Friday, February 14, 2014

7th Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap - Join Now!

How would you feel if a total stranger sent you a handmade postcard? Probably the same as your new friend when he gets the one you made!

The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap is a global swap of stitched postcard love organized by Do What You Love, where people all across the world make a postcard-sized piece of art using any materials they like. The only rules are that it needs to include some kind of stitching (with a machine or by hand) and it needs to fit with that quarter’s swap theme – in this case, CREATE. This is your chance to be really creative, and share your love of creativity with someone somewhere else in the world.

How did this idea come about might you ask? Well, here is the story: Paul bought Beth as sewing machine for her birthday but she was a little afraid of it. A friend suggested she tried doing a creative swap to make herself use her new gift, so the next day she launched The Great Stitched Postcard Swap on her blog. 50 like-minded souls from across the globe took up the challenge. This was the first indication that there was a great power in community and these artistic souls would reach out and find each other. The swap has since grown to hundreds of people in 50+ countries around the world.

For this 7th Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap, now live and open for registration, Coats has partnered with DWYL to offer a very special giveaway – worth over £300 – to the most creative postcard:

-           The full range of new Anchor Postcard Kits from Coats (a total of 20 postcards)
-           A delicious package of 80 skeins of Anchor Stranded Cotton from Coats
-           A free place on the upcoming PaperLove online course (starts March 31)
-           A treasure box of stationery and other crafty delights in the PaperLove kit

It is free to enter (you just pay for the cost of making and posting your postcard), and it’s easy to join in with hundreds of others from around the world:
1.        Register until Wednesday 25 February 2014 (midnight GMT) to be allocated a swap partner to post your creation to, and then you can look forward to receiving some creative goodness back, in the form of another handmade postcard.
2.        Share your postcard on the Do What You Love Facebook page until Thursday 13 March 2014 (midnight GMT) to be eligible for the giveaway. A special album using all the images that are posted on the page by participants will be created on the page.
3.        Winners will be announced on Tuesday 18 March

Check out all the details on the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap page.

Go for it – together we will make this the biggest swap ever!
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Memory Lane by Nel Whatmore

Well, I am excited to have been asked to post on the Freespirit Blog! 


My new collection is Memory Lane, which I have just been designing a quilt for -- yesterday actually. I am lucky that I had three grandparents that lived until they were 103, 101 and 98, and so their influence on me and reflecting on times spent with them has given me many fond memories. I like looking back as well as forward as I feel older things have more soul and newer things fire my imagination. So Memory Lane was designed to be slightly retro and to be a collection of memories, from sitting in my Grandma's breakfast room, to visiting William Morris's house, Wightwick Manor, near my Mum’s, to doodling as a child and remembering the joy that brought me.

So many things can remind us of friends and family, from colour, smells, sounds to even sweets we haven't eaten for years. I love the fact that quilts remind people of the person who kindly spent hours making them. They are made and given with love and in effect say 'I thought of you'. This may be rather sentimental but I think it's true.

My daughter Polly is just 18 and will soon be leaving us and so I am already thinking of which quilt I will give her when she goes to college (hopefully if she gets, there I should add!). Although even when I was thinking about designing the Memory Lane quilt yesterday my thoughts immediately turned to her and what she may like. I guess in the same way that I carry memories of my grandparents and parents with me, I hope that little things like a handmade quilt will remind her of her family too.

When designing, as a painter, I always produce the initial idea in pastels, the medium I like the best. It is vibrant, messy and spontaneous and suits me just fine. I have to then do the repeats on the computer as to do it in pastel would be virtually impossible. So much of balancing a collection feels like balancing a painting. You always have to make it work as a whole rather like doing the perfect jigsaw puzzle! I've come to the conclusion that it's a lifelong challenge, as whenever I finish a collection and then start sewing and designing things using it I learn something more and realise how to improve the next collection.


These are two lovely Memory Lane Cushions I designed that have just arrived . They look great at the end of our bed!

Recently I’ve got into English Paper Piecing. I looovvve it. I’ve been making 8 point stars using Secret Garden my last collection. So I couldn’t resist making a star this time with more points so it makes a 3d star using Memory Lane. I think they’d make great and unusual bunting Or I just like this one hung on my wall as it makes me smile every time I see it. I’d really love to see what you do with Memory Lane. So find me on facebook and come and say hi!
Thank you for reading my ramblings on this rather grey damp day in Northern England. It's now time to get back to finishing my next collection and then play my music loud and do a bit of painting, I think! I hope you enjoy Memory Lane. It would be lovely to see what you make with it. I'd love you to let me know!

Warm wishes and happy sewing Nel x Best Blogger TipsShare/Bookmark

Friday, February 07, 2014

My Ansonia

I grew up in the heart of New England in the 60’s and 70’s, surrounded by dusty mill towns that had fallen on hard times. This in part explains the soft spot I harbor for old industrial cities that have seen better days. I love the familiar factory housing, the historic brick mill buildings and the towns that grew up around them — all seemingly lost in another era. Once thriving and bustling, these places and buildings seem full of possibility and opportunity to me. (Luckily, I’m not alone in that view; many are now being revived for new uses!)
Ansonia is one such town along the valley of the Naugatuck River in Connecticut, near where I now live. The entire valley was an important center of small industry many years ago. Factories in Ansonia made clocks, copper, and textiles.

When I start work on a new fabric collection, I gather vintage and antique fabric references that I transform through color and redrawing; inventing my own version of history and fashion. I love to juxtapose unexpected styles and scales to make something that resonates with another time period, but also feels new and fresh. The story starts to come together in this stage, though it’s when I start coloring the drawings that things really fall into place.

                                                Kentucky Stripe, in Mossy.

                                         Psycho Swirl, in mushroom

I started to think beyond the town itself, and became curious about the Ansonia Hotel in New York City. Built by William Earle Dodge Stokes, (an eccentric heir to a copper fortune and major shareholder of the Ansonia Clock Company) the residential hotel was grand, luxurious, and unconventional. A farm on the roof delivered fresh eggs daily to residents, and a fountain in the lobby had live seals. Despite trend-setting technology (it was the first air-conditioned hotel in NYC!) and elegant details like fresh linens three times a day, the Ansonia was always considered “Bohemian” due to its Upper West Side location. The hotel attracted celebrated, fashionable adventurers and artists of all types, and had its share of scandals and excitement.

Eventually, the hotel succumbed to financial difficulties and fell into disrepair. Residents fought off demolition, and in the 60’s and 70’s it became a scene of artistic and gay culture.

And now the collection slowly starts to come together, in fits and starts. Because I am a visual person, the designs themselves come first and the story evolves from there.  (The creative process is mysterious, and I have found it best to let it do what it needs to do and try to stay out of the way!)
Ansonia is a celebration of contrasts. The grand, old-world glamour of a graceful waltz meets the wild bohemian charm of the tango. Ansonia evokes a mix of art and industry, historic elegance and trend-setting unconventionality. Operatic hot pinks mix with earthy taupes and deep chocolate browns (Mushroom), and psychedelic-acid citron greens whirl with lush, bold blues (Mossy). The effect is pure drama – the exuberance of fresh discovery juxtaposed with the nostalgic beauty of a bygone era.

Spoolish is a quilt design I have long had in mind to create as a pattern, but hesitated because it would require so much cutting. Luckily, FreeSpirit solved that dilemma by offering it as a PRE-CUT quilt kit! Spoolish has 612 pre-cut triangles, and ALL the fabric you need to make a twin-size quilt front. How awesome is that?!!

I love designing quilt patterns for each of my new fabric collections. Here &There is my latest addition to our DSQ Pattern Collection. The design was inspired by the back of an 18-wheeler I glimpsed, driving on the highway. I love how modern and graphic the design is, and how beautifully and simply it showcases my Ansonia fabrics. Plus, it’s a fast and easy quilt to create, suitable for both beginners and experienced quilters alike. I love when inspiration presents itself so clearly!!

Let my Ansonia fabric inspire your trailblazing creativity, and lead you to find inspiration everywhere.

XO, Denyse


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