Tag Archives: vintage

Hooray – My Patchwork Quilt is Finished!


Sorry, I’ve been off the blogging radar for a few weeks.  My excuse is that this is my 100th post and I wanted it to be a milestone! I wanted to show y’all my finished quilt. It’s an English paper-pieced “tumbling blocks” quilt made from fabrics we’ve had in our house since I was a kid.  It’s taken 24 years!

tumbling blocks patchwork quilt

Early readers were introduced to my quilt in my Time to Finish the Quilt post.  I finished hand sewing the patchwork pieces together over 20 years ago but couldn’t get past the quilting hurdle.  I tried (several times) – I failed – it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t even tolerable – I finally admitted defeat.

tumbling blocks patchwork quilt

When my Mum was alive she was always offering to pay to have my quilt professionally quilted but I couldn’t bear to post it off somewhere – just in case.  Also, a part of me wanted to do it all myself.  However, when I was making my memory quilts (from my Mum’s jeans) I found a local long-arm quilter – a Scottish champion no less.  Kay – aka Borderline Quilter – made such an amazing job of those quilts I wanted her to quilt my matrimonial quilt too.  Unfortunately, I had to undo all my sub-standard hand quilting so she could start afresh and work her magic.


The back of the quilt is a Laura Ashley sheet which I bought over 20 years ago so it’s now officially vintage.  I dropped my quilt off at her house at the beginning of the summer and got it back a few weeks ago.  I still had to hand sew the binding all the way round and started that tedious but satisfying job yesterday.  Today, I finished the job –  the matrimonial quilt is finally finished.  I wish I could show my Mum but I can share it with my gorgeous husband and hopefully keep it in the family for generations.

tumbling blocks patchwork quilt

A Tale of Two Cities – Newcastle/Gateshead


millenium bridge and baltic arts centre autumn sunset

After a dodgy start, our day out in Newcastle/Gateshead was wonderful.  We woke early to find that heavy overnight rain had wrought havoc on the roads.  I diligently listened to the radio – there were no reported problems on our proposed route.  Well – after driving through many “ponds” we came upon a lake where the road should have been.  I didn’t want to be one of those idiots that you laugh at on TV when their car breaks down in flood water so, sensibly, I turned around and took an even more scenic route – we made the train.  Phew.

From then on, not another drop of rain fell, the sun broke through the clouds and the day finished up with spectacularly clear skies – it was cold with a stiff breeze but the cockles of our hearts were warmed by the sun, the dialect and a delicious lunch (with a glass of wine for me) in an excellent Italian Restaurant.

The restaurant was called Francesca’s and was in a lovely area of Victorian terraces just North of the City – Jesmond.  Lunch was very good and very inexpensive – £1.90 for my glass of wine!  We practically never eat in restaurants so this was a BIG treat.  As an added bonus, a new shop had opened next door called “Made in Jesmond” which was filled with lovely hand made goodies and vintage treasure.  We had a lovely chat with the women there about the possibility of them stocking some of my “Made in the Borders” goodies.

For those unfamiliar with N.E. geography, Newcastle and Gateshead sit on either side of the great River Tyne.  Newcastle to the North and Gateshead to the South.  The Angel of the North is in Gateshead and the new cultural attractions of the Sage and the Baltic Art Centres are also on the Gateshead side. There are seven bridges over the tyne.tyne bridge

The wonderful Millennium Bridge, which has just celebrated its 10th Birthday, is an elegant foot bridge which connects the two.  Newcastle itself is full of beautiful buildings and grand streets.  Sir John Betjeman wrote of Grey Street…  “As for the curve of Grey Street, I shall never forget seeing it to perfection, traffic-less on a misty Sunday morning. Not even Regent Street, even old Regent Street London, can compare with that descending subtle curve”  Grey Street is named after the British Prime minister Earl Grey (1830-34) as is the tea! He was a local lad.

After lunch, I wanted to go to the Shipley Gallery in Gateshead – I promised the kids a visit to the nearby Saltwell Park – however, the park and weather turned out to be so fabulous that I couldn’t drag them away.  There was a huge flood in the play area but we managed to work around it, I took “puddle” photos while the kids played – happy times.

girl cycling through puddle with autumn leaves

autunm trees and leaves reflected in puddle

The fairytale house and gardens were built for a stained glass manufacturer called William Wailes, he bequeathed his quirky house and 55-acre garden to the people of Gateshead in 1876 and the park and house have recently been restored to their former Victorian glory.  We had an ice cream on the sunny terrace.  saltwell towers gateshead basking in autumn sun

Saltwell has been “Britain’s best Park” in the past and I can see why.  Can you see any of today’s “rich” giving such gifts? No, they are too busy avoiding taxes, chasing bonuses at any cost; and, gleefully risking other peoples hard-earned money for their personal gain.

autumn leaves on steps at saltwell towers park gateshead

autumn trees and leaves saltwell park north east england

fall autumn beech tree leaves

stone steps at saltwell park gateshead newcastle
In the early evening we visited two lovely shops near the station on Westgate Road.  First, the Amnesty International Second-hand Book Shop where we made several purchases of lovely books – actual paper books that had been thoughtfully bequeathed by altruistic intellectuals keen to share knowledge and reading pleasure while funding a very good cause – as opposed to kindle users who buy books for their personal use and entertainment –  and have nothing “concrete” to give or share.  The second shop, was an amazing art shop called the Newcastle Arts Centre – Oh my, we could have spent a week in there – they had everything an artist could want or need – plus a gallery and a coffee shop.  We bought some gorgeous and funky wrapping paper to be used as end papers for some books I am having re-bound by But n Ben Bindery – but that’s another story.

sage, millenium bridge and tyne sunset

Finally, the icing on the cake was our sunset walk along the Tyne, the air was still and the light amazing – we had the place to ourselves and just made it to the Baltic Arts Centre as it was closing it’s doors.  We wanted to ride the great glass elevators and have a drink in the restaurants’ little glass box at the top.  Timing is everything and we made it just in time to see the sun disappear behind the Tyne Bridge.  We each had an iced coke – from a glass bottle – and collapsed to admire the stunning views on the comfy sofas on top of the world – money just can’t buy you that sort of thrill.millenium bridge and baltic gateshead

sage gateshead and tyne bridge late autumn sunset

So, Newcastle gets five stars from me – but then I’m a patriot with a passion for people, art, architecture, history and geography  – Newcastle has it all.  I’ll be back – for a week next time.

late autumn sun setting on the baltic arts centre - formerly flour mill

Time to Finish the Quilt


Upcycled Tumbling Block Pattern Quilt

Eloping with Greg and getting hitched in Jeans 23 years ago, may not have been the most traditional wedding; but, that doesn’t mean I’m not a traditional kinda gal! . I did get married after all; and, start work on the family heirloom quilt.   In those 23 wonderful years, we’ve managed to make 4 great kids and renovate our way up to a house big enough to fit them all in.  However, the fabulous matrimonial bed quilt, started all that time ago has been in a succession of attics for too many years.

It’s a king-sized, hand-stitched tumbling block pattern quilt made from upcycled clothes and fabric my mum and I had stashed about the place and collected at the time. It’s funny now, at over 20 years old, it’s officially vintage!

It was going to be my New Year’s resolution this year to finish my quilt and I took it out of the attic just before Christmas in readiness. My mum and I had fun looking at all the patches and remembering where each scrap came from.

Unfortunately though, in a very sad twist of fate, my mum died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage just after the New Year.  I am so pleased that we had that time before Christmas reminiscing about the fabrics and the time she helped me with the quilt when she visited Greg and I in California. My mum spent ten years making a Laura Ashley granny’s flower garden quilt for herself which she had on her bed for over twenty years and some of the same fabrics are in my quilt – tears are rolling as I write this.

My quilt is all pieced together and all I need do is hand quilt it! Like a little girl I just wish I could show it off to my mum when I finally finish it. I’ll just have to snuggle under it with my kids and have a good cry as we remember the best Mum and Granny in the world.