Pixelated Heart quilt for a New Year Wedding

My friend asked me if I would make a quilt for a lovely couple in their EIGHTIES who are getting a second chance at love. I guess those who are loveable may find love again no matter what their age…

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The Pattern is Pixelated Heart by the amazing Blue Elephant Stitches. I hope the happy couple love this sweet pattern as much as I do!

This is her quilt, made with low volume fabrics instead of white fabrics (I didn’t have the budget for that) – it is utterly stunning!image

You can find her blog and “how to” for this pattern here: http://blueelephantstitches.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/pixelated.html

She is SO talented, seriously you should look at her blog. And so generous – look how she breaks down this quilt for us to make it easier to sew as blocks rather than strips! And she invented the granny squares quilt, which is on my to do list. I love her work.

I had 2 rouenneries Deux charm packs – a beautiful collection from French General for Moda. I cannot get over how much I love French General fabrics, rich yet muted, classic but not old-fashioned, very very French.  I didn’t want to cut too much away from the charms but 5” charms were just going to make too big a quilt (again for budget). So I cut them to 4.5” – this quilt finishes at about 54” square.

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You can see the construction of mine best on this photo (top in progress). Obviously because I was using white fabric rather than low-volume fabrics as contrast, I didn’t need to sew the whole quilt as 4.5” squares, which saved time (another thing I didn’t have). It used 71 printed fabric squares and 40 white squares. I sashed it as above but then decided it needed a border, so I cut the sashing to 2.5” on the sides and 5” top and bottom… image

Then added a 2.5” red border from Rural Jardin which I had in stash. Definitely better.

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Stipple quilted – much as I like to experiment, there are reasons why classic quilting is classic, and I thought for a quilt like this I should go down that route. Had I used low-volume fabrics, straight line quilting would have worked, but I really think something as simple as this needs texture from the free-motion line, don’t you?

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Just LOOK at those scrumptious fabrics. It makes me want to go eat strawberry cream patisserie. New Year. Must. Resist.

What I really like about this is the size, the fabrics and colours, but mostly the fact that although it’s a heart, it’s not too cheesy – and when you fold it up or use it, it looks like a pretty patchwork quilt; it’s only when you spread it out and look from a distance that you see what it is. Perfect for a wedding gift for this loved-up pair apparently. Ahhhh.

Argghh, can’t seem to get this picture to orient the right way. Tilt your head to the right to see what it looks like draped over a box, and you’ll see what I mean about not knowing it’s a heart.

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Quilted with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting.

Things I don’t like about the quilt:

1. There is not quite enough white space aroung the heart. This was a budget / size thing for the backing and batting.

2. Budgetary concerns meant it has a plain white backing – it’s perfectly nice, but not as wonderful as it could have been and what the fabrics deserved.

3. It’s not for our house. Aye, there’s the rub. This quilt is designed and made for the happy couple but I don’t actually know the octogenerians in love, although I would like to. But the idea of a quilt in their new home signifying their love made me think about the pillowcases I’ve been meaning to make for my own son for ages. About how when I joked that a tiny baby quilt I was making was for him, he was actually disappointed that it wasn’t (even though it was tiny and completely unlike his tastes, I thought he would laugh!). It has shown me that I need to clear the decks and do selfish sewing for the next 6 months; make all those things for us that I need to, sew new buttons onto my coat etc. When you decide to sell a few things to fund your hobby, it seems that  hobby can inadvertantly grow legs, arms, and heat-seeking missiles and take over your life when it wasn’t supposed to. I guess everyone assumes you want to make a living from it eventually, so think they’re being helpful by recommending you etc – and whilst it’s SO flattering and lovely, you have to be careful. Particularly with deadlines when you’re well overdue making pillowcases with stars and trucks on. If you made a living from your hobby, it wouldn’t be a hobby would it? I definitely need to learn to say no for a while! Sometimes.

Oooh a random outburst. Must be New Year 😉

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And with that, may your 2015 be productive, happy and creative. May we all learn to say “no” once in a while.

’til the next time,

Poppy

xx

Wedding Quilts and Guilty Quilty Musings…

I’ve had to give up this quilt in a hurry, and have only just looked at the hurriedly taken photos and I tell you, they JUST DON’T do this thing justice.

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Is it showing up better closer up?

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So my neighbour, the one I made this quilt for (Rural Jardin by French General for Moda):

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…loves hers so much that she asked me if I would make a throw for her  son’s friend’s wedding. Her next door neighbour’s son actually – they grew up together, and of course my neighbour loves him as though he is her nephew. I know I’ve been quilting lots lately, but I thought I could fit another in especially I’m very very fond of said neighbour of mine.

So after going through some ideas – modern, bright, mixed with white, patterned, traditional… She decided she wanted an “heirloom” quilt – something that would grow with them, not bright or modern. We chose “etchings”, which I had used for my brother’s housewarming quilt here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/52416558284/in-love-with-my-machine

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I really thought it was the right one, the little Parisian street maps and blueprints making it quirky but amongst classic prints, the colour palette which fits in anywhere. The fabrics by 3 sisters are remarkably soft and almost luminous yet always so classic. Ordered it. Brandished my rotary cutters with determination ready to cut it – and stopped. It just felt wrong. I think the couple are young, they don’t have a fancypants house like my brother (the Hubster and I are definitely the poor relations!) and I couldn’t see them using it as a picnic blanket or letting their first baby puke on it whilst he tried to fit all his toes in his own mouth as babies are wont to do.

Panic as the deadline was days away. No time to order new fabric. Looked around my fabric laden room – and my eyes settled on these.

Vintage Summer by Little Yellow Bicycle for Blend fabrics. And my heart sank a little bit.image

Sank because I KNEW these were the right ones. I had bought them originally for my brother until I saw their very grown up house and decided against. Sank because I had been saving them for almost 2 years for something special and never used them. And here today was the day. For folk I didn’t know. And yet who else just now would they suit this well?

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I should have taken better photos, because I can’t tell you how much I love this quilt. The colours are so vibrant, the patterns are cool, fresh, arty, fun, classic and timeless all at the same time. The fabrics are really soft, and because backed it with a grey print from 3 sisters which are always supersoft, and batted it with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient – a mixture of bamboo, silk, tencel and cotton, it has a beatiful softness and drape.

This is the most beautiful quilt I have ever made. In my opinion. Even the Hubster said “wow, that’s a NICE quilt.”

And so began 24 hours of incredibly selfish quilty guilty musings. 

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Can I really bear to let it go?

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WIll this couple (whom I don’t know) really love it as much as I do?

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Should I have really used up these fabrics on a commission?

The answer is I’m not sure how I will resolve my own selfish feelings of loss, but I do think it makes the perfect wedding gift for a young couple – classic enough to have as a sofa or bed throw but informal and pretty enough to use as a picnic or beach quilt and lovely for a first baby to discover their fingers and toes on or learn to roll over on, machine washable, full of beautiful comfort and practicality.image

Check out my embroidery! This is a most rare occurence and took ages, but I rather like it. The labels are by Riley Blake – they make a full panel of rather nice labels in 3 colourways, which was much nicer than doing my own.

And then I took it over to my neighbour tonight who was so thrilled. She is a huge fan of handmade and my quilts and fell in love, saying she almost didn’t want to give it away… a sentiment I told her I understood! But she assured me of how highly she thinks of this couple, how much they appreciate attractive, quality things, how much she thinks they will love the quilt. And I walked away feeling happier that it would be loved and go to a good home.

This collection is difficult to find now, but they did a “cheater” print – a patchwork print of all the fabrics, a bit of which is worked into the finished quilt actually and looked pretty convincing. So how did I muster up the strength to walk across the road and hand the quilt over today? By rising above my selfishness of course. And because this piece of loveliness arrived through the post today 😉

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Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Wee Wednesday

Wee make day today!

I’ve been busy! 5 cute zip purses for my friend’s children and cousins:

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Fabrics: Tortoises by Dashwood Studios, tossed mini owls in pink by Timeless Treasures, Main Forla pink from Madhuri collection by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, Baby bunting in grey from Reunion by Sweetwater for Moda, Bottle caps in multi from Going Coastal by Emily Herrick.

These are great for little pockets or school bags; and in different fabrics, I love them for jeans on a girlie night out, perfect for a card and some cash without spoiling the line of your beautiful figure  – because all figures are beautiful except when they have a big bulge in the pocket…

In fact here are a couple that might be more suitable for grown ups:

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The news has been so tense and somewhat depressing in Scotland recently, that I decided to have a giveaway to my facebook friends – 4 people picked from anyone who posted something positive got one of these. It was actually really fun, and lovely to send them off today! If I ever launch a Cuckooblue Facebook page I’m definitely doing giveaways. They might make you out of pocket, but they do cheer your day immensely!

Toiletry bag and purse fabric is from Riley Blake’s Sidewalks, Blue Paisley from Delilah by Tanya Whelan. All lightly padded with pretty linings of course:

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I use stripes for lining the boys’ money pouches (they don’t have purses of course!), but they also make very smart exteriors:

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Harris Tweed Toiletry bag for my friend’s 40th. It is lined with a stiff natural canvas with such a tight weave that it is waterproof. Waterproof is important becasue Harris Tweed should really be dry-cleaned. It makes it lovely and sturdy:

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And finally, for my friend’s daughter’s 8th birthday:

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It only has some iron-on interfacing, and no hardware (buckles etc), which keeps it nice and light, perfect for the slip of a girl that she is. The tie top makes it great for adjusting as she grows too, and means she can use it cross-body or over her shoulder. I forgot to measure but it can only be about 10” across. In fact I also made one at the same time for another friend’s daughter’s 5th birthday who needs a wheelchair, and I thought she could tie it to her chair, or round her waist, whtever was easiest. This is actually that one as it has a magnetic snap for ease of access for a little one – the other has a zip closure.

I based it on this tutorial which I had used when I first started sewing bags and wasn’t designing my own, just because I still had the template from all those years ago – I made it smaller and pieced the straps to avoid cutting so much fabric, but it’s otherwise the same: 

http://tinyhappy.typepad.com/tiny_happy/2006/06/shoulder_bag_tu.html

Phew, there is more, but how many purses and washbags can you look at, pretty fabric or not? And I made a quilt for a little boy – which I LOVE… but will show you another day.

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by! Hope your creative muse is inspiring you and that you’re having fun whatever you’re up to.

‘Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Quilting tools and a French finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time, Poppy xx

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Craig.

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

Quick method to make 4 HSTs from 2 charm squares:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

*Edited*

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

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

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

A Little Liberty

A quick post today for a wee blanket – but no less pretty for being small! Well how can it not be pretty, when it’s made with Liberty Of London fabrics? Liberty Tana Lawn is the softest, most feminine cotton fabic ever. And the prints are gorgeous, usually floral, and always exquisite. My good friend is having baby daughter number 3 very soon, and she has lots of my quilts in her house. Loved and used though they all are, she really has enough quilts for the littlest one to roll around on – and she won’t be rolling around fo a few months! So I decided to use my precious little stash of Liberty (“little” because it is so expensive!) and make her a blanket.

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It’s just basic patchwork squares as you can see; not only is it my favourite, despite enjoying doing some more taxing patterns lately (more in future posts!), but it feels wrong to cut up Liberty any more than  you have to. Besides, I don’t have enough of the fabric to cope with more seams and still be big enough to use! it’s 30 x 5” squares sewn together.

I just backed it in a beautiful soft cuddle fleece I got at my local quilt shop (Fabrication in Haddington) at a great price, and didn’t put any batting in between. The fleece was a real pain to work with – although I only remembered to use a walking foot after I had begun, so the fleece did stretch and misbehave, and the blanket isn’t perfect. However, it’s not too noticeable, and it is soooo soft and cuddly, perfect for the pram, car, or just a snuggler!

I used perle cotton to hand quilt round the edge:image

and aurifil gold thread to handquilt lightly along the vertical seams

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The light handquilting (and ahem, imperfections due to the fleece troubles) gives it a “homespun look”, which I don’t normally do, but I actually think it’s really sweet – traditional and lovely for a new baby. i know my friend will love it – she’s worth using the Liberty for, not only because I love her dearly, but also because she has such lovely taste, I know she’ll appreciate it!

I’m rather in love with LIberty after this little blanket – I need to do some saving up and see if I can make myself a quilt. Eeeek. I’d have to save up a lot – but oh, it would be so loved!

Hope you’re all having a fun weekend whatever you’re up to,

till the next time,

Poppy xx