Category Archives: Blog

Festival of Quilts Aug 16 NEC

The biggest event in the quilting calendar is The Festival of Quilts. The Festival is organised by The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles in conjunction with Upper Street Events Ltd. The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, is a great venue with good access from the UK motorways. Birminghan International railway station and the International Airport are both just a short distance away. You can understand why the Festival of Quilts has masses of visitors every year from the UK and abroad.

That’s the dry information. What Festival of Quilts is really about is quilted textiles of all types. Over 700 quilts are entered into sixteen different competitive categories. There are three additional awards. Quilts range from miniatures and traditional, through Contemporary and Art Quilts, to those entered by schools. The range of skills on display is mind boggling.

The images below are just some of the winners at the Festival of Quilts Aug 2016 NEC

Quilts at the 2016 Festival of Quilts. NEC. Quilts at the 2016 Festival of Quilts. NEC.

In addition to the competitions, there are individual galleries displaying the work of leading quilt artists and groups from around the world. I enjoy looking through these galleries, and talking to the artists about their work.

Quilts at the 2016 Festival of Quilts. NEC. Quilts at the 2016 Festival of Quilts. NEC.

Not every gallery will catch the imagination, but it’s certain that something will be there to stimulate and excite. This year my favourites included the work of Sandra Meech, Edwina McKinnon, Claire Benn, Ingrid Press. I especially appreciated talking to Cecile Trentini about the series of work in her gallery.

Quilts at the 2016 Festival of Quilts. NEC.

Quilters’ Guild membership

The Festival of Quilts is a great place to meet like minded people. You can become a member of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles online here. I have been a member since the mid 1980s and really feel part of something special. I bumped into a number of people I know and met up with some of the other members of Cwilt Cymru – which was fun.

In addition to all the quilts on display, there is another big attraction at Festival of Quilts. There are 272 stands selling all sorts of things necessary to quilters – well, if not necessary, at least very appealling!

Stands at the 2016 Festival of Quilts. NEC.

I could only go to the show on Thursday but it is open for four days, and some of the long list of workshops on offer start before the official opening day.

What did I buy? That’s the question asked the moment we have all settled in for the return journey. There’s usually a mini ‘show and tell’. Well, since you ask, I bought a new cutting board, a book by Jane Dunnewold, some threads and some pieces of coloured silk fabric. Now I need the inspiration to turn them into quilted textiles for my next exhibition. I also brought back some warm memories which will keep me going until next year.


Textile Artwork in development

Sometimes textile artwork doesn’t take an expected route.

One piece of work I abandoned, temporarily, is now setting off in a new direction and I’m feeling much happier already about how it’s developing through colour, fabric use, stitch and the underlying message.

take a look…


Dorothy Russell

I teach them to be creative

A quilting friend told me she recognised that I don’t just teach my students how to follow a pattern, I teach them to be creative and think their way through their own ideas. This was great to hear because that’s exactly what I aim to do.

Developing a Notan in a Dorothy Russell workshop

The concept of creativity can be intimidating to people not used to thinking of themselves in those terms. I tend to encourage ‘play’ and ‘experimentation’ rather than asking them to ‘take a creative approach’. I rarely use the word ‘design’ for the same reason. However, everyone is creative and can develop ideas, and take them to a creative conclusion, given gentle guidance.

Dorothy Russell workshop. Illustrating a Notan idea

A lecturing collegue of mine, many years ago, told a group of new students that they would learn as much from each other as from the teaching staff. He also said the teaching staff would learn from fresh ideas brought in by students.

Centre piece of a Notan in development. Dorothy Russell workshop   Centre piece of a Notan in development. Dorothy Russell workshop   Centre piece of a Notan in development. Dorothy Russell workshop

This is absolutely true. When he said this, I was young and new to lecturing. It made me think deeply about the meaning of teaching and it has stuck with me over the years.

Table arrangement in Dorothy Russell's workshops at Llandygai, Bangor

The work tables in Talgai Hall are set out in a rectangle, with a space in the middle, ensuring that communication within the group is easy. Each quilter can see how everyone else’s work is progressing, and can learn.

It was a joy to see the black and white paper Notan images developing. Individual, complex and inspired designs appeared at this stage. It’s evident to me that students who have completed courses with me take a much more creative and experimental approach to each new challenge. In turn, everyone in the group gains from an aspirational environment.

Patchwork and Quilting workshops

My Patchwork and Quilting workshops at Talgai Hall are social occassions as well as classes. I meet some people for the first time, which is always great fun. I also see members of my Beginners’ and Intermediate/Advanced Courses, who I haven’t seen since March. In addition, quilters who attended earlier Patchwork and Quilting workshops and courses, come to learn a new skill. It makes a very enjoyable day.

By the end of the workshop, I could have given everyone a big hug. What a lovely, hard working group. I look forward to receiving images of their finished Notan textiles.

Next Beginners’ Course

Detail from a Dorothy Russell beginner's quilt   Detail from a Dorothy Russell beginner's quilt



Now I need a new group for my next Beginners’ Course in Patchwork and Quilting.

It starts in September and runs, in twelve sessions, until March 2017.

Detail from a Dorothy Russell beginner's quilt



Could you be a keen learner? Would you like to find out how to do Patchwork and Quilting? …more

11 June 2016

Notan Workshop at Castle Court

I had a lovely day today with Shropshire Quilters at Castle Court Quilter in Whittington, for a Notan workshop.

Whittington Castle in Shropshire

We were up early and Daf drove me to the pretty village of Whittington, near Oswestry. Castle Court Quilter, shop and workshop, is directly across the street from Whittington Castle. The attractive castle ruins are in the heart of the village on a site which has been inhabited for two thousand years.

Whittington street opposite the Castle

The workroom was a really pleasant space with good light and sturdy tables. Daf had brought stands with him to hang my large ‘Notan’ piece. Although we would be working on a fairly small scale during the workshop, it’s good to show that Notan can be made any size.
Notan is a Japanese system of paper cutting, but can be applied to other media. It’s a great starting point for textile work. I showed some examples to the group, then started them on the first step of the process.

large room at Castle Court Quilter, Whittington for a Dorothy Russell Notan workshop   laying tracing paper over design in a Notan workshop. Dorothy Russell drawing over design onto tracing paper in a Notan workshop. Dorothy Russell

On a black square of paper they drew their initial design.

They then cut along all the lines they had drawn. On an A2 piece of white paper they aligned the core or the design, then, flipping some of the pieces, they completed their layout and we took time to look at everyone’s black and white Notan designs. I can tell when there’s real concentration in a workshop by the silence in the room. The Shropshire Quilters were very quiet.

ironing bondaweb. Dorothy Russell Notan workshop

The next task was to transfer the paper design to fabric.
Everyone traced her Notan design onto bondaweb adhesive then ironed that to the back of one of her chosen fabrics.

cutting and trimming the shapes for Notancutting and trimming

After more cutting out, each fabric was correctly placed on the front of a second piece of fabric and carefully ironed in place. Bondaweb adhesive is heat activated, it melts under the iron. The trick is not to get it on the iron or ironing-board!

Notan pieces of work from the Notan workshop by Dorothy Russell

The final designs were all very different, because of both the layout and the choice of fabrics.
I then explained the next stages of this Notan workshop would be completed at home. The piece would be layered with wadding and backing, then quilted and embellished as each quilter chose.
We had a lovely day at Castle Court Quilter, with the Shropshire Quilters, and they all thanked me for the Notan workshop, which was lovely. They also gave me a card which they had all signed and put little messages in. What a thoughtful thing to do. Thank you all.

21st May 2016

2016 Reverse Applique Workshop

Reverse Applique Quilting workshop

Reverse Applique Workshop may 2016 by Dorothy Russell

Machine Quilting and Wholecloth are both now completed for this year.
Last Sunday’s workshop was Reverse Applique, a system which changes the way of thinking about applique. Usually, applique implies pieces of fabric added to the surface of a quilt. In Reverse Applique, there is an extra layer.

In this workshop, we used lots of ‘scraps’ of fabric. The top layer is then placed and secured to complete the ‘sandwich, then stitched down in a pattern. Sections are cut away to reveal areas of the ‘scrappy’ layer beneath.

It’s fun to do because you are never sure what will be revealed in the cut-away, and you can play around with colours in the ‘scrappy layer’ to enhance the effect. Once all the design is cut away from the top layer, it’s time to enhance the piece with hand and machine stitching, and the addition of couching and beading.

It’s a busy workshop with lots to teach and great results. This technique can produce stunning images. Everyone left the workshop buzzing with ideas.

Keep eye on my workshops and courses page for future workshops at llandygai.

I’m a tired but happy teacher!

17th May 2016

Last Session of the Intermediate/Advanced Course 2015-16

Thursday 17th was the last day of the course but we’ll be back together in September with new members from the Beginners’ Course joining us.

During the course I asked everyone to bring in a photo of a landscape which held a special association or memory.

From each image we developed fractured designs to develop through textiles and step by step each member developed her own piece of work.

The journey through the course was as much about developing an idea and a way of working as it was about the final piece of work. I’m very proud of what each member of the group has achieved.

Although the course has ended for now, I can look forward to seeing everyone during the ‘One and Two Day Workshops between April and June and we’ll be back together in September.

18th March 2016

Last Session of the Beginners’ Course 2015-16.

I can never believe how quickly time flies: it seems like hardly any time since the first class last September and here we are on the last day of the Course.

I’ve really enjoyed teaching this group and most of them will be back in September on the Intermediate Course.

I always love to see how each quilt takes on its own personality and you can see for yourself how the layout is adapted by choice of pattern, colour and block design, to reflect each maker. It’s this individualisation which makes teaching so interesting and rewarding.

These are some of my students with their Beginners’ Quilts

The last class was about putting a hanger and label on each quilt, so everyone had to decide on a name for her quilt – the label contains the maker’s name, the place she comes from, the quilt name and the year it was made. Actually most of the quilts still have hand quilting to complete but you can see in the images how they will look when entirely finished.

Last session of Beginners Course 2016 by Dorothy Russell

We marked the day with a ‘Pot Luck Lunch’ where everyone brought food to share and we enjoyed a very good meal. I always enjoy lunchtime, not just because of the food, but because we have some very interesting conversations; sometimes funny, sometimes stimulating, usually both.

Although there was an end of term feel to the end of the day, I can look forward to seeing most of ‘The Beginners’ during my ‘One and Two Day Workshops between April and June.

11th March 2016

Back to Teaching My Beginners and Intermediate/Advanced Courses. New Quilting Course for 2016.

Now that Christmas is over and my students have ceased to be hostesses etc and have returned to the serious work of Patchwork and Quilting, we are back to our regular sessions at Talgai Hall. It’s lovely to see everyone again and the work is developing really well.

Dorothy Russell Beginners Quilting class 2015/16

The Beginners nearly all have their quilts layered and some have started hand-quilting them. It is always a joy to see the finished tops as each one is totally individual and really lovely: I’ll put a photo of each one on the website when they are closer to being finished. I’m enjoying working on the project alongside them, so I’ll include my own quilt with the images.

I have booked the dates for the next Beginners’ Course which will start on Thursday 8th September 2016 and run for twelve sessions. The dates, times and prices are now on the ‘Welcome’ page.

If you think you’d like to do the Beginners’ Course, email or call me for a chat.

The Intermediate/Advanced Group are working on Landscapes: they have chosen a photo of a landscape which is important to them in some way and to which they relate personally. They have used this image as a jumping off point to create a fractured image in textiles of their landscape. The group is made up of very highly skilled individuals now (though they would all blush at the thought!) and the results of their work so far are beautiful. When the work has developed further I will post images on the blog. I’m also working on landscapes, so I’ll post images of my work too.

17th January 2016

Cwilt Cymru Exhibition, ‘Connections’

Some of the Comments about Our Work – Cwilt Cymru Exhibition, ‘Connections’ – Shown in The Futures Gallery, The Pierhead, Cardiff 2nd November to 4th December 2015

Great feedback – thank you to everyone who visited our exhibition.

The exhibition, ‘Connections’ will be travelling with Grosvenor Exhibitions during the next few months.

Great talent. Fab exhibition. Alun Richard

A wonderful exhibition depicting some very powerful subjects. A lot of things to think about. KG and ER

An insight into what can be achieved with quilt stories. Liz M

Great overall impact and so much of beauty and interest to see in detail. Sarah

Very interesting and exciting pieces of work, and very moving. Stephanie

Creffwaith penigamp. Diolch. Rhyfeddu at amynedd a dyfalbarhad yr artistiaid. Llongyfarchiadau! Darnau ‘Gwenllian” yn drawiadol iawn. Gwych iawn. Alun

A refreshing change. Combining skill, beauty and meaning. A rare treat. D Brown

I enjoyed looking at the beautiful art display. Shahid

Interesting exhibition, a rare treat for the eyes and brain. G

Arddangosfa hyfryd a braf gweld delweddau o Ynys Mon, a gwaith crefftwyr o’r ynys, yma yn y Pierhead. Beautiful craftsmanship and Anglesey on show too. Rhun ap Iorwerth AC/AM


Talk and Workshop with Solway Quilters in Dumfries

Dumfries Bridge Nov 2015

On 20th November, we travelled up the M6 and crossed the border into Scotland, heading for the home of our lovely hosts Sue and Peter. When they lived in North Wales Sue had been one of my students and it was lovely to have the opportunity to see her again and meet Peter (and their lovely cats). We were immediately made to feel very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

It wasn’t just a social visit however, that evening I gave a talk about my work to Solway Quilters – they were a lively, welcoming and interested group and it was lovely responding to all their questions – Daf was as busy as I was: after all the experience he’s had of talks and my work, he’s well qualified! We didn’t leave the hall until well after ten and it was a slightly icy drive back to Sue and Peter’s.

Dorothy Russell Workshop with Solway Quilters in Dumfries

The next day I taught ‘Notan’ to a full workshop and the results were really good. I’d love to see how they get on with this method of working in the future. Sue made sure I was very well fed and I was asked to come back again: I’d love to!

Dumfries trees by the river

Daf meanwhile had taken his camera into Dumfries town and taken photos, especially along the river. We were distressed to see, in the news, the damage that same river did when it later burst its banks. Our thoughts were with the people of Dumfries.

I’d also like to congratulate Tanya Burlison and the members of Solway Quilters on their exhibition and the £1,284 they raised with their charity quilt for the Childrens’ Hospice Association Scotland.


Wholecloth Workshop with Dyffryn Clwyd Quilters in Rhuthin

The rolling hills around Ruthun, North Wales

On Saturday we were in pretty historical Rhuthin, the county town of Denbighshire: it is built around a hill in the southern part of the fertile and lovely Vale of Clwyd – Dyffryn Clwyd.

Ruthun town view

I was there to teach a Wholecloth Quilt workshop with Dyffryn Clwyd Quilters in the large, well lit hall they use for all their meetings. This was not my first visit and hopefully won’t be my last.

Dorothy Russell Quilt workshop in Ruthun North Wales

It was lovely to see Jean Smith in the group – she was a member of my Beginners’ Course a few years ago. I currently have two other D C Quilters on my Courses and Ceri was there on Saturday, acting as one of my ‘angels’. Thank you to both Ceri and Pippa – I was very well looked after.

Dorothy Russell Quilt workshop in Ruthun North Wales

Bethan Hughes, another DC Quilters member and also a fellow member of Cwilt Cymru popped in with her Mum at lunchtime to say hello. We (Cwilt Cymru) currently have an exhibition in the Futures Gallery at The Pierhead in Cardiff.

Dorothy Russell Quilt workshop in Ruthun North Wales

The day went well and there were times of deep silence in the hall as everyone concentrated on developing her individual design and transfering it to fabric. The results from this workshop are always very personal and lovely. Saturday was no exception.

I rounded off the session with a demonstration of hand quilting and gave everyone a needle. I work with John James size 11 Big Eye Quilting Needles, which are tiny but are the best way to get small, even quilting stitches. The first aim is to get the stitches even, then work at making them smaller. Thimbles are a must!

10th November 2015

New Courses about to Start and Success in a Competition for Jan

Tomorrow, on 3rd September, I will be teaching a new group of Beginners and I’m really looking forward to meeting them all and starting work on a set of beautiful new quilts. This year I have decided to work alongside them, and perhaps put my own slant on the project.

The following week the Intermediate/Advanced Course meets up again: this time we will be working on landscapes, using a couple of different techniques. I’m looking forward to seeing the images from which they have chosen to develop their ideas.

Jan, who completed the Beginners’ course 2014 – 15 and will be a member of Intermediate/Advanced this year, has already had success with her quilt: she gained a First at Aberffraw Show.

Jan's win at Aberffraw show 2015

Also included in the ‘roll of honour’ is Imogen who has done a couple of classes with me, alongside her Mum, Paula, who is a member of Intermediate/Advanced: Imogen passed her GCSE Textiles exam with A* (she also got A* in Maths).

Well done to both of you on your very well deserved successes.


2nd September 2015

A walk around Llyn Idwal at nearly six months!

Today, a mere five and a half months after my hip operation, Daf and I set off from the island (Anglesey) and took ourselves deep into Snowdonia for a little adventure.

We parked by Ogwen Cottage and began walking up hill towards Llyn Idwal: the first stop, however was at the bridge over a beautiful waterfall a very short distance from the car park. I just love taking time to gaze at the water rushing between the rocks and under the wooden bridge. From there we carried on up the well maintained stone path until we got to the lake (llyn), where, once again, we paused to gaze at the brown tinted water.

The waterfall at Ogwen Cottage, Snowdonia

The route then takes you either clockwise or anticlockwise round the lake: we chose to go anticlockwise. The path began to climb again, at first gently, then fairly steeply, but my hip behaved really well and we made it round the upper path until we had a clear view of the lake and the surrounding hills. By this time the sun had burned through the clouds and the lake was reflecting blue.

Dorothy just below The Devil's Kitchen above Llyn Idwal in Snowdonia

The descent back to the lake was slightly quicker, and we sat by the water watching a shoal of tiny fish darting about in the sun warmed water close to the shore: we’d seen a heron a couple of times earlier, but these little fish avoided being lunch for another day.

The rest of the descent was straightforward and after another stop to watch the tumbling cascade of the waterfall, we set off for home. What a sense of achievement!

I’m sure there’s a quilt in there somewhere!

Beginners Course about to start Sept 2015

My Beginners’ Course in Patchwork and Quilting is full and all ready to start on Thursday 3rd September. The handouts are all printed and I’m really looking forward to meeting my new group and getting down to some serious fun!

Beginner Quilt with Dorothy Russell


12th August 2015

Notan in Canada – by Phyllis

A Notan by Phyllis in Canada

A Notan in Canada – by Phyllis

It has been an exciting year so far, but, due to my having a brand new hip, I missed out on a teaching visit to Newfoundland, Canada, which I’d been very much looking forward to. However, all was not lost – I sent Jill the class hand-out for the ‘Notan’ workshop, she took it to the group and they have been working from my notes. The image is of a cushion made by Phyllis – she intends to make another one using a different Notan design. I’ll put other images on the blog as they arrive.


2nd July 2015

Silk Painting Workshop at Talgai Hall, Llandygai

Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell

Yesterday was a very quiet day at Talgai Hall – sometimes, when I hold a workshop, the concentration is so profound that you could hear a pin drop: Silk Painting produced just that effect and you can see from the images just how much attention was given to the work.

Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell


Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell

It looks like a very serious task, but the funny thing is that it’s actually quite relaxing…

…no that’s not quite right – it takes you away from the cares of the world and deposits you in a quiet place where you can concentrate on just one thing… Goodness, now I’m sounding a bit Zen!

Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell


Painting on silk gives a beautiful, ethereal result – it is as sensitive as watercolour painting and ideal for delicate subjects like the flower images we worked on.

You can see some of the beautiful results.

Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell


Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell

For my demonstration piece I chose, as a starting point, a photograph I asked my son to take about ten years ago of some black poppies I had grown in pots on our terrace. On one there was a hoverfly with delicate lacy wings. It may have taken ten years to get round to using the image, but now I’ve started, I’ll definitely develop this theme.

Silk painting workshop at Llandygai by Dorothy Russell


Two more workshops to go at Llandygai:
‘Boutis’ on Sunday 17th May
‘New York Beauty’ on Sunday 24th and 31st May

I also have two at Oriel Ynys Mon in the gallery surrounded by my exhibition:
Folded Paper Applique‘ on Tuesday 12th May
Notan‘ on Monday 1st June


Opening of my Exhibition at Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey

26th April 2015

I had an absolute ball yesterday.

Dorothy Russell exhibition of Quilt Art. Oriel Ynys Mon Galery

Oriel Ynys Mon gallery. Dorothy Russell Quilt Artist exhibition Apr 25 – Jun 7, 2015

Lots of people came to my exhibition opening, friends, neighbours and many I didn’t know. Between 12:00 and 14:00 I talked to as many as possible and it was wonderful sharing my work and getting positive feedback.

I haven’t read what visitors wrote in the comments book yet but I gather they were all complimentary!

Lots of people are going to come back and I will be popping in from time to time: it’s amazing to see your own work hanging in a beautiful gallery; it gives you a new perspective.

A big thank you to Nicola and all members of staff at Oriel Ynys Mon for giving me the opportunity to show my work in this special gallery and for their lovely comments.


Exhibition Opening

After three days of decision making and hard graft, all the work is on the walls and my exhibition is ready for its official opening!

Dorothy Russell Textile Art Exhibition at Oriel Ynys Mon April-June 2015

See you at Oriel Ynys Mon Saturday 25th April between 12:00 and 14:00. The gallery is open every day from 10:30 – 17:00.


‘Textiles in Transition’ Oriel Ynys Mon (The Anglesey Gallery) 25th April – 7th June 2015

Beyond the Wall 1. Art Quilt by Dorothy Russell

The official opening of my exhibition, ‘Textiles in Transition’, is on Saturday 25th April between 12:00 and 14:00. It will be in the Main Gallery at Oriel Ynys Mon (The Anglesey Gallery) in Llangefni.


During my exhibition I will be teaching two workshops in the gallery, surrounded by my work.

  • ‘Folded Paper Applique’ on Tuesday 12th May 10:00 – 16:00
  • ‘Notan’ on Monday 1st June 10:00 – 16:00. (images)
  • Each workshop costs £30.00 for a place.
  • Contact the gallery for further information and to book.

    Folded paper applique: Dorothy Russell Quilt workshop at Oriel Ynys Mon (Anglesey gallery) 2015.

    Folded paper applique

    Notan: Dorothy Russell Quilt workshop at Oriel Ynys Mon (Anglesey gallery) 2015.


    Oriel Ynys Mon is a lovely gallery with good facilities- in addition to the Main Gallery it also has a gallery dedicated to the paintings and drawings of Sir Kyffin Williams, a history gallery which is very child friendly, a shop and a cafe.

    Oriel Ynys Môn,
    Ynys Môn
    LL77 7TQ

    For further information call: 01248 724444

    Opening Hours: Daily 10.30 a.m – 5.00 p.m
    Admission free


First Workshop After My Hip Operation

Yesterday I taught Machine Quilting at Talgai Hall and it was lovely to get back to work after my hip operation. Everyone worked hard and the room was very quiet: you can see the concentration in every face.

machine Quilting class by Dorothy Russell 2015

Machine quilting is always a tricky workshop as it’s all about the technique, followed by hours of practising and polishing; and not about the piece of fabric you take home with you, but it’s very rewarding to see everyone taking big steps towards learning about their machines and how to control ‘stitch in the ditch’ and following a straight line, avoiding slippage of the quilt layers, while also learning and practising more decorative free-motion filling stitches.

machine Quilting workshop by Dorothy Russell

If you can draw something without taking your pencil off the paper, you can machine quilt it – so there’s a lot of freedom to plan and execute your own ideas once you master the basic technique. It’s fun too.

Talgai Hall was the village primary school and is next door to a very pretty church and well tended churchyard…

Llandegai Church. bangor Gwynedd

…so with the doors open during the workshop, we had the constant sound of birdsong in the background. The village was built to serve Castell Penrhyn, a magnificent National Trust property whose grounds border the hall’s carpark.

It’s a wonderful place to hold workshops.

I still have three workshops left to teach in this series:

  • Silk Painting on Sunday 3rd May
  • Boutis on Sunday 17th May
  • New York Beauty on Sunday 24th and 31st May

  • Dorothy
    20 April 2015

Last day of Beginners 2015

End of the Beginners and Intermediate/Advanced Courses until September.

I missed one Intermediate session completely because I had a hip replacement operation, but managed to make a flying visit to the last Beginners and Intermediate sessions where they were doing very well without me!!!

I thought you might like to see some of the Beginners’ quilts – I think they’re stunning and I’m really proud of all of them. Enjoy.

One month today to my solo exhibition, ‘Textiles in Transition’ opens, at Oriel Ynys Môn on Anglesey.

Dorothy Russell Quilt Courses. last day of Beginners March 2015

Dorothy Russell

25th March 2015

Oriel Ynys Môn ‘What’s On’ Booklet and ‘Follow Your Bliss Café’ Bangor

I picked up a couple of Oriel Ynys Môn (The Anglesey Gallery) booklets for our guests, then one for me: I’m in this one and who can resist a picture of themselves in a publication. My exhibition, ‘Textiles in Transition’, runs from 25th April to 7th June. I’ve nearly finished all the work and I’m making lists and trying to sort out prices (the hard bit!). I’m beginning to get a bit excited – there’s nothing like seeing your own work hanging in a lovely gallery.

Dorothy Russell Quilt Artist

Pick up a booklet and come along to see my exhibition.

Better still, come to one of my One or Two day Workshops and start to learn about Textiles, particularly Patchwork and Quilting – I have to warn you though, it’s addictive!

Today was fun. Daf and I popped out to a new café in Bangor, opened just two days ago by an acquaintance of ours, Lesley Wills – she’s also a personal trainer with much more than a passing interest in nutrition. The big news is that the café is totally gluten-free and serves the best coffee (Poblado – roasted in Groeslon! – really, look it up!) and very tasty, fresh, healthy food. What more could you ask for? Don’t worry if you’re not gluten-free – the food still tastes as good – try it. Crepes with lots of good ingredients and no guilty conscience! What’s not to like?!

Follow your Bliss cafe, Bangor. Gwynedd.

Find them at 47 High Street, Bangor. LL57 1NR. 01248 361700

Area Day at Thornton Hough on the Wirral

Quilt Workshop and Talk by Dorothy Russell at Thornton Hough

On Saturday 29th November I was the Speaker at the Wirral and West Cheshire Area Day.

The village where the meeting was held is very special – it gets a mention in the Doomsday Book and received its name in the reign of Edward the Second (1284 – 1327) when a Thorneton married a Hoghe: but it’s personality really began to develop when Joeph Hirst, a Yorkshire mill-owner, decided to develop a small ‘model village’ there.

Quilt Workshop and Talk by Dorothy Russell at Thornton Hough

The work was continued by William Lever, of Port Sunlight fame, who developed the village to house family, estate workers and company staff. It is built on an Elizabethan theme with red stone and black and white half timbered houses which are built round a large village green.

Quilt Workshop and Talk by Dorothy Russell at Thornton Hough

The hall used for the meeting was spacious with a separate ‘cafe’ area and was ideally suited to giving a talk in the morning and a mini-workshop in the afternoon.

I had a lovely welcome from the group, led by Fiona, and the talk was warmly received, with lots of interesting questions at the end – what a lovely audience. Fiona gave Daf and I a really good lunch – thank you, Fiona.

Folderd Paper Applique workshop at Thornton Hough by Dorothy Russell

In the afternoon I taught ‘Folded Paper Applique’ – in which no paper is folded! – a method I came up with based on the doilies or rows of figures holding hands I used to cut out of folded paper as a child: that was where the ‘folded paper’ bit of the title came from – see!

Folderd Paper Applique workshop at Thornton Hough by Dorothy Russell

Everyone worked really conscientiously and by the end of the afternoon lots of pieces were fixed to their backing fabrics ready for layering and and quilting at home.

Folderd Paper Applique workshop at Thornton Hough by Dorothy Russell

I always love to see how everyone’s work develops its own personality through different colour/pattern combinations. A few people worked with the basic design at an ‘unintended angle’ (there’s no such thing as a mistake!) and the results were great: experiment, you never know what the results will be.

Folderd Paper Applique workshop at Thornton Hough by Dorothy Russell

I had a really enjoyable day and I hope everyone else did too.

Thanks to you all and especially to Fiona for inviting me along. Good luck to the two ladies who are taking over from her. And thank you very much to Dot Sherlock for the Geckos!


1st December 2014

Busy Busy

A lot has happened since my last blog.

The 2013-14 Beginners’ and Intermediate/Advanced Courses have finished and I have taught my annual ‘One and Two Day Workshops’.

Intermediate classes 2014 Intermediate classes 2014 Intermediate classes 2014 Intermediate classes 2014

On top of this I have given talks and workshops to a number of quilt groups around the UK, which has been great fun – I have met some really lovely people, and been made most welcome.

Quilters everywhere are special people and in 2015 I’m likely to prove this internationally, as I have invitations to teach in Doha, Qatar and Newfoundland in Canada. I can’t wait.

Also, 2015 is an exciting prospect because I have a one-woman exhibition, from 25th April to 7th June, in Oriel Ynys Mon, the wonderful gallery in the heart of the Isle of Anglesey, which holds a major collection of work by Sir Kyffin Williams RA.

Meanwhile, a group of quilt artists, of which I am a member, Cwilt Cymru, have a travelling exhibition, ‘Connection’: it will next appear at Minerva, in Llanidloes, featured in their annual ‘Summer Exhibition’. We have a ‘Meet the Artists’ day on Sunday 20th July from 11:00-15:00 where a few of us (including me) will be demonstrating. I’d love to meet you if you’re in the area.

Back at home at Coed y Berclas, our self-catering Cottage and Apartment are keeping me on my toes, but I managed to enjoyed a relaxed ‘Mad Quilters’ Tea Party’ with some of my very special quilters: it’s lovely to chat over a cup of tea and homemade ‘munchies’ then see how some of the work they have started with me has developed.

Student work Student work Student work Student work

I really enjoy these occasions.

Now I need to get out and begin recruiting new ‘beginners’, so, if you think you might be interested, give me a call or send an email – I’m really very friendly!

June 28th 2014 Beginners quilts

Dorothy 28th June 2014

Intermediate classes 2014 alt=

‘We Stand Surrounded by the Work of Thieves’ and ‘Autumn – A Dirge’

I have finished two pieces of work, ‘We Stand Surrounded by the Work of Thieves’ and ‘Autumn – A Dirge’, as well as their handling samples and Artist’s Statements, all before Christmas – it’s good to have a deadline!

They will form part of a travelling exhibition, ‘Connection’ by a group I belong to called Cwilt Cymru.

‘Autumn – A Dirge’ – Percy Bysshe Shelley’


Leafing through a book of poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley, I discovered one poem written in 1820, which appealed to me: it began to conjure up images in my head as I read it.

For me the darkness of this poem, relating to the end of the year, is strangely comforting. The imagery is tragic and melancholy but beautiful and I was inspired to take the opening lines and incorporate them into my hanging. I have used colours and imagery suggested both by the poem and my own observations of the changing seasons. I have also incorporated crows because of their dark associations, and because we have crows, jackdaws and ravens living on our land, and their calls, and something about their visual aspect somehow feel appropriate to this season and this piece of work.

The hanging is in three sections: the wholecloth centre is painted, printed, stencilled, and machine quilted with appliquéd letters. It is divided from the first border by couched threads. This border is created in a similar way but the colours are lighter and less intense and I have used a simplified lithographic process to print the birds on the upper and lower sections. The final border is a commercial fabric which is machine quilted, with the addition of two skeletal leaves which unite the two borders.

Cotton fabric, cotton, silk and metallic threads, painted transfer adhesive lettering, lithography, machine quilting, appliqué leaves.

‘We stand Surrounded by the Work of Thieves’

I was naïve enough to be horrified by the greed and corruption exposed during the financial ‘crash’ within the banking sector. What makes it worse is that although massive sections of society have suffered because of the banking crisis, the people at the centre seem to be undisturbed as though at the ‘eye of the storm’, still wealthy, still greedy and still in control.


Greed and corruption, of course, are not only evident in one sector of society, and stung by these thoughts and feeling impotent in the face of them, I set about responding through my work.

The work is blue and understated, hiding its serpentine message in intertwining words which are subtle and need to be searched for in the same way that the manoeuvrings of the powerful are disguised and secretive. There are also words which appear in the background machine quilting, though many are difficult to decipher or simply illegible.

Falling through the image are appliqué silver discs suggestive of coins. There are flashes of red in the painted/printed background and around the lettering. Red is used to symbolise danger or threat.

The border is foundation pieced but with no apparent pattern or regimentation and separating it from the centre is a confusion of couched threads, distracting the eye from the message within.

Cotton fabric with used with small amounts of metallic net, cotton, silk and metallic threads.

The wholecloth centre was painted, stencilled, printed, appliquéd, couched and machine quilted.

The border was pieced, machine quilted and couched.


2013 Pot Luck Lunch with the Intermediate/Advanced Class

Thursday 12th was the last class before Christmas for my Intermediate/Advanced class, so, in time honoured fashion, everyone who could make it brought a contribution to the midday meal. It’s a pleasant way to end the term and we took the opportunity to toast ‘the New Year, sewing and ourselves!’ (in apple/raspberry juice and carbonated water since we were all driving home).

Intermediate Advanced students Xmas lunch

Thank you to everyone for the lovely food you brought in …

Intermediate Advanced students Xmas lunch

I have an apology too – Sally, I can’t believe we allowed you to take your beautiful ‘coffee cake’ home without even tasting it! We were supposed to have it with our cuppa in the afternoon, but everyone was too busy to stop for a drink: we missed out!

This year is mostly about finishing off work which otherwise was beginning to pile up for everyone. It can be dispiriting to have too many pieces ‘on the go’ and be faced with yet another project before anything is completed, so this year is dedicated to reducing the pile of UFOs (unfinished objects).

Next September I won’t be so lenient – we will be working on ‘Textures’, using lots of different techniques, some traditional and some contemporary/experimental. I hope everyone will find something to suit them and which they will want to take further.

In two of the photos you can see bed quilts made by Karen and Sally: they are both working from the same basic layout, but, as you can see, their pieces are totally different.

Intermediate Advanced students Xmas. Karen's Quilt

Karen’s Quilt

Karen has made a fresh Spring-like quilt top by choosing gentle, light colours and has used fairly traditional piecing methods.

Intermediate Advanced students Xmas. Sally's Quilt

Sally’s Quilt

The focal areas on Sally’s quilt are foundation pieced and she has really pushed the technique to dramatic affect. It is always a delight to me to see where people take an idea, putting their own personal stamp on what they create. It’s also great for the group to see each other’s work and share ideas.

Intermediate Advanced students Xmas lunch

Despite the fact that this was the end of term, everyone was determined to get on with their work but the question is – will anyone manage to get any further on despite the demands of the Christmas break?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone – keep sewing!.

15 December 2013

2013 Beginners’ end of term lunch

Today is my birthday ( I’m not counting!)

As Christmas approaches, we finish the term with a Pot Luck Lunch, at the last class.

2013 Beginners group Pot luck lunch

To make the day really exciting, my Beginners are at the stage of putting their quilt tops together and they are looking gorgeous (quilt tops and quilters!). I always love this session and the current group are just brilliant. Being a teacher is a real privilege, I love watching people developing skills and understanding, then pushing the boundaries: that’s the best bit, when students stretch their wings and fly off in their own artistic directions.

2013 Beginners group Pot luck lunch

Just look at the beautiful array of colours and shapes in the Beginners’ quilts this year. I know some of them have surprised themselves with what they have achieved and there are still plenty of stages left, layering, quilting, binding – each brings a new skill and more joy.

2013 Beginners group Pot luck lunch

I love all the quilts, but Paula’s boats, drawn for her by her daughter Imogen, and Anita’s cockerel have drawn a lot of interest in the group – and you can see why. 2013 Beginners. Anita's applique Christmas is great fun (usually!) but I’m looking forward to the new term and getting on with these lovely quilts!

For anyone who suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I prescribe joining a Patchwork and Quilting Course (or group) – it will get you out of the house, into good company and doing something exciting and creative! What better way of dealing with the winter blues? If you’re looking at the beautiful colours in your quilt, you aren’t aware of chilly grey days. I think a lot of qulters sew through late Autumn, Winter and early Spring, then become gardeners during the warmer months. Balance and symmetry!

2013 Beginners group Pot luck lunch

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone – keep sewing!.


7th December 2013

Spirit of the Celts opens in Greenock 30th November 2013

McLeans Art gallery Greenock

McLeans Art gallery Greenock

There will be a formal opening ceremony, with wine, at McLeans Art Gallery in Greenock,15 Kelly St, Greenock PA16 8JX. 01475 715624, and we are excited that the ‘celebrity’ officiating will be Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, the most successful Scottish female politician ever, former Secretary of State for Scotland and former British High Commissioner to Australia.

She just happens to be a neighbour of Jan’s (one of the Scottish group members). I think this is wonderful and I wish I could be there!


If you’re anywhere near Greenock, go to the gallery and enjoy the work – comments from the Anglesey gallery were brilliant – our egos were well massaged!


Beginners’ group had got to Foundation Piecing – and met Dodie

12 November 2013

Last Thursday my Beginners’ group had got to Foundation Piecing – it’s a great technique which allows you to get precise, fine points without too much hassle. I really enjoy this technique and find it very useful.

Beginners 2013-14

During the session I had twice mentioned Dodie, who had done both the Beginners’ and Intermediate Courses with me, when she walked into the hall. She had brought with her a beautiful textile hanging which she has been working on, based on the Alhambra Palace, Granada.

Dodie's Alhambra Quilt

Her work took the group by storm – they were very impressed, and rightly so, it is a stunning piece of work.

Dodie and her Alhambra Quilt

Dodie with her wonderful Alhambra Quilt

Thank you, Dodie.

Yesterday, I went to Llandegai Patchers meeting – I’m a member but am often unable to get to meetings. This time there was no way I could miss it: it was the AGM (and 21st birthday of the group) and the title of the talk was ‘Dorothy’s Girls’ with three of my past students, Elaine, Debbie and Dawn, showing and talking about their work.

It can be a bit nerve-racking standing up in front of a large group and speaking, but they all did really well: the work was lovely and very much appreciated. Ann, sitting next to me in the audience, said: “You must be really proud of them” – of course I am!

Now I need to rush off to my workroom to get on with the two wall hangings I’m working on for the next Cwilt Cymru travelling exhibition ‘Connection’ – they need to be finished by 1st December.

I can do it!



A Quilter in Cumbria

Dorothy Russell by Derwentwater

A Quilter in Cumbria.. Dorothy Russell

‘Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher’. I gazed over Derwent water to Catbells and contemplated the lines of Wordsworth. An October weekend in Cumbria found me at Braithwaite village hall at the foot of Skiddaw, delivering a version of my ‘Butterfly Has two Wings’ talk for Region 15W of the Quilters’ Guild.

Braithwaite Village Hall

Braithwaite Village Hall

The sun shone, picking out features in the landscape and making the beauty of the Lake District even more captivating.
To be back in the Lakes after so many years

North Lakes hills looking south towards Thilmere

My talk, ‘The Butterfly has Two Wings’ is about me and my work, and is an ever changing thing – it has never been the same twice! I suspect I will have to adapt it to ‘…Three Wings’ soon, as my work evolves and wanders down new paths.

I always enjoy visiting groups and meeting new people and we had a lovely welcome in Cumbria, meeting some very interesting quilters.

Seaking helicopter landed at Keswick

After the talk we spent a little time in Keswick, a busy place even though it was well into October. We wandered along the shores of Derwent Water – the beautiful lake which has Keswick nestling at its head and while we were there one of the RAF’s yellow Sea King rescue helicopters landed on a nearby grassy knoll, scattering sheep and drawing the attention of a little hoard of visitors. The crew had been involved in a mountain rescue and popped into The Theatre by the Lake for a cuppa before flying all the way back to their base at Leconfield, near Hull. Although we often see the helicopters from Valley flying past our kitchen window, this is the closest we have been to a wonderful Sea King. We’ll miss them when they go out of service.

Back to quilting, a very special ‘thank you’ goes to Pat for looking after us so splendidly – we stayed in her lovely home in Threlkeld which she and her husband built in the footsteps of the arts and crafts movement. The care and attention to detail is wonderful to see. Pat, with members of the committee, entertained us to a lovely supper – we thought we’d be tired after a long day but in such good company we enjoyed a very convivial evening.

just sew shop at Penrith

On Sunday we headed for Penrith, to a wonderful shop in Penrith’s ‘Poets walk’ which is well worth ‘discovering’ if you’re in the area – ‘Just Sew’ – website:
Pat, who owns and runs Just Sew, was very welcoming and we soon settled into her very organised workshop and got down to ‘Machine Quilting’. The group worked hard and did very well – I suspect they all slept well that night. I hope they are all much more comfortable with the idea of machine quilting now – it seems to intimidate a lot of quilters, but there are ways of making it easier.

Machine Quilting workshop at region 15W. Penrith

Machine Quilting workshop at region 15W. Penrith

We spent only a very short time in the Lakes but a very pleasant one. We’ll be back soon.

Thank you to everyone for making us feel so very welcome.