Creative Diversification

May 2nd 2014


I have been quite busy with the applique of my red version of Floral impressions.   I’m on the borders now.   I have interspersed it with my new knitting craze, especially now that we are in the throws of the Stanley Cup Play-Offs (hockey, for those of you in the UK, ICE hockey and very important hockey what is more!).  Lots of TV so lots of knitting time too.

I am loving my applique but I am hankering to go back to my papiermache days again after a lull of many years.  It’s funny how Amsterdam has always had this effect on me.  I was there in March and after wandering around the city for three days longed to make something three dimensional.  I want to make a massive, crazily over-sized bowl, out of the thinnest most transparent tissue paper, gold leafed on the inside to sit on the floor with a light behind it.  I don’t know how long I can wait.  Until you have finished the Floral impressions quilt I tell myself.  

Here are some examples of my papier mache which sold in art galleries and design shops in London in the 90s.ImageImage



 Paper roses too – my own adaption of flower making which resulted in gorgeous, hand coloured, crinkly papered and surprisingly tough paper roses.  Indeed, many of these pictured are more than 20 years old.  It seems unbelievable that they have lasted so well.  Visual overabundance turns my head – so I love to see one of my urns overstuffed and weighty with paper roses too.  They are nothing like fragile silk flowers but are crinkly, textured and very tactile.   You can really scrunch them and they’ll bounce back.  Most of the paint colours I used were ochres, umbers and madder red for a scrumptious palette of antique colours.  I would tint the wallpaper paste with these acrylics and use that to stick three layers of crepe paper together and dry it in the hot Cypriot sun to make the crinkly, stiff paper with which the roses are made.  I used to sell them too and the shops went on to sell them for about $10 a piece, even then, so I think only I, the maker, or a millionaire, could afford to fill an urn with them.  These urns, bowls and flowers have festooned our houses for nearly twenty years now and also those of my close friends and family.   I think I’m going to have to get back to paper and glue again.  


You have to admit, there is a bit of a running theme to my work.  Maybe next week I’ll show you my ceramics!




Spring Flowers


April 7th 2014

In the absence of the true arrival of spring in Montreal, and on the day of the Quebec Provincial elections, some Spring flowers to cheer us all up.  These images are all taken from my Spring Revival Quilt which is made of 100% silk with hand applique, embroidery and quilting.  The pale pink and white blossoms in particular took hours and hours to applique with all their wavy edges, probably the most intricate flower I have ever sewn.  Not only were the petals tricky but at the end of each stamen is a tiny gold seed bead sewn by hand.   I was thrilled with the daffodils and narcissi, my first attempt to sew them both and I love the subtle variations in colour made possible by the huge variety of shades I found in just one metre of plaid multicoloured Indian silk.  I hope you can also recognise the Magnolias (both Stellata and Grandiflora), the white and purple lilacs, cherry blossom and dogwood blossom, trilliums and tulips.   I love this quilt, it remains one of my favourites and I’m considering framing it to protect the delicate silks from insect damage and general wear and tear.  If you would like to see the quilt in its entirety and some close ups go to








Back in Snowy Montreal

March 25th 2014

We got back from our March break a couple of weeks ago and in spite of my great intentions to get back to my blog immediately, obstacles have prevented me from posting.  

We had the most wonderful trip to Europe and reconnected with important friends and family after far too long.   Wonderful times staying friends and family, in their freezing houses.  I fear I have become something of a wimp and spoiled by our lives in Canada.  I shivered for days and days in cold kitchens, icy bedrooms and even colder bathrooms.  For, ’tis true, British heating is stretched to the limit in cold stone houses with inefficient heating and huge bills.  After a while we gave up and went to Marks and Spencers where we bought thermal underwear and long johns which improved things hugely and by the end of our visit we had developed a new thicker skin and it didn’t seem so bad after all.   We went for lots of long walks – often to find that it was warmer outside than in.  Go figure.   But for me unfortunately getting cold means I get a cold and I returned with the most dreadful bug, colds (plural) and cough which have laid me low for a while.  So we returned a bit under par healthwise and then Milo, the dog had his op, rather unsuccessful as no amount of searching his insides produced the missing testicle we had been looking for.  Poor dog, he’s still a bit sore.

But I have managed a bit of quilting.  I have resolved to finish the hand quilting on my purple quilt before working on any other projects which doesn’t make for a great Blog post as it’s all a bit of a slow process.  


I made a new slip cover for an ancient sofa over the weekend with a bargain find of a whole 12 metre bolt of plaid flannel for $50.  Not bad for a first effort….



and I have done lots of knitting in gorgeous malabrigo yarns for my “presents stash”.  Also not shown, and of which I am most proud are two lovely pairs of men’s socks that I gave away on our trip and several other scarves, handwarmers and stoles.  I can’t seem to stop knitting.



Stop press for local readers.  Le Coin Artisinale is now stocking my favourite Roxanne Needles including my Number 9 Between that I rave about.  

Hoping that where you are you have Spring.  Here we are longing for it and still awaiting temperatures above zero.  Back to quilting now….


Olympic Quilting

February 21st 2014

I am rather shocked to see that I haven’t written my blog for over two weeks.   I knew it had been a while but I hadn’t realised quite how much the Winter Olympics had got the better of me.  And I’m only writing this now, rather than later today so I pay full attention to the Hockey semi-final between Canada and US at noon.  My husband and I already have our celebratory lunch prepared.  “Celebratory” not to jinx the Canadian team but more to celebrate the impromptu holiday we have decided to take off work today.   It turns out that we had some foie gras in the back of the fridge (I had no idea how this got there – must have been husband’s purchase long before Christmas) so we plan to have it with brioche (home made, presently rising), fig and walnut conserve from Chile along with a half bottle of Sauternes for lunch.  I can hardly wait – and of course we’ll have it all in front of the hockey, cheering for Canada as loud as we can (sorry US readers).

The main reason for not writing was that I have been very busy preparing the Chilli Pepper pattern and the preparation required for the two workshops which I held here on Sunday and Monday.  Both workshops were such fun – lots of applique, good food and good conversation.  Perfect way to spend the day.  During the workshops I started yet another rendition of the Chilli Pepper Wreath for a demonstration model.  I decided to restrict myself to the new Oakshott shot cottons that Michael had sent me for my “library” last month.  I used the new blackest black for the background and worked with greens and reds.  I love the result.  Here it is just completed yesterday.  The acid green “rosemary” uses the lovely Sulky 4017 that is used in the BOM that some of you are doing.  What a perfect colour.



I would like to say a massive thank you to you all for supporting me in this venture.  Thanks to all of you we raised $2195 for the Foundation Melio.  I am thrilled because I exceeded the target I had set myself of $2000.  Thank you everyone!  


I have also just completed a “Palliative Care Quilt” for the local hospice.  I have not been a patchwork girl for simply years but knowing that an applique quilt would be unsuitable for the industrial style washing machines I would have to take the bull by the horns and make a patchwork quilt.  It has been beautifully machine quilted by my friend and long arm quilter extraordinaire Colleen Paul.  I love the colours and hope it cheers up a hospice room.



I am off to Europe in a week’s time for March break so there might be a bit of a lull before I get to the blog again so I wish you all happy quilting and GO TEAM CANADA!


How One Thing Led To Another

February 2nd 2014

Two week’s ago when I decided to use the Chilli Pepper Wreath to raise some funds I hadn’t intended to take a break from my other projects to make two more cushions.  This house has so many applique cushions in it, it’s hard to find a place to put two more.  Talk about coals to Newscastle.


Wanting to show how the applique could be completed half way I made a version using six of the 12 colours of the Italy Oakshott collection that I showed you last week.  I was so pleased with this rendition but felt that perhaps those who went on to buy a Fat Eighth of Italy to make the cushion might feel a bit cheated to have only used half of the fabrics.  So this week I decided to use the other six.  Of course these were my second choices from the pack so nothing could have prepared me for how lovely the second cushion looks too.  And together it’s a slam dunk.  I am thrilled to pieces and never realised they would look so lovely together.  They are very sophisticated I feel and I have left them uncluttered by both tendrils and quilting.  When I showed them to my husband I expected a brief “Well done, nice….” but he looked at them for a while and said, “The colours remind me of the Art Deco houses along Miami beach in the evening, just beautiful” so I got more than I bargained for and also he’s absolutely right, the colours are just like the art deco houses along Miami beach!  Italy Collection.  Just lovely.




Creative Buzz

January 22nd 2014

It’s always gratifying to see one’s own design ideas carried into new designs.  In my dreams I always hope that something I have made might trigger a new idea in someone else and that they will somehow take my original design forward.  I love the buzz I get from creating something that I perceive as beautiful and would love to think that someone else gets inspired from seeing something I have made so that they get that buzz of enjoyment too.    About 6 years ago I appliqued a quilt that was a whole new idea for me and when the last bit of binding was sewn down I put it on the floor and stood on a stool to look at it.  The first, rather mad thought that came into my head was that I felt the world was better to have this quilt in it.  That sounds so pompous and big headed and I don’t mean it in that way at all – it wasn’t even that great a piece – but all the same it’s lovely to fill the world with home made things that take time and love and give pleasure both in the making and subsequent enjoyment of them. 


I have spoken before of my connection I feel I have with Anna Maria Garthwaite (1688 – 1763)

and how her silk designs of the 1800s transpose themselves into my quilts.  At first, when I wasn’t so confident in my own designs I copied some of her ideas to a degree that, for example, had she walked past my Trellis of Red Flowers Quilt she would have stopped and certainly recognised the connection between her little sketch and my quilt.   But now just looking at her designs get me inspired with my own ideas and into the mood to design something new.  (Type Anna Maria Garthwaite in your search bar and press Images – you’re in for a treat).   I had a long conversation about design and musical influences last week with my son Max, a guitarist and musician.   We debated copyright and the rights to your own creative ideas, whether it is right that one can ‘own’ an idea or not, especially given that one’s own ideas are usually inspired or influenced by others, what constitutes a breach of copyright in terms of a “riff” in his case or a design in mine.  We decided how one never really owns the right to a design in the larger scheme of things, historically speaking and that artists just play a role in the furthering of design and ideas through the generations and just how exciting it is to be a part of it.


I am lucky enough to have struck up a friendship with a fellow appliquer, Christine Wickert and we are full of mutual admiration for one another.  She has just completed a quilt called “My Version of a Persian” which is so astonishly beautiful it takes my breath away.  I think it is my favourite quilt of all time.  Ever.  I am lucky enough to have seen a photo of the completed quilt and its first viewing will be at Lancaster AQS.  It is her trumpet to blow so I won’t tell you more but she has taken some designs of mine so much further, into a new realm of beauty and into a whole new dimension.  A real thrill for me.  I guarantee you will be seeing it in the quilt world this year 2014.  I won’t jinx anything but if I were a judge it would win every prize in the book.


Some kind lady got in touch with me last week to let me know about a Block of the Month quilt at the online store Common Threads which uses both of the designs from my Twilight Garden Pattern pack.


Funnily enough I saw another quilt rather like this recently when both patterns from my pattern pack were used together.  It took me aback at first sight because I had never thought of using the designs together in the same quilt – the Spring Flower Garden Quilt flowers are all almost botanically correct whereas those in Midnight Garden are mainly fantasy flowers out of my head.  But it works and what a beautiful quilt this is – really gorgeous and perfect choice of fabrics.  I love it and wish it were on my bed.   


Meanwhile I am so grateful to many of you for your help in my attempt to raise some money for the Melio Foundation here in Montreal.  In order to write the pattern, draw it out and remember how I made it I have been sewing like a whirling dervish over the past couple of days to get a new version made.  The full sized pattern is now drawn out and at the printers and so the pressure is off and I can just enjoy my sewing.  What I love about this pattern is that because of the way it is constructed you can actually stop off at various points and the block still works.  You can create four different versions using the one pattern.  So if you’re not in the mood and don’t want to go the whole hog you can leave out the chillis and rosemary and still have a lovely block.   I decided to remake it in the cool elegance of the Oakshott Italy collection this week and felt that the colours cried out for a more modern restrained appearance.  I decided to stop after completing the olives and not put in the chilli peppers or rosemary.  


I’m not sure what to do with it, whether to make a companion block out of the other six colours from Italy on the same background or whether to make this into another stool cover.  So for the meantime I shall leave it as it is. 


Special Workshop Opportunity! Chilli Pepper, Rosemary and Olive Wreath.




I will be hosting a day’s workshop and quilting in my historic house in Baie D’Urfe to the first twelve applicants to each workshop (one held at the weekend, one during the week). All proceeds raised from this workshop will go to Fondation Melio ( so not only will you have a fantastic day but know that your participation will go towards the purchase of a medical treadmill needed by Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre, the only rehabilitation centre in Quebec for under 18s and yet not in possession of this vital piece of equipment to help those children with brain and spinal injuries learn to walk again. For those who would like to know more, please see the video featuring our friend Manny, and his mother Sandra as they talk about why the centre needs this piece of equipment. Click on the website above, go to Videos and click on the third on the right to see Manny and why he needs to use a medical treadmill. For those of you anxious to have this design in your Deborah Kemball Library but who live too far away to attend the workshop this pattern and instructions is available to you for $20 plus postage and packing. Again all proceeds raised through the sale of this pattern will go to Fondation Melio.

The Workshop….

We will work on this design during the day – you will receive a full sized design, full instruction and demonstrations during the day for completion of this wreath. At 18” square it would be beautiful as a pillow or quilt centre. It is a new pattern and will only be available through this workshop. This is not a complicated design for applique and features my completely NEW embroidery stitch, seen here as rosemary and will be the first time I have demonstrated this stitch. Even if you have attended my workshops before I think you would benefit from this workshop as not only is there a completely new stitch and chilli peppers, but the leaves are rather different from my standard leaves and I shall be demonstrating this in silks and discuss at length the techniques used for silk applique. NB There are no sewn stems in this design! The day will also include a trunk show of my quilts and the chance to see many of them hanging throughout our house. I will cover all aspects of quilting and applique both with silks and traditional quilting fabrics. Home made snacks and drinks will be provided and I think it will be the most fantastic day, lots of fun and a great way to while away a winter’s day. Please come and help me raise money for this important piece of equipment. The treadmill costs $450,000.00 so there’s work to be done!

Dates: Sunday February 16th 10 am – 5 pm Monday February 17th 10 am – 5 pm Workshop Price $80 includes pattern, instructions, snacks and drinks. Easy parking too.

If interested e mail me at


Floral Impressions II

January 15th 2014

I’ve finally finished the nine central blocks for my alternative brightly coloured (read multicoloured!) Floral Impressions.  I can’t wait to see just how different a multicoloured version looks compared to the original pastel version.  Here are two photos of my just finished applique – spot the difference!   To find it, look at the first photo and see if you can see what is wrong with the colour balance.  There really is an imbalance and the tiniest of changes has helped even things out a bit.  If you can’t be bothered and don’t have a bored child within easy reach I’m sure someone will be quick to spot it.    I think I might substitute one other flower along with this substitution later but I want to see some border flowers in place first before making the final adjustments.Image


I rarely unpick my work – technical mistakes are covered up with embroidery or otherwise camouflaged  but if a colour shouts too strongly and the balance of the piece is out of whack I will take my stitch ripper out for a rare appearance.