Norfolk Bricks - a new cushion

Keeping up with things was difficult last week and I was sorry to have missed Saturday’s Art Studio post, but I wanted to share a new quilting project for Kathy’s Slow Stitching Sunday – and as it’s already Monday I’d say I’m a little late for that party too!  Still, better late than never I hope.

When I began designing and writing the pattern for my Norfolk Bricks lap quilt, it was always my intention that it would be one of a collection of patterns for adventurous beginners. This new cushion project is another small step towards that goal (everything has had to move much more slowly than I’d planned due to Kim’s health). I took inspiration for this patchwork design from the flint walls of Norfolk cottages that are decorated with brick shards.

Carstone and flint wall, Norfolk © Stephanie Boon, 2014

Norfolk Cottage Wall

I’m using a fairly traditional English paper piecing design that, for me, will capture the essence of the patterns you can see there. Obviously there’s nothing traditional about the colours I’m working with – at all!  The orange and pink palette is a nod towards the earthy carrstone and terracotta colours of the natural building materials, and the punctuating black squares to the deep tones of the broken flint, but I don’t like to try and replicate what I see. For me design should speak about the maker as much as the inspiration.  And, at the moment, I need colour like I need sunshine!

Norfolk Bricks Octogan Cushion English Paper Piecing © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Basting 3/4″ squares

Norfolk Bricks Octogan Cushion English Paper Piecing © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Thinking about the layout as I baste the octogans

Norfolk Bricks Octogan Cushion English Paper Piecing © Stephanie Boon, 2015

It’s like shuffling cards!

There is another reason to have a small portable EPP project on the go right now: it’s likely Kim will be admitted to hospital next week, in Plymouth (we’ll know for sure on Friday) – which is about 130 mile round-trip by train. I’ll definitely need something to occupy my hands for that!

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead with plenty of time for quilting too.  I hope you’ll forgive my erratic postings of late, but all being well I hope to be back again during the week, for now though I’m linking up with Slow Stitching Sunday over at Kathy’s Quilts – head on over to see what everyone’s been working over the weekend.
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And relax! (How to hand quilt a 9-patch border)

Easter Sunday, quiet and peaceful. It’s just Kim, myself, the cats and the chickens – and Kim’s spent most of the day asleep! It’s been a blessing and has meant that I’ve been able to get on with quite a bit of hand quilting this afternoon. Losing myself in the sound of the thread coming through the layers, with the warmth of the quilt on my lap and Wuthering Heights (the black and white 1939 version!) on the laptop in the background reminds me of the quiet, lazy Sundays of childhood (a black and white film on the tv in the afternoon and nothing else to do but watch it!).

 Lily the cat sitting on a quilt in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Gratuitous cat photo! Helping Lily? No!

I’ve been sat at my desk stitching with the heavenly scent of narcissi wafting in from the sitting room. And Lily has been ‘helping’.

Norfolk Bricks, lap quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Hand stitched nine-patch border on my Norfolk Bricks lap quilt

Time has gone quickly and I’m very happy with my progress.  I’ve almost finished quilting the nine patch squares in three  borders of the quilt and the texture is just what I hoped for.

How to quilt the borders

It’s very easy to achieve this look.  First of all quilt the squares in the ditch. Next mark out the square quilting lines in pencil (which you can see in the photographs) with a quarter inch ruler placed along the seam.

Rather than quilting each square individually, it’s much quicker and easier to work in rows: starting on the righthand side (if you’re right handed) stitch one row along the entire length of the border bridging the gap between squares by carrying the thread between the layers at the end of one pencil line (which is the corner of a square) and the beginning of the next (the next corner of a square) (see below).

Hand Quilting, © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Bridging the gap between squares

Complete all the horizontal rows in this way.

Next you stitch the vertical rows using the same method.  As these are much shorter rows of only three squares you can go up the side of one set of squares and back down the other without having to cut and bury your threads, remembering to bridge the gap between squares as shown above..

Hand Quilting © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Direction of stitching for the short rows

It’s much quicker this way because you’re not having to turn your work all the time.  You’ll soon become aware of how many stitches you need to take to cross a side of a square too (about 6 in my case on this quilt) which will help you line up the stitches in the corner of each square too.

Norfolk Bricks quilt close up - © Stephanie Boon, 2015

In detail

And that’s it! I hope you’ll have a go and let me know how you get on, and of course if you have another method leave a comment below – I love trying out new techniques!


I also managed to finish up some Ocean Waves blocks during the week, which has made a big difference to my feelings of accomplishment with this quilt top.  I’ve taken a few photographs so if all goes well hope to show you how I”m getting on during the week.

Today though I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching and hope to see what you’ve been up to too.  Although Kim my have other ideas for this evening… we’re about to watch Interstellar together, should be fun!

Until next time, Happy Easter and even happier stitching!

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Art Studio

Hello dear friends. I’m sorry it’s been a very empty week here on the blog and social media;  I’ve missed you and missed visiting you around the internet too, but Kim is still unwell and taking care of him has been my priority. In quieter moments though I’ve managed some patchwork and hand quilting and look forward to sharing it with you – I’ve just not had the time to put it into pictures and words, but I have finally made a start so hopefully will be able to show you something in the next day or two.

Kim has obviously been very much preoccupying me so for this week’s Art Studio post I thought I’d show you a couple of drawings I made of him when he was much younger.  Mostly I only get to draw him when he’s asleep! He really doesn’t want to sit still for me for more than 5 minutes, so most of the portraits I do of him end up in the bin or really aren’t very good at all.  I still quite like these sketches though:

Portrait of Kim, Graphite, 1999. © Stephanie Boon, 1999

1 Year Old, 1999

Portrait of Kim, Pen and Ink, 2004. © Stephanie Boon, 2004

6 years old, 2004

Portrait of Kim, Graphite, 2011. © Stephanie Boon, 2011

13 years old, 2011

They’re all quite different really, but each one captures something of him, for me.  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them.  Hopefully I’ll be back on Sunday for some slow stitching, fingers crossed.

Happy Easter and happy stitching.

Much love
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Art Studio

My temples and jaw ache from clenching my teeth. All week it seems.  Stress. Difficult things to address, deadlines to meet. Even quilting hasn’t helped. There’s just been no time. Instead I’ve been sewing a dress for a friend, designing the pattern from scratch. It was a pretty time consuming task alongside the all encompassing health appointments for both my son and me.  I took solace in a book. A wonderful, poetic book of non-fiction. It’s the type of book I’m particularly drawn to these days: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.

The wind was battering my bedroom window this morning and I decided to hibernate, stay under the covers the day long.  It was the first day with no commitments for what felt like an eternity.  Between bouts of deep, headache-inducing sleep I read.  I read about a bereavement and the ensuing depths of depression of a woman who retreated from the world of humans and lived for and alongside, even inside, her goshawk. I recognise her fall into blackness only too well and I wonder how far I am heading into the gloom now.

I think about today’s Art Studio post, this post, and what I could possibly show you. I’m not in the mood for joyous colours today and the book has woken a memory of my own obsession with a bird of prey in 2007. I found a dead tawny owl. I found scores of dead birds and drew them, identified with them. I was enduring another interminably long episode of chronic depression and the obsession seemed to be the only meaning I could find in anything.

Here are a few of the owl drawings I made. If you don’t like to be confronted with death, maybe you’d prefer not to look, but for me there was a strange beauty in it that I couldn’t stop searching for.


In the Wake of it All (dead owl). Pen and ink on paper. © Stephanie Boon, 2007

Pen and ink

Killed by Car (owl),  Conte and charcoal on paper. © Stephanie Boon 2007,

Conte and charcoal on paper

I am Nothing, Conte and charcoal on paper, © Stephanie Boon, 2007

Conte and charcoal on paper

Change of Events (owl and songbirds),  Conte and charcoal on paper . © Stephanie Boon, 2007

Conte and charcoal on paper

This wasn’t the first time I’d drawn dead birds. I think the first time I was at art school, it was about 1984. I found a robin and painted it in watercolour. I remember the fascination and the overwhelming pathos of holding the tiny bird in my hand. Since then there have been goldfinches, black-caps, blue-tits, wrens, more robins…  But I’m sure you haven’t come to a patchwork and quilting blog to find a load of dead birds! So I shall leave it at that and if you’re on the look out for a good book highly recommend H is for Hawk to you: part nature writing, part biography of TH White (The Sword in the Stone), part memoir, an utterly absorbing read.



And tomorrow?  I shall stitch.  And reply to all the wonderful, much read and appreciated comments you’ve generously left during the past week. What will you be doing?

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Slowly, slowly

I’ve been slowly hand piecing my way through my half square triangles for my Ocean Waves quilt and today I decided to layout the blocks to see how they’re coming along.

It’s not a good feeling when you’re way behind where you thought you were, haha! I console myself with the realisation I have enough hst’s finished for another 7 or 8 blocks though. But today I’ve been unpicking some of my stitching because I’d set a few triangles upside down as I pieced the rows together. You might wonder how I managed this, one word: talking! I spent a couple of hours stitching away with my friend Janie on Thursday and obviously took my eye off the ball. Or triangle.

16 ocean waves patchwork blocks laid out. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Ocean Waves

It wasn’t the only time I’ve been sewing away from home this week, making the hst’s has been a great way to occupy myself as I sat in waiting rooms waiting for my son at one health appointment or another. Time passes more quickly and calmly with something to occupy my hands and it’s surprising how even just one hst here and there quickly builds up to enough for a block (10 in each block).

I’m considering ‘cheating’ now though. I may enlist Mary to help me along with assembling the blocks. Well, it still counts as slow stitching I tell myself, she’s slow enough.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching. What have you been up to today?
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Art Studio

I pack up my beloved Unison Pastels and gather together things I think I might need or want once I get a mile and a half or so down the road to where I plan to sit in a cold field and draw.  I never find it easy.  I never know what I’m going to see so don’t really know what medium will suit my needs.  I can pretty much guarantee I won’t have what I want went I get started though. Going on past experience. Get on with it. Make do. It’s what being creative is about.

Art Supplies for an outdoor drawing session. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Got everything? Umm, no…

And it’s never just about what you might need to draw with, or on.  Hats, scarves, gloves (all plural), coffee (as much a hand warmer as a drink), waterproofs, wind proofs, something insulating to sit on, a filthy, pastel-covered old coat to cover the good one when I get there (so that I don’t look entirely like a tramp on my journey down the road), plastic bags, bin liners – stuff to cover my legs so the pastel doesn’t become ingrained in my waterproofs, a head torch because it’ll be dusky on the unlit roads when I trudge back home, wet wipes to clean my hands (I forget them today. Irritating.)…and a day sack to pack it all in.

And all of that for one small sketch I’m not sure about and a bigger half started/half finished one.  The light fell fast and I could barely see; maybe I’ll go back tomorrow and finish it, but maybe I won’t. I managed to splash water over the one below. Don’t ask, but it’s dried now and there’s no trace left. I wonder how I’ll feel about it in the morning. Right now, I feel pretty flat.

Haze. Chacewater

Pasel on A3 paper.

Haze. Chacewater. Pastel on A3 paper. © Stephanie Boon, 2015.

Haze, Chacewater.

I hope it’s been a good start to the weekend for you and look forward to some slow stitching on Sunday – what have you been up to?
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Quilters are awesome!

Quilting space. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

My quilting space today

Sometimes making a decision isn’t easy, even when it feels like it really should be! But since my last post I’ve made the momentous decision (tongue in cheek, obviously!) of how to go ahead quilting my Norfolk Bricks lap quilt – and it’s all thanks to your help. Your informed and helpful comments, here and on social media, were just the confidence booster I needed, thank you! Having online quilty friends is just the best.

The decision?  Well the dilemma was whether to bind the quilt before I completely finish the hand quilting so that I can photograph it for the pattern I’m trying to write (bearing in mind that the quilting might take a few more weeks yet).  I’ve finished all the ‘in the ditch’ stitching, so the layers are pretty stable, but I’ve never put the binding on a quilt before I finished it before so wasn’t sure how advisable it would be. But it seems that plenty of you out there have done just that! And all things considered it doesn’t seem like it will be too bad a thing to do.

Quilting a lap quilt 'Norfolk Bricks' © Stephanie Boon, 2015

No hoop border

However, I decided I would complete all the quilting in the borders first, which means outlining each square, just to be on the safe side. It’s coming along pretty quickly so far, much to my amazement. Until I looked at the size of my big stitches and realised they’re actually huge stitches and it’s no wonder I’m steaming ahead, haha!  I don’t think stitching the squares before binding will make the edges any more stable than they already are, but I hope it might be a bit neater this way. Time will tell…

How are things with you this Work in Progress Wednesday, what have you been up to this week? If you’re stuck and need a helping hand or have a query, I can heartily recommend asking away in the comments below –  there are some awesome and very generous quilters about the place and I’m sure they can set you right (I’ll do my best too)!

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social and Work in Progress Wednesday. Looking forward to catching up with good friends this week.

Happy stitching!

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Ditching Norfolk Bricks

quilt after quilting itd

Norfolk Bricks

A quiet Sunday. Kim in bed late into the day, sleeping heavily. A cat curled up on the table in front of me. Everything seemed to be sleepy today. My plan, such as it was, was to finish the in-the-ditch quilting of Norfolk Bricks. I was anxious about getting the hand quilting to a stage so that I could photograph the quilt for the pattern I’m writing: slow stitching isn’t quick!!!

After a comment Kaja left on a previous post about this dilemma, it occurred to me that I could quilt in the ditch, put the binding on, photograph what I need to and then continue quilting the bricks afterwards. The quilt would be perfectly serviceable with just the seams quilted of course, but I really like a more textured surface than this will give.

Norfolk Bricks lap quilt - detail of big stitch quilting in the ditch - © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Big stitch quilting in the ditch

Today I finished the ditches though, so I’m celebrating!  I’m really pleased with the way my rocking stitch is coming along too, it’s getting much more even, on the back as well as the front.  Still got a way to go before I’d call it proficient though.

Norfolk Bricks lap quilt - detail  - © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Centre nine-patch detail, includes some outline quilting

As well as the in the ditch quilting, I’ve outline quilted the nine-patch blocks in the centre of the quilt and I love the effect of the lighter coloured thread on the dark fabric. It’s a variegated cotton perle thread that moves from orange to a light yellow and subtly picks up the colours in the fabrics.

In the ditch quilting in the border

Nine patch border detail

I plan to quilt the borders with outline quilting too, but I wonder if you think it would be ok to do that after the binding is on – or is it likely to distort the fabric in some way? Have any of you lovely quilters continued quilting after you’ve stitched the binding on, what was your experience?

Norfolk Bricks lap quilt - © Stephanie Boon,

Norfolk Bricks ditched!

Let me know what you think, because I think I’m in love with this quilt so far and don’t want to mess it up!

Hope you’ve had a great weekend and will see you soon!  Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Happy stitching :)
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Hi, I'm Stephie

I'm so glad you've alighted at my creative space! I'm an artist and pattern designer and if you're a quilter and love colour and stitching I hope you'll love it here too.

Be inspired, find helpful things, join the conversation! x

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