Thursday, 13 July 2017

GUEST POST by Michelle Roberts on How to Stay Motivated when Studying via Distance Learning

Distance learning – my thoughts on how I stayed motivated and on track. (sometimes you can even surprise yourself)
My name is Michelle Roberts, 37 years old, and a few months back I completed the level 3 diploma in patchwork and quilting in just under 2 years, with school of stitched textiles.  I chose to do distance learning, so I could study in my own time as I am a mum to four boys, wow I hear you say, as I often do, when I say it out loud, but I think when you become a mum you can end up becoming just a mum (which is awesome, but my kids are getting older now, and like to do their own hobbies) and I was forgetting all the things I use to enjoy.
I wanted something creative to get stuck into, and I knew if I just made things out of books I wouldn’t stay motivated, and would drift into doing the mundane things in life - cooking, cleaning etc. Too be honest I loved being able to use the excuse, I have college work to do today, it also showed my children that mummy could do stuff too, and learn new things.
My kids were great, whenever I showed them something I was working on, they would have so much advice which would encourage me, I enjoyed showing them that you can do anything if you put the time and effort into it.
I have always been a creative person, with math’s and languages never being my strong point, and although I use to get mocked for being ‘blonde’ and a bit ‘stupid’ because of this, I’m so glad I have found my sewing machine and have been able to show people and myself that I can be someone, who’s good at something.
When I started the course, my husband was having to help me thread up my machine, as I knew nothing about sewing/quilting, two years down the line, I have learnt so much, my tutor Gail Cowley has been brilliant throughout the two years, always so quick to reply to my emails. I think I asked a lot of stupid questions (sorry) and sent emails when I was at my wits end, and ready to throw my machine out the window 😉 Gail always replied with such helpful advice, which motivated me to continue.
I owe a lot to my husband and kids for helping me stay on track, they were always so encouraging. Each module that I completed was celebrated with a bottle of prosecco… I think if this had been a course that I had to attend in person, I wouldn’t have done it. I’m not a particularly confident person, and so being able to learn in my own space at my own pace was great.  I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone with a love for creativity, and no I have a certificate to be proud of.
Since completing the course, I have started my own WordPress site at where I write step by step tutorials. I am currently competing in the #100days100blocks2017 challenge on Instagram, where I have met so many lovely people, who leave such lovely comments on my Instagram page at I have gained almost 250 followers in just a few months.
I’ve been extremely lucky to be given a job with Alicia at which I applied for soon after completing the course, I write step by step foundation paper piecing tutorials for her blog.
I also write tutorials for poppies and polkadots , Minerva crafts and craftcotton blog, where I have received some very positive feedback and praise from customers.
One of my quilts went on show at the NEC Birmingham quilt show and at the quilt show in Cologne, earlier this year, which I’m very proud of.
I love where I am right now… long may it continue 😊

 Many thanks to Michelle for this great post - Love Gail x

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Important News About C&G Creative Studies Courses

I must share some important news from City and Guilds regarding their 7716 textile courses – it is really important that anyone studying on these courses reads about the changes taking place;
We can confirm that this group of Creative Studies Courses is now coming to an end with a final possible registration date of mid May 2017 and the final completion date mid May 2020 – this includes a 2 week window for us to process paperwork. We are told there will be strictly no extensions beyond these dates for any reason whatsoever. We have already written to all of our affected students to give them more specific and personalised information about their own individual timescales. If you have not heard from us and think you should have done, please do drop us a line at There is no need to worry unduly, as there will be plenty of time in which to complete a course before the final certification deadline in 2020, with the important proviso that students ensure they have re-registered before the mid May deadline if they need more time than their existing registration allows. Diploma and Level 3 course registration is 3 years, Level 2 are 2 years and Level 1 just 1 year.

On a much brighter note, we have now nearly completed work on an extended and brand new range of courses to replace those that will be removed. They are still accredited by City & Guilds and will cover all of the current subjects plus Knitting, Hand Embroidery and Feltmaking at skill levels 1-4, catering for beginners through to master practitioners. We expect to change over to the new suite of courses May/June 2017. They have a fresh, vibrant new look and contain ‘how to’ videos for the first time, which we know will be much appreciated. They are exclusive to SST and, of course accredited by City & Guilds, but will not be available from any other provider. 

The only remaining textile qualification City & Guilds have retained is a 7161 generic Textiles certificate, which we will continue to make available while it is still offered by C&G, however we suspect that this will also disappear in a short while and is, in any case, not available at anything above a level 3 Certificate, so anyone considering the Diploma and wishing it to match their existing certificate 7716 may wish to consider a rapid enrolment, as this is the last chance to do so.

We hope this has clarified most of the main points on this change in C&G 7716 courses, but if you have specific queries, please do drop us a line at and we will do our best to help.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

5 top tips for the best beginners patchwork books

I'm often asked to recommend books for someone just starting out, so in no particular order, I'm going to list what I think are the best beginners patchwork/quilting books - hope you enjoy my selection!  They're all available from amazon uk -  if you want a closer look just click on the photos.

Beginner's Guide to Quilting: 16 projects to learn to quilt
Elizabeth Betts
Learn how to make beautiful quilts with this comprehensive guide to patchwork and quilting for beginners.
First Time Quilting: The Absolute Beginner's Guide: There's A First Time For Everything
Editors of Creative Publishing
Learning how to quilt has never been simpler! Enjoy this beginner's guide that takes you by the hand like a personal instructor and teaches you how to quilt. 

Quilting for Beginners: A Start-up Guide to Creating Your First Quilt
Anna Audley 
It is often said that quilting is both a skill and an art. While selection of patterns, designs, colors and fabrics to put together a piece will test the artist in you, following the multi-step process is a skill, like no other. This book explores the different facets of quilting and throws light on each step you will need to undertake in the process.

Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting
Popular blogger and designer, Natalia Bonner, illustrates her instructions with detailed photos that make it easier to get beautiful results on your home sewing machine.

Quilting for the Absolute Beginner 
Search Press
Cheryl Owen's guide is the ideal tool for the complete beginner to quilting. Step-by-step instructions and the spiral, hands free format enable you to practise and master each technique more easily. The book covers all the quilting equipment and tools, terminology and techniques, and includes a selection of attractive simple projects specially designed for the beginner. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Online Trolling

Now, this may sound like an odd topic for a needlework blog, however do bear with me! More and more over the last 18 months or so I have noticed a disturbing trend in, well let's say 'less than supportive' commenting on social media.  Back in the dark ages, when I first made the move into textile teaching, Facebook wasn't heard of and neither was Twitter.  Classmates were supportive of their fellow students and, if they were asked for a genuine opinion, they gave it in such as way as they would like to receive it themselves - constructively and with kindness.  Now don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to pass them off as the 'good old days' - there were of course disagreements and issues between students studying together in a class.  People are very different and their people skills also vary substantially.  Some boast, some complain, some like to 'lord it' over others which can make other classmates want to avoid them like the plague.  However all of these face to face issues felt substantially more honest than some of the unpleasant and sometimes downright nasty comments I sometimes come accross on Social Media now.  What makes someone think it is clever or impressive to disrespect the work of another?  OK - it may not be your taste and it may be very basic, when somone is just learning, but does this give you the right to say something, often under the cover of annonymity, that is hurtful, rude or just downright nasty?  I don't think so.  When someone posts work on, for example, Facebook, or has sets up a blog for their sewing, they are putting their heart and soul onto the page. 

Please let us all remember that everyone has to start somewhere and, if they receive rude or hurtful comments early in their creative journey, they may give up not just on their textiles, but also on anything else creative from that point on, believing they are simply 'rubbish' at it or even worse, taking it as a personal attack and becoming depressed because of it, with their self confidence affected for life.  All because someone wanted to look 'big' when they made that supposedly clever sarcastic remark. 
We tend to think that it is the 'odd few' who make remarks like this online, but actually figures suggest that a third of US citizens have trolled someone - meaning that a commenter has crossed the line by deliberately trying to upset one or more people. Interestingly trolling is more prevalent in older internet users. You can find more 'fun' facts at the address below, but can I make a plea to everyone who uses social media to spare a thought for how other may be affected before they post - treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.