Bars of Colour


Bars. Hand quilted table mat in Kaffe Fasset fabrics by Stephanie Boon 2012

Floating Bars

Bars, detail. Hand quilted table mat in Kaffe Fasset fabrics by Stephanie Boon 2012


Bars, detail. Hand quilted table mat in Kaffe Fasset fabrics by Stephanie Boon 2012

I love the way the sunlight intensifies the colours

Square in a square. Hand quilted table mat in Kaffe Fasset fabrics by Stephanie Boon 2012

Diamond in a square – work in progress

Practicing piecing. There’s always room for improvement isn’t there; lots of room in my case. Practice makes perfect.

Where do you start when there are so many traditional patterns to choose from? I didn’t want to do a whole sampler quilt (they’re not my favourite) and I wanted to keep it small. Staring at my coffee table gave me the answer: just a small table mat. Not even a runner.

After a few hours cogitating and leafing through books for pattern ideas I decided to begin with some of my favourite Amish designs. I love the simple geometric patterns and plain muted colours of these antique textiles, they represent warmth in so many ways for me. In the plain surroundings of the Amish their quilts must have added a gentle colour and texture that pleased the eye. And I imagine cold and draughty winter homes were so much warmer snuggled under a woollen quilt. But the thing that really appeals to me is the warmth created when quilts were given to family and friends, or the warmth generated by groups of women as they stitched a quilt together. Maybe these are just fanciful ideas, but it gave me a starting point.

The thing with piecing these sorts of patches is that even the simplest looking design needs a degree of accuracy, especially if you want the patchwork shapes to be the main focus. And if it’s just a small work there’s nowhere to hide any mistakes! I decided to make a ‘floating bars’ design, which is a straightforward linear pattern really. As for tradition that would be as far as it went; I don’t want to make replicas of Amish quilts (I’d rather buy an original one, if I could afford it!).

I chose some strong Kaffe Fassett fabrics, which I ‘fussy cut’ for the bars (just a fancy way of saying that you cut out the specific parts of the pattern that you want, rather than just cutting from the edge of the fabric), making sure I got just the magenta colour (the border with the turquoise and gold is actually from the same length of fabric). I wanted to see if I could really make the bars ‘float’, so I chose the magenta as this colour comes forward and the darker blue as it recedes. When I quilted it, to try and enhance the effect I quilted the blue quite densely and didn’t stitch the magenta at all (the quilting makes the blue flatter and the un-quilted red stands above it).

Unlike the traditional Amish quilts, this wasn’t an exercise in beautiful quilting technique. I used simple straight lines in a light blue shade of pearl cotton, simply to accentuate the geometry. The stitches aren’t even that small – but I wouldn’t call them ‘toenail-catchers!

I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out really – even the piecing seems fairly accurate! Flushed with success I started another one, this time diamond-in-a-square. It’s still meant to be an exercise in piecing, so I’ve gone for a slightly more complicated design that includes triangles. I’ve got a bit creative with the quilting this time though – no great shakes, still straight lines but trying to use the quilting to impose my own rhythm on to the grid. I’ll add some detailed photos when it’s finished. Meanwhile, I’m already thinking about the next one!

Enjoy the weekend 🙂

Stephie x



Here’s one I made earlier. Earlier in the year, when the blackthorn was in flower. I don’t know why, but I forgot to show it to you. I really like it, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. For now it’s on my pin board for me to look at and remember the spring.

Machine embroidery 'Blackthorn', by Stephanie Boon, 2012

‘Blackthorn’, machine embroidery on linen.


Machine embroidery, 'Blackthorn' detail. Stephanie Boon 2012


Sorry the photos aren’t brilliant, I’ve tried photographing it about 20 times with my camera phone and it looks out of focus every time. Time to borrow Kim’s proper camera I think.

More knitting planned for this evening. And maybe some stitching this afternoon, if I finish all the dull jobs I have to do first! Hope you’re day’s full of lovely things – and no dull jobs 🙂

Stephie x

Unexpected break – and a craft fair

From the computer that is. Yes, it decided it wasn’t going to do anything for a week. I know how it feels, but really it wasn’t the best time to take a holiday! Needless to say, I’m behind with everything now…

One of the things I did during the last couple of weeks that I wanted to tell you about was a little craft fair in my local village. There were only about 5 stands and I helped out a friend. Of course I took along a few bits and pieces to see what reaction there might be. Most people’s reaction had nothing to do with my crafts, they just seemed pleased to be out of the absolutely pouring rain we had all day! The holiday makers were very easy to spot; there always seemed to be a man lagging behind at the back somewhere! I did feel sorry for them, soaked through and bedraggled.

St Agnes Craft Fair 2012

Setting up

My friend brought along some of her pretty hand-painted furniture and about a million and one baby bootees that she’d knitted for the occasion! Here’s a couple of the things I took

large knitting needle case and vintage pattern

A large vintage themed knitting needle case that can take up to 10 pairs of needles.

Crochet hook case

A small crochet case that I made because I fell in love with the fabric – and I needed to store my hooks somewhere safe!

Patchwork gift bags

And finally, a few patchwork gift bags – great to fill with something lovely for someone special 🙂

It’s been years and years since I sat at a table at a craft fair. There was a lovely atmosphere with plenty of coffee and cake coming through from the cafe next door and it gave me the opportunity to meet new people and speak to others about the things I’d made. A confidence boosting exercise that worked. Maybe I’ll join in one or two over the Christmas period too.

It might just get the Christmas elves stirring in my loins!!

Stephie x



USPS priority mail bag

A long way from home!

It’s not everyday an envelope like this lands on my doorstep. Then again it’s not everyday I win a stash of fat-quarters.

I’ve never won anything like this before (I’ve ever won anything before!) so you can imagine my excitement when I got an email from Kristy at Hopeful Threads to say I’d won their Contemporary Cloth giveaway of 25 Valori Wells fat quarters. Stunned disbelief gave way to big grins!

When I discovered the name of the stash was ‘Nest’ I felt it was meant to be!  It coincided with me naming this new site ‘Dawn Chorus’ and seemed to be some sort of ‘sign’ (I don’t believe in such things really, but you know what I mean!).



Let’s have a peek at them shall we?!


The stash of Valori Wells fat quarters from Hopeful Threads

Orange is my favourite colour!

Valori Wells fabric with birds in five colourways

Little robins perhaps?

Large folksy bird motif on Valori Wells fabric

Large scale and very folksy 🙂

Paisley style Valori Wells fat quarter

My favourite I think – spot the birdie!

Valori Wells stash of 25 fat quarters

I can’t wait to delve in!



To celebrate my good fortune I plan to make something from this wonderful gift to give away to one of my readers too. More details next week 😀  In the mean time go and have a look at Kristy’s site Hopeful Threads, she’s doing some amazing stuff that you could join in too.  Finally, thanks also to Sondra from Contemporary Cloth (fabric to make you drool!) for her speedy despatch of the stash. Just can’t believe how lucky I am!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com



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I love birds – an embroidered wren


mosaic of free motion machine embroidered singing wrens, 2012

Little singing wren sketches,  2012

I spent a few hours making these sketches on Mrs Jones the sewing machine the other night. The colours in the photos aren’t particularly good, but I love the texture that they show. That one on the top left makes me laugh, he has a beak more suited to a crocodile I think! That’s because I didn’t draw the birds on the fabric first (a vintage 70’s/80’s-looking linen table cloth), I just stuck the fabric in a hoop, put it under the needle and off I went. I love the spontaneity you get doing it this way, it feels much more like ‘real’ drawing, which is the medium I feel most comfortable in most of the time. Can’t rub out that beak though, but an unpicker (seam ripper) will probably do the job!

To continue with the bird theme a little further, it was my birthday a few days ago (too old…) and I was very generously given a bird table for my garden. There are always plenty of wrens in the hedgerows, but I doubt they’ll come to the table. Still, I placed it where I can see it from the kitchen window, so I can stand with sketchbook in hand and draw the other birds to my heart’s content. In theory.  I haven’t had any winged visitors yet…

Spot The Bird Scarer

No prizes awarded!

View of garden with bird table and cat sat at thr bottom of it.

Not camouflaged quite well enough Daisy!

I love the lushness of the garden from this view point and the new bird table adds the perfect focal point. I’m a very lucky lady!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com


Vintage Sewing Box – a quilter’s dream!

A vintage sewing box is a desirable thing for any quilter and I coveted one for a long time. My first sewing box was given to me when I was about 11 years old and would definitely be in the vintage category now. It was a bright orange plastic affair, a bucket shape with a white lid and carrying handle – unmistakably 1970’s. Orange was (and still is) my favourite colour. The sewing box was given to me for my birthday by my parents and I remember the thrill and pleasure of organising the interior tray with wooden reels of thread and packets of needles and pins.  I had an embroidery kit of one of those cutesy kittens on pre-printed purple fabric that I kept in the main compartment. When I finished it I hung it on my bedroom wall with so much pride. It’s funny how these memories stay with us, the little things – they’re so vivid in my mind it’s as if I could touch them. I don’t know what happened to that particular vintage sewing box; was it broken, or put in the loft when I left home and then thrown away by my parents when they moved home themselves? Who knows. But I replaced it with a round woven sewing basket that I picked up in a charity shop. It had a lovely dome-shaped lid with a woven ring to lift it off and a quilted lining inside that had gone mouldy had to be removed (it stank!). I had it for around 20 years, but I don’t know what happened to that one either!

A Proper Vintage Sewing Box

Some years later I was still coveting a compartmentalised sewing box: a 3 tier cantilever sewing box to be precise. One sunny day I happened to be wandering about a quaint village with a friend, not too far from home. In Porthscatho, on the south Cornish coast, we happened on a little corner shop called The Sea Garden. The shop’s owned by a textile artist called Christine who blogs at The Mermaid’s Tale. The displays in the tiny windows caught our eye, but it was, of course, a little wooden vintage sewing box that sung to me, so we just had to go inside. I insisted. There were several painted, 3 tier cantilevered sewing boxes on the shelves and each one was slightly different. Different sizes, different colours, but there was one that looked pretty special to me.

1940's Wooden Vintage Sewing Box painted cream and blue, made in Germany.

It was love at first sight!

I fell in love with it and it was one of those rare occasions where an object just refused to let me leave without it. And, I had some unspent birthday money burning a hole in my pocket…

1940's German wooden vintage sewing box, painted cream and blue

The trays open like secret compartments!

That sort of thing doesn’t happen to me very often. I enquired about it and was told it was vintage 1940’s German with it’s original paint finish. I scoffed at this last piece of information since there were several other items around painted in exactly the same blue… and there were obvious traces of pillar box red beneath it. I couldn’t care less if it had been made yesterday in Truro, I still loved it and I was convinced it loved me too and was desperate to come home for a play!

Spools of thread in a wooden vintage sewing box.

Mmmmm, quilting thread!

Organising my threads and sewing notions inside the tiered trays took me right back to childhood: it was a wonderful feeling. These little bits and pieces fill me with possibilities, but holding them, arranging them, is a pleasure in itself. I couldn’t help adding some wooden cotton reels and vintage perle thread to the trays to really take me back.

Fabric lining in wooden 1940's German sewing box.

Very pretty!

I realised I didn’t especially like the unfinished wood inside the trays and decided to make some removable fabric linings. I ummed and aahed over lining it with paper, or even painting it, but if it is in some kind of original condition it would be a shame to change that. So, removable fabric linings it would be. I didn’t have any vintage fabric, but found a lightweight upholstery fabric that has an old-fashioned vintage appeal. It makes me smile when I look at it, so much prettier than bare wood.

For a hand quilter (and sometimes hand piecer) this is the perfect type of sewing box. It holds just enough supplies to carry about the house with me, so that I can sit and sew wherever the best light is. It’s one of those rare objects that’s useful, connects me to warm memories and to so many quilters that came before. I know I’ll cherish this gift (a gift in so many ways) for years to come.

Tell me about your sewing box: I bet it’s special to you in some way?  I don’t think I’ve come across anyone that doesn’t have a sewing box story to tell! So, what’s yours?

If you hand quilt or hand sew you might enjoy reading Sore Fingers: A Thimble Issue or How I Learnt To Use A Quilt Hoop too. Why not sign up for my fortnightly newsletter and receive lots of inspiration direct to you inbox, including exclusive stories and articles like this one? It’s completely free!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com