Inspiring Cambridge

Kim’s dad grew up near Cambridge, went to college there, and I feel overcome with waves of nostalgia every time I think of it. I remember sitting in front of King’s College Chapel, probably 30 years ago, and he asked me what the best thing about ice cream was, on a hot sunny day. Randomly, I said the best thing was that there was no rubbish when you finished. And apparently that was the correct answer!

Cambridge Kings College Chapel, © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Kings College Chapel

When I visited with Kim a couple of weeks ago he really wasn’t feeling very well and it was difficult to get him to feel enthusiastic about anything, so I suggested a gentle walk around The Backs, where you can enjoy the famous views of the old colleges across the river Cam and the close clipped lawns.

King's College, Cambridge © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

King’s College, Cambridge

Punting on the River Cam © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Punting on the Cam

Cambridge Kings College Chapel from Clare Bridge © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.Dawn ChorusStudio.com

View of King’s College Chapel from Clare Bridge

Clare College, Cambridge, © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusSudio.com

Clare College Chapel


But as ever, for me, it’s the details I fall in love with over and over again.

Clare College reflecting in a window, © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Clare College

Like the warm light of Clare College Chapel reflecting in the stone mullioned windows opposite, with its carved heads looking down on us all. Or a tiny autumn oak leaf trapped in the cobwebs of a carved stone relief of an English rose.

Carved stone relief, English Rose, Cambridge © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

English rose

And my eyes were dazzled by the rich colours of autumn that veiled the lichen-covered stone balls on Clare Bridge.

Clare Bridge over the River Cam, Cambridge, © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Clare Bridge

Everywhere you look there’s something extraordinary to see. Which almost takes away the pain of dragging a none too happy teenager around behind you!

Cambridge chimneys © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com


Fabric shopping

You can’t come to a beautiful city from a quiet backwater like Truro and not go on a hunt for some fabric. It wasn’t easy to find. In fact I found only 3 outlets in the city centre and one of those was a stall in the Market Square and wasn’t there the day we happened to find ourselves in town. So I dragged off the still unhappy son to the first one on the list:

  • Sew Creative.  After a quick look round I decided there really wasn’t anything in their very small fabric selection that would make me sew creative at all. However, if you’re on the hunt for a sewing machine they have an awful lot on offer. In fact, their website is dedicated to them.
  • John Lewis.  This department store is huge. The fabric and haberdashery section isn’t. Tucked away in a corner at the back of the store, I had to ask for directions. When I first cast my eyes around I was very disappointed, there were lots of dress fabrics, but very few quilting lines. I was beginning to feel as unhappy as a bored 16 year old boy that didn’t feel very well being dragged around a fabric shop with his mother… One of the assistants (all lovely and helpful) pointed me to a selection on the back wall, probably three shelves, not much more than a metre and a half wide.  I sighed, “That’s it?”  Apparently there’s far more choice in a quiet backwater like Truro. However, not to be too downhearted I was pleased to note that indeed the designer quilting fabrics were from designers that at least my local store doesn’t supply: Nel Whatmore and Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit. Joy at last! On a strict budget though I had to restrain myself and spend no more than £15.00, i.e. 1m of fabric! (See my choice below.)
  • The Little Fabric Stall. As I mentioned above the Little Fabric Stall on the Cambridge Market Square was closed the Tuesday we were there, but it is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and if you’re in the area it certainly looks worth a visit. Check out their Facebook page (just follow the link) to see the designer fabrics they have in stock.
Nel Whatmore and Anna Maria Horner fabrics © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Half a metre each of Nel Whatmore and Anna Maria Horner for the stash


I’m using some of the photos I took in Cambridge and Norfolk to play with ideas for a new quilt design or two. All being well, I’d love to offer the new designs in my first collection of patterns that I hope to have for sale early in 2015. It’s all in the very early stages, but I thought I’d share a snap of my sketchbook open on my desk this evening, just to give you a glimpse of what I’m up to. Please be kind, it really hasn’t gone much beyond a couple of pages of glueing and sticking yet!

Sketchbook page, © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.DawnChorusStudio.com


I’ll show you more ideas as I progress. I hope you’ll enjoy following along, and would welcome your thoughts and ideas too.

For the rest of this week I’ll be concentrating on getting my first newsletter ready to go out this Friday.  I’m hoping it’ll be short and sweet, but pack a mean punch!  I’ve found some thought provoking articles I hope will inspire you, links to some great sites, a tutorial for a really simple way of making and basting your quilt sandwich (totally awesome and I can’t wait to give it a try!) – oh and I’ve got a little bit of exciting news for Dawn Chorus Studio too!  You can sign up here really quickly and if you decide you don’t want to continue you can unsubscribe at any time (and it goes without saying, your details won’t be used for anything else or shared with anyone else either!).  So, please sign up, it would be great to have you along!

Linking up with lovely Lorna’s Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts (she’s got some great butterfly blocks on the go this week!).

Until next time, happy stitching!

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8 replies
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Dina 🙂 If you ever get the opportunity I can highly recommend it, so much to see and do and yet it feels totally different to any other city I’ve ever been to. I love the fact that so much of the city centre is actually pedestrianised, so it even sounds different from most cities. Thanks for the link too – what a great idea! Definitely one to bookmark.

  1. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I’m glad you were able to find some good fabric. I love bringing home a little stash from my travels. That Clare College window looks like quilt inspiration to me! 😉

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Rachel – just a little bit of something from your travels in a quilt brings back so many wonderful memories doesn’t it? And you’re right, I was looking at the leading on that window thinking, hmmm!!!

  2. Ann
    Ann says:

    Lovely photos again! It’s so interesting to see how you start designing and it will be more fun to see what you create from these ideas. The golden tones remind me of rust dyeing I saw on LuAnn Kessi’s site. I doubt you are going to use that method but I enjoy seeing how two people start with similar colors or shapes and end up with wildly different designs.
    Good luck with your newsletter and patterns!

    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Ann, hope you’re well?! I didn’t know LuAnn’s site, so thank you for introducing me! She has a great set of Pinterest boards too 🙂 I’d love to experiment with natural dyes, but at the moment I feel I want to learn more about what I’m already doing – there’s so much to learn. For me, I think that kind of experimentation comes in the art that I make – maybe one day they’ll come closer together. As for the design process for patterns, that feels very new too – I’m so used to making things up as I go along!


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