Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Cotton Patch on the BBC News

We weren't sure if it was really going to happen or not, but it did! We were asked by the BBC to comment on the increase in cotton prices and the effects on our business. We did an interview at the Cotton Patch Studio and Shop for the 6 O'clock News on the BBC which was aired on the 22nd March 2011.
It featured Liz Holpin from the Cotton Patch using the Handi Quilter Avante 18 and a short interview on the effects of increased cotton prices on the business as well as a Bloomberg Cotton prices graph traced using the laser light onto a quilt using the Handi Quilter Avante 18!

You can see more photos on our new Facebook page here.

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Quilts for Japan

None of us can fail to have been  moved by the dramatic effects of the power of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan just over a week ago.  There are many quilters throughout the world who will want to help in some way and as we know from the success of projects like Project Linus and Comfort Quilts and various other quilts for injured military personnel, quilts represent comfort in a way that illustrates more than just giving money - they provide warmth but also the caring of the person who took the time to make the quilt.

We received an email from Christine Porter who in turn has received emails as follows - if you would like to be involved in helping by donating a quilt to Japan please read on...

Today I received this email from Naomi Ichikawa, Editor of Patchwork Quilt Tsushin magazine via Valerie Hearder from Canada.

This morning I received an email from Naomi Ichikawa, Editor of Patchwork
Quilt Tsushin Magazine.
Naomi lives in Tokyo and her mother and brother survived the tsunami in

Naomi asked me to please spread the word about the plea for comfort quilts.
I hope you can help spread the word.

Here is Naomi's request:

Dear Valerie
It is still bad situation now in Japan.
We are still nervous about shaking and radiation,but no way to escape.

I start to announce to the quilters to send us comfort quilts for the
people who are suffered.I would like to do it to the world quilters.
We will deliver the comfort quilts to the people who are very difficult
Could you please help to announce it to the quilters in your country?

We accept any size of quilts(baby to adult).new or unused.
The deadline would be the end of May or later.

Things are even more difficult than they expected and hope if you are sending quilts, please wait until AFTER MAY to send them. They thank you for understanding.
When you ship quilts into Japan, be sure to put a low value on the package – under £50.00 - to avoid duty for the receiver.

★Send the quilts to:

Naomi Ichikawa
Patchwork Tsushin Co.,Ltd
2-21-2,Yushima,Bunkyo-ku,Tokyo,Japan zip:113-0034

I will appreciate if you help me.


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Monday, 21 March 2011

Grove Community Project

We enjoyed our visit last Tuesday to the Grove Community Project in Handsworth to see how our joint project with the photographer Liz Hingley, Nadine Reid from the Cotton Patch and Grove Community Project through its Head Sarah Wood was going.

We've sponsored the use of fabric, pre-treated fabric for printing onto and thread as well as helped provide the link for the donation of other items including wadding and Steam a Seam 2 from Warm and Natural in the States.

Liz with the aid of funding for a photography project from Birmingham City Council has spent time with the children at the nursery getting them to use cameras to take photos of each other. The result has been a book of three sections of the body - head, body and legs which can be mixed and matched like a flip-book with fun results for the children. These photos were then printed out using a laser jet printer onto specially treated cotton poplin fabric. Large wall-hangings of the heads, bodies and legs are being made in sections which will be backed and quilted with wadding and backing fabric. Each section is separate and can be mixed with a different head or legs for example!

Photos have also be printed onto silk fabrics and these transluscent fabrics will be made into long wall-hangings with fine thread joining them. Liz Hingley has been collaborating with the Open University Library in Milton Keynes to produce an exhibition of the works in September 2011. Other venues for displaying the wall-hangings are also being planned.

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Thursday, 10 March 2011

Success Story - Anniversary Edition Machine

On the 10th Anniversary of The Cotton Patch we launched our Anniversary Edition Sewing machine. It was a robust machine with no computerised screens, just knobs you could turn and buttons you could press and with all the basic stitches that you would need for patchwork and quilting. We packaged it with a walking foot, a darning foot (Big Foot), a quarter inch foot (Little Foot) and a satin stitch foot together with the Sew Steady Table.

In conjunction with one of the patchwork and quilting magazines we ran a competition for someone to win the Anniversary Edition sewing machine. We didn't know it then but the winning of the machine for that particular person would prove to be an integral part of their future career.

The photo above shows Helen Culver (when she was just 15) with Jean and Geoff Sewell when she won the Anniversary Edition sewing machine. I recently touched base with her to see how she was getting on - her mother is a customer and she had sent a link to Helen's graduation ceremony. Helen filled us in on what has happened since she won the machine 10 years ago....

I graduated from Derby University with 1st Class Honours in BA(Hons) Fashion Studies in June last year. I went straight into a job as a Junior Garment Technologist at a Children's Character Licensed Clothing Company (Smith&Brooks, which is now owned by Sports Direct), but I only stayed there for 3 months before I was offered a job by BC International.
BC International is a clothing company dealing with Character branded clothing including Disney, Spongebob, Muppets, Snoopy etc, supplying to retailers including Topshop, River Island, Littlewoods, BHS and many more. I did a 15-month placement at BC International between my 2nd and 3rd years at uni, and they contacted me as soon as a permanent position became available after I graduated. I have been working there since September as a Product Developer and I love it :)

The job title probably needs some explanation, it's not a common role ...

A Product Developer develops a product from design stage to in-store - so someone else designs the garments, then I am responsible for the type of fabrics used; the type of prints and techniques used; the silhouette and fit of a garment; technical drawings; safety compliance; ensuring the garments pass wash testing etc. ... Its a very technical and varied role.
I have always wanted to do something 'technical' in the Fashion Industry - I enjoy designing and I am good at it, but I'm not as passionate about designing as I am about pattern cutting and (boring) technical stuff like that!!
This is my website if you would like to have a look ...
My Graduate Collection is on there :) a lot of hard work and pain went into that, as I'm sure you can imagine!!

For 5 years alongside doing my degree I worked in a fabric shop and had my own Clothing Alterations business that I ran from there. Doing this, along with constantly sewing for my degree left me no time to do any kind of sewing for pleasure, and eventually took all the fun out of sewing :( When I finished my degree and left the fabric shop, I couldn't even bear to go into my sewing room! My lovely sewing machine sat gathering dust!
However, I'm pleased to say that since Christmas, my passion has been rekindled :) I have dusted away the cobwebs and resurrected some long forgotten projects and am patchworking again like crazy :) Finally getting to use the beautiful 'charm packs' I have saved up! I'd forgotten how much fun patchwork is, I'm so pleased to be sewing for me again, I love it!

The Anniversary machine is still going strong and seems to enjoy sewing as much as we all do!

Isn't that a great story? So, if you have a young person who is interested in sewing, encouraging them now could lay the foundation for something really amazing in the future.
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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Show and Tell Session

While we were at Chris Porter's quilting retreat the group was renamed by a democratic process as Gourmet Quilters - a return visit is planned for next year. In the meantime the last evening was a Show and Tell session - some of the quilts were finished off or almost finished at the retreat.

We started with a quilt I began a few years ago. I claim that it's a test of how long you can leave quilting tacks in and not leave a hole in your quilt. :-) My test is now into double-digit years. Not bad going and no, it doesn't leave holes. The Barn Raising Log Cabin design is in 1 inch wide logs with lots of Mission Valley Plaids, Thimbleberries and Debbie Mumm fabrics along with some old shirtings. It has a Joseph's Coat border. So far I've quilted the centre on my old Bernina 1130 with a circle of feathers followed by small stipples in the light section. That required a few glasses of Australian Chardonnay.

However, now we have the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen the rest of the quilt should be a breeze!

This is a work in progress - a design that Sally Ablett created using EQ7. Its not pieced - all raw edge applique designs.

This is Chris Day with a quilt she made and then used the scraps to make a second quilt!

Another of Sally's EQ7 designs - a lovely star with silver fabrics and quilted using an Aurifil thread called Brillo - she has convinced me that we need to get some in!

Sally Ablett is one of the most prolific quilters I know - she makes many quilts for Fabric Freedom, magazines and books. Many of the quilts are designed using the latest version of Electric Quilt - EQ7. The one below was started on Thursday and finished by Sunday in between doing other things. Sally had a tight time-scale to work to so the pressure was on!
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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Funky Shoes

Chris Day has these amazing shoes and it seemed impossible for anyone else who had the same size feet to resist the temptation to try them on! Above is Roz.
Chris above and below trying on the funky shoes and enjoying the excellent food and wine at the Aztec Hotel.

The group...

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Saturday, 5 March 2011

Quilting Retreat Treats

Well does it get any better than this? I haven't been outside since Thursday morning (its now Saturday evening) and there is no guilt trip because I haven't walked the dog. Instead I am in the delightful position of deciding between quilting my Marianne Fons quilt from 1990 something (another UFO I confess) or my Log Cabin quilt or helping Daphne do her Linus Quilt on the Handi Quilter Avante 18". Yes, I'm on a quilt retreat with Chris Porter in Bristol and loving it!

Here are some pictures...back to the quilting after I've posted these!

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Friday, 4 March 2011

Christine Porter on The Quilt Show

Christine Porter and Darra Williamson are currently starring on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. They've revived Sunbonnet Sue and brought her barbequeing and skiing into the 21st Century! Their books is published by Martingale Publications and should be available soon.

For just a week you can view the Quilt Show episode here (you'll need to Register for Free and you can view it up till the 13th March) in which Chris via Skype guests on the show with Darra. She even mentions how she used our Cotty thread for the quilts in the book and Alex demos the applique stitch using Cotty from The Cotton Patch!

Look our for the book on our website soon. For more information on Chris Porter please visit her website.

Well done Chris!
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