Monday, 30 July 2012

Summer Fun!

I took the last few days off to spend time with my boys. As you will know juggling kids and work is hard during term time, but it is even harder during the holidays!

My 3 boys are full of energy and have great sense of humours - they are fantastic company!

On Friday we went off to Legoland for a fun pack day of thrills, spills and water! Unfortunately due to my healing ribs I couldn't go on a lot of the ride as the bars would have been resting in just the wrong place, but that didn't stop us having the most amazing day together.

We went on the trains, learnt how to drive at the driving school, visited at Atlantis and learnt how to be pirates at Pirate Camp!

Here are my boys enjoying some doughnuts before going to watch Clutch Powers:

We had so much fun!

They were thrilled to meet the Star Wars characters too!

It was such a great day - the kind of day that helps you to reconnect with what is important!

Back to work today and the boys will be at the leisure centre for the week as I have a young lady coming for a week of work experience with me. I love me business and teaching, but I am looking forward to our next adventure together!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympic Sewing Project

A few weeks ago I started a blog post series about work I did with some pupils at the local primary school, it involved working with children aged 8 to 11 to make patchwork Olympic birds for an Olympic birds mobile.

The kids worked with the patchwork birds I had made and embellished them with ribbon, buttons and lace! As we worked we talked about the countries, including where they are, why a lot of countries speak English and why the Olympics are important.

European countries.
Working on their birds, putting on buttons and ribbons.

Sewing on spears and shield for Kenya.

Working on the birds.

The kids loved working on the birds, many of them had never used a needle and thread before. As you can see from the Kenyan bird, they had some really great ideas for embellishing their birds and took inspiration from the pictures of the flags I gave them.

More next week....

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

I found a new shop...

I am a fabric addict, an addiction I embrace whole heartedly, so I love looking around the Internet at on line quilting shops and getting new fabric when I have the cash flow (must teach more!). Last week I needed some Kona fabric for a students quilt, but the place I had bought it from before had run out!

I Googled the colour and this little gem of a shop, Pollyanna Patchwork came up.

Now I was drawn the name since my name is Anna and my younger sister is Polly - we were teased a lot as children and mum mother swore blind it never occured to her.... think she might have been fibbing!

Also it is in a town very close to where I spent my teenage years - in fact I used to visit the dentist there!

Anyway, as promised by Google they did in fact have the right colour in the Kona range, and a fabric colour I had ordered from the States for another quilt commission.

They also have a lot of yummy fabrics and other quilters essentials!

The best bit is they have free 2nd class delivery on all orders until the end of July! I ordered mine on Saturday and it was here this morning - just in time for the class tomorrow!

So go check Pollyanna Patchwork out!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The lesson I learnt......

Last week I had a one-to-one bag making class with a lovely local lady who contacted me asking about classes for her and her daughter. Her daughter wasn't sure about coming so Eve came along on her own.

It was a great day, learning how to sew oilcloth and design a bag. Lots of new skills were learnt and a gorgeous bag was completed - even an internal zippered pocket!

After my fall, my confidence had dipped. I felt lost on the pain killers and began to worry about my change in direction. Had I done the right thing? Was teaching really for me?

The lovely Eve gave me back my confidence in my decision. Eve and I chatted over the day and shared our lives with each other. The day gave Eve a space to have some time to herself, it allowed her to step out of her wife and mother roles. She was just Eve, learning to make a bag.

At the end of the day Eve said that she had enjoyed learning to sew a bag, but she had also enjoyed having the space she desperately needed to be herself.

I re-learnt the power of craft and teaching someone how to make something for themselves. The confidence that is gained by making something is priceless, whether it is sewing, felting or any other craft. It is amazing watching someone change over the course of a workshop/course. Their growth in confidence is almost visible. I have seen it over and over again, and it is still amazing!

So have I done the right thing?


I have a skill - I help people to relax and learn something new; I help people to step out of their lives and do something for themselves; I give people confidence to try something new.

These are the things Eve helped me to see, helping me to get my confidence back was the gift Eve gave me on Wednesday. It is a gift that I am very grateful for. Thank you Eve x

Monday, 23 July 2012

Quilting Bee

A little while ago I reviewed a booked called Block Party, The Modern Quilting Bee and it gave the idea of having a go at setting up a modern quilting bee myself.

In this age of super fast communication, modern quilting bees are not about being in one location to make a quilt together, but about connecting people from around the world. The idea is that 12 people connect and share the sewing and quilting experience by taking it in turns to send the other member of the bee fabric and instructions to make a one block each month.

Each person involved at the end of the year has 12 blocks made by the quilters in the bee, which can be made into a quilt for their home.

I like the idea of meeting new people, sharing skills and making a quilt that has been a group effort. Each person will bring their own slant to the blocks they make, which makes the bee even more exciting to me!

Fancy joining me?

I need 11 other quilters to make the bee work...

Email me at or leave me a comment here with your email address!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday Morning 23 July 2012


Here in the UK we have had some gorgeous weather for the first time in weeks. The sun has been visible for the and has stayed around for longer than 5 minutes - it is a shock to the system!

This morning I have brough together some new blogs for you read with you morning cup of coffee.

The first one is Diary of a Quilter, the blog of Amy Smart a very talented quilter. This blog is full of inspiration, fabrics and tips for quilters. I love the amazing Union Jack quilt that is perfect for this summer of British celebrations. There is a tutorials page that is full of great sewing ideas... what more could a quilter ask for?

In the last few months I have become a bit obsessed with crochet and yarn.... it is such yummy stuff you know! I was so pleased when I found this amazing website with so many inspiring and gorgeous yarn ideas! The Purl Bee is a gorgeous blog with amazing photos - you know I am a big fan of gorgeous photos!

Just the banner makes me smile! There a projects and ideas for crochet, knitting, sewing and embroidery. The blog is part of Purl, a shop in Soho, New York. Go and be inspired!

The last blog today is lori times five, a blog of photos, crafting and life. I love have a peek into other peoples adventures and lives. This blog is a glimpse into Lori's life and loves. The pictures are gorgeous, so go check it out!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A Long Journey

I am so sorry for having been gone for so long.

The last 3 weeks have been a journey in letting my body repair itself following my fall. It has been a long and painful process, that isn't over yet, but I can at least sit for longer periods and my brain cells can put sentences together!

I have realised how many amazing and fabulous friends we have. From taking mini to nursery to listening to me weep and feeding me cups of tea, they have been superb. I have often worried about how we could cope if something happened to me. I have no family near, so friends are the only support network I have. I now know we would be fine. I have simply amazing friends who are fabulous!

It has been very strange to not be able to use my gorgeous Elna machine to sew - I just couldn't hold that position for longer than 2 minutes with pain! Felt like I had lost my best friend!

So after resting as much as I could and taking things as slowly as you can with 3 children, I am finally walking pretty much normally - not bent up like and old lady - and I can sew for up to 45 minutes before I need to walk it off.

So, now I seem to be on the mend I can start putting my plans together... the inability to do anything sensible for 3 weeks has been the hardest bit of recovering. Time to get my favourite green pen out and write a do to list for the next few days....

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sunday Morning Reading 8th July

Good morning!

If you read my previous blog you will know that I like to bring together some fabulous blogs on a Sunday for you to red on a Sunday morning with your cup of coffee.

First up is my lovely Twitter friend Ben who has a fantastic blog all about life, running and his gorgeous family. Mutterings of a fool is an insight into the life of a daddy. There are hundreds of blogs written by mums about their lives, which are fabulous, but it is refreshing to read about parenting from the point of view of a dad. He recently won the BIB's dad blogger award too!

Sunday morning reading needs a sewing blog - sorry, sewing is written into my DNA you know!

Today it is the Crazy Mom Quilts, the blog of Amanda Jean Ryberg, one of the authors of the amazing Sunday Morning Quilts. Her blog is full of useful quilting tips, pictures of her projects and tutorials. I love the book, so finding this blog has been great! I love the way Amanda has started posting pictures of some of the quilts made by the readers of her book - the way the choice of fabrics change the look and feel of a design fascinates me!

The last one for a today is a lifestyle blog. Written by Leya, Curious Bird is a window into the Leya's life with her family. I love the pictures the most. I am a sucker for blogs with gorgeous and varied photos. I also love being allowed to peek into other people lives, makes the world a much smaller place somehow...

I hope you enjoy the blogs!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The end of a crazy week...

I can safely say I am glad to see the back of last week!

It all started with a rush to the post office in the rain. The bag order was late so I dashed out of the studio in my flip flops and drove into town. I then dashed to the post office - well I tried to... I ended up stumbling and landing on my front in the middle of the road...

A whole coach load of Highgrove visitors were treated to me collapsed in the road unable to breath due to using my chest as airbags! (By the way it doesn't work - it hurts like hell!)

After being helped to my feet and given a cup of sweet tea by my lovely friend Sarah at The Yellow Lighted Bookshop, she phoned my amazing friend Helen who came and took me home. I have to admit I have never felt quite so terrible and idiotic!

On Tuesday still in pain I went to see the hospital in Tetbury - 2/3 badly bruised possibly fractured ribs - they can't do anything either way, it is just a long and painful road to recovery. I was told to keep moving - like I have a choice with 3 small boys on my own!!!!

The rest of the week has been a blur of pain, pain killers and anxious little boys. My boys have never seen me crumple... I am there no matter what holding their hands through all the things they achieve and deal with.

I have managed to work on my Hexy MF hexagons, but mostly I have sat kinda stunned in the living room watching movies and trying to not upset the fine balance and cause pain.

I have reached Saturday and just about got the pain meds right - made another visit to the doctor and asked for something stronger!

The doctor was very sweet, but said I would need pain killers of another week - another week of feeling doped out, but at least I can move and sit fairly normally...

I am so glad I have my Hexy MF quilt along to focus on, my flowers in Summersville fabrics are making me smile!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Modern Quilting Bee

Following on from yesterdays start of my first Quilt Along, I thought I would a new book I found.

Block Party: the Modern Quilting Bee by Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks is a book all about the journey of 12 women who met on the Internet and started a modern, international quilting bee.

The book tells the story of the 12 quilts they made - one each month. Each member of the bee sent out the fabrics they wanted using and a description of the blocks they wanted made. The result is a fascinating look at the art of modern quilts with traditional blocks given a modern twist.

I love the finished quilts because each block is made slightly differently, so there is something new to find every time you look at the book...

Each quilt comes with instructions on how make the blocks:

The instructions are clear and well laid out with great pictures and hints for colours.

The best bit of the book is meeting the quilters involved. Each of the 12 members tell their story. I love meeting people with the same passion as me, I love sharing the stories of the quilts... (maybe I am just very nosey!)

I would love to start a project with other quilters from around the world. Would you like to join me?

I know you know that you can buy this book from Amazon, but I am passionate about supporting local indie bookshops, so if possible please get your copy from one of the amazing independent book sellers near to you.

I support The Yellow Lighted Bookshop as much as possible, so you can of course get a copy from there! They take orders by phone and will send to anywhere!

Details: Block Party: the Modern Quilting Bee by Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks
Publisher: Stash Books
ISBN: 987-1-60705-197-8

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My First Quilt Along Part 1

In all the years I have been a quilter, I have never taken part in a quilt along.

The Internet has changed the face of quilting so much - people from around the world can connect in an instant and share their hobbies. Having virtual quilting bees and quilt along groups has never been easier!

When I saw the Hexy MF quilt along on the Fat Quarterly Blog and I'm A Ginger Monkey blog I just knew I had to give it a go.

The pattern is so gorgeous and involved LOTS of hexagons hand sewn together - perfect for me as a contrast to the long days I spend at my sewing machine.

It took me a while to decide the fabrics I would like to use... but I finally decided on the Summersville collect from Lucie Summers.

I got my selection from the fabulous Alice at Backstitch, but you can also get them from Lucie direct at her Etsy shop - I have some gorgeous orange coming in the post!

Armed with my templates from I'm A Ginger Monkey I have started to cut the hexagons out:

There is something very therapeutic about cutting hexagons...

I have started to turn the seam allowances so I have ready to go hexagons....

I am really enjoying working on the quilt. It has come in very handy this week, when I have 3 cracked ribs following a fall and I can't sit upright at a sewing machine for a few days....

I hope you like the colour choices. Are you having a go at the Hexy MF quilt along? Which fabrics are you using? I would love to see them!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Sewing in Schools

As part of my working week I teach as a volunteer at my children's primary school. I run an after school club with a regular attendance of 10 children from the ages of 8 to 11.  They are a lovely bunch to work wit

I wanted to extend this work into working with the kids during the school day as part of a project. When I saw a free course about being an artist in school, I decided to apply and managed to get a place.

The course was great. It gave me so much confidence in recognising that I am an artist not just a wayward mathematician who sews... I was accepted as someone with a skill that is worth sharing. I don't think I have ever felt that way before... acceptance as a textiles artist!

As part of the course I had to plan and deliver a project in a school. I spoke to the head teacher at the school I currently run the club in and he gave me permission to work with years 3 to 6. I came up with a project that involved 36 kids from 6 classes.

The idea was to make 36 birds of peace, each bird from a different country attending the Olympics in London. From the list of countries competing, I first broke the countries into 6 continents and then I choose countries the kids might not have heard of.

Using these countries I made the bird to represent the flags of the country:

I then took the birds into school to work with children that the teachers had identified were good at design and technology.

More tomorrow.....

Monday, 2 July 2012

Making a leap...

Image from LuciusArt on Etsy
At the start of June, I made a decision to jump... jump off the track I was following with my business and catch another train instead. It was a hard decision and one that I had crept up on me. The kinda of decision that your brain has been telling you to take, but you decide to ignore for as long a possible..

So I made that leap and it felt good for the first few hours... I posted a blog over at funky diva designs and the response was amazing. The support and love from friends blew me away!

That was Monday... by Tuesday I was having a full blown panic about my decision! Honestly I paced my house and studio panicking about everything I was seemlyingly throwing away!

I decided to do something postive, so I emailed 2 local arts centres with a view to teaching adults and children there - after all teaching is the reason I changed track.... I then went back to panicking!

By Wednesday evening I had finished an artist in school session at St Mary's School, as well as my art school club there and was getting ready for college, when I had an email requesting I attend and interview at one of the arts centres on August - Result! Then as I was unpacking the car I had a phone call from the other one asking me for an interview the following Wednesday!

I must have looked a sight grinning from ear to ear and jumping around my drive like a mad lunatic!

These are small steps to the life and career I want, but they are positive steps!

The interview went well I have 2 courses booked in, including a Wednesday evening quilting course!

Since I made my decision, friends have been double checking me... have a done the right thing, they ask.... My answer is 100% yes!

My teaching workload is slowly growing and I have picked up a couple of sewing commissions for pieces of textile art, but more importantly my ability to cope with 3 small boys as a single parent has grown - they are after all the most important part of my life!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

New Beginnings..

This is a fresh start to my journey through a creative and crazy life!

I hope you will enjoy the blog posts as much as you enjoyed them at funky diva designs.

I have so much news to share with you since I made the decision to shut funky diva!

As you can see the blog is very basic at the moment... I am still trying to work it all out!