Hexagon Crazy…

I love quilts. LOVE them. In our house even the dog has a quilt (the only way he’s allowed on the furniture). When my 3 year old is tired or in need of comfort he lies on a sofa and demands and then covers himself in a quilt  – which admittedly almost immediately becomes a tent, a flying carpet, an ice cream van, a snail house in quick succession – but that comforting cosy thought is there… And I love fabric. And squares. So, beautiful fabric, sew up squares, batt, back, quilt and bind. Not quick, but modern and compared to a lot of quilters’ amazing intricate quilts, if not instant gratification then pretty close. Like this one:

Typical of one of mine (on Flickr stream for more views), bright, squares, pleasing to my eye anyway.

Or our quilts which are most in use – dog on TV watching sofa – red, white and blue squares Rural Jardin quilt underneath, Butterscotch and Rose quilt relieved of duty now I’m up and photographing said dog, bit of random home decor fabric for dog’s quilt and high loft batting. He LOVES his quilt. And loves when we let him on the sofa with us. Hairy little rascal.

ANYWAY, so far so good. But suddenly I have been inexplicably thinking about HEXAGONS. Hexagons! Those tiny little 6 sided pieces which are really difficult to sew by machine, so you have to paper piece them. By hand. And then sew them together with tiny stitches. By hand. The shudderingly long process should have me quivering and running for the nearest charm pack to sew together in record time. But maybe it’s the idea of hanging out watching TV, on the sofa next to husband instead of locked away upright at my machine which appeals. I don’t know, and I’ve no idea how long this phase will last. But off I go, into the uncharted territory of English Paper Piecing…

I’m starting with this above picture – paper hexagons, 1” each side, Pretty small. And bigger fabric hexagons, 1.25” each side. you fold two sides of the fabric hexagon round the paper one and do a double stitch at the corner to secure, fold the next side and do another double stitch at the corner all the way round, the knot off.

It all started with the most beautiful vintage hexagon quilt my friend bought from ebay in need of some repair – but I haven’t been able to shake it from my thoughts. I must ask her if she’ll photograph it for me and I’ll post it here. Meanwhile, here is some beautiful hexie quilt inspiration from other (very talented) people’s blogs:

From Blog: http://luannkessi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/hexagon-text-quiltborder-fabric.html

and from quilthaven.co.uk this:

From : http://quilters-haven.co.uk/blog/2013/02/show-and-tell/heaxagon-quilt-2/

And so it begins…

It’s easier than I thought, and more relaxing – it takes almost no effort (once everything is cut out) to sit with a pile of hexagon pieces, fabric, needle and thread and watch TV or continue conversations.

and then you end up with this perfect little hexagon. I think it’s something maybe only a quilter will really adore, you can’t look at a hexagon quilt and not see the work that has gong into it.

And then you hand sew them with tiny stitches to each other:

Some people will outline all these “flowers” with a row or two of white hexagons, called a “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt, but it’s not the look I’m going for, so I’m aiming to have all coloured/ scrappy-looking quilt. I say scrappy looking, but I actually would rather have a coordinated quilt in practice in my home, so I will use collections probably.

They look like this at the back  – but the papers just slip out (notice the middle one?).

I have a die cutter so got a die to cut the hexagons out of printer paper, but you can buy them from ebay sellers for just a couple of pound including p+p and you can reuse them. Some people use “freezer paper” apparently which can be ironed onto the fabric and make it easier to sew round them… may have to try it.

The flowers fit together like this:

and this:

I have chosen the brand new line from Fig Tree Quilts called “Honeysweet”. I love it. I adore so many of their lines – in fact, two of our sofa quilts are from their collections. These fabrics have a vintage feel but with fresh warm colours; they will always be timeless.I thought  at least I wouldn’t tire of making hexagons out of all those different and beautiful colours. But then when I saw this:

… I realised that a whole quilt out of just these in tiny tiny pieces will look  “flat”, like one piece of fabric and certainly not as though it has taken this long to make.

So I have decided to make the hexagons out of several different collections which I love (and actually some of which I have already so it makes sense!) all from Fig Tree Quilts collections. I would have LOVED to have Butterscotch and Rose in there, even though I have an entire quilt made from it, but I can’t find it anywhere – it is an old line. The good news for me is that the wonderfully talented Joanna Figuera who is the designer is prolific producing 2-3 lines for Moda a year!

So… I think I will also choose

Fig and Plum,

Tapestry,

Buttercup,

Avalon

and one or two more. I going to try and keep the collections mostly together but try and work it so they mix nicely, which shouldn’t be too hard as Fig Tree collections often mix nicely. And the yellow/blue collections will be the brighter spots… fingers crossed.

I’ll have plenty of time to work it out though because I want a 60” x 60” ish quilt… which means 1400 HEXAGONS!!!

Oh my giddy aunt. What am I doing?

There is a pretty simple way to machine piece “almost hexagons” – half hexagons they are called, but the pattern gets disrupted in the middle so I’m not keen on the look except from a distance or with solids, or very tiny scale patterns, when it looks great, and very like the real thing. (You can google half hexagon quilts if you want to know more)

So on reflection, I think it’s GAME ON.

50 so far. 1350 to go. better get sewing.

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

ps by the way, if you fancy making your own, here is a fabulous online calculator to work out how many hexies you’ll need (fewer if the hexies are bigger):

http://www.cddesigns.com/PaperPiecing/number.html

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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.

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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!

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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…!

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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 🙂

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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:

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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:

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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

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… 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)

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Coastal “painted planks” from Makower.

Next for his wife:

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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!

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

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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/

All manner of bits and bobs

I haven’t been working on anything too big since my friend’s two bags, which I gave her today – It’s so lovely to see her reaction, she was so thrilled! Particularly with her bag, she loved the size, pockets, shape, purse feet and particularly the fabric – and I gave her a few wee accesories to go with it, which was a nice surprise for her. She really is a darling, it’s hard not to give her more, she’s so appreciative!

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And the accessories – I actually stole the bigger flat zip bag on the left to keep all Kiddo’s wee toys and things for my bag…

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Drawstring bags by the way! They are the business, it’s the cord and toggle that did it for me. I love this one and was tempted to steal it too, but my superego won in the end and did the right thing. My friend was pleased with it, so I guess it was the right thing to do!

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Meanwhile I got some thick insulating batting from my local fabric shop at a good price – like a loon on ecstasy I couldn’t resist it, even though I had no idea what I’d do with it. It is thicker than insulbrite wadding which I’ve used for insulated lunch bags, but it would make rather bulky lunch bags. But tea cosies on the other hand… they are supposed to be thick and, well, cosy. And I had the perfect fabric:

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Then I realised that I never use a tea cosy, and hardly even this tea pot. So it is going to be a present to my friend Caroline, who has an amazing farmhouse cottage in the middle of gorgeous countryside with the most stunning views of the sea… and who insists on using a tea cosy every time – how aspirational is that?! And I seem to remember she has china mugs with exactly this pattern on it. I may become number one friend 😉 She is making me Godmother to her beautiful daughter in August; she gives me a daughter and I give her a teacosy. Not an equal exchange but she will have warm tea.

Next up is a commission from a girl in our village, who bought a travel chalkboard for her little son at the craft fair and got in touch asking for one for a gift. This is for a litttle boy too, so I used some Thomas the Tank Engine fabric I had – it’s a fact that all little boys love Thomas!

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These are great and with ours I roll up some paper and sheets of stickers, and put chalks and coloured pencils in the pouch, so it’s a lightweight but sturdy complete art pack on the go.

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I used a zipper pouch rather than velcro spots as the child is still quite young, and I worried in case the spots came off despite the most superduper glue ever. I think it’s an improvement – and then the hubby said ” I don’t know why you don’t make the pouch as tall as the board, then it will fit full size pencils in too”. Doh! Of course. It is a bit more fabric, but I think it’ll be worth it – I’ll try it next time.

And finally…

My lovely neighbour has had a new grandson. She is a huge fan of handmade, and bought several things from me for him whilst he was still snuggled in his mummy’s tummy, including these two quilts (both detailed in my Flickr stream)

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So I thought I’d make the baby a wee present, this time of some bunting, for his room, maybe on the wall above his cot or above his door:

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Hamish! Isn’t it a sweet name? I can’t wait to meet him 🙂

Well I think I should get some sleep now – we are having the best summer I have ever seen in Scotland – Kiddo and I even paddled through the sea yeasterday and the water was warm! Actually WARM! But all this summer makes you get out and do things all day, and frankly I’m pooped. I tell you, we wouldn’t be a naation of couch potatoes eating deep fried mars bars and goodnaturedly grumping at our lot if summers were like this more often – the country has been transformed! We have builders working in our garden just now who didn’t touch the chocolate biscuits I gave them with their coffee but ate all the fruit! What the??!

🙂

Till 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/