Mini Dresden Pincushiony Gifty Goodness!

I have the BEST ever next door neighbour. She’s the generation before me, but possibly even better for that. She’s fun, cheerful, quirky, loves children, independent and adventurous, in love with her husband and family, esp the grandchildren, and her home and garden are open, welcoming mazes of treasures. Her garden has stone owls, hidden copper dragonflies, sparkly things twirling from trees, squirrels and chickens (real ones) – she even has a window in her hedge, for goodness sake. AND SHE SEWS. OMG. I love her. What do you give a lady like that for her birthday?

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This is a pincushion – it’s filled with lavender because I tried polyfil toy stuffing and I didn’t like the puffiness nor the lightweightness for a pincushion. i heard you could fill them with crushed walnut shells or somesuch, which adds weight and sharpens yours pins (is this true?)  – but since I didn’t have any I filled it with dried lavender. It is kind of potent, but I think she’ll like it.

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I made a tiny dresden block with Liberty of London Tana lawn fabrics – you literally need squares of 1.5″ – I am addicted. 3.5″ dresdens – I could die from the cuteness.  I downloaded the template from here:

Mini Dresden Pattern Digital

which is free if you sign up to the newsletter (no biggie, the fabric shop is gorgeous) or $1, and includes instructions on how to make it. It’s so easy to make a dresden block – I admit though that the tiny-ness what a bit fiddly, but it didn’t take more than an hour or so and that was the first attempt.

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I whipstitched mine by hand onto a charm square of “modern backgrounds paper” fabric by Zen Chic for Moda, and made a centre circle in the same fabric. My centre circle is not perfect, I should have slowed down a bit to stitch  such a small circle, but sometimes you can feel your quilting-time-hourglass sand running out! I did some hand “quilting” to flatten down the circle a bit, you can probably see it.

I backed it with a square of cotton batting for some stability, before sewing it RST to a red floral charm square leaving a hole to turn it right sides out, filling with dried lavender flowers and whipstitching the hole closed. Easy peasy.

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Aw cute. Thank you Westwoodacres for the pattern!

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Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Tilda and Wedding Quilt Prettiness

OOOH, Tilda. Tilda to the UK born child of Indian parents means watching strange, brightly-coloured movies in an unknown language on grainy VHS with a beautiful Sari-ed lady in the advert in a rice field and the song “Tiii-lda Basmati” (the best rice, which I still buy now). And possibly the only understandable bit in the movie for my brother and me. But now it means this: 

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Soft, vintagey, floral, prettiness with both a modern freshness of colour and an authenticity you don’t often find in modern fabric lines which are so often “trying” to have a vintage feel but don’t quite make the grade.

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I admit the colours are not showing up well in our first-week-of-spring-cold-but -bright Scottish sunlight; you might have to trust me about the gentle romance of these fabrics. I used fat eighths of the Apple Bloom and Spring Lakes collections, but then took out the teal colours from Spring Lake and added Taupey-greys and Cadet blues from other Tilda collections.

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It is a commission quilt; my friend commissioned it as a wedding gift for a lovely girl whom I did actually meet once and I thought was fabulous. I had a telephone consultation with her, and they live in a whitewashed Scottish cottage with pale, duck-egg blues and ivory/ white colours. I just knew Tilda would be the right fit. Not the rice obviously.

The big squares were cut to 8.5″ and the smaller ones making up the 4-patches were 4.5″, and I just alternated them. You would need 13 fat quarters or 26 fat eighths or equivalent to make this quilt which finishes at 61″ square with a 3″(ish) border. It’s a great throw size – big enough for 2 on a sofa or someone to nap under.

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This is the back – Pernille in Cadet blue, pieced with some charms from the Tilda collection “Happiness is Homemade”.

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I really love the back! Almost more than the front, always disappointing when it takes a fifth of the time… The couple’s bedroom is duck-egg blue, so I am hoping that this will make up for the pinks and greens on the front of the quilt; a certain degree of reversibility. I hoped that the other colours would make this quilt fit into their home even if they re-decorated. They’re going to need to keep loving shabby-chic pastels though!

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I quilted it in a loop + swirl pattern, and if you look very carefully you can maybe see a “L + M” quilted in the middle (the couple’s initials). It’s not showing up very well here, but that is kind of the point… Batting is Quilter’s Dream Orient, a natural batting made of cotton, silk, bamboo and Tencel (eucalyptus), which gives it a wonderful drape and softness, without a lot of weight. It is definitely my favourite batting for special quilts, although it is expensive.

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That bright, bright sunlight to which we have become unaccustomed over the winter certainly shows off the texture that free-motion quilting gives a quilt. I love that all those curves soften the geometry of squares, but so subtly.

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I feel pretty sure she’ll like it, if only because I had the opportunity to talk to her about her tastes. What I am less sure about is how I will feel about letting it go! Do I always say that? This time I decided to buy a few Tilda charm packs for a summer quilt for us, just to make the hand-over easier!

After all, with fabrics this beautiful and timeless, it’s worth allowing the name to share brain space with some slightly trippy childhood culturally-significant memories, huh?

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Hello long-suffering, quilt-holding husband!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Postage stamp thoughts…

Happy 2016 lovely creative folks! Thanks for stopping by – despite it being 4 months since my last confession. And since switching to WordPress I get stats, which shows you guys keep checking in, so double thank you for putting up with my prolonged absence!

SO much to tell you about; I had an amazingly successful craft fair and have some thoughts on that; some Christmas stockings for which a tutorial has been requested several times; I have some quilts in the making; I did some free motion embroidery; my EPP hexagon quilt top is 3/4 done; I wanted to show you how I made a wee felt mouse doll in a tin for a friend… it’s hard to know where to start!

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(A few things from my craft fair)

But I’m going to show you the postage stamp quilt that I am currently so into that I am finding it difficult to do anything else, despite it supposedly being a side-project. Including neglecting the shabby-chic commission quilt for a wedding which was 4 months ago… don’t panic, they knew I’d be busy! They didn’t know I would be seduced to the Dark Side of the, er, superbright & scrappy, admittedly. (I don’t think I’ve got the hang of Dark Side quilty metaphors…)

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I have had this yearning for an ultrabright, not very grown up, superscrappy, rainbow, box of sweeties, star-bright, flowers and unicorn vomit quilt for a while, having been inspired by the bazillion amazing, scrappy postage stamp quilts out in blogland, but was actually pretty shocked to discover that I didn’t have many scraps big enough to cut a 2.5″ square from. You need 1,024 X 2.5″ squares for a 64″ square quilt. I was reluctant to cut into uncut FQs in case I needed them for other projects and found myself short. I had about 300 mostly different, big-enough scraps, in the colours I wanted, which I cut up but obviously I needed a whole heap more:

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So I decided to use charm packs. I have a terrifying weakness for charm packs and precuts. To have a tiny bit of a whole collection of beautiful coordinating fabrics in my hand makes my heart flutter a little. But it does mean that there are more errant charm packs hanging about having a fabric party in my cupboards than there will ever be quilts. That’s scrap, right?

It wasn’t until I saw this just perfectly-perfect quilt from “Focus on Quilts” (http://www.focusonquilts.com.au/one-more-post-before-i-leave)

focus on quiltspostage stamp quilt

that I truly fell head over heels. I think it’s because a lot of the scrap quilts you see have a tendency to go quite dark, and I really wanted a crazybright quilt; hers kind of all coordinates and still manages to look happy-scrappy. So I started with a base of the same collection as she did, my favourite collection, Happy go lucky, by Bonnie and Camille for Moda, and then added a few other packs which used similar colours; adding a bit of pink, but no brown, black, dark green or purple.

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I highly recommend visiting that blog page btw, she shows off a variety of utterly gorgeous quilt confection perfection, as well as listing the charm packs she used for her quilt.

Once I partly pieced this 16 x 16 square piece (about 32″ square) I reflected on how it looked a little “flat”. Maybe the colours were too coordinated? It used some “happy go lucky”, “beach house”, “one for you, one for me” (it’s just OK) and “garden project” (which is really really nice) – all for Moda. So I chopped up and threw in some “Sunkissed” and “Ambleside” which I had left over from other projects. Once it also had my own scraps in, it seemed to have a bit more depth from the varying shades of each colour, which I think helps, although it will be paler overall.

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Some more 16-patches ready to be sewn at some point, this time with scraps in:

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But… I think the thing I will enjoy the most is looking at the pieces of scrap fabric I used from my stash. Already, my eye sees them immediately + recognises them as fabrics I bought with love and have used. I like the effect of the charm pack squares but I don’t have that same feelingyou know, I think I might have to raid my stash after all to make it feel more unique and like it’s mine.

By the way I am doing most of this as a “Leaders and Enders” project. This is a technique devised by Bonnie K. Hunter I think (http://quiltville.blogspot.co.uk/). You know how when you finish a line of sewing, you cut your thread, leaving long ends of thread which essentially get wasted? Or when you start sewing, esp piecing triangles or delicate fabrics, your machine tries to eat the fabric? My mother-in-law always uses a piece of scrap fabric to start and finish her sewing (the needle stays in this fabric piece when you finish sewing/ switch off the machine).

Well, a leader/ender is a small bit of patchwork you want to sew together; you use that instead of scrap fabric so it doesn’t eat the corner of the HST you’re making for your proper project, chain piece everything you want to, and then finish with another small piece of your “leader/ender” quilt.

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That’s my “Ender”, which I left in the machine for whichever quilt I decide to work on next time, when it will act as my “leader”.

Before you know it, within a few quilts you have sewn together lots of small 2.5″ squares, first into pairs, and then into 4-patches. Without you really noticing you’ve done it. Well, it slows you down a little I admit. But I certainly didn’t notice sewing 1,100 little squares into 4-patches, as much as I would have done had I tried to just piece them all at once (I might have sworn off quilting forever!).

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I kept them all in a shoebox next to the machine, which was also good for the ten min mindless sewing break. Healthier than fags and booze… 😉

Once you put the 4 patches together, the 16-patches seem to go together pretty quickly, and because it’s scrappy, it’s all pretty mindless. Instead of trying to keep your rows in order, you just sew randomly. Bliss.

There are other ways to do this of course. The amazing goddess of modern square-based quilting, Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has a great tutorial on doing postage stamp quilts using 2″ x 7″ strips cut from scrap or stash. (her squares will finish smaller at 1.5″). I can see that working very quickly, though not as a leader/ender. Her fabulous tutorial is here:

http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2012/04/postage-stamp-quilt-tutorial.html

Meanwhile… My New Year’s resolution after playing more guitar and moving more is to sew less for others and more for us! My boy wants a Spiderman quilt, which is making me very happy, and I envisage a scrappy string quilt (I have lots of strings), a liberty quilt, 1030s feedsack repro picnic quilt, Heather Ross quilts for my two nieces and of course a bright bright postage stamp quilt! There, it’s in black and white – you’re my witness. After the 3 commissions I have to do first. I’ll start after that 😉

Until the next time, may 2016 bring you much love, joy, peace and happiness,

Poppy xx

Oh Dear, Oh Deer

Oh dear indeed. My camera wire malfunctioned whilst I was uploading 3 months’ worth of photos and makes onto the computer – losing almost all of them! Hence the absence of recent blog posts. But, less frustratingly, here’s the “Oh Deer”:

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My good friend moved house recently and I really wanted to make them a throw quilt for their sofa. Their tastes are pretty clean and minimal; white, grey, subdued egg shell blue. They even manage to keep the children’s toys tidy! Ahem, yeah, just like me. 😉 And Ana seems to be slightly in love with the deer/ stag silhouette at the moment, which can be found in subtle places in their home – on a cushion, on a tea-towel and so on. So I set off through the UK online shops looking for a set of fabrics with a grown-up colour scheme, but bright enough to lift a room or grace a picnic – and preferably with a few deer too. DSC_0072

I have had this grey/ mustard/ teal colour scheme in my head for a while, and have been dying to make a quilt using it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. And, being the kind of fabric-obsessed web surfer that I am, I also immediately knew my best chance of finding modern, clean, grown up yet quirky prints. “M is for Make” is a really fabulous shop. The owner, Kate, has a definite style and fabric taste; the shop is full of modern, often geometric fabrics or stylised prints, but with a healthy dose of whimsy in there – not taking itself too seriously. Well I think so anyway – she’s like a “cool hunter”!

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As you know, I most often quilt with precuts or collections – partly because there is no local quilt shop with a large selection of prints, partly because it is the cheapest way of getting a bit of lots of different fabrics, fat eighths only just being introduced in the UK (and fabric being twice as expensive as in the US). But choosing my own fabrics was SO. MUCH. FUN. And I was so thrilled to see that the colours on the computer did indeed match those on the fabrics I received. (Phew!)
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I had actually taken photos along the way in order to give you a bit of a tutorial and as an aide memoir for me for the next time, all of which are now fairy dust in the ether… although the construction is very simple and so it was probably unnecessary anyway. Here’s a bit of a guide, just in case you wanted the maths:

You will need for the quilt top (approx 55″ x 55″ finished) :  

  1. 61 (sixty one)  6″ fabric squares. Assuming you have well-cut fat quarters and you can cut 9 (nine) 6″ squares from each one, you only need 7 fat quarters. Not all fat quarters are that well cut. If you had more fat quarters, you would have fabric left over but would end up with more variety in your quilt. I had 14 different fat quarters and have fabric left over.
  2. A yard of white background fabric, cut into 3.25″ strips. 
  3. rotary cutter, decent ruler, thread etc etc you know the drill!

Cutting and assembly: 

The quilt is made from 2 blocks. Sew everything together using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

  1. Block A is a basic 4-patch. Take 2 of your 6″ squares and sew together, RST. Repeat with another 2 squares , open both out and sew together into a 4-patch. You need 12 of these.

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2. For Block B,

  •  You need to subcut your 3.25″ wide white strips into 26 (twenty six) 6″x 3.25″ rectangles and 26 (twenty six) 11.5″ x 3.25″ rectangles.
  • Then take a 6″ x 3.25″ rectangle and sew onto the side of a 6″ square. Repeat on the other side. Then sew a 11.5″ x 3.25″ rectangle to the top and bottom, finishing the block.
  • You will need 13 of these blocks.

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3. Easy peasy! Really at this point you should check all your blocks are the same size. They should all measure 11.5″ square. but seam allowances being what they are when the fascist quilt police are looking the other way, they may not all be the same. It’s okay. Find your smallest block and trim them to be all the same size; even if that is 11.25″ or  11″, it’s better than not being able to sew your quilt together or it not lying flat when it comes to basting.

4. And now sew together, alternating block B and block A in a 5 x 5 grid, as below. Very simple 🙂

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I decided not to put on a border, and just bound it in the beautiful Kona solid in teal. I used the number print from Ikea on the back, which looks great with this quilt – and such a bonus that it is 60″ wide, has a nice soft handle and is very cheap!

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I used my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient for the batting, which gives it a gorgeous snuggliness and drape, and quilted it in a freemotion all-over loop-de-loop pattern. DSC_0034

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Obviously my house is not a Scandinavian inspired, white minimalist and modern looking house, so I appreciate that my sofa doesn’t suit this little quilt really -but I’m sure my friend’s sofa will!

Oh I nearly forgot to tell you the fabrics! They were mostly from the collections Yoyogi park by Heather Moore for Cloud 9 fabrics, Mod Basics from Birch Fabrics, Westwood by Monaluna fabrics, the Kona teal and a lovely fabric from Botanics collection Carolyn Friedlander. I could have just kept adding fabrics from that shop I really could, but tried to be restrained.

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Incidentally, the lovely Kate from “M is for Make” instagrammed my order picture and it got so many “likes” that she made some of them into a bundle called “forest bundle”. You can see it here if you are interested:

http://www.misformake.co.uk/search?type=product&q=goldteal

Right, I had better get off to bed. Why does the bloggy muse always float by so darn late in the evening? Hopefully my dreams will be filled with teal fabrics and peaceful deer tonight. May yours be too!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Why do medical syringe pump bags have to be so … ugly?

Well, they are ugly. When I worked at a hospice, working with especially with female patients, young and old, I used to think it all the time. Some people have to have a continuous infusion of either painkiller or anti-sickness medication or somesuch in order to stay comfortable. Whilst it’s one thing when people are in bed and sleeping, many many people walk around with this, live with it as a permanent fixture in their lives. And yet, the bags they are given for them are practical but ugly dark blue canvas small bags with straps and stuff, wires sticking out, and go round their necks (which can be painful), the overall effect screaming “I am extremely medical and weird, please look at me with that uncomfortable mixture of sympathy and fear”. Or are a bumbag. A BUMBAG I tell you! Chav circa 1987. Women are not impressed, particularly those who are trying hard to make an effort to look nice, and they used to complain often or really fight against having a drug which will make them feel better – because it’s so visible. So when I got asked to make this:

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… I jumped at the chance.

The lady, whose lovely daughter commissioned the bag as a present, has to have a syringe pump dispensing chemotherapy for a week every few weeks. Not only does this remind her of her illness, but she feels it draws attention to her illness from other people. She’s a smart, trim lady who likes to look nice, and HATED the bumbag she was given – not only was it ugly and something she would never wear, it was very uncomfortable for her. She asked for a cross-body, lightweight bag which could comfortably fit her pump in the base, have a gap at the top for the wires to come out – and most of all would look like a bag she had chosen to wear! Look at the the typical bag I’m used to seeing on patients, compared to a custom one:

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So we set to work looking at colours and fabrics. It’s always harder when I can’t see someone, to get a measure of their tastes. She must be about my mother’s age (this was all done over the phone so I had thought maybe classic floral? Some lovely gentle colours…? Wrong, wrong. She wanted bright. Loves cerise pink. Loves bold patterns. I sent some pictures of fabrics based on that, and she chose this – Michael Miller’s Flock in navy. Lovely. My own cosmetics bag is made from this – not sure I would have chosen a bag for myself in it, but everyone’s tastes are different and valid! And once I made it I had several friends telling me they would buy it if she didn’t want it, so she has good taste 🙂

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It’s interfaced but soft and lightweight as requested; because I wasn’t sure of her size I made the strap adjustable; anyway the hardwear always gives a bag a more professional look. I didn’t put any kind of grid in the bottom as I wanted to make it washable (it’s going to be in the hospital a fair bit) – the pump is a sausage-shape with a diameter of 3″ so I made the base 3″ deep. Fingers crossed it fits ok! It’s about 10″ wide by 8-9″ tall… I think! I really should have measured it… enough room for a purse, lipstick etc. Zip closure with enough gap to let out the wires. And long cross-body adjustable strap so it looks like a real bag – that has got to be good for a woman, right?

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I had meant to line it with this, love and Joy by Dena Fishbein, as she likes cerise pink: 10699216_10203944494404633_720094229_n

And honestly can’t remember why I didn’t (it was a few months ago). Perhaps it was a cost thing because I wanted to keep the price down and this fabric is full price. From the pictures I went with this instead, Medallions from the Quilted Fish from Madhuri collection by Riley Blake, which I got in a sale:

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Anyway, apparently she loves it, which makes me very happy; I really wish her all the best; she’s going through a tough time. Hopefully when her treatment is over she will be able to give it to her granddaughter or something. It’s kind of hard to do commissions like this; I don’t take on that many commissions really as it’s a hobby, but for something like this obviously you want to help. But you also want to do it for free. You can’t always afford to use fabrics and time to do things for charity but you sometimes feel you want to. In this case, she would have been offended; I don’t think she would have liked to think of herself as charity, and had she been a personal friend (rather than mother of an old school friend) it would have been different, a gift.

This “sewing pays for itself” malarkey can be a bit fraught; I know I under-price, I know I shouldn’t. I find it hard to value my own work, even though I know it’s excellent quality and a lot of time and thought goes into it. I’m getting better at it. I would definitely try not to undercut folk if I was on Etsy or Folksy – I buy on Etsy loads, wonderful place, never had an issue with service ever, and it’s not fair to expect someone to create something beautiful and not get paid for their time, and when you undercut people by not getting paid, you create an expectation, whereas especially in the UK, fabric and supplies are very expensive! It has made me think I might make some (cheaper) syringe driver bags for the hospice or chemo pump bags for the hospital here as a charity thing though; stories like this are sobering, and make you remember how much people are going through in their lives. Perhaps if I can help a tiny bit, I don’t mean medically, but by making them feel less of a “patient” and more of a “person” again, perhaps these small thing all help.

Anyway, perhaps a bit sobering for a Friday night! Hope you make the most of your today, stories like this make me more determined to do that! Till the next time,

Poppy xx

A Patchwork Picnic

It isn’t though. It’s completely staged because I forgot to mention when I
wrote the tutorial for the one on the left that is was actually commissioned
for someone else. I don’t get to keep it. Yes, my new year’s resolution has
failed spectacularly to kick in, and I am still making for others with no
additions yet to our house. Still this one is a retirement gift for an
apparently wonderful NHS Healthcare worker (a Health Visitor) who seemingly
deserves things of much beauty and love. So. I’m spending time with it. Hanging
out. Like a crazy old quilt lady. I’ll may have to make me one too… 

I’m partly posting because I wanted a picture of the cushion when it was properly
filled – The cover is 19.5″ square and it looked too “floppy” last time, with a
20″ cushion pad. Now it has a 24″ pad and looks lovely! I think. I know,
everyone knows you should go bigger… And partly because I wanted to see it
alongside my Liberty dresden cushion, blogged here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love

My wee dog was most upset with this photo shoot. Usually a quilt on the
ground means happy hours of lazing about, snuggled next to mummy chewing a
stick, hopefully with the baby-dinosaur, which is clearly how he sees Kiddo,
engaged in some crafty activity and not charging about with various brightly
coloured missiles in his hands or leaping randomly off furniture. This time it
was a “I know it’s sunny but it’s way too cold for picnics” and everything
swept back in. He kept up this stance of protest next to a juicy pile of sticks
for some time before sloping back inside. Wee cutie. 

I know how he feels. Bring on summer. My ambition is to have a whole heap of
cushions ready for when it happens for real, hopefully very soon! Meanwhile, if
you fancy a go at either of them and need any guidance, the tutorial for the
one on the left is here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/114218367457/liberty-star-patchwork-pillow-cushion-tutorial

and link to someone else’s far-clever-than-mine tutorial on Dresden plate cushions is within: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love

Meanwhile, here’s to dreams of summer laziness amidst quilty love. And
apparently some big chewable sticks.

Till 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

Jewel Box Quilt in Tapestry Fabrics – from 2 charm packs

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

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

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

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

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

Jewels in the Curio Quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minute Monday – A Fun Kindle Case

My father in law kindly looked after our dog at short notice so we could have an impromptu holiday… that deserves a wee present, right?

He had actually asked me to make him a Kindle case – apparently he felt his leather bound book-style case was too bulky, and he preferred to read the kindle as it was. Just exactly what I felt before making my own (and then several since as is always the way!). He also liked the idea that my cases are waterproof in case of spillages – coffee, waterbottles, water splashed on the poolside in that fantasy bahama life we all wish we led. Water proofing felt important to me too – we must be a clumsy family, though clearly not through genetics..

I adore this fabric. My father-in-law has a definite sense of fun and I thought this fabric managed to stay on the right side of fun without being too childish, and masculine without being too sombre. I could have chosen Harris Tweed, or a black or grey damask – or all manner of lovely masculine fabrics, but somehow they are just not quite HIM. Yes, sure, for luggage or something, but he’s definitely a slightly quirky accessoriser.

The fabric is called Rocket Ads in navy colourway (it also comes in navy and red) and is by October Afternoon for Riley Blake fabrics. It’s so deliciously retro.

The case looks bigger than the kindle itself – it is bigger, but because I use a felted wool as lining fabric (like coat fabric) which is pretty thick, it’s a nice cosy fit in there. It is padded too for extra scratch-resistance and has a waterproof interlining so needs to be a bit bigger on the outside. It’s still actually a slender handsized thing, because the kindle is actually quite wee.

But my own case is actually smaller, slimmer, neater, a little more made-to-measure – I used interfaced soft dress fabric as the lining and it’s just fine. I’m thinking I might return to that… I see some experiementing in my future.

Meanwhile, more importantly my father in law loved it – he says he’s been reading all the wee adverts all over it. Er… I think he’s supposed to be reading the kindle…? One challenge done. Except now he’s asked me to make a Kobo case for his girlfriend “my choice of fabric” as a surprise for her. Yikes. Ok. Um, but what’s a Kobo again…? Might be in trouble with this one!

Till the next time, hope your craftilicious projects are all going well,

Poppy xx

Minute Monday

A minute to read this – or minute as in teeny weeny makes, either way – here we are:

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A Harris Tweed coin purse, requested by a friend of mine, who didn’t want it big enough for cards, just a nice pocket size. Lined with a bright blue cotton which matches that thin vertical stripe left of centre – turned out very sweet!

And then some monogrammed drawstring washbags for our friends’ four children as they are all off in a big caravan for 6 weeks around Europe. They are Aussies and naturally adventurous (they’d have to be – 4 little kids!?! I feel I need to psyche up and the have cavalry on speed dial  when I take 4 kids to the park…). It made me smile that they wanted some personalised prettiness for their journey.

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The kids got to choose their own fabrics from my stash. I am always amazed at the choices children make. Emily is only 6 and chose this lovely retro Tanya Whelan print called lulu Rose from her Delilah collection (Freespirit fabrics). Size 9”x10” approx.

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Angus is 4 and liked this bunting print above from Reunion by Sweetwater for Moda. I like it too – it’ll grow with him better than the cars I thought he might have liked.

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That picture is one lying flat. You can see the channel I made for threading the cord through. I used a spring-loaded cord lock (like you get on rucksacks) rather than a traditional drawstring – I think it makes them look more substantial and the opening stays shut better.

My friend wanted them to have a waterproof lining, so I lined them in a white PUL – “polyurethane laminate” – which is a polyester knit  laminated on one side to make it waterproof. It is slightly stretchy so you have to be a bit careful sewing it. I would have liked to use my walking foot, but needed to use a teflon foot because of the shiny side.  The sewing then went OK – except I had to turn the tension dial WAY down. Then all was good! Although my friend said to just use a bit of cut up shower curtain (!!!), I am obviously far more safety aware than that – this PUL contains no lead, phlalates or BPAs so are suitable for products intended for children under 12. It also inhibits the growth of fungi, which is good for this purpose, especially because these kids will be throwing their toothbrush in there with their wee shampoos and soap apparently. It can be washed at 60 degrees, so all good. I would like to try “procare” at some point too – a foodsafe medical grade fabric with similar (but even better!) properties to PUL – and less stretch…

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I know a bad picture, but I had to give them up in a hurry. This is the four together. Charlotte’s washbag is Paula Prass’ “Par Avion” from the Flight of Fancy collection for Michael Miller, an old print, but rather lovely. I never have managed to use up the bit I have somehow. I was glad she chose it. Isla’ chose princess castles from Happy Ever After for Riley Blake. Apparently they were all very pleased with their finished bags – phew! You get no sparing of feelings from unsatisfied children…

I used steam-a-seam2 to make the monogramme appliques, and a well-washed, almost felted dark grey jersey I had lying around. Steam-a-seam 2 is the best I’ve found for reducing fray on letters. I hand- stitched them on to be sure they won’t fall off. Fingers crossed they still look good after a few washes. It’s OK though, the family are heading back to Australia in a couple of months, so I won’t know if the monograms fall apart 😉 It’d be a bit embarrassing if it happened before they lleft though… (I’m sure it’ll all be fine really!)

Ok, maybe forget I even attempted a “quick minute” Monday. in my dreams. Speaking of which… Night night all, hope summer is treating you all well and the creative juices are flowing freely! Till the next time,

Poppy xx