These blogs are old blogs for 2012 and 2013. The old blogs are accessible via any old links you may have but the blog is no longer updated on this website. 

You can view new blogs as well as all old blogs at my new 

The Denim Duck blog has moved!

There is no blog this month as I am in the process of transferring the blog to my main website

My business has changed and developed over the years and it now makes more sense to coordinate things from one website. This is particularly the case as the different strands of what I do are often interlinked. 

Although the host site is changing the blog will continue to be written as normal around the middle of each month. All older archived blogs can also be accessed on the new website. 

The old website will still be left live so if you have any old links for blogs you will still be able to use them without having to look for them on the new website. For a short time the website will also continue to host some of the work I sell but this will also eventually move to my main website. 

Lest we forget

My mum has been busy knitting poppies as part of the Radio Nottingham challenge to its listeners to knit 11,000 poppies, one for each of the Nottinghamshire men who lost their lives in World War 1. Two of the dozens of poppies she has knitted are shown below. 

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An amazing 57,000 poppies were actually knitted and these were on display at the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery on 10th, 11th and 12th October with more still pouring in. The image below shows a view of the exhibition hall from above. 


The sea of poppies on display was an amazing sight. It was very moving, particularly as the lighting, and projections of the names of the 11,000 men onto the wall, added to the impact. 


Poppies on display included one by Sir Paul Smith. 

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Some poppies were dedicated to individuals who lost their lives and had poignant messages attached. 

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After being exhibited at the Nottingham Contemporary the poppies are being donated to The Royal British Legion to be circulated around the country. 


If you would like to knit your own poppies using one of the Radio Nottingham poppy patterns visit for the pattern. 


To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar


Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email
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Millie’s Designing & Making Adventure: A visit to Snibston Discovery Park

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At the end of the school summer holiday we took my niece, Millie, to Snibston Discovery Park in Leicestershire. This is a great place to visit; it is part museum and part interactive science and engineering centre and also has a large fashion collection; a collection they say is the biggest outside of London.

We spent the first part of the day looking round the science and engineering section. There were lots of interactive displays, including some textiles ones such as this activity on weaving.

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Visitors could also vote on their favourite invention with their choice being compared to how other people of the same age and gender had voted. There were a large number of textiles products in there and I voted for the sewing machine!

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There was also a timeline of inventions going across a whole wall of the museum and it was interesting to see how and when everyday items we use today were invented. 

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One of the reasons for our visit was Millie’s interest in fashion and the fact that Snibston has a large collection of fashion and clothing. There certainly was lots to see, from a wide range of time periods, along with detailed information on each piece on show. 

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Millie took lots of photos of things that inspired her and when we got home she used some of them in her sketchbook. She didnt have time to do any designing based on what she saw but I am sure this will inspire her ideas in the future. 

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It was interesting that, without any prompting, Millie focused in on particular themes when taking her photos. She was particularly interested in some of the detail on the items on display such as the the decorative techniques and patterns.

The park also has an outdoor play area which, as well as the usual swings and slides, has more interactive science and engineering displays including ones on how sound is made and travels. 

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We had a great day out and when we got home we were disappointed to find out that Snibston faces the risk of being closed down because of funding cuts. It would be a real shame if this happened as it is a great place to visit with lots to see and do.  

To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar


Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email
You can also find a contact form under 'About'  on the top menu bar

Festival of Quilts, NEC, 7th August 2014

Festival of Quilts, NEC, 7th August 2014


At the show I was on the Husqvarna Viking stand on Thursday 7th August as one of their ‘Stars in Show’, something which really made me laugh when I arrived!! I was demonstrating some of the techniques I use as a designer maker to create embellished fabric surfaces along with some e-textiles. Scroll down to see the links to the projects I was demonstrating at the show.

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For more information on how you can make the e-textiles Christmas tree demonstrated at the Festival of Quilts click here. Note this will open a new window on my main website 

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For more information on how you can make the e-textiles bunting demonstrated at the Festival of Quilts click hereNote this will open a new window on my main website 

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To buy e-textiles components used at the Festival of Quilts click hereNote this will open a new window on my main website 

To buy my work as a designer maker as seen at Festival of Quilts click here 

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To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email

You can also find a contact form under 'About'  on the top menu bar

High tech textiles V traditional crafts

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I have a bit of a split personality as far as textiles goes. Part of me loves the high tech side of textiles with the amazing new materials that are now available. I love teaching about this side of textiles in my work and love creating projects using high tech materials and components whether it be carbon fibre, glow in the dark thread, or photochromic and thermochromic materials (that’s materials that change colour in sunlight when exposed to heat for those of you that are not so technically minded). 

Much of my day to day work with teachers and students in schools is about promoting the high tech side of textiles. I am passionate about textiles not just being seen as being about pink, fluffy stuff that is all girly. The high tech side of textiles can be just as creative as the more craft / art based textiles and just as much fun. 

The other half of me loves the more traditional side of textiles that is more craft or art based. I have done most textiles crafts in the past as a hobby, and still relax by doing this. I tend to go through phases having a ‘favourite’ craft and focusing on that a lot. Even when a craft loses favour it often returns again some time later, so I never throw any equipment away as it always gets reused. 

Some projects I do are small but I often find they don’t take long enough as I finish them too quickly and am soon looking for something new to do. This is why I often embark on longer, more challenging projects. Because of this over the years I have done a number of quilted bedspreads. In fact I have lost count of the number I have done over the years, some of which were for me, some for other people and some to be sold. 


In the early days most of my quilts were done by hand. These could literally take up to a year to do. Nowadays I mostly do quilts by machine. Sadly I don’t have photos of most of my early quilts apart from this blue and green checked one above. It was designed for a single bed but is seen here displayed on a king size bed. 


Each coloured square is hand quilted and then the blocks are sewn together to create a pattern. There is also a ribbon and button detail in one corner. 

In particular I like quilting onto patterned fabrics, particularly stripes. I am sure this must say something about my personality!  I enjoy both seeing and working on the linear or geometric patterns and I have a definite bias in this direction as the photos on this page show! 


This bedspread had a lot of lines on it to quilt and here you can see the close up detail. It also has a button detail to break up the linear effect. 


For some reason I have mostly made double bed or king sized bedspreads. I also tend to make them large enough to go down to the floor. I think this is because this is the type of bedspread I like in my own house as it hides away a messy bed and duvet underneath! It is also great for hiding anything stored under the bed itself!


As I work on a large scale I often divide my quilts into sections, using the stripes or pattern in different directions to add interest. 

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My most recent bedspread was for myself. It was nice being able to treat myself to a new bedspread when we moved house and the blues and whites give a really crisp and fresh feel to the room. 

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You can see in the image that the quilt is striped (again!) and also uses the idea of the stripes going in different directions. 

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My final image shows my interest in geometric patterns again but at least this time the squares have been decorated in a way that breaks up the linear effect a little!


Each coloured square has been machine embroidered with a pattern based on nature. 


I love all types of textiles work, whether it is high tech textiles or more traditional craft based textiles. I have done since I was very young and I can’t see that changing anytime soon!

To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email

You can also find a contact form under 'About'  on the top menu bar

Millie’s Designing & Making Adventure Millie: Visiting the NTU degree show

For her birthday in February Millie received some new Converse trainers & when she came to visit me soon after she was keen to use that as the focus for one of her sketchbook pages. 

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She started off doing research on Converse, the brand’s history and the different styles of shoes they produce. She then went onto practice her drawings of shoes based on Converse designs. 

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On another visit some week’s later I took Millie to the degree show exhibition at Nottingham Trent University. I love looking round the shows to see the work of all the students & to see new ideas and I find it very inspirational for my own work. I thought Millie would enjoy the show and that it would also show her how designers work and how some of the things she does in her sketchbook are just the same as what a real designer does. 

Millie particularly loved the costumes section of the exhibition and she said she hadn’t thought of this area of textiles design before. 


In the main design section of the show Millie particular liked a lobster necklace and outfit designed by Emma Baker. 

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In fact Millie was so inspired that when we got home she designed and made her own version of the necklace. She found a lobster image from the internet, drew it onto Shrink Plastic, heated it in the oven and then attached a chain. She then created a page in her sketchbook to showcase her work.

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I tweeted the sketchbook page and the tweet was favourited by the university. It will be fun to take Millie to other shows & exhibitions and to see what it inspires her to make. 


To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar

Contact:     Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email

You can also find a contact form under 'About'  on the top menu bar

A space to work in

Like most people who do any sort of textiles work I never have enough space to store all my materials and equipment and I always want more table space in particular. I am very fortunate that when we moved house about 18 months ago we made it a priority to buy a property that gave me more space. This became a priority when I became self employed which means I work a lot from home. 

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For the first time ever I have a larger space to work in, although things are still piled from floor to ceiling and everything has to be shuffled around depending on what I am working on at any particular time. I do, however, count myself as lucky as I no longer have the same struggle for space and storage as I once did. 

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Table space is always important to me especially as I often have several projects on the go at once. This means I might need different machines out as well as needing the space to be able to work on different projects. When we moved one of the things I really wanted was a Horn adjustable table as it has a big surface to work on and you can move the table top up and down as well as flipping it so it sits vertically (see image below & find out more at  Unfortunately it was just one expense too far although it is still on my wish list. 


My tables are Ikea table tops and legs which make a good second best. I also have a tall breakfast bar type table that used to be in the kitchen in our old house but which won’t fit into our new kitchen. As it is tall it is useful to work at it standing and in particular I use it a lot for the video tutorials I do.   

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I count myself lucky to have access to a dedicated space to do my textiles work. It still isn’t perfect but far better than the cramped spaces I have had to use in the past. When I was looking for ways of creating extra table top space I came across these potential solutions that might help you improve the space you work in. this is a pattern cutting board that folds up small and can be folded out and placed on bed or on table to make it bigger. At around £12 it is an affordable, portable option. 

I also looked at fold up cardboard tables ( that are an ideal solution if you want a bigger work surface that is tall but which also needs fold away. 


Another option is the SewEzi table ( This folds flat for easy carrying and it is designed to be more ergonomic when you work. Your machine itself sits below the table height so that the bed of the machine is at table level which is more comfortable.  When the machine is removed you can insert either a solid section into the machine slot to create a flat table, or alternatively there is a light box insert which is very useful. Although smaller than the other options this is a proper table, its portable and also has several uses which in a cramped space is a big help. 


To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar


Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email
You can also find a contact form under 'About'  on the top menu bar

Another successful year at the NEC

Thanks to everyone who visited my stand at the NEC Sewing for Pleasure Show. This is the second year running I have had a demonstration stand and the show was really busy, especially on the Saturday. It was good to put faces to some of the names of teachers who are on my D&T newsletter mailing list and to meet non teachers who have contacted me in the past.  

My stand was sponsored by Coles Sewing Centre in Nottingham, which is the venue I use for many of my courses.  Kitronik also sponsored the e-textiles demonstrations and talks that I did throughout the 4 days. A big thanks to both sponsors as their support is much appreciated. 

As well as a computerised embroidery machined and an embellisher we also had a 3D printer on the stand. This created a huge amount of interest as many members of the public had never seen one before. 

A big focus for the 4 days was e-textiles, and just like the 3D printer, this generated a lot of interest from members of the public who had never seen this before. I did lots of mini workshops throughout the day as well as lots of demonstrations in between. 

There was a prize draw to win a copy of the The Design Student’s Handbook by Jane Bartholomew and Steve Rutherford. This was only open to teachers or other D&T based staff and the winner was Marj Pratt from Tupton Hall School in Chesterfield.

A small selection of entries from my Textiles Postcard competition for schools was on display at the show and I was delighted to meet several of the students who were runners up and commendations. It was great to talk to them about their work and to congratulate them personally. 

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Jessica Lloyd, one of the Textiles Postcard competition runners up, who visited the stand to see her royal baby’ entry on display. 

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As well as the many stands selling a wide range of textiles items, the show also had a lot of display stands showcasing designers and makers as well as a competition for schools. There was also a daily fashion show which included work students had produced. Our stand was very close to the fashion show so I was fortunate enough to be able to catch some of it. 

A big thank you to everyone who visited us at the show. We hope to be there next year so look out for details on the website. 

Come & visit me at Sewing for Pleasure

Visit My Demonstration Stand at Sewing for Pleasure 20th - 23rd March 2014

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Visit my demonstration stand at the Sewing for Pleasure Show at the NEC. 

I will be demonstrating Husqvarna Viking sewing machines from Coles Sewing Centre in Nottingham. 

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I will also be demonstrating e-textiles resources from Kitronik and there will be short mini workshops each day where you can have a go at creating a basic e-textiles circuit yourself. 

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You will be able to see a range of products incorporating e-textiles including the range of e-textiles tutorials I have produced for Kitronik. 

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I will also have a 3D printer at the show so come along and find out more about how this new exciting technology works, and in particular, how it can be used in textiles.

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There will be a chance to win a copy of the The Design Student’s Handbook by Jane Bartholomew and Steve Rutherford  (competition is for teachers or school based staff only)

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The winning entries from my Textiles Postcard competition for schools will be on display 

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If you are a teacher the show is also a good chance to have a chat and get advice on issues you might have, to find out about courses I run and to discuss how I might support your school. If you are not a teacher it is a chance to find out about what is happening in the modern textiles classroom.

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More About the Show


This is a huge annual show held at the NEC mainly aimed at a craft audience, but which is also very relevant to textiles teachers. There are a wide range of exhibitors which include those selling equipment and products, designers and makers, workshops, demonstration stands as well as fashion shows each day. 

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There are also a variety of other events including a schools design competition. 

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As well as the more traditional side of textiles there are also lots of high tech equipment, materials and ideas being showcased. No matter what your interest in textiles is there is something for everyone and the show is a great day out. 


There are actually 3 shows on at the same time and entry to one show gets you into all three (Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch, and Hobbycraft are the other two). Each show has a slightly different focus but all have links to textiles (the Hobbycraft show has a greater focus on card making etc. but it is still worth a visit as there are many textiles related stands). 


Tel 01159 607061   Mob 07972 749240  Email
You can also find a contact form under 'About'  on the top menu bar

Millie’s sketchbook

Just before Christmas my blog was about my niece, Millie, and the Christmas card she made for a local competition. 

She has always loved making things with me but has recently shown a real interest in designing rather than just making. Some of this was prompted by her finding a sketchbook belonging to one of my ex students. She was inspired by it so much she asked to start one of her own. 

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I gave her an A5 ring bound sketchbook I already had although I was a bit wary as it is a Rowney one and originally cost me over £5! For her first task I showed her how to create a mood board. She is particularly interested in fashion so she used that as a focus. She chose a selection of images, and then used words, paint charts and fabrics to illustrate the detail in the designs she had chosen. I showed her how to tear paper rather than always cut it, and how to consider the layout of a page. Millie quickly picked up the things she was being shown and we both agreed her first sketchbook entry looked great. 

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On her next visit Millie was keen to carry on with her sketchbook but I didn’t expect her to be quite as engaged and focused as she was. She literally spent the whole day working on it, and I don’t think she would have even stopped for breaks if I hadn’t insisted!

We carried on with the mood board theme but this time focused on colour and I showed her how to select images and words based on a colour theme rather than their content. 

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We then extended this to consider how a designer can use an image to inspire their colour scheme. She selected yarns that represented colours in an image she liked. 

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I then showed her how to melt plastic bags to create a new material. Millie loved this technique and it introduced her to using the iron. 

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She produced another page for her sketchbook as well as a piece of melted plastic she could use to create a ‘drawing’ with. To do this Millie created a paper template for a skirt and cut it out in the plastic. She then created a top to go with the skirt out of fabric. 

The last thing she did for the day was some fashion drawing. She was quite wary about this as she finds it difficult to draw. I showed her how using a fine liner pen can make even a poor drawing look good. She wasn’t keen to do this at first as she was worried about making mistakes but I explained that being a designer is all about making mistakes. I showed her some resources I have that help you draw and she used these to create a skirt drawing. I also gave her some of my expensive pens and colouring pencils to use!

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Millie literally spent a whole day doing all of this work and wouldn’t have stopped when she did if her mum hadn’t come to pick her up! She stayed very focused for the whole day and was very keen to learn and picked up new ideas quickly. Her care doing her work and attention to detail was impressive. She needed her confidence boosting at times when things were new, especially with the drawings, but was prepared to have a go. The work she produced was of a really high standard and showed real potential, in fact just as much as the ex students sketchbook that triggered her interest (and that student was many years older than her). 

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After her busy day I decided her interest seemed so strong that I would buy her some of the things she would need to do this type of work at home for her up and coming birthday e.g. a portfolio, good drawing pens, good colouring pencils and presentation papers. I also bought her a book that just has loads of ideas for different fashion items. The book is aimed at youngsters interested in fashion drawing and has a simple layout. The drawings can be traced or used as a starting point to guide your own drawings.  

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Millie will be visiting over half term so I am expecting more time working hard on her sketchbook!  

To view other blogs I write on textiles, D&T, education and coaching click on the links on the side bar

© Julie Boyd 2012  All  text, images & ideas on this website are the copyright of Julie Boyd & may not be copied or reproduced without permission. All rights reserved.