The twice-made Baby quilt…

Sometimes, that usually fair and just muse, er, Quiltiopoeia, eschews all her principles of “it will be beautiful if you take your time and take care” and her rebellious streak wreaks havoc in your quilty life. I have no idea where I’m going with this fable – but I tell you, this sweet, simple little baby quilt has caused me no end of trouble.

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I know, right? It’s one charm pack of Ambleside by Brenda Riddle for Moda, sewn together and quilted. How hard can it be? I tell you though, do not be fooled by her gorgeousness; she’s a tricksy minx.

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Earlier this year, we had that rarest of rare things – builders whom you actually like having around, who don’t say one thing and provide another, who work until the job is done, who fix problems promptly without complaint, who don’t suck air through their teeth every time they tell you about a minor problem as though you are going to have to sell your right femur to pay for this one, Missus. The father and son team did a great job replacing our decrepit bathroom for us with a “hotel bathroom” (cue clasped hands and joyous musical theatre exclamations from Mrs Cuckooblue). So when young master-builder saw me sewing and asked if I would make a small baby quilt for his niece-on-the-way a few months hence, I said yes, despite vowing to take on no new commissions this year. After all they were so nice, and it wouldn’t take too long, right?

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He chose my charm squares of Marmalade Flannel by Bonnie and Camille for Moda, left over from a little quilt my newest niece plays on, and an Ikea print, Rosalie, apparently designed by Cath Kidston. Oh, I was so on top of it, although somehow I fretted over every stage, the size, the quilting, the batting (Quilter’s Dream cotton). 2 weeks before the due date, I got it to the stage in the picture above, and then went to visit my aforementioned baby niece who was playing on her quilt. I had never used flannel before and was a bit disappointed in how it had washed. Soft, yes, but also kind of old looking. I guess like flannel pyjamas get old and comfy looking quickly..?  In my experience, quilts made with regular high-quality cotton fabrics remain beautiful, if not get more beautiful with subsequent washes, but somehow this flannel one didn’t. It looked better when first made. Disappointing. I think it’s one thing when it’s a gift, but another when someone has commissioned it, don’t you think?

So, some emailing of alternatives I thought they might like later, and all was going well. I used Quilters’ Dream wool batting, which is gorgeously soft with a higher loft than regular cotton batting but still washes pretty easily in the machine, and stipple quilted it. I had loop de loop quilted the Marmalade quilt above, but I thought it needed a bigger quilt really to show off the regularity of the design, I think I prefer the stipple on such a small one.

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Aren’t the fabrics pretty? See that perfect binding too (from Butterscotch and Rose by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda) ? Well, I had been tossing up between this one and a blue floral one. I would like to tell you that I made the right decision immediately, but I didn’t. I unpicked it all before I thought to photograph it, but I’ve just laid the old blue binding on the quilt so you can see why it was all wrong:

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I have learned to pay attention to backs and bindings over the years. Bindings in particular seem such a small thing, but they can make or break a small quilt like this. They DO show, and you need a nice frame. I just thought… oh, I don’t know what I was thinking!

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Pretty fabrics…

And then the monogram he asked for. Was hoping for a beautiful swishy silvered calligraphic embroidered monogram I could tell – he had to settle for applique. And after 24 hours of me gradually discovering that LF in olde-world lettering doesn’t look good or recognisable, Fs and Ls being near mirror images of each other, he agreed to a simple appliqued name. Phew! And very sweet it looks too, I think. In my experience with small children, they love seeing their names, the first word they recognise really. It’s a shame to have some elaborate script, that they can’t read, on their first quilt.

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Aw. It was worth the troubles for this little quilt. I love the softness and snuggly feel of the batting, love the classically sweet fabrics, even love the wee girl’s name. I hope Leah discovers her fingers and toes lying on it, watches the world go by under it in her pram or carseat, loves its snuggliness as she looks at picture books under it. Bless. Nothing like a new baby to tame that mischievous quilty muse.

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Come Back!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

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

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

Rescuing a quilt for a friend

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a big quilt, kindly held up yet again by my ever-patient and rather indulgent husband… no this is a tiny baby quilt about 30” square, held by a small 4 year old boy who liked the idea of doing Daddy’s job.

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My good friend has started quilting which has been great for me who can now chatter about fabrics and blocks for hours with someone real rather than virtual – I know, it’s like some kind of old-fashioned idyll isn’t it! Anyway, she decided to make a baby quilt for her neighbour using a Riley Blake stacker called Scenic Route. 

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So anyone NOT been caught out by the way that Riley Blake 5” stackers have 18 – 25 charm squares max compared to Moda’s 42 in their charm packs? Yeah well, well done if you haven’t. I got stung once (that’s all it takes) – and it seems Alison has just been through that rite of passage.  She decided on the disappearing nine patch which I blogged here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/89599354437/the-nine-patch-disappears-tutorial-and-layouts. But needed more charm squares, so I cut her a few from stash and scrap – Moda’s tweet tweet, makower’s space, moda’s summersville, Moda’s reunion, Riley Blake’s Pirates and a few more. I chose brighter colours as I was concerned that Scenic Route’s colours were pale and might just all fade into the white she intended to use. She did a great job making accurate blocks, and sewed it together…

And hated it.

Hated everything about it. Her love for the fabrics together, pattern, everything had just gone. When I went over for coffee, she couldn’t even bear to look at it, just wanted it gone so she could do something else, but was aware of the money she’d spent and the fact she had wanted to do something for the new baby. She refused to unpick it – just wanted nothing to do with it. After we decided to dump a couple of the blocks to make it square, I said I’d take it as a fresh pair of eyes, and see what I could do.

This is it on my sewing table.

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It’s really easy to lose the love for a project I think. Sometimes you spend so long in the thinking and choosing of fabrics and have been so excited by it that when it doesn’t turn out as you had envisaged you can come crashing down and lose all enthusiasm for the whole thing. I have definitely been there.

Looking at it objectively, there are some sweet fabrics. The colours haven’t been spread over the top that evenly – mainly the orange, but it’s not awful. The fabrics are too far spaced by all that white to be coherent together, they need to be tied together somehow. The biggest problem for me is the low contrast with the white – and that on such a small quilt, this D9P pattern doesn’t look finished. I think you probably do need to use strong colours when using this much white.

Anyway, I decided on a strong border, which ties in all the colours, and had a lovely piece of fabric from Riley Blake’s Pirates in green, white, brown and blue. I added 2.5” borders:

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And it definitely improved the quilt I thought. I had wondered if it needed more work, but then decided the border did the trick. I used Quilters Dream Orient batting and a fairly loose meander to help keep the little quilt soft and cuddly – I find dense quilting on a small quilt can make it too stiff. I think a free motion pattern helps to add texture and movement to a simple quilt made with squares, rather than using straight line quilting, don’t you?

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The back is a cotton print from Ikea – they used to sell 3 wide width metres on a ream for £5.50 or something. When I saw they discontinued it, I bought the last 2 reams they had. Sadly I only have enough left for one more toddler quilt. But I think it looks great on this one anyway, I hope this little lad grows to like it!

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I just bound it in the same border fabric. It’s really great how it matches so well with so many of the colours in the quilt.

I gave it to Alison today, and she was SO thrilled. She loved it! I must say, the colours are not my ideal, but she was so thrilled. It just goes to show that sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. And that the emotion can sometimes blind you. I guess if she had put it away she would have done the same thing in the end, but she was feeling the pressure of the baby arriving any minute! It’s why it’s so lovely to have other sewing friends to help out in those moments.

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I wonder if I should get out one or two of my hidden away projects I lost enthusiasm for and look at them again… Or give them to Alison 😉

Hope your creative mojo is all good! Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Free motion embroidery fun – A Bird Cushion

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A year ago little Emily was born, and I made her a quilt in Sophie by Chez Moi for Moda. In fact here it is, hurriedly photographed on our uninspiring then-driveway before bundling into the car to go meet the new wee princess: 

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You are just going to have to trust me that it’s very sweet when next to a baby instead of thrown over a chair on a driveway

Anyway, she’s one all of a sudden. Yeah, I did mention it was a year ago, but you wouldn’t believe how fast that year has gone, not to mention I am in denial that time is passing this quickly, whatever my grey hairs are saying. And I rather suddenly needed to think up a present. I can’t tell you how much I love this wee girl, she’s just too adorable for words, so I felt like making something special.

Having decided on a freemotion embroidery cushion, I looked to the web for inspiration, feeling too short of time to think up a design – and saw this beautiful cushion which I shamelessly copied (well a little shame, but isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?)

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It looks like it is made by a German artist, but couldn’t find her name. The link is here; she seems to have a shop of other lovely things:

http://de.dawanda.com/product/33525229-Kissenhuelle-Sommerbrise-40x40cm

It’s been years since I did any freemotion embroidery (I did some bags with birds on very similar to the above and sold them for charity), so wanted simple but effective.

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I had a 26” x 26” cushion inner from Ikea – these are a great size for a reading pillow in bed by the way – and another moda charm pack in sophie, to match Emily’s baby quilt.

I cut a 17” square piece of white fabric  and chose some charms to cut into 2.5” squares, which I used to cut into the bunting flags. One charm square for the little bird, a scrap for the wing and a scrap of black felt for the dot of the eye. I used wonderweb to fuse the pieces to the fabric and then rougly outlined everything on the machine a couple of times using black thread. Trying to be imprecise goes a bit against the grain, but it was fun, and gave it a “drawn on” effect (as it should be apparently).

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Then I sewed two strips of 4 charms with 1/4” seam allowance, centred it, sewed to opposite sides of the picture and trimmed the excess. Next I sewed two strips of 6 charms and did the same to complete the “frame”.

I added Emily’s name in pink – I used an alphabet die in my BigShot with Steam-a-seam2 fusible web, but could have printed the  “emily” in Times New Roman font as big as would make the letters about 2” tall, traced it onto the Steam-a-seam2 BACKWARDS, ironed it onto my fabric and cut it out. A bit faffy but worth it. I hand stitched round to secure so as not to lose the neat lines.

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This is the finished cushion cover lying on my rather rumpled bed. No idea when I will learn to stage my photographs. Although you can’t see in this picture, I backed the front with 100% cotton batting and quilted a straight line round the inside of the big white square 1/4” away from the edge of the charms, and another line all the way round but this time within the charm “frame”. If that makes sense. It’s just to secure it anyway. An envelope back using a pretty wildflower print:

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And it was all done. It looks quite pretty on the little sofa in the corner of my bedroom. Who says pretty bird pictures are just for little girls? Good thing for her that it has “emily” well and truly stitched on.

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 And the reaction? Emily’s mum loved it. Ooohs and ahhhs from the other mums. Emily toddled off precariously to empty the contents of a  kitchen cupboard onto the floor, pretty much oblivious. Emily’s 4 year old big brother said “But it’s the wrong ‘E’”.

“It’s art,” I said. “It’s modern”.

“It’s wrong,” he said, and busied himself playing with one of Emily’s OTHER, not-wrong gifts. Pah. I’m going to spell his name wrong when I make him one.

😉

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Oasis quilt for baby Maisie

A few weeks ago, my neighbour phoned to ask me to run over and meet a very special little girl, who just been adopted by a very special mummy.  My neighbour wanted to commission me to make her a quilt, and asked if I could chat to the mother about it.

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This lovely lady and her husband had wanted a child for over 10 years – and although it’s not my place to describe her story and health troubles, trust me, it’s so heartbreakingly sad – but also so amazing that this point has arrived!  Anyway,she had heard 6 weeks previously that she could adopt a 5 month old baby girl; adopting a baby is almost unheard of in the UK, the child is usually older, and so it is very special for adoptive parents here not to have missed the first few years of the child’s life.

Anyway, all her previous heartache has been washed away with this sweet baby girl’s smile. My 4 year old son, who likes a captive audience, kept her entertained by doing all his “supercat” jumps and “running like Turbo”, so I saw that smile a lot! Maisie is her name; I used Steam-a-seam to applique letters on, and then slip stitched in place after quilting. Steam-a-seam is the only fusible web I trust to stop the edges fraying too much in the wash, but I still sew the letters in place as a quilt gets so much washing.

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Maisie’s mother told me she adores “shabby chic” and quite traditional prints – and pink for girls. She has bought some big playroom boxes in the roses design from Ikea and loves them – I knew what she meant as I have the matching fabric from Ikea, which I decided to put on the back –

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Bearing this in mind, I picked out the two Oasis Trail charm packs by Three Sisters (Moda) which I’ve had for ages and sewed them together in traditional simple patchwork with an off-white border. I still maintain  that 3 Sisters’ fabric is the softest moda fabric hands down – lovely to work with.

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This was my first opportunity to use my new basting gun – a microtach gun by Avery Dennison so I was a bit excited! Can you see the little black tacks which look like tiny ants? Those are tacks that the gun puts through the fabric layers when you are basting. They are very fine plastic, and come in white (so hard to see to remove when you are using light fabrics like these!) or black – and the gun is easy to use – point the needle of the gun into all three layers of the quilt sandwich, pull trigger, and pow! It’s in place. (A very gentle pow by the way. noone will be calling the police on you). I usually use pins to baste, but they were interfering with my quilting flow, as I had to stop and take them out – and I kept breaking needles when I missed taking them out… Not so with these – you can quilt over them if you need to, and they don’t get in the way. Did it stop the slightly jerky edges I got when I had to stop to remove a pin when stippling?

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Yes, I think so; although maybe noone else noticed those things, I did.  And the quilting experience was MUCH nicer. The only annoying bit was removing them – hard to see, so you have to be careful, and you cut them out – fiddlier and more time-consuming than pins, but I did it methodically whilst watching TV so it was pretty relaxing. I think I will continue to use them over pins purely because it’s so much easier to quilt with them.

So here’s my patient husband, holding up yet another quilt, this time in Maisie’s mummy’s taste – size 42” x  51”. I used Quilter’s Dream Orient batting for its properties of washability and warmth. So soft and silky too!

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Having experienced years of miscarriage before Kiddo arrived, I understand how it tortures a very maternal woman not to have a child, a gaping hole which just can’t be filled even if everything else is great. It’s not rational but it’s all consuming, and vanishes once you hold that child in your arms. It was so joyously uplifting and rather moving to meet this baby and mother, so obviously in love with each other, and a real privilege to sew up an heirloom for Maisie, which I hope she will treasure for many years.

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

A Little Liberty

A quick post today for a wee blanket – but no less pretty for being small! Well how can it not be pretty, when it’s made with Liberty Of London fabrics? Liberty Tana Lawn is the softest, most feminine cotton fabic ever. And the prints are gorgeous, usually floral, and always exquisite. My good friend is having baby daughter number 3 very soon, and she has lots of my quilts in her house. Loved and used though they all are, she really has enough quilts for the littlest one to roll around on – and she won’t be rolling around fo a few months! So I decided to use my precious little stash of Liberty (“little” because it is so expensive!) and make her a blanket.

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It’s just basic patchwork squares as you can see; not only is it my favourite, despite enjoying doing some more taxing patterns lately (more in future posts!), but it feels wrong to cut up Liberty any more than  you have to. Besides, I don’t have enough of the fabric to cope with more seams and still be big enough to use! it’s 30 x 5” squares sewn together.

I just backed it in a beautiful soft cuddle fleece I got at my local quilt shop (Fabrication in Haddington) at a great price, and didn’t put any batting in between. The fleece was a real pain to work with – although I only remembered to use a walking foot after I had begun, so the fleece did stretch and misbehave, and the blanket isn’t perfect. However, it’s not too noticeable, and it is soooo soft and cuddly, perfect for the pram, car, or just a snuggler!

I used perle cotton to hand quilt round the edge:image

and aurifil gold thread to handquilt lightly along the vertical seams

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The light handquilting (and ahem, imperfections due to the fleece troubles) gives it a “homespun look”, which I don’t normally do, but I actually think it’s really sweet – traditional and lovely for a new baby. i know my friend will love it – she’s worth using the Liberty for, not only because I love her dearly, but also because she has such lovely taste, I know she’ll appreciate it!

I’m rather in love with LIberty after this little blanket – I need to do some saving up and see if I can make myself a quilt. Eeeek. I’d have to save up a lot – but oh, it would be so loved!

Hope you’re all having a fun weekend whatever you’re up to,

till the next time,

Poppy xx

Boy Crazy! (not me, well not for about 20 years…)

Hellooooooo! And happy new year! What a marvellous time of year this is, full of good intentions and a (perceived) clean slate. I get so joyous I accidentely celebrate by making huge steamed puddings and scoffing with my boys with lashings of custard. Before remembering my good intentions. Oh well; it went down a treat and the littlest one loved it, despite being usually a chocolate fiend. I used Delia Smith’s treacle pudding for a change from chocolate or marble which I’ve done before:

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I should point out that this one was NOT mine, which collapsed a bit when I upturned it (I made it with more fragile gluten free flour) but which tasted delicious nonetheless. The recipe is here by the way:

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/sweet/steamed-treacle-sponge-pudding.html

Other than that I shouldn’t have much to report on this sewing blog, given that the sewing has not really restarted in earnest (yet). However I have loved catching up on all the Christmas iplayer goodies – I mean, Sherlock is back! Sherlock! – on the sofa next to the Hubster whilst sewing up my hexagons. Oh yes, the hexagons. That project is still underway and is happily keeping my fingers working and my head out of mischief. I have posted a few pictures on Flickr, but will update in the next post.

Meanwhile here is a sweet baby quilt I made for my gorgeous brand  new nephew for Christmas! It’s made from a fun range called Boy Crazy by Dani Mogstad for Riley Blake designs. 

Here it is basted (see the pins?) and on the sewing machine:

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Aren’t the colours and designs great? I wanted something bright for him which could last him more than a year or two. This has blue, orange, white, brown, red, yellow stars, zigzags, circles, diamonds, rockets, cars, words – phew! What’s not to love?

Here is my hand guiding the stippling quilting. Stippling is my favoured quilting pattern – it’s classic and inoffensive, and I love the way it helps to breaks up all the straight lines of the traditional square patchwork which I love so much, and meld all the layers together into one beautiful piece. Maybe if quilts were more common in this country I would tire of stippling; and I AM going to try some loop-de-loop quilting this year – oooh get me, taking risks and all – but at the moment I am happy with the humble stipple! For those not in the know, stippling is like wiggly lines all over the quilt – like bends in a river, some of which follow each other and some of which don’t. You’re not supposed to cross the streams, like in Ghostbusters – but sometimes that happens on my quilt and no giant marshmallow man blows up in my face, so it can’t be that much of a crime.

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and then ta-da! It’s finished! (thanks Grandpa for being the quilt holder!)

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Of course the problem with quilting in Scotland is the weather – I couldn’t wait for a day with more light to photograph this in, partly because that might have taken 3 months, and partly because Grandpa was taking it over to my brother-in-law’s that day in preparation for their Christmas, so whether or not this photo does the bright colours justice, here it is!

But let me assure you, this range is supercute, bright, cheery and perfect for any little boy, and probably up to the age of about 10-14 depending on the boy. See the stippling?

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I used a 10” stacker of Riley Blake’s Boy Crazy, cut it into 5” squares, sewed together and put a white 3” border round. I used the same yummy stripy binding that I used on the elephant quilt a couple of posts back, from Space by Makower, which I love on this quilt. This is one of my favourite ways to make a rich, very scrappy kid-quilt; the eveness of the squares help the eye cope with the mix of colours and patterns, the white border not only helps to tone down all the colours, but gives some space for a name, which I’ve done here – “Rufus” is my sweet nephew’s rather cool name. I used Quilter’s Dream Orient batting to provide more warmth than cotton but still be machine washable and dryable.

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It finished up about 43” x 52”, which I think is the perfect child quilt – you can see by Grandpa who is 5’11” and not rake-thin by any means that it will last for a child for a good many years as a lap quilt, extra layer, something to throw down on the grass or beach to lie about on – and of course as a lovely playmat full of interesting things to look at when he’s discovering his fingers and toes!

You can tell, I’m quite into this collection and quilt – not as much as I’m besotted by my nephew though! And the family have literally just moved to BERMUDA (2 days ago), so I’m gutted i won’t see him change over the next few months until we see them again. However, the upside is they can send me a good picture of his quilt in the sun 😉 Preferably with him and his big (but still very little and totally adorable) sister on it!

Better go before I get teary! Wishing you all the most productive, happy, healthy 2014 – and one full of colour and creativity!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Fluttery quilting? Fail. Fluttery sewing – win :-)

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So. You know how I said I really wanted to quilt? Well, I’d fallen in love quite hard with a blue fabric from the Flutter collection by the Quilted Fish for Riley Blake Designs whilst we were holidaying in Cornwall earlier this year (well, you have to take in ONE fabric shop surely!). It was expensive at £16/metre, and only in fat quarters, so I thought I’d have a look online when I returned home. This is the fabric:

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It looks better in the flesh so to speak. it is lovely. Anyway as soon as we returned I looked online and not only is the collection almost impossible to find in the UK, it it dastardly difficult to find online in the states. In fact, I couldn’t find any of the blue main flowery fabric that I had so liked. But by this stage of searching, I started coveting the whole collection as a group – blue and orange are really speaking to me right now. Eeek! I’m such an addict.

So I ordered a few charm packs from the states, and they arrived, hurrah. Could barely contain excitement. Perfect for a little quilting I thought. Laid them out on my desk (not inspiring backdrop but you take inspiration where you find it!):

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…And suddenly it all wasn’t speaking to me as clearly as I’d expected. The only way I could think of re-inspiring my love for the colours was to sash the blocks in white strips to make the little squares pop, but still it just wasn’t working that well in my head. But I did love pretty much all the designs a lot:

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and the colours together are still really gorgeous in the, er, flesh (is there a better expression for this??).

Pondered. Played with squares and teaming them up in pairs.

Then decided to sack the quilting and have some zippered pouch fun. And fun it was. I loved being able to match the fun exteriors to some complementary interiors, colours that might sound weird together but were expertly designed to go well. Some zips and batting later and I had 12 cute little purses, which hold cards and coins, some of which are shown above, and some below:

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sweet aren’t they? And some more:

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This is one of my favourites, despite not being blue or orange at all! Or having a funky interior, for that matter. I’m so fickle.

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I think they are very sweet, I loved making them. But now I have 12 brand-new coin purses in my house. I’m going to have to start selling these wee things soon to help fund this sewing addiction, I mean passion. I’m thinking about end of Sept/ early October time…

I actually got out some other charm packs in my stash, thinking of doing the same thing with them, but was surprised at how difficult it was – despite being lovely as collections or big pieces of fabric, very few had even some patterns which could stand alone on a purse, let alone half the pack to be like that. I think Flutter is a rarity in that respect. The closest I got was this one, called Boho by Urban Chiks for Moda:

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It’s such a great collection! Some of those patterns could definitely be purse exterior fabrics, so I started playing. And realised they were very quirky, and might only appeal to a small number of people. Besides, even the larger patterns didn’t work as well as I thought. Yes I adore the blue with the brown flowers, but the rest? I think it’s another collection that looks better together. But by this time I was dying to do something with Boho, so started sewing 4-patches together to make a little baby blanket. Or maybe a bigger one, we’ll see. Watch this space!

Well, I have some little boy bunting to make for a lovely lady in the village who’s son is turning 2, so I’d better be off. By the way, The kindle case from my last post arrived to it’s rightful owner safely and she loved it. I got such sweet messages about it back, it made my day! Phew!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx