A finally finished postage stamp quilt!

This quilt has been a LONG time in the making!

64″ x 80″ of 2″ scrappy fabric goodness. Worth the wait?

I started it as a Leaders and Enders project. You know, when you have a big box of small pieces next to your sewing machine and you start and end long seams and chain piecing by sewing them together and always leaving a piece under the needle?

Like this above. It stops your machine eating the fabric when you start sewing something together, especially like an HST or corner. And then at some point you realise you have a heap of blocks sewn together – a quilt with hardly any effort!

That was my box of squares – those pictures came from my original blog post when I was making the quilt top and I described that process and Leaders and Enders in more detail. The post is here if you want to see it.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/cuckooblue.co.uk/2016/01/13/postage-stamp-thoughts/amp/

Hee hee, patchwork craziness! It’s not staying on this bed… But it is the first quilt I’ve made that actually covers my king sized bed! The top anyway.

Anyway, 2 years ago I found I had all these 8 patches and I spent a happy relaxing weekend sewing them all together. There’s something so restorative about mindless sewing, especially when vast quantities of interesting fabrics are involved!

But then, gosh, I dunno. 64″ x 80″ is a big quilt and I got put off by the basting. I’m a terrible basting procrastinator. Anyway, I finally plucked up the courage, and guess what? Yep, totally fine. I never learn!

This time I used a new batting by Bosal – called Katahdin Autumn weight. It’s needlepunched 100 % cotton batting, crucially with no scrim. I say crucially because I dislike the polypropylene scrim binder that you get in many battings. It can range from 5% (eg Sew Simple cotton) to 12.5% (Warm & Natural “cotton”). This is a conversation for another day, but suffice to say I almost exclusively now use Quilters Dream battings for this reason, although it’s very expensive in the UK. However this new Katahdin batting came on the market, and I’m impressed! It’s maybe a smidge heavier and less silky than Quilters Dream Cotton (Select weight) but really very good. I will definitely keep using it. Although Quilters Dream Orient will be reserved for my special quilts obviously!

How sweet is this backing? I got it from The Fabric Guild UK at an amazing price. I wish I’d bought the whole roll. I love it. Oh and I did some loopy free motion quilting to soften all those lines of course.

I’ll leave you with my “quilt in the wild” shot – not really so wild; it’s the entrance to the forest next to our house; we were literally opposite our house! But I love the way that firstly my husband looks like he’s been pixelated, and secondly how those majestically tall trees can make an 80″ quilt look like a handkerchief! ❤

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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Scrappy Plus Sign Quilt (- and tutorial)

Gosh – first of all, Happy New Year! I hope this year is a happy and creative one for you all. I’ve been really slack at blogging last year, but I am keeping up regularly on Instagram, so do come and say hello on there if you are an Instagrammer!

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Now and then though, I feel the need for more words than you can put on Instagram, and this quilt calls for one of those times. It isn’t my design, in fact a lot of folk have made a “Low Volume Plus Quilt” before, but since I changed the measurements from what you can find on google to be charm pack friendly, I thought I would include those measurements here.

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I completely love this quilt! The design was first devised by the amazing Ashley of Filminthefridge.com , who took one of the borders of Alexia Abegg’s “Marcelle Medallion” quilt and made it into a quilt all on its beautiful own. You can see hers here; it is a slightly different pattern to mine and different measurements, but a similar effect:

http://filminthefridge.com/2013/04/02/marcelle-plus-quilt/

A scrappy low volume quilt has been on my radar for a few years now; but I realised  that in doing so many fairs and commissions, I had accumulated a great stash, but had had no time to do any of the selfish sewing I had wanted to for a while… suddenly 2016 felt like the right time to try some of those long-awaited projects. Just before Christmas and New Year. Well, the muse strikes when she strikes!

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I had accumulated some low volume fabrics (fabrics which read as neutral or almost white) for the background, but in order to keep it really scrappy looking, I started with a couple of Moda charm packs of a great low volume line – Zen Chic’s Modern Backgrounds Paper. I then topped up with all kinds of low volume fabrics from stash and scraps, including lots of leftover charm squares from other projects. Because of that I had to choose measurements which were as charm pack friendly as possible, and decided on this block:

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Excuse the terrible image! I made it on Word, but then couldn’t work out how to save it as a jpg to insert – ended up taking a photo of it. I’m not going to win any awards for tech any time soon!

Obviously for the bright crosses, you can’t use charm squares – unless I guess you used  five 2.5″ squares of the same colour and increase the scrappiness! That would look cool too.

It’s such an easy block – there are no seams to match, and it is all extremely forgiving. You can likely work it out from the diagram above, but just in case you would like some basic directions for a 50″ x 60″ quilt, here goes:

You will need: 

30 different printed fabrics, size 2.5″ x 11″

120 low volume fabrics, size 2.5″ square (or 30   5″ charm squares, cut into 2.5″ squares)

120 low volume fabrics, cut into 4.5″ squares.

I liked making mine as individual blocks, so that’s how I will describe it, but obviously you could chain piece them all if you like. Sew using 1/4″ seam throughout.

  1. First cut your printed fabric strip into one 6.5″ x 2.5″ piece and two 2.5″ squares.
  2.  Sew a low volume 2.5″ square to each of the printed 2.5″ squares, and both ends of the printed rectangle.20161129_171907
  3. Sew the 4.5″ low volume squares in rows as the  diagram or the photo below:20161129_181342
  4. ~Ta-da! Easy-peasy. The block should measure 10.5″ square and will finish in your quilt at 10″ square. 20161129_184356
  5. Make 30 of these blocks and then sew them into a 5 x 6 grid as shown in the “I’ve just been basted” photo below: 20170105_165253

It goes together so quickly and I loved making those blocks! And I have a new-found obsession with low volume fabrics; me and any new found fabric obsessions are not a good combination for my wallet.. I might need to start doing commissions again! I batted it with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting – an all-natural blend of silk , cotton, tencel and bamboo that quilts, feels and drapes beautifully and quilted it with some free-motion loops, daisies and leaves. I’m going to have to show you some photos:

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And OH MY. Look at that backing. It’s my current favourite print – a grey/navy floral from Tilda’s Memory Lane collection. It is a definite indulgence, but I’m so happy to have a whole quilt back with it. I love the back almost as much as the front! Because the back is so dark, I didn’t want the thread to be too visible in the bobbin. So I used The Bottom Line thread in white by Libby Lehrman for Superior threads – it is a 60wt polyester which has given a beautiful subtle quilting line in my print, not too obvious in the navy but keeping the pink flowers fresh and clean. In the top thread I used one of my favourite cotton threads – Konfetti 50wt Egyptian cotton thread by Wonderfil which doesn’t break in my machine unlike, sadly, Aurifil does. And a size 70 topstitch needle. Thread can make such a difference to a quilt – especially when you don’t want to detract from the prints or busy up the design too much. So important – but I do agonise over it sometimes!

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I’m off to snuggle it, and hopefully also  the wearer of those battered old shoes which you can see below that quilt! Wishing you all a wonderful 2017.

Until the next time, Poppy xx

Fancy Foxes in Liberty!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Heather, Heather, Heather and Veronica:

10 points for getting the 90s film reference!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poppy xx