Quilted to life: Tilda Stems Quilt

I have never done so much “custom” quilting on a quilt before – and never been so proud of a quilt! I’m amazed at the difference it’s made to what was originally an “it’s quite nice” quilt top. And I’m amazed at what our domestic quilting machines can do!

This started life 8 months ago, having spent a sweet but somewhat tedious few weeks sewing up zillions of cushions for kiddo’s school library, I had that sudden urge to make something more complex. You know the way that you find yourself suddenly making something unplanned just for the joy of it? Totally normal right? I really don’t care what the bank manager says. ๐Ÿ˜œ

I had had the “Stems” quilt pattern from Fig Tree and co on my to-make list for a long time, and a Tilda fat quarter bundle of both Memory Lane and Cabbage Rose lines. I still absolutely love these fabrics, rich but so pretty. So without thinking too hard, I just started… And immediately turned to Instagram for help!

Most folk chose the green dotty (would you have?). I wonder how different it would have been with the charcoal!The pattern is great, very easy and lends itself well to chain piecing, so it came together quickly.

You know… I quite like this, but I still wish I had put a wider inner white border. If I do this again, I definitely will. As a result I didn’t love it immediately. Good size though – 53″ x 68″ and since it was such a spontaneous project, there was something freeing about not having invested hopes and planning into it.

Anyway I had other projects to do, so I put it aside for a few months until a few months later…

When I decided to quilt it – with feathers! The first feathers I’ve done on an actual quilt! Not actually that difficult and to be honest I thought they were ugly whilst I was doing them! I love them now, it goes to show that you can be too close whilst you’re quilting, give yourself a break ๐Ÿ˜„ Quilting always looks better when it’s done.

See? Not perfect, but overall ๐Ÿ˜ I used Wonderfil Konfetti 50wt cotton thread in white.Then it hung around for some more months, until I worked out what to do in the petal sections. A stipple? Loopy meander? In the end I decided I needed a hand project and went for some big stitch hand quilting.

I tried pink and white thread but the black won, as it stands out strongly up close, and gently from any distance. I used Spagetti thread, a lovely silky 12 weight double gassed for low lint, non glazed, non twisted thread. Good value too!

Some folk find quilting through the the layers of quilt top, batting and backing difficult, and many resort to doing one stitch at a time or giving up. The technique of hand quilting is different from the running stitch action if you want to go quickly and load several stitches at once. There are a number of ways to do it, including using a hoop which I sometimes do. I put some videos on my Instagram , @cuckooblue :

It’s easier at the edge as you can put your supporting thumb on the top of the quilt. The quilting videos on my Instagram have explanations of how to quilt like this through the layers.The needle “rocking” is key to getting stitches forming at the back (ie going through all the layers). Rock your needle! ๐Ÿ™Œ ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Finished! Except for the borders, which again waited a few months whilst I pondered. I decided to quilt a leafy vine on the inner border and a flower and petal design in the dark blue border. The latter doesn’t show up in photos but it’s a lovely surprise up close!

Can you see? There are quilting videos on my Instagram page (@cuckooblue) but I took a video of me explaining how to do the border quilting if you’re interested:

Finally finished the binding last night and I’m so thrilled and, I don’t mind admitting, quite proud! Let’s allow ourselves to be proud of ourselves now and then, although I know being humble comes more naturally to most of us โค๐Ÿ™‚

Stats: 53″x 68″

Pattern: Stems by Fig Tree and co, plus an added 4.5″ border.

Fabric Memory Lane and Cabbage Rose by TildaQuilters Dream Orient batting

Quilted on domestic (but fancy) machine Janome 8200mcp with Wonderfil Konfetti cotton thread

Hand quilted with Spagetti 12wt cotton thread in black.

The transforming effect of quilting! Up close it’s so much more noticeable. Sewing really is our superpower!

Hope you’re all having a lovely Spring! As you can see from the picture above, Scotland is blessing our Easter Sunday with sunshine, for which we’re most grateful! Till the next time,Poppy xx

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Tug boat cushion for a little boy

My craft fair went amazingly well, I’m so thrilled! In fairness, the tiny school PTA had asked a variety of wonderful craftspeople to come, and had used social media brilliantly to advertise and people came with money and expecting to buy stuff, which was great, none of that “expecting something for nothing”, not that my products are expensive as I’m only trying to fund my crazy sewing habit. Almost everything sold, the cushions and liberty pouches proving very popular. I had another commission though which I’ve just finished:

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Angus’ mother lives in Australia but her mother lives locally, so after seeing the caravan cushions (in the last post) on facebook, she got her mother to come and buy three for her daughters! But then begged for one for her son, so here it is.

This photograph on google was the inspiration for this little boat (http://www.berkeley-engineering.com/CanduE-Z.html) :

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The stars fabrics are local shop basics, but designer ones are: Boat cabin is polka dots in Navy by Makower, boat stripe fabric is from Pirate Matey by Riley Blake, Flag is from Space from Makower, First full flag is from Going Coastal by Emily Herrick and the third one is also from Pirate Matey from Riley Blake.

I really hope she likes it. I wonder if I should have made the little tug a tiny bit smaller – if I make it again I think I will do that.

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Raw-edge applique is a fun and quite easy technique, where the black thread looks like a child’s drawing and adds a whimsical air. If anything I struggle not to be too neat! I probably should have been less neat here. I think if you do free-motion quilting it’s pretty straightforward. Even writing with the machine was fine – I’m not saying it’s perfect but it’s fine enough I think. One thing I found was that unlike with free-motion quilting, I had more control doing this WITHOUT dropping my feed dogs. Just in case anyone else struggles a bit with their line sometimes and that rattatat-tat of the needle going so fast and all over the place!

These were the other caravan cushions she chose (the three on the right):

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It has been reallly fun to make pictures with fabric – not something I do much of. I might need to do a bit more experimenting!

Well, a few more things to sew up – it’s always so difficult to say no!) and then a well needed rest for me I think!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Liberty, birds and a whole lot of sewing…

Hello lovely folk of the aesthetically beautiful tastes! It’s been AGES – sorry about that. I’ve been a bit overcommitted of late. And I’m going to try for a short post today (! yeah… good luck with that, delusional self) and just show you this:

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Liberty scraps and natural linen zippered pouch, measures 6” x 4”. Actually it’s a linen cotton mix, but it’s darned near perfect, nice fine weave and a good weight.

I freemotion embroidered the branch and raw edge appliqued on the hummingbird with black thread, and actually really like the result, yay! It’s supposed to be a hummingbird, at least I copied the silhouette from a photo of a hummingbird, so let’s go with that even if my needle-drawing isn’t going to satisfy any twitchers on here… I’m hoping it will hold with just one stitching line – it’s so delicate that 2 lines would overpower the image I thought. I used steam-a-seam II to secure the applique first which is as much as I think I can do – so much stronger than wonder-under.

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A pretty polka dot lining – I got this from my local fabric shop and adore it! It’s a sage green, not as khaki as it looks on my computer… and at half the price of designer cotton, I love it even more. I always include a layer of batting for strength and structure too.

I made it for a craft fair – I know I say I never do them except for the annual village fair, but made an exception this year because it is in aid of a tiny rural village school where my son went to nursery when he was too freaked out to settle in our own bigger village nursery. I have talked before about what they meant to us as a family https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude , and have committed to continuing to support them. So it’s been sewing chaos in the last 2 weeks (yes, I started late…).

Oh go on then, I’ve already failed at keeping this short!

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Some toiletry bags – large and small. The large are big enough to hold all my daily cosmetics, creams, deoderant, nail varnish, hair bands, eyelash curlers (I used to use them every day before becoming a mother… now they mostly sit there in a pretty washbag!) etc, the small are travel sized, or perfect for children.

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Pencilcase style bag organisers for lippy/ keys/ whatever – or just as pencilcases! This designs are more kid pencilcases, hold on I’ll see if I can find a more grown up picture:

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Very grown up! There are matching zip purses too amongst this lot:

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….er, actually there are not. But there will be. Probably.

And whilst we are doing a wee bit of the free-motion embroidery:

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The ubiquitous caravan and bunting cushion. Yes I know everyone in the world with a sewing machine who wants to try this technique starts with this scene – but hey, why not? It’s fun, cute and nice simple shapes. I made 3 in a different colours and a VW campervan too. I mostly used scraps except for that polka dot fabric again – see the pink too? Isn’t it lovely? Scrap busting is satisfying but man it takes TIME. Finding the right size, matching colours, ironing the wrinkles out because you have stored them badly… I really need to find a way of using scraps more efficiently because I’m bad at it. And you can imagine I make a lot of scrap…!

Well, I had no business writing to you, as I still have so much to do and so little time before Saturday and the Market! Still it’s nice to share some sewing goodness with like-minded folk. Hope your creative muse is inspiring you too – pre christmas sewing/ crafting/ browsing/ buying? Enjoy whatever you’re doing.

’till the next time, Poppy xx

Free motion embroidery fun – A Bird Cushion

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A year ago little Emily was born, and I made her a quilt in Sophie by Chez Moi for Moda. In fact here it is, hurriedly photographed on our uninspiring then-driveway before bundling into the car to go meet the new wee princess:ย 

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You are just going to have to trust me that it’s very sweet when next to a baby instead of thrown over a chair on a driveway

Anyway, she’s one all of a sudden. Yeah, I did mention it was a year ago, but you wouldn’t believe how fast that year has gone, not to mention I am in denial that time is passing this quickly, whatever my grey hairs are saying. And I rather suddenly needed to think up a present. I can’t tell you how much I love this wee girl, she’s just too adorable for words, so I felt like making something special.

Having decided on a freemotion embroidery cushion, I looked to the web for inspiration, feeling too short of time to think up a design – and saw this beautiful cushion which I shamelessly copied (well a little shame, but isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?)

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It looks like it is made by a German artist, but couldn’t find her name. The link is here; she seems to have a shop of other lovely things:

http://de.dawanda.com/product/33525229-Kissenhuelle-Sommerbrise-40x40cm

It’s been years since I did any freemotion embroidery (I did some bags with birds on very similar to the above and sold them for charity), so wanted simple but effective.

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I had a 26” x 26” cushion inner from Ikea – these are a great size for a reading pillow in bed by the way – and another moda charm pack in sophie, to match Emily’s baby quilt.

I cut a 17” square piece of white fabricย  and chose some charms to cut into 2.5” squares, which I used to cut into the bunting flags. One charm square for the little bird, a scrap for the wing and a scrap of black felt for the dot of the eye. I used wonderweb to fuse the pieces to the fabric and then rougly outlined everything on the machine a couple of times using black thread. Trying to be imprecise goes a bit against the grain, but it was fun, and gave it a “drawn on” effect (as it should be apparently).

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Then I sewed two strips of 4 charms with 1/4” seam allowance, centred it, sewed to opposite sides of the picture and trimmed the excess. Next I sewed two strips of 6 charms and did the same to complete the “frame”.

I added Emily’s name in pink – I used an alphabet die in my BigShot with Steam-a-seam2 fusible web, but could have printed theย  “emily” in Times New Roman font as big as would make the letters about 2” tall, traced it onto the Steam-a-seam2 BACKWARDS, ironed it onto my fabric and cut it out. A bit faffy but worth it. I hand stitched round to secure so as not to lose the neat lines.

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This is the finished cushion cover lying on my rather rumpled bed. No idea when I will learn to stage my photographs. Although you can’t see in this picture, I backed the front with 100% cotton batting and quilted a straight line round the inside of the big white square 1/4” away from the edge of the charms, and another line all the way round but this time within the charm “frame”. If that makes sense. It’s just to secure it anyway. An envelope back using a pretty wildflower print:

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And it was all done. It looks quite pretty on the little sofa in the corner of my bedroom. Who says pretty bird pictures are just for little girls? Good thing for her that it has “emily” well and truly stitched on.

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ย And the reaction? Emily’s mum loved it. Ooohs and ahhhs from the other mums. Emily toddled off precariously to empty the contents of aย  kitchen cupboard onto the floor, pretty much oblivious. Emily’s 4 year old big brother said “But it’s the wrong ‘E’”.

“It’s art,” I said. “It’s modern”.

“It’s wrong,” he said, and busied himself playing with one of Emily’s OTHER, not-wrong gifts. Pah. I’m going to spell his name wrong when I make him one.

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Till the next time,

Poppy xx