Liberty Dresden Pillow Love

Liberty. Dresden. What’s not to love?

image

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:

image

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.

image

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:

image

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!

image

…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:

image

… 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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

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

image

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

image

Unpin, turn out and:

image

View of the bit of very simple quilting:

image

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

image

My piano and my Liberty Dresden Pillow. Ahhhhh.

image

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

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Pirate Ship Wallhanging Den… ooooh-arrrgh me hearties

Well, between the hexagons and the cold winter nights which make me less inclined to sit with a sewing machine and more to stay snuggled handsewing and watching TV with the Hubster, I’ve felt I haven’t much to say, hence the 2 week gap between confessions.

But then my sweet, craftilicious-supermum-and-all-round-gorgeous friend stopped by with her 4 year old, and I put up THE PIRATE SHIP. She was smitten. Instantly. I knew the kids would be, as they always are, but Alison was completely in love too. She desperately wants to make one herself for her children but felt she needed some pointers. So I thought I might detail the process here, although I didn’t take photos at the time, so you might have to make do with some sketches! It’s very simple though, and all raw edge applique, so not difficult!

image

I made this for Kiddo’s 4th birthday party with a pirate theme – it hangs over the bannister, making a pirate den out of the space under the stairs. All children love it – especially becasue of the portholes which they can look out of – or use magnetic fishing rods to go fishing out of.

Behind it I put a wee soft cushion area, and drew some porthole pictures which I stuck onto the wall with bluetack.

image

Ours is obviously for under the stairs, so is pretty huge, dropping down the flight of stairs, but this could easily be smaller and hung to divide up a child’s room, a corner of a room, or as Alison is hoping to do – for some bunk beds.

I can’t really give full instructions or a pattern just because everyone’s size will be different, but the shapes are really simple, so here’s how I did it. I also made a load of red and blue bunting from my fabric, so you might have leftovers too.

Materials (all fabric from IKEA, it’s all extra wide, about 150cm wide):

  • 2.5 metres bomull fabric in natural from IKEA (£1.50 per metre) for background
  • 1.5 metres red ditte fabric £3 per metre
  • 1 metre blue ditte £3 per metre
  • 1 metre black ditte fabric £3 per metre
  • thread, scissors, fabric pencil/chalk or similar
  • safety pins (or normal pins if you don’t think  you’ll lose them on such a big item!)
  • clear vinyl if you have it (I didn’t but might add this in for the portholes)
  • sewing machine – using a zigzag stitch
  1. I guess the most obvious thing is to measure your space and decide how big it should be. Then cut the background fabric as large as you want it to be. Lay it out on the floor like a big sheet of paper. From now on, it’s like making a big picture on that “paper”
  2. Next cut the top of your blue fabric into waves or a choppy sea. you could leave it flat so it looks like a horizon, which would still look good.
  3. Lie it on the bottom of your background and smooth out the wrinkles.
  4. Next draw out the ship’s base. (is it a hull? I should have more seafaring knowledge!). My ship was about 24” tall and 50” wide, but your might be smaller. The shape is simple; here’s a drawing: image
  5. lie it onto your sea. Now cut 2 long strips of black fabric, maybe a couple of inches wide. Use them as masts for the sails, on your picture, with the ship’s hull covering the ends. image
  6. It will already be starting to look like a cool picture! Ok. Now for the sails. I cut big rectangles, roughly the size I wanted the sails, one big, one medium and 2 smaller. I actually freehand cut everything without drawing it and it was all fine, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it being perfect. But the top and bottom lines of the sails should be parallel, and the curve should match on both sides as much as possible. Here are drawings, alongside drawing of the pirate flag elements. I didn’t want the skull and crossbones to look too scary!image
  7. Now lie all your bits onto your picture and voila! It should look like a pirate ship. I actually did the portholes after I’d sewn the rest on. image

    image

    image

  8. Once you’re happy with it, pin everything onto the fabric with safety pins. Take it to the sewing machine and use a zigzag stitch all the way round every line of your picture to secure it. It looks better if you use the same colour thread as the applique fabric, like blue for the sea, red for the sails etc. I know it will fray a bit over time. I know it’s not perfect or obviously not a commerical shop-bought product, but it still looks cool, and is durable enough for many many playtimes! Noone has noticed on ours because of the size of it. Sure, if you can be bothered to turn under the edges and applique it properly, go ahead, it will look wonderful!image
  9. Once it’s all sewn up, draw 3 circles for portholes using the red fabric. Mine were about 9” diameter, I didn’t even bother to draw round a plate – but it would have been neater if I had. It’s still fine! It’s all very forgiving. Pin onto the hull of your ship and zigzag all the way round. Next draw an inner circle in the middle of each and cut this out , through all the layers of your picture. Zigzag round the raw edges to secure, you should probably do this a couple of times for each, or use a close zigzag. My inner circles are 5-6” diameter. You can sew some clear vinyl or lace onto the back of the portholes, and probably should if you have very young children whom you are worried might stick their wee heads in and get stuck, or worse, dangle. *shudders*.image
  10. Then I took my hanging up the stairs and asked the Hubster to hold it where I wanted it to go. I did 3 marks where I thought ties should go, then very firmly sewed long tapes (actually I made them with 3 inch strips, iron in half lengthways, open, iron the lengthways edges to meet in the middle and sew up the side to make a strong tape). Our bannister is made of slats so I wrap my tapes round the slats and tie firmly, but I guess would have had to put some nails in otherwise, or found another way to hold it in place. It takes a few minutes to put up and take down, so I just get it out for playdates. Which is pretty frequent these days!  At least it’s getting plenty of use 🙂

    And get ready for some swashbuckling!

image

Not into pirates? How about a house with windows and a door? Or a castle? Or a wee simple car, hold on, like this one (I’m getting my pencils out!)imageimage

Or if I had boys’ bunk beds to decorate like my friend Alison, I would be very tempted to hang the hanging in front of the beds, to make a den for each boy. I would definitely use clear vinyl for the windows, I wouldn’t be able to sleep thinking of the accidents that could happen otherwise, but then I am paranoid. I think I would do a scene, like an aeroplane or spaceship for the top bunk and car for the bottom. Actually what I’d do is a spce scene, with 2 rockets, some stars and planets, and space themed bedding – and glow in the dark planets and stars all over their rooms! Those boys would have such adventures, they’d never go to sleep!

image

Well, me hearties, I know it’s not “posh sewing”, but it is a fun sewing project, and I hope you’ve had fun thinking about what you might do… or not – not everyone wants a big pirate ship in their house. Although my 4 year old wouldn’t believe you 😉

Till the next time, have fun – and I’d love to see any wallhanging dens you make!

Poppy

xx

sexy hexies

I admit, only someone who has sewn 450 1 inch fabric hexagons could write that title and not immediately delete it. And I was close. But, darnit, I needed a little motivation to keep me going now that I am 1/3rd of the way through my hexagon quilt, and laid what I have so far on the dining room table. And so, yeah, I’m willing to see this as quilty porn if only for a few minutes.

image

Maybe it’s no Daniel Craig stepping out of the water in Casino Royale. Or Aragorn being, well Aragorn at any moment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But compared to where I started, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going.That photo is about 470 hexagons, about 300 or so sewn together, and the rest laid out.

I first blogged about it here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/63599622305/hexagon-crazy, where I’ve put a wee outline of how to make a hexagon. I was totally unsure if I would like this handsewing-hexagons-round-paper-and-then-handsewing-them-together malarky. It all seemed like the most enormous faff. But then my friend brought round a gorgeous vintage hexagon quilt she’d got from Ebay, wrinkled and worn, with some of the hexagons frayed and torn but glorious, with just the right amount of fading, all in blues, neutrals, reds, a few pinks, all rather understated but so beautiful together. It was love at first sight for me. And made me want to make a hexagon quilt SO MUCH! And there it began.

Alison came round today where I showed her how to make hexagons so she can repair her quilt and start using it – they are very easy, but she was hooked and proud just as I was when I made my first one! And AGAIN did I not forget to take some photos of her quilt? I might have to take some next time and dedicate a full on post to it.

After a lot of thought about scrap quilts, random fabrics, bright, crazy, fun hexie quilt, I decided that really I might not love the result in my house and after all that work I’d want to have it out every day. So I have decided on collections from Fig Tree Quilts – I call it my Homage Quilt, as I just adore their collections. It’s actually really nice to keep them together.

image

The above is “Honeysweet”. I love this collection, it’s so feminine, with a vintage feel and yet fresh modern colours. I could stand looking at a lot of this in my quilt.

image

And that one was “Fig and Plum” – the first collection from Fig Tree Quilts that I saw when I first made the jump from sewing to quilting (about 3 years ago). I have a quilt in this collection already – must be a good sign that I like it! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8625084929/in/set-72157630302286578)

image

This is Butterscotch and Rose, a gentle, cottagey, warm and yet rich collection which I completely adore. I made myself a sofa quilt in this which adorns our living room sofa and looks lovely! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8807380614/in/set-72157630302286578)

image

The above is Buttercup – I have made a few baby quilts with this, but not a quilt for myself – it’s just a bit sweet for our house. It is nice though and I thought I’d like the light spots that it and “Avalon” will bring to my quilt, but looking at the whole picture, I’m not as sure anymore, when the rest of it seems so rich. I might have to rethink the buttercup, a shame, but easier to do at this stage!

image

And last but certainly not least, my favourite so far is Tapestry. So lovely. Grown up, classic prints but still modern – how does that amazing Joanna Figuera do it? This has been my favourite bit of the quilt to make, so much so that I have bought myself another layer cake, to make another throw for the living room (it’s a big room and a big sofa, and looks good for the colour). It’s gorgeous!

I had intended to make all the patches a lot bigger and use about 10 collections. I’ll see but I might end up with smaller patches and more collections – an expensive quilt though, because I am cutting up a charm pack for each collection… And all to make a quilt not a lot bigger than a layer cake would yield! Sigh. Quilters are insane.

image

Okidoki guys, I’m off. To sew more hexies, having been re-inspired. 2/3rds to go. Ugh, that sounded awful. 1/3rd in the bag – yay! Seems I’m a cup 1/3rd full kind of girl.

Whatever you’re up to hope you’re having fun,

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Elephants, peacocks and splashes of colour

A while ago I made a baby quilt which a neighbour of mine snapped up for her little baby grandson; on the back is the most glorious print from a designer called Violet Craft, who designs for MIchael Miller fabrics. My neighbour has a daughter in her twenties, and was smitten by the print from the moment she saw it, and asked if I would make a wholecloth quilt from it for her daughter. Her daughter seemingly just adores elephants and my neighbour is convinced she is going to be absolutely thrilled with this print.

And here it is:

image

Isn’t it the most beautiful fabric? It’s called Parade Day in Grey from the collection “peacock Lane” by Violet Craft for Michael Miller fabrics.  It reminds me of celebrations, of fireworks. Of hot, dark nights in far-off lands. Of adventure, of the world being a wondrous place full of mysteries and laughter. My only regret is that I didn’t notice this collection until it was almost out of print, and this is the only fabric I got. I love the collection as a whole and its bright sorbet colours remind me of the summer days we rarely get in scotland!

image

So I wasn’t sure about this brief; firstly a wholecloth quilt the top made from one piece of fabric) seems… well, cheating, doesn’t it? Although you can’t slice into this incredible scene either, so it’s not like I had any other solutions! Secondly, Catriona is in her 20s, and I was worried it would be too childish for her. Apparently she has a charcoal grey sofa and this will go well whilst providing the colour the room might need, so my neighbour was unconcerned, but I wasn’t. Still I made it, and you know what? I love it. I really do.

image

It’s about 55” x 55”. In order to make it wide enough, I used 5.5” sashing of Kona charcoal, with a 3 inch border along the top. The charcoal was a good match to the background dark grey, which although nearly black it has little white lines on it, which adds a kind of “drawing” feel to it, and gives the print texture and movement, so dark grey was perfect.

image

In order to reconcile myself with giving this to a grown woman, I decided on a more grown up but still fun backing. I love this numbers in words 100% cotton print from IKEA. The words are in deep grey, which is perfect, and it works reallly well with the front. It’s a grey day in Scotland today with no bright red elephants and trees bursting with colour to cheer it up here, so apologies for the dark pictures!

image

Catriona lives in norway, so I wanted to make this as warm as possible. I almost went with wool batting, but the potential difficulty in washing it put me off. Cotton is the coolest, and I try not to quilt in polyester in case it might end up over a sleeping child. I tried for the first time Quilter’s Dream Orient – a blend of silk, tencel (eucalyptus!) bamboo and cotton, which supposedly combines the best of these natural fibres and although not as warm as wool, it supposedly isn’t far off. I really liked it, easy to quilt, no issues, nice drape and softness afterwards, machine washable. Apparently it won’t shrink, so maybe go with cotton if you want the antique crinkly effect after washing.

image

The biggest issue I had and I’ve still not resolved in my mind is the quilting thread. I went with white as you can see, and it’s not too dense a stipple (although I seem to be out of practice!) to avoid breaking up the design too much. White works for the fabric itself which does have those little white lines on it anyway, but of course it doesn’t really work for the solid grey borders, where it all shows up, quilting mistakes and all. I didn’t really want to muddy the bright colours of the print by using grey thread, which would also have changed the back. The only thing I could have done was use a variegated coloured thread, although I was worried about making a mess of stringy colour all over the front. So in the end, white it is. Now the quilt is finished, I think it looks good as a whole, but I’m still trying to work out if I should have quilted it differently!

I am very happy with the binding though – this is a stripe I got from my local fabric shop, “Fabrication” in Haddington. I am pretty sure it’s from the Makower company from a collection called “space” – rockets and aliens for little boys. Laura, the lovely owner, had this on end-of-bolt offer, and I took all she had – it’s such a versatile print – stripe, boyish enough for boys, multicoloured enough to match most projects and despite that, not too “primary colour” to be used for adult projects. Perfect. And stripy bindings – well. Yummy. Calorie-free yummy.

image

Finally, a label with mum + dad’s choice of message, and it’s off to its new owner for Christmas! 

image

Hurrah. I hope she likes it. And hope your Christmas shopping, baking, sewing, crafting, playing or denial is all going swimmingly!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Bored of Bunting?

Well then look away, just about now:

image

It’s everywhere. Everyone makes it, everyone sells it.

What is it about those coloured triangles, dangling merrily from their saggy tape that look, well so jaunty? And jaunty, whilst of course being a word  which conjures up singing jolly songs whilst steering an eccentric rickety but beloved little boat, sailor cap on head at a , ahem, jaunty angle, also goes hand-in-hand with festive. And celebration.And there we have it.

And it seems there have been many celebrations requiring of bunting lately. The most important for me being our new nephew joining us, which called for some bright happy flags I thought! They took pride of place above the fireplace in their home which made me happy, although actually all emotion was dwarfed by the love and amazement of having a new teenytiny member of the family of course!

The fabrics were leftover from some bunting I’ve recently made for a for a lovely girl in the village who wanted some for her son’s 2nd birthday.

image

He’s a sweetheart, and loves flags and cars/tractors/planes/trains… Well, what boy doesn’t?

image

This flag is the only designer fabric – from “Scoot” by Deena Rutter. It’s  quite difficult to find transport fabric which isn’t directional; that is to say you can hang it upside down and still look right (so you don’t waste half your fabric when you cut the triangles)

image

And I decided to intersperse the transport ones with star fabrics (yellow and red) and a thin blue stripe fabric. It was all very fun to choose and sew up. The above picture was the best I could do before giving the bunting to its owner – my bunting holder is only 3; so the bunting couldn’t be held any higher, and by the next photo it was being well and trluy played with, thus ending the photoshoot. At least I knew it was a hit with small boys!

So far so untedious.

THEN I offered to make bunting for our dear friends’ little girl’s christening. They are Greeks and a christening is a Big Fat Deal. And I love these guys. So 15 metres (in 4 strings that they can tie together as necessary) and 60 flags later… yeah, tedious.

image

 She wanted vintagey (*love*), and was happy to change from her idea of Olde English Rose to smaller, brighter pretty florals, some ginghams and stripes, on the basis that it befits a little girl more for future birthdays etc and is still adult enough for them to use for garden parties or whatever. Gotta love working with someone like that 🙂

To be honest, I wasn’t convinced by her idea of pink and turquoise – but actually it worked really well, and looked lovely when it was all made up.

image

Again it looks better in reality than on pictures, especially when I’m always rushing to send them off and have to make do with a quick snap on my dining room table. You’ll see this table a lot…

I’ve made plenty of name bunting for children, but not usually such a long string. It’s been bit dull, but I guess sometimes it’s nice not to have to concentrate, unlike when you make a bag, and there’s something new to do every 3 minutes! I have become a fan of the audiobook (using google’s Audible) during this sudden bunting sewathon.

image

And every single time it just looks so pretty. It doesn’t matter what fabrics you use, it always looks great. So simple. But tedious sewing for that reason. However, after seeing all that pink and turquoise bunting, I’m a little bit jealous, and wondering if I can bring myself to make some for us..

And so, my friends, I have come to recognise that no matter how many triangles of fabric you sew, no matter how tedious and repetitive the task is, the end result is always so very beautiful, so very celebratory that it makes you want to shout “hurrah” with abandon, and have a Pimms with cucumber sandwiches wearing a big hat, or a cup of tea from a teapot with jam and clotted cream wearing tweed and pearls. Neither of which is ever reality, or any reality I get to visit, but certainly I come over a little bit Jolly. Bored of Bunting? As Samuel Pepys once said, “When you’re bored of bunting, you’re bored of life”. There was more London in his actual quote and less bunting, but you get the idea.

Back to quilting for next time, till then

Poppy

xx

Kindle Cases – waterbottles do your worst!

I’ve been doing more sewing for friends, despite my craving to sew up some quilts again! I have a few more comissions to finish and then I am going to quilt to my heart’s content! But first, this is a water-resistant Kindle Case my dear friend asked me to make for his friend.

image

He chose Geranium in Sky by MoMo for Moda as the fabric, having seen it featured heavily on this blog! It is so rare now and out of print, but was a real find for me – and has been incredibly useful, not to mention popular!

image

I designed these really for the standard kindle e-reader, but will fit others except Kindles 2, 3 and Fires. Mainly because I have a standard kindle myself, seen posing above – useful to test the fit! Thankfully that’s what most others seem to have. I have also designed a Google Nexus 7 case – because we have one. No prizes for guessing why I haven’t yet made an iPad case… sadly…!

image

I lined this case with a felted black wool and interfaced with light padding to protect against scratches. I sewed in some waterproof fabric as an interlining. And a little label telling her who it’s from (care instructions on the back), and I’m ready to post it to her 🙂

image

The waterproofing is my favourite bit about my own kindle case, and the main reason I made mine in the first place. I LOVE my kindle. I like the way it feels, the way it reads. OK, so it doesn’t smell of book, and won’t replace books – I have regretted getting a few reference books on kindle that really are meant for idly thumbing through with a coffee and belong on a shelf. But it’s perfect (and instant) for novels.

Anyway. I don’t really want mine covered in a cumbersome book cover thing which makes it heavy and bulky, it’s perfect and neat to read as it is. I don’t really want the extra weight of a leather-bound beautiful cover with built in light in my handbag. But I do want it not to get scratched and mostly NOT TO GET WET. And OMG, there are so many things in my bag which could burst or goo over my kindle – water bottle/cup, blowing bubbles. weird toys, food. And in my imaginary dream life, I don’t want it getting splashed by the pool when I dive effortlessly in looking thin and aspirational whilst relaxing in a sunny land. Anyway, so I made mine, and love it. So I made some more 🙂

This is mine:

image

It’s in Ginseng Orchid in Celery by Joel Dewberry, a home dec fabric I ordered from the states years ago because I adore it (and still do) but have really not used it much. It is so beautiful in the flesh, but although it’s a gorgeous shade of green (and I’m not a big “green” fan), I realised I didn’t want a bag in it (it’s green – it doesn’t go with anything I wear!), the pattern is just a bit big for a purse… But it’s lovely on my kindle case. My case is slightly slimmer than my updated pattern because I didn’t need to factor in any extra room for the other kindle versions. I probably prefer it when they are side by side, but you wouldn’t know the difference if you didn’t see them together, and it’s always good to have wiggle room. Particularly if you really have to wash it – even at a cool 30 degree wash it might shrink a little. Better to handwash or spot-wash…

I have a few left over from the fair which I might list for sale. They are slightly “softer” in that the interfacing is less heavy than the ones above, but they are padded with cotton batting, interlined with waterproof fabric and lined with a soft jersey fabric, so should keep kindles nice and safe from everyday scratches! Here’s one I made earlier, as they say:

image

Isn’t it sweet? I love that woodpecker amongst those beautiful birch trees (Michael Miller). There is one on the back too.

Well, it’s past bedtime (isn’t it always?!), so I’ll say night night and see you next time.

Poppy xx

ps you can email me at poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk

or visit my flickrstream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/

Parting is such sweet sorrow

image

… and sorrow is was. My boss, colleague and good friend with whom I’ve worked for 10 years, is leaving Edinburgh and moving his family to Durham, where his lovely, talented wife has found a job which is perfect for her. The problem with being two married doctors (which they are) is that when you specialise and reach consultant stage, it can be difficult to find two jobs in the same city – obviously there are limited consultant jobs in each speciality in each city. So with sadness, I said farewell to a man who has nutured and encouraged me professionally, and has been gracious enough to also listen to my views, opinions and learn from me too – what a rare and beautiful thing that is for an employee, particularly for us doctors – the medical profession can still have those vestiges of the male-dominated profession it once was, and upon whose principles it was founded. But this guy is special enough to see past it all, and all my medical skills and achievements have been because he enabled me to believe in myself and brought out the best in me. Still wanted to slap him sometimes!

Anyway, enough of the sorrw and on with the sweet. This is a sewing blog after all! It was hard to think of a suitable gift. I had thought a large sofa quilt, but I don’t really know what their new house will be like, or how they will choose to dress it – I would hate for the expense and amount of work involved in making a quilt to go to waste.

So I settled on a family set of washbags/ toiletries bags, trying to second guess all their tastes, but keeping them fairly neutral, so that even if they don’t love them they should still find them useful…

Firstly David, the man himself:

(These are all cotton fabrics, structured with polyester batting, lined with white cotton canvas)

image

Coastal “painted planks” from Makower.

Next for his wife:

image

I love this fabric from Tanya Whelan – Blue Paisley from the Delilah collection for Free Spirit fabrics. I bought it for myself, but decided to part with some as they are such a special family to us! I was keen that their bags in particular coordinated together. Then decided to try and do so for the family!

The two girls – one is 18-ish, the other is about 21 or so. Both girls are very nice, clever and pretty, albeit with two different personalities (quite how it should be!) – they will go far!

image

Fabric is Freebird Geranium in Sky by MoMo for Moda, yes I know I love it lots!

image

I’ve had this piece of fabric for about 5 years, having made a bag with some of it. I really love it – it is a large scale print, so sadly you can’t see the whole print on a washbag, and I forgot to photograph the reverse! It’s Par Avion from the Flights of Fancy collection by Paula Prass for Michael Miller. I bought more of the brighter “spring” colourway, but have struggled to use that one somehow, whereas this one, ordered as an afterthought is more versaltile. Funny how that happens.

And finally for David’s son, who is 10. Not yet a teenager, but will be soon – how hard a brief is that? Anyway, I chose this fabric:

image

It’s “Bottlecaps in Multi” from the Going Coastal collection by Emily Herrick for Michael Miller. I struggled to find this in the UK, and when I did it was on offer (YAY!!) but there wasn’t much of it (boo). Anyway, My husband has chosen a washbag for himself after his last one fell apart (not one of mine, to be fair he’s had it years) in this – I love it when he asks me to make him something. I hope the kid likes it. He’s a gorgeous, well mannered boy, I wish it was easier to make fabric things that a boy would actually like!

And the family photo, smile everyone:

image

I wish this lovely family all the very best for the new chapter in their lives and all their exciting adventures!

Meanwhile, I have acquired a piece of this beautiful Harris tweed in a pink check as my friend would like a bag made in it.

image

There may be enough left over for a toiletry bag – I think it would be beautiful, and make a lovely gift! Having held the fabric in my hands I can see why it has its own act of parliament governing the right for the fabric to “wear the orb”, a particular label, which is the mark of Harris Tweed. Apparently it must be

“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”

It’s also very expensive. It’s like the champagne of cloth 🙂 I’m looking forward to working with it.

Till the next time,

Poppy xxx

ps you can email me at poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk

or visit my flickrstream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/

Sand, sea, sun – and a successful toddler bag

We’re back from an amazing road trip adventure down to Cornwall, via Lancashire, Chorleywood near London to see my brother and his wife – and the house is even more gorgeous in the flesh than on the pictures by the way, am massively coveting – taking in Legoland, Somerset and Stonehenge on the way, then finally down to beautiful Cornwall for a week. We have never been before but we loved it, it does feel like a very different country to Scotland (I know it is technically!), particularly in terms of climate and temperature. Even the flowers bloom earlier and feel quite tropical, we saw banana trees and palms growing outside. Wouldn’t get that in Edinburgh…

And through it all the new mummy/toddler bag came through with flying colours. Here it is adventuring on the beach next to the other adventurer:

imageThe perfect size, and comfortable, hurray, we have a winning pattern 🙂

Since our return, we decided to create a proper sewing room, as my hobby was taking over our house, with bits of fabric and notions gently multiplying… like triffids…

image

image

There’s a computer in here too… I may never emerge again 😮

So I have been putting it to good use already – well it would be rude not to!

Firstly a commission from my friend who wanted a new bag to fit all the stuff you need for a 20 month and 3 year old. She wanted a messenger, so I opted for a slightly small version of Jane’s messenger, blogged previously. It’s 13”W x 11”H x 4”D, and I think is a good size for the toddler stage. Charcoal grey canvas outer, waterproof interlining, grey and white leaf lining and the glorious Freebird Garden in Sky by MoMo for Moda. It took so long to find a fabric she loved with the brief “aqua, funky, but not too childish”, and then had to hunt some down through etsy, but it does look good! I still have to put a strap on it (in grey) but here it is (in my new sewing room hehe!)

image

and then outside. I decided to add a matching zip purse as a wee surprise :image

image

And finally, she also asked for a bag for her friend, similar to one on my flickr stream but zippered in hot pink and aqua tweed “Scottish enough – but still modern”: image

Here’s me trying it on for size; 14”W x 9”H at middle x 3.5” D – the bag not me :):

image

It is empty, and my boy had suddenly charged the bag to get in the picture, so it looks a bit crumpled, but it’s softly structured with interfacing (fusible fleece) so will hang straight when there’s something in it.

Well I think that’s enough for today! I still need to make a felt flower brooch using my sizzix big shot to go with the bag as in the one in my flickr stream (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/7435741132/in/set-72157630302387894), so the night is still young!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

ps you can email me at poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk

or visit my flickrstream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/

Baby Emily arrives! well, she’ll need a baby quilt (and her mummy needs a bigger bag)

My good friend, Jane, just had a baby girl, whom I met for the first time today, just days old! She’s so gorgeous, and tiny and precious. I got all clucky! The kiddo liked her too, but loved more that I had taken car lego with us to keep him entertained – I don’t think he is champing at the bit for a sibling – just as well!

Anyway, I had made her a baby quilt – the collection is Sophie by Chez Moi, cotton batting, stipple quilting, a pretty rose print cotton from Ikea for the back. It’s a charm pack quilt with 1” white sashing, 38” x 43” ish, I think. I just remembered to photograph it as we were getting into the car to go see her, so the backdrop of my driveway is less than inspiring, but here goes!

image

imageimage

And she had requested a changing bag, as her previous one was too small already for her 3 year old, let alone a baby too. The spec –  “not too girlie” “some flowers would be nice” “maybe purple” but “husband would like gender neutral”… Hmmm. I chose a large messenger (15” x 12” x 5”) style, charcoal grey exterior and interior, waterproof interlining (actually I just sewed in some of Ikea’s acrylic coated fabric), interfaced with fusible fleece and flap made from Amy Butler’s Memento in Mulberry from her Love collection. It was hard to keep faith that it would look nice whilst I was working with ALL THAT GREY but once the flap was on, it looks just great, and I hope she’ll be able to use it as an overnight bag/ large bag when her 2 kids are no longer needing changing equipment!

image

image

image

She LOVES her bag and it got a full seal of approval from hubby, so hurray! And I got to use purse feet which I love, I have no idea why I love them so much! Maybe because they are easy to use, but makes the finished bag look so much more professional, win-win. 🙂

image

I’m kind of jealous of this bag. I think I might have to indulge myself  with something smaller but similar. Even with a three year old you still need a big enough bag to lug the water, snacks, sticker books, cars, trains, change of clothes (he’s a boy, if there’s mud, water or muddy water to be found, he’ll find it)… It’s so easy to get bored of the one you have (ahem, ones you have)… I feel some freebird entering my life very soon 😉

till next time,

Poppy x

ps you can email me at poppy@cuckooblue.co.uk

or visit my flickrstream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/