A Fun Christmas Workshop with Lindsay, Nikki & Tase

A Fun Christmas Workshop with Lindsay, Nikki and Tase

In mid November for the last couple of years we have organised an “in house” Christmas workshop.  These events have been so successful and a group of members enjoyed another creative day on Monday.

Christmas worksho;p

Lindsay, Nikki and Tase (and Ann) kindly organised three different activities and members spent about an hour and a half on each.

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Lindsay had prepared felt stockings and members were given a variety of glitzy fabrics and ribbons to decorate them with hand stitching.  

The second workshop was organised by Nikki.  We were given a piece of felt, a choice of sequin waste and then had to assemble and hand stitch decoration on the label.  Once mastering the technique it could be used at any time of the year for a gift.

The final workshop was led by Tase but organised and prepared by Ann.  Members were given painted papers, templates and cardboard to make Christmas cards. There was also a great choice of stamps to add decoration.

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Thank you Lindsay, Nikki, Tase and Ann for organising such a fun day.

Report by Ros

Photos taken by Ros and Lindsay (thanks Lindsay!)

AGM & Eco printing workshop

AGM & Eco printing workshop

Unfortunately the speaker for our November had to cancel her talk and the workshop so on Monday we decided to go ahead with our AGM and members were invited to a general stitch and chat day.

At the AGM Ann Smith, our Chair, talked about the various activities during the year.  She mentioned the speakers, workshops and our successful day out to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  Our Treasurer, Maria gave a detailed explanation of our finances which was followed by the whole Committee being re-elected for another year.

The following day Ann and Tase organised an eco printing workshop which was well received by members.  

Inhouse Eco 6

Sarah B kindly offered to take some photos and made the following comments in her email to me:

It was a great day. It was exciting not knowing quite what we would find when we unwrapped our creations and finding some beautiful and very varied effects from the different leaves.

Inhouse Eco 5

My grateful thanks go to Sarah B for her photos and I am pleased to hear everyone had a fun day.


Christmas Mug Rugs with Tase!

Christmas Mug Rugs with Tase!

Tase’s passion for all things Christmas is certainly contagious and I think we’ll all be making more mug rugs for our own Christmas or as gifts!

Tase at her Xmas workshop

She had a great selection of seasonal  printed cottons that we could use, as well as festive related templates for our applique.

Tase Xmas workshop1
Christmas images
She explained clearly what we needed to do and helped us individually with placement, stitch choice, and pattern choice.   And even a couple of machine cleaning demos. So much fluff!
She demonstrated mitred corners although I personally feel that a lot of practice will be required.
Tase’s enthusiasm for teaching applique and quilting is obvious. 
Her final words to me were:
They came, they saw, and they conquered!!
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Photographs and report thanks to Lindsay S.


Sarah Maddison – Stitching my way through life

Sarah M Oct 2023 11

Sarah Maddison – Stitching my way through life

To our amusement, Sarah started her talk by explaining how she chose the unusual name for her website and facebook page, “SixtyFourpackingcases”.   She then showed us photos of her two aunts and her mum all of whom taught and encouraged her to learn to stitch from an early age.  She made her first dress at the age of 11 and delighted us all by showing a Style pattern which several of us recognised.  Living in East Anglia at the time, Sarah enrolled on a City & Guild course at Suffolk College in Ipswich and her unfulfilled dream was to create theatrical costumes.

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As an Army wife, she travelled to various countries and a lot of the inspiration for her work came from her surroundings at the time.  Sarah was unable to work when she moved to Brunei, so for a year she decided to stitch and often her creations were inspired by the jungle.  Returning to Suffolk she got together with a group of friends and organised an exhibition.  The inspiration for Sarah’s work came from the legend of St Edmund and a sculpture by Elizabeth Frink. 

Military inspired work

Another piece that we were shown was based on a great uncle who died at the Battle of the Somme aged 20 and in researching this topic she discovered 35 soldiers who were killed more recently in Afghanistan at the age of 23.  The work is entitled 35@23.

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Sarah then went on to talk about the general things that inspire her work and included ancient landscapes like Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury and the iron age fort at Danebury in Hampshire.  The moon, hares, crows and poppies also featured  in her work along with supporting text or poems.  In 2022 Sarah worked with a group to create an exhibition about Danebury Iron Age Fort Past and Present and this was displayed in the museum at Andover.

In talking about how to start a project, Sarah mentioned how she chooses between 2D and 3D and in planning a work about different Borneo tribes, she researched the wildlife, jewellery, tattoos and clothes worn by the people.  She made us laugh when she said, if it doesn’t go to plan – chop it up.  Great advice!

Bringing her talk to a close Sarah mentioned she now stitches with a group of seven other artists and they call themselves The Alchemist’s Needle. Researching their website I found a couple of names that I recognised – Alison Hulme  and Anne Hellyer who have both visited our group in the past.

Sarah M Oct 2023 1 1

In addition to the presentation Sarah brought along a wonderful selection of her work together with samples of purses and bags which she offers as workshops.  There were also a number of beautiful pieces of jewellery based on Sarah’s work and cards for members to buy.  A lot of her work is done as commissions and you can find her website details below.

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Report by Ros

Photos by Ros with permission from Sarah

Sarah’s website:

Sarah’s Facebook page:

Sarah’s Etsy page:

The Alchemist’s Needle:

SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) – Steam Museum, Swindon

A group of Committee members met on Monday to visit the SAQA exhibition of quilts currently on display in the Steam Museum in Swindon.   

I was interested to see how the members of this group came from such a variety of countries and the only name I recognised was Maggie Harris who used to be a member of our group.

Below you can read about SAQA and the theme for this exhibition which was started during lockdown.

SAQA Swindon 15
SAQA Swindon 1
SAQA Swindon 11
SAQA Swindon 12
Maggie Harris' quilt
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Playing trains!

For those of you who have not visited the Steam Museum in Swindon, you have to weave your way through the various train related exhibits before and after reaching the quilt display so, needless to say, we all had a bit of fun playing at being train drivers!  The museum is a great day out for all ages with lots of interactive exhibits for everyone.

We all enjoyed looking at the quilts on display, discussing the techniques used and the choice of design.  

The exhibition is on display until 5 November 2023

Report by Ros

Photos by Ros

SAQA website:

Steam Museum website:

Lizzie Godden workshop – An Introduction to Natural Dyeing & Eco printing

Lizzie Godden workshop – An Introduction to Natural Dyeing & Eco printing

Having seen Lizzie’s work the day before, I was very exited to be in the workshop with her! The room layout was a little different to our normal workshops and we were told to work in pairs (sorry, Clare!). The centre table was a mass of lots of types of leaves; oak, sumac, blackberry to name a few, all ready for the day.


Lizzie G ws 1

First Lizzie decanted iron water into washing up bowls and warned us to make sure we wore gloves unless we wanted black fingers for a few weeks! We picked off the leaves we wanted to use and placed them in the iron water as this is what helps the leaves to give a good print. Once covered, the leaves were placed on the strips of silk in a pattern we wanted, rolled around a dowel and boiled in a huge pan.

Whilst that was cooking, we printed leaves on watercolour and khadi paper using the same principle. Pressure is important to get a good print, so the layers of leaves and paper were pressed together between tiles and again boiled. This is a much quicker process, and we were able to see our results relatively quickly which just made us more curious about the bundles that were still boiling away!

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Lunch in the sunshine was a lovely treat! After lunch Lizzie gave us all a piece of buddleia dyed fabric which surprisingly was a beautiful soft butter yellow. After seeing some of Lizzie’s samples, we had a go at shibori, the art of stitching and pulling fabric tight to create a resist before dyeing fabric in another dye bath. Lizzie used onion skins to overdye the stitched pieces, resulting in a rich amber colour.

We were handed our dowels but told not to open them for 24 hours! Torture! (I didn’t manage 24 hours; I think I got to 20…just 😊) And I think we all abided by the gloves rule; not a black finger in sight!

Report  thanks to Tase

Photos thanks to Judy J

Lizzie’s website:


Lizzie Godden – Natural dyeing, eco printing and hand embroidery

Lizzie Godden – Natural dyeing, eco printing and hand embroidery

dyed fabric & dyed threads

We started year three of the Textile & Stitch Around Marlborough with a fantastic talk by Lizzie Godden.  Travelling from the Forest of Dean Lizzie spent two days with us, the first talking about her work and showing us beautiful examples and the second was spent with a very privileged group of members showing them her techniques for natural dyeing and eco printing. 

In the hall Lizzie displayed her dyed fabrics, dyed threads, beautiful hand embroidery, her very precious folders containing formula and recipes for her dye baths and books showing natural dyeing, eco printing and hand embroidery stitches.  To support the talk, Lizzie had two buckets of leaves which she planned to use for the workshop the following day.

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Lizzie started by explaining that she first starting experimenting with plant dyeing in the 1990’s and recommended Jenny Dean’s book, Wild Colours.  She explained that almost all of her plants came from the garden apart from madder which she bought and she showed us examples of over dyeing where the fabric is dyed, tied and dyed for a second time using another plant.  Buddleia and golden rod were important garden plants together with the skins from onions, plants from the hedgerows and leaves from trees.  Lizzie’s folders contained samples to show the shade and colour obtained using various plants.  I was particularly interested when she brought out a knife and sliced the bark off a mahonia stem.  As you can see from the photo, the colour is a deep yellow. 

Everything has been a matter of experimenting over the years and in talking about the materials used, Lizzie said she mainly uses silk material and thread, and woollen blanket as cotton tends to produce less vibrant colours.  Members were particularly interested in the cord which Lizzie had made using dyed thread and lengths of cut dyed stockinette.  In addition she had experimented making cords from plants and mentioned dandelion and bindweed.

Lizzie then went on to talk about eco-printing or printing with leaves.  The leaves are positioned topside up and the natural inks are extracted when the fabric is rolled up and left in position for several days.  You can find out more by reading the details of Lizzie’s workshop but she mentioned the best plants for eco-printing were currant leaves, brambles and her favourite was the smoke bush leaf. 

Another process that Lizzie shared was the preserving of leaves using vegetable glycerine.  Once this is done the leaf is protected, can be displayed and stitched into.

Last but not least having dyed her own fabrics and threads and eco-printed some, Lizzie hand stitches her own designs some reflecting the prints and some using stitch patterns.  She loves using unusual stitches and had several interesting books on display.  Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn’s book, Stitch Magic and the Batsford Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler.  Another book that Lizzie recommended was Alice Fox’s Natural Processes in Textile Art: From rust dyeing to found objects.

The final pieces of work we were shown was Lizzie’s lockdown project which has certainly turned out to be a family heirloom displaying a wonderful selection of designs and stitches all using natural dyed threads.

Report and photos:  Ros

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For further information and research –


Lizzie Godden:

Alice Fox:

Jenny Dean:

Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn:

Vernice’s visit to Canada – quill work exhibition

Vernice’s visit to Canada – porcupine quill work – Peterborough Museum, Ontario, Canada

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Hannah McCue

In July I was visiting relatives in Ontario and one of them knowing of my interest in “craftwork”, took me to an exhibition in Peterborough Museum.  

The exhibition was entitled “To Honour and Respect: Gifts from the Michi Saagiig Women to the Prince of Wales, 1860”. The items on display were mainly Birchbark Quillwork baskets (called makaks) which were presented to eighteen year old Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). 

Vernice Canada 2023 1 Hannah McCue age 38
Hannah McCue

This is a summary from the exhibition’s catalogue, of the background to the giving of the gifts. An event with a definite purpose beyond gift-giving to a visiting royal.  

In 1859 when Queen Victoria was petitioned by the Canadian legislature to visit her subjects, she asked her eldest son to travel in her place. The official purpose of the visit was to open the new Victoria Bridge in Montreal and to acknowledge the close relationship between Canada and the Crown. The Prince was the despair of his father, who complained that his son was interested only in clothes, so the tour had the purpose of teaching the Prince “something of royal duties and diplomacy”.


One stop on his tour was at Rice Lake (in what was then a British Colony) where the indigenous people were the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg who had a long relationship with the Crown including acting as British Allies during the Seven Years War,  the American Revolution and the War of 1812. They responded to the changing world around them in their own distinct way, retaining their language and their clans and their way of being in the universe. The Prince’s visit was thought to give the people the opportunity “of uniting in their expression of loyalty and attachment to the Throne and Empire”. However the indigenous people did not consider themselves to be British subjects, but to be Sovereign Nations allied to the Crown. To them formal alliances carried sacred expectations that each party would support and care for the other. Speeches and gifts given to the Prince carefully reminded the Crown of its obligations and responsibilities as an ally.


In anticipation of the royal visit, the Superintendent of Canada West visited his sprawling district to rally support for the occasion and to tell each community what they needed to do to prepare. The women of Rice Lake had a reputation as skilled artisans and may have been asked to create quilled birchbark gifts for the Prince.

Below are some of the exhibits.

The following is a shortened description of making the Birchbark Quillwork baskets…….


Collecting and preparing natural raw materials was part of the seasonal round and indigenous people knew the best times and places to collect these. The thickness of the Birchbark determined its use. Bark peeled in the Spring was heavier and strong enough to use for canoes; bark harvested in the early summer was thinner and used for mats and containers. Containers are made by first heating the bark over a fire or steaming it to make is pliable, then bending it into the desired shape and sewing it with basswood fibre or spruce roots. They made watertight cooking containers, bark buckets to catch maple sap, large shallow trays for winnowing wild rice and makaks or boxlike baskets in a variety of shapes to store maple sugar, wild rice and other items. Designs can be added to the makaks by scraping away the background to expose lighter bark underneath or by adding Porcupine quillwork designs. Across generations, the women learnt the skill of how to quill the patterns, plan shapes and designs and the repeated motion of bending and tacking quills as well as the modulations of colour and proportion. The baskets are decorated with both floral and geometric motifs.


These items were on loan to the Museum by permission of King Charles and are normally kept and displayed at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, so if you wanted to see them, you don’t have to travel to Canada!!

Thank you Vernice for sharing your visit along with the photos. 


Further research: 

Royal Collection Trust

Peterborough Museum

Michi Saagiig women

Fun summer workshop – stitched denim pockets

Several months ago it was suggested that we collect old denim pockets with the intention of decorating them with stitch for use at our exhibition in June next year.

A group of members gathered together on Monday with their old denim pockets, needles, threads and assortments of accessories to embellish them.

When we have an invited tutor visit us to teach a workshop,  there is always a lot to learn and very little time for chat.  This day was completely different as everyone did their own thing and there was a whole day to stitch and catch up with good friends.

Below are the pockets in progress

The choice of stitch, thread and accessory was completely our own so it was great to see such a variety.  Two members had brought their sewing machines but the majority chose hand stitching.

Summer pockets 22
Summer pockets 18

While we were all busy stitching and chatting, Annie was kindly sorting out our wonderful library.  We have a great selection and thanks to Annie it will be so much easier to see what is available to borrow.

Oh yes, and thank you Annie for making the delicious cake!!

Summer pockets 1

Great day.  Now we have got to decide what to to with these denim pockets.  Bunting, competition, display?  I wonder what we will decide.

Do remember to ink in the dates of Friday 7, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June 2024 for our exhibition.

Photos and write up by Ros

Summer Party with a difference!

Summer Party with a difference!

We are coming to the end of our second year as an independent textile group so this was a great opportunity to have an informal get together and a good old chat.

The tables were beautifully decorated with summer flowers and a salad lunch was provided followed by delicious selection of puds prepared by members.



Summer Party with a difference!
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Tase Xmas 10
Tase's favourite quilt

Now you will understand why I have entitled this post, Summer Party with a difference.  It’s July and here we are now talking about Christmas.

For those who really adore Christmas, forward planning is an important part of their lives so I had to chuckle when, after lunch, Tase got to her feet and started telling us about her collection of Christmas quilts.   She had brought her treasured quilts in the most enormous blue suitcase and by all accounts, a few were still missing.

Tase explained that each quilt had its special place in her house, some covered tables, some hung from the walls and some had practical jobs – place mats or tree skirts.  She has still got her kid’s stockings even though they are grown up and have children of their own!

Tase Xmas 2

Members, do remember to put the date of Monday 16 October in your diary because Tase will be leading a workshop entitled Christmas  Mug Rugs.  So what is a Mug Rug?  Well, according to Tase it is a mini quilt, large enough for your mug of coffee AND a slice of Christmas cake.  We live and learn!

You will be notified when bookings open for this workshop.

Thanks Tase, it was a fun afternoon!

Photos by Ros