Friday, 17 December 2010

Yo Yo Christmas Wreath

Ho Ho Ho! Yo Yo's have been very popular this year and here we feature a great use of Yo Yos to make a Christmas Wreath. If you've peeled your sprouts and potatoes and are sitting at home, watching the snow fall, twiddling your thumbs waiting for the big day to arrive (unlikely, I know but still...) here is a lovely use of lots of bits of Christmas fabrics that you may have in your stash.

And if you don't have time then maybe make this after Christmas and you'll be all ready for next year's Christmas!

Susan used a styrofoam wreath (from Hobbycraft) as the base. The fabrics were our Fruitcake Fat Quarter pack (sorry, they are now sold out), but any Xmas fabrics would work well. She made 70 large Yo-Yo's (9143, £3.40) from the fabric. Circles of netting were cut out and these were decorated with pearls, seed beads and glitter. The Yo-Yo's and netting were then pinned in place with sprigs of artificial berries pushed into the styrofoam.

Brilliant! Thanks to Susan for sharing her idea.

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Let it Snow Let it Snow...but not too much...

We all love a bit of snow at Christmas time but some of us think that it's gone a bit too far in the past twelve months.

This is the picture outside the Cotton Patch a few minutes ago and the big dark cloud is more snow on its way.

Now wouldn't it be handy if we could get a Cotton Patch sleigh complete with Donner and Blitzen (and all the other names we can't remember at the pub quiz) to deliver them. We know that its taking a lot longer than normal so we really hope that the backlog in deliveries gets through and all your parcels are delivered in time.

To all of our customers - now and in the future - Merry Christmas 2010!
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Friday, 10 December 2010

Sweet Sixteen at Quilting Retreat

A few weeks ago I took our Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen down to the Aztec Hotel in Bristol where Christine Porter was running a quilt retreat. What a treat that concept is - a luxury hotel, wonderful food, Spa with beauty treatments, old friends and maybe some new ones and best of all the chance to sit, sew and talk for four days! It was great to be able to leave the machine there for a few days so that the retreaters could try it out. Several quilts were quilted on it and some of the results are shown below together with a few other photos from the weekend.

Chris and Retreaters planning the borders..

This is Ruth's quilt, layered up and ready to go..

Izzy from Creative Quilting in Hampton, Surrey was on the retreat - she did some lovely creative Christmassy things with metallic threads.

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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Cotton Patch You Tube Channel

We've loaded up some more of our videos onto You Tube from our Salt Lake City trip in October so if you would like to see those one is shown below.

You can either view it on here or if you right-click on it and select Watch on You Tube you can watch it there and see our other video clips too.

I particularly like the part about Alan finishing off his wife's quilts for him now he is trained up on the Handi Quilter!

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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Installation of Handi Quilter

Simon and Alan were on the road again for another Handi Quilter Avante 18 with the Studio Frame installation. This time is was only as far as Knowle, which was handy for Alan as he only lives around the corner!

After setting up the Studio Frame and Avante 18 long arm quilting machine, Alan went through how to install a quilt on the frame, changing the needes, winding bobbins, checking the tension for the bobbin and the top to ensure the correct tension on the quilt and techniques of sewing.

Installation is quite straightforward and can be done by two people by following the DVDs and manuals. It does not require knowledge of the technical aspects of the machines.

We do offer an installation service, which our customer in Knowle took up, which is a chargeable option and depends on your location. Installation normally takes Alan and Simon around 2-3 hours for the frame and another 2 hours for the machine setup, bobbin winder, loading a small quilt and showing how the machine can be used.

Further courses will be available shortly on machine quilting at the new Cotton Patch Studio. If you would like more information on these please subscribe to our email newsletter.

For more information on the Handi Quilter Avante 18 and the new Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen Sit Down machine please call Geoff or Liz on 0121 702 2840.

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Videos of Handi Quilter Lessons

While we were at Handi Quilter headquarters in Salt Lake City we went through lots of techniques for quilting including using rulers, templates, pantographs and groovy boards (plastic templates which have a groove in them - you follow the etched design using a stylus). Plus we tried out loads of different threads including threads which some long arm machines find more difficult but which were a breeze in the Handi Quilter - metallics, Sliver (ribbon-like), threads so thick that you use them in the bobbin, etc. Great fun!

Here's a video taken while we tried out Metallic Thread.

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Thursday, 21 October 2010

Grace Frame Visit and Training at Handi Quilter

We certainly packed a lot into a few days. Geoff, Alan and I learnt lots from Vikki, one of the hugely knowledgeable Handi Quilter educators, about using the Avante, pantographs, Pro Stitcher, tension, needles, using rulers and templates...and the list went on!

Its a well-recognised phenomena that no quilt shop owner can visit a US city and not find time to visit a local quilt shop. So Geoff, Alan and I visited Quilters Haven - recently featured in American Patchwork and Quilting. It was a real treat and Alan was caught on camera buying a few goodies (there are lessons here..) for Denise, his wife, who also works at The Cotton Patch.

Our visit to Grace with Jaren and Sally from The Grace Company gave us some updates on the range of Grace products and a chance to learn from tips and techniques from Sally in their teaching area.

Over the next few weeks we'll be announcing some of the education and training that we will be offering on machine quilting and machine sewing at The Cotton Patch Studio. Don't forget to look back at our blog, subscribe to the blog or sign up for our email newsletter so you don't miss out on the latest news!

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Friday, 15 October 2010

An Evening in Salt Lake City

Whilst visiting Handi Quilter Headquarters we've been fortunate in being able to take in some of the surrounding area after working hard in the classroom all day.

The city of Salt Lake City is well known for being associated with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church).The Church owns 32 acres in the centre of Salt Lake City including an hotel which was built in the early 1900s. The hotel was beautifully
oppulent with incredible plasterwork and gold leaf on the decorative filials including pineapples which are symbols of hospitality. The hotel was sold to the city but after a few years it needed a lot of refurbishment and the hotel was bought back from the city by the Mormon Church and went through a thorough refurbishment program which took longer than the original building took to build! We had a tour of parts of the building and visited the old Ballroom which is now used as a Church.

Well worth a visit if you're ever in Salt Lake City. Another great place to go is The Roof which is a restaurant on the 13th floor of the old hotel. The views of the city including the State Capitol Building and the Church and Tabernacle were stunning. A beautiful sunset. The desserts were incredible too!
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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Visit to HandiQuilter Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City isn't exactly a hop skip and a jump away from Birmingham but after a day at HandiQuilter's Headquarters in Utah we felt it had been worth the almost 23 hours of being awake!

There are many quilts displayed throughout the building.

Geoff, Alan and I spent the day touring the facility, in the classroom and at the HandiQuilter machines.

The machines are made in batches - here's the latest batch of Avante 18" showing the first step of the assembly into the machine casings.

After each machine has been assembled it is taken through its paces - each of the machines in a special room has a program of fast and slow speeds thrown at it to ensure it can withstand the demanding standards of HandiQuilter quilters.

Testers ensure that the machines can quilt consistently and without errors and skipped stitches. Various quilting designs are used to make sure that the machines can do any quilting design that the quilter might want.

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

HandiQuilter Avante setup with Christine Porter

Christine Porter is a well-known quilt author, quilt judge and teacher so we were delighted when she decided to buy a HandiQuilter 18” Avante for her home studio.

Alan, who has a background in the car industry with Land Rover and BMW, Simon, an ex-engineering student and me (Liz) drove down from the Cotton Patch in Birmingham to Bristol to install Chris’s frame earlier this week. Simon and Alan unloaded the frame and carefully took it to the top floor of Chris’s house where she has two lovely long rooms containing her patchwork studio with a fabulous fabric stash (for the benefit of her husband, this is of course only a small collection!) on one side and on the other side space for the new frame had been created.


Here is Chris with the quilts from her four books all beautifully arranged and stored in a large wardrobe.


The start of the installation – setting up the frame.


Chris watching the DVD on setting up the machine while Alan and Simon put the frame together.

StudioFrameBuild3 StudioFrameBuild4


The frame erected, machine installed and test fabric loaded ready for playing!

Alan, Geoff and Liz are flying out to Salt Lake City in mid-October for an intensive training session on all of the HandiQuilter products and will be running training sessions from the Cotton Patch studio on our return. If you would like to find out more about the HandiQuilter Avante and our other frames please contact us at the Cotton Patch or sign up for our email newsletter.

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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Onion Strings

Quilters can be gardeners and gardeners can be quilters and it seems that more and more people are getting into growing their own vegetables.  I guess that means there could be more quilters too!

At The Cotton Patch we had lots of vegetable seedling and plant swops earlier in the year and now exchanges of vegetable gluts of courgettes and cucumbers are taking place.At one time we had 12 cucumbers in the fridge and we haven’t bought many vegetables since June.  I’m sure the apples will be next as it seems to be a windfall year this year. I can just see the apple being quite a prominent ingredient at the village Harvest Festival lunch next week.

Yesterday we had our annual pilgrimage to Abergavenny Food Festival which if you haven’t been has always been a really excellent way to sample some of the local food of Wales and the Marches.

TrealyFarm1 CakeStall1

We come back laden with lots of gorgeous Elan Valley Mutton, Trealy Farm Charcuterie (Hugh Fernley-Whitingstall is a fan and they won an award last year from the Food Program on Radio 4),    Gloucester Old Spot pork and Seeds of Italy seeds ready for planting next year. You get to chat to the producers and the butchers and there are usually a few bargains to be had by buying at source. Monty Don (below) chatting to one of the sausage makers of organic pork sauages.


This year we couldn’t believe how busy it was – the busiest ever apparently. It was impossible to get close to the stands for good photos so  I’ve posted a few photos from last year.  The garlic stand from the Isle of Wight was excellent with a huge variety although the climate is a bit kinder on the south coast than in Worcestershire. Our elephant garlic wasn’t quite the epic proportions that theirs were!


Still having planted our garlic bulbs it was a joyous moment when I got to string them having dried them thoroughly in the sun for several weeks.  They are now hanging along with our onions from the ceiling in the kitchen. Its a very satisfying moment when each one is cut down and used to know you’ve grown it yourself.


Our strings seems to be quite chunky compared to others but it does the job!

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Festival of Quilts Day 3 Part Deux

Saturday of Festival of Quilts was a really long but wonderful day. So long as you have bags of energy and can keep going like some contestant on the Apprentice the Festival can be pretty exciting. Lisa Lam has just that energy level and you should definitely read Lisa's Blog to get the lowdown on what it was like being an author signing books on The Cotton Patch stand with Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett and Jane Brocket.
Here are Amy and Lisa doing a book swop. I love the second picture!

And here are David and Amy Butler with Lisa Lam and Nik from The Cotton Patch.

Here are a few more pictures from the show.

Denise with Marti Michell's Block of the Month Program - American Beauty. Sign up is still

Two of the Rowan staff who were available to answer questions..
In the evening we went to Kaffe Fassett's talk on colour and inspiration which was fascinating and has me thinking about all of those images and colours that surround us but which we don't see as we walk past. It reminds me of how I used to be amazed when scuba diving how when you had seen something once (a nudibranch, camouflaged crab or lobster) suddenly they seemed to be everywhere. Of course it was just the fact that my eye had become attuned to the shape, colour and pattern of this new discovery.
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Monday, 23 August 2010

Festival of Quilts 2010 Day 3

Its always interesting to see at the Festival of Quilts how many people stay for several days. By Saturday (Day 3) some faces were becoming remarkable familiar. Groups of Danes and French ladies in particular come to mind. My French was tested on a number of occasions - fortunately a combination of sign language and a few key "quilting" terms usually gets me by!

Seeing so many amazing quilts and fabrics every day you can't help but be struck by colour. I
walked past Diana and Sandy and thought how co-ordinated they were with each other and their background of Creative Comfort Gloves!

Nikki has worked during the summer holidays at The Cotton Patch for the past seven years and studies engineering at University - here she is with Chad from HandiQuilter in front of Marti Michell's Block of the Month Program - American Beauty.

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Festival of Quilts 2010 Day 2

Day 2 was super busy at Festival so to give those of you reading this blog a feel for day 2 - here is a quick roundup.

Mark (CEO of HandiQuilter) and Suzanne Hyland (Demonstrator and Educator from HandiQuilter) came over with Chad, their son, from Salt Lake City, Utah to show the new HandiQuilter 18" Avante Longarm Quilting Machine and the Sitdown 16" HandiQuilter.
Here they are with Geoff Sewell, founder of The Cotton Patch.

This is Chad with the Avante 18" Longarm Quilting Machine and Studio Frame.

Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably (Brandon is the one with the cheesy grin!)

Kaffe Fassett book signing..

Jane Brocket signed copies of her book "The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking". Officially in my top 10 favourite quilting books list this is a book you can really sit down and read. Its not a coffee table book and its not just a "how to". This book gives you a feel for what inspires Jane and more about the way choices of fabrics, colours and design are influenced by life experiences. Taking the fear out of starting quilts , getting them made and finished in a spontaneous, creative way are some of the messages I picked up from my first reading (and I will be reading and re-reading this book many times).Jean Sewell, founder of The Cotton Patch, waiting for the next customer on the main miscellaneous products stand.

Browsing through Amy's books..

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