Quilts of Gratitude

image

Teachers… I’ve always had a lot of respect for them. And now even more.

Last year my little boy started at a local nursery but was utterly distressed to the point where his behaviour changed profoundly (read “lovely boy became a rabid, savage, tantrumming monster”), following which I took him out and put him into another nursery in a neighbouring village with – seriously – THE MOST amazing nursery teachers in the universe. So kind, yet firm, warm, confident, listened to us, listened to him, encouraged us to become part of their school and community. He settled within a few days. Not one tear or tantrum; he has completely thrived. They turned our family around, took out all the worry and stress we were feeling for our son. They gave us so much. All I could give them both on his last day of nursery were quilts:

image

So don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has made a quilt knows this is not a small gift, or even an inexpensive gift. But I was so glad I could give them something in which the evidence of how much I appreciate them was in every little stitch. Of thousands of stitches. Even then, it doesn’t convey all my gratitude (although they were overwhelmed as you would expect lovely folk to be!) – but short of giving them our car, this was the best I could muster 😉

Anyway, the first quilt was a slight variation on the Little Lady Patchwork’s “Charming Stars” quilt pattern from Moda bakeshop, to be found here:

Charming Stars Quilt

image

As you can see, instead of doing all stars I did 5 star patches and 4 nine-patches. It went together very quickly, partly because charm pack nine-patches are superfast – I didn’t think too much about fabric placement, just went with a variety in each block. Quick, and I think I prefer it like this – now how’s that for a bonus 😉

The fabrics are “Tapestry” by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda. It used 2 charm packs (well, 77 charm squares to be exact), some white cotton and 12.5” of a border print. The fabrics are so timeless, as they always are with Fig Tree Quilts’ collections, but not as “sweet” as some of the collections; she lives in a farmhouse, so I thought this might fit in with that traditional feel. The quilt measures about 52” square.

image

Do I have any regrets about this quilt? Did I preempt a “…brown border??” question which might have been forming in your head? Well, although I like the quilt a lot, especially in our house and double-especially in the flesh, I can’t help but wonder if I might have preferred a different coloured border. I had some red, and some of the minty bluey colour. I think it would have changed the feel of the quilt completely. On reflection though, this will fit into a farmhouse better than the other options. I now can’t work out if that final answer is the truth or if it’s my natural “life’s too short to go round regretting small stuff you can’t change” mentality.

image

You might have seen this second little quilt in the making a couple of posts back, where I showed how to make it (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/89599354437/the-nine-patch-disappears-tutorial-and-layouts). I actually really love it finished – although this isn’t a quilt which really works in my house, I found it a tiny bit hard to let it go. This is partly because it is made with a very rare, older, gorgeous Fig Tree Quilts line (Strawberry fields) as well as with a more recent one, Honeysweet. The two collections mixed beautifully. The following pictures show some of the so-pretty-my-heart-aches prints:

image

image

image

I showed them to a few folk, and this one in particular stole several hearts. I bound it in a slightly retro feel blue floral from their “Whimsy” collection, that I had in stash, and it was perfect. I hadn’t really thought I would like this D9P pattern so much, but quilted up it looked really great. The top took much longer to make than the charming stars one, which surprised me somehow – silly really, you make blocks, cut them up and re-sew them – how did I not think that might take a while??

Both quilts measure about 52” square – lap size/ sofa throw size, perfect for those chilly winter evenings in front of the TV in Scotland. Both used 2 charm packs. I used my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting in both, for softness, warmth and washability, used plain white backings (to keep costs down in truth) and stipple quilted both. I resisted washing them, although I love seeing them all crinkly; in this country where the lovely crinkliness of quilts is not well known I think it’s better to give them looking “new” and let them wash them and acquire that beautiful antique look. For once I did put a label on saying thank you and the date – I hope they bring these wonderful teachers warmth and comfort for many years to come!

image

As an aside (kinda), all the other parents felt the same way about these teachers; the nursery parents got our kids together and did fingerprint trees, got them framed and gave them to the teachers all together on the last day of nursery. They were so touched. All very emotional, but in a good way.

I downloaded the finggerprint tree here – edited the legend in Microsoft “Paint”, printed on some nice ivory card and used a lovely non-toxic ink called Tsukineko Memento ink (colour Lilac Posies). The kids did 4 fingerprints each and I wrote the name by one of them. We all really loved how they turned out.

http://onefabday.com/diy-project-free-fingerprint-tree-template/

Now onwards to school and beyond… I’m not sure if I’m ready for this! How can my baby be growing up so fast?? Thankfully at the moment, the thing he seems most aghast at when listening to the story of the three little pigs is not that a wolf can blow down a house and try and eat little talking pigs, it’s why they would possibly want to leave their mother’s house in the first place… I think I’m safe for the moment 😉

Hope you are all enjoying a summer holiday! Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Quilting tools and a French finish

My neighbour asked me if I’d make her a throw sized quilt pretty much the same as my favourite one which lies on my “snug” sofa most of the time; here is it is finished – clearly not lying on my snug sofa…

image

It’s made with my all-time favourite collection, “Rural Jardin” by French General for Moda. This line is so old and out of print that it is as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth, and I jealously guard the bit of it I have horded. It’ll probably be with me when I die, scattered for posterity under a tree or something. Size 59.5 square. This is the quilt top – in the sun, gasp:

image

Don’t be misled by the simple square patchwork, the red, white and blue (and beige), and the floral designs – this colection is soft yet rich at the same time, timeless, unmistakeably French inspired and authentic with it, and would look great in anyone’s room – or thrown on the grass for anyone’s picnic. I love that the simple patchwork allows the collection to shine but subtly, and that wrapped around someone it has a warm, heirloom feel. Here are some close ups:

image

image

If nothing else you can see my quilting in the unusually bright sunshine… I usually stipple my quilts, although my new year’s resolution (what!!? June? Really?!?) is to branch out this year, do some loop-de-loop and a few other designs I have my eye on.  But meanwhile I’m finally happy with my stipple, thanks largely to some new tools:

image

Exhibit A: one pair of S/M machingers quilting gloves. Completely genius invention. Before I used to grip the quilt with both hands and haul, I mean move, it around to achieve the meander; these have a grippy surface on the fingertips which allow you to move the quilt with your hands face down on the quilt – so much easier. This hasn’t changed my meander in itself but it has taken the strain out of it. For about £10, it’s absolutely my number one quilting accessory recommendation (I’m assuming folk have the right presser feet etc).

Exhibit B: the basting gun. I talked about this before (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/81125927002/oasis-quilt-for-baby-maisie).  Mine is the microstitch basting gun and it puts a little plastic tack instead of safety pins. Tacks, by the way, which you can SEW over. Without breaking needles. This has made the biggest difference, both in terms of enjoyment and the meander itself because I don’t have to keep stopping to take out the pins which was breaking the flow, not to mention far too many needles. The little black ant-like things are the tacks.

image

And finally… the quilting table with the “sew-slip II”. The whattywhatwhat? I got the quilting extension table when I bought the machine a few years ago, but really until I got the gloves it didn’t help all that much. I kept forgetting to use it. Combined with the gloves though, it really does help. Particularly as I got the “sew-slip II” with the gloves – it’s a piece of slippy teflon (I think) with a hole for your presser foot/needle thing; it grips to your sewing machine bed temporarily, and reduces the “drag” when you move your quilt around. I don’t know for sure how much difference it has made, but I like the idea – and certainly my quilting this time seemed easier and more enjoyable. And quicker to boot. Here is an action shot:

image

Anyway, back to the quilt – this is the back: image

Some Rural Jardin in someone’s sale – how lucky is that! A row of charms – I had to add in some leftover “Etchings” by 3 sisters for Moda which toned well with the front – sashed by 2.5” of white cotton… the effect is pretty. And allowed me to join the backing fabric easily!

I used all-natural Dream Orient Batting by Quilter’s Dream – it really is so soft and silky. You can see the drape a little on this picture, and this is not yet washed and fairly densely quilted. I adore this batting. Next warmest to wool apparently, yet machine washable. Although if I could get Quilter’s Dream Wool in the UK, I would as apparently it machine washes well…

image

A binding in one of the faded reds of this collection: image

…And it’s ready to go. If I didn’t already have one of these, I’d struggle to let it go; as it is, I prefer this one’s backing and batting to my own! I wonder if she will notice if I swapped them… Ah well, I hope she enjoys it. It’s a collection that even the menfolk seem to like – this one got the seal of approval from her husband when he saw mine, so at least it should be loved 🙂

It is a shame that this collection is so hard to find, the blues with the two different reds are pretty special. The nearest I can see there is to this is “La Belle Fleur” by French General and looks nice from the pictures, sadly also getting older, which has a regency green in there too – or the latest “Le Bouquet Francais” which has a yellow added. I’m sure the latter is nice – but from the pictures I’m just not sure about the yellow… Still, French General rarely get it wrong, I think their collections are just more beautiful in real life than in photos. I’ll see if I can stretch to trying one! I’m amazed we have money left for food after the quilting supplies are done…

Till the next time, Poppy xx

Hello Luscious Hexagon Cushion

Well Hello Luscious!

Before you get a bit creeped out that I hardly know you and yet am blatantly hitting on you, pyjama-d, hair in scrunchied bedhead-pineapple and all, Hello Luscious is the name of this beautiful collection of fabrics from Basic Grey for Moda fabrics. I love it – as you can see by my “buddy icon” quilt picture.

image

So… yeah. I realise I am making, and nowhere near finished, a 1400 1” hexagon quilt, and that really all hexagony activity should be being poured into said quilt if I’m ever going to have it finished this decade…. but do you know how frustrating it is to have these cute little fabric hexagons all over the house and not have them in something holdable to admire? Frustrating enough for me to chop into one of my precious Hello Luscious charm packs and take as a holiday project a couple of months ago.

This is hello Luscious: image

Isn’t it lovely? Lovely enough fabric goodness for you to ignore the fact it has been a WHOLE MONTH since I said hi? I was trying to gloss over it, but hey, let’s now just skip past it like nothing happened.

I must be getting much faster at making hexagons, because in a few evenings watching films with the hubster in a holiday cottage, I had about 80 little hexagons, with which I was uncommonly delighted… and no idea what to do with them.

So one day on return, whilst Kiddo was in the bath, I started playing:

image

This is the carpet outside the bathroom, and although it’s really lighter than this picture, I think it would be a great base colour for a quilt or project with this collection, don’t you? I decided I’d use them to finally cover the huge 26” square reading cushion I have on my bed, which sadly limits the background to white. I’d need 280 hexies to make a 26” square front by sewing them together patchwork style, and a charm pack only gives me 168, so I settled on applique.

Kiddo got out of his bath and carefully made them all into a snake, so we both played around for ages. A free-floating hexie pattern like above? Or three stripes like below?

image

image

Or sew them together into a thick strip?

image

I actually had decided on 3 stripes, but then once I got it onto a white background it just didn’t look as good, so had to change plans. Well you know what they say about mice and men and their best laid plans. So I whip-stitched them together into this 3-ply strip as above.

My hesitation about applique-ing hexagons is I never like the “stuck on” look that you see if you machine sew them onto a background with a straight stitch. And these are too small (1” sides) for a zigzag, it’d be all stitch and little fabric I think. I might be wrong…?

So I hand-stitched them on to a square of fabric with a piece of poly batting behind it. it didn’t take long, whilst watching a film. And I was really pleased that they didn’t look “stuck on”, even though I didn’t try to have invisible stitches etc. They looked lovely! Phew.

image

I did a bit of light hand-quilting along the inside edges of the hexagon strips and just on the outside. I think the whole cushion could take more quilting, but actually I rather like it as it is for my bedroom.

image

.

..and – yay, my reading cushion is finally covered. Although I keep glaring at the hubster when he uses it and makes it all rumpled. Although I can’t tell him that we are not allowed to now actually USE the reading cushion any more. So I continue to glare, a little huffily, and no doubt he continues to shrug and think, well, she’ll tell me what craziness is going on in her head at some point… 😉

image

Until the next time (which will be sooner, I promise!),

Poppy xx

ps. if you’re making your own hexagon quilt and need to calculate how many hexies you will need, this calculator below is fabulous. Mine are 1” hexies, so the paper piece has sides 1” long – and you need a 2.5” square of fabric to make for each one (4 from each charm square).Good luck and enjoy 🙂

http://www.cddesigns.com/PaperPiecing/number.html

A Quilt Quartet

I ran this one up yesterday thinking I really should have a quilt on show at least at this craft fair – which is only TOMORROW by the very way! I must say I have fallen a little bit in love with it myself.

image

It is my favourite “child-size” quilt – two charm packs sewn up and bordered with white. 42” x 51” Quick, but when it’s such a beautiful collection as High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda so very pretty. And big enough to be useful even as an adult. If you can be bothered to look back through my previous posts, you’ll see 2 other quilts made with this collection, both teamed with white. I had utterly fallen in love with the collection on paper and when it arrived, but haven’t really loved the other quilts / quilt tops I made with it. Now I know why, it needs to be a collection together with no chopping it up, no mixing it with white or anything else. Just bliss. I’m regretting using all my stash in the other quilts when i just want more of this!

image

Cotton batting, stipple quilting (in all these quilts). This quilt was wonderful to quilt – partly because the collection gave me such joy,  partly because I remembered about my quilting table and fixed it on, and partly becasue I got myself some quilting gloves, and something called a sew-slip. The quilting gloves made a huge difference. I’ll tell you about it another time because I’m on a schedule – did I say it’s my craft fair tomorrow?

I said a quartet – I finished some WIPs, binding etc, for the fair, so i thought I’d include them here.

image

This one is California Girl by the wonderful Fig Tree Quilts for Moda. Soft, beautiful, feminine, but so delicate that photos don’t do it justice – and direct sunlight washes out the colour on a picture (yes, spring is springing in Scotland!). I added the white squares to give it a bit of sparkle, and I really like the effect, otherwise it seems a bit too “shabby chic” for a baby. Cotton everything, stippled, 36” x 36”, a pram size or small baby mat.

This next one is the same collection. I really fell hard for it, and loved it when I got it – but made this little baby quilt last year (or maybe 2 years ago??), using the amazing “charm pack baby quilt by Elizabeth Fransson on “sew mama sew”. I love the pattern, but I think this collection is too delicate to be miixed with white.

imageimage

So I kind of lost my California Girl mojo, but having seen the first little pram quilt again, I might make up my remaining fabric into a bigger quilt, like the High Street one at the top of this page. It is beautiful, just not as “out there”.

And finally, this quilt.

image

This is hard to part with. My mother has completely opposite home decor taste to me – she likes white, minimalism, and everything is beautifully spic and span. I like her house, but I know our won’t be like hers. I felt her living room could do with a little colour, and thought a sofa throw might be acceptable to her if it was pretty much all white, with a little strong colour (she like bright colours). This is Dena Designs fabric and white – I have forgotten which collection, I might google it. It is backed in white, and bound in fuschia, and I really like it, although white doesn’t work in our house. It has wool batting which makes it lovely, snuggly and warm. 45” x 51”

image

But much as she loves my work and is appreciative, she’s just not going to go with throws in her house. So she has returned it saying someone else will use it and love it, and I should put it into the fair. Slightly sad, but she’s right. Luckily my good friend happened to be here when my mum came round with it, and stright away asked if she could buy it (she is also a sewist, how flattering) – SOLD to the lovely lady who will give it a good home 🙂

I’ll finish with yet another picture of my favourite! Such lovely lovely vibrant yet feminine colours!

image

Less feminine are those size 10 feet!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

PS. please check out my previous post if you want to see the things I have made for the craft fair – leftovers may get put onto this blog for sale if I ever get my act together! https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/82041667739/a-week-of-sewing-like-a-madwoman-i-feel-a-craft-fair

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.

image

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.

image

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 –

image

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.

image

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?

image

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!

image

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

Vintage Modern Ruby Stars – Charm Pack Busting HST pattern #2 + tutorial

This is a story about Mojo. About abandoning a project for years and ressurecting it, with the bonus of ridding yourself of the nagging guilt that there is abandoned fabric in a box in your house.

Far, far too long ago I bought a Ruby layer cake, used half of it in a well received baby quilt… and then got stuck. Until now:

image

Ruby by Bonnie and Camille for Moda Fabrics was an instant hit with quilters when it came out several years ago, and I was instantly seduced by the bright fresh colours – the red and aqua mostly, which was very “in” at the time, and the retro flowers…

But you know, although I rarely say this, I wasn’t as wowed as I wanted to be by the collection. It’s such a modern classic now, and so much beloved that it feels sacrilegious to say it; in hindsight I really should have sold it on to someone who did feel the love. There just seemed to be the wrong balance of what I think of as “headlining patterns” (like the flowers) and “supporting patterns”, as in there were just too many mild geometric patterns which I wasn’t all that enamoured with; it was like there was just too much filler. Too many just-okay supporting actors and not enough Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig.

Anyway, back in Ruby land. Eventually I chopped the equivalent of a charm pack up into HSTs as below:

Quick method to make 4 HSTs from 2 charm squares:

  1. You take two 5” charm squares, one coloured and one white (or one “cool” and one “warm” coloured)image
  2. You put a coloured charm over a white charm and sew 1/4” seam allowance all round the edgeimage
  3. Rotary cut along both diagonalsimage
  4. Open them up and you have 4 HSTs – although beware they are cut on the bias and so can stretch.image
  5. Trim off the dog ear and you’ll have four of these:image

    They measure about 3.25” square, you should probably trim them to 3” square or something at this point, but I didn’t and it was fine. And the quilt police did not appear, although it felt like I was saying “Candyman” three times in a mirror… 42 squares in a charm pack will yield 168 of these. I’m not going to lie to you it was DULL. But so satisfying to have a big pile of HSTs to play with at the end!

… And so I merrily played. And played. I had meant to do pinwheels, but was underwhelmed and less merry. So I picked out 144 of them (the equivalent of using 36 coloured and 36 white charm squares) and sewed them together into nine 4×4 star blocks. You can see from the photo that once you have HSTs putting together the stars is really easy – once I’d laid the HSTs out, I sewed them in rows, then sewed the rows together to make the block.

image

I was really very pleased with them and got them out at intervals to look lovingly at them, but mostly they stayed in a box, languishing. I’ve just looked at my flickr stream and it was 2 years ago I made these blocks! All because I wasn’t feeling the Ruby-love, had one Ruby charm pack left to add to it and was wishing I had just sewed them into square patchwork for a baby girl. But now and then you have to slap yourself out of your quilterwhinge and wo-man up, don’t you? So eventually I dug them out and promised to do something with them.

image

Firstly, I laid my blocks into a 3 x 3 grid, added white sashing and red cornerstones. The sashing is 2.5” wide and cornerstones 2.5” square (unfinished).

image

image

And added a 2.5” (unfinished) white sashing border round the edge followed by a 2” inner border of the red main floral Ruby fabric which I love so much. Finally another 2.5” white border, ready for piano keys.

…and then realised my issue was always going to be my feeling that there was a paucity of interesting prints. So I bought a Vintage Modern charm pack – now THIS one is GORGEOUS! I love it. It’s like Ruby plus. Uber Ruby. Anyway, so I mixed my remaining ruby charm pack and vintage modern, cut them in half and made a piano keys border. i used about 54 (maybe 56) charm sqaures for the piano keys border.

I mentioned how to make a piano keys border here, in case you wanted some instructions:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/77412217918/starflowers-chain-quilt-charm-pack-busting-hst

Now I love it. I really do. The mixture of the two collections is great and  the quilt has some “oomph” I think. I’m sure I would have loved it even more with a little Vintage Modern in the stars, but you can’t have it all.

image

So, from what I had left over, I seem to have made this quilt with 92 coloured charm squares (and 36 white charm squares plus sashing and borders etc); 36 of them were for the HST star blocks. The quilt top measures about 60” square. I was quite glad that I needed to get some more fabric to make the piano keys border as with the addition of the Vintage Modern I think it ended up being something rather yummy, even against a honeycomb grey house in a weak February Scottish sun:

image

Here’s to abandoned WIPs – sometimes they can surprise and delight you. And here’s hoping your WIPs, whatever they may be, are bringing you much pleasure.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

*Edited*

p.s. My friend saw this post and sent me a photo of the baby quilt I made for her daughter 2 years ago in Ruby – am now thinking I was a bit harsh on Ruby! Pattern is “flowers in the attic” by Sweetjane on etsy, batting is high loft fire retardant polyester. image

p.p.s. Edited in 2015 – you can see the finished quilt here if you like:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2015/06/04/vintage-modern-ruby-stars-quilt-finally-finished/

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

image

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:

image

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:

image

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:

image

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.

image

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.

image

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):

image

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 😉

image

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 new cosy quilt for a brand new baby

image

My good friend has a brand new baby girl, and I thought I would use the beautiful High Street collection by Lily Ashbury for Moda to make a baby quilt (I’ve lusted after it for months!!). This is it in progress, just the quilt top, on the ever-ready-but-never-for-clothes ironing board.

It’s a pretty straightforward pattern – it’s just a charm pack with white sashing (1.5” strips, making 1” sashing when finished).

image

These are the charm squares sewed in strips of seven with white sashing in between. I always forget to pick out 6 charms for the ends of the strips to which you don’t need to sew 5”x1.5” white strips – but not this time! Hurrah. I actually toyed with the idea I was getting good at this… that brief feeling of smugness didn’t last…

Meanwhile – aren’t the fabrics great? Bright, pretty, fresh, modern but with a slight ethnicity to them which I can’t quite place.

image

And quilted up, with a stipple pattern, slightly bigger than I’d normally go because of the high loft batting. I like the way stippling breaks up the squares. One day I’m going to do some loop-de-loop quilting on a whole baby quilt, I love the look but haven’t been brave enough to stray from what I know best on a whole quilt!

image

I’ve used fire retardant high loft polyester batting – it gives it a nice puffiness which is perfect for baby quilts. Although I’d rather go for natural low loft cotton batting for quilts, as that’s the look and feel I really love, I’ve decided that because it’s not recommended to use quilts in babies under 1 year, a small quilt like this (43” x 38.5”) is most useful with some puffiness and loft as a clean absorbable, bright cosy playmat or tummy time/ nappy off time  mat, good inside on hard or dirty floors or outside even on slightly damp grass which is used later as a snuggly blanket for reading etc. I throw them in the washine machine and they come up like new. I’ll need to find some sun to photograph it under!

I thought I’d bind it and because of the colours decided white would be nice, clean. Wrong. I HATED it. Couldn’t even bring myself to photograph it. Much unpicking later and it’s back to unbound and waiting for some attention. Bang goes that smug feeling.

Quick charm quilts, don’t you just love ‘em? I mean why on earth would anyone bother doing something like English paper piecing 1” sided hexagons by hand and sewing them up by hand into a full sized quilt? i mean how long would something like that take??? Gotta be crazy to try it, right? Er, OK. Ahem. More on this next time…

Till then, happy sewing, browsing, cooking, playing, running, watching, living life through colour however you like to do it,

Poppy

xx