Saturday, 19 May 2018

Book Club - The Forgotten Seamstress (3)

My next recommendation is The Forgotten Seamstress, by Liz Trenow.

This is a story consisting of two parts, beautifully presented in parallell throughout the book, and then expertly brought together creating a captivating and lovely story.

One of the author’s voices belongs to Maria, a former orphan who ended up as a seamstress at Buckingham Palace just before the First World War. Maria and her friend Nora are doing really well at the Palace, and it’s fascinating to read about their time in service. Maria is young and although she is very experienced with a sewing needle, she is much less so in other areas and she finds herself in a rather inconvenient situation. She ends up at Helena Hall, a mental asylum, despite her ‘fault’ being nothing relating to her mental capabilities at all. Throughout the book, her story is presented in a series of transcripts from interviews with her as part of a research project.

The other voice belongs to Caroline, living on London, who enjoys interior design and finds her grandmother’s old embroidered quilt in the loft. We follow Caroline as she tries to track down the maker of the quilt and to find out how it ended up in the loft. One of Caroline’s friends, a fabric conservator, recognises some of the fabrics as possible unique and rare royal wedding silks.

All in all this is a great story, built around true historic events and plausible consequences for young ladies at the time.

Intrigued by the book and Maria’s quilt? 

Liz Trenow comes from a family of silk weavers, something she’s used to great effect in one of her other books (The Silk Weaver).

Trenow writes on her homepage that The Forgotten Seamstress was inspired partly by a piece of unique royal silk that she discovered, but also by her personal experience of spending a couple of nights in a clinical ward at a former Victorian mental asylum.

Throughout the book are detailed descriptions of the quilt (including sleeping rough on the streets of London!); and a pattern has been developed together with Lynne Edwards MBE. To see details of Maria’s quilt, including accessing the pattern, please head over to Liz Trenow’s blog.

I'll select a new book in about a month's time.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Christmas make in May...

As part of the work with the UKQU website, I was given some Makower Christmas fabrics to make something with - more or less free marketing for Makower and a chance to play with some fabrics for me... I don't often accept 'making something for nothing', but this being the Scandi 2018 range and being allowed to keep the makes, I couldn't resist.

With the bright sunlight this weekend it was rather difficult to get great pictures, and one is definitely out of focus..

Head over to to see the full article, including a short tutorial on how I made the runner.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Book Club - Sew Deadly (2)

Looking in the Book Club Forum over on many of you seem to have enjoyed The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier, our book for April. If you’d like to read more by the same author, she has also written The Girl with the Pearl Ear Ring; although no quilting or sewing connection, this is another great read.

It is a bit early, but some of you have been eager to find out what our next book is.

With the book for May 2018, we are changing genre, but staying in the United States. This time we are moving to the deep south, to a small village called Sweet Briar, located in South Carolina, to follow a sewing circle.

The book we are going to read is called Sew Deadly, and is written by Elizabeth Lynn Casey.

The plot 

Victoria Sinclair, or Tori as she prefers to be known, is seeking to rebuild her life in a new place after previous disappointments. She manages to land herself a job as a librarian in a small town, far away from the bustle of the larger city where she has been working until recently. She has great expectations for her new life and is bubbling with ideas on how to make reading a fun and captivating experience, especially for children. She is very enthusiastic and has a great drive to get things done.

What she didn’t know when accepting the job is that she’s the first new person to move to Sweet Briar in quite a few years and that the former librarian was pushed out, and is still living in the town! Unsurprisingly, Tori is not feeling as welcome as she was hoping. Add to that a very unexpected murder…

This is a murder mystery, with a feel-good factor, all linked together by a sewing circle. 

If you enjoy the book, you may be excited to know that this is the first book in a series of 12 (!) about the same small town sewing circle and the varied lives of its members.

Personally, I am intrigued to read more of the books, even if it’s just to find out how it goes for everyone and what projects they work on next.

Join the discussion 

If you would like to discuss the book, please join the discussion in the comments below or in the Facebook group UKQU Social.

Top tip: Try to finish the book during the earlier part of May, as a new book will be revealed for June towards the middle/end of May.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Book Club - The Last Runaway (1)

Based on the feedback in our Facebook group UK Quilters United and the linked website ( I have found myself running a book club focusing on quilting and sewing related novels. As I am writing this, there are 135 members in the book club!

The first book was revealed at the beginning of April 2018. To start us off, I selected Tracy Chevalier’s The Last Runaway.

The plot
It is in the 1850s, in the midst of the slave trade in the United States. The main character, Honor Bright, has recently arrived from Dorset to Ohio, to keep her sister company. Honor ends up living in a milliner’s shop who’s owner is part of a underground operation helping runaway slaves to reach freedom in Canada.

After this she goes to live with a Quaker family, and she really misses Dorset. Many of you will recognise the descriptions here. This is also where she is exposed to quilting as part of every day life. The descriptions in the book will make you smile and nod in agreement, whereas at other times you may shake your head in disagreement, or wonder why you’ve never done it that way…

Join the discussion
If you would like to take part in the discussions about the book, please head to the UKQU website to join the UKQU Book Club. You need to be logged into the website to be able to join the group. If you can’t see the ‘join’ button, try to log in to the website again and it should work. It's free to join both the website and the Book Club group.

** Adapted from my post on the UKQU website **

Friday, 23 February 2018

Easter egg scramble - FPP pattern

 I really enjoyed creating the pattern for the foundation paper pieced logo for UK Quilters United, so much so that I wanted to create some more FPP patterns. Trying to come up with an idea, which also forced me to have a deadline, I started thinking about the festivities coming up. I realised I was too late to make something for Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day is not really celebrated at my place (although it is at work), so the next holiday that sprung to my mind was Easter.

Thinking about the festivities coming up, I realised I was too late to make something for Valentine's Day. St Patrick's Day is not really celebrated at my place (although it is at work), so the next holiday is Easter. After doing a search on Google and Pinterest, I realised that there were no great patterns available for eggs. There are loads of patterns for chickens and bunnies readily available, but alas no eggs, unless you like to appliqué them.

Bring on the challenge! After a bit of drafting, trial and error style, and testing of the pattern, including trying to make it with fewer pieces to save time, I finally had a pattern which seemed smooth enough to actually look like a proper egg. Below are a few of my makes, many more are on my Instagram.

Bumbleberries by Lewis and Irene, available from Sugar Bowl Crafts, made by Mel (thank you!)

Leaving the Easter theme behind and instead focusing on the shape, and by using just this one basic block, there are lots of possibilities. I really like this, almost autumnal fabric which I had in my stash. If you have time, perhaps create a full quilt? Rotate the blocks, use scrappy background and you can create something completely unique.
As a larger lap quilt, with a bit of random block placement

Discount codes - fabrics and pattern:
Head over to Sugar Bowl Crafts and buy any of the four shades of pastel Bumbleberries featured above (CandyFloss, Light Duck Egg, Mellow Yellow, Lavender) and get 10% off using the code ‘BossyOz10’ at checkout (while stocks last!).

Get your pattern in my UKQU shop:
To get a 20% discount on the pattern, use the code ‘SBC1820’ at checkout.

Both codes mentioned above are valid until the end of March 2018.

Please let me know what you make by tagging with #bossyozpatterns.

The possibilities are endless!

Have fun!

/ Nina x