Book review: ‘Small Scale Quilting’ by Sally Collins

I got this lovely book about quiltmaking for my birthday (Amazon wishlists are wonderful things!).


It is about A4 size, has 112 pages, and has a quality feel to it. Sally Collins has published several books before on various aspects of quilting, and all her books focus on her love of precision. This is what I need, as I’m too impatient to do things carefully, and I can easily spoil something by not taking enough time over it.

Sally calls her quilts ‘small scale’ rather than ‘miniature’, because she says she thinks they are not scale models of full-size ones. So, this book features designs from 6 x 8 inches, up to around 30 inches square – still significantly smaller than any bed quilt would be.

The beginning of the book covers colour, fabric, how to cut accurately, lots of information about borders – how to choose fabrics for them, how to accentuate the centre panel with a good border, and so on. The construction techniques section is particularly good.


There are then nine projects, listed in order of complexity. These use several different techniques. All cutting information, fabric amounts, etc., are given – I thought this part of the book was very well planned. Sally is obviously a perfectionist!

There is a short bibliography at the back, and a list of other quilting books from C & T Publishing.

What I particularly liked about the way Sally writes, is that she often mentioned the link between her creativity and her spirituality. They both feed into each other, and Sally is very aware of this. The process of making a quilt is part of her unfolding spirituality, so for her, unpicking a seam and re-sewing it is just part of life’s journey, not a ‘nuisance’ or a ‘problem’. Hmm, I’ll have to work on that one  🙂

An intermediate design
An intermediate design
An advanced design
An advanced design

The project I really liked, which will probably be the first one I’ll try from this book, is the ‘Framed Double Wedding Ring’ mini quilt. This is only 6 x 7 1/2 inches. Am I being ambitious here? It is listed as being the second-simplest project in the book, so that’s my excuse! I love double wedding ring quilt designs, but I don’t think I’d have the time or the patience to make a full-size one. But this little thing is so cute. It’s made with bias tubes of fabric 1/4 inch wide, and little four-square units at the intersections. Simple, really!

I'm planning to make the small version of this design, in the bottom right hand corner of this picture
I’m planning to make the small version of this design, in the bottom right hand corner of this picture

This is a very inspiring book, with several techniques to try. Sally is very precise, so if the book is read through carefully, you can pick up a lot of tips from this expert.

C & T Publishing. Paperback. 112 pages. About £19 on Amazon. ISBN 978 1 57120 009 9.


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More new doll’s house needlepoint carpet kits to make

I have spent the summer working on these new doll’s house needlepoint kit designs – mainly carpets – and have  just launched these three collections on my website – these ones are more ‘traditional’ styles (the ones I launched a couple of weeks ago were all Art Deco style).

Yvonne olive collection

This first collection is called ‘Yvonne (olive)’ – as there is a red version already available – and it was inspired partly by a customer of mine, who took the red version and amended it to be in these subtle shades of olive green and tan brown. When she sent me a photo of what she’d done, I liked it so much I have decided to bring out my own version! There is a staircarpet and a little cushion (measuring just 1.25 inches square) to match. The staircarpet looks like this when it’s on a staircase:


Both the staircarpet and the rectangular carpet are to be stitched on 18 count interlock canvas, with one strand of Appleton’s wool. The little cushion is stitched on 22 count canvas with two strands of Anchor cotton thread.

The 'Tabriz' collection
The ‘Tabriz’ collection

The next collection is called ‘Tabriz’. I already had the bellpull and the bolster cushion in my shop available as kits, but I thought matching carpets would be good. The ‘large’ carpet is VERY large, by doll’s house standards – it measures 12.25 x 9.5 inches before the fringe is added, so it would fill most doll’s house rooms completely. But customers have been asking for larger carpets for a while now, so here is the first one that I have designed – more should follow next year, hopefully. I’m working on matching dining chairs to go with this design, too, as I think a dining room with this carpet in it, and matching chairs round a large dining table would look fantastic.

The 'Esther' collection
The ‘Esther’ collection

The last collection is called ‘Esther’. This is an Aubusson design, in both large and small formats. More co-ordinating kits will be available for this design next year, too. The large carpet measures 10.75 x 6.75, and the small one 6.75 x 4.75 inches.

All the kits are available on my website, and chart packs are also available for the carpets and staircarpet designs.


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Five-sided box 2: primrose and thistle motif

The first motif I want to stitch for my five-sided box is the Primrose and Thistle motif, adapted from the book ‘Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth’ by Susan O’Connor. I made a  scan of the design outline from the book, shrunk it down to the size that I wanted, then taped that onto my light box. The horizontal and vertical guidelines you can see in the image below are on the paper design outline, not the fabric. The fabric I am using is a pale cream linen from my stash – no idea where I got it from, but it’s old! Using a very sharp pencil, I traced over the design lines, and got a really clear version of the design onto my fabric.

5 box 2

Each design motif is quite simple, and doesn’t use many colours – this one uses ten. I wonder if this may be a problem, as the shading looks like it might be a bit too coarse at times, but I’ll have to see if it needs ‘tweaking’ later.

5 box 6

The stems are worked first in stem stitch, and then the leaves are outlined in split back stitch. The lower bright green leaf has satin stitch worked over the split back stitch edging.

5 box 7

I did a lot more on this before remembering to take any more photos, sorry! The thistle flowers were fun to do – just straight stitches, worked in a fan pattern until the flower head ‘looked right’. With hindsight, I think I should have used more than just the one shade suggested in the instructions, as it looks a little bit too dense, in only the one colour. Also, the primroses have come out a bit too ‘green’ – the colour looked more yellow when I picked it.

5 box 9

This picture shows one of the full-face flowers completed, and one in progress.

5 box 10

I like working trellis stitch, so I was pleased with how the stitch came out on the thistles

5 box 11


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Just launched today! Art Deco carpet kits for doll’s houses

If there’s one style of carpet kit for doll’s houses that I get asked to design more than any other these days, it’s Art Deco. A few years ago, all doll’s houses seemed to be made in the Victorian style. Georgian was sometimes an option, but more often, only Victorian style houses and furniture were produced. So, people wanted Victorian style soft furnishings to go with the houses that they’d bought.

But in the past few years, the doll’s house hobby has diversified hugely, and now almost any era is being catered for. More and more, Art Deco styles of house are being produced, so, obviously, those houses need some carpets to go in them  🙂

During the past summer, I started to design the new range of Art Deco carpets, based on authentic motifs and colour schemes. I have just launched the first four – more will follow in the spring of 2014. These are all to be stitched in needlepoint on 18 count white canvas (ample canvas is included in the kit, and the design is counted from a colour block chart). Each kit also contains Appleton’s crewel wool, detailed instructions, and a suitable needle. They can be bought here.

The new collection of doll's house scale Art Deco carpet kits
The new collection of doll’s house scale Art Deco carpet kits

I have around seventy carpets for doll’s houses in my range already, and I do love designing Victorian carpets – there are several dozen carpet kits on my website in the Victorian style. The carpet shown below measures 6 x 4 1/2 inches, and is a typical example of the swirling, strong design style that the Victorians loved.

A very traditional Victorian carpet design from my range, called 'Sarah'
A very traditional Victorian carpet design from my range, called ‘Sarah’

I have several Arts & Crafts designs in my range, too, such as this William Morris ‘Hammersmith’ carpet design which I call ‘Elizabeth’ – it measures 9 x 9 inches.


And then there’s the Art Nouveau style – I love this style, too. This one’s called ‘Josie’.


What do you think of the new designs? Do you like Art Deco as a decorating style? Or do you prefer the more traditional Victorian/Arts and Crafts kind of carpets? Or modern?


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