Finishing 2016

2016 was my Year of Finishing. I completed projects I started, by the book, by ecourse and online challenges. I learned to follow through on commitments yes, but possibly compromising a sense of autonomy ? I like to think of it as training in life skills that up to now have eluded me.
Here’s what I have done and what I’ve learned.
January I completed a commission for my number one collector.

February I completed Cynthia Morris’ Free Write Fling*, an online writing class, Free writing everyday for 28 days. My coveted reward for everyday writing was a copy of ‘Cross the Finish Line’ : Overcoming The Hurdles to Completion’ Cynthia ‘s excellent e-book.

I simultaneously worked through ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ by Janet Connor, a spiritual guide book to help define your year ahead using journaling and the exercises provided. This is a thirty day process which is drawn from both Christianity and Buddhism . For me it was an introduction into prayer also . I did ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ in 2015 but didn’t complete with the final flourish, to create an personal mandala. I created a beautiful mandala for 2016.
In March I worked from Marie Kondo book **** ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ I finished the clothes part of the process, edited my book collection and worked half way through the ‘papers’ section. I can testify to her methods because since then, I only wear clothes that I love and the drawers are always neat and tidily folded. I can find everything!

Then I moved onto the studio and on a whim, I decided to make a sewing table with drawers. I cut a table top in half lengthways , lined up both sides together sandwiching wood batons between them along three sides. With some random pieces of wood that I found in the studio, and some Left over peg board, I made the drawers. Then added legs with swivel wheels and brakes. The process was organic, intuitive, I worked it out as I went along. I love this way of working. I can’t help but think this spontaneity might have to be reined in, if I am to create some big work next year. My reward for finishing the table was a trip away to see my son and his beautiful family.

Next up was the #100 Day Project*** in April which I was wary of starting because I stopped at 80 days in 2015. I was wracked with shame since I failed to complete 2015. Beginning to think about doing the project activated the inner critic big time. So I Free wrote the objections ( see the knock on benefits of the Free writing class ? ) I countered each one and came up with a plan.

My solution was to keep my project simple, do-able and within the same format, every day. I even took my pieces of cloth away to Corfu in July. My strategy worked and I completed all 100 pieces, on time.


Another class I had started and failed in 2015, The Focus Course**  resumed in July. I joined in with this and bingo! Another success. This forty day class has daily actions to learn the elements of focus as to be applied to any area of your life. Shawn Blanc takes the best from self help books and presents a daily program to help you discern and activate your priorities.

In June I completed my Grandson Zac’s quilt,  which was lovely experience to use saturated colour and lively pattern, keeping his personality in mind as I worked.

This bring us up to October and I joined Ms Morris*and friends for another Free Write Fling. This time I concentrated my Free Writes on my #State of Mind Map project, exploring topics that I want to share. Octobers’ class morphed into an add on program, ‘Write On !’ During November and beginning December. It is set up to take your writing practice to another level. Write On! is writing with a single focused project in mind. It is the perfect place to begin to learn your own writing process , ( if you don’t already have one). Who knew it could be so dramatic ? Life participated in the program also, uniquely showing up for each of us. It was encouraging to see how every one rose up and rode out challenges. The level of  accountability intensified ( for me) the challenges and made me face them – which I would not otherwise have done.

And the good news, I stuck with it and learned so much. So much. The level of accountability and support from the participants and Cynthias presence and attention, really does help to keep your project in mind. As I hinted above so many diversions raised their ugly heads, and in times past I would have succumbed and abandoned every thing.
What have I learned?

That to complete a project brings the lasting reward of quiet confidence. Lasting, because it does make your heart stronger and give you courage to commit to progress in the things that matter.

When you repeat an experience, it deepens your learning to the point where your find own way of doing things. You find your process. That these teachings can be revisited time after time and you can fine tune your learning.

Online classes have a greater level of sustainability than learning from a book. Probably because you receive the benefit of the presence and participation of the course leader. I’m sure Marie Kondo’s clients keep on top of their tidy spaces because they have benefitted from her direct help. Although it’s fair to say that what I did complete from ‘The Magic of Tidying’ has remained with me. This just needs to be revisited, is all and will in the new year. And isn’t it that decluttering is a perennial challenge anyway ? At any rate, learning is best from experts and the internet brings access to these.

You meet some amazing class mates, who support, help and encourage you along the way.

And most of all the investment in your time and effort is well worth it. Having the level of accountability from the group, coupled with your financial investment, makes you want to do well. It debunks my laissez faire attitude of not needing accountability, that actually given all that I completed this year, accountability can work.

I learned that I can focus, but only on one thing at a time. 2017’s activity is to rinse and repeat and to merge all of the above,  to blend my activities into a shorter time frame, instead of spanning the year.

It sounds like a routine is approaching…..big booming footsteps on the horizon with a giant clipboard in hand ….with ‘TIDY’ heading the list.

*Writing my year review was inspired by Cynthia Morris, you can read about her jammed packed year and her courses – here.

** Shawn Blanc and the Focus Course starts again soon,

*** The Hundred Day Project was set up by Elle Luna, I expect it will resume in April, look out for it on Instagram.

**** And finally If you’re planning to start a new year Tidy Up you can get Marie Kondos book,  come back to check my clear up progress to prepare for my #State of Mind Map project and let me know how you’re getting along also.

Ps. Last but not least ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ by Janet Connor. And it strikes me that all these topics, books, courses,  present the same message in different packaging. To keep on keeping on.


Circles and Squares

Thinking about the square patch I’m using , I wonder where the square was first represented?  It’s not a naturally occurring phenomena as far as I know.  Crystals have geometric shapes though, like octagons. I think the square was created from the circle. Sharpening off the edges from the mid point of the circle to meet up at right angles……
After a modest amount of research I discover that a square created from the outside circumference of a circle is impossible due to mathematical laws. The drawn square is constructed from the inside area and circumference of the circle and here’s an animation to show you how ( if you don’t already know )
I also find that the most common crystal form is the cubic crystal ! look at this perfect cube created by nature. and consider common patchwork shapes used, the square, triangle, hexagon, rectangle, shapes that occur naturally in crystal form too. This is appealing, that quilters are recreating gems of the earth.


In the course of making it is good to capture the stages along the way. It is especially important to get good images of the finished product. This is the received wisdom. So I have been behind the camera. learning. i hope it shows..

Problems and Solving

these little rectangles of cloth are starting their life as oyster wallets. they were cut out before I figured the best way to sew them, they have been waiting for some tlc. Now is the time.

I have a method of making that can incorporate the rectangles quite well. Now this problem has been sorted I’m keen to finish them. They will be in the shop when they are done.

Also today I learned how to resize photos on my camera. This is progress! I finally took the time to read the camera manual. I won’t need an expensive programme now ie photoshop..I can just resize on the camera. I’m pleased to have solved two problems today. What have you solved in your day?

Thank you for visiting.

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Love and Loss

Quilt 'top' in deep purple and yellow with appliqued hand motif , made in mum's memory, featuring her own hand.I made this quilt top soon after mum died-
it’s now been seven years and forever since that january day.
I will quilt it now and remember some of her classic sayings-
‘You can do anything you put your mind to’,
‘Just think nice thoughts’-‘Do your best’.
I miss her.

Mums Quilt top_12_hand detail © 2013 MaggieWinnall
Mums Quilt top_12_hand detail © 2013 MaggieWinnall
Mums Quilt top_10_hand detail_© 2013 MaggieWinnall
Mums Quilt top_10_hand detail_© 2013 MaggieWinnall

‘Artist Made’ – Wearable Art

Wearable Handbag Art with hand cut coloured cloth letters from fonts, hand appliqued on mixed fibre patchwork ground, snap close frame ,with dark navy velour sides and reverse,lined in midnight blue satin.
Artist Made © 2012 Maggie Winnall
Wearable Handbag Art with hand cut coloured cloth letters from fonts, hand appliqued on mixed fibre patchwork ground, snap close frame ,with dark navy velour sides and reverse,lined in midnight blue satin.
Artist Made © 2012 Maggie Winnall
Wearable Handbag Art with hand cut coloured cloth letters from fonts, hand appliqued on mixed fibre patchwork ground, snap close frame ,with dark navy velour sides and reverse,lined in midnight blue satin.
Artist Made © 2012 Maggie Winnall

It’s finished! ‘Artist Made’ is neatly glued into the handbag frame and when you peek inside you see the lovely midnight blue satin lining playing off against the dark night velour interior facing. The interior of the bag is as important as the outside don’t you think?

Artist…When? Artist…. Now!

I claim to be an artist.

I think of myself as an artist, I’ve been practising my artist intro.

I have a BA Hons degree.

I can draw and paint….oil paint on paper

I can make textiles..weave,spin fibres,print,knit,crochet,dye…

I can sew cloth-pretty much anything..handbags, hats,dresses,trousers,curtains, cushions,quilts, banners….

tote conversion purse © maggie winnall 2011

So the indication is there.

Yet do my actions match my words?

Do I live/breathe/make/create art ….YES….. on a regular self sustaining £$£ basis?..No

No. I try sporadically, have flurries of £$£ activity and all the while at the day job I think about what I will do When….what will happen When...I plan, I prepare,take classes, visualise my future artist life When…..

So now as I go through the who,why,what checklist.. the When has to be NOW!

Because as my grand-daughter and I sing

‘Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink..( our favourite colour) Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think…..’

WHEN? NOW!  and is Why  I am taking art marketing  lessons.


Sampler#1 is finished now and it’s another kind of collage…one made from sample blocks exploring the quilted stitch and pattern.

Deadlines don’t work… Part 2

Aaliyah cosy © 2012 maggie winnallSo many childhood messages can be loaded with negativity – don’t do this…don’t do that….or else…then negative consequences follow. It’s no wonder we procrastinate and are fearful to act.

Giving myself a deadline to finish Aaliyah’s quilt was an attempt to kick the procrastination, instead all manner of obstacles presented themselves…….

So I decided to treat each obstacle as a learning opportunity, to listen out for the thinking behind the ‘difficulty’, to identify what informed the thought.

One learning choice was to listen to ‘Eat that Frog’ by Brian Tracy, which amongst other things, throws insight onto why deadlines don’t work.

So, whilst hand sewing under and around all the raw edges of Aaliyah’s quilt, I listened to words of encouragement, stitch by stitch I heard news of the positive consequences of doing this….doing that…., stitch by stitch I heard an endorsement of the positive feelings to experience following this advice. It is a strategy I recommend to help you move along  in your work, because stitch by stitch  I heard  refreshing, encouraging words which hopefully all the little stitches have captured and are now wrapped around Aaliyah.

Aaliyah's Quilt_1 © 2012 Maggie WinnallBrightly coloured cloths are gathered and four corners set out.

The squares were samples made experimenting with wadding and pattern .Red Shoe/quilt sample _2 © 2009 Maggie WinnallRed Shoe/quilt sample _3 © 2009 Maggie WinnallRed Shoe/quilt sample _4 © 2009 Maggie Winnall

The shoes were quilted from direct observation, ‘quilt drawing’. The pattern evolved further here.Now my shoe samples are going into a quilt for my grand-daughter, Aaliyah.

The theme of completion continues, using up and maximising  existing pieces of work plus an added public deadline display! in the sidebar to see if this helps or hinders my progress. We’ll see……