Liberty Star Patchwork Pillow/ Cushion + Tutorial

Hello lovely creative types, so… how best to gloss over my prolonged bloggy abstinence? How about we make up with a tutorial? You might not need one as it’s pretty simple, but you know, since I took pictures…

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This is Liberty of London fabrics and linen. The pattern was actually born when i decided to make a thank-you present for my lovely neighbour who let me use her shower for 2 weeks whilst our bathroom was ripped out and replaced. I now have a hotel bathroom! I’m so tempted to hold dinner parties in it – it’s the nicest room in the house… Anyway, she is more traditional, so I made her this:

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This is made with Kona snow cotton… and Liberty fabrics I actually bought at THE REAL LIBERTY OF LONDON SHOP. In London no less. I was slightly in heaven. But also a bit overwhelmed by all its beauty after this pilgrimage (the shop itself is just aesthetically gorgeous)… and by the prices. I felt I should buy something so bought a little charm pack of 36 2.5″ squares, although I had to add 4 more from stash to make this. I must tell you though they came from  Alice Caroline Supply (http://www.alicecaroline.co.uk/) and are cheaper to buy from the website. But that wasn’t really the spirit of it all was it? My neighbour was suitably pleased.

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Bit of wobbly hand-quilting action going on there.

But I wasn’t thrilled to be honest. I thought that the patchwork border got lost round the sides of the cushion. Amateur. This is what it looked like before it became a cushion – I thought it would make a pretty mini-quilt or wall hanging…

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See what I mean? So I was a bit disappointed. Anyway, I thought I would try and fix it with an extra row of sashing:

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And certainly you can see it better. but if you decide to make one, you can decide on how you like it! So, for many folk, that will be it as it’s quite simple construction and with a little experience it’s straightforward to work this out, but as sometimes it’s nice to work from instructions, here goes! This is for the Liberty and Linen cushion. Clearly you can make it in anything you like – a moda mini-charm pack and white solid would be nice.

To make the patchwork cushion front, you will need:

  1. A 10″ piece of Linen (44″ wide, I’m assuming your solid comes as 44″ wide)
  2. Forty 2.5″ x 2.5″ Liberty or patterned fabric squares
  3. 24″x24″ square piece of batting (I used cotton)
  4. 24″x 24″ square piece of cotton backing fabric (this will be on the inside of the cushion, so it doesn’t need to be too nice)
  5. rotary cutter, ruler, scissors, thread, sewing machine, unpicker (you won’t need that) etc

Cutting instructions:

Let’s cut all our fabric up first.

1. Cut the linen fabric into four 2.5” x 44” strips.

2. Strip 1: cut into
Four 2.5” x 2.5″ squares
Four 2.5” x 4.5” rectangles
One 2.5” X 13.5” rectangle

3. Strip 2 : Cut into
One 2.5” x 13.5” rectangle
Two 2.5” x 10” rectangles

4. Strip 3: cut into
One 2.5” x 22” rectangle
One 2.5” x 18” rectangle

5. Strip 4: again cut into
One 2.5” x 22” rectangle
One 2.5” x 18” rectangle

You should now have linen cut into:
4 x (2.5” x 2.5) squares
4 x (2.5” x 4.5”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x10”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x 13.5”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x 18”) rectangle
2 x (2.5” x 22”) rectangles

6. And your 40 Liberty 2.5” x 2.5” fabric squares (either buy as a mini charm pack or cut these)

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Photo shows my cutting in progress. If you think you’ll get confused, label each pile’s measurements with a scrap of paper. I started to arrange my Liberty fabrics in a rainbow.

Layout

Now arrange your layout as you like it. If you are going for random, this will be easy, you won’t need to lay it all out, you can just start sewing! But I did this:

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In the centre, the top two squares will be the top two points of the star, the bottom two will be the bottom points of the star etc. The 4 in the middle will be aa 4-patch which makes the centre of the star.

I think of a rainbow (unsurprisingly!) when thinking about which colours go together. Red – orange – yellow – green – blue – dark blue/indigo – violet/purple – red to enable the colours to meld in a natural way. Obviously orange is made from red and yellow which is why it’s in between them etc, so it works better than red and green next to each other for example, when green has no red in it. Anyway, have a play around until you like it.

Making the patchwork star centre

(BTW I’m not generally a big presser until the end out of sheer laziness, but with this, given it’s going to be a centrepiece and small, I pressed at almost every stage. It keeps everything neater, there’s no doubt.)

1. Sew your centre 4 patch, first by sewing 2 squares together, then the second 2 together, then join them as a 4 patch. Press.

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2. The star points are flying geese rather than HSTs – much easier.  You are aiming for this:

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This is how you do it:

  • Draw a diagonal line in pencil joining opposite points on the wrong sides of each of your eight squares reserved for the star points.
  • Lay one of these patterned squares, right side down onto one of the 2.5” x 4.5” pices of linen, with the bottom end of your diagonal line towards the centre of the fabric (it won’t be in the centre). Make sure your edges line up nicely.
  • (if you are using directional prints then be careful with this step, you could easily end up with your fabric upside down. Ditto with getting the two fabrics mixed up – I did this and had to change my layout – rather than unpick…)
  • Sew along your pencil line.
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3. Now before you cut off the excess, it’s worth folding down the right side to check you are happy.

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4. If you are then you can go ahead and trim that excess piece on the wrong side – both the linen and patterned. You’ll end up with little triangles of scrap for a tiny project. Press.

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5. Repeat the process on the other side of your linen rectangle as shown in the picture. Don’t worry that there is a bit of overlap, that’s in the seam allowance when you sew them all together. Press.

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6. And you have one side of your star!. Do this with all 8 points onto your four 2.5” x 4.5” pieces of linen.

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7. Now take your top row star points and sew a 2.5” x 2.5” linen square onto either side. Repeat for the bottom two star points.

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8. Sew your side star point pieces to the centre 4-patch…

9. And then sew the top and bottom rows on.

10. Press everything.

Is it looking lovely yet?

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Adding the sashing

11. Sew one 2.5″ x 10″ rectangle to one side of your star. Trim off the excess (I always make sashing bigger and trim in case my seam allowance isn’t always perfect). Repeat on the other side. Trim excess.

12. THEN sew the 2.5 x 13.5″ pieces along the top and bottom, trimming the excess linen afterwards. Press.

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Making the patchwork borders

13. Sew your top 8 liberty squares together and put to one side. Repeat for the bottom eight squares. Now make the left side and right sides which will both have 6 squares. Press.

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(somehow I managed to sew 9 squares on the bottom row! Doh! Had to unpick after all…)

14. Sew the sides onto your star block first and then press, before sewing on the top and bottom pieces. pin your patchwork strips to the linen first to ensure it reaches the full length, and match up the seams at the corners as best you can. Press.

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Now at this point you can batt, back, quilt and bind and use as a mini quilt or wall hanging which measures 16.5” square (above). Or you can add the outer linen border to finish your cushion as I did.

Adding the final linen border

15. This is exactly what you did before. Sew the 2.5” x 18” linen strips onto the sides of your star block and trim the excess.

16. Now sew the final two pieces, the 2.5” x 22” rectangles to the top and bottom and trim the excess. Press everything…

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 And Ta-Dahhhhhh! You’re done!

17. Now, make a quilt sandwich as normal. Lay the cotton backing fabric face down, lay over the cotton batting, lay over the patchwork piece and smoother everything over to ensure there are no wrinkles. I pinned with safety pins (it’s not worth getting out the gun for such a small piece I found) to baste.

18. Quilt as you like – straight or hand quilting on this would be lovely! I machine- quilted with an overall stipple…

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19. And then did a little decorative hand quilting with perle 8 cotton in a red colour.

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20. Finally add your cushion back and a zip as I did (or make an envelope back as I showed here:  https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love   ).

My back is Heather Ross Unicorn in Purple from Far Far away II – and I LOVE it.

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Your cushion cover will measure about 19.5″ square.

Add an insert (go a bit bigger, maybe 22 – 24″ square, as you can see from the  picture above, mine isn’t full enough at 20″ square, I’ve ordered another insert) … and enjoy your new cushion!

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Well I hope this makes up for the absence. Actually, I Firefox has crashed so many times when I have attempted a blog post, I’ve lost 3 already, and this one crashed at least 15 times. I kept saving as a draft and wrote most on Word and copy/pasted. Anyone else having trouble? I’m either going to have to abandon Firefox (likely) or Tumblr (less likely). As a plus, I have a few posts to share when I resolve this. Meanwhile, hope your creative mojo is mojoing away.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Edited: you can see how it looks with a fuller cushion insert and in the sunshine here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2015/03/26/a-patchwork-picnic/

Pixelated Heart quilt for a New Year Wedding

My friend asked me if I would make a quilt for a lovely couple in their EIGHTIES who are getting a second chance at love. I guess those who are loveable may find love again no matter what their age…

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The Pattern is Pixelated Heart by the amazing Blue Elephant Stitches. I hope the happy couple love this sweet pattern as much as I do!

This is her quilt, made with low volume fabrics instead of white fabrics (I didn’t have the budget for that) – it is utterly stunning!image

You can find her blog and “how to” for this pattern here: http://blueelephantstitches.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/pixelated.html

She is SO talented, seriously you should look at her blog. And so generous – look how she breaks down this quilt for us to make it easier to sew as blocks rather than strips! And she invented the granny squares quilt, which is on my to do list. I love her work.

I had 2 rouenneries Deux charm packs – a beautiful collection from French General for Moda. I cannot get over how much I love French General fabrics, rich yet muted, classic but not old-fashioned, very very French.  I didn’t want to cut too much away from the charms but 5” charms were just going to make too big a quilt (again for budget). So I cut them to 4.5” – this quilt finishes at about 54” square.

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You can see the construction of mine best on this photo (top in progress). Obviously because I was using white fabric rather than low-volume fabrics as contrast, I didn’t need to sew the whole quilt as 4.5” squares, which saved time (another thing I didn’t have). It used 71 printed fabric squares and 40 white squares. I sashed it as above but then decided it needed a border, so I cut the sashing to 2.5” on the sides and 5” top and bottom… image

Then added a 2.5” red border from Rural Jardin which I had in stash. Definitely better.

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Stipple quilted – much as I like to experiment, there are reasons why classic quilting is classic, and I thought for a quilt like this I should go down that route. Had I used low-volume fabrics, straight line quilting would have worked, but I really think something as simple as this needs texture from the free-motion line, don’t you?

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Just LOOK at those scrumptious fabrics. It makes me want to go eat strawberry cream patisserie. New Year. Must. Resist.

What I really like about this is the size, the fabrics and colours, but mostly the fact that although it’s a heart, it’s not too cheesy – and when you fold it up or use it, it looks like a pretty patchwork quilt; it’s only when you spread it out and look from a distance that you see what it is. Perfect for a wedding gift for this loved-up pair apparently. Ahhhh.

Argghh, can’t seem to get this picture to orient the right way. Tilt your head to the right to see what it looks like draped over a box, and you’ll see what I mean about not knowing it’s a heart.

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Quilted with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting.

Things I don’t like about the quilt:

1. There is not quite enough white space aroung the heart. This was a budget / size thing for the backing and batting.

2. Budgetary concerns meant it has a plain white backing – it’s perfectly nice, but not as wonderful as it could have been and what the fabrics deserved.

3. It’s not for our house. Aye, there’s the rub. This quilt is designed and made for the happy couple but I don’t actually know the octogenerians in love, although I would like to. But the idea of a quilt in their new home signifying their love made me think about the pillowcases I’ve been meaning to make for my own son for ages. About how when I joked that a tiny baby quilt I was making was for him, he was actually disappointed that it wasn’t (even though it was tiny and completely unlike his tastes, I thought he would laugh!). It has shown me that I need to clear the decks and do selfish sewing for the next 6 months; make all those things for us that I need to, sew new buttons onto my coat etc. When you decide to sell a few things to fund your hobby, it seems that  hobby can inadvertantly grow legs, arms, and heat-seeking missiles and take over your life when it wasn’t supposed to. I guess everyone assumes you want to make a living from it eventually, so think they’re being helpful by recommending you etc – and whilst it’s SO flattering and lovely, you have to be careful. Particularly with deadlines when you’re well overdue making pillowcases with stars and trucks on. If you made a living from your hobby, it wouldn’t be a hobby would it? I definitely need to learn to say no for a while! Sometimes.

Oooh a random outburst. Must be New Year 😉

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And with that, may your 2015 be productive, happy and creative. May we all learn to say “no” once in a while.

’til the next time,

Poppy

xx

A close-to-the-wire Christmas stocking for Emily

Just about managed to get this stocking made in time for Christmas for my friend’s little daughter:

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See that pink fabric there? My friend was eyeing up a couple of my charm packs, so we decided to do a fabric swap . I couldn’t believe she so happily and readily was prepared to let this go, I just LOVE it. I am looking to make myself a new “carry-all” bag, although in truth, I am managing fine these days now Kiddo is school age – I’ll definitely need one before the summer though. Anyway I had thought I’d love to make a bag from it… now I wonder if it’s too girly, so it might not happen – doesn’t stop me being utterly in love with it though! It’s from the “love and Joy” collection by Dena Designs. Alison doesn’t really notice who made or what are the fabrics unless she looks for them specifically online –  but tons of her stash fabrics are Dena Designs; she must instinctively really love her style. And no wonder.

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And no wonder it looks great on this Christmas stocking – it is apparently a festive collection! It’s lined with the same. I batted it for structure and strength with W+N cotton batting. Wanna see some close-ups?

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This is the little penguin close up. I first made him when I was making our antenatal class children their first Christmas presents, and he looks mostly the same now, although my stockings have become more refined (you can see them on my Flickr stream if you like in the “fabric goodness for children” album). In fact this little girl is one of the younger, newer siblings from that same antenatal group! These guys get more attention; I have more time now that Kiddo isn’t a baby anymore!

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I just freehand cut felt and sew the shapes on where I want in matching thread. I usually choose nice simple shapes for felt applique and let the bright colours do the talking!

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Once you see that it’s all simple shapes, it doesn’t look that difficult does it?  It’s not. It takes time, but I love sewing in front of the TV, so this suits me down to the ground. In fact next year I’m going to do more handsewing if I can.

My favourite bit is embellishing with perle 8 cottons. Once I realised how simple it is to do some running stitches and backstitches in perle 8s to embellish my applique and give it some depth and texture, I have really looked forward to this step! I used a bit of perle cuteness on whatever I could this time.image

The letters have Steam-a-seam 2 fusible web underneath unlike the rest – I figure they would be the most difficult to repair if they came off. And of course you can draw the letters on in reverse, you can’t really freehand cut letters unless you want that look (I did on the original stockings I made). This is the strongest web I have found – but even so I stitched round the letters. Despite the difficulty in getting the needle through the glue – you do get a bit of needle gumminess. But it would be awful for the name to be dropping off on a stocking. Like a run-down shop.

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Finally a cute little hanging ribbon. This bit of ribbon tied up a fabric bundle I once got – it’s sweet but there’s not much of it. I’m glad it’s gone to good use!

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There it is, ready for a sweet little girl. If you flick back through my previous posts you’ll see she’s already got a quilt from me when she was born, and an applique cushion – she is going to grow up surrounded by things I’ve made her – that’s a nice feeling 🙂

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If you want to see my previous, similar-but-not-the-same stockings, see these posts here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/67891349675/its-sew-christmas

and here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/69915376369/christmas-stockings-and-christmas-cheer

Meanwhile – Happy Christmas to you all! Wishing us all a peaceful and cosy family one; and a happy healthy 2015.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

See you after Christmas – and possibly even into 2015 – where is time going??

Rainbow Liberty quilted blanket

Do I have time to show you this even though it’s waaaaay after bedtime? Oh I think so.

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I made one of these for my niece-who-is-on-the-way-and-about-whom-I-am-beyond-excited, but hers is more pastel colours and handquilted and somehow I never got a decent photo of it (the light etc) before I gave it to my sister-in-law in anticipation and with all our love and wishes for a safe delivery! I thought I loved it until I made this – I think it’s the vibrant colours. It’s for my neighbour/friend’s new grandchild. 

It was very easy really and started out as a charm pack from this seller on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ZuzusCrafts

I laid it out as random patchwork to get a look at it, and although I liked it a lot… –image

… I knew she wanted “the same as yours” – not that I could get exactly the same fabrics of course. These are all brighter, and the rainbow actually works better for it. It looks different as a random selection doesn’t it?

These are some of the beautiful fabrics:

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It came out at 27” square,

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and whereas once I thought that was too small to be of use, esp when it’s not recommended that babies sleep unsupervised under quilts, i now think it’s the perfect pram blanket, carseat blanket, snuggler blanket when you are holding them in the cold UK winter, baby mat, anywhere where the parent/responsible adult is there. A clean surface to lay your baby down in a pinch on the grass or even to change a nappy. Washable and pretty, what more can you ask?

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Well a whole heap more, because I batted this with quilter’s dream wool, which has a higher loft than most batting so is “puffier” – and whilst warm it is breathable like cotton, not like fleece etc where there is more risk of overheating. I also backed it in the softest lawn cotton and stippled it – I honestly cannot believe the softness when you do this with lawn cotton. It’s like snuggling a cloud. Lawn cotton is thin, so you have to be a bit more careful when sewing with it, but it is deceptively strong and feels like silk. I remember running my hands over my mother’s silk saris when I was little and feeling like it was as though there was magic in the touch of them – I’m not one to say “feels like silk” lightly.

This is the backing – not Liberty, but lawn cotton, and pretty:

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I really hope she likes it – the baby is due in January Ithink.

I told my husband that I wanted a big one of these for Christmas, and he casually said, “OK I’ll run you one up.” He should NOT tease me this way! I saw though that Moda’s Regent Street lawn collection has just been released – and I’m thinking this may be a way of getting the Liberty Lawn look and feel without the pricetag? Here it is, but I think there are more colours in it – hard to know what the whole collection looks like at the moment as it is so new, but from what I can see online there are some pretty prints here. I think I may treat myself in the new year.

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And with the scary thought that I have already leapfrogged us through Christmas and into 2015, I will love you and leave you, I am off to hopefully dream about pinkness and pretty blue flowers 🙂

‘Til the next time, Poppy xx

Tug boat cushion for a little boy

My craft fair went amazingly well, I’m so thrilled! In fairness, the tiny school PTA had asked a variety of wonderful craftspeople to come, and had used social media brilliantly to advertise and people came with money and expecting to buy stuff, which was great, none of that “expecting something for nothing”, not that my products are expensive as I’m only trying to fund my crazy sewing habit. Almost everything sold, the cushions and liberty pouches proving very popular. I had another commission though which I’ve just finished:

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Angus’ mother lives in Australia but her mother lives locally, so after seeing the caravan cushions (in the last post) on facebook, she got her mother to come and buy three for her daughters! But then begged for one for her son, so here it is.

This photograph on google was the inspiration for this little boat (http://www.berkeley-engineering.com/CanduE-Z.html) :

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The stars fabrics are local shop basics, but designer ones are: Boat cabin is polka dots in Navy by Makower, boat stripe fabric is from Pirate Matey by Riley Blake, Flag is from Space from Makower, First full flag is from Going Coastal by Emily Herrick and the third one is also from Pirate Matey from Riley Blake.

I really hope she likes it. I wonder if I should have made the little tug a tiny bit smaller – if I make it again I think I will do that.

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Raw-edge applique is a fun and quite easy technique, where the black thread looks like a child’s drawing and adds a whimsical air. If anything I struggle not to be too neat! I probably should have been less neat here. I think if you do free-motion quilting it’s pretty straightforward. Even writing with the machine was fine – I’m not saying it’s perfect but it’s fine enough I think. One thing I found was that unlike with free-motion quilting, I had more control doing this WITHOUT dropping my feed dogs. Just in case anyone else struggles a bit with their line sometimes and that rattatat-tat of the needle going so fast and all over the place!

These were the other caravan cushions she chose (the three on the right):

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It has been reallly fun to make pictures with fabric – not something I do much of. I might need to do a bit more experimenting!

Well, a few more things to sew up – it’s always so difficult to say no!) and then a well needed rest for me I think!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Liberty, birds and a whole lot of sewing…

Hello lovely folk of the aesthetically beautiful tastes! It’s been AGES – sorry about that. I’ve been a bit overcommitted of late. And I’m going to try for a short post today (! yeah… good luck with that, delusional self) and just show you this:

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Liberty scraps and natural linen zippered pouch, measures 6” x 4”. Actually it’s a linen cotton mix, but it’s darned near perfect, nice fine weave and a good weight.

I freemotion embroidered the branch and raw edge appliqued on the hummingbird with black thread, and actually really like the result, yay! It’s supposed to be a hummingbird, at least I copied the silhouette from a photo of a hummingbird, so let’s go with that even if my needle-drawing isn’t going to satisfy any twitchers on here… I’m hoping it will hold with just one stitching line – it’s so delicate that 2 lines would overpower the image I thought. I used steam-a-seam II to secure the applique first which is as much as I think I can do – so much stronger than wonder-under.

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A pretty polka dot lining – I got this from my local fabric shop and adore it! It’s a sage green, not as khaki as it looks on my computer… and at half the price of designer cotton, I love it even more. I always include a layer of batting for strength and structure too.

I made it for a craft fair – I know I say I never do them except for the annual village fair, but made an exception this year because it is in aid of a tiny rural village school where my son went to nursery when he was too freaked out to settle in our own bigger village nursery. I have talked before about what they meant to us as a family https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude , and have committed to continuing to support them. So it’s been sewing chaos in the last 2 weeks (yes, I started late…).

Oh go on then, I’ve already failed at keeping this short!

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Some toiletry bags – large and small. The large are big enough to hold all my daily cosmetics, creams, deoderant, nail varnish, hair bands, eyelash curlers (I used to use them every day before becoming a mother… now they mostly sit there in a pretty washbag!) etc, the small are travel sized, or perfect for children.

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Pencilcase style bag organisers for lippy/ keys/ whatever – or just as pencilcases! This designs are more kid pencilcases, hold on I’ll see if I can find a more grown up picture:

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Very grown up! There are matching zip purses too amongst this lot:

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….er, actually there are not. But there will be. Probably.

And whilst we are doing a wee bit of the free-motion embroidery:

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The ubiquitous caravan and bunting cushion. Yes I know everyone in the world with a sewing machine who wants to try this technique starts with this scene – but hey, why not? It’s fun, cute and nice simple shapes. I made 3 in a different colours and a VW campervan too. I mostly used scraps except for that polka dot fabric again – see the pink too? Isn’t it lovely? Scrap busting is satisfying but man it takes TIME. Finding the right size, matching colours, ironing the wrinkles out because you have stored them badly… I really need to find a way of using scraps more efficiently because I’m bad at it. And you can imagine I make a lot of scrap…!

Well, I had no business writing to you, as I still have so much to do and so little time before Saturday and the Market! Still it’s nice to share some sewing goodness with like-minded folk. Hope your creative muse is inspiring you too – pre christmas sewing/ crafting/ browsing/ buying? Enjoy whatever you’re doing.

’till the next time, Poppy xx

Bartholomeow’s Reef Bermuda Baby Boy Quilt

Oh my gosh I love this quilt. There are really not that many options for baby boy quilt collections which will grow with a child, but by bingo, this one checks all the boxes. I have never said “by bingo” in all my days before now – it must be special.

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I adore simple patchwork quilts – but particularly for heirloom quilts. My sister-in-law’s friend saw the one I made for my nephew Rufus here :

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/72250153872/boy-crazy-not-me-well-not-for-about-20-years

and apparently has been desperate throughout her pregnancy for one herself. I don’t know her as they live in Bermuda (!), but I can never refuse my gorgeous sis-in-law anything, and once the baby was born and duly named Matthew and not Rosie, I knew what collection I wanted to use. Especially in the sun – check out the colours even in the Scottish sun:

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My sister-in-law takes her quilts everywhere as a clean surface for the beach, grass or home for the kids and I guess her friend wanted to do the same. Now that she has received it, I can finally wax lyrical about this gorgeous collection.

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It is called Bartholomeow’s Reef by Tim & Beck for Moda, and features sweet but not too babyish little sea-life illustrations – waves, anchors, stars and a cute print with some characters on it – walruses and whales and such cuteness – all amongst bright geometric prints so that the overall effect will suit a 10 year old as much as a baby or toddler.

I backed it in this lovely monkey print by Dear Stella. It’s so sweet and the colours suit the front whilst giving an alternative theme on the reverse:

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They just look so much like my skinny active cheerful 4 year old boy! No mother of a small boy could look at this print and not grin with something akin to fondness. Watching my boy climb up the stair bannister, just because it’s there, leaves me in no doubt how related we are to our ape cousins!

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I used 100% cotton batting – Quilter’s Dream of course – with no scrims, binders or chemicals I just adore it and feel it’s the safest most natural choice for children. That or Dream Orient, but I didn’t think they needed the extra warmth in Bermuda!

So… the quilting. In the last few months, I was showing my friend how to free motion quilt and demonstrating some of the patterns she could use. At which point I realised that, despite my new year’s resolution, I had been putting off using a non-stipple on my quilts for fear of not doing a good enough job – but actually my quilting looked OK. So since then I have done a few. The first was the Jewel Box Quilt of a couple of posts back with loop-de-loop quilting here:

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 (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/97092626787/jewel-box-quilt-in-tapestry-fabrics-from-2-charm)  – where the quilting really showed up because I used a wool batt which has a higher loft.

I decided to try a loop and star pattern for the Bartholomeow’s Reef quilt – I think this picture shows it best:

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It was fairly enjoyable to do – I had to concentrate harder than for stippling – whether that’s because I have done about 50 stippled quilts (when on earth did that happen?!)or because it’s more difficult, I don’t honestly know. And it took tons more thread – but it wasn’t as difficult as you would think. My problem was that once I had finished, I really struggled with the non-regularity of it compared to a stipple. I really worried that she wouldn’t like it. I had to literally show it to everyone that would look, who all said it looked great, suited a child’s quilt, and added another dimension to the quilt that I relaxed. I think I wasn’t used to looking at non-stippled quilts! We don’t get much free-motion quilting in the UK although straight-line quilted quilts are starting to take off here. Really it was when my boy saw it and pounced on all the quilted stars fascinated, folowing the lines with his wee finger to the next one that I really did relax! Now I’m so glad I did it – and the recipient loves it!

This is a quick paper sketch of how it’s done, quite straightforward, some loop-de-loops and then a 5-lined star followed by more loop de loops. Start with loop-de-loop of different sized loops:

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Do an extra long line:

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make another line as if you were going to do a triangle:

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but don’t close the triangle, continue the star like this:

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Finally return to the beginning and continue some loop de loops. FIll the page, I mean area of fabric, with more of the same putting stars at intervals.

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It pays to practice this one on paper I found, although I usually don’t have the patience for a lot of practice, I figure I can practice on the job! And again I did more practice on a couple of quilt sandwiches on the machine before doing it on my quilt as there is something which my brain found visio-spatially weird whilst doing the stars. I had to think less about it by the end of the quilt. It’s a sweet look for kids, but it definitely makes a statement I thought. The hubster said “well, it’s a very SUBTLE statement…” Which makes me think that only quilters really see all these details lit up in neon like the aisle lighting in an aeroplane…

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I bound the quilt in this lovely stripe from Pirates by Riley Blake, which I really love. The colours were perfect for this collection and you can’t really beat a stripey binding. I used the navy wave pattern to cut the letters, steam-a-seam 2 to attach and sewed round by hand to secure. You apparently don’t need to with steam-a-seam, but I would hate the letters to come off. The steam-a-seam prevents fraying though, or at least prevents a lots of fraying. I have seen the results of much washing and it does work 🙂

The delighted mum sent me a gorgeous picture of her baby son gurgling away looking very happy and handsome on his quilt, and much as I’m dying to show it to you, the programmer Hubster who has banned any photos of Kiddo on our blogs (he blogs about creative programming solutions, it’s all symbols and looks like a zillion lines of a massive expletive to me) – well he would have a FIT. But I can assure you that this quilt is in good hands.

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So perfectly little boy!

Now, whether I can stop myself making Kiddo a larger version of this quilt I’m not sure. Meanwhile, I’ll look at its rolled up-sunshiney, stripey bound picture and smile. Or maybe that’s because of the Liberty behind it. Ahhhhh, Liberty.

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Until the next time, lovely creative peeps, have a fun time whatever you’re up to,

Poppy xx

Wedding Quilts and Guilty Quilty Musings…

I’ve had to give up this quilt in a hurry, and have only just looked at the hurriedly taken photos and I tell you, they JUST DON’T do this thing justice.

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Is it showing up better closer up?

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So my neighbour, the one I made this quilt for (Rural Jardin by French General for Moda):

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…loves hers so much that she asked me if I would make a throw for her  son’s friend’s wedding. Her next door neighbour’s son actually – they grew up together, and of course my neighbour loves him as though he is her nephew. I know I’ve been quilting lots lately, but I thought I could fit another in especially I’m very very fond of said neighbour of mine.

So after going through some ideas – modern, bright, mixed with white, patterned, traditional… She decided she wanted an “heirloom” quilt – something that would grow with them, not bright or modern. We chose “etchings”, which I had used for my brother’s housewarming quilt here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/52416558284/in-love-with-my-machine

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I really thought it was the right one, the little Parisian street maps and blueprints making it quirky but amongst classic prints, the colour palette which fits in anywhere. The fabrics by 3 sisters are remarkably soft and almost luminous yet always so classic. Ordered it. Brandished my rotary cutters with determination ready to cut it – and stopped. It just felt wrong. I think the couple are young, they don’t have a fancypants house like my brother (the Hubster and I are definitely the poor relations!) and I couldn’t see them using it as a picnic blanket or letting their first baby puke on it whilst he tried to fit all his toes in his own mouth as babies are wont to do.

Panic as the deadline was days away. No time to order new fabric. Looked around my fabric laden room – and my eyes settled on these.

Vintage Summer by Little Yellow Bicycle for Blend fabrics. And my heart sank a little bit.image

Sank because I KNEW these were the right ones. I had bought them originally for my brother until I saw their very grown up house and decided against. Sank because I had been saving them for almost 2 years for something special and never used them. And here today was the day. For folk I didn’t know. And yet who else just now would they suit this well?

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I should have taken better photos, because I can’t tell you how much I love this quilt. The colours are so vibrant, the patterns are cool, fresh, arty, fun, classic and timeless all at the same time. The fabrics are really soft, and because backed it with a grey print from 3 sisters which are always supersoft, and batted it with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient – a mixture of bamboo, silk, tencel and cotton, it has a beatiful softness and drape.

This is the most beautiful quilt I have ever made. In my opinion. Even the Hubster said “wow, that’s a NICE quilt.”

And so began 24 hours of incredibly selfish quilty guilty musings. 

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Can I really bear to let it go?

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WIll this couple (whom I don’t know) really love it as much as I do?

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Should I have really used up these fabrics on a commission?

The answer is I’m not sure how I will resolve my own selfish feelings of loss, but I do think it makes the perfect wedding gift for a young couple – classic enough to have as a sofa or bed throw but informal and pretty enough to use as a picnic or beach quilt and lovely for a first baby to discover their fingers and toes on or learn to roll over on, machine washable, full of beautiful comfort and practicality.image

Check out my embroidery! This is a most rare occurence and took ages, but I rather like it. The labels are by Riley Blake – they make a full panel of rather nice labels in 3 colourways, which was much nicer than doing my own.

And then I took it over to my neighbour tonight who was so thrilled. She is a huge fan of handmade and my quilts and fell in love, saying she almost didn’t want to give it away… a sentiment I told her I understood! But she assured me of how highly she thinks of this couple, how much they appreciate attractive, quality things, how much she thinks they will love the quilt. And I walked away feeling happier that it would be loved and go to a good home.

This collection is difficult to find now, but they did a “cheater” print – a patchwork print of all the fabrics, a bit of which is worked into the finished quilt actually and looked pretty convincing. So how did I muster up the strength to walk across the road and hand the quilt over today? By rising above my selfishness of course. And because this piece of loveliness arrived through the post today 😉

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Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Wee Wednesday

Wee make day today!

I’ve been busy! 5 cute zip purses for my friend’s children and cousins:

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Fabrics: Tortoises by Dashwood Studios, tossed mini owls in pink by Timeless Treasures, Main Forla pink from Madhuri collection by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, Baby bunting in grey from Reunion by Sweetwater for Moda, Bottle caps in multi from Going Coastal by Emily Herrick.

These are great for little pockets or school bags; and in different fabrics, I love them for jeans on a girlie night out, perfect for a card and some cash without spoiling the line of your beautiful figure  – because all figures are beautiful except when they have a big bulge in the pocket…

In fact here are a couple that might be more suitable for grown ups:

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The news has been so tense and somewhat depressing in Scotland recently, that I decided to have a giveaway to my facebook friends – 4 people picked from anyone who posted something positive got one of these. It was actually really fun, and lovely to send them off today! If I ever launch a Cuckooblue Facebook page I’m definitely doing giveaways. They might make you out of pocket, but they do cheer your day immensely!

Toiletry bag and purse fabric is from Riley Blake’s Sidewalks, Blue Paisley from Delilah by Tanya Whelan. All lightly padded with pretty linings of course:

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I use stripes for lining the boys’ money pouches (they don’t have purses of course!), but they also make very smart exteriors:

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Harris Tweed Toiletry bag for my friend’s 40th. It is lined with a stiff natural canvas with such a tight weave that it is waterproof. Waterproof is important becasue Harris Tweed should really be dry-cleaned. It makes it lovely and sturdy:

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And finally, for my friend’s daughter’s 8th birthday:

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It only has some iron-on interfacing, and no hardware (buckles etc), which keeps it nice and light, perfect for the slip of a girl that she is. The tie top makes it great for adjusting as she grows too, and means she can use it cross-body or over her shoulder. I forgot to measure but it can only be about 10” across. In fact I also made one at the same time for another friend’s daughter’s 5th birthday who needs a wheelchair, and I thought she could tie it to her chair, or round her waist, whtever was easiest. This is actually that one as it has a magnetic snap for ease of access for a little one – the other has a zip closure.

I based it on this tutorial which I had used when I first started sewing bags and wasn’t designing my own, just because I still had the template from all those years ago – I made it smaller and pieced the straps to avoid cutting so much fabric, but it’s otherwise the same: 

http://tinyhappy.typepad.com/tiny_happy/2006/06/shoulder_bag_tu.html

Phew, there is more, but how many purses and washbags can you look at, pretty fabric or not? And I made a quilt for a little boy – which I LOVE… but will show you another day.

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by! Hope your creative muse is inspiring you and that you’re having fun whatever you’re up to.

‘Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Jewel Box Quilt in Tapestry Fabrics – from 2 charm packs

Ever had fabrics so lovely that you knew exactly what quilt pattern you wanted to make with them? That would be a waste made into anything else? Even when you are REALLY close to the wire with this deadline and should go for simple?

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I always thought this was traditionally called a Jacob’s ladder quilt, but I’ve also seen it called a Jewel Box quilt. Given that Jacob’s ladder for me will always be that disturbing psychological horror film where the guy (Tim Robbins) sees peoples heads vibrating left and right superfast and is giving me a shiver just thinking about it now, let’s return to the world of pretty things and call mine a Jewel Box quilt shall we?

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My ex- boss has been my biggest fan for ten years and given me so many opportunities in my working life – and he’s moved the family (to follow jobs), turned 50 (!) and is having a 25th wedding anniversary this year. We’re going to their joint celebration this weekend at their new house, and I wanted to give them something for all those occasions. What better than a quilt using one of my favourite fabric lines – Tapestry by Joanna Figuera for Moda. I made another little quilt using these fabrics not long ago; you can see the blog post here https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude … looks quite different doesn’t it? it is quite a versatile collection, and especially good for gifts where it can look colourful and classic all at once.

There are a couple of ways you could do this, but the easiest way to get a symmetrical quilt is to make this block:

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I had two charm packs and some white yardage so that’s what I’ll show you, but there are other ways to do it with precuts. This pattern in the link and photo below uses the same block laid out differently to make quite a different looking (but beautiful!) quilt, and uses a jelly roll and 2 charm packs to make a bigger quilt:

Jewels in the Curio Quilt

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and this one is how I originally thought it would be done from just looking at the design, making 2 different (but simple blocks). http://www.modabakeshop.com/2011/03/sunkissed-jewel-box-quilt . The problem is making all these extra bits at the sides to make it symmetrical. She uses a layer cake to make a bigger quilt. I stuck with the traditional block.

Instructions (sorry I didn’t photograph every step!): For the quilt top you will need:

  • 2 printed charm packs (I used Tapestry) or 84 5” x 5” fabric squares – but remove any fabrics which are solid white or cream and replace with another print, cut from yardage. You need the contrast for this quilt.
  • 84 solid white or cream charm squares (I cut from yardage)

You will use 1 charm pack (42 squares) to make Half-square Triangles (HSTs) with 42 of the white squares
and the other charm pack to make 4-patches with the other 42 white squares.

1. So first the HSTs. Using one printed charm pack and 42 white squares make 84 HSTs with a print on one side and white on the other. I used my sizzix die cuttter to cut them and chain pieced them together, but I appreciate not everyone can or wants to do it that way (I might not next time!). If you need help to know how to make HSTs, try this link below for a picture tutorial from the fabulous Angela Bowman for making 2 HSTs at a time (they are easy!).

How to Sew Half-Square Triangles (HST) – 2 at a Time

(Essentially you draw a diagonal line corner to corner with pencil on a white square. Lay the white square on the right side of the printed square so you can see the pencil line. Sew a parallel line 1/4” away from both sides of the line. Cut down your pencil line and open with pride to reveal your HSTs. )

2. Open them up and you should have a stack of 84 HSTs like on the right hand side of the picture below. Press the seams to the printed fabric and trim them to be 4.5” square.

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3. Next the 4-patches. Cut all your printed and white charm squares in half horizonally so you have 2.5” x 5” rectangles. Match each printed one to a white one and sew along the longer edge with a 1/4” seam. Open and press the seam allowance to the printed fabric.

4. Now cut these in half as in the picture below to make what I call little domino units:

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5. Now take these little domino units, mix them all up and sew them back together to make a pile of 4 patches like these on the left hand side of the picture below. you should have 84.

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6. Now make up one unit like this. Very carefully. it has to be this way, trust me, make them just the same and save yourself some unpicking. What? Me unpicking? No not me of course *looks up at sky, whistling innocently*. Sew one 4-patch, orientated like this in the picture below to the white edge of an HST.

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7. To make the block, Make another unit as above exactly the same, turn one upside down and sew together. Make sure it looks like this. It will be your template, and be there in times of doubt! Make a pile of your 4 patches all lying the same way, next to your HSTs, again all the same way as below. Lie them all carefully by your machine.

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8. And relax! Easy from now on. Chain piece them together into units of 2, then take 2, turn one upside down and sew together to make the complete block. Yippee!

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9. Now go forth and play! As you lay them together you can see the secondary pattern energing.

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10. Lay out in a 6 x 7 bloack layout:

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11. Sew them all together. I sewed on 2.5” white borders, and bound in a strong red.

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For the first time ever I used Quilter’s Dream wool batting, which is almost impossible to get in the UK… I found mine at www.passion4quilting.com which is a great site with some lovely fabrics at great value. The wool batting was 93” not 122” wide unfortunately, but I have told the shop now, so hopefully the site will be updated too. It is GORGEOUS! The finished quilt has a nice weight to it – it is much higher loft than cotton – and denser than Hobbs wool batting – but also feels much warmer (sewing the binding on whilst watching Tv is a good test of the warmth value!). Machine washable. Easy to quilt. Clung to the fabrics well. My only issue with it was (the price and) that my microstitch basting gun didn’t easily penetrate the batt to take in the bottom layer, and I’m a big fan of the gun now! I have enough for another quilt so will give it another go and report back.

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The wool’s high loft really accentuated the quilting – finally I did my New Year’s resolution of abandoning the stipple! I quilted in a loop de loop pattern, with some sweeping lines. It was quite easy actually – much easier than mastering the stipple with its echoing and not crossing the lines (I hate ugly stippling), and I really like the result…although I wasn’t sure at first – I wasn’t used to looking at a non-stippled quilt!

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Well, I loved making this pattern, and I’m sure I will do it again. It was less expensive than many quilts of its size as it only used 2 charm packs, and although it is more complex and I like simple patchwork, it still feels very pleasing to me. I’ll have a hard job parting with it, but I’m really happy it’s going to a good home.

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Block size – 8” finished. Finished size 52” x 60”.

Have fun, whatever you’re up to, ‘till the next time, Poppy xx