.

Whatever size you go for, when you come to piecing the quilt, first sew together the blocks in each row. Press seams in each row in alternating directions, and then sew the rows together. Create a quilt sandwich with wadding and backing fabric, then quilt as desired, bind and add a label to complete it.

Colouring-in sheets

Try out different colour schemes with the colouring-in sheets below. To print the sheets, right click on the image and select ‘open image in new tab’. Then you can print the page – make sure your print settings are set to what you want. My preference is to fit the image to the page so I get a full sheet with the picture.

You can also enjoy my other free patterns on my blog:

Happiness quilt and Pirate quilt.

Small patchwork bag charm and Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre.

Quilt Spot February 2020

It’s been another ‘bumper’ month for quilt spots.

First up a movie I’ve seen before a number of times, ‘The Parent Trap’ – the 1998 version. My kids love this film; it is a feel good movie, though the premise is a little strange. Identical twins, Annie and Hallie, are separated at birth and each is raised by one of their biological parents, the mum lives in England and the dad in the US. The twins ‘discover’ each other at a summer camp and plot together to reunite their parents. Although it’s charming and funny, it’s also a bit odd and I wonder if in real life the characters would be so balanced and happy-happy given the situation they are in?!

Quilt Spot February 2020 – The Parent Trap

I spotted a lovely patchwork quilt on one of the girl’s bed (Annie’s? Or Hallie’s? Not sure) – the quilt is very feminine, featuring soft pink and blue florals teamed with white fabric, in square and quarter-square triangle patches.

Next was ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, PS I Still Love You’ – sequel to ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, a teen romance drama. (These are not my movie choices I hasten to add..!) Again, my kids love these movies and have watched them a number of times. I watched the sequel before watching the original, but guess what? It’s not hard to follow… In the first movie, the main character Lara writes letters to her crushes but decides not to send them. Her sister discovers the letters and decides to send them for her without her sister knowing… causing all sorts of trials and tribulations. It all ends well in the end, but in the sequel Lara receives a response to one of the letters that got sent in the first movie, leading to more trials and tribulations. It’s entertaining and there are some good lessons in there about being honest and true to yourself.

Lara has two lovely quilts in her room – both seem to be whole-cloth quilts and appear to be closely machine quilted, giving them a nice puffy look.

And lastly I finished watching the ‘Virgin River’ series I started watching in January. As expected there were plenty of lovely quilt spots, including one of a group of ladies piecing together patches of fabric to make a baby quilt. I love the variety of quilts that are displayed in this series, from simple ’round the world’ patterns to hexagons and crazy patchwork. The series ends on a cliff hanger and we’re promised that season two will be coming. It’s all very slow paced and quite sad sometimes as the main characters are dealing with loss, grief, betrayal – essentially all the usual ingredients of a soap/drama series. But it’s very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to seeing the new series when it’s out, even if it’s only for the quilts!

Have you spotted any quilts in movies, series or on the telly? Let me know! Share your spots with me.

Till next time!

Mel x

Click here for an A-Z list of my quilt spots.

My new fabrics have arrived!

It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time… design my own range of fabrics, probably since I started designing my own patchwork quilts. Now I have my first full range of fabrics and can’t wait to get started on the new quilt project I have in mind using these fabrics.

I have named my first range of fabrics Blossom – they are bright with flowery details and are perfect for any spring or summer project.

The fabrics can be purchased from my Melony Patch Etsy shop. Prices are £24 (plus p&p) for a four fat quarter bundle on selected fabrics, as pictured above, or £12 (plus p&p) for half a metre.

To celebrate the arrival of my new fabrics, I’m running a Facebook competition to win a four fat-eighth bundle. All you need to do is ‘Like’ my Melony Patch Facebook page, comment on the competition post and share it! A winner will be selected at random on Saturday 21st March.

Till next time!
Mel x

Block of the Month – February 2020

Block B – February 2020 features 7 strips of increasing widths. As with Block A (January 2020), the strips are of a patterned or solid colour fabric set against a background of contrasting fabric. The strips can be cut from the same fabric or you can choose different fabrics and colours for each strip, the choice is yours. You can use the colour-in sheets at the end of this blog post to try out different ideas. You will need a different fabric to the one/s used for the strips, for the background, and preferably one that will make the strips stand out.

Block B – February 2020

Click here for all the ‘Block of the Month’ blocks published so far.

Materials:

All measurements include seam allowance of 0.25″.

For the strips (pieces A1-A7) from patterned/solid fabric:

A1 – 1.5″ x 1″
A2 – 2″ x 1″
A3 – 2.5″ x 1″
A4 – 4″ x 1″
A5 – 4.5″ x 1″
A6 – 5″ x 1″
A7 – 5.5″ x 1″

For the background (pieces B, C1-C7, D, E), ALL cut from the same fabric, ideally from a contrasting fabric to the strips:

B – 14 x (1″ x 1″)

C1 – 5″ x 1″
C2 – 4.5″ x 1″
C3 – 4″ x 1″
C4 – 2.5″ x 1″
C5 – 2″ x 1″
C6 – 1.5″ x 1″
C7 – 1″ x 1″

D – 6 x (6.5″ x 0.75″)
E – 2 x (6.5″ x 1″)

The finished block should measure 6.5″ square including seam allowances.

Piecing:

Sew your cut pieces as indicated below, sewing right sides together and pressing seams to one side as you go.

And if you were doing it in the mirror image:

Quilt layouts

Below are some ideas of quilts you can make using this simple block, using both the original and mirror image versions. For the four designs below I have used white as the background fabric and for the strips I have used either just one or two colours/tones.

You will need to decide how big you want your quilt. The designs below are based on either a 6 x 6 or an 8 x 8 grid, which would result in a 36″ x 36″ or 48″ x 48″ (plus binding) quilt, respectively, suitable for a wall-hanging or a lap quilt.

Whatever size you go for, when you come to piecing the quilt, first sew together the blocks in each row. Press seams in each row in alternating directions, and then sew the rows together. Create a quilt sandwich with wadding and backing fabric, then quilt as desired, bind and add a label to complete it.

Or you can go bolder and choose more striking colour combinations:

Colouring-in sheets

Try out different colour schemes with the colouring-in sheets below. To print the sheets, right click on the image and select ‘open image in new tab’. Then you can print the page – make sure your print settings are set to what you want. My preference is to fit the image to the page so I get a full sheet with the picture.

You can also enjoy my other free patterns on my blog:

Happiness quilt and Pirate quilt.

Small patchwork bag charm and Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre.

Quilt Spot January 2020

Following on from my comment in my December 2019’s quilt spot, that Christmas isn’t really Christmas without a viewing of one of the many adaptations of Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, I would like to add that no ‘festive period’ – and by this I include New Year and the days leading up to the 12th day of Christmas, i.e. January 6th – is complete without a viewing of ‘Oliver!’ – another adaptation of a Charles Dicken’s classic.

And so it was that on New Year’s Day I saw the 1968 musical version for the umpteenth time. Do I ever tire of it?

Never! (“I never tire of it, leading a merry dance…” as the song “It’s a fine life” goes in ‘Oliver!’) This time, I even found myself on my own watching it (!), everyone else in the family busying themselves elsewhere. But that didn’t bother me.

Of course, I’m mentioning it here, in my ‘Quilt Spot’ blog post, because I spotted a patchwork bedspread on Nancy and Bill’s bed… It probably doesn’t really qualify as a quilt, as it looks like it’s only one sheet made up of irregular patches of fabric probably from whatever type of fabric that was rescued from worn out clothes or bed sheets. It’s torn and tattered, just like the rest of the surroundings in their ramshackle flat, and just like the characters themselves really.

But there it was and it caught my eye – a really good prop that helps to show what a sad and desperate life the characters lead.

I always wish Nancy’s life would have a different outcome. She stands at the foot of the bed and says to Bill, “You do love me, don’t you?” and he just growls back at her, “I LIVE with you, don’t I??” And although he hasn’t really answered her question, she seems happy enough with his answer, bouncing off with a smile on her face.

I want to scream at the telly and tell her to leave him, that he’s no good for her, as those who have seen the movie will know… But with the songs she sings “It’s a fine life” and “As long as he loves me” you can see that she is happy with her lot in life and accepts what she has. Her life is doomed from the start…

Quilt Spot – ‘Oliver!’

There were plenty more spots in January. Most came from the new Netflix series Virgin River, which is based on the novels by Robyn Carr. Set in northern California, in a little mountain town by a river, it’s mainly about a young nurse who moves to the town from Los Angeles to help the ageing local doctor with his work, and about the local people she meets. It’s a nice feel-good series, and makes a change from the crime dramas, or dramas in general, which seem to dominate the screens at the moment.

The scenery is stunning as you would expect. And befitting the location, all the houses seem to have plenty of quilts!! What a joy!

I finish with a different type of ‘spot’. My family are well aware of my penchant for spotting quilts in movies, and readily shout ‘Quilt! Quilt!’ whenever they spot one! I have my own rules for my ‘quilt spots’ though, and one is that I need to watch the movie or episode in its entirety. But I’m making an exception here as the spot, or spots, came from my youngest, who paused what she was watching to show me the quilts she had spotted. So because of her, I’m including the series ‘Anne with an E’, which is based on the book ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Have you spotted an quilts in movies or on the telly? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and share your ‘spots’ with me!

Till next time!

Mel x

Click here for an A-Z list of my quilt spots.

New for 2020: Block of the Month with COLOUR-IN sheets!

Welcome to my new Block of the Month for 2020! Every month this year I will feature a new block with guidelines illustrating how to piece it together, as well as ideas on how to create a variety of different layouts for patchwork quilts using the block. I will also provide ‘colour in’ sheets for the various layouts so that you can do your own colouring-in and try out different colour schemes at home.

I think we all know that stunning quilts can be made from very simple blocks (‘Around the World’ springs to mind, which is essentially based on a square patch), and that’s one of things I love about patchwork quilting. By carefully selecting the colours and fabrics you use, and by playing around with the layout and/or orientation of the blocks, you can take what might be quite a simple block and turn it into something that looks far more complex.

My plan this year is to focus on relatively simple blocks, based on squares and rectangles, suitable for beginners. As the year progresses, the ideas for the quilt layouts I will provide will incorporate blocks from previous months with the idea that patterns will become a little more varied, complex and interesting.

All the blocks will be 6″ square finished size (so 6.5″ square including seams).

I hope you enjoy the blocks! And if you make any, please feel free to show me a piccie or two!


Mel x

January 2020 – Block A

Block A features 7 strips of a patterned or solid colour fabric set against a background of contrasting fabric. The strips can be cut from the same fabric or you can choose different fabrics and colours for each strip, the choice is yours. You can use the colour-in sheets at the end of this blog post to try out different ideas. You will need a different fabric to the one/s used for the strips, for the background, and preferably one that will make the strips stand out.

Materials:

All measurements below include a seam allowance of 0.25″.

For the strips (pieces A) from patterned/solid fabric:

A – 7 x (5.5″ x 1″)

For the background (pieces B, C, D), ALL cut from the same fabric, ideally from a contrasting fabric to the strips:

B – 14 x (1″ x 1″)
C – 6 x (6.5″ x 0.75″)
D – 2 x (6.5″ x 1″)

The finished block should measure 6.5″ square.

Piecing:

Sew your cut pieces as indicated below, sewing right sides together and pressing seams to one side as you go.

Quilt layouts

Below are some ideas of quilts you can make using this simple block. For the images below, I used the same colour throughout, in different tones to create an ombré effect (very popular at the moment). Of course you can use a variety of colours/patterns to create a completely different effect.

You will need to decide how big you want your quilt. The designs below are based on a 5 x 5 grid, which would result in a 30″ x 30″ (plus binding) quilt – suitable for a wall-hanging or a lap quilt.

Whatever size you go for, when you come to piecing the quilt, first sew together the blocks in each row. Press seams in each row in alternating directions, and then sew the rows together. Create a quilt sandwich with wadding and backing fabric, then quilt as desired, bind and add a label to complete it.

Colouring-in sheets

Try out different colour schemes with the colouring-in sheets below. To print the sheets, right click on the image and select ‘open image in new tab’. Then you can print the page – make sure your print settings are set to what you want. My preference is to fit the image to the page so I get a full sheet with the picture.

You can also enjoy my other free patterns on my blog:

Happiness quilt and Pirate quilt.

Small patchwork bag charm and Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre.

Quilt Spots – an A-Z list of quilts seen in movies and in TV series

As you probably know, I enjoy spotting quilts in movies and in TV series, and I write a monthly blog post about my ‘quilt spots’. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and because I’ve compiled quite a list, I thought I would keep the list here, on this page, and add to it month by month with all my new spots.

As I’ve mentioned before, I only write about spots in movies or in TV series that I’ve actually watched in any given month, and not simply a list of movies or programmes where I know there will be quilts. In each quilt spot I write a little about the movie itself or the circumstances leading up to the viewing, and sometimes I add my own thoughts on the movie or programme. And is possible, I take a sneaky picture or screen grab so I can show you the quilts!

I know there are plenty of lists out there with names of movies where quilts appear, and this list can be used alongside those ones.

If you would like to read the narrative or background to why I watched these films or programmes, what was spotted, and some form of critique, then please click on the monthly links to read more.

I hope you enjoy reading my ‘quilt spots’ and if you spot any quilts in movies or in TV series, please let me know!

Mel x

A

‘A Christmas Carol’ BBC – December 2019
‘A Star is Born’ – October 2018
‘A Wrinkle in Time’ – January 2019
‘About Time’ – August 2019
‘Alias Grace’ Netflix series – May 2018, part 1 and part 2
‘Annabelle’ – February 2018
‘Annabelle Creation’ – June 2018
‘Anne with an E’, series – January 2020

B
‘Bedtime Stories’ – September 2018

C
‘Cruel Intentions’ – February 2018

D
‘Dirty Dancing’ – October 2019

F
‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ – March 2018

G


‘Game of Thrones’, Series 1 – April 2019
‘Ghost’ – October 2019
‘Good Will Hunting’ – June 2018
‘Grand Designs’ Channel 4 – September 2018

I
‘Ice Princess’ – June 2018
‘In and Out’ – April 2018
‘Insidious’ – March 2018

L
‘Labyrinth’ – September 2018

M
‘McMafia’ BBC – January 2018
‘Mudbound’ – March 2020
O
‘Oliver!’ – January 2020
‘Open House’ – April 2019

P
‘Poltergeist’ (2015 remake) – March 2018

S
‘Sleepy Hollow’ – October 2019
‘Stranger Things’ – June 2019, July 2019

T


‘The Amityville Horror’ (2005 remake) – April 2018
‘The Best of Me’ – June 2019
‘The Book of Henry’ – April 2019
‘The Company You Keep’ – October 2019
‘The Descent’ – February 2018
‘The Firm’ – November 2019
‘The Fugitive’ – November 2019
‘The Good Place’, Episode 35 – November 2018
‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ – January 2019, October 2019
‘The Help’ – October 2018
‘The Hobbit’ – February 2018
‘The Little Mermaid’ – December 2018
‘The Parent Trap’ – February 2020
‘The Waltons’, ‘The Quilting’ episode – February 2019
‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ – November 2018
‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, PS I Still Love You – February 2020
‘To The Bone’ – March 2019

V
‘Virgin River’ Netflix – January 2020, February 2020

W
‘Wonder’ – September 2018

Y
‘Yesterday’ – June 2019

Click here to read my latest quilt spot.
Click here for quilt spots in 2019 and 2018.
Cover image from ‘Alias Grace’ Netflix series.

Quilt Spot December 2019

Christmas isn’t really Christmas without a viewing of one of the many adaptations of Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. Agreed? Well, at least that’s the case for me! For years my favourite and my family’s favourite version was, of course, ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’. Who doesn’t love that movie?!

But now there is a more ‘grown up’ version on offer which was shown this Christmas. This adaptation has been written for the screen by Steven Knight who wrote ‘Taboo’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’, and similar to those series, this version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ proved to be just as dark and gritty, and not for young children.

However, my youngest loves the story, and after seeing the trailers, she was desperate to watch it… so we let her. The bad language is what really makes it not suitable for younger viewers, and some might also find it a bit scary. To make up for the bad language, we agreed that every time there was a swear word, we would sing ‘Marley and Marley, woo, woo’ to the tune of the Marley song in ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’… as you can probably imagine, this proved to be quite amusing!

Despite the swearing, I enjoyed the new take on this old ghost story, especially when it delved into Ebenezer’s past which sheds a little light on why he is the way he is, and I also enjoyed the greater role Cratchit’s wife plays throughout.

Of course, despite what he’s been through, Ebenezer is a hard person to like. Though there is one thing he says that rings true: why is it that people seem to be nice to each other only on Christmas day? I found myself agreeing with him on this one. Surely we should strive to be nice to people throughout the year.

The other thing that struck me, and in fact I get the same feeling when watching any of the other adaptations, is that when Ebenezer is taken by the three spirits to visit his past, present and future, he seems to realise straight away what he has done wrong, almost as if he needed to be a third person looking in to realise what he’s done and what impact his actions and behaviour have had on others.

If only people could really change, or make amends, that quickly. There’s no need for spiritual visitations of course – in the real world a little self-reflection – perhaps at the end of the day – would probably do the job.

Of course, there was a quilt spot in this three-part mini-series, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it! The quilt was in Cratchit’s house, draped over the top of the double bed, making a sort of headboard. The patchwork quilt was, like the rest of the house, tired and worn out, and in close-ups you could even see that some of the patches were torn and frayed. Over the bed was another quilt, but this appeared to be a whole cloth and closely quilted.

Worn out patchwork quilt over headboard, and quilted cover on the bed

Did you watch this adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’? What are your thoughts? And did you spot any quilts in movies or on the telly over the festive period? I’d love to know – share your ‘spots’ with me and leave a comment below!

Here’s looking forward to plenty more spots in 2020.

Till next time,

Mel x

Click here for a review of my quilting adventures in 2019, and here for a summary of my quilt spots in 2019 and 2018.

Another year of blogging! And still loving it!

2019 has been a good year for me, but I won’t be sad to say goodbye to it… I love the sound of 2020, it sounds pretty cool already and I’m looking forward to a number of things I have in the pipeline…

Although I have not completed as many quilting projects as other years, it’s been a busy, creative year, with finishing off some projects I started last year, and also, more recently, tinkering with fabric design and getting some of my own designs printed!! Receiving the parcel with my fabrics HAS TO BE one of the main highlights of the year for me!

As I’ve done previously, I’ve summarised the blogs I’ve published this year according to quilt or activity.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following my blogs this year and hope you continue to do so into 2020!

Wishing you all the best for the New Year,

Mel x

Project: Through My Window

‘Through My Window’ back home

Ooh I’m in the mag!
It’s home and taking pride of place!

Project: Happiness Quilt – quilt along 2019

Hello 2019 and hello quilt along
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 1
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 2
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 3
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 4
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 5
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 6 
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 7
Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 8
Quilting slowly a little at a time
Find solutions to my machine quilting problems

Project: Fabric design

Drum roll… I’m pleased to present my new (first-ever) fabrics…

Project: Advent calendar

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Free patterns

Bag charm with Suffolk Puff centres

Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre
Happiness Quilt

Quilt Spots in 2019

Quilt spots in ‘Ghost’

Click here for a full list of my ‘Quilt Spots’ in 2019.

Wellbeing and creative therapy

Wellbeing quilt panels drying in the sun

The Wellbeing Quilt… there is always hope

Exhibitions

Close up of some of the party hat blocks at the Festival of Quilts

The Festival of Quilts
Fantastic little quilt exhibition in town

General life & sewing

Time for a cuppa! Taking a break
from redecorating my sewing room

Sew busy… but still squeezing in some sewing time
Slowly getting back into sewing and other things
Rediscovering long lost passions whilst on hols
Finding solutions to my machine quilting problems
Big changes, small pleasures
Making thank you presents for the teachers
Summer fun, little sewing done
Who inspired you to sew?
Sewing room changes complete!
Did you realise how much maths is involved in quilting?
I love sewing but please don’t ask me to sew
And so the quilts come down, it’s the end of an era
Merry Christmas everyone!

Quilt Spots in 2019

As you probably know by now, I’ve always enjoyed spotting quilts in movies and on TV, so it was only natural that once I started my blog, I would write about my ‘quilt spots’ on the big and little screen.

There are plenty of lists out there with names of movies where quilts are seen or featured. My quilt spot is not like that. It’s a review of movies or TV series I’ve watched, either by myself or with my family, where a quilt has appeared.

I don’t go out of my way to watch movies where I know a quilt will be featured… I know, for example, that ‘Stepmom’ has some wonderful quilts in it as does ‘How to Make an American Quilt’. Of course, if I do end up watching these movies again, I will mention them in my blog.

As this post is a summary of all the movies and TV series I have watched in the year, where I’ve spotted a quilt or two, it has ended up as a bit of a list – but if you would like some narrative or background to why we watched these films or programmes, what was spotted, and some form of critique, then please click on the links to read more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following my ‘spots’ this year and invite you to join me in spotting more in 2020. Remember to share these with me by leaving a comment on my blog.

Here’s hoping 2020 will be full of quilt spots!!

Mel x

Quilt Spots in 2019

January
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
A Wrinkle in Time

February
‘The Quilting’ episode of The Waltons

March
To The Bone

April
Game of Thrones, Series 1
Open House
The Book of Henry

May
No spots – visit to Mompesson House in Salisbury

June
Stranger Things
The Best of Me
Yesterday

July
Stranger Things

August
About Time

September
Quilt Spot Special: Thomas Hardy’s cottage

October
The Company You Keep
Dirty Dancing
Ghost
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Sleepy Hollow

November
The Fugitive
The Firm

December
A Christmas Carol

Click here for a review of Quilt Spots in 2018.

Happiness Quilt – FREE PATTERN

This is the pattern to make my ‘Happiness Quilt’, which was my ‘quilt along’ for 2019. Here you can easily find all the instalments to make this quilt.

As I’ve mentioned before, I designed this quilt with the specific intention of using up some of my all-time favourite fabrics. Some of the fabrics I’d used before in other quilts and only had the smallest of pieces left (which I had carefully squirrelled away in my scrap box!). Others I had purchased a while ago but had never used, waiting for the ‘perfect project’.

The fabrics are bright and cheery, and whenever I look at the quilt, it makes my happy. It reminds me of hope, dreams and possitivity, hence the name!

I would suggest reading through all the instructions first to familiarise yourself with the layout and fabric requirements, especially if you would like to adapt the pattern to better suit your fabrics and colour choices. The finished quilt should measure approximately 56” x 76” and is perfect for use on a single bed quilt or as a topper for a small double.

Happiness Quilt – quilt layout

If you decide to make this quilt, please feel free to let me know and show me photos of your progress and of the final result!

I hope you enjoy making this quilt

Mel x

Happiness Quilt by Melanie Vincent

Happiness Quilt by Melanie Vincent

Part 1: Introduction, fabric requirements, Row A

Part 2: Row B

Part 3: Row C

Part 4: Row D

Part 5: Row E, Blocks E1 and E3

Part 6: Row E, Block E2

Part 7: Row E, Block E4

Part 8: Piecing centre, borders and quilting

You can also enjoy my other free patterns on my blog:

Pirate quilt and Small patchwork bag charm.

Christmas tree mini-quilt decoration and Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Although preparations for this Christmas started back in November… it is only now, when all my Christmas shopping, gift-wrapping, card-writing is done, that I finally feel like it IS Christmas…

There was one last thing I had to do on my list, and that was make some little gifts for my youngest’s school teachers. In my mind I thought I could do these Friday morning so that I could take them to school at pick-up time, but then remembered that kids like to take their presents in first thing in the morning, so that the teacher can open them in front of them.

This realisation came at 9.30pm last night, so there I was going through my fabrics and quickly thinking of a little project to come up with. The result? A little patchwork Christmas tree decoration with a tingly little bell. This morning I added the finishing touches and, hey presto, it was all ready in time. Another job done!

Christmas tree decoration by Melanie Vincent

The little decorations are very similar in style to the other decorations and gifts I have made, and is a very simple project which can easily be made with left-over scraps. I feel a ‘free pattern’ coming on at some point… but not this Christmas!! I’m in no hurry to start a new ‘to do’ list!

Christmas tree decoration by Melanie Vincent

I wonder why we make things so stressful for ourselves at Christmas time? The last few weeks have been so hectic with school events, work outings, choir performances, meals out with friends, etc, that it feels like there isn’t enough time to squeeze it all in. But now that all the preparations are done, I feel like I can finally sit back and enjoy the season. I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family, relaxing and sharing fun times, as well as eating an inordinate amount of chocolate… just saying!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and all the best for 2020!

Till next time,

Mel x

Quilt Spot November 2019

This month features movies I’ve seen a dozen times, or maybe even a dozen dozen times. Both are from the same year, 1993. Both are thrillers. And both feature ‘The’ in the title (as well as an ‘F’ in the noun that follows after… apologies for this weird observation).

The movies are The Firm and The Fugitive. In my mind they are classics from the era which is why I never tire of watching them, and this is despite the fact that they star male leads who I usually can’t stand, Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford. However, I have to admit that Tom Cruise in The Firm is superb, and in The Fugitive Harrison Ford is at his ‘finger-pointing’ best…

Funny how I’ve watched these movies so many times and haven’t noticed the quilts before.

The first spot in The Firm, is a quilt is draped over a sofa. It seems to feature a double wedding ring pattern, and is probably meant to be a wedding gift for the young couple who are no doubt recently married.

And the second, in The Fugitive, a very simple quilt made of predominantly blue and white square patches and lightly quilted, which hangs on a wall, and bizarrely from it, hang religious ornaments! A crucifix and a painting of perhaps Jesus or a Saint. Would you be happy to hang things from your quilts??

Have you seen any in movies or on the telly? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and share your spots with me.

Till next time!

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019 , October 2019 and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Drum roll… I’m pleased to present my new (first ever!) fabrics…

It’s been an AMAZING day today… I can’t tell you how excited I was to receive my parcel from Spoonflower with fabrics featuring my own designs…

It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and I’ve finally done it! So here they are, just in time for Christmas, my first-ever range of fabrics, titled Scandi Christmas, featuring small houses with pointy roofs, pine trees, stars, snowflakes and hearts, in traditional festive red and forest green tones, with subtle pink and blue hues.

Scandi Christmas by Melanie Vincent

I took inspiration from the Advent Calendar I made a few weeks ago, and based on that, I came up with four fabric designs that would complement each other well.

I know many quilters have trouble cutting up the fabric they buy, and I’m no exception, and I’m going to find it especially hard when it comes to cutting these ones..! I now need to think of a project in which to use them, and I’ll be careful to not make ANY mistakes with the cutting.

Placing an order

These fabrics are available to purchase directly from me. However, please note that because these are printed on demand, and on short print runs, they are more pricey than the ones you usually find in shops and online.

The price is £12 for half a metre, plus p&p. The time to process any order may also be a little longer than usual, about 2-3 weeks.

At the moment these fabrics are only available from me, so if you’d like to place an order, please email me directly to info@melonypatch.co.uk.

I would love to know your thoughts on my new fabrics! Please feel free to drop me a line!

Till next time,

Mel x

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Christmas

… at home that is. Because outside, on the streets and in the shops, it’s been looking like Christmas for a long time! There are Christmas decorations, gifts and festive food everywhere on display. I haven’t gone overly wild and put up the tree, nothing like that, but what I have done is finish my first-ever advent calendar!

I wanted to make one last year, after buying some lovely fabric featuring a Scandinavian-inspired Christmas design from Makower (available in my Melony Patch Etsy shop), but as the idea came to me in December, and too close to the Big Day itself, it was pretty pointless making it then. So this year, I thought I’d start early.

I also recently bought some little advent calendar pegs featuring numbered hearts. When I saw them in the shop, I knew they would be perfect for my calendar.

So with my lovely range of fabrics, advent pegs, cutting mat and rotary cutter, I set to work. I wanted to get it done quickly, so I decided to be completely carefree about the whole process, and got started with just an idea in my head – no sketches, no planning, no measurements, nothing.

I don’t usually work like this, but I have to admit it was fab, and very liberating. I was quite generous with my fabric, and decided once I had sewn the whole centrepiece, that I would change an element of the design.

Did I care? No! It felt great just getting on with it, snipping and sewing away.

There was however, one part where I did take great care in being precise with measurements, cutting and sewing. One of my chosen fabrics was this lovely Scandinavian scene with reindeers, trees and hearts. For the pockets I was careful that the fabric on the front of the pocket would match the overhang of the back of the pocket, otherwise reindeer heads would have been cut off, and trees would have no tops… The whole thing would have looked quite unsightly. So this added a little bit of extra time to the whole process.

But despite that, progress was swift and before I knew it… Ta Da! It was done! And here is what it looks like!

The completed advent calendar by Melanie Vincent

My design is inspired by the fabrics used, and depicts a Scandinavian style house, featuring 24 pockets in three rows and a pointy roof.

The next thing I had to think about was what to put in the pockets. Shops are full of advent calendars offering chocolates and sweets, and more recently ‘beauty calendars’ with a range of beauty and make-up products and even ‘gin calendars’ with different flavoured gins. These seems to be increasingly more popular.

But for me these sorts of calendars detract from the real meaning of Christmas, so I decided that my calendar would be a ‘kindness calendar’. This is not an original idea and these sorts of calendars are also very popular – though you don’t tend to see them in shops!

After thinking carefully about what I wanted to include in my calendar, and after consulting my Kindness book and doing some research on the internet, I came up with the following 24 acts of kindness for my calendar:

’24 acts of kindness’ notes for the calendar

The above is the sheet I printed with the 24 notes. The design of the graphics on this sheet and on the reverse is my own too.

Design for the acts of kindness notes by Melanie Vincent

Pattern and surface design is something I’ve been playing around with lately, with the idea that one day, hopefully, I might have my own range of fabrics. I think the above design would work quite well on fabric for patchwork quilting and also for wrapping paper. What do you think?

So all in all, the whole calendar took me two days to make – a complete record for me! And now I can be sure it is ready in time for December 1st!

Detail of the advent calendar pockets by Melanie Vincent

Are you making a calendar this year? What do you put in yours? I’d love to know.

Till next time!

Mel

Click here for free patterns on my blog.

Click here for my ‘quilt spots’.

Quilt Spot October 2019

October has been a bumper month for ‘quilt spots’, with quilts spotted in FIVE different movies!

First up, ‘The Company You Keep’, a political thriller directed by and starring Robert Redford, together with a cast that makes it sound promising, including Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie and Shia LaBeouf.

Was it any good? I don’t know.

I kept getting interrupted by my youngest daughter, who had invited a friend round for a sleepover, taking over the living room, and hogging the telly, which meant I was relegated to the kitchen, where I sat alone at the breakfast bar to watch the movie on my phone…

I spotted a quilt a few minutes into the film, folded over the foot of a bed, and made of simple square patches. Not sure if there were any more in the movie as I kind of lost track of the story and what I was watching…

Quilt Spot: The Company We Keep

Next is a movie I’ve seen a number of times and which grows on me with every viewing: ‘Dirty Dancing’.

I didn’t rate it when it first came out, though I know it’s widely regarded as a classic. The movie is, of course, more than just about the dancing, for which it is famed for, but also, and perhaps more so, about growing up, finding out who you are and what you stand for.

I also think that Jennifer Grey’s (Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman) acting is far superior to that of Patrick Swayze (Johnny Castle). Even her dancing… Sorry Swayze fans…

The quilt I spotted was folded over a balcony balustrade – it’s in the background, so not very clear, and who knows, it might not even be a quilt, but given the large irregular rectangular patches of different colours and patterns, it’s likely that it is. You see, this movie just keeps getting better and better…

Quilt Spot: Dirty Dancing

And then there was another viewing of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’, prompted by just having finished reading the book which was my book club’s choice for October.

I’d seen the film earlier in the year, and I enjoyed both the film and the book. However, on watching the movie again, I was reminded of how different it is to the book. I wonder what makes film directors, producers and/or screenwriters change details of the stories/books they are adapting to the screen? Both are good in their own right, though the changes seem unnecessary.

On seeing the movie again, I was pleased to spot a number of quilts I had somehow not spotted originally. Perhaps all these months of ‘quilt spotting’ have trained my eyes well and have sharpened my vision…

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone on me to capture images of the quilts, so there are no new images here. If I see it again, I’ll be sure to take some piccies!

Quilt Spot: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

October is also the month of Halloween, so it could not go by without a couple of ‘spooky’ movies. Bearing in mind the age of our youngest, only 8, the offerings this year were ‘Ghost’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow’, both of which I’ve seen before a number of times but had never really noticed the quilts till now.

‘Ghost’ is another classic starring Patrick Swayze (and in this role, I think he’s fab) and Demi Moore. It’s a romantic fantasy thriller which is at the same time both funny and sad. Demi’s character Molly is a potter and the flat she shares with her on-screen boyfriend Sam (played by Patrick) is full of artistic pieces, including an old sofa which is covered with three old quilts.

The quilt on the back of the sofa is made of what looks like square patches of shirt fabric separated by blue sashing. The sides of the sofa are also draped with quilts. On one side there seems to be a yellow and white/cream whole-cloth and on the other – it’s hard to tell as you can only see a fraction – a quilt that seems to be made of small patches featuring mainly (floral?) pinks and reds.

Quilt Spot: Ghost

And finally ‘Sleepy Hollow’, which is a gothic supernatural horror based on a shorty story by Washington Irving. Set in the late 1700s, the main character police constable Icahbod Crane, played by Johnny Depp, travels to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders which are said to be carried out by a Headless Horseman. At first he refuses to believe the story until he sees for himself the villain decapitating one of the villagers.

Terrified, he is later seen sheltering in his bed, clutching tightly on to the patchwork quilt (you see, they always bring comfort…) and warning others of what they have been telling him all along. The quilt itself is made up of dark coloured triangular patches set against a paler background.

Quilt Spot: Sleepy Hollow

Wow! That was certainly a bumper month for ‘spots’. Have you seen any in movies or on the telly? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and share your spots with me.

Till next time!

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019 and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

And so the quilts come down… it’s the end of an era

It had to come one day. I knew it would, and to be honest I thought it would have come a lot sooner than it did… but it finally happened a few days ago.

What am I talking about? The quilts I made for my first daughter when she was a baby and toddler – and which have been hanging on her bedroom walls ever since they were made – have finally come down.

She is growing up. She is nearly 14. And whilst she still loves the quilts, it’s completely natural that she doesn’t want them on her walls anymore.

In my mind, she’s had them up for longer than I thought she would. Even after redecorating her room last year, she kept them up. She wanted to change the colour scheme from pink to a more soothing and calming yellow and green, with one wall featuring a curtain of fairy lights.

My daughter’s room, after the makeover, with her baby quilt (left)
and toddler quilt, A Child’s Nautical Quilt, (right)

My husband and I did all the work whilst she was away with the grandparents for a week in the summer, just like the makeover I gave my sewing room a few months ago. It was hard work trying to get it all done within a tight schedule. When we finished, we put the quilts back on the walls just as she said she wanted, even though I didn’t really think it worked with the new decor. I guess this was the first time I really felt that their days on her wall were numbered…

But the moment finally came a few days ago. I was in her room and we were talking about her room, when all of a sudden she went quiet and looked down at the floor. Finally she said, “Mum… I want to ask you something…” After a pause she added “but I don’t know how to say it…”

I could see she was having difficulty in voicing what she wanted to say, and as I had an inkling it was about the quilts, I felt I could make it easier for her if I asked the question, “Would you like to take the quilts down?” She smiled a little awkwardly and said “Yes…” I gave her a big hug, and said that of course, it was absolutely fine. She seemed happy and relieved, and then went on to talk excitedly about the changes she plans to make to her room.

And I felt fine.

Until that is, the quilts were taken down, folded neatly, and placed in my sewing room. I sat on the daybed looking at the quilts. Touching the fabrics, feeling the hand-sewn stitches, and recalling the memories of designing the quilts, choosing the fabrics, making the different blocks, piecing the blocks and the hours and hours of hand quilting.

My daughter’s quilts, made with love

And then the tears started to roll down my cheeks. Happy tears, remembering those special days, and sad tears, because it all goes by so quickly.

When we make quilts for our children, our children’s children, or the children of others, do we ever really think that their time to enjoy them is limited?

What I know is that all the love that was sewn into these two quilts will remain in them forever. For now they are folded and stored away. They will always be my daughter’s quilts and hopefully one day they will resurface and she’ll find them a new owner, perhaps even her children, if she has any, and the love will still be there.

Till next time,

Mel x

I love sewing, but please don’t ask me to sew…

I’m sure I’m not alone here. I love sewing, as you probably have gathered by now, but I don’t really like being asked to sew… I often wonder why it is that when people know you sew, they automatically think you’ll sew ANYTHING? Like altering curtains or dresses, fixing rips and tears, or sewing on buttons…

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that so many people would rather fix, mend and alter things rather than buy new, but I think some of these tasks people should know how to do already, or learn to do them, like sewing on buttons for example (happy to show people how to do this). Other tasks, like more complex alterations, I think are better left to professionals or more experienced sewers, rather than hobbyists.

I do like the feeling I get when I fix or alter an item of clothing, knowing that I’m extending its life. (I especially enjoy telling my daughters that some of my clothes are older than them…) But to be brutally honest, I don’t actually enjoy this type of sewing.

Here’s one I fixed earlier…
Flower patches on my work trousers to hide a tear.
Life extended: 3 years and counting

The reason is that I have so little ‘spare’ time to do the sewing I want to do, I don’t really want to spend the little time I have on mending clothes. Also, I’m not an expert on alterations or clothes-making so I really wouldn’t do as good a job as a professional.

For instance, a few years ago I started making a dress. I was making good progress, but then I got stuck on the zip; I kept meaning to get to grips with it, but I never seemed to have (or find) the time to do it. The unmade dress ended up being draped over my dressmaker’s mannequin (yes, I do have one) for 3 or 4 years (maybe more, I don’t know, I don’t care anymore…)

When I finally got round to redecorating my sewing room a few months ago, the unmade dress and mannequin had to be removed from my room, together with everything else. The mannequin made it back, but without the dress…

I decided to put it away. Keep it out of sight. I now no longer have the daily deflating reminder of an unfinished garment project… (I have plenty of unfinished quilts, but funnily these don’t cause me any distress!) Part of me would like to finish the dress one day, but now I’m not even sure if I like the fabric or pattern, or even if I’ll fit into it anymore!

Mannequin tucked away neatly, without the unsightly, unfinished dress…

Anyway, I digress.

Saying ‘No’ to a recent request from one of my colleagues to mend a pair of heavy duty work trousers was greeted with bemusement. I did feel a little guilty and a tad selfish in declining, but I am pleased I did not budge. I wouldn’t dream of asking a friend who’s into gardening to come round to my house and mow my overgrown lawn… or someone who enjoys painting landscapes to come round and paint my kitchen walls… (Both of which, by the way, need doing.)

But this left me wondering, how do my fellow sewers/quilters/crafters feel when asked to mend/alter clothes/furnishings? Do you accept – happily or begrudgingly – or decline, or swap skills/tasks? I’d love to know – drop me a line in the comments below.

Till next time!

Mel x

Addendum: Of course some repairs are ESSENTIAL, especially when it’s to hide a tear in a quilt! A few years ago, I accidentally snipped a quilt top I had been working on for 10 years. I was gutted, but quickly realised I could easily mend and hide the tear by cutting out a fabric patch to pattern match the fabric on the quilt top. I decided to cut a flower-shaped patch and turn it into a feature. The finished patch looks good and is almost invisible.

Fantastic little quilt exhibition in town

Sometimes you don’t need to travel far to see a fantastic quilt exhibition. Quilt Fest at the NEC is always on my list of things to do every year, but after my visit today, I think I need to make more of an effort to visit more local exhibitions.

As part of my town’s annual arts and music festival (Calne Arts and Music Festival) in Wiltshire, local quilters hosted a small exhibition displaying their makes in the local church, St Mary the Virgin.

St Mary the Virgin in Calne, decorated with bunting for the festival
Poster outside the church, promoting the exhibition

“To sew and grow, to spin and reap – a harvest of field and hand” (Luke 12.27)

The quilters are members of the church and/or members of the local quilt group ‘In Pieces’ which meets every Friday. One of the group’s members spent some time with me talking about the different quilts on display, showing me which ones were hers and talking about the group, quilting, sewing and exhibitions in general. It was a fab way to spend a morning off work.

There’s something quite special about quilts being displayed in churches – I’ve seen many photos of quilts draped over pews and the effect is stunning. This was the first time I’ve seen a quilt exhibition in a church, and whilst not all quilts were draped over pews, the effect was still amazing.

With regard to the quilts themselves, it’s so lovely to see that there is so much talent out there. There were a number of stunningly artistic quilts, a collection of Linus quilts made by group members, and an American quilt made over 100 years ago.

I’m not a member of the group yet, but I think after today, I might just have to join!

Till next time!

Mel x

Did you realise how much maths is involved in quilting?!

To all my quilting friends, did you realise when you started quilting, how much maths is involved in this craft? I sometimes think you need to be a bit of numbers genius or maths whiz to get your head around cutting instructions and estimating fabric quantities. Especially in the UK – we tend to buy fabric in metres but when we cut our fabric we work in inches!

When I started quilting, I used the Metric System, because I grew up in Spain and that’s what’s used there. I hadn’t realised that many quilters in the UK, Canada, USA and Australia used the Imperial System.

One of my early quilts, which I made for my eldest daughter when she was just a toddler – A Child’s Nautical Quilt – was featured as a project in British Patchwork and Quilting magazine in 2012, and the editor back then, the late Di Huck, was quite happy to publish my pattern with the instructions in centimetres.

‘A Child’s Nautical Quilt’ by Melanie Vincent

It was a very popular project and I made up lots of kits to sell via my Melony Patch Etsy shop. Though I ran out of kits a long time ago, I still sell the pattern, and to this day, it remains one of my most popular designs; every now and then I receive photos of the quilts people have made using my pattern and it always brings a smile to my face.

‘A Child’s Nautical Quilt’ by Melanie Vincent on the cover of British Patchwork & Quilting magazine

A little while ago a lady from Australia got in touch with me after buying the pattern in my shop. She asked if she could have the instructions in inches as she wasn’t confident working in centimetres.

“Yes, of course!” I said… though deep down my heart sank a little thinking of all the work involved! I realised, however, that converting the instructions to inches would be a useful exercise to do and would make the pattern appealing to a wider audience.

So I got to work. However… converting the instructions from centimetres to inches is not as simple as it might sound. You can’t just do a straight conversion. For example 10cm is 3.93701 inches… Who is going to cut THAT?? 3.93701 inches!! Not me! The figures had to be rounded up or down, and I decided to round up and down to the nearest quarter inch.

Luckily the templates in the pattern for the various shapes (whale, fish, starfish, sailboat, float and lighthouse) did not need changing; they were all full size already and it didn’t really matter if I had designed theses in centimetres. But the blocks those shapes were in, had to be changed.

So there I was, busy with my calculator converting cm to inches, rounding figures up and down, and trying to make all the blocks fit neatly together. It was like working on a jigsaw puzzle, and can honestly say it was a mammoth task, but one I’m pleased I did.

Instead of re-writing the instructions, I prepared a set of guidance notes on to how to use the original instructions and templates if working in inches, and this is offered to those buying the pattern via my shop.

So with that job done, my calculator, pencil and rubber have been put away! At least for little while…

Till next time.

Mel x

Click here for free patterns on my blog.

Quilt Spot September 2019 – Thomas Hardy’s cottage

This month is another unusual one for ‘quilt spot’ – no ‘spots’ in movies or on the telly, but serendipitously (quite an apt word as you will see later…) a number spotted in Thomas Hardy’s birth cottage in Dorset.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is one of my all-time favourite writers. I read all of his books in my early 20s whilst commuting into London for work. I actually looked forward to the tube journeys as it would usually guarantee me at least two hours of reading a day! (More, if there were delays on the network, which was a regular occurrence…)

He is described as a Victorian realist. From what I know about him, he seems to have been completely in love with the landscape and the countryside that surrounded him in Dorset. His focus was on the working classes and the hardships they endured. I can’t pick a favourite book… though Tess of the d’Urbiville’s, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure stand out for me – I remember crying on the train reading the last few pages of Jude…

So when the opportunity came to visit his birthplace, I was thrilled. It had been a place I had wanted to visit for a VERY long time.

We travelled down to Dorset on the first weekend in September. We took the girls with us as they were keen to see the Jurassic coast, and in particular the famous Durdle Door, and on the way back we stopped at Hardy’s Cottage.

This is the cottage where Thomas was born, where he grew up and where he wrote some of his earlier works. It was built by Thomas’s great grandfather and is now owned by the National Trust. It is a modest cob and thatched cottage, and beautifully simple.

Thomas’s birth cottage

Downstairs there is a cosy parlour, where the family gathered in the evenings, an office for Thomas’s father’s stonemasonry and bricklaying business, and the kitchen. Upstairs there are three rooms, for the parents, his sisters (Mary and Kate) and one for Thomas and his brother (Henry).

The rooms are white washed and simply furnished. In the bedrooms, each bed is covered with a quilt. Although the quilts, like everything else in the house, are not original, the hexie quilt in the sisters’ room is a replica of one they started but never finished, and which is now kept in storage at the Dorset County Museum. The replica was made by a group of dedicated quilters who decided to leave the quilt unfinished. They named it ‘Serendipity’.

Above: the sisters’ bedroom, with the replica of their unfinished hexie quilt
Below: close-ups of the replica quilt

More information on the group of quilters and the replica quilt can be found on the following National Trust webpage: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardys-cottage/features/the-art-of-quilting-and-the-hardy-sisters (accessed 27.09.19). As links can sometimes break or not work, I have taken the liberty to screen-grab the page and have included it below as an image.

Screen grab from the National Trust’s webpage on the replica quilt

I was told by one of the property’s stewards that the others quilts in the house – the one on the bed in the sisters’ room and the ones in the other rooms – were also made to look of the period.

Above: the parents’ room with a little crib
Below: Thomas’s room which he shared with his brother

Of course, the quilts were a highlight for me on this visit. But my favourite place in the whole house, was the replica desk and chair in Thomas’s room. This is where he wrote many of his earlier works, including Far from the Madding Crowd and Under the Green Wood Tree.

Me at Thomas’s desk

“The business of the poet and the novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things.”
Thomas Hardy

He would have sat at this desk, like I did in the photo above, with the views from his window providing the inspiration for his fictional county of Wessex. Even the window itself and the light it cast on the inbuilt bookcase on the opposite wall inspired one of his poems:

Extract from ‘The Sun on the Bookcase’ by Thomas Hardy

Once more the cauldron of the sun
Smears the bookcase with winy red,
And here my page is, and there my bed,
And the apple-tree shadows travel along.
Soon their intangible track will be run,
And dusk grow strong
And they have fled.

Thomas’s bookcase, which featured in his poem ‘The Sun on the Bookcase’

What a fabulous place… I am so pleased I got the chance to visit. I came away completely awe inspired and with a desire to read Hardy again. But which book to start with?! If you’re a fan of Thomas Hardy, I would highly recommend a visit.

Till next time!

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019, August 2019 and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 8

This is it!! This is the eighth and FINAL instalment in the Quilt Along 2019 to make my Happiness quilt!! Yay!

If you have just joined, please refer to Parts 123456 and 7 which as well as giving the instructions for constructing the blocks, also gives details of the type of fabrics needed, fabric quantities, and further notes on what to do before you start the project.

INSTRUCTIONS

Piecing the quilt centre

From white fabric cut 6 sashing strips measuring 48.5” x 2.5”.

Using the sashing strips in-between the rows, sew Rows A to E together, and sew another strip along the top of Row A and another along the bottom of Row E; press (Diagram 47).

Next, from the white fabric, you will need 2 lengths measuring 2.5” x 72.5” each (or make up the required length by sewing shorter strips together) (Diagram 47).

Sew these long strips to either side of the quilt centre, and press.

The quilt centre should now measure 52.5” x 72.5”.

Diagram 47

Border

For the sides you will need 2 finished lengths that each measure 72.5” x 6.25”.

In my quilt I pieced together a piece of white fabric with pink dots measuring about 13” x 6.5”, with a piece of white fabric with green dots measuring about 37” x 6.5” and white fabric with purple dots measuring about 13” x 6.5” to create the length required. You may wish to do this, or simply use one fabric. Either way, you will need the 72.5” x 6.5” for the side borders.

Once your outer border is pieced, sew this to the side of the quilt centre and press.

For the top and bottom borders, you will need to make up 2 lengths measuring 64.5” x 6.5”.

I used white with pink dots for the top border, and white with purple dots for the bottom border.

Sew these to the top and bottom of the quilt centre and press (Diagram 48).

Diagram 48

Completing the quilt

The outer borders are wide enough to create a 2″ border to the front of the quilt.

For the backing you will need a piece of wadding and backing material measuring 56″ x 76″.

Lay quilt down, with right side facing down, and place wadding and backing on top, with right side facing up, making sure both are centred, and baste (or pin with quilting safety pins) all layers.

Quilt as desired. I have quilted a combination of narrow horizontal and vertical lines across the blocks as illustrated in Diagram 49.

Diagram 49

On the back, fold border in half and under to conceal raw edges, cutting excess fabric at the corners. Slip -stitch all around the border and corners making sure stitches do not pass to the front of the quilt.

And TA-DAH! You’re done!! All you need to do now is add a label with your name and date, and start using it or gift it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed working on this quilt. I’d love to know how you are getting on. Do drop me a line and share photos of your progress.

There’ll be something new to look forward to and to follow in 2020! So keep your eyes peeled! Details will be announced shortly…

Till next time!

Mel x

See the other posts relating to my Quilt Along 2019: Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 1Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 2Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 3Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 4Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 5Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 6 and Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 7.

If you enjoy spotting quilts in movies or on the telly, click here for my ‘quilt spots‘ and let me know if you spot any quilted creations! Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilting slowly… a little at a time

Or rather, trying to quilt as quickly as I can… but making slow progress!

You see, I’m trying to finish my ‘Happiness’ quilt, which is part of my ‘quilt along’ for this year, and ideally I would like to have it completed by the time I post the final instalment of the instructions. In all honesty, I don’t think that’s going to happen, though I am trying!

I usually quilt by hand, but for the last few quilts I’ve made, I’ve opted for machine quilting. I love the feel of closely stitched lines – they add a nice texture to the finished quilt which is very soothing and comforting to the touch. Although I try to make my stitch lines as straight and as evenly spaced as possible, I am quite relaxed about it, so my stitch lines are slightly wonky and the spacing between them varies… sometimes quite a bit! But who cares? It all adds to the charm!

I also find the process of machine quilting very therapeutic. So today – my sewing day (i.e. my non-working day in the week) – although I was trying to accomplish as much as possible, I didn’t rush… I took my time, focused on the quilting and listened to music. It was a productive but chilled day, and I’m happy with what I managed to achieve within a few hours. All I need now is a few more days like today and the quilt will be done.

Quilting along… my Happiness quilt

As I write this, the view from my window is glorious… the low sun is casting its beautiful golden light on the green fields ahead, and the colours complement the quilt patches I’ve been working on today. The warm glow fills my heart with happiness… and I think how apt, given that that’s the name of my quilt!

The view from my window on a late summer’s day

Till next time!

Mel x

Click here for my Happiness quilt along.

Sewing room changes… complete!

A little white ago I noticed that the (rather flimsy) laminate flooring in my sewing room was cracking, especially under my chair (!). Nothing to do with my weight, I told myself… just the age and poor quality of the product, I said…

The unsightly floor…

Anyhow, the thought of having to get the flooring redone just filled me with dread… Having to move EVERYTHING out of my sewing room – day bed, book case, book shelf, chests of drawers, desk and chair, computer and printer, fabric bolts and stash, sewing machines, books, magazines and all other sewing paraphernalia – was simply too much. Where would I put it all whilst doing the works?? We just don’t have the ‘spare’ space in the house to accommodate the contents of a (well, my) room.

So I put it off. And kept putting it off, until that is I saw an opportunity… With my girls spending a week in Wales with the grandparents over the summer holidays, I had a light bulb moment. I’ll do my room whilst they’re away. Ta dah!

I had a tight schedule to keep if I was going to get the room done within the week, especially bearing in mind that my husband and I were working, most of the labour-intensive work had to be done in the evenings.

The works progressed as follows:

Evening 1 – clear out contents of my room. Heavy work, but easy.

Evening 2 – remove laminate flooring. This proved rather tricky, given that it was a sticky type of laminate which had been glued to the floor boards. Some strips were easy to pull up, but others (where there must have been more glue) proved rather difficult. Plus the freshly exposed floor boards underneath were super sticky with residue making for some very comical moments where my husband and I almost got stuck to the floor! Despite the sweat and strain, tears and laughter, the job got done, and we even managed to put down some of the underlay (made quite easy thanks to the sticky residue).

Evening 3 – Finished laying down underlay and then the new flooring.

Day 4 – Morning, painting walls and furniture. Afternoon and evening, finishing touches to the flooring.

Day 5 – Morning, painting more furniture. Afternoon and evening, putting things back in my room and making sure the girls’ rooms were just as tidy as before ready for their return. And job done!

Painting done!

It was hard work to keep to the schedule but the result is brilliant and I’m so pleased with it. Where there was a pine coloured laminate floor, now there is a whitish grey oak effect laminate. Before there was one wall painted in soft lavender, now all walls have been painted cream. And all of my ‘shabby chic’ style furniture has been given a new lick of paint so it all looks fresh and ‘newly’ shabby.

The room feels bright and airy, and because I went through all my belongings, I had a chance to de-clutter. It feels like a new room. (All I need now is that new sewing machine I spied at this year’s Festival of Quilts!)

What do you think of the changes? I’d love to know. And let me know too if you’re making any changes to your sewing space.

Till next time!
Mel x

Quilt Spot August 2019

I’m slightly bending my own rules for this month… When I first started my ‘quilt spot’ blog posts, I had decided that I would only mention movies or TV programmes that I had watched in their entirety. But that is not the case this month. So, apologies.

August is generally not a good month for me for watching telly. I simply don’t have the time! It’s the summer holidays, and I’m usually spending time with the kids or visiting family. And when there’s family to catch up with, a pool to splash about in and the beach to play on, who can blame me?

We spent ten days in Spain visiting my family, and when back we went straight up to north Wales to visit my husband’s family. We usually go every year and leave the girls with the grandparents so that we can go back home and carry on working.

It means two trips up to Wales, once to drop them off and another to pick them up. It’s a lovely chance to catch up with everyone and the girls love it. Anyhow, on to the ‘spot’.

It was whilst in Wales that I caught a glimpse of a quilt when ‘watching’ ‘About Time’ – a movie about a young man Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, who learns he can go back in time and do things differently.

In one of the scenes, the young man and his love interest Mary, played by Rachel McAdams, are in her room, and there is a lovely hexie quilt on her bed.

It looks like it’s been made out of scraps of fabric as there is no obvious pattern or colour theme to the quilt, and it’s rather a hodgepodge of hexagons of all sorts of colours and prints. It has a charming appeal – there’s nothing like a homemade quilt to grace one’s bed and give it a homely, welcoming feel.

Although I had intended to watch the full movie, I didn’t. Catching up and chatting with family just got in the way! However, what I did see of it I enjoyed (especially the quilt!), so it’s on my ‘to watch (again)’ list.

The hexie quilt in ‘About Time’ – Quilt Spot August 2019

And then there was another ‘spot’ whilst up in Wales… not on the TV this time, but in one of the spare rooms. A lovely old wooden chair covered with a patchwork of floral fabrics featuring long stitches in contrasting thread.

The patchwork chair

I loved it. And I let my mother-in-law know that I loved it. A number of times. I think she knows now. I hope she does. I hope she knows that if she ever tires of that lovely chair, that there is a home for it down in Wiltshire. I’ll make sure there’s a perfect spot for it.

Till next time!

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019, and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 7

This is the seventh instalment in the Quilt Along 2019 to make my Happiness quilt. If you have just joined, please refer to Parts 12345 and 6, which as well as giving the instructions for constructing the blocks, also gives details of the type of fabrics needed, fabric quantities, and further notes on what to do before you start the project.

INSTRUCTIONS

Row E – Purple, Block E4

You will need 5 different fabrics for this block: 2 purple floral prints, 2 tonal/solid purple prints, and white.

The centre of E4 features a nine patch square. Cut the following:

From tonal purple print 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From floral purple print 2.5” x 5”

Following the same process as before for constructing a nine patch, sew the top and bottom strips of the nine patch (Diagram 39).

Diagram 39

For the centre strip cut:

From floral purple print (same as before) 2 x (2.5” x 2.5”)
From a different purple floral print 2.5” x 2.5”

Following the same process as before, sew the centre strip of the nine patch, pressing seams in opposite direction to the top and bottom strips; strip should measure 6.5” x 2.5” (Diagram 40).

Diagram 40

To complete the nine patch, sew the top strip to the centre, and then to the bottom strip, making sure seams are aligned (Diagram 41), and press.

Diagram 41

To construct the side strips of E4 cut the following:

From white fabric 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From a different tonal/solid purple print to the one used before 2.5” x 5”

With long sides together, sew pieces as illustrated in Diagram 42.

Diagram 42

Press, and cut into 2 strips measuring 6.5” x 2.5”.

Next sew the two side strips to either side of the central piece, as shown in Diagram 43.

Diagram 43

To construct the top and bottom strips of E4 cut the following:

From the floral purple print used for the centre of the nine patch 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From white fabric 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From the same solid/tonal purple fabric used for the side strips 2.5” x 5”

With long sides together, sew pieces as shown in Diagram 44.

Diagram 44

Press, and cut into 2 long strips measuring 10.5” x 2.5”.

Next sew the top and bottom strips to complete the block (Diagram 45).

Diagram 45

The block should measure 10.5” x 10.5”. (Note borders will be added to increase overall size of block to 12.5” x 12.5”.)

Assembling the blocks in Row E

From two purple fabrics not used before, cut the following pieces from each one:

2 x (12.5” x 2.5”)
2 x (10.5” x 2.5”)

Following the layout in Diagram 46, first sew the shorter strips to the individual blocks, press and then sew the longer strips to the top or bottom.

Each block should now measure 12.5” x 12.5”.

Sew the blocks together to complete the row, which should now measure 48.5” x 12.5” (Diagram 46).

Diagram 46

I hope you enjoy completing the last block of the fifth row of this quilt – if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to message me. Also, if you’re making this quilt, it would be great to see photos of your progress!!

Till next time,

Mel x

See the other posts relating to my Quilt Along 2019: Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 1Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 2Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 3Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 4, Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 5, and Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 6.

If you enjoy spotting quilts in movies or on the telly, click here for my ‘quilt spots‘ and let me know if you spot any quilted creations! Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Who inspired you to sew?

I always attribute my love of crafts and sewing to my maternal grandmother – she wasn’t a quilter, but was great at crocheting and sewing. She was a hard-working, busy lady, waking up at the crack of dawn and not sitting down till the evening when all the day’s work was done. And even then, she would not do nothing… her hands were always busy crocheting away. She made numerous doillies, lace trimmings for pillow cases and sheets, and colourful cushion covers and blankets.

She also had a 1920s’ Singer sewing machine, which I was fascinated by when I was little. The machine was housed within a beautiful wooden cabinet. Whenever we visited our grandparents, who lived in a flat in Madrid, Spain, one of the first things I would do (after giving them a big cuddle), would be to run down the hall to take a look at the sewing machine. It was at the end of (what seemed at the time like) a long corridor under a wall-mounted Grandfather Clock which chimed every quarter hour!

I would kneel down on the floor and open the cabinet door to peer inside. The machine itself, when not in use, would lie upside-down inside the cabinet. On the inside of the cabinet door there was a little compartment to keep bobbins, threads and other sewing paraphernalia, and whenever I think about it, like now, I can still remember how the cabinet used to smell.

To this day I’ve only seen the machine upright a handful of times. It’s quite a neat design how the top of the cabinet folds out to form a sewing table, and then the machine itself can be lifted from its casing through a flap in the top of the cabinet. Nearly one hundred years on, the machine – with its old needle, wheel and pedal – still work.

Sadly my grandmother passed away about 30 years ago… The sewing machine has since been passed down to my mum and it will eventually come to me one day.

Every time I visit my parents, I take a look at the machine. It still smells the same way I remembered from when I was a little girl. And all the bits and pieces that go with it are still there. It’s a little part of my grandmother, and a little piece of history.

Who inspired you to sew? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and share your story with me!

Till next time.

Mel x

My inspiration – my grandmother; this is a corner of my sewing room, with a photo of my grandmother, and one of the doillies and blankets she made.

The Festival of Quilts 2019

This year’s festival was another fantastic day out. If I only make one quilt show a year, I make sure it’s this one at the NEC in Birmingham. And this year it was extra special as the Quilters’ Guild celebrate their 40th birthday. Cue lots of exhibits with the theme ’40’!

As always, first on my list of things to do and see is the quilts exhibition. There is always such a variety of work and I’m always amazed at the wonderful creations on display and in awe of the talent and the patience the creators must have.

There was one particular quilt which I thought was just mind-boggling in beauty and complexity – ‘Fractal’ by Claudia Pfeil, which won the Contemporary Quilt category.

‘Fractal’ by Claudia Pfeil

From far it looks like an abstract painting, but on closer inspection you can see in detail how much work went into creating it – a background of patchwork with different fabrics laid on top, and quilted using a variety of stitches and threads, and embellished with little beads that glistened in the light. It had me mesmerised. It would take me a life-time to create something like that! Absolutely wonderful!

Another highlight of the show was seeing the brilliant Kaffe Fassett at the Sewing Quarter stand talking about his work. It’s the first time I’ve seen him talk and found him very inspiring. One message that will stay with me is that “you have to open your eyes to colour, and once you’ve done that, travelling becomes a whole different experience.”

Kaffe Fassett talking to Sewing Quarter

Another message is that you can find beauty in “even the ugliest of quilts”. Basically, even if something might not be visually appealing to you, there might be something redeeming about it, maybe it’s the use of colours, or the pattern – there may be something there that can inspire you and which you can adapt to make it your own. Very true.

I couldn’t leave without buying his latest book and getting it signed by him. It would have been rude not to!

As always, a trip to Quilt Fest is a good opportunity to meet up with people, make new contacts and peruse the numerous stalls… I had decided beforehand that I didn’t need to buy any more fabric (and I really DIDN’T need to buy any more fabric), but once there, with the fantastic range of fabrics on offer, and fabulous prices too, I couldn’t resist. Again, it would have been rude not to!

I took a number of photos of quilts and exhibits I found interesting. Some of these are of quilts that are technically very accomplished, whilst others are more simpler creations. Nevertheless, they all grabbed me in some way. I noticed how many of this year’s quilts had shiny fabrics, threads or sparkly embellishments, which made it quite a glittery affair!

Below is a gallery of some of the exhibits I found inspiring. I have captioned the title of the work as well as the creator’s name – if you share these, please ensure the creator is credited.

Did you go the festival – what did you like about the exhibits this year? Please share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment below.

Till next time!

Mel x

‘Over the hills and far away’ by Cowslip Workshops, winner of the Group Quilt category
‘Infinity’ by Yan Liu
‘Log Cabins in the City’ by Anna Williams
‘A Stamp Story’ by Maggie Barber
‘My Trip Down the Rabbit Hole’ by Sharon Appleton
‘Reach for the Skies’ by Expanding Stitches Friends
‘Matrix’ by Yan Liu
‘Wonky Log Cabins’ by Jessamie Self
Display of miniature quilts
‘The First Day in the Mill’ by Catherine Hill
‘Silent World’ by Amanda Whewell
‘Come Away, O Human Child’ by Kate Aimson

Quilt Spot July 2019

This month saw a couple of ‘spots’ and both in the same series: Stranger Things Season 3, which was finally released, after more than a year’s wait, on July 4th.

In anticipation of the new season, we re-watched all the previous episodes, where there was, to my surprise, a ‘quilt spot’! So, I was hoping to spot a few more in the new season, and I’m happy to say, the series did not disappoint, at least not in the ‘quilt spot’ department. Sadly for me, the new season didn’t live up to all the hype… the story felt a bit rushed and it was over before you knew it. I thought this was a shame after having waited such a long time. However, my daughters enjoyed it and as they are really the target demographic for this series, I’m guessing it wasn’t that bad!

As I’ve mentioned before, Stranger Things is a series I had been enjoying, mainly because the main characters are in their early teens in the mid-1980s, the same age I was at that time, so it feels quite nostalgic, featuring the music and fashion of my youth. The ending of Season 3 leaves it open for a potential Season 4, which I’m hoping will be produced, and hoping too it will be more satisfactory (to me) than this latest one!

Anyhow, back to quilts! The first quilt I spotted was in Mrs Byers house, draped over the back of her sofa as she sat in front of the telly with a meal-for-one (when she could have been out on a date…). Initially I thought it was a log cabin pattern, but from the photo you can see it’s not, and it’s quite hard to figure out what pattern it is. However, it seems quite simple and appears to be nicely worn and used.

Stranger Things

The second one was also draped over the back of a sofa – a lovely two-colour quilt in solid prints, featuring a pattern which seems to be a variant of the bear paw pattern, but please correct me if I’m wrong!

Stranger Things

Have you spotted any quilts in movies, on the telly, or when out and about?? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and tell me all about it!

Till next time,

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019, and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Small bag charm with Suffolk Puff centre – FREE PATTERN

This is a quick little project which is perfect for gifting and… a great way to use up bits of fabric scraps!

This is what I made this year to give as ‘thank you’ presents to my youngest daughter’s teacher and teaching assistant at the end of the school year. It was the first time I’ve made a Suffolk Puff – also known as fabric yo-yos – and was pleased I tried something new!

The finished bag charm measures approximately 4” x 4”.

You will need:

  • 1 strip measuring 2.5” x 1.5” (Piece A) and 1 strip measuring 3.5” x 1.5” (Piece B), cut from the same fabric, for the top sides of the charm
  • 1 strip measuring 3.5” x 1.5” (Piece C) and 1 strip measuring 4.5” x 1.5” (Piece D), cut from a different but complementary fabric to the one above, for the bottom sides of the charm
  • 1 piece of background fabric 2.5” x 2.5”
  • Circle of fabric 3.5” in diameter for the Suffolk Puff flower centre, cut from a different fabric to the ones above
  • Backing fabric 4.5” x 4.5”
  • 2” of ribbon for the key ring strap
  • Button for the flower centre – large enough to cover the centre opening of the Suffolk Puff
  • Green embroidery thread
  • Wadding
  • Key ring

All measurements include a 0.25” seam allowance.

Suffolk Puff

With a long piece of thread in matching colour to your choice of fabric, turn over a 0.25” hem from the edge of the circle and hand sew medium-sized running stitches all the way round the circle of fabric, turning the hem over as you go, until the last stitch meets the first and leaving a long piece of thread before the first stitch and another long stitch after the last. Then gently pull the two threads together to gather up the circle of fabric. Turn right way round so the right side of the fabric is on the outside. Tie a knot with the two pieces of thread. Flatten puff and position the opening in the centre of the puff, and sew a few stitches to secure in place. Cut excess thread and put to one side (Photos 1-5).

Photos 1-5

Piecing the bag charm

Following Diagram 1, sew strips A, B, C and D to the background fabric and press.

Diagram 1

Next, for the stem of the flower, use the green embroidery thread, and using back-stitch, sew a line of stitches from the bottom corner of the charm to the centre, and then using the lazy daisy stitch, stitch two leaf shapes to the side of the stem (Photos 6-10, Diagram 2).

Photos 6-10

Diagram 2

Next, position the Suffolk Puff in the centre of the bag charm front, and position the button on top of the opening. Secure in place with a number of stitches – you may wish to use a contrasting thread colour for effect (Diagram 3).

Diagram 3

Adding the backing and strap

Fold the strip of ribbon in half and place on top of the front piece of the bag charm. Decide how long you would like your strap and move the folded ribbon up or down accordingly. Tack it in place (Photo 11).

Next, place the backing fabric right sides down on top of the front piece, and sew all around the inside, 0.25” in from the raw edge, leaving about a 1” gap for turning (Diagram 4).

Diagram 4

Trim corners and ribbon strap overhang, and turn right side out. Use a prodding tool to push out the corners.

Next stuff the bag charm with some wadding so it’s nice and plump, and when happy, slip stitch closed.

Add the key ring and it’s ready for gifting!

I hope you enjoyed this project. Let me know if you have any queries and if you make any, please let me know! I’d love to see photos of your makes!

Mel x

Designed by Melanie Vincent, July 2019. Please respect the designer’s copyright. The design, instructions, diagrams and photos are copyright of the designer. You are free to use this pattern as long as you are not making any financial gain from it. Enjoy making and gifting!

Ready for gifting!

You can also enjoy my other free patterns on my blog:

Pirate quilt and Small patchwork bag charm

Summer fun, little sewing done

And so begins the school summer holidays, which means lots of fun with the kids, but very little time for sewing! As is customary in my house, I host a small gathering of friends from school, mums and children, to celebrate the end of (and surviving another) school year.

This year, our new kitchen, which is nearly complete (bar painting the walls and adding some curtains/blinds), was the perfect space to lay out all the nibbles and drinks. And it worked really well.

Very last minute, I decided to sew some bunting using part of a leftover bunting panel I still had in my stash. I’ve sold bunting panels before in my Etsy shop, but I had never before made bunting myself from a panel, always preferring to make my own, to my own dimensions and designs. But what a treat it was to have this panel ready to go. It must have taken me less than half-an-hour to complete. So easy, and now I know why they are so popular!

Bunting making

So that may well be the last bit of sewing I do this summer. Except perhaps for making some ‘scrunchies’ with my daughters – scrunchies, it seems, are back in fashion and are everywhere, from fashion shops, chemists and hairdressers. They are so easy and quick to make, need very little fabric so are a perfect project for scraps, and also make lovely little gifts!

Have a fabulous summer, and if you manage to find some time to do some sewing, let me know and feel free to share photos of your makes!

Till next time!

Mel x

Summer fun – the scene is set!

Making ‘Thank you!’ presents for the teachers…

It’s that time again – the end of the school year – which means summer holidays and… presents for the teaching staff. I’ve always tried to make homemade gifts for the teachers and teaching assistants and have always involved my girls in the process, whether it is choosing what to make, the fabrics and/or colour schemes, or getting involved in the sewing process.

Over the years we’ve made pencil cases, little drawstring lavender bags, make-up pouches and an array of bag charms… It’s lovely to see the teachers still using these items years after they were originally gifted.

This year, it’s another bag charm. Not sure why I like them so much. Perhaps it’s because they’re fun, easy and quick to make, and very cute to hang on your bag or use as a key ring. The bag charms this year feature ‘Suffolk Puffs’ which I’ve never made before – so I’m pleased I tried something new!

Whenever I make these gifts, I make a little batch of them so I have extras I can give away, and also keep for myself! Also, this year’s offering will be provided as a free pattern on my blog soon, just like I did for the small patchwork bag charms last year.

Are you making gifts for teachers this year? I’d love to know and see photos of your makes!

Till next time!

Mel x

Big changes, small pleasures…

It’s not long since we had our kitchen and utility space completely overhauled and redesigned. Our previous kitchen was over 20 years old, and whilst we liked the look of it – a pine country-style kitchen – it was looking a little tired.

So after a good few months of researching different styles and colour-schemes, and thinking about what we could achieve in the space we have, we settled on a design and we couldn’t be happier with the final result.

It’s hard to remember what it was like before. And hard to believe how we put up with the yellow walls FOR SO LONG!!

The whole space has been completely transformed with the kitchen area and utility area now just one space featuring a lovely breakfast bar and space to have a small dining table. We still have a ‘laundry space’ hidden behind a cleverly built custom-made unit so it feels like we haven’t completely gotten ridden of our utility space.

We do have a separate dining room, but the the space is sometimes an office, or an art room, or play room, or just a general dumping ground for stuff. And there is a lot of stuff. I am determined that our new dining space in our new kitchen will not suffer the same fate. So I’ve banned all computer equipment from the kitchen in the hope that this will make it unsuitable as an office space.

I do have a confession to make though… whilst attempting machine quilting I realised that I needed more space to handle the quilt, so I found myself relocating to the new dining table!! Ooops!!

Quilting in the new kitchen

I think I may need a dedicated quilting room after all… (in addition, of course, to my existing sewing room). Maybe I need to look into the costs of a loft conversion with space to house a long-arm quilting machine… maybe I should have a word with hubby…

Till next time!

Mel x

Finding solutions to my machine quilting problems…

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a large room to house a long-arm quilting machine… I would then be able to machine-quilt my quilts with ease… (or maybe not, I’m sure there are pitfalls when it comes to machine quilting, but as I don’t have long-arm quilting machine, I’m not aware of any…)

It’s also got me thinking that, given I DON’T have a spare room to house a long-arm quilting machine, or a spare few thousand pounds to invest in one, perhaps I should think about upgrading my sewing machine to one that can be used for quilting… because at the moment I’m struggling…

I’m currently quilting my ‘Happiness‘ quilt, which is part of my ‘quilt along’ for this year. I’m slightly ahead of the game, as the quilt top has already been pieced… so it’s ‘just’ the quilting that’s left.

And it’s proving to be a tricky affair. The quilt is a large single size, and trying to manoeuvre it around my tiny desk, using my standard sewing machine, has been nothing short of difficult.

Quilting chaos

After one frustrating morning, I suddenly remembered a tip I read in a machine quilting book, which I sadly no longer have. But I remember visually what it advised, which was to roll up the sides you were not currently working on, and to place the quilt folded on your lap as you feed it gently through the machine. I wish I still had that book because I could then double-check that that advice was correct! (Of course I could always Google it. Or YouTube it. But I didn’t, and haven’t so far.)

Rolling up the sides of the quilt…

So, full of hope I tried this method and am pleased to say, it worked! Handling the quilt was made much easier, though there is still lots of quilting to get done, so it’s going to take a while.

Quilting harmony

But I’m happy with the results. And am happy too, that I decided to work on our new dining table, in our new kitchen… (ssshh… don’t tell hubby, I’ve banned HIM from using this space as his office!)

So far, my new method of working in MY NEW WORK SPACE (hee hee hee) is working wonders! All I need now are more hours in the day, more days in the week, more weeks in the month, etc etc.

Quilting heaven

What problems have you encountered when quilting? And what did you do to overcome them? I’d love to know – share your experiences with me by leaving a comment below.

Till next time!

Mel x

Rediscovering long lost passions whilst on hols…

We’ve not long got back from a FABULOUS family holiday to Egypt. It’s a country my husband and I have visited many times before, not just for the historic sights, but also for the diving. It has been a dream of ours to take our girls to show them the pyramids, and this year, we decided, was the year to do it.

We were based in Hurghada, on the Red Sea coast, so our day trip to Cairo to see the pyramids was an EXTREMELY long (and HOT) day! A 22-hour trip, starting with a coach pick-up at 1am, and a 6-hour journey each way. The day we travelled also happened to be the hottest day Cairo had experienced so far in the year, 42C in the shade! But what a fabulous experience it was for all of us, visiting the Cairo Museum, where we saw Tutankhamon’s mask and treasures, and of course the pyramids. My husband and I had been 24 years ago, on the holiday where he proposed to me, and it was so special to be able to do it again, this time with our daughters.

Egypt – then and now

And then of course there was the other main highlight of the holiday for me… diving!!! The Red Sea has some of the best dive sites in the world, and after a 12-year hiatus it was a real thrill to get back in the water. Our youngest daughter, who is only 8, completed her introductory course to diving, so she was able to join us for the last bit of our second dive.

Diving… again!!

We’ve come back with loads of happy memories, and for me a desire to continue diving. I have a dream to go on a round-the-world diving trip… maybe once the girls have grown up and left home (and I’ve saved a bit of money!).

I bought myself only one memento from our holiday: an applique cushion depicting a coral reef. This is now in my sewing room, and is a perfect combination of two of my passions.

Applique cushion depicting a coral reef scene

Has a recent holiday reignited forgotten passions, hobbies or interests? I’d love to know!

Till next time,

Mel x

If you enjoy spotting quilts in movies or on the telly, click here for my ‘quilt spots‘ and let me know if you spot any quilted creations! Click here for my Quilt Along 2019 and here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Spot June 2019

This has been a good ‘quilt spot’ month, with three ‘spots’! The first was quite unexpected, in ‘Stranger Things’, a series I had watched before, before starting my ‘quilt spot’ blog posts.

My youngest daughter has now decided she is all enough to watch this series, and in preparation for the new one which is coming out in early July, has been watching all episodes.

I enjoyed watching this series the first time round – I quite liked how the main characters were my age at the time it is set, 1984, so it’s a bit of a nostalgic trip, featuring the music and fashion of my youth. Aside from that it’s quite a good story and enjoyable to watch.

There may have been more quilts in the series, but the ones I spotted were in Elle’s (short for Eleven) birth mother’s house, quite shabby looking and faded, neatly folded over the rungs of a ladder resting against a wall in her living room. I quite liked the look of these quilts, homely and well used.

‘Stranger Things’

My second spot, was in the movie ‘The Best of Me’ based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, who also wrote ‘The Notebook’ and ‘The Longest Ride’, amongst many others.

I found myself watching this movie at home one day when I was not well after having called work to say I wouldn’t be in. I’ve enjoyed watching other movies basked on Nicholas Sparks’ books, so I settled on this one, knowing that it would be a weepy… but my God, I was not prepared for this one!! Such a sad, but beautiful story, it had me in tears, especially towards the end.

Many of his stories seem to be quite formulaic: rich girl and poor boy, they fall in love, there is some sort of tragedy/event that puts a stop to the relationship but somehow they reconnect later in life, the story flits between past and present… and I won’t say anymore! Although you can probably guess where the story is going, it doesn’t make the movie any less enjoyable, and always the key message is that it is love that is the most important thing in life. Can’t argue with that!

‘The Best of Me’

And finally, on the last day of the month, we went to see the movie ‘Yesterday’, about a young aspiring singer-songwriter who wakes up, after a freak accident during a global power cut, to a world that has never heard of The Beatles… He decides to play their music and becomes a global super-star… It’s a funny and heartwarming movie, with some good tunes (!). It’s also a love story, and the love interest is played by the wonderful Lily James – on her character’s bed, was a beautiful simple quilt, made with what looked like 3″ square patches, in bright solid colours, set on point against a white background. Couldn’t take any pictures, so the promo image of the movie will have to do for this one!!

‘Yesterday’

Have you spotted any quilts in movies, on the telly, or when out and about?? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and tell me all about it!

Till next time,

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019, May 2019 and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 6

This is the sixth instalment in the Quilt Along 2019 to make my Happiness quilt. If you have just joined, please refer to Parts 123, 4 and 5, which as well as giving the instructions for constructing the first four row and part of the fifth row, also has details of the type of fabrics needed, fabric quantities, and further notes on what to do before you start the project.

INSTRUCTIONS

Row E – Purple, Block E2

Last month, I covered how to construct block E1 and E3. This month I feature how to construct Block E2. For this block you will need your purple prints and white fabric. The centre of E2 features a nine patch square, with a floral purple print and white fabric (see Diagram 27).

‘Happiness’ Diagram 27 – by Melanie Vincent

Cut the following:

From purple floral print 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From white fabric cut 2.5” x 5”

With longer sides together, sew the purple strips to each side of the white strip (Diagram 33). Press seams to one side and cut into 2 strips measuring 6.5” x 2.5”. These will be the top and bottom strips of the nine patch square.

‘Happiness’ Diagram 33 – by Melanie Vincent

For the centre strip cut:

From white fabric 2 x (2.5” x 2.5”)
From purple floral print 2.5” x 2.5”

Sew the white pieces to each side of the purple. Press seams in opposite direction to the top and bottom strips; strip should measure 6.5” x 2.5” (Diagram 34).

‘Happiness’ Diagram 34 – by Melanie Vincent

To complete the nine patch, sew the top strip to the centre, and then to the bottom strip, making sure seams are aligned, as illustrated in Diagram 35, and press. The nine patch should measure 6.5” x 6.5”.

‘Happiness’ Diagram 35 – by Melanie Vincent

Next from white fabric cut 2 x (2.5” x 6.5”), and sew these to either side of the nine patch square, as indicated in Diagram 36.

‘Happiness’ Diagram 36 – by Melanie Vincent

For the top and bottom of E2, cut the following:

From purple floral print 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From white fabric 6.5” x 2.5”

Sew the purple floral print pieces to each side of the white strip. Press and cut into 2 strips each measuring 10.5” x 2.5” (Diagram 37).

‘Happiness’ Diagram 37 – by Melanie Vincent

Next sew the top and bottom strips to complete the block, as illustrated in Diagram 38.

‘Happiness’ Diagram 38 – by Melanie Vincent

The block should measure 10.5” x 10.5”. (Note borders will be added later to increase the overall size of the block to 12.5” x 12.5”.)

I hope you enjoy working on the fifth row of this quilt – if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to message me. Also, if you’re making this quilt, it would be great to see photos of your progress!!

Till next time,

Mel x

See the other posts relating to my Quilt Along 2019: Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 1Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 2Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 3Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 4, and Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 5.

If you enjoy spotting quilts in movies or on the telly, click here for my ‘quilt spots‘ and let me know if you spot any quilted creations! Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Spot May 2019

Unfortunately no ‘quilt spots’ this month! At least not on the telly or in cinemas… There was, however, a quilt I spotted on a day-trip to Salisbury, in the National Trust property Mompesson House, an 18th century townhouse in the city’s Cathedral Close.

This property was quite modest, by National Trust standards, and very quaint, with some lovely interiors. In 1843 the solicitor George Barnard Townsend lived there with his family, and it was in one his daughter’s bedroom’s that I spotted a whole-cloth quilt draped over the bed, a simple, understated yet very elegant – in keeping with the house – white quilt.

Whole cloth quilt in Mompesson House

It seems his daughters spent their days writing, drawing, painting, going for walks, socialising and generally doing all the fun things you can do when you don’t have to work for a living or have any responsibilities. In one of the drawing rooms, there was a little table set up for writing, and another on the opposite side for drawing. Bliss.

There was an another item of interest in house – a collection of stumpwork pictures – raised embroidery – in the Green Room. These date from the 17th century. The raised details were worked on with thread stitched over shaped blocks of padding or wood. The results are stunning.

Detail of stumpwork picture in Mompesson House

From Mompesson House it was only a short walk to the magnificent cathedral – being relatively local, we’ve visited a number of times, but it’s always awe-inspiring. There is always something new that grabs my attention, and this time it was the flooring in the Chapter House, where one of the surviving Magna Cartas is held.

I’m always fascinated by the beauty of tiled flooring and walls, and the wonderful ‘patchwork’ patterns it can create, and the floor in the Chapter House did not disappoint.

So although it wasn’t a good month for my traditional ‘quilt spot’, there was plenty I did ‘spot’ that sparked an interest in me.

Have you spotted any quilts in movies, on the telly, or when out and about?? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and tell me all about it!

Till next time,

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019, April 2019, and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

The Wellbeing Quilt… there is always hope

Here in the UK it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which means it’s been a busy week at work for me and my colleagues on the Wellbeing Programme at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. The highlight was a joint event with another local organisation, IPSUM, who offer art-based activities to help improve people’s mental wellbeing.

Our event ‘A Celebration of Art and Nature’ seemed to be a huge success, with about 50 of our joint participants joining in a range of nature and art activities, with singing and guitar playing around a campfire. It was absolute bliss.

My activity was ‘The Wellbeing Quilt‘ which I had been planning for a few weeks, and which I made reference to in my last blog post.

The idea behind the quilt is to celebrate people’s journey of recovery, so on individual pre-cut square panels of fabric, participants were encouraged to decorate each one to represent where they are now, what makes them happy, what they are grateful for and what they are looking forward to.

They could do this by painting directly onto the fabric with acrylics and/or sticking bits of fabric onto the panel, and, if they wanted to, writing words/phrases/messages that mean something to them using alphabet stamps or fabric pens.

On a simple form they were invited to write a short note on what the panel means to them, and these will then form the narrative to accompany the quilt once it’s been pieced together.

Wellbeing quilt panels drying in the sun – Melanie Vincent WWT

The progress made yesterday was fantastic and there are some really touching stories behind the individual panels. The overall message that came through was how people can help each other rebuild their lives, how powerful being with others and in nature can be for recovery, and that there is always hope.

This is very much a work in progress, so as the programme continues more participants will be invited to contribute, and I will provide updates here on my blog.

Till next time!

Mel x

The following are some blog posts I wrote at work published this week to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week: Be Body Kind and A Journey of Recovery: Trudy’s story.

Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Slowly getting back into sewing… and other things

I have been a bit quiet on my blog recently, as you may have noticed. A result of having to take it easy. After my last post about being ‘sew busy‘… I broke my finger, playing netball, and had to take a step back.

Ouch!

It’s been six weeks of no netball games, no guitar lessons, and very little sewing. Not that I couldn’t manage. I still practised throwing the ball into the net we’ve set up in the back garden, still practised some chords on my guitar, and still managed to sew a bit. But everything has been that much slower .

Thankfully, the splint is now off, and though my finger is still wonky (I think that’s its ‘new’ shape), I’m currently touch-typing away with no problems.

And I do have the odd thing to show for the last six weeks.

First, in my attempt to ditch single use plastics and non-recyclables, I have made some bees wax food wraps. These have been great fun to make – and use! – and means I no longer need to buy clingfilm to wrap sandwiches or packed lunches, or to cover leftovers. And I can use fabrics from my stash! Bonus! Although there are plenty of tutorials out there for how to make your own wraps, I will soon, within the next few weeks, write a blog post about the process I went through.

Secondly, I managed to do some machine quilting for my ‘Happiness‘ quilt… If you’re not familiar with this quilt, it’s my first-ever ‘quilt along‘. OK, so I’m slightly ahead of the game… but in order to show the finished item by the time I post the final set of instructions, I need to be that little bit ahead!!

Machine quilting ‘Happiness’ by Melanie Vincent

And finally, I’ve been very busy at work, which has impacted on my own time. Not in a bad way. Some of you may know that I work for a charity on a mental wellbeing programme, encouraging people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, amongst other mental health conditions, to engage with the natural world through conservation work, wildlife walks and nature-based crafts.

I’m currently working on a quilt in which participants on the programme will create a quilt block to represent where they are on their journey of recovery. I’m really excited about this, and will no doubt write more about this in the coming months as the project evolves.

Prep work for The Wellbeing Quilt – Melanie Vincent

Till next time,

Mel x

Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Spot April 2019

April’s viewing time was dominated by Game of Thrones… and not just the latest – and sadly final – season, but also all the previous seasons too. We couldn’t help but ‘catch up’ with the whole series… We are, as you have probably guessed, HUGE fans!

This has meant little time for anything else, and I was slightly worried that I might not come across any patchwork quilts in my TV viewing… but guess what?? I think I spotted a patchwork creation in Season 1 of Game of Thrones…

Perhaps my eyes were playing a trick on me, but a close up shot of the scene in question confirms to me that what is draped over Bran Stark’s bed is in fact a patchwork throw of some kind. How exciting! As if the series wasn’t exciting enough already!!

Game of Thrones – Season 1

Before Season 8 started, we did have the chance to view (or rather endure) the ‘horror’ ‘Open House’… about an open house with some unwanted visitors/guests/residents. It was a bit creepy, I have to admit, but this time not even the quilt I spotted saved the movie for me.

Although it wasn’t actually a ‘puff quilt’ it resembled one as the wadding used must have been quite bulky. I’m not a fan of these ‘puffed up’ quilts and I’m not sure why really. My eldest daughter thinks they look cosy, and I can see her point, but I keep thinking of all the debris (crumbs, etc) that might find their way into the deep folds… Not for me!

‘Open House’

There was one good movie though, and that was ‘The Book of Henry’ – a story about a single mother who follows her son’s instructions, written in his book, to rescue one of his friends from her abusive stepdad. A sad and emotional movie, about coming to terms with grief, the fight for what’s right and growing up (mostly the mum). The quilt featured consists of large square and rectangle blocks with red, blue and white plaid fabric. Simple but lovely.

‘The Book of Henry’

I end on a slightly funny/odd note. It wasn’t because of my views of puff quilts, but a misspelling in a search term on Google, which led to the suggested result being ‘ugly quilts’!! How I giggled! Though I did feel a little sad for the makers of the quilts that came up in the search.

Search results for ‘ugly’ quilts…

Of course, quilts come in all shapes and sizes, colours and patterns, and not all are going to be to our liking, but I think it’s a little harsh to call a quilt ugly if it doesn’t appeal to you. And there seems to be hundreds ‘pinned’ in Pinterest… I really hope mine don’t end up there! Might just have to take a look!

Have you spotted any quilts in movies or on the telly? I’d love to know. Drop me a line and tell me what you’ve spotted.

Till next time.

Mel x

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019February 2019March 2019 and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

https://melonypatch.wordpress.com/2019/04/13/quilt-spot-march-2019/

Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 4

This is the fourth instalment in the Quilt Along 2019 to make my Happiness quilt. If you have just joined, please refer to Parts 1, 2 and 3, which as well as giving the instructions for constructing the first three rows, also has details of the type of fabrics needed, fabric quantities, and further notes on what to do before you start the project.

INSTRUCTIONS

Row D – Green

Each block within Row D is made up of four mini-blocks, and there are three different types of mini-blocks: a nine patch, a four-rectangles patch, and a white square centre mini-block (Diagram 18).

Diagram 18

For this row you will need your green prints and white fabric.

Nine patch mini-blocks

Each nine patch mini-block within Row D features a different fabric combination, and are pieced individually.

From your fabric selection, choose the fabrics you want to work with in each mini-block.

a) Nine patch mini-block in D1

Cut the following:

From green fabric 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From white fabric 2.5” x 5”

With longer sides together, sew the green strips to each side of the white strip (Diagram 19). Press seams to one side and cut into 2 strips measuring 6.5” x 2.5”. These will be the top and bottom strips of the nine patch mini-block.

Diagram 19

For the centre strip cut:

From white fabric 2 x (2.5” x 2.5”)
From green fabric (this can be a different green fabric to the top and bottom strips) 2.5” x 2.5”

Sew the white pieces to each side of the green piece. Press seams in opposite direction to the top and bottom strips; strip should measure 6.5” x 2.5” (Diagram 20).

Diagram 20

To complete the nine patch, sew the top strip to the centre, and then to the bottom strip, making sure seams are aligned (Diagram 21).

Diagram 21

You should have a nine patch mini-block measuring 6.5” x 6.5”.

Put to one side.

b) Nine patch mini-block in D2

Repeat process as outlined for nine patch in D1 using different green fabrics to those in D1.

Put to one side.

c) Nine patch mini-block in D3

Repeat process as outlined for nine patch in D1, but cut the following:

From white fabric 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From green fabric (use different green fabrics to those in D1 and D2) 2.5” x 5”

These will be the top and bottom strips, and sew together as done previously.

For the centre strip cut:

From green fabric 2 x (2.5” x 2.5”)
From white fabric 2.5” x 2.5”

Piece centre strip, and complete mini-block as before.

d) Nine patch mini-block in D4

Repeat process as outlined for nine patch in D1, but cut the following:

From white fabric 2 x (2.5” x 5”)
From green fabric (use different green fabrics to those in D1-D3) 2.5” x 5”

These will be the top and bottom strips, and sew together as done previously.

For the centre strip cut:

From green fabric 2 x (2.5” x 2.5”)
From a different green fabric 2.5” x 2.5”

Piece centre strip as done previously, and complete mini-block as before.

All nine patch mini-blocks should measure 6.5” x 6.5”.

Press and put to one side.

Four-rectangles mini-blocks

Each block within Row D has 2 x four-rectangles mini-blocks, each featuring a different combination of fabrics.

For each mini-block cut the following pieces from different green fabrics:

3 x (4.5” x 2.5”)
1 x (2.5” x 6.5”)Sew the three smaller rectangles long sides together and press (Diagram 22).

Diagram 22

Next, sew the larger rectangle to complete the mini-block (Diagram 23).

Diagram 23

Repeat to make 7 more mini-blocks featuring a different combination of fabrics.

Mini-blocks should measure 6.5” x 6.5”.

Press and put to one side.

White square centre mini-blocks

Each block within Row D has one white square mini-block, each featuring a different green fabric.

For each mini-block cut the following:

From green fabric 2 x (6.5” x 2.5”) and 2 x (2.5” x 2.5”)From white fabric 2.5” x 2.5”

Sew the smaller green pieces to either side of the central white piece, and press; then sew the longer green pieces to the central pieces, as illustrated in Diagram 24.

Diagram 24

Repeat to make the other 3 mini-blocks.

Each mini-block should measure 6.5” x 6.5”.

Press and put to one side.

Assembling the blocks

Arrange the blocks as illustrated in Diagram 18. At this point, you may wish to play around with the placement of the mini-blocks within each block.

Once happy with the arrangement, sew the top two mini-blocks of each block together, then the bottom two. Press seams in alternate directions and then sew the top row to the bottom row (Diagram 25). Repeat for each block and press.

Diagram 25

Next sew the blocks together to complete the row, which should measure 48.5” x 12.5” (Diagram 26).

Diagram 26

I hope you enjoy making the fourth row of this quilt – if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to message me. Also, if you’re piecing along with me, it would be great to see photos of your progress!!

Till next time,

Mel x

See the other posts relating to my Quilt Along 2019: Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 1Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 2, Quilt Along 2019: Happiness Part 3, Sign up to free quilt along 2019, and Hello 2019 and hello quilt along.

If you enjoy spotting quilts in movies or on the telly, click here for my ‘quilt spots‘ and let me know if you spot any quilted creations! Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Quilt Spot March 2019

‘To the Bone’ was the movie I watched in March where I spotted a couple of patchwork creations. My eldest daughter had suggested watching it together for ages, but I kept putting it off, saying I wanted to be in the ‘right frame of mind’ to watch it.

You see, for those of you who don’t know, this movie is about a young woman’s struggle with anorexia and her journey to recovery. I knew it would be hard hitting and not ‘light entertainment’, so it was never going to be top of my list for Friday night viewing.

But I did want to see it, so in the end I agreed, and I’m pleased I did. The movie received mixed reviews from mental health organisations and the media (see for example reviews in the New Statesman and The Guardian) when it was first released on Netflix – some saying it glamorised the eating disorder, others saying it provided an accurate portrayal of the disease.

I can see both sides. The main character Ellen (played by Lily Collins) is an attractive girl, arty and edgy, and could be seen as an inspiration to some. But I also found the film incredibly moving and eye-opening; I felt I could see the world from Ellen’s point of view. And if this is the effect it has on others, it can only be a good thing as it helps us understand what people struggling with eating disorders can be going through.

But back to my ‘spots’. One was a patchwork cushion on one of the sofas in the living room of the home where Ellen is resident together with six other patients. The living room is where the residents come together at the end of the day to talk about their day and their struggles and achievements.

Quilt Spot ‘To the Bone’

The other is a patchwork quilt on the bed of one of the patients. It’s not clear if this quilt belongs to her, or if it was already there. But it made me think that if it had been hers, brought from home, she might gain some comfort from lying under it.

Quilt Spot in ‘To the Bone’ (Netflix)

I’m pleased I saw this movie, and would recommend it to others.

Have you spotted any quilts in movies or on the telly? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Till next time,

Mel x

In the UK, the following organisations can help with eating disorders and mental wellbeing:

BEAT
Young Minds
Mind
Rethink
Time to Change

Check out my previous quilt spots: January 2019, February 2019 and a review of my quilt spots in 2018. And click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.

Sew busy… but still squeezing in some sewing time

I’m not really sure what I’ve taken on recently. Looking back a few months ago, I think my life was pretty simple. I worked four days a week, and on Fridays, my non-working day, I would focus on my quilting projects. Simple. Oh, and one evening a week I would go to choir practice.

But in addition to this, in the last few months I’ve found myself adding more to my schedule. With the kids getting older, I’ve found that I have more time for me, time to do the things I enjoy and have always wanted to do. And it feels great.

So… I’ve recently joined a social netball league, playing with mums from school on a Sunday morning (whilst the rest of the family are still tucked up in bed!). And I’m also learning to play guitar and going to lessons once a week. At home, when I find myself with a few minutes to spare, I might either sneak off to the back garden and practise shooting, or grab my guitar and practise some chords. And with some of the mums from school, we’ve set up a sewing group, to meet once a week for a couple of hours.

I can see these sessions being great fun for catching up on hand-quilting (and gossip) – I have about five quilts hanging off the banister which are waiting patiently to be finished with my handiwork!

Quilts in progress

So my week looks pretty full of fun stuff. And of-course I’ve still got my Fridays for my sewing.

I’m working on two flowery quilts at the moment. It was supposed to be just one quilt, with all my chosen fabrics used for the patchwork top… but it didn’t quite work out that way. I basically had some dark fabrics and some lighter ones, and had thought they would work well together, but once I started piecing them, I changed my mind, and have decided to make two patchwork tops, one featuring the darker fabrics and the other the lighter ones.

Flowery quilt – lighter colours, by Melanie Vincent

Although on saying this, I’m still wondering if both tops can be used in one quilt… instead of making two separate quilts and using simple backing fabrics on each, I could combine the two and make a ‘reversible’ quilt and have patchwork ‘tops’ on both sides… What do you think?

Decisions, decisions. I’ll let you know how I get on in future blog posts. Have you made a reversible a quilt? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Till next time!

Mel x

Sign-up to my blog and take part in my free Quilt Along 2019 to make my ‘Happiness’ quilt – click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Click here for a review of my 2018 quilting adventures.