Wednesday, 7 May 2014


So as I mentioned, we had a little trip over to the Far East over Easter which was very lovely indeed (and very hot!)  We had a much-needed relaxing few weeks but I was, as you may imagine, ever so glad to be back in my beloved Den!

Of course, there was no way I was going to be able to go without my crafty fix for fifteen days.  You may, or may not, remember that I have an English Paper Piecing project on the go which I started a "few" years ago now and which I always take on holiday with me.   I just about managed to summon up the energy!

I wasn't very productive this year but I did have a little pile of blocks to show for my efforts upon my return.  I think I now have thirty or so blocks so another few years and errm, I may be getting there.

I had reason to keep going with the EPP when I got back home and that was because I was due to teach a workshop in the very same subject three days later.  I had in my file of stashed away projects, a pin cushion pattern which used some paper pieced hexys on the top so I thought I would give that a go, show my students you don't just have to make quilts.  

However, it turned out to be incredibly large, that would certainly have been one whopping great pin cushion, and I actually loved it as it was, nor did I need another pin cushion, so I binned the idea (for now) and have kept my first hexy rosette as it is.  I now want to make a whole quilt.  Hmm, I need another hand piecing project like a hole in the head!

Late the night before the workshop, I had been inspired by a project on Katy's blog I'm a Ginger Monkey which used a pretty piece of EPP hexys on the lid of a Kilner jar (Mason jar for my American friends).  So I sat until very late and pieced together pretty vintage scraps to make a similar jar.

Next morning, I was up bright and breezy, it was a lovely sunny day in London and as the boys headed off for a jolly on the steam railway, I set off for the other side of London.  I took with me some English Paper Pieced goodies so I could set up a (hopefully) inspiring display for the workshop attendees.  The fabulous Tikki Patchwork shop in Kew was my destination, owned by the lovely and accomplished Tiina.  It's set in a decidedly pretty part of West London and I stopped to admire the florist shop on the corner and well, I couldn't resist a snap of my chair!

If you thought that looked ok, just wait until you see how fabulous it is inside the shop!

This is but one wall. 

Tiina is a lady after my own heart, super organised and her shop testifies to that.  She is also a fan of the very lovely reproduction fabrics I too adore (as well as a healthy dose of modern blenders) so I was pretty much spoiled for the day.

I set up a little display down in the teaching room.  I cannot take credit for the large honeycomb quilt which was already handily hanging on the wall.

It was a lovely day, so nice to sit and sew and watch new people find a love for patchwork.  I got home to a nice quiet, empty house so rewarded my efforts with a sit down with the new magazines which had arrived in the post and a spot of refreshment.

Oh and before I forget, the Kilner jar project you can see (just about) in the corner of this pic, here.  I bought my jar from John Lewis, they had several sizes but all had the same lid dimension which was really too small to do justice to the patchwork.  I ended up having to cut off just about all the outer ring I'd so lovingly sewn on.  Hmmm.  I will keep my beady eye out for better jars as it's a cute idea and one which would be great for gifts I think, as you could personalise the contents inside the jar.

Other things that have been keeping me busy this week or so, is bag making.  Tiina has asked me before to run a workshop to make my patchwork bags.  You know the ones.

I thought I should therefore reacquaint myself with making them and write out a proper pattern and materials list and so on.  Out came the rotary cutter and the 1930's style fabrics.

Jenny Janome and I were happy to be getting to know one another once more.

A day or so later, I had prototype number one in my chosen shades of red and aqua.

Although I love the leatherette handles on my own first two bags, they are really quite pricey to buy (the flowery Clover ones are about £16, the tan ones were much cheaper from the Festival of Quilts but still about £10).  This adds so much on to the cost of producing things, something which I have to be very aware of when making things to sell, (the other materials for this bag add up to about £20) and they are also quite time consuming and fiddly to sew on.  Tiina had some good quality thick cotton webbing in stock so I played around with machine stitching some handles of my own.  I think they've turned out really well.

It was soon joined by a pink and blue friend.  Can't choose which I like most to be honest.

However, on my way out to teach patchwork and quilting last night, I did think that the red and aqua one would go nicely with my outfit.  Tempting!

I'm keeping hold of them for the time being as samples for my bag workshop.  I haven't yet any dates (in case you're interested in joining us) but do keep an eye out here or on Tikki's website as we'd love to see you there.  (I will be selling some bags like these through my shop in the near future, just in case you were wondering!)

For now, the collection continues to grow.  

I'm thinking maybe a Liberty Tana Lawn version next...


  1. You've been busy. The bags are great. I love the paper pieced patchwork too
    Julie xxxxxxxxxx

  2. A feast for the eyes, Hen! A delightful post full of vintage loveliness ... Glad you had a lovely holiday xxx

  3. I love the bags. Such pretty fabric and just the right size for shopping! xx

  4. oh they are soooo pretty. I am so tempted to make one for my self ,as I love that my bags stand out in a crowd. Nothing more boring than same bag as everyone has .
    Wish I lived closer would love to go to your workshop. xxxx

  5. Love your bags, practical and pretty.
    Carol xx

  6. Your bags are so pretty. I agree, ready-made handles are expensive. I've been looking at some wooden ones for a project and I'm waiting for a good sale!

  7. Your blogs pure therapy for me, thank you Hen. Popped over to etsy to see if the patchwork bags were for sale, sadly no but bought another instead, can't wait to get it. It's great you're doing workshops, wished I lived closer!

  8. You've spoilt us - two blog posts in a week, how wonderful ! I really do love these 'tardis' patchwork bags....I know from meeting one 'in the flesh' just how much yummy fabric they hold :) I confess I squealed when I read the bit about possibly making some to sell - can I be first in the order queue ? A lovely blog post, as ever. love Pat X

  9. You've spoilt us - two blog posts in a week, how wonderful ! I really do love these 'tardis' patchwork bags....I know from meeting one 'in the flesh' just how much yummy fabric they hold :) I confess I squealed when I read the bit about possibly making some to sell - can I be first in the order queue ? A lovely blog post, as ever. love Pat X

  10. Such gorgeous photographs, I really do love your blog!

  11. I'm a bag-aholic and covet one of those! I haven't seen you visit my blog lately.. tsk tsk.. :-) I just did a post on a trip we took up to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.. I invite you to pop over and see.. well, it's the post before last. Glad to see you posting on your blog more!
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  12. I love everything I see on your blog! Thanks for posting so many pics, very inspiring!

  13. You're a very talented lady x

  14. Perhaps you should go on another holiday to work on your project? I'm sure that's entirely justifiable! Lovely to have another post from you so soon, love The Blue Lady xx

  15. Lovely to see you making the most of your talents and teaching others. The bags are lovely!
    M x

  16. That was really inspiring - as usual. Thanks.

  17. I'm so pleased that you are back, but very glad that you had a lovely holiday. The bags are gorgeous and I wish I could come along to your class. Mmmm a hexie one would be fab too! I know what you mean about the expensive handles. The price of them is far too high for use on bags to sell. Worth it for a special project to keep though. I know! A new hobby- leather craft. Have a super weekend. xxxxx

  18. Ah yes, those little projects that somehow become whole quilt projects before your very eyes....great bags!x

  19. Hen you're like buses, nothing for ages then two at once, but worth waiting for. I love the brown bag on the far right, will that be going in the shop? xxx

  20. I like the cotton webbing handles. I've been making bags as well but I don't like having to buy those leatherette handles, although they look so nice, because, as you say, it adds so much onto the cost of the bag to customers. I've been making handles from strips of bag fabric with stabiliser in them to makes them nice and sturdy. My sister used some sort of plastic tubing to insert into handles to give them a bit more to hold onto.

    Loving the patchwork as well. Just wished I lived nearer so I could come to your workshops. Ever fancy a nice working holiday in sunny Kent?

  21. Love your bags. If you are thinking of using Liberty Tana Lawn ...have you seen the print called Isle of Wight ? Its one of the new patterns for this Summer. I have bought some to make a top for my hols.

  22. That red and aqua bag is gorgeous! It's one of my favourite colour combos at the moment. And there was even a whole feature on it in an edition of Ideal Home last year. Yum.

  23. Your bags are darling, pincushion jar too! I especially like the quote on the cottage plaque. I copied it down for my journal


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