Jan Tillet’s amazing textiles…

Sometimes, you come across something so gorgeous, you just have to have it or, if it’s something craft based, try and make it yourself! That’s how I felt when I discovered Jan Tillet’s work.

Jan is a textile designer and maker living and working in Devon. She creates the most exquisite things – from jumpers to handbags to embroidered bowls using amazing fabrics like organza, shrink polyester and even water soluble fabric to create her amazing textiles.

She says the inspiration for her textiles comes mainly from natural forms and textures. From the tiniest of seeds to a favourite view – Jan is inspired by the colours and textures that are all around her, often in unexpected combinations.

To make the embroidered textiles, she builds up layers of fabric that are then stitched and manipulated, sometimes with a heat gun, sometimes by cutting back into the layers and always adding more stitching until she is satisfied with the fabric she has created.

The embroidered fabric is then used to make a bag – either as a whole fabric or as a panel or decorative feature.

I just couldn’t find a free day to match up with any of her course dates so Jan came to visit me. She patiently and brilliantly taught me the basics of freestyle machine embroidery and her ability as well as her knowledge fired my enthusiasm to continue experimenting long after the day was over. When I can, I’ll hopefully be able to follow up with some more courses to add to the techniques and information she showed me – it was an amazing few hours!

She runs all sorts of courses and I can highly recommend her as a tutor. You can find out more on her website.

There are also quite a few interesting demonstrations on YouTube which are worth watching to give you inspiration.



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An elegant and stylish wedding card

I do like this wedding card – so, elegant and stylish. It’s from a demonstration I did when we launched the Age of Elegance CD recently.

I love the whole era of the arts and crafts movement and the late 19th century painters and designers. William Morris has been a passion of mine for many, many years. I’ve had curtains and table mats, tea towels and cushions… the list goes on! In fact, as I write this, I am sitting opposite some Golden Lily curtains – the original design is by William Morris and the fabric is by Sanderson.

This card has an unusual feature – a square/rectangle is cut using a decorative die and then you make a slot in both ends and slide a strip of card through – giving a lovely and unusual ‘buckle’ type effect, which I love.

One of the happy things after a wedding is always looking through the messages and cards you have been sent and I think with a card like this it would be kept forever, tucked into a box of happy memories!



How to Spin–A–Yarn

Bovey Tracey is a small town near us on the edge of Dartmoor. Over the past few years it has become something of a magnet for people interested in knitting and patchworking.

Joyce Mason with some of the amazing yarns in her shop.Spin–A–Yarn’ is one of the largest independent yarn stores in the country and offers locally produced organic wool and fleece, as well as amazing yarns from as far away as New Zealand, Peru and Japan. Walking into the shop is like stepping into an Aladdin’s cave of gorgeous textures and colours of every kind of wool you can imagine!

“People come from across the country to visit us,” said shop owner Joyce Mason. A keen wool spinner at her home in Manaton, up on the moor, she was fascinated by the range of natural yarns she saw while on a holiday in New Zealand and decided to introduce them to the UK. Knitting was out of fashion and yarns largely synthetic when Joyce decided to start her business in 2006 but she found herself in the right place at the right time and knitting has become a hugely popular pastime and business is booming. As well as the shop, she runs numerous workshops as well as a knitting and spinning club.

Serendipity – an Aladdin’s cave of lovely patchwork bits and pieces.As well as Spin–A–Yarn, Bovey Tracey also boasts ‘Serendipity’ a specialist patchwork and quilting shop run by Myriam van der Pas. Her daughter, Sunny, runs ‘Past & Presents’ from the same premises. This colourful and charming shop is a fab mix of fabrics and buttons and braid in the Serendipity section, and brand new ’retro’ clothes harking back to the 1950s and the era of polka dot dresses and full skirts… not that I can remember that far back of course!

On a slightly different tack (pun!) but really interesting none the less, a few doors away from Serendipity you’ll find Bovey Hand Loom Weavers producing beautiful tweed used to make ties, scarves and throws. Based in an old farrier’s workshop and using wooden hand looms, it’s rather like finding yourself back in Dickensian times. The throws they produce are beautiful – and surprisingly inexpensive given the work that has gone into them.



New baby – but is it a boy or a girl…?

I love happy news of new babies! Family is very important to me (and friends obviously) and we have two new members of the family due in the next few months and I am really looking forward to planning a nice gift and making cards. I know that my first grandchild, due in late October/early November, is a little girl, but the sex of my new nephew or niece is still unknown – so exciting! Of course, all that matters is that they are well and healthy but I always find it really exciting discovering the sex of the child.

When you have no idea whether it’s going to be a boy or a girl you need to go for something neutral if you want to plan ahead. This baby card uses a rubber stamp from the adorable Suzie’s Zoo range and is probably one of my favourite images in the collection. This image is just as suitable for a boy and a girl and can work just as well for bigger girls and boys too – singing in the rain is a great topic for a get well card too! This card has a blue ribbon and backing papers but you could use lemon or pale green if you need to be neutral.

This easel design is now considered one of the staples in card design and it does show off the design brilliantly. The other point I’d like to make is the embossing. If you haven’t tried using embossing folders in your card making yet, I would definitely encourage you to have a go as it produces wonderful textures that can make a massive difference to your project.




Old-fashioned Christmas

“Christmas?” I hear you cry, “Has the woman lost the plot?” No, honestly, I haven’t! I just wanted to show you a couple of samples from the Victorian Christmas Card CD, in case any of you were planning to make lots of cards for charity or for general sale and needed to start early.

One section of this CD I would particularly like to point out to you is the Shaped Cards section on CD3. Here, you have a lovely selection of cards that are not the usual rectangular or square shape, but have little cutaways and other pretty devices to make small but stunning cards. With the cost of postage going up all the time I know there are many that want to make sure their Christmas cards are compact and the postage element is as inexpensive as possible.

These two cards are examples of the designs on the CDs. There are hundreds of pages to mooch through and, as we all know, deciding what to use is always a tough decision! Every topper has a backing paper and multiple inserts and stationery to match so there’s no excuse not to be totally co-ordinated this year!

The reason I like the more vintage designs is, I suppose, because I love remembering the Christmasses of my childhood when everything was just perfect! Of course it wasn’t, but my memories always tend to be viewed through rose tinted spectacles and perhaps that’s the best way for things to be!