Thursday, 13 December 2012

Builders and Christmas 2012

Not a mix made in heaven, but the office is on the move at the moment to an adjacent area in the same building.  Unfortunately that area needs some 'alterations' before it is suitable for us.  Cue builders, RSJs, floor strippers, electricians etc etc. 

They tell me it will all come right in the end and I'm sure that's true - just seems like a long wait!!! Continuing to work through the noise is challenging, but we only have until tomorrow and then we're finished in the office until the 4th January - yipee!!! 

We will be sealing everything on Friday  for the sandblasters to come in Monday and Tuesday next week.  All computers, servers and printers have to be bagged and tarped over by tomorrow lunchtime.  Please do bear with us.  I promise that we will return all feedback to those who have sent work in to us prior to the 14th December, as promised.  We will be taking work home with us and will get feedback to you next week.

Meanwhile, I'd just like to wish you all a wonderful festive break and we very much look forward to another exciting and productive year in 2013.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Diversity is a Pleasure

I always think how lucky we are here at SST - we have students all over the world, all of whom have a slightly different 'take' on colour, design and texture.  That means that we get to view textiles from many different cultures and areas during the course of any one week and I am always amazed by how colour choice and designs differ depending on culture, tradition, climate etc. 

A really good example is the work of Brenda Gael Smith - you can view her gallery at .  She hails from NSW, Australia and her use of colour and design really reflects the wonderful landscape and colour of Australia. 

Do you think that your surroundings, beliefs etc are reflected in your work?  I have been looking more closely at my own recently and have started to worry about what they may say about me!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Bags, Beads and Brooches

As a City & Guilds tutor I'm often called upon to help students sort out the construction of bags - from evening to tote, I've pretty much seem 'em all!
There's a great little bookazine available now from Traplet called Bags, Beads and Brooches which will certainly help where you're thinking evening or beach bags. Projects include pretty tote bags, a sophisticated evening bag, super flower print satchels, a laptop pouch, a felted clutch, copper and button jewellery, fabric covered beads, beautiful flower embroidered corsages and quirky embellished bird brooches.
This design lead publication is fresh and modern with a homespun, ‘modern vintage’ look as is currently very popular in crafting. It combines projects from three extremely hot crafting trends: sewing, patchwork and quilting and jewellery making with the huge high street trend for the ‘homemade’ look.
New beautiful fabrics are used throughout including on trend designs by Amy Butler, Clark and Clark, Kokka, Anna Marie Horner and Moda and many more. The talented contributors share their wealth of experience in bag making and jewellery design, through simple to follow steps and plenty of extra designer tips and know how.It's available online from

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Spotted Cushions from Oakshott

Just 'spotted' this modern cushion pattern from Oakshott fabrics.  As someone presently in the market for new interior furnishing, but who doesn't like the 'floral fancy' type of cushion, this would be ideal for me, so I thought I'd share it with you too.

'SPOT ON' Appliqué Scatter Cushions are designed by Lesley Brankin and the pattern and instructions can be accessed free from Oakshott's projects page at
These fun 'mix and match' cushions are both quick to make and a great way to showcase a collection of fabrics such as those in the delectable Oakshott Seasons range. Suitable for bonded or turned applique techniques combined with simple piecing

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Whaleys Fabrics

When I was at univeristy studying textile design, we always knew where to go for the unusual or specialist fabrics - Whaleys in Bradford.  They are an old, traditional firm who supply all sorts of different fabrics to stage, trade, student and general public.  The difference in price per meter is reflected in the amount you buy. You can also save postage if you're prepared to pick up instead of have it posted to you. It's great if you're in a group or can merge orders with someone to get costs down.  I remember one poor husband of a classmate spent lots of time on the road with his job and we took advantage a little - we always assumed he would be 'just passing' so we wouldn't have to pay for shipping.  I'll say it now - Sorry Bill!!!
Their fabrics are sold in their natural state (base cloth), and they are sold with the intentions of customers dyeing / printing themselves so therefore the majority of fabrics are white/cream in appearance.
Now some people would find this a boring site - just white and (a few) black fabrics.  However I love it for what it represents - POSSIBILITIES!!
Put it together with another firm, not too far away, and you have a perfect combination.  Kemtex have supplied dyes and colouring for fabrics for as long as I can remember.  Based just down the road to SST, at Euxton (pronounced xton) they sell their own make of cold, acid and transfer dyes and also sell beginners kits if you're uncertain about what to purchase. 
Now neither of these sites are fancy to look at (sorry Whaleys and Kemtex, if you're listening!) and a few sample photos of completed work would definitely help out. In fact, as I make it a rule to always post with a photo, I've been forced to gratuitously use a photo of some of my own design work to fill in for them (I was using some kemtex dye on it though)!!  However, this is the basic stuff, at reasonable prices and is overflowing with potential.  It's just missing a creative type who enjoys putting the two sets of offering together.......

Friday, 12 October 2012

Bunyip Buttons

Did you know that a bunyip is a large mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes?
Not quite sure why this button and bead shop is named after one, but if you're in the Exeter area then why not call in?  I love their handmade ceramic button selections.
Ceramic Buttons

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Ten Plus Textiles @ Garry Olson

It's great to be able to feature artists who are local to us - Based in the North West, Ten Plus Textiles is a group of 16 textile artists who have recently celebrated 20 years of working with fibres and fabric to create contemporary textile art from a wide range of techniques. Using fine hand and machine embroidery, patchwork, quilting and beadwork, weaving, collage and mixed media, their work includes framed pieces and hangings, 3-D items, fashion accessories and jewelry, all of which will be featured at the Garry Olson gallery in an exhibition of new work.

Garry is located at 27, Stoney Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire and the exhibition is on from the 13th to the 20th October 2012 from Monday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 11-5. You can meet the artists on the 13th October between 2 and 4pm if you wish to know more about how their pieces were created.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Batiks n Beads

Isn't it wonderful to sew with gorgeous fabrics and notions?  I was at a Ricky Timm's seminar at the beginning of the year in Oldham and watched all his amazing hand-dyed fabrics being snapped up almost immediately.  By the time he got to mentioning them in his talk they had all gone!
Looking at Ricky's work its easy to see the difference those fabrics make - from something which would be special anyhow to a really amazing piece.
If you're looking for something different to sew with (and can't get to the US for some of Ricky's!) why not try out Maryke's Bali Batiks and Japanese beads?  She also has a wonderful gallery area on her site to give you inspiration on how to use them.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pauline Burbidge's Retro Exhibition

Loved the article on Pauline's work in the Quilter magazine this month. 

PB Retro will showcase a wide range of work following the evolution of Pauline’s style from early geometric piecing to the free form, expressive use of collage and stitch, that has become her signature. Quilts will be loaned from Museums in the UK and the USA and Pauline will also be presenting a new body of work inspired by her love of nature and the rural landscape.
“Many influences have come and gone, however, thirty six years on, quiltmaking still moves me”, says Pauline.
The exhibition will feature design work and making processes will also be shown, including video footage. A substantial, beautifully illustrated catalogue will be available for purchase.
Further details from

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Working on New Taster Course

A busy couple of days working on a new taster course for SST's website.  I'd forgotten that I'd actually taken over 70 photos when making up the prototype, so guess who's spent the last few hours having to re-size, crop and adjust them! Note to self: be more judicious with the camera next time........

It's a bit more involved than usual, so it just depends how quickly I get it done, but it should be on the site mid October or even before if all goes well. There's a slight delay whilst I take some time off next week and return back to Krakow for a few days R&R with David, so do bear with me!

Here's a little photo to show you what it will look like.  Hope you like the selective use of some gold coloured plastic matting?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Exhibition in Aid of Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

One of our students, Plum Cox, has asked us to let you know about an exhibition which is coming up in aid of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity - unfortunately it was a little late for it to be included in the newsletter, but hopefully some of you will catch it here as it's being held in support of such a worthy cause.

Below you can see one of Plum's quilts which will be hanging at the exhibition. Sonata is an interwoven log cabin pattern, started during a workshop with Jan Hassard in November 2011. Plum has a blog at

Quilts – an exhibition by the Richmond and Kew Quilters.  Friday 5th to Sunday 7th October 2012.Landmark Arts Centre, Ferry Road, Teddington,TW119NN
Admission £3, children free.  All profits to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
At least 100 quilts on display, traders, raffles, café. Further details about the group can be found at

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Tyne and Wear Exhibition

I've just today discovered how to personalize the news on Google + - impressive or wot!?
Anyhow one of the first things to drop into my personalized space was an article on a new textile collection.
Collected Threads: Textiles from the Shipley Craft Collection

"This exhibition brings together a range of exquisite textiles from the Shipley’s craft collection. The pieces on show will give visitors the chance to find out about the diversity of textile practice in the UK from 1977 to present day, from embroidery and quilting to knitting and weaving. The exhibition includes textiles by Amy Emms, Kaffe Fassett, West Dean Tapestry Studio and Michael Brennand-Wood."

If you're in the area anything that brings together so many famous names in one place has to be worth a look, surely.
Its on from 15th to 22nd of this month at  Prince Consort Road, Gateshead. NE8 4JB
Website address for further info is HERE 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Textile Arts Website

I wonder how many of your know of Textile Arts Website?  It really is an amazing resource for tutors, traditional and modern techniques, whats on and what's coming up in the world of textiles. There's even a week by week diary of a City & Guilds student!!

Fiona Dix, who is a creative artist in her own right, is the webmaster for the site and is forever updating and adding resources.  Why not take a look?   Just up today is an article I wrote for them on Developing Confidence in Stitch and Design - you can read it in full HERE

The search box is also very useful if you're looking for something specific such as a supplier or artist.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

University of Cumbria

Thought I would use my blog today to showcase the work of one of the graduates of the MA course in Contemporary Applied Arts from the University of Cumbria.
This morning I've been talking to the course leader there, Angie Wyman, about showcasing some of their student's work at the northern Inspire event next year, which would be a real pleasure.
Karen Griffiths is an applied artist who works with a range of materials including recycled fibres and uses a selection of traditional and not-so traditional techniques to create contemporary artworks.
Karen has some great video galleries on her site at 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Inspire Summer Event now Live

Goodness, it's been a long time coming, but the summer event has now joined the spring one and gone live.  I think if Janet and I had both known just how involved it would all be, we may have thought twice about undertaking something so big.  However most of the work is now done (at least in getting up the events - there is still plenty of other work to do!) and its great to see it up there in all its multi-coloured glory.

The Autumn event, which is the final one for 2013, will join it in around 10 days, we hope.  At the moment we're just awaiting photos and descriptions from one of the tutors and then we're good to go.

It does make it all worthwhile when we hear all the positive comments (Janet was bowled over by how enthusiastic everyone at FOQ was about it) that have come our way.  Thank you all so much for being so kind and generous in your praise.  Of course, its even better when the booking start to flow and its been wonderful to see that happening too over the last couple of weeks. 

There is one issue - I really like some of the courses and I can't go!! I'll be there of course, but working, not attending the sessions ............always knew there had to be a catch!! I love the sound of Sue Rangeley's bags - pics below.

You can check out the Summer Inspire Event HERE

Monday, 13 August 2012

Anja Townrow at Spring Inspire Event

Oooh - so many wonderful tutors at the Spring Inspire Event at Yew Lodge in the Midlands next spring.

Anja Townrow is one of the tutors who will be joining us. She was born in 1953 in The Hague, Holland and grew up in a village in the Dutch polderland.  After studying English Language and Literature at the University of Leiden, she moved to England in 1974. Inspired by a picture of a patchwork cushion in a magazine, she started making bedspreads from scraps of old clothes in 1977.

Since the late Eighties she has developed her skills by trying out the different techniques in the by then more widely available American books and magazines. During the early 90’s, she made many bed quilts to commission, which enabled her to learn her craft through practice and experience. In 1993, Anja set up ‘Dutch Quilts’ when she started to sell her first patchwork kits at Craft Fairs, and her range of patterns remains available under the ‘Dutch Quilts’ label. After teaching a weekly class for six years, Anja now travels extensively to give lectures and workshops throughout the UK and Europe.

Take a look around her SITE to view her many prize-winning quilts. Under publications, you will find details of her designs that can be found in various patchwork publication. Bold Curves, sharp Points, and bright colours give Anja's quilts their distinctive look. She uses Foundation Piecing combined with curved piecing to achieve accurate results. The method is fully explained in her book: `Dutch Flower Pots' (AQS, Spring 2001), Her recent exploration of Machine Appliqué methods can be seen in some of here latest patterns.
You can find details of all Anja's workshops with Inspire HERE

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fibrestitch - Textile Art - Sandra Reynolds

It was lovely to hear from one of my graduate students this week - she kindly kept me up to date with her new area on Facebook.  Sandra Reynolds undertook both her Level 3 and Diploma in Embroidery with me at School of Stitched Textiles and she is clearly moving from strength to strength with her textile work. 

Please do go on and check her Facebook site - I'm sure she'd be delighted to hear from you all and get a Like from you too!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Letterpress Courses

When I was at the local printers a couple of weeks back, he happened to mention that he was going to be doing some Letterpress courses, which is basically learning to typeset in both wood and metal type.

Being an avid fan of all writing and lettering (I love graphics of all types) I would love to attend one of his courses and thought you may be interested too.  His place of work is Cedar Farm Gallery - Rufford Printing Company on 01704 821285 or for further details.

For those of you who are further away there is a great British Letterpress site at where you can find details of someone closer to home that also takes Letterpress courses, or even a do-it-yourself set of guides for the beginner.  Happy typesetting!