Fancy Foxes in Liberty!

Elizabeth Hartmann of http://www.OhFransson.com is a genius. Everyone knows it, but really, until you make her Fancy Fox quilt (or another of her patterns I assume), you don’t really appreciate it.

It really is a great pattern. Simple to piece using basic techniques, fun and cute, and the fox face is beautifully realised. She gives you all the cutting instructions and fabric requirements – and it all seemed to work out exactly as she said. I chose to make the original fancy fox pattern (there is a larger/giant block too with a different pattern) which you can get as an immediate pdf download here in her shop:

http://ohfransson.bigcartel.com/product/fancy-fox-quilts-pdf-quilt-pattern

It started with a friend of mine who fell in love with the fancy fox quilt but wanted me to make it alongside her. She sent me a gazillion pictures of Fancy Fox quilts, all of which I resisted, until finally I saw one in beautiful Liberty of London Tana lawn fabrics and I suddenly saw potential. I cut all my background fabric, noses and eyes, made these 4 with her, and then stopped for months as life took over. My friend decided not to go ahead with her project so no longer needed me to make them with her (she’s dyslexic), and these little foxes lay forgotten.

And then the lovely Michelle of http://www.coleandtaffy.com decided she wanted to make a Liberty fancy fox quilt, at a gentle 2 or 3 foxes a week, and we decided to sew along together on Instagram (she is @coleandtaffy and incredibly talented!). Soon we had others joining us, and my little foxes started multiplying, really without much fuss at all.

I have never sewn projects in this way – a kind of gentle, back-burner way. Usually I start, finish and end a project before starting another;somehow that makes me sew on some kind of self imposed deadline, like preparing for battle. I didn’t know I sewed like that until I sewed along with Michelle, who seems to have multiple projects on the go at all times. It felt like a very mindful way to sew. I would have chain pieced them all and had it done within a week had I been left to my own devices, but there was something very conscious and satisfying about sewing each fox individually. I even gave them names.

Meet Heather, Heather, Heather and Veronica:

10 points for getting the 90s film reference!

By midway, I started to think about some sort of colourwash layout. By this time, Michelle and a few other IG friends were not only cheering me on but had donated pieces of Liberty for my quilt and it was all starting to feel rather special.

One thing I would say is that at first my 1/4″ seam allowance was a little too scant, and it affected how much overlap there was in the background fabric under the chin (there was too little). This meant some of the noses would get blunted in the seam allowance when I sewed it together – so watch your seam alllowance very carefully! I bought myself a gadget, Liberty fabrics being too expensive to get wrong:

This is a seam guide called “seams sew easy” by Lori Holt and it’s genius. The only issue is you have to reposition it each time you replace the bobbin, but it’s still worth it. Not only did it resolve my seam allowance issue, but it meant I didn’t have to draw a diagonal line on the squares for the flying geese on the fancy fox block …or any other blocks where you sew a diagonal – snowballs, geese etc. HSTs are going to be much quicker now…

Anyway, suddenly I was done! Obviously the kind of suddenly that happens over months. Not really suddenly at all.

My background fabric was a grey cotton chambray for softness, and the cheek fabric was a white lawn cotton, to try and retain the sofness from the Liberty lawn fabric. I used kona black for the eyes and noses as I figured they’d be too small to really affect the softness… So I chose Quilter Dream Orient batting, with its scrimlessmix of silk, bamboo, tencel and cotton because it’s so soft with a beautiful drape and I splashed out on a Liberty back, an aqua daisy print called Bellis.

I really pondered the quilting. It seemed to me that lots of people in blogland had sent theirs out to a longarm quilter and gone for a woodgrain pattern. I knew I would never do that design justice, but I liked the idea of woodland. So I quilted a loopy leafy allover design using wonderfil invisifil thread – very fine polyester that I hoped wouldn’t show up too much on the very contrasting background and cheeks. The effect was good; subtle quilting without it being invisible thread but it kept snapping in my machine! Eventually by changing to a bigger needle, I just about got through. I’d really like to try it again for the effect but I’m reluctant to go through that again.. I don’t know why my machine didn’t like it! Annoyingly it doesn’t like Aurifil thread either…

Some pictures… because obviously I haven’t included enough!

Can you see the leaves? Kiddo says they are all baby foxes peeking out from their nest in a bush. He loves this quilt because it’s very soft and very snuggly, even before the first wash. And because ..foxes.

Hello Kitty Liberty! So cute. Why does every piece of Liberty just feel so special?

Aw my lovely Liberty foxes! The lap quilt comes out about 60″ x 52″ ish and is a really fun make. It looks good in most fabrics , so long as you ensure a high contrast between the cheek, eye/nose and background fabrics, And it’s actually pretty economical for prints – each fox face uses a  5″ x 9″ or 2.5″ x 18″ piece of printed fabric) I can imagine doing this lap quilt with half a jelly roll or half a layer cake  . I’m so tempted to buy the giant size pattern now – I don’t think I’m done with these foxes yet.

Meanwhile, I’m off to snuggle some very fancy foxes! Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Liberty Dresden Pillow Love

Liberty. Dresden. What’s not to love?

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Yeah, I knew you’d get it. Maybe only those with such a need for the aesthetically pleasing that they wander through blogland searching for it, really get it as we do.  Liberty Tana Lawn is quite honestly the diamond of fabric – silky soft, so bright and pretty your heart aches, and such magnificently classic prints that I swear they will NEVER date. Never.

Are liberty fabrics expensive? Oh, you bet they are. But did I say they will never date? So, an investment then. And that’s what I’ll be telling the Hubster when he works out how much Liberty has suddenly entered this house.

And then the Dresden. Such a pretty block, and so classic. But they can look a bit old fashioned… I must say I didn’t really think I would ever make one – and I probably wouldn’t have, had they not appeared in blogland with bright, fresh colours and a clean modern feel. And a few years ago I saw Jo from www.mybearpaw.com ‘s lovely dresden pillow in the flesh and it helped change my view that Dresdens weren’t modern:

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I even got myself an EZ dresden ruler last year , but had never used it. So when my sewing friend Alison had had a hard week, I invited her over for our first (and hopefully not last!) sew-therapy session. I knew just what I wanted to do. I bought a Liberty charm pack fromPickClickSew on Etsy and added a few more prints from my stash until I had 20 x 5” squares. With the Dresden Ruler I  cut 2 wedges from each square, so when Alison came over we each had a pile of 20 wedges ready to get started on. And we did.

I used instructions from this marvellous and easy tutorial from the amazingly talented Elizabeth Fransson:

http://www.sewmamasew.com/2010/04/dresden-plate-block-sew-along/

She made this black and white doll quilt, rather than a cushion, but the principle is the same of course.

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I used Essex linen in natural for my cushion back, cut to 17” square. In fact Alison and I both decided on linen for our cushion backs, so with identical fabrics and linen, you’d expect the cushions to be very similar wouldn’t you? But whilst I decided on a rainbow effect, Alison went for a scrappier look. Also once we’d made the dresden plates we had to decide on how to applique them onto the background linen; she chose to zigzag hers on the machine with white cotton, whilst I hand stitched mine on, and added batting and a bit of handquilting too. They did end up looking quite different! This is Alison’s:

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The zigzag applique made a kind of outline effect, which is really pretty. Amazing how all the fabrics just look great together. Her cushion front was finished well before mine!

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…at which point mine was still pinned to the background, and was being handstitched. I had made the inner circle, but hadn’t appliqued it on yet, so the inner circle is small and raw-edged in this picture below:

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… and then after a couple of hours watching a film, I’d stitched on the dresden and inner circle, added some cotton batting to the back and lightly handquilted with perle cotton – just a simple running stitch around the outside, and either side of the inner circle. It looks surprisingly like it’s pieced onto the background, it really doesn’t look like applique.

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It’s taken me almost a week to finally decide on the back – and I decided to splash out and use this lovely piece of purple liberty which I had. It would be so easy to cut corners or scrimp on fabric and then end up with something I don’t love as much as I would have; I’m not making more of these for our house, so it might as well be as close to perfect (in my eyes!) as it can be!

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I went with an envelope back, very simple to do of course – cut 2 pieces of fabric which when overlapped will make a 17” square to cover the cushion front, like 17” x 14” and 17” x 11”. I pinned mine to cotton batting as the Tana Lawn is very lightweight fabric and I wanted to match the weight of the front. There is a significant overlap as you can see, otherwise the cushion gapes, especially without a button closure, but you can have a smaller overlap and add a button, poppers, whatever. Double hem the two edges which will be in the centre, lay the big piece over the smaller, or however you want the back to look when it’s finished, and pin together.

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lie the cushion front onto the pinned together back, right sides together, and pin:

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Sew all round with 1/2 ” seam allowance, then zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

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Unpin, turn out and:

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View of the bit of very simple quilting:

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You can’t really see the envelope back – benefits of choosing a busy print:

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My piano and my Liberty Dresden Pillow. Ahhhhh.

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Whatever you’re up to this weekend, hope you’re having fun!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx