Thursday, 18 December 2008

6 Days to Go Before Christmas

Only 6 days left to go before Christmas and all of the orders for Christmas are on their way to customers!

Denise, Nikki and Anna are definitely in the festive mood now (you can't hear the Christmas music in the background but "I wish it could be Christmas everyday" is playing!)
As for Royal Mail and Couriers - we know we couldn't do without them, especially David our UPS driver. Here's a picture of him by his UPS van. So thank you David for being so cheerful every time you visitThe despatch area has been full of mail bags and the UPS van was practically coming through the door today (as the photo shows)!
We hope that all of our customers receive their orders for Christmas presents on time and that Santa has been generous this year. We look forward to being of service to you again next year.

We'll be closed from 24th December to 28th December, are open on 29th and 30th December and reopen on Friday 2nd January 2009.
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Happy Christmas Quilters!

How fast time flies when you're having fun and from the pictures below there is every indication that there has been much hilarity at The Cotton Patch of late (or is it hysteria..we're not quite sure...)

The overwhelming response to the last newsletter and for Christmas orders coupled with high levels of flu, colds and replacement knee surgery (one person but two knees) has meant unprecedented numbers of orders and seemingly less people to process them. It must be because its the coldest start to winter in 30 years - definitely a good time to be making quilts!

These pictures are the first ones on the blog for over a month which probably says it all...we just haven't stopped!

Of course we are delighted that we're busy and really appreciate all the custom that we've had in the past year and would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

From all at The Cotton Patch
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Friday, 7 November 2008

The Big Stitch Children's Society Patchwork Competition

The Children's Society are launching their first ever patchwork competition! Use your skills and creativity to craft a lap quilt or wall hanging on the theme of making childhood better and raise money to help The Children's Society make childhood better for disadvantaged children in the UK. There are prizes for the winning quilts including a Cotty Ultimate Collection Boxed Set of all 96 colours and threads, donated by ourselves, The Cotton Patch.

Click here to find out more on how you can get involved.

The closing date is Valentines Day, 14 February 2009, you will find all the details on

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Thursday, 6 November 2008

Project Linus Update

Joy from the local Project Linus has a new newsletter which you can link to by clicking on the link below.

Newsletter Autumn 2008

Joy featured recently on the BBC website about Project Linus. There is a great deal of information about Project Linus, pictures and some of the stories about those have received the quilts. Click here to visit the story.

Reading some of the stories makes you realise how appreciated these quilts are so...if you are thinking that every relative has a quilt already, all your walls are full and Auntie Dorris's Lap Quilt doesn't need a makeover just yet, why not get in touch with Joy and make a quilt that will be much loved and appreciated by its recipient?

How about forming a group to sew your orphan blocks together (these can be the samples that you made in classes and never finished despite best intentions!) - just contact Joy for more information - see her Newsletter for details.

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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Amy Butler Gum Drop Pillows Sewathon

At the Festival of Quilts in August in the true tradition of family businesses Nik's daughter Ellie (and her sister Anna) worked at the show on the Amy Butler stand. The style of fabrics with their contemporary twist really capitivated them and with having met Amy as well, they were all fired up to make something.

Ellie is off to her first year of University this weekend so with Gum Drop Pillows pattern and Amy's Nigella wider furnishing fabric in hand she came over to my house last night and we had a Sewathon.

Amy had said it was a good pattern to do because it is quick and she was right - from start to finish (but not stuffed) took us 2 1/2 hours.

This included showing Ellie how to use the sewing machine, rotary cutting out the pieces and pinning them together. Oh, and plus a bit of time unjamming the machine (fortunately I didn't ban Ellie at this point, unlike her experience at school when having created a birds nest in the bobbin case she was banned from using the sewing machines ever again - not a very positive experience!)

Ellie did really well, even without much experience of sewing - the pattern is pretty easy to follow, the tricky bit of aligning the intersection of eight pieces at the top of the pillow is covered by an octahedron which is top-stitched in place (hiding any unsightly joins, ahem). The sewing is mostly straight stitching. I just did the more tricky sewing the two halves together bits but she did most of the rest.

Ellie went home to stuff it - Amy recommended bulking out the stuffing with plastic bags and then using soft polyester filler around the edges - you do need quite a lot of filler otherwise - I thought this was a great use for old bags!
I would definitely recommend it as a good project to get someone into sewing - and you get to sit on it when you're done!

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Monday, 1 September 2008

Cotton Patch at The Cotton Patch

We were delighted to welcome Carolie and Tom Hensley from The Cotton Patch, Lafayette, California today. They stopped by The Cotton Patch shop whilst touring in the UK. It follows a very interesting trip to Switzerland which they had won as a Bernina prize as a result of a very successful year for Bernina sales - they had the opportunity of trying out the fantastic new Bernina long-arm machine that will be out in the UK next year.

Carolie founded The Cotton Patch in the US 30 years ago and has been a cornerstone of the patchwork and quilting community in the US, having also founded the successful book publisher C&T Publications, now run by her sons Todd and Tony. C&T Publications (Carole & Todd!) began in the book business when Roberta Horton was teaching at The Cotton Patch. She was looking to put a book together and Carolie had the idea of publishing it for her. Tom took a trip to the library to find all the books he could find on book publishing and the rest, as they say, is history!

We first met them at a Quilt Market in the States, more years ago than any of us could remember precisely. We were sitting at a large round table having lunch, looked across the table and saw the same name on their name badges as was on ours! We swopped stories of how our respective shops had begun.

Each year when we go to Quilt Market we see Todd, who married Jennifer Sampou. Jennifer has designed some wonderful fabrics, originally for P&B and then for Kaufman so quilting is very much still in the family.

If ever you're in the California area, we would recommend stopping by and saying hi to Carolie at The Cotton Patch.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Amy Butler at the Festival of Quilts

It was great to meet Amy Butler on The Cotton Patch stand at the Festival of Quilts the week before last (it only seems like yesterday...!) She was able to chat to customers, sign books and inspired a few people who don't sew yet to do so (excuse the pun).

Her relaxed approach in her book "Midwest Modern" is quite inspiring with beautiful photography illustrating examples of how she and her husband David have used fabrics to great effect in their own home. As part of the post-Festival de-stress I spent part of an evening reading the books and can hardly wait to work out which projects I'm going to do from one of her other books "In Stitches".

Plans have been formulated for a few evenings with the sewing machine at my house with my niece Elllie who, together with her sister Anna, suddenly want to make pillows, throws and bags. If Amy can inspire teenagers to sew then this has to be good for the future.

We hope that Amy is able to make a return visit next year and if you didn't manage to see her at the Festival this year we suggest you make a date in your diary for mid-August next year when the Festival of Quilts returns.

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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Festival of Quilts at the NEC - Setup Day

Well its been a long day (and not over yet) but we are pretty much there in terms of setup for the Festival of Quilts!

We hope many of our customers will be able to make it to the show. Here is a sneak preview of the gorgeous Kaffe Fassett/Amy Butler Rowan stand. Kaffe and Amy will both be signing their books (including their new ones) at stand D20.

Meanwhile across the aisle on stand E20 we have Marti Michell who returns to the Festival of Quilts to give demontrations on the stand when she isn't teaching lectures - there are still spaces on her Stripping lecture on Sunday.

Ricky Tims will be signing his books, DVDs and CDs on stand E20 too so if you would like to meet Ricky who is not only a talented musician and quilter but is utterly charming as well! Please visit stand E20 where we will have lots of his books, DVDs and CDs and a schedule of when he will be on the stand.

We've only had chance for a quick look at some of the quilt galleries. It looks like this year will surpass all previous shows and we thought that last year!

We look forward to seeing you soon...

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Friday, 8 August 2008

Project Linus Quilts Newsletter Summer 2008

In the latest Project Linus Newsletter from the Midlands region, Joy has an update on the Quilt Block Orphanage.

To see the latest Newsletter click here.

Joy will be at the Festival of Quilts so why not stop by and say hello while you're there.
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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Newsflash - Ricky Tims at The Cotton Patch!

We are delighted to announce that Ricky Tims will be signing copies of his books, DVD's and CD's at the Cotton Patch stand during the Festival of Quilts (14th to 17th August at the NEC, Birmingham, England).

Further details of the timings of the book signings will be posted on our stand on E20.

Ricky is well-known as both musician and quilter and together with Alex Anderson co-hosts the popular online TV show - The Quilt Show.

To quote from his website

"Ricky Tims has successfully blended two diverse passions into one very unique and interesting career. His skills as a pianist, composer and producer have been evident by the thousands who have heard his music. His success as a quilter is equally significant. He is known in the international world of quilting as an enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, an award-winning quilter, and a talented and spellbinding speaker. His innovative and entertaining presentations, feature live music and humor combined with scholarly insights and wisdom. His quilts have been displayed worldwide, and are highly regarded as excellent examples of contemporary quilts with traditional appeal."

Ricky has an exhibition of his quilts at the Festival of Quilts and will also be performing on the Friday night at the Birmingham Metropole Hotel at the NEC which we're very much looking forward to although apparently his entrance won't necessarily have the impact of his foray onto the stage in Paducah accompanied by much dry ice and riding his Harley!

Along with his best-selling book "Convergence Quilts", we also have "Rhapsody Quilts" plus the follow-up books to Rhapsody Quilts - "Feathers and Urns" and "Baskets and Flowers". For more details on these books, his DVDs and his newest products the extra-wide freezer paper please visit our website.

You can listen to his music ahead of the show by following this link.

For more details of the Festival of Quilts and to check on availability for Ricky's talksand workshops please visit the Twisted Thread site.
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Monday, 28 July 2008

14th European Meeting Patchwork

Ste Marie-aux-Mines is hosting its 14th meeting of Patchwork from 18th- 21st September 2008. The show includes over 800 textiles work from 5 continents, fashion shows and craftsmen, 120 European and American exhibitors, 35 workshops by renowned teachers and 12 lectures related to patchwork, quilting and the Amish movement.

The exhibition is spread throughout the area and is reputed to be very interesting - Ste Marie-aux-Mines is at the heart of the foundation of Amish quilting which of course migrated to the States where it became routed in the traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch, Mennonites, etc.

Displays range from classics to contemporary. If you live in France or are visiting it would be a worthwhile diversion.

The quilt above, which looks as though it has many layers, with a almost three-dimensional structure, is by the Korean quilt artist Jiyoung Chung. From the exhibition website she is described as follows (bear in mind this is a translation from French... )

"For this Korean artist, who multiplies the supports and media she uses in her creations, any shape is welcome. In her painting as well as in her arrangements of thread spools, she wants to refer to women domestic chores that she breaks down in many repeated actions. She is also curious about the relationship between men, nature and God through a universal and quite peculiar (unique) approach."

For more information you can visit the website.

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Monday, 14 July 2008

Japanese Quilt

Keeping with the same Japanese theme, one of our customers in Portugal - Marian, has made many quilts, wall-hangings and craft projects including this one which really took our eye.

She explains
"I saw the collection of Chinese materials in your catalogue some time ago and thought "That's for me" as we have many things from China . My husband started going there on business in the mid 70's and he brought home "reminders of the country" . We were both taken around a Cloisonné factory in Beijing in 1978 - quite an experience . He also visited remote areas where many of the locals had never seen a white man before !
I always buy an extra length of material for the border of a wall hanging or quilt matching the materials I am going to use as I have found that if I leave the choice of edging until the end I can never find something suitable ! Living in Portugal means that I can't pop into the "Cottonpatch" .
The little Cloisonné plate gave me the idea for the design . I did at first consider cutting out a big dragon from the dragon material and letting it climb through the blocks but settled for embellishing the dragons with embroidery and beads instead . It is also a nice way of displaying things like the jade dragon .
Best wishes from a very hot Algarve ,
PS I have almost finished the Kaffe Fasset "Post card" quilt ! I've used 500 metres of hand quilting thread so far . I cut the templates last September !"

Thank you to Marian for letting us know more about the quilt and we look forward to seeing the Kaffe Fassett "Postcard" quilt soon!
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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Alternatives to Quilting and Quick Projects

Val, who has worked here at The Cotton Patch for just over 14 years, is into lots of craft projects, not just patchwork and quilting. One of them is card-making. She made a beautiful card for Denise whose birthday was on Wednesday (no ages to be revealed!).

She used a stunning Japanese fabric and what you probably can't see is that the fabric is raised away from the card, creating a dimensional effect. The result is very effective and an excellent use of the oriental style fabric. The trick seems to be to cut out the fabric really carefully by using very sharp pointed scissors. Finding a card base that was the perfect matching colour also helps!
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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Its in the Bag!

Sometimes it doesn't take much to add something unique, yet simple, to an item that completely changes the look of it.
A great example is the little bag that David (our webmaster) and his wife Janet found at a market in Leicester. The bag wasn't particularly expensive but with a few Yo Yo's on it (Suffolk Puffs by another name) in Japanese fabrics it becomes an elegant accessory.

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Monday, 7 July 2008

Summer Holidays

With the rain absolutely bucketing down here memories come flooding (literally) back of this time last year. It was one of our busiest July months and no wonder - what else can you do when the rain is so persistent - at least a good project can cheer you up!

The alternative (albeit not so green) is to the leave the country for sunnier climes, which is the reason the blog has been without a post for a few weeks. I was experiencing 42 degrees in Bodrum, Turkey but fortunately was in the water most of the time (other than the few days I was on crutches..but that's another story). Not a patchwork retreat though (although I have been thinking how nice it would be to go on a Ricky Tims retreat in La Veta, Colorado!) - my holidays tend to be active and usually involve injuring myself at regular intervals!

So for those of you unable to get in the garden or if you're off on holiday and spend more time relaxing than I do, we hope you find some portable projects on the website to keep you entertained...

Before the Malvern Show we had some amazing weather and a lovely project to do inside or outside is cartonnage. Pick a strong fabric (such as a Hoffman, gold over-print or lush Moda) for the outside, a co-ordinating fabric for the inside and together with some book-making glue and one of our new cartonnage kits you'll be up and running in no time at all!

Click here to go to our web page to see the kits and glue. Please bear in mind that in temperatures over 85 degrees F (that's old money), the glue does dry very quickly so you have to work fast!

Alternatively, if you're looking for a change of pace, a little punchneedle embroidery might be just the thing - all the information is here. We love the little sheep...

Have a great summer!

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Friday, 6 June 2008

Quilts UK at Malvern Roundup

Things were so busy after the Malvern Show that I never found the time to post some of the pictures from the show. As usual it was a great opportunity to meet with our customers - being fairly local to the show its always nice to see some familiar faces and of course for our mail order customers to finally put a face to a name!

Talking about putting a face to a name...I was delighted to meet Lee Cleland at the show. She was buying some items on the stand and with a distinctive Australian accent it was clear that she wasn't originally from the West Midlands or anywhere near it. I actually remember where I was when I first opened the book "Quilting Makes The Quilt" which Lee wrote in 1994. I was totally amazed by the effect of different quilting designs on the same patchwork design. It was really inspiring. Lee told me she'd made all the quilts in the book (which quite frankly must have been a huge amount of work) and that the book is still in print 14 years later. I did feel a bit like a groupie when I took a picture of Lee and Barbara Chainey (they are great friends and Lee has been staying with Barbara on her trips to the UK) on Barbara's stand. Although Barbara is very much a hand quilter and Lee is totally into machine quilting they share a lot in common (including a great sense of humour!)

Jane Hopkins, winner of the Large Wallhanging category, received the Cotton Patch Cup - here she is with Geoff Sewell from The Cotton Patch in front of the Cotton Patch stand.

For the past few years we've had the same crew of people working at the show and with a few additional members of staff we'll also be at the Festival of Quilts in August. For those of you who don't know us we are (from left to right). Nik, Liz, Pam, Angela, Denise and Diana.

We brought more items than ever before to the Malvern Show (although there are always some things we wished we brought!) - a very full Omnigrid and Clover stands show just some of the miscellaneous products we had on offer.

Like all shows the setup day (usually a Wednesday) is the culmination of many days of planning and packing - so to go from this to...

.. this in the space of seven hours usually involves quite a lot of hard work. Thanks have to go to all the other staff who help us on setup day - Alan, Adam and David for example (very useful for the heavier items and for driving the vans).

Thanks must also go to staff back at base - we top up stock every day and throughout the day call up with a long list of what we need. And of course the mail order has to continue even when we're at the show!

At the end of the day we appreciate every single customer who stops by - it makes it all worth while. Plus for Adam, Denise and Alan the lunchbreak on setup day had the bonus of a fabulous view!

We look forward to seeing you next year.

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Friday, 30 May 2008

The First Orphan Block!

Joy from Project Linus popped into the shop this afternoon with the Orphan Block Box. Following on from our previous post you can now bring any orphan blocks - poor, destitute, unwanted (but still loved of course) blocks into the shop that you know will find a better home with Project Linus. The Ophan Block Box is on the counter and accepting deliveries (we're wondering based on our own experience if it will be big enough!).

I scouted round the building and in one of Margaret's drawers we found a test block (testing out the YLI silk thread from ages ago) - a prime candidate and first entry into the Ophan Block Box. May there be many more!

Project Linus Orphan Box

So, next time you're planning a visit to The Cotton Patch - why not have a sort out of your drawers and see if you have any blocks that could be donated and given a new lease of life in a Linus quilt!
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Thursday, 22 May 2008

Project Linus Quilt Block Orphanage

Joy Edgington, Project Linus co-ordinator for the West Midlands, has a great idea for any blocks that you may have made but haven't completed or what appeared to be a unique and daring bit of creativity has gone a little awry. Well, as Project Linus co-ordinator Joy is happy to assure you that no block is too 'bad' to be turned into a Linus quilt. She often gets orphan blocks sheepishly handed over under cover of darkness!

She has always managed to find homes for these blocks in quilts. Sometimes other quilters are prepared to take them on and sew them into some quite wonderful creations.

Recognising that there are a lot of orphan blocks out there she has decided to create the UK's first Quilt Block Orphanage!!

So if any of you have orphan blocks that you would like to send to Joy she will undertake to find a new 'foster mom' for them and get them rehomed in a new quilt for Project Linus.

These are some blocks made from donated fabrics at a Project Linus workshop.

Joy had this set of antique Nine-Patch blocks donated to her that would form the basis of a very traditional looking quilt.

We reckon that just among the staff of The Cotton Patch we should be able to find a few blocks!

AND of course if anyone wants to be a foster mom then again they should contact her.

She can be contacted through the orphange e-mail address which is orphanblock at or people can send blocks (anonymously if preferred) to her directly - please email her for her address.

If you would like to find out more about Project Linus the main site is at and people can access details of their local co-ordinator from the site.

Quiltmaker magazine also publish copyright free Project Linus patterns from time to time which can be copied for groups etc. These can be found at

We hope you take up Joy on her orphan challenge - I've been sorting through a few pieces from workshops that I fully intended to make into quilts but have never quite found the time...

The latest Project Linus Newsletter from Joy can be found by clicking the link here.
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Malvern Quilts UK - Large Wallhanging

We were delighted to meet the winner of the Cotton Patch Trophy for Large Wallhanging at the Malvern Quilts UK Show last Sunday. Jane Hopkins' quilt entitled "Summer Fairies" is based on Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies. Jane, a patchwork and quilting teacher based in Paignton, Devon, has been hand-dying her own fabrics for a number of years using both hot water and transfer dyes from Omega Dyes. One of the aspects that made this quilt so unique was the use of those fabrics with a subtlety of shading that were reminiscent of watercolours.

Malvern Quilt UK - Cotton Patch Trophy Winner for Large Wallhanging, Jane Hopkins

Jane particularly enjoys doing machine applique and this was beautifully executed. A delightful quilt and well-deserved winner in this category.
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Monday, 14 April 2008

Ethiopian Quilt-making on BBC Radio 4

Following on from our earlier post about Jen Jones, Janet Bridge and CAFOD's project in Ethiopia, we were delighted to hear that Jen was on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour last week about theproject. I'm not sure that our Welsh quilting customers would agree with Jen's comment that quilting has all but died out in Wales! However, it is great to see some photos of the Ehtiopian ladies that Janet and Jen have been teaching to quilt.

If you would like to visit the article please click this link.
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Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Apron Patterns

We've always loved Barbara Brandenburg's style - she has done some great books under the Cabbage Rose label. Her sisters are artistic and into quilting too. Teri Christopherson publishes under the Black Mountain quilts label and whenever we've got their books in stock we're almost guaranteed a few sales amongst Cotton Patch staff!

Mooching around on the web I found the link to Barbara's blog which is worth a look at the following link. We particularly liked the aprons she's done - they would look great in Amy Butler fabrics, as would her bags! A lovely site with some lovely photography.

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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Kaffe Fassett playmat finished just in time...!

Last week one of our customers told us...

"A few weeks back Daniela and I came (on behalf of a group of 7 friends) and bought a selection of fabrics, mainly Kaffe Fassett, from your shop to make a quilted playmat for one of the group's daughters who is expecting a baby in March. Still waiting for the baby but we finished the playmat (design from Quick and colourful quilts for babies and toddlers ed Rosemary Wilkinson)! This is our first project of this kind but we loved doing it and will be back!

Thought you might like to see the finished playmat.

Thanks for your very helpful advice."

The quilt is signed on the back "Annie, Cherry, Daniela, Gloria, Jan, Rosie and Sally. Sun 24th February 2008." So well done to all involved and what a great way to spend a Sunday!

Kaffe Fassett playmat quilt
The good news is that we received an email update today -

"Just had the great news that Sarah's baby has arrived! Born on Monday 24 March, 6lb 14 oz and named Jacob.

So that completes the story really - we finished it just in time!"
I'm sure baby Jacob will love the bright colours of the playmat.

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