Sewing and quilting are just a couple of hobbies that I really enjoy doing in my spare time. You may even remember my blog posts all about quilting and the Teddies for Tragedies I made. I have recently been inspired to get out my needle and thread again with the return of The Great British Sewing Bee. I briefly watched the Great British Sewing Bee last year when the first series started and it has now returned for a second series.

The Great British Sewing Bee

The Great British Sewing Bee has the same set-up as the Great British Bake Off; the contestants are amateurs and they are judged by industry experts each week on their three creations. Rather than creating decadent cakes and baked goodies, the contestants have to work with a range of materials to make clothing and alter items.

It really is a fascinating programme to watch as these people just sew in their spare time but have the same level of skill as a professional. They really are very talented and create alternative items of clothing out of skirts or old dresses.

Great British Sewing Bee

Sewing and knitting are such peaceful and relaxing hobbies to have and they are quite handy too if you want to start making items for grandchildren or homemade gifts. If knitting is something you have never tried before but want to, there are lots of knitting groups you can join either online or at local community centres.

I have blogged before about the perfect hobbies to take up during retirement and crafts were included in that list. If sewing isn’t your thing, you could always try knitting, photography, drawing or painting. They are all lovely little ways to pass the time and can all be done on any budget.

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You can catch up on The Great British Sewing Bee on the BBC iPlayer and the series is currently on BBC 2 at 8pm every Tuesday until 8th April 2014.

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As an avid patchwork quilter I was delighted to see that TV presenter and craft lover Kirstie Allsopp has a new television series on Channel 4.

‘Kirstie’s Handmade Britain’ explores the world of crafts from sewing, quilting, flowers arranging, paper crafts and even willow weaving. The series watches Kirstie immerge herself into a whole host of new and exciting craft techniques before entering fiercely competitive craft shows and fairs.

kirstie allsopp

In each episode Kirstie faces new craft challenges ranging from making show worthy scones to prize winning needlework. Cleverly avoiding the classic ‘here’s the one we made earlier’ cliché the episodes document Kirstie’s creation from start to finish, capturing the ups and downs which Kirstie encounters along the way.

In the latest episode, which saw Kirstie create a cushion from scratch, premier quilter Jo Colwill was on hand to give Kirstie a few hints and tips in the right direction, which I definitely made note of.

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Kirstie is undeniably passionate about crafting and incredibly creative. She won the Great Yorkshire Show’s winning cushion and the ultimate triumph of ‘Best in Show’ for her Yorkshire inspired creation. Utilising needlework techniques such as machine embroidery, quilting, patchwork and applique Kirstie showed that there is room for lots of techniques- offering inspiration to learn something new.

The show wonderfully demonstrates the many ways which we can become more creative. Whilst still highlighting the great amount of time and effort which goes into making a quality piece of craftwork- a pleasure to watch, one which I would definitely recommend.

Watch the series on Channel 4 OD here.

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Back in January I blogged about patchwork quilting, a hobby that I have enjoyed for years. Quite surprisingly, I read an article in The Telegraph this morning, which claims that patchwork quilting is in fact a new up and coming trend.

I was really happy to read the article as it sheds light on the delights of quilting and enlightened me on some interesting facts which I was unaware of.

Rightly so the appeal of quilting is creating something unique. However, I wasn’t aware that during history quilts have been used to convey many different messages. From the 1690’s seamstresses uses quilting to express their feeling as an alternative to a diary. And later American Civil War slaves used customised quilts to give guidance to fellow slaves who were on the run for freedom.

Cloth Magazine ShootThe messages that many quilts hold are so personal and unique that they tell the most magnificent stories. Maybe this is what persuaded the V&A to hold a quilt exhibit last year; allowing people to discover the tales behind the many different fabrics and stitches.

To think that modern artists such as Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry, who have tremendous amounts of respect within the arts are also taking to quilting is quite something. As although their pieces might be considered as controversial it is great to see that the craft of quilting is truly being recognised. Here’s to my favourite hobby patchwork quilting!

Read the article- ‘Unravelling secrets in crafty stitchwork’ The Telegraph.

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Finding a hobby or craft is a great way to use your spare time. My daughter Lucy is an excellent baker so much so that I have featured her recipes in my blog before. Her talents are driven by her passion to bake well and come up with some delicious bites to eat.

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I have that very same passion however, for sewing and in particular patchwork quilting. It is a wonderful craft which can be enjoyed by all ages with the bonus that the results, beautiful pieces of artwork, can be exchanges as gifts or gorgeous pieces to feature in your own home.

I have always enjoyed patchwork quilting but like many things in life finding the time to sit down and enjoy a craft is often difficult. Over the Christmas period I have found the time to the settle down and work on a patchwork, which I finished and gave to my Mother who has since taken it home with her to America.

What I like most about Patchwork quilting is that it can be totally unique and designed around whatever you like, no two pieces have to be the same. It also allows for different techniques from machine skills to hand sewing skills all featured in one piece.

I adore the marvellous sense of originality that a crafted patchwork piece carries. You can include quality fabrics from luxury fabric specialists or incorporate fabrics which are special to you taken from clothing, tea towels or your favourite curtains. Alternatively you could use scrap pieces of fabric or bits and bobs which you have found in charity shops or car boot sales, which turns it into an affordable craft.

I find that working from a helpful pattern guide book helps me to concentrate on patterns. I love ‘The Sampler Quilt Book’ by Lynne Edwards, an internationally acclaimed quilt maker. This particular book is brilliant for all skill levels as it offers step by step instruction which help guide beginners. But also offers a range of different patterns allowing you to make full size blanket quilts, cushion or even cot quilts, which would be a lovely gift for a new born in the family.

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I truly think that patchwork quilting is a tremendous craft to harbour. Incorporating many different skills it is also a great chance to teach family and friends how to create their own quilts which can be passed through the family over time- I will be encouraging the Bath-Knight team to get involved with some simple how-to start classes ran by myself.

With a new year, I think it is a great time to concentrate on becoming committed to spending time doing something which you really do enjoyed, I hope that this year will bring me more time to sew and create different patterns and designs for my quilts.

If you would like to learn more about patchwork quilting why not check out one of Lynne Edwards quilting book for pattern guides or go online to a quilting specialist website to gather design ideas, look at sample fabrics or look at other people’s patchwork pieces for inspiration.

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