CQ Journal Quilts 2017

Working on a theme of ‘text’, I am going to use a different base technique for each quarter. I decided to stick to white fabric and dark blue media, with white or blue stitching. The size requirement this year is 11″ x 11″.

First quarter is print.  


Using water soluble printing ink and a wood block alphabet from Colouricious, what I like about this is how the white thread in the tight meander picks up some of the ink.


‘Scuse the stray thread invading the photograph! Monoprint – inked plate, fabric on top, drawn into with an empty ballpoint pen, then a pull from the same plate. I played deliberately with the knowledge that monoprinting can be a mirror image.


My current favourite – I call it ‘instant breakdown’. Lettering drawn onto a silk screen using graphite, breaks down over several pulls. 

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Coptic Binding

On Tuesday, at the March meeting of Marches Book Arts Group member Mike Clements showed us how to do Coptic binding using two needles. As a stitcher, I was enthusiastic but there is some glue involved so my first attempt has the usual tell-tale gummy fingermarks. Mike is a great teacher though: patient, genial and, of course, hugely knowledgeable.

I have had a collection of my grandson’s first two years of painting gathered for a while, kept with the intention of making them into a book. I had them folded and arranged as three sheet signatures, but I wasn’t sure which binding method to use and how to build the covers. This method was what I have been waiting to discover!

The papers  making the pages are a little too thin, but I could have strengthened the spines by adding fabric or stronger paper, if I was not too brimming with enthusiasm and keen to create a finish. With this method, the covers can enclose a strengthening medium, so I was able to place some medium density card between the cartridge paper layers. I relished the chance to use some delicious stranded silks for the stitching – I am allowing myself ‘beginner’ status and whilst my knots do not lie perfectly evenly, I am still thrilled with the result.   I am going to return the book to my grandson and hope that he uses it to draw into. Laura Kemshall uses painted, printed and sketched papers to create sketchbooks that can be further embellished, and that gave me the germ of this idea.

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In Print

I have just received a complimentary copy of the March edition of Pretty Patches magazine which contains an, (also complimentary) interview about me! Sadly it came to late to share in any useful way as, after not receiving a copy, I tried to buy one and the edition had sold out, (not claiming any credit!). 

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I love water soluble printing ink. It is fragile, yes, but you can do a lot with that fragility, working in to areas to change the textures, and to move the colour around to lighten and darken.

I like to transfer a lot of the work I do on paper into work on fabric. Anything done with a water soluble medium will, of course, be useless for an applied art piece like a bed quilt, but can work interestingly in art for art’s sake.  

My CQ journal quilt theme for 2017 is ‘Text’ and I am going to look at different ways of getting text on to fabric – changing the approach quarterly. The method for January, February and March is print and the medium is water soluble ink – totally in the spirit of experiment.  For January, I used a set of wooden blocks from Colouricious, (the blocks I used are not in the shop at the moment).  This (reversed) image shows a Gelli print, which gives lovely texture because of the water based medium, and shows how you can, on paper, go back in and push the ink around.

As well as a brush, I used a baby wipe to remove colour and gained a great by-product.

I printed directly onto fabric, trepidacious of making a mess that would be impossible to clean. It didn’t go too badly, for me. I am like the Schultz character Pigpen normally, with my own Sod’s law – whether it’s mascara, dye, paint, or even food: if it can go everywhere, it will go everywhere! This time I got away with it!

What I got was that lovely texture with a ‘distressed’ feel. What I hoped for, and got, was migration from the fabric to the thread. I used MadeiraViscose in White, and got my own spontaneous variegation. 

I also got variegated fingers which, miraculously, did not transfer my prints, as if in a Miss Marple story, all over the house!

Will post the continuing process soon.

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Another small book of spring

Today I have hung washing from the line for the first time in weeks, and emerged from a week of flu into brilliant sunshine. Yesterday, I was alone and had to poke my nose outside for the sake of the dog, who, as I fought with the weather-tossed door of the polytunnel, abandoned me anyway, to wait by the door of the warm house, as if to say “What are you thinking, woman-mine???”

What I was, and am, thinking is…..I need sun. If I cannot find it in the sky, I will find it in scraps of fabric and my bead box.

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a tiny tutorial 

I am in this month’s Pretty Patches magazine – an interview by the lovely Janet Ravenscroft.  At one point it was thought that a ‘How To’ might be included, but that didn’t happen so as it was prepped, I thought it might as well appear on this neglected blog!

A Little Textile Book

Begin by looking through your scraps collection for a piece large enough to fold into several ‘pages’- A4 or larger. It is fun to choose fabric you don’t like or if you have been dyeing, something you think is a ‘fail’. It will transform under your hands!  The piece I chose is about 32 x 36cms.

Alter the fabric in any way you please – print, stamp, stencil and collage it, but don’t build thick layers. This is the perfect opportunity to use up tiny scraps of fabric and the last fragments of foil.  I had spring in mind, thinking of new growth, of daffodil and crocus, so chose accordingly. It is helpful to have a theme, or a limited palette to help govern your choices. I enjoy the freedom, texture and serendipity of frayed edges and hanging threads, tearing rather than cutting, and using up scraps of heat activated adhesive such as Bondaweb, to hold fabric in place, or stitching rather casually!

After completing the initial surface design, the pages can be formed by making simple cuts and folds. For your first try, fold into quarters, (if you enjoy the technique, try out different combinations of folds on paper before you cut into your fabric). Measure and mark the appropriate fold lines onto the back of the fabric. A Frixion pen is great for this as the marks iron away. You will then make cuts along some of the lines as shown in the diagram.fold-and-cutPractice on paper, to make sure that it all folds as you desire. When I am trialling different cuts and folds, I mark one side of the paper on every page to make sure that I can always fold wrong sides together. You can make charming paper books by this method too. I chose to cut across the width, giving the pages portrait orientation. If I had wanted landscape pages, I could have made cuts lengthwise. Begin folding from one corner and accordion across and up to the next ‘line’ wrong sides together each time. You will end up with a neat(ish) stack of ‘pages’.

Press the stack well and then enjoy the best bit! At this stage you can look at each ‘page’ and decide whether to embellish each one further. I love beads and feel that they add to the tactile nature of a fabric book, which is a small, precious delight. Gather things that might work around you to pick from in a relaxed way.img_1093

Once all the pages are finished use heat activated glue to bond pairs of pages together, aligning the book neatly, as you go.  To make a book cover, measure the closed size of your book, not forgetting to including the depth of the spine, and add a scant one cm to the dimensions. Cut a stiff base for the cover from pelmet vileness, or the perfect medium Fast2Fuse, which is heat-adhesive. Cut a decorative piece of fabric, (or joined pieces) 2.5 cms larger than your stiffening medium, place the two together with even margins all the way around, and bond using heat activated adhesive. Mitring the corners is easiest done by doing your best with the heat bonding, then finishing with tiny mattress stitches.

Apply heat activated adhesive to the top and bottom of your page stack and then iron your pages into their cover. Decorate the cover as desired! I simply added a title with Sharpie Marker and added a few more beads and stitches.

The variations are endless – try landscape and portrait orientation, add embroidery to the cover, a button and cord closure, or elasticated band.

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Merry Christmas

What with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc, not to mention real life, this poor old blog has been very neglected in what has been a busy and bloggable year. Must try harder in 2017. 

Nonetheless I wish you all a very merry Christmas and the best beginnings to the New Year. I leave you with a seasonal sketch – a reindeer drawn in ink and painted with Brusho.

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