A walk around the rooftops of The Vyne

We are very fortunate in the UK to have organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust caring for sites of historical interest and/or natural beauty. Fifteen minutes drive from our home is The Vyne a property run by the National Trust.

The Vyne house, Hampshire.

The Vyne. The adjoining Tudor Chapel is just to the left of the 17th Century house.

The Vyne was a palace built in the early 1500’s by Lord William Sandys. He was Lord Chamberlain to the King and his guests included King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. By the time Chaloner Chute bought the house in 1653 it was in a poor state of repair and much too large for his needs. Much of the Tudor house was demolished (leaving the Chapel and the Oak Gallery intact) and an extensive building programme was carried out to bring the house up to modern standards. A couple of centuries later the Victorian owner, William Wiggett Chute, carried out much needed repairs on the patchwork of roofs. More information about the history and architectural significance of The Vyne here.

In 2017, after several areas of The Vyne house were damaged by water leaking in through the roof, the National Trust took the brave decision to have the whole roof renovated. A huge network of scaffolding was erected around and over the entire building.

The Vyne undergoing roof repairs October 2017

Amazingly this was done in such a way that the public can take a lift (or 74 steps) up to walkways carefully constructed over the top of the house. Up on the walkways, under the protection of the plastic swathed scaffolding it is rather disorientating trying to remember that you standing above a three storey building.

The Vyne underwraps May 2017

We first took the trip to the roof top walk back in May and returned again just a few days ago. It is fascinating watching the carpenters, stonemasons and roofers using their skills to weatherproof such an historic building. I hope you’ll enjoy looking into these photos, seeing the centuries old beams, bricks and tiles that have been exposed and brought to eye-level.

Mason at work on the roof of The Vyne

As much as possible the renovations are conserving the original materials: lead taken from the roof has been melted and reformed into sheets, using similar methods to those of 500 years ago, and is being fitted back onto the roof; the slender brick chimneys that were leaning alarmingly have been dismantled and rebuilt brick by brick with the addition of metal rods fitted like skewers through the layers to keep them straight; even the centuries old wooden beams have been left in place wherever possible.

Working on the roof of The Vyne

Roof of the Chapel. The Vyne May 2017

In May the roof of the Tudor Chapel was left intact to allow bats to continue using the roof space as a nursery!

Chapel roof The Vyne October 2017

By October the bats had left the Chapel roof and restoration work began in earnest. Amazing to think those beams and bricks are 500 years old!

New roof tiles in place above the Tudor Oak Gallery of The Vyne


New tiles and bat tunnels at The Vyne October 2017
Tiles and bat tunnels ready to be fixed to a restored section of roof

Not all the materials could be saved: it was decided to replace all of the tiles (the replacements have been made in a similar way and of similar materials to the originals) and many crumbling coping stones have been removed and skillfully replaced by fresh ones in a more weather resistant stone. There are 21st Century innovations too: fire proof cladding and insulating materials; tunnels to encourage bats to return to their roosts; hatches to allow easier access to the roof for maintenance and a secure safety wire so in the future (when all the scaffolding has been removed) workmen on the roof can be harnessed and safe.

The work on the roof is scheduled to finish in January 2018.

Thank you for taking time to get to the end of this post. I hope you’ll forgive me an occasional post away from patchwork and quilting? πŸ˜€

And a reminder that I continue to update my Pinterest boards as a contribution to this great worldwide patchwork and quilting community – see my latest finds on the board Pins of the Week.


Posted in History | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A seasonal finish

We do have a basic routine in our household. Both husband and live-in son work Monday to Friday, leaving home around 8am and getting back for dinner around 6pm. But the routine is ‘subject to change’ and today is feeling particularly strange with both men out of the house at 7am and not due back to gone 9pm. The only item in today’s rectangle of the calendar is a grocery delivery. That means there’s a lot of time for sewing … πŸ™‚


Just as well, because you will not be surprised to read that I have several projects on the go… I have to be a tease and not disclose the project on the design wall as it is a gift but other projects spread around the sewing room include two requiring binding, the litter of foundation paper piecing (practicing for the Chocolatier BOM workshop next Tuesday) and the flimsy patchwork top which is my working example for the Beginners Class (lesson 2 on Saturday) – sorry I don’t yet have a photo of this project.

What I’ve been itching to share is one of those ‘pop up’ projects that wasn’t really on the schedule but just kinda happened. I bought the fabrics when we were on holiday in July.

New Every Morning holiday purchases

My holiday purchases

A roll of twenty 2Β½” strips and a 2m length of background fabric. I stroked the fabrics while sat in the Derbyshire cottage and sketched out a quilt top design – aiming to use every inch of the strips.




New Every Morning 'Changing Seasons' PatternTwo weeks ago I took the design and the fabrics to the monthly sewing day at Brown Candover. I followed my scruffy sketch and put together most of the top in just one day πŸ™‚ At home in the evening I realised I’d made a bit of a boo-boo: I’d cut the strips using the finished length of the pieces, failing to add the seam allowances! The quilt is slightly narrower than it would have been and I had to fiddle the spacing of the ‘dot-dash’ rows at the top and bottom of the quilt but otherwise no problems emerged from the not-so deliberate mistake. Whew!

Changing Seasons quilt by Allison Reid, New Every Morning Patchwork & Quilting

Once the quilt top was up on the design wall I started to doubt the colour combinations. Mainly worried that other people might not like it (my Mum’s reaction was a little muted!). I looked around for personal reassurance and found what I needed in our little garden.


Temperatures are dipping at night now and hours of daylight have dropped off noticeably but many flowering plants are hanging on. I found bright summer pinks glowing against yellowing leaves, deep shadows and rich golds. I’ve named my quilt ‘Changing Seasons’ to hi-light it’s colour palette which, I feel, reflects the move from Summer into Autumn.

Discovering those colours in my garden enabled me to fall properly in love with this quilt. I was struck by the feelings I was experiencing as I worked on it, coming to the conclusion I’m enjoying the whole process of putting it together and being able to relish the unusual colour combinations because I’ve stopped fearing what anyone else thinks of it! I spend a lot of my creative time designing and making things that I hope other people will like – purchase even. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great: I get to practice skills; and face fresh challenges. Conversely though, making things to please other people can restrict opportunities to try fresh techniques and lead to much self doubt and discouragement.

Determined ‘Changing Seasons’ would not become another unfinished project I’ve kept it ticking over – purchasing the backing fabric, cobbling together a piece of wadding and pinning the quilt sandwich. I pondered a while over the quilting, eventually deciding to go with the seasons theme. I marked a large semi-circle (drawing around a tea tray!) on each of the four sides of the quilt – four seasons. I echoed those semi-circles using a walking foot with line guide attached. The semi-circles radiate out and overlap the semi-circles from the adjacent side of the quilt – seasons merging.

View of back, Changing Seasons by Allison Reid, New Every Morning Patchwork & Quilting

I stopped echoing before the semicircles started to overlap in the centre of the quilt – to prevent winter overlapping summer or autumn overlapping spring (I was really getting into the theme by then and those overlaps just wouldn’t have been ‘right’!). Actually that’s as far as the theme stretched in my quilting. The remaining designs were far more influenced by the limitations of my skills than my creative juices! I filled the centre with concentric echos of the strange shape created by the advancing semi-circles and filled the four outer half-moon shapes with a free-motion quilting design that looks like ripples of water (I guess water, in all it’s guises, is common to the four seasons – in temperate climes at least?).

Changing Seasons quilt label by Allison Reid, New Every Morning Patchwork & QuiltingI’m endeavoring to be very organised re. labeling my quilts. I made the label for Changing Seasons before I put together the quilt sandwich, using a zigzag stitch to attach it to the backing fabric. I like to do this for two reasons: 1. the label becomes an integral part of the quilt; 2. attaching the label doesn’t become the ‘can I be bothered?’ stumbling block right on the finishing line. πŸ˜€

Linking with Myra for Finished or not FridayΒ – she is sharing her latest quilt design. And linking with Beth – who has been quilting like crazy to get through feeling overwhelmed – for Main Crush Monday as I’m definitely crushing on this quilt!

Hope you are finding joy in your creativity πŸ™‚



Posted in Colour, Fabrics, Garden, Inspiration, Modern quilts, Quilt Design, Quilt Labels | Tagged , | 8 Comments

A Popular Block to ‘Pin’

I have a board on my Pinterest page with the unimaginative but hopefully helpful title ‘Patchwork Blocks‘. One block draws a lot of attention and re-pins.

Sew Colorful Nine Patches for the Center of this Easy Star Quilt Block: Make a Batch of Easy Quilt Blocks

According to the link on my Pin the block was in a post by Janet Wickell, dated 15 June 2007 and posted on http://www.quilting.about Β When I tried the link to the original post via my Pinterest board I found myself on an interesting page: http://www.thespruce.com with a post titled ’25 Easy Quilt Patterns for Your Next Quick Quilt’. Weirdly the block was not among the 25 patterns! The page had been updated on 30 November 2016 so I guess the block was substituted by another. Funny/strange that thanks to Pinterest the block has a life of it’s own anyway, being passed around the internet from one quilting Pinterest browser to another.

Yesterday I received email notification that yet again ‘the block’ (I think from now on I shall name it ‘Wickell Mystery’) had been re-pinned. I took a look at Wickell Mystery and decided to recreate it in EQ7 and see what it would like as a quilt top.

Pinterest 'Wickell Mystery block

Pinterest Wickell Mystery quilt

My virtual blocks are 12″ finished and the virtual quilt with a 2″ border measures 52″ square. EQ7 calculates the following fabric requirements for creating the quilt (please note that I haven’t verified these amounts):

Dark blue 1 3/8 yards

Green 3/4 yard

Pink 3/4 yard

Yellow 7/8 yard.

I expect someone holds the key to the Wickell Mystery and may even have a more traditional name for the block in question. I do hope that at least one of the Pinterest browsers who has chosen to re-pin the block will have used it in a quilt design. I think I may have to have a go myself…



Posted in Inspiration, Quilt Blocks, Quilt Design | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Scrappy happiness

Starting today’s post with a scrappy mosaic of flowers in my garden. πŸ˜€

I’ve had a word with myself! ‘Look at your to-do list! Humm! Time to do some admin!’ ‘Admin?’ Well, immediately quilt projects came to mind… The procrastination queen is on her throne! But I think I’ve found the perfect project, providing me with respite at the sewing machine but not sapping my limited brain power away from the admin list :-). Remember I started a ‘leader and ender’ quilt? Β I tapped into the Scrap Vortex instructions posted by the Queen of Scraps, Amanda Jean Nyberg at Crazy Mom Quilts? Well! No! I’m not surprised you don’t recall the start of my scrappy quilt as it was way back in March!

Anyhow, I feel I’ve now enough pairs of scrap fabrics sewn together (the leader and ender phase of my scrap quilt) to move onto stages 2 and 3 of the Scrap Vortex quilt. It’s very relaxing just grabbing two pairs of fabrics, straightening out the seam edges and then stitching them together before repeating until the chain pieced scraps are all behind the machine. Actually, even pressing a heap of seams has it’s charms after a half hour or so of admin-ing πŸ˜‰

Leader-ender scraps

My workstation – teaming up scraps, trimming edges straight and then chain piecing the lot.

Scrap units sorted

Small scrap units on the left, medium-large on the right

After stage two (that is: sewing the paired pieces together to make squares or rectangles of four or more fabric pieces) I pressed all those seams and sorted the misshapen blocks into one pile of small blocks and another of medium-large blocks. My intention was to stitch together some of the smaller blocks so all the blocks would be similar in size. Fortunately I paused to read Amanda Jean’s instructions which clearly stated that, although it goes against a patchworker’s natural instincts, at this stage we should not be concerned about blocks being uniform in size!

I hastily jumbled my two piles of blocks together and began matching, trimming and chain piecing…

Then I did some admin… and pondered how my bin of scraps remains half full despite all this sewing…

Half full scrap bin

My half full/half empty scrap bin!

Time for pressing and trimming away fabric tails to even up the outside edges of the blocks of many sizes.

Blocks of varying sizes

Blocks with edges trimmed

Stage four of the Scrap Vortex process requires more pairing of the ever enlarging blocks. If blocks need adjusting to match up the advice is to add pieced strips to make blocks bigger, rather than cutting them down to fit together.

Scrap Vortex blocks on the design wall

Scrap Vortex blocks on the design wall

I have absolutely no idea how these blocks will all fit together but I am really enjoying the process πŸ™‚ Linking with Leanne for Scraptastic Tuesday.

Head on over and find inspiration for your bin of scraps – I don’t promise you’ll have fewer scraps at the end but you’ll give yourself the opportunity to bask in scrappy happiness πŸ˜€


Posted in Inspiration, Modern quilts, Quilt Alongs, Scrap Vortex Quilt | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

A wintry table runner

Norrland by Bethan Janine for Dashwood Studio

I know, I know we have barely stepped from Summer into Autumn and here am I using fabrics strewn with the icy hues of mid-winter! But these, Norrland by Bethan Janine for Dashwood Studio, are pretty irresistible any time of year!

I bought these five fat quarters a couple of months back with the intention of making another Star runner. The entrepreneur in me thought a version in ‘this years’ fabrics might arouse some interest for a re-run (ha!ha!) of the table runner class. I set some class dates with Viv at Purple Stitches and then thought I’d better make the sample to promote the class.

Norrland fabrics with Star Runner pattern

These fabrics were so lovely to use πŸ™‚ All the prints have little touches of metallic gold that just help to lift the cool colours. The turquoise reminds me of the snow melt-water I once saw rushing down a mountainside in Austria; the geometric design on white makes me think of ice crystals; and the designs on the coats of the animals suggest to me the intricate knitting and weaving patterns worked by peoples native to the Arctic Circle.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time in the sewing room on Friday making lots of half square triangles and putting the patchwork top together. I felt like a ‘real’ pattern designer as I jumped from the sewing machine to my lap top to tweak the written instructions as I worked my way step by step through the pattern. On Friday evening I put together the quilt sandwich and on Saturday morning I set about quilting the table runner.

Star Runner - Winter

It was a close thing but by my 11.30am deadline the runner was finished bar sewing in some thread ends. I had a date at the quilt shop in the afternoon for the fourth and final class of the second Beginners Course we have run this year. Here are the happy ‘graduates’ with their completed quilts πŸ™‚ (Just the bindings to stitch down and labels to attach).

2nd Beginners Class

I’m linking with Beth for Main Crush Monday because I’m still crushing on these fabrics and she’s crushing on fabrics too!


Posted in Colour, Fabrics, Quilt Design, Venture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments