Where in the World MQ 2017 Challenge

I have spoken about Midsomer Quiltings 12×12 customer challenge in previous blogs but if you would like to read more about the challenge and what it was based on click here.


This years challenge is ‘Where in the World”…..

It will not come as any surprise to know that mine is based on a bird!  I recently watched the fabulous BBC series ‘Tribes, Predators & Me’ with nature photographer Gordon Buchanan.

All three parts were fabulous but I loved the story of the Eagle people of Mongolia.  These Kazakh nomads hunt on horseback with Golden eagles in the Altai mountains of Western Mongolia.

The aim was to set the bird into a backdrop that gave an idea of the tribesmen’s life.  This backing fabric helped to set the scene of a barren land of mountains and snow capped peaks, whilst also giving a subtle backdrop to the bird. A rose gold gilded sun added more interest to the backing.


I have painted a shadow outline of a distant horseman with his eagle on his arm, ready to hunt.

This is quite a different challenge for me as I love trying to capture the birds power and intensity through its eye and reflections.  On this occasion though I wanted to show the bird resting in the foreground with its hood on.

I chose a selection of fabrics to create the leather hand made hood.  I have started to hand stitch areas to help create the hand pieced effect.

I have started to stitch the bird and look forward to finishing the piece after half term.

As always the entries will be for sale via a secret auction to raise money for Dorothy House Hospice.  Its well worth a visit whilst the show is on.

All entries will be displayed at the shop every day from Friday, November 24th, until Monday, December 18th.

I look forward to posting images of the finished piece before delivering it to MQ for the exhibition.



Midsomer Quilting 12 x 12 Challenge 2016

This year its a family affair, all four of us are having a go!

The title this year is Magic, Mystery and Legend

Since 2011 Midsomer Quilting on the Mendips in Somerset have held their own 12 x 12 challenge for their customers.  This fundraising event has raised thousands of pounds for Dorothy House Hospice.  You can read more about the challenge here and on a earlier blog post of mine from 2012 here.

Not surprisingly my entry is bird related, though in a very different style to my usual work – it had to be a Phoenix.  I had great fun playing with such a different design and used some metallic threads.



Chris at MQ has always said that it fascinates him the number of their quilting customers who have engineering partners – I am no exception and Murray this year decided to also take up the challenge but in metal.  The idea was based on the Dragon Smaug from J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’  – in his under ground lair full of treasure.  He’s enjoyed creating the piece below in  his ‘Man-Cave’, using an array of welding equipment.  Its sharper than the average 12×12 though!


Below, the finished product – it may need to be displayed on an easel as its very heavy!


Lucy and I recently went on a two part course with Claire Passmore at MQ  called Claire’s Techniques and Further Techniques.  We had a brilliant time playing and experimenting.  One of her favourite techniques was using lino printing.  Her piece, based on Glastonbury Tor is made using the techniques Claire taught us.


We live very close to Glastonbury Tor, I love Lucy’s simplified image, especially the winding path.  Below, ready for printing.


The course has been a great introduction to the techniques out there as she started a GCSE course in Art Textiles this September.  Claire is a fabulous teacher, so many great ideas, really enthusiastic and supportive.  We both thoroughly recommend going on one of her workshops.

Below, printing in progress.


Below the printings finished, all that is left is some simple stitching.


Megan our youngest, loves creating, whether it baking or sewing.  She’s dabbled with Free-machine embroidery before and I have written about what she has made in an earlier blog post you can read here.

Her idea was to make a ‘Superstition Dragon’, who would be breathing out lots of well known sayings and superstitions.


Above, transferring the image onto Bondaweb.


Fabrics selected and Bondaweb transfers ready to iron onto fabrics.


Cut out pieces ironed onto baking paper.


Final selection of backing fabric.

All pieced and ready for stitching – next weekends challenge as homework to finish…

Lost of this has been done in a day!  Good job we had the extra hour…..



The Power of the Peregrine

It was only a matter of time before I was going to have to tackle one of the British Birds of Prey.  There features are so strong and following on from the success of my Barn Owl I wanted to stretch myself.


Rummaging through my large fabric stash there were  a lot of brown batiks, their patterns and colours seemed to lend themselves to the colours and textures of the feathers of a large bird.


Flicking through my numerous Bird books and magazines, the juvenile Peregrine seemed to meet the brief.  I drew a basic outline and started selecting fabrics and threads.


Although I had a great selection, sometimes you just do not have the exact fabric for an area.  This is when you have to improvise!  Reaching into an old pile of fabric paints that the girls had used to design T-Shirts I found a black that was going to have to be the solution.

Using a heat removable pen I drew where the marks needed to be and started painting small areas of chest feathers with a reasonably fine brush.


There were moments that I thought I had done the wrong thing but, using a dry brush and very little paint I achieved the result I had hoped for.


This was the stage where I realised I would have to go shopping…..

I have a large assortment of threads but I had seen at Midsomer Quilting a large selection of Hand-Dyed machine threads, with subtle colour changes running through them.  These Oliver Twist threads were perfect.

Feathers are not flat and dull, they have texture and almost reflect light.  This fabrics helped bring the bird to life.  I am slowly buying all the colour combinations on sale.  Money very well spent….


This piece has been challenging but so enjoyable.  I think my love affair with the British Bird of Prey may be blossoming.

A limited edition Giclee print of ‘Young Pretender’ is available from my Website shop , please click here to view.

AK006 Young Pretender.jpg