Saturday, 10 June 2017

Tulipa workshop

It is now four weeks since I was down in Cornwall at Cowslip Workshops for my weekend class with Irene Blanck: above is Irene's beautiful Tulipa quilt which we were learning to make. I am sorry I haven't blogged about it more promptly but on getting home I was caught up in all the usual tasks, and also I had an overwhelming urge to finish some pieced projects and clear the decks a bit.

However my delay in posting is no reflection on what a wonderful time I had. It was a real holiday, Cowslip is such a wonderful place and you can enjoy being right away from all the usual domestic stuff associated with home. I stayed in a lovely B&B, Poole Farm, where Greg and Louise looked after me very well indeed. I am happy to say I shall be going back mid-August to stay when I do a two-day class with Karen Styles of Somerset Patchwork: another complex quilt with lots of tiny pieces!

For now, I'd like to show you some photos of Irene's work and what I managed to accomplish in the two days.  It was amazing how the time flew by.  It probably looks as though I haven't done a lot but I feel that I have achieved masses and learned so much. Irene was terrifically generous with her knowledge and skill, sharing lots of tips she has developed over the years she has been making her beautiful applique quilts. She was also really good fun to be with and very relaxed as a teacher!

Here is a pic of Irene with lovely Jo Colwill (right) whose talent and warmth make Cowslip the wonderful place it is. And, as always it seems on quilting classes, the other ladies were delightful and fun to spend time with.

Organised chaos - I felt right at home!

The quilt we were working on was Tulipa from Irene's book Focus on Patchwork (published by Quiltmania). All Irene's patterns are also available individually from her: her website is

I adore tulips as you know from this post, so this seemed like a good choice of quilt for me to tackle, and I thought there would be some piecing involved too, so not quite so far out of my comfort zone. Well, I was mistaken about that as every part of this quilt is appliqued, even the 'nine-patches' and the zigzag outer border!

We did however use paper pieces to prepare the geometric shapes such as the eight pointed central star and Irene had some really great tips to help get a perfect meeting of points in the centre - I am v pleased with mine, all thanks to her help and advice! Let's hope I can remember it all when I get to the smaller stars on the pattern... Outer points of the diamonds could be better but I am no expert at this applique lark, just hoping to improve over the course of making this quilt.

I also learned the best way to make narrow bias stems with the Clover bias maker and how to save time  with Roxanne's basting glue. My whole quilt centre is now placed and ready for me to sit down for some relaxing hand needle-turn applique in the evening, and no pins anywhere to prick fingers or tangle the thread.

Irene shared some of her beautiful quilts with us: it's so great to be able to get really close and study the fabrics. Irene loves sharp chartreuse green as you will see from several of these pics!

Lovely traditional English paper-pieced quilt with great choice of fabrics!

I love the intense blue of the vases in this quilt. And there is actually some piecing to frame the applique!

Irene also works in more muted colour palettes. Her work is very varied and often based on traditional quilts but her own style shines through. She even pieces her backs, sometimes with lots of pieces as in the quilt above!

These following pics are close-ups of Irene's pattern, Potty McDotty, which I love: quirky flowers, interesting backgrounds, lively fabrics for the vases, and a pieced (or appliqued) border to tie it all together. If I get the needle-turn bug properly then this will definitely be on my to-do list.

And now for something completely different, as they say: here are some photos of the Quilts in the Barn exhibition of quilts by Petra Prins and Di Ford, with some quilts also by talented local quilters, which was just coming to an end at Cowslip while I was there. 

The quilts include many of those exhibited at Nantes which I have already posted about (here), but I am including more photos to show how very different they look in a bigger space under different lighting conditions. Enjoy!

It was a gorgeous exhibition and I am so lucky to have been inspired by so many talented quilters over the past few months. I hope you have been inspired too.  Have a great weekend!

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