Woodland Alphabet Quilt wip

by Helen on March 5, 2014

Sometimes it feels so easy ….  I’m sure you know what I mean …. those rare occasions that you have an idea and translating it into fabric and thread just flows, everything happens right the first time.  It’s such a magic, wonderful feeling that for me at least, happens only rarely – usually I can be found muttering, unpicking, tweaking and re-stitching!  But there was no unpicking at all while I was stitching this project – my Woodland Alphabet Quilt …

It’s destined to be a gift for some friends who have been waiting for adoption for some time.  They’ve recently heard that they’ll be bringing home a little boy aged seven months in just a few weeks time.  I do hope they’ll like my gift…

It’s still very much a work in progress, but I finished piecing the top late this afternoon – just some borders around the edges and it’s onto the quilting.  I was inspired by the clean lines and appliqued text of the Baby Life Quilt design by V and Co that I found in the Moda Bakeshop

I love the uncluttered feel of this quilt and wanted to try to give my Woodland Alphabet Quilt the same feeling of simplicity and space – as well as including lots of  forest friends ….


I followed Vanessa Christenson’s tip of zig-zagging around my applique shapes with clear thread.  All my shapes were quite simple so there wasn’t too much huffing and puffing while pivoting around corners.  My favourite block is R for Rabbit (of course!) …. 

Though the hedgehog and mouse are cute too.  I’m considering whether to add a narrow patchwork border around all the squares before the final wider borders – if anybody has any thoughts or suggestions I’d love to hear them.  This project will be included in the April issue of the Bustle & Sew eMagazine and then I’ll be wrapping it up ready to send to my friends in time for their baby boy’s arrival.  



Winter’s Comfort Quilt

by Helen on September 16, 2013

I’ve finished my Winter’s Comfort Quilt!  And, judging by the wind, rain and darkness outside my windows tonight, not a moment too soon! 

Winter's Comfort Quilt

 There are seven snowflakes – completely reworked  from an early 20th century design by Nancy Page and ornamented with tiny mother-of-pearl buttons for just a little frosty sparkle.  There are patchwork blocks …

Winter's Comfort Quilt

  …. a charm pack from Moda – Winter’s Lane” – a lovely soft palette of reds, blues and neutrals quilted in circles that remind me of frosty cobblestones on a winter’s evening, hurrying home from the shops,  perhaps laden with Christmas parcels ….

Winter's comfort wip

 …. and, I don’t know if you can see in the top picture, a row of tiny silver stars stitched into the dark blue sashing – to remind me of the brightness of stars on a frosty night in the depths of winter.  But I won’t mind the cold outside this winter as I’ll be nice and warm snuggled into my new quilt in front of the woodburner!  Oh, and there’ll be two large black furry bodies snoozing gently on the rug at my feet and a mug of cocoa to hand .. bliss!

The pattern for my Winter’s Comfort Quilt will be in the October issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine that’s published next week. 


A hive of industry

by Helen on September 4, 2013

As summer slips slowly into autumn, life here at Coombe Leigh is becoming very busy indeed.  Regular activities, postponed for the summer, begin again and new ones commence.  I have a new assistant here at Bustle & Sew – my friend Lisa’s daughter Emily has asked me to teach her to stitch ……

Teaching Emily to stitch

 … a very serious undertaking indeed!  Or so you might think from how hard she is concentrating on her hoop and needle in this picture.  But actually we’re having a lot of fun – she’s so enthusiastic and full of giggles!  At seven she’s old enough to start with a “real” grown up needle and floss, and here she’s beginning to stitch her first design, having carefully drawn and then traced her own rabbit and flower drawing she’s outlining the rabbit with back stitch.  We then plan to add felt leaves and button flowers to the background to make a picture she can hang on her bedroom wall.  I’ll be sure to show you when it’s done.  

I’ve been busy with my Winter’s Comfort quilt too…. 

Winter's comfort wip

 As I’ve used an old well shrunken woollen blanket for the filling, I can be very flexible with the quilting – there’s no danger at all of the filling breaking up.  The snowflake panels are quite large at 12″ square, but they won’t be quilted at all, I’ve simply stitched in the ditch around them.  I’ve also stitched around the patchwork panels, but have decided to fill them with free motion quilting – choosing circles and a cream thread so they’ll remind me of frosty cobblestones on a winter’s morning.  Still can’t quite decide how to quilt – or indeed if to quilt the navy blue sashing – if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

And as well as all the sewing going on, I’m busy in the kitchen too with chutneys and preserves ….

Busy in the Kitchen

My lovely next door neighbour Julie invited me to take plums from her tree, and I made some Spicy Plum Chutney that smells delicious – a recipe for the October magazine I think.  Daisy and I have been blackberrying, though we didn’t get very many – I think we are a bit early, perhaps we’ll go again in a week or so.  Meanwhile though, we have enough for a lovely blackberry and apple crumble. And finally – figs from the large and rather thuggish tree at the end of my garden.  I have discovered a recipe for Fig Chutney that will use quite a few – it incorporates balsamic vinegar and red onions so sounds rather nice.  I’ll let you know!


The weekend after magazine publication date is always quiet here at Coombe Leigh, so I’ve taken the opportunity to work on my Winter’s Comfort quilt project and am making good progress.  I have finished piecing the top …. 

Winter's Comfort Quilt

 And have stitched the full “Winter is the time for …” quote from Edith Sitwell for the back…. 

Winter's Comfort Quilt

 Just simple back stitch for the text using the same linen and floss that I used for the snowflakes on the front, and highlighting chosen words in green and red to reflect the colours in the other fabrics I chose for the back.  I decided upon a patchwork back – for two reasons – firstly, I couldn’t find quite the right fabric to back it with a single piece, and secondly I wanted to incorporate the full quote and felt it would look better as part of a patchwork.  I used some Fox Hollow fabrics from Monoluna – not much left now, but I do love them, and some Susie Watson Designs linen too as well as a couple of others….

Winter's Comfort Quilt

Just the quilting to go now!  I don’t have a surface big enough to lay out a whole quilt on, so I spent a rather painful session crawling around on the floor basting the layers together.  It was painful because of that naughty Miss Daisy!  Check out the video below – this was our morning walk today across the fields above Stokenham village where the barley has been cut …. 

Did you hear poor Ben’s “Owf!” as that naughty puppy charged straight into him?  Imagine what that might do to a poor unsuspecting person!  Yes, me!  Back in May, while charging happily around at top speed, Daisy misjudged her direction and ran straight into the back of my legs knocking me completely off my feet.  One moment I was admiring the view, and the next I was flat on the floor with my nose in a patch of mud.  My left knee has been so painful ever since and, after finally admitting it’s not going to get better by itself, I saw a consultant last week so am now on the list for surgery.  It’s a good thing both Ben and I love that naughty pup!