settle down for a good long read because you're going to want to stay for the quilts...

I had a fabulous weekend away mid-March in Oxfordshire at the Sewcial Retreat organised by Purple Stitches. This wasn't my first time, I taught there last year - you can read about that experience here - and was very fortunate to be asked back to teach another class this year. I was thrilled because I know how good it is!

Same as last time I decided not to take my sewing machine and just concentrate on hand sewing projects. I took some epp and cross stitch to do, nice slow sewing! I taught a curved epp class and will post more about that at another date because I do have a new pattern in the works.

The number one priority was something a bit different for me, visible mending. My eldest daughter found there was somehow a rip in a new pair of jogging bottoms, she hadn't even worn them once!! She was upset because she really liked them but I told her it could be fixed. It was a strange shaped rip, though nothing really that unusual in our chaotic house - clothes get put in piles and moved around so it could have been anything that caused it. 

Rather than cover the rip with applique I decided to go with the current trend of visible mending. Thankfully the solution was obvious because the jogging bottoms are covered in rainbows, in different sizes and directions. I dove into my bag of thread and picked out #8 weight perle thread to match the rainbows, fortunately I had the colours needed. I attached some light woven fusible interfacing to the back, larger than the rip itself because I needed to stabilise the jersey fabric before stitching. Then I used my water soluble pen to sketch the top and bottom curves of the rainbow, making sure to extend past the rip itself, to give me a guide for sewing. 

You can see the result later on! Now here's what went on over the weekend and some really remarkable quilts...

I wasn't complete adverse to machine sewing during the retreat and I was happy that I got to hop on Trudi's very fast Juki to whip up these simple jelly roll Stacked Coin blocks. Purple Stitches and Trudi Wood are collecting blocks to make quilts for the charity Siblings Together. The block drive continues to run through April so if you are able to make some blocks please do! You'll find all the info HERE

Then it was back to stitching my rainbow for most of the first day, along with the all important socialising, cups of coffee and peering at what everyone else was making (hello adding to the 'to sew' list!). On the first evening we were treated to a Trunk show by Nicholas Ball

It was really cool hearing about Nicholas' process, the way he interprets his inspirations and how he goes about tackling challenges. I really like his vegetable series, see the cabbage quilt above, and he puts a lot of thought into every aspect of his quilts despite the piecing process being fairly liberated.

I could not get over the incredible quilting done by Trudi on this quilt he made, the texture is WOW and it's so perfect for the leaves. To me Nicholas seemed to like pushing the boundaries a bit, enjoying seeing how far he can stretch his skills and ideas. I really admire that and his wonder is infectious. His style is adventurous but very well planned and executed. While it's always fun to look at peoples quilts, there is so much more to be said and it's fascinating for me to talk to people and listen to their approaches. Turns out Nicholas and I have very similar jobs, well practically the same role for different companies. It was a pleasure chatting with him and I do hope to get to meet him again because he's a good 'un. 

Excitingly Nicholas has a new book coming out called Inspiring Improv: Explore Creative Piecing with Curves, Strips, Slabs and More, so you can discover and play with the techniques he uses!

There was lots of amazing work being done over the weekend, I didn't get many pictures of that because it's slightly obnoxious to interfere and also I was busy sewing too! I had to stop and snap this block by talented Joanne though because it is perfection in my eyes. I really enjoy fussy cutting but I don't like it when it's overdone and she has very cleverly focused on one fussy cut piece. In this particularly block it is the gorgeous Tula shell and the way she's used fabric with hints of pink on the blues is beautiful. Slightly unflattering photo on the brown carpet but it's still brilliant.

The weather was fairly changeable, though we did have some lovely sunshine moments. This is the courtyard in the centre of the hotel, very pretty.

And everyone hard at work inside!

Obviously I partook in a little retail therapy. These fabrics, which I hadn't seen before and thought would be useful, and a small bottle of flatter. I already have some in the Yuzu scent but I hadn't smelt Lacey, as soon as I did I had to get some. It smells like original Fairy liquid to me and I love it, turns out it's actually spring blossoms and bergamot (maybe that's what Fairy is?!). 

On to the quilts...

I have credited makers where I can and if you follow the links you can see more of their work and maybe more progress on some of these beauties!

Viv - this is the quilt made from the North Stars block of the month club

These two beautiful quilts were quilted by Trudi and are being donated to Siblings Together, the second one is made up of the stacked coins blocks they are currently collecting.

This precious garnet block, made by Viv is one of the blocks from Purple Stitches upcoming block of the month - I completely forget details so please contact Purple Stitches to register your interest! 

I tried to capture as many photos as I could, if you'd like a little bit more you can get a good sense of the atmosphere at the retreat by watching the IGTV video I posted on my instagram.
I didn't manage to whip up a quilt top like many of the other retreat goers did. I have to admit my main goal, beyond teaching curved epp (and hopefully encouraging people to give it a go!), was just to enjoy socialising and the process of stitching my hand sewing projects. I did make a little progress on my cross stitch and finished two more of the smaller motifs.

There was a raffle and I won this cute little apple pincushion...

And there was the pouch swap. I was given this fantastic multi pocket pouch by Jill, it's stripey and beautiful and I've never seen one like this...

It's a reasonable simple (though all that binding must take a long time) and very clever design and super useful with all those pockets! My favourite colours too. It's currently got epp pieces in it, good way of storing basted pieces ready to make into blocks. Jill also suggested I could use it to keep jewellery in, which I think is a great idea and I might actually use it for that instead because it would look pretty on my dresser too.

To see the Lola pouch I made for my swap partner click here!

Remember the visible mending I mentioned (way back at the beginning of this post)? Well here's how it turned out. I'm happy to report that my daughter ADORES it and I actually think she likes the joggers even more now.

Can you spot it? It blends in pretty well! All that stitching does feel lovely and it's a happy way to mend a tear.

Thank you for reading! And thank you Purple Stitches for such a fabulous retreat! If you can please do help with the Sibling Together Quilt Block Drive, the stacked coins blocks are so quick to make. 

I hope you all get some sewing time this week. I'm itching to start something new and definitely need to tidy up around my sewing desk as it is a disaster right now. Using up my stash as a way of clearing up makes sense right?!