Monday, 4 August 2014

Creative Blog Hop

Round the World Creative Blog Hop

A little while ago I was kindly invited by Helen Phillips, whose lovely blog of the same name I'm sure you are familiar with ( if not you have been missing out on a whole load of loveliness so get yourself over there double quick!) to take take part in the Creative Blog Hop that is doing the rounds at the moment.

Helen creates the prettiest  of pretty quilts, cushions, pincushions, cross-stitch designs and all sorts of items in her own beautiful and unique style, and as an artist, illustrator and designer she is author of several lovely books as well as being a regular contributor of craft projects in craft magazines. I must also mention Heather at Pink Milk who also kindly linked to me in her Creative Blog Hop post although with no obligation on my part to participate at that time, but I was touched that she should think of me. Heather has a magic touch when it comes to creating perfectly beautiful, neat and pretty crochet projects.

From what I can gather I need to answer four questions then pass on the baton to a few more creative bloggers. So here goes................

1. What am I working on now?

At the moment I am playing around with hand sewn patchwork and experimenting with simple squares using scraps of original 1930's and 40's fabrics including some feedsack fabrics from the US, and am in the process of creating some simple hand pieced and hand quilted cushions. 

This is an extension to other projects I have recently been working on using simple shapes, such as triangles, diamonds and squares, and I have recently made a few contemporary style cushions using these shapes in bright colours. I like how the simplest of shapes can make stunning designs.

These simple shapes and using up scraps of clothing and old linens remind me of how patchwork and quilting were often a necessity for many, and the American pioneer aspect of patchwork and quilting has always drawn me - the bare basics of using what you had to hand, hanging onto scraps of fabric and old clothing to make into a quilt to keep you warm. 

A few years ago I made a small quilt for the annual Quilters Guild Challenge at Hever Castle in Kent on the theme of Log Cabins. My quilt was inspired by the lives of the brave pioneer women in America and reflected my choice of blocks. The Courthouse steps variation of the Log Cabin block took centre place, and the blocks surrounding it all had names (embroidered above each block) which related to aspects of life and the hardships the pioneers would have experienced in their journeys and in building a homestead and new life.

I've also recently been drawn to the uncomplicated but interesting stitching on gingham known as Chicken Scratch, and made a few cushions with more to come. Hard for me to resist the combination of gingham and cross stitch!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Two things underlie most of what I make. Either one or sometimes both can be found in each piece I make.

One is the principle of re-purposing something, taking a scrap of beautiful vintage curtain fabric, or an old work shirt, or a pretty vintage lace trim or embroidery, then sewing it into something useful. For me the two go hand in hand - I love to give new life to something discarded and unwanted, with an end result that is hopefully both beautiful and useful. William Morris had it right to my mind, but for me it does mean I make a lot of cushions hence the opening of my online shop

Often I keep things very simple and let the vintage fabrics speak for themselves - sometimes anything extra would just detract from the beauty of the old fabric, so I adopt a less is more approach and try not to over elaborate unnecessarily. 

As well as enjoying working with beautiful vintage fabrics from the UK, and feedsack fabrics from the US, I also have a love of vintage French and European fabric, and have a range of items that have a French country feel to them, with more in the pipeline - thanks for reminding me Vivienne!

The other aspect is the handmade or decorative element. I loved embroidery and sewing from an early age and went on to do 'A' level Art specialising in printed textiles and creative embroidery, so many of my pieces will have a hand embroidered or hand sewn element to them, or just a small unexpected detail which makes them different. To me something hand sewn makes for something unique and special.

I plan to incorporate hand printed textiles, as well as other textile designs, soon and have experimented on and off over the years since my 'A' level studies - more of that to come in the future I hope!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

It's what I am, what I do. I have to make things, else something is missing in my life. It took a back seat during years of studying and working in non-creative fields and being a busy Mum, but now I can finally spend time experimenting and creating, and using my stash of vintage and recycled fabrics gathered over the years.

My love of vintage fabrics is nothing new  - as a little girl my happiest memories are those of playing with the fabric stashes and button boxes of my Mum and Granny, dressing up in wonderful old vintage floral frocks, making tents from old sheets and tasselled silk piano shawls. 

It is inherent in me to make something new from old. To use what I have to hand. To try to make my surroundings attractive and personal. Scarcely in my teens I was hand piecing whatever scraps of fabric I could find to make patchwork cushions, a patchwork cover for an old wicker ottoman in my bedroom, a large patchwork bean bag for a friends birthday present...... suede off-cuts were made into bags and belts..........satisfying my need for fabric was met by picking up all sorts of fabric and clothes from jumble sales for just a few pence, many of which I couldn't bear to cut up.......vintage floral linen curtains, beautiful silk taffeta ball gowns, silk shawls, dresses, beautiful hand made crepe de chine petticoats from the 30's........I loved all the clothes and wonderful fabrics of the past, the hand sewn neatness of them, and the time spent making a garment intrigued me, probably as a reaction to the horrible mass produced polyester clothes and fabrics of my 60's childhood! I was a vintage dresser from my mid teens, decades before it became fashionable, although I rarely dress in vintage clothes now - that's because it's no longer unique!

Making something new from old also applies to old furniture, and as soon as I had my own place I bought old pieces of furniture and painted them.......and I'm still doing that now.

4. How does my writing/ creating process work?

It varies. Sometimes I'll take an idea and sketch it out then work from my plan. Other times ideas come unbidden from something I've seen whilst out and about that gives me an idea for a cushion, embroidery or patchwork design, such as a wood carving in a church, an unexpected colour combination in a garden, a shadow of foliage, old decorative tiles....these are scribbled down for when I have time - I have large notebooks full of half-forgotten ideas which I dip into from time to time.  Also when half asleep I often get ideas so I keep a notebook by my bed. 

Other times a fabric itself suggests an idea.  More often than not I start with a vision of what I'm trying to achieve, but then allow the idea to evolve more slowly, seeing where it will take me, playing around with options, then somehow I know when enough is enough even if the end result is a bit different from what I first envisaged.

And that's enough about me! 

With so many talented and creative people out there, many who have already been "tagged" in this Hop, and it being the summer holidays too with people away, it's hard to narrow it down and nominate who to pass the Hop onto. 

But having got the thumbs up from Vivienne at Green Rabbit Designs I would like to nominate Vivienne as one. I'm sure many of you know her already, she never ceases to amaze me with her beautiful Bunny Girls and I'd love to know more about her design process.

Other blogs I find very inspiring but haven't got round to confirming if they are happy to take part are Kristen at Cozy Made Things and Clare at Selfsewn

I hope they don't mind me linking to them at least, with no obligation on their part to take this forward unless they choose to. If you haven't already visited them I think you'll enjoy seeing what original things they make and how creative they are. I find them both inspiring.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the blogs I've linked to! 


  1. Brilliant post Gill, I love all your creativity especially your amazing cushions. I also love your French style, one of your little 'Paris' hearts is the first thing I see every morning!
    Lovely to hear all about your creative process and thank you for passing the baton on to me, I hope my post is as interesting as yours!
    V x

  2. It was lovely to see more of your work and to read about it and how you create as well Gill. Your quilt is really beautiful, and you know that I love your cushions! xx

  3. I loved this post, and a peek into your creative life. The textile and embroideries course has stood you in good stead, your work is always fresh and beautifully done. CJ xx

  4. Gorgeous, but I have to say the French country feel one is my favorite. Oh I love those :)

  5. Thank you for passing on your creative thoughts, I do like your contempary designs and colour choice, I am impressed that you some-times sketch out an idea. I just dive right in. :-)

  6. Ah Gill, I have been a huge admirer of you and your beautiful work for quite some time now and so have really enjoyed reading more about your creative processes and of your background that has stood you in such good stead for the loveliness you are creating now. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your gorgeous projects with us:) Hugs, Joy xo

  7. Thank you for giving us some insight into your creative process - I do so love your cushions, such a variety, and all with careful consideration and creativity behind them! Chrissie x

  8. Lots of pretty things, warm quilts and soft pretty pillows you can't beat them.

  9. All your work is so beautiful. I also prefer hand sewing but I don't do a lot - I stick more to knitting and crochet. I've never seen Chicken Scratch before - it looks good.

  10. Hi Gill, lovely post, and so nice to see some of your earlier work.I have just visited Cozy Things and love the way she writes. Love Linda xx

  11. Hello it's me again! I think you may need to check your links, I couldn't get Selfsewn, and got Cosy Things twice. X

  12. This was a lovely read. I'm so glad to see more of your work. You're very talented and I always enjoy seeing what you've been up to. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I enjoyed hearing more about you Gill! I always enjoy looking at the beautiful things you make.

    Madelief x

  14. Thank you for sharing this with us Gilian. I loved to see aal those projects passing..

  15. Hello Gillian

    I loved reading all about your life, your inspiration and choice of materials. Your work is beautiful and I agree that hand sewing adds magic to a piece


  16. What a lovely post Gillian, I really enjoyed reading about your creative endeavours and inspiration. I really love all your gorgeous makes and you have shown such craftsmanship in the things that you make. You certainly know just how to make something look beautiful! Wishing you a very happy weekend xoxo

  17. Such an interesting post, Gill! A really lovely read, and I enjoyed seeing those gorgeous have such beautiful fabric combinations and colours and I love the hand sewing you do very much.
    Happy weekend!
    Helen xox

  18. Lots of gorgeous makes, and I love your passion for making something new and beautiful from the old and no longer wanted, something that's very dear to my heart too.

  19. Hello Gill, you're a new find for me via the lovely Viv at Green Rabbit Designs. Love your pillow - especially the blue shirt/stripe quilted cushion - think you may have given me some inspiration for using up some old shirts of my husband's that are in my fabric stash!

  20. Gill, your kindly bloggy ways and your beautifully meticulous needlework are such an inspiration to me--the quilt in your last photo is a particular favorite, and every time I see it, English garden-type dreams flood my mind. Thank you so much for the link! :)


Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to leave a comment - I love to read them!
Gill x