Thursday, 21 August 2014

Greetings from Denman College

Good morning!

I have woken up early, with little sound except the birds singing. Living in a terraced house in Leeds, I'm more used to traffic and sirens from the fire station at the top of the road! I'm currently at Denman College in Marcham, Oxfordshire, the Women's Institute venue which hosts a huge range of cookery, craft, and lifestyle classes. I was lucky enough to win £200 worth of vouchers a few years ago from my WI Buns & Roses in Leeds City Centre, and I found a course on Free Machine Embroidery that I'd always fancied trying, but never plucked up the courage to try at home! I booked myself and my friend Kylie Henshaw on the course as a nice treat! 

We arrived yesterday at 12:00 and we shown to a room where we could drink tea, and was stocked full of craft magazines. Perfect! We then went for lunch, which we chose Paprika Chicken, potato wedges and roast vegetables. It was lovely! We realised at lunch that we were the youngest two at Denman, but all the older ladies made us feel very welcome, and were thrilled we were there, and loved hearing about what Buns & Roses was like. We then had a wander around, and then went to our welcome talk, and met our tutor Claire Muir.

Off we went to the textiles block, and found our spots. Claire explained what we would be doing, and we all marvelled at her samples, thinking we'd never be able to make our work like hers! Here's my sewing machine, in the bright sunshine all ready to go.

The difference with free machine stitching is that the feed dogs or teeth are dropped, or on some machines they come with a little plate that sits on top of them. A special foot also has to be used.

After a quick demonstration, Claire made sure all our machines were ready and then off we went. It felt very strange at first, being able to sew in all different directions, and my first attempts were a bit clunky!

We kept practicing for a while, and it was great to see what the other 11 ladies on the course were producing with their machines.

We then had coffee and of course cake! We were realising that food was a big part of the stay at Denman! At the welcome talk, we'd also been informed that the bar would be open before dinner, and that all the profits from the bar went straight into the carpet cleaning! Sounds like a perfect excuse for a tipple or two.

We then were given a piece of fabric with a stamped image of a butterfly, to decorate as we wished. This is what I came up with. 

It was great fun, and everyone in the room ended up with unique designs. 

I cannot wait to get home to see what Stampin' Up! stamps I can use on material to stitch over!

Next we tried adding some texture using Merino tops wool. This was quite tricky but I think I mastered it! I'll be raiding my sisters felting box when I get home!

We then stopped for drinks and dinner, which was lovely. I sat on a table of 8 and everyone chatted away about their WI's and where they were from and we heard about their previous visits to Denman. I had come with a friend, but I felt very sure that if I'd come by myself, I'd have made friends very quickly.

After dinner, we had another hour or so on the machines, and we did a bit or ironing! We chopped up small pieces of silk onto our material, and then stitched over the top.

Claire practically had to throw us out of the room at 21:30, I'm sure we could have kept on going for hours! We headed back to the bar, chatted and got to know each other a bit more, and then headed to our rooms.

Right, it's nearly time for me to get up, shower and then head to breakfast (more food!) I'll take some more pictures today, and will be back with another blog post about my stay soon.

If you don't already "Like" my Stampin' Up! page on Facebook, head over to as I'll be posting pictures throughout the day on there.