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

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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

Starflowers Chain Quilt … charm pack busting HST pattern/ tutorial #1

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I have soooo many charm packs! I think it’s my quilty pleasure (boom!). 42 x 5” coordinating fabric squares, anyone? Oh, I think so. Although they are not cheap in the UK, they feel affordable if you are only getting one at a time. The problem is you can’t do an awful lot with just one on its own – you could make a baby blanket for a newborn, but that’s about it. Mix it with white and you have a small quilt, perfect for a young toddler, but not really big enough after the age of about 2 or 3. Now 2 charm packs is a different matter. I love sewing them together, putting a white 3” border on and making a traditional patchwork child sized quilt, which is actually still big enough (52” x 43”) for a throw on the sofa, something to put down on the grass for one adult to sit on, or a student take to college or university. And I’ve made lots of those and will likely make lots more. Still, not exactly BIG.

And I thought I should try and do something more exciting – I appreciate that to some the term exciting might be stretched in the context of sewing bits of fabric together, but in the context of knowing I’m amongst like-minded friends, I’ll just keep that word in. So I’ve made 2 quilt tops so far, each using charm packs to try and be a bigger sized quilt. This first one (above) is a starflower quilt made in High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda; I’ll tell you about the other one another time!

It was inspired by this lovely quilt, but I wanted it smaller, and also decided to break up the stars. Each block takes 8 charm squares regardless, so a 9 block quilt would be 72 squares whether you do all stars or add the “chain”. image

You can see this quilt and more of Michelle’s work here: http://cityhousestudio.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-quilts.html?m=1  . She’s really talented.

My quilt is quite simple in construction, but in case you wanted a few directions, I’ve given a few instructions.

This is the first block – block A:

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It’s straightforward, but you can’t take any shortcuts with the half square triangles – you have to slice the charm squares in half diagonally and sew them back together, making sure not to stretch the bias edges. There aren’t too many in this quilt, so it’s not too much of a pain. Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance throughout.

For block A you need:

  • 8 x 5” different coloured charm squares, cut in half along the diagonal to make a “charm triangle”
  • 4 x 5” white squares cut in half along the diagonal to make a “white triangle”
  • 4 x 4.5” white fabric squares
  1. Each charm square gives you 2 charm triangles. Sew one of these to a white triangle along the long diagonal edge. Carry on with the different colours until you have 8 different charm triangles sewn to a white triangle. When you press these open, you have 8 different HSTs, a colour on one half and white on the other.
  2. Then sew your remaining charm triangles together in pairs and press open to make 4 HSTs with a different colour on each half.
  3. Trim all your HSTs to 4.5” square.
  4. lie them out in the above arrangement, putting a 4.5” white square in the corners to complete the block.
  5. sew together into rows and then sew the rows together to make a block.
  6. Block A finishes at 16” square: you need 5 of these blocks.

This is Block B:

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For block B you need:

  • 8 x charm squares, cut to be 4.5” square
  • 4 x white rectangles, each measuring 4.5” x 8.5”
  1. Sew 4 charms into a four-patch. Next sew the long edge of a white rectangle on each side of your 4-patch. Put this aside.
  2. Take one white rectangle and sew a charm square onto each of the short sides of the rectangle. Do this with the remaining white rectangle.
  3. Put the rows together as shown in the photo and sew together.

Lie your blocks out on the floor in three rows of 2 blocks, starting with Block A and alternating them . Sew the rows together:

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And ta-da! Easy. This is it at 48” square. I do think it would be really lovely made as 16 blocks, and/or made with smaller HSTs.

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I’d originally meant to finish here and put a white border on using 2.5” strips of white, intending to bind with something bright and coordinating, probably a deep pink. That would have made a 52” square quilt using 72 charm squares… and mission acomplished – a decent sized lap quilt using fewer than 2 charm packs. The other 12 charms could even have been used as a strip down the back.

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But in the end I went all out and decided to add a piano keys border to make a larger lap quilt, one which could be used on the beach or as a picnic rug, as well as a sofa quilt or extra layer on a single bed. Partly because I impulsively bought several charm packs in this line and have a male dominated household, not to mention a country-style house interior which is better suited to muted colours and beiges rather than white and brights, so I need to use them up. And partly because although I enjoyed making this, I am likely to stick to my favoured simple patchwork squares. Bah, traditionalist. So I wanted to see it dressed properly this time!

For the piano keys border I used all my 12 remaining charms AND another charm pack… and about another 6 squares, which REALLY annoyed me. I would have liked it to be exactly 3 charm packs… but it would have only worked out if I had omitted the white border round the quilt centre like this (not stitched together, just laid out):

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I like it. But the Hubster started droning on about negative space being important in design… yadayadayada. He has no concept of running out of fabric. Although he did go on to say it looked as though I ran out of fabric. Drat it all.

So… Piano keys border

– using your remaining 12 charm squares, another charm pack AND 6 more charm squares cut from a fat quarter/stash/layer cake…

  1. First, if using, add a border round your starflower chain quilt, using 2.5” strips of white. Sew a strip to 2 opposite sides of the quilt first and then add the remaining 2 sides.
  2. Cut your charm squares in half, sew together lengthways until you have about 30 in each strip. I chain pieced, sewing them all into pairs, then the pairs into fours, then into eights etc. but others may prefer to just keep adding one to their strip. image
  3. Press all the seams in one direction. Sew a strip to one edge of your quilt and another to the opposite edge, checking first that it’s long enough! Trim the excess. Then add the other two strips on the other sides of the quilt – again check first it’s long enough and add more “keys” if necessary before you sew it on). How folk do the maths for fancy cornerstones, I have no idea.

…And finished! One starflower chain quilt top measuring 61” square from 3 charm packs (+ a fat quarter) and some white fabric (about 2 yards with some spare). Or a 51” square one using 2 charm packs, if you are going to be a stickler for original missions 😉

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It was so windy today in Scotland, this was the best picture I could get! But at least it’s not raining, so you can kind of see the colours in this lovely collection by Lily Ashbury. Now just to back, baste, quilt and bind. But not today! Enjoy your day/night/evening whatever you’re doing lovely peeps,

Till 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

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