Crash course in machine patchwork

So, it’s been aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggeeeeeeeeees since I blogged.  But, I have returned and I have some wonderful things to show you and tell you about!  Well, I think they’re wonderful anyway.

I’ve just got back from a ‘Crash course in machine patchwork’ at Denman College.  For those of you who don’t know, Denman college is the WI college.  They have LOADS of courses on all sorts of things, and it’s open to non-WI members (including men!!).  Trixy and I drove down to Marcham on Tuesday morning.  It took about 2 and a half hours to get there and it was a lovely sunny day and we had a lovely chat on the way there, arriving just in time for lunch!  We were greeted by a Denman ambassador, Veronica, who showed us to our room.  We chose to stay in a shared room in the main house and Trixy was excited to find it was the same room she stayed in on her last visit – Northumbria.  But, we didn’t sit down and relax and that stage as it was time for lunch.

There was a large external conference on so we ate lunch with our course tutor, Christine (check out her blog here), and Gill, another WI member who was doing the course, in a smaller room whilst the conference used the main dining room.  There was a lovely selection of sandwiches, quiche and salads and this was followed by tea and  (yummy) cake (or fruit salad for healthy people).  After lunch, Veronica let us into the fabric shop where there was a ton of amazing stuff!!  Trixy and I had to be very disciplined and not buy any wool or any other craft things other than fabric.  After much perusing, we bought a really large piece of dark purple material with some little orange flowers on and a small pack of 60s flowery material.

The course started at about 2.30pm.  Trixy and I took our own sewing machines with us but there were already some set up for us anyway.  Christine gave us an overview of patchwork and showed us a selection of quilts and quilted cushion covers that she’d made, before explaining that we’d be making a cushion cover like hers!  Eeeeeeek.

We started by using some squared paper to sketch out how we might structure our patchwork.  It was really interesting to learn about how to mix patterns and plain things and fabrics with structure to make a good design, and really useful for me to learn about the right order to sew them together in!  And before I knew it, it was time to get ironing and cutting fabrics and start making!!!  I had taken some really beautiful fat quarters that Mr.J bought me for Christmas and one of these became the central motif in my cushion.  I was also super lucky as Christine had some really lovely fabrics which went with the ones I had and they really made it look great when it all came together – thank you Christine!

Bird

Then, there was a lot more cutting:

WP_20130618_007

And soon it was time to pin together some of the pieces and start sewing them:

Trixy and her pieces

Trixy and Christine start sewing

Pieces

And quite quickly you start to see how it might come together:

Centre section

But, after all this hard work is time for afternoon so naturally we stopped for a hot drink.  And it would have been rude not to eat the cake that was out with it, wouldn’t it?

After afternoon tea, we continued on with our cutting and sewing, and pressing seams, until dinner time.  You could definitely tell when it was dinner time as our sewing was a lot more wonky – mine certainly was anyway!

Trixy and the evil Gingham

Me

We ate dinner in the main dining room.  We had a choice of starter, main and dessert and I had carrot and coriander soup, steak and kidney pie and orange panacotta.  We chatted to Gill, VEronica and Christine and compared and contrasted our WI experiences amongst other things.  The food was scrumptious though and I was super, super full afterwards.  But, there was still more sewing to be done so back to the grindstone we went!!  By about 9.15pm, this is what our respective cushion covers looked like – not bad eh?

Trixy's cushion cover

My cushion cover

We just had time for a quick drink and a game of Yahtzee before we were too pooped and went to bed!  Our room was really lovely and spacious.  It had an ensuite and all of the decorations in the room were really lovely – I especially liked the quilt covers (but I didn’t take a photo of them, boo!).  Trixy told me in the morning that each room is named after the Federation which decorated it.  Which made perfect sense as soon as she said it as that explained why there were books about Newcastle and the Tyne, etc!

Breakfast was a self-serve buffet with lots of choice.  There was a lot of fruit, cereals and muesli, a toast machine and all the cooked breakfast food you’d need for a full English.  I was very healthy and had bran flakes and a couple of pieces of toast – it’s important to keep your energy levels up after all!  We also got chatting to another lovely lady who was there on a Chinese Brush Painting course.  She’d been a WI member for about 25 years and she had a few tips for us, as well as some lovely stories about her cat!

The task for the morning was to make the back of the cushion cover.  What I really liked about Christine’s cushions were that they involved no zips or buttons – perfect for a novice sewer like me!  We started by neatening the edges of the front and making sure it was square, before cutting out two rectangles to make the main part of the back.  That was relatively simple but the binding detail along the top of them was a bit more fiddly.  But, thanks to Christine, and with a bit of patience and concentration, I managed to make a pretty neat job of it – yaaaay!  Naturally, that was a perfect time to stop for a hot beverage and some delicious shortbread…..

REALLY concentrating!

But, after the break, it was just a case of pinning all the pieces together in the right order (although that did take some thought!!) and then sewing all the way round….. and then – ta-daaaaaa!!

Revealing the finished cover...

Finished front cover

Back of my cushion cover

Trixy's finished cushion cover

I’m really really happy with the cushion cover I made.  Not only how it looks but with the detail of the construction; by my normal standards I think I did a really good job, even if I do say so myself!  Trixy’s is also amazing, but everything she makes always is so that’s no surprise!!  I want her to take it on a picnic as it’s like a little bit of sunshine!

With a long journey ahead of us, we thought it only polite to stop for lunch though.  The selection today was even more varied, with lots of posh sandwiches, quiches, mini-tarts, chicken skewers and other lovely treats.  The weather was really lovely and the grounds at Denman are really beautiful so before we set off back home we had a stroll around the gardens and to the Lake.  A few of the ladies stopped to ask us what we’d been doing and seemed really pleased to see some younger faces and it was really lovely to meet so many friendly people.

I had such a lovely two days and I really hope that me and Trixy can make this an annual girlie event!!

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