Starflower chain quilt – finally finished!

Do you have a quilt top drawer? What am I saying! If you answer yes to “Have you quilted for more than 3 years”, then you’ll know all about the quilt top drawer. I don’t know why some tops just   get put off the big finish; you lose love for the fabrics, you have other more pressing projects to a deadline, you feel it needs a bit more added. But look what happens if you open that drawer now and then:

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Look at that! My Starflower Chain quilt from… ughhh, February 2014. Eeek. At least that’s when I did the tutorial here, using 3 charm packs and a fat quarter:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2014/02/21/starflowers-chain-quilt-charm-pack-busting-hst/

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Somehow I couldn’t find a reason to quilt this quilt before; it’s 61″ square so too big for a baby quilt, all the wrong colours for my house, too girly for my son, too pink & fancy for a picnic quilt for our boy-heavy family. And then I heard of Siblings Together.

Turns out that children placed in the UK foster care system are often separated from their siblings. I understand that it’s difficult to take in several children, but how awful for these kids. Anyway Siblings Together is a charity which puts on camps for these kids to get to spend time with their siblings. And some amazing quilters are leading the drive to make a quilt for each child to keep as a reminder of their time at camp. And I decided that this quilt top finally had purpose! You can read more here about the quilt and block drive here:

http://siblingstogetherquiltgroup.blogspot.co.uk/p/siblin.html?m=1

I pieced a back:

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..using some of my favourite warm fabrics. I love the back! Almost more than the front.

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I just stipple quilted it this time, it feels like an awfully long time since I stippled… It’s because I got a half-board of a new batting – EQS Sew Simple 100% cotton LIGHT batting, without scrim. I like Sew Simple and it is much cheaper than my absolute favourite Quilter’s Dream batting – but it usually has scrim, and I worry about that tiny bit of polyester melting in the event of a fire. Probably overkill I know but you have to do what you feel is right for you. Anyway this new scrimless batting has to be quilted less than 4″ apart, so the easiest way for me is to stipple. It quilted nicely by the way, although I had felt it was too thin when I first opened it out; the finished quilt has a nice drape and softness. It is probably more lightweight (cooler) than Quilter’s Dream cotton though (and Warm & Natural which is actually 12.5% polypropylene).

As it happens I also made a couple of blocks for the quilt as you go block drive. They are asking for this pattern and have a tutorial on the blog here:

http://siblingstogetherquiltgroup.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/block-drive-for-siblings-together.html?m=1

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And the amazing Nicky of mrsssewandsow.blogspot.co.uk is putting all these blocks together that quilters send in to make more quilts! Some people are really special. She’s a very talented quilter too. That second photo of my blocks is hers by the way, from her Instagram.

Anyway it feels really good that this neglected wee quilt top will go to a little girl who will hopefully get pleasure and comfort from it for many years to come.  If you fancy donating a quilt block, top, back, fabric, time or skill to this informal amazing kind gang of online quilters all over the country and elsewhere, then do check out the siblings together quilt blog (or the original siblings together site if you want to know more about the charity and camps).

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Ahhh, the evening sun as a WIP becomes a finished quilt. Quilter’s bliss.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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A Quilt Quartet

I ran this one up yesterday thinking I really should have a quilt on show at least at this craft fair – which is only TOMORROW by the very way! I must say I have fallen a little bit in love with it myself.

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It is my favourite “child-size” quilt – two charm packs sewn up and bordered with white. 42” x 51” Quick, but when it’s such a beautiful collection as High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda so very pretty. And big enough to be useful even as an adult. If you can be bothered to look back through my previous posts, you’ll see 2 other quilts made with this collection, both teamed with white. I had utterly fallen in love with the collection on paper and when it arrived, but haven’t really loved the other quilts / quilt tops I made with it. Now I know why, it needs to be a collection together with no chopping it up, no mixing it with white or anything else. Just bliss. I’m regretting using all my stash in the other quilts when i just want more of this!

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Cotton batting, stipple quilting (in all these quilts). This quilt was wonderful to quilt – partly because the collection gave me such joy,  partly because I remembered about my quilting table and fixed it on, and partly becasue I got myself some quilting gloves, and something called a sew-slip. The quilting gloves made a huge difference. I’ll tell you about it another time because I’m on a schedule – did I say it’s my craft fair tomorrow?

I said a quartet – I finished some WIPs, binding etc, for the fair, so i thought I’d include them here.

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This one is California Girl by the wonderful Fig Tree Quilts for Moda. Soft, beautiful, feminine, but so delicate that photos don’t do it justice – and direct sunlight washes out the colour on a picture (yes, spring is springing in Scotland!). I added the white squares to give it a bit of sparkle, and I really like the effect, otherwise it seems a bit too “shabby chic” for a baby. Cotton everything, stippled, 36” x 36”, a pram size or small baby mat.

This next one is the same collection. I really fell hard for it, and loved it when I got it – but made this little baby quilt last year (or maybe 2 years ago??), using the amazing “charm pack baby quilt by Elizabeth Fransson on “sew mama sew”. I love the pattern, but I think this collection is too delicate to be miixed with white.

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So I kind of lost my California Girl mojo, but having seen the first little pram quilt again, I might make up my remaining fabric into a bigger quilt, like the High Street one at the top of this page. It is beautiful, just not as “out there”.

And finally, this quilt.

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This is hard to part with. My mother has completely opposite home decor taste to me – she likes white, minimalism, and everything is beautifully spic and span. I like her house, but I know our won’t be like hers. I felt her living room could do with a little colour, and thought a sofa throw might be acceptable to her if it was pretty much all white, with a little strong colour (she like bright colours). This is Dena Designs fabric and white – I have forgotten which collection, I might google it. It is backed in white, and bound in fuschia, and I really like it, although white doesn’t work in our house. It has wool batting which makes it lovely, snuggly and warm. 45” x 51”

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But much as she loves my work and is appreciative, she’s just not going to go with throws in her house. So she has returned it saying someone else will use it and love it, and I should put it into the fair. Slightly sad, but she’s right. Luckily my good friend happened to be here when my mum came round with it, and stright away asked if she could buy it (she is also a sewist, how flattering) – SOLD to the lovely lady who will give it a good home 🙂

I’ll finish with yet another picture of my favourite! Such lovely lovely vibrant yet feminine colours!

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Less feminine are those size 10 feet!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

PS. please check out my previous post if you want to see the things I have made for the craft fair – leftovers may get put onto this blog for sale if I ever get my act together! https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/82041667739/a-week-of-sewing-like-a-madwoman-i-feel-a-craft-fair

Starflowers Chain Quilt … charm pack busting HST pattern/ tutorial #1

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I have soooo many charm packs! I think it’s my quilty pleasure (boom!). 42 x 5” coordinating fabric squares, anyone? Oh, I think so. Although they are not cheap in the UK, they feel affordable if you are only getting one at a time. The problem is you can’t do an awful lot with just one on its own – you could make a baby blanket for a newborn, but that’s about it. Mix it with white and you have a small quilt, perfect for a young toddler, but not really big enough after the age of about 2 or 3. Now 2 charm packs is a different matter. I love sewing them together, putting a white 3” border on and making a traditional patchwork child sized quilt, which is actually still big enough (52” x 43”) for a throw on the sofa, something to put down on the grass for one adult to sit on, or a student take to college or university. And I’ve made lots of those and will likely make lots more. Still, not exactly BIG.

And I thought I should try and do something more exciting – I appreciate that to some the term exciting might be stretched in the context of sewing bits of fabric together, but in the context of knowing I’m amongst like-minded friends, I’ll just keep that word in. So I’ve made 2 quilt tops so far, each using charm packs to try and be a bigger sized quilt. This first one (above) is a starflower quilt made in High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda; I’ll tell you about the other one another time!

It was inspired by this lovely quilt, but I wanted it smaller, and also decided to break up the stars. Each block takes 8 charm squares regardless, so a 9 block quilt would be 72 squares whether you do all stars or add the “chain”. image

You can see this quilt and more of Michelle’s work here: http://cityhousestudio.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-quilts.html?m=1  . She’s really talented.

My quilt is quite simple in construction, but in case you wanted a few directions, I’ve given a few instructions.

This is the first block – block A:

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It’s straightforward, but you can’t take any shortcuts with the half square triangles – you have to slice the charm squares in half diagonally and sew them back together, making sure not to stretch the bias edges. There aren’t too many in this quilt, so it’s not too much of a pain. Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance throughout.

For block A you need:

  • 8 x 5” different coloured charm squares, cut in half along the diagonal to make a “charm triangle”
  • 4 x 5” white squares cut in half along the diagonal to make a “white triangle”
  • 4 x 4.5” white fabric squares
  1. Each charm square gives you 2 charm triangles. Sew one of these to a white triangle along the long diagonal edge. Carry on with the different colours until you have 8 different charm triangles sewn to a white triangle. When you press these open, you have 8 different HSTs, a colour on one half and white on the other.
  2. Then sew your remaining charm triangles together in pairs and press open to make 4 HSTs with a different colour on each half.
  3. Trim all your HSTs to 4.5” square.
  4. lie them out in the above arrangement, putting a 4.5” white square in the corners to complete the block.
  5. sew together into rows and then sew the rows together to make a block.
  6. Block A finishes at 16” square: you need 5 of these blocks.

This is Block B:

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For block B you need:

  • 8 x charm squares, cut to be 4.5” square
  • 4 x white rectangles, each measuring 4.5” x 8.5”
  1. Sew 4 charms into a four-patch. Next sew the long edge of a white rectangle on each side of your 4-patch. Put this aside.
  2. Take one white rectangle and sew a charm square onto each of the short sides of the rectangle. Do this with the remaining white rectangle.
  3. Put the rows together as shown in the photo and sew together.

Lie your blocks out on the floor in three rows of 2 blocks, starting with Block A and alternating them . Sew the rows together:

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And ta-da! Easy. This is it at 48” square. I do think it would be really lovely made as 16 blocks, and/or made with smaller HSTs.

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I’d originally meant to finish here and put a white border on using 2.5” strips of white, intending to bind with something bright and coordinating, probably a deep pink. That would have made a 52” square quilt using 72 charm squares… and mission acomplished – a decent sized lap quilt using fewer than 2 charm packs. The other 12 charms could even have been used as a strip down the back.

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But in the end I went all out and decided to add a piano keys border to make a larger lap quilt, one which could be used on the beach or as a picnic rug, as well as a sofa quilt or extra layer on a single bed. Partly because I impulsively bought several charm packs in this line and have a male dominated household, not to mention a country-style house interior which is better suited to muted colours and beiges rather than white and brights, so I need to use them up. And partly because although I enjoyed making this, I am likely to stick to my favoured simple patchwork squares. Bah, traditionalist. So I wanted to see it dressed properly this time!

For the piano keys border I used all my 12 remaining charms AND another charm pack… and about another 6 squares, which REALLY annoyed me. I would have liked it to be exactly 3 charm packs… but it would have only worked out if I had omitted the white border round the quilt centre like this (not stitched together, just laid out):

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I like it. But the Hubster started droning on about negative space being important in design… yadayadayada. He has no concept of running out of fabric. Although he did go on to say it looked as though I ran out of fabric. Drat it all.

So… Piano keys border

– using your remaining 12 charm squares, another charm pack AND 6 more charm squares cut from a fat quarter/stash/layer cake…

  1. First, if using, add a border round your starflower chain quilt, using 2.5” strips of white. Sew a strip to 2 opposite sides of the quilt first and then add the remaining 2 sides.
  2. Cut your charm squares in half, sew together lengthways until you have about 30 in each strip. I chain pieced, sewing them all into pairs, then the pairs into fours, then into eights etc. but others may prefer to just keep adding one to their strip. image
  3. Press all the seams in one direction. Sew a strip to one edge of your quilt and another to the opposite edge, checking first that it’s long enough! Trim the excess. Then add the other two strips on the other sides of the quilt – again check first it’s long enough and add more “keys” if necessary before you sew it on). How folk do the maths for fancy cornerstones, I have no idea.

…And finished! One starflower chain quilt top measuring 61” square from 3 charm packs (+ a fat quarter) and some white fabric (about 2 yards with some spare). Or a 51” square one using 2 charm packs, if you are going to be a stickler for original missions 😉

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It was so windy today in Scotland, this was the best picture I could get! But at least it’s not raining, so you can kind of see the colours in this lovely collection by Lily Ashbury. Now just to back, baste, quilt and bind. But not today! Enjoy your day/night/evening whatever you’re doing lovely peeps,

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

A new cosy quilt for a brand new baby

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My good friend has a brand new baby girl, and I thought I would use the beautiful High Street collection by Lily Ashbury for Moda to make a baby quilt (I’ve lusted after it for months!!). This is it in progress, just the quilt top, on the ever-ready-but-never-for-clothes ironing board.

It’s a pretty straightforward pattern – it’s just a charm pack with white sashing (1.5” strips, making 1” sashing when finished).

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These are the charm squares sewed in strips of seven with white sashing in between. I always forget to pick out 6 charms for the ends of the strips to which you don’t need to sew 5”x1.5” white strips – but not this time! Hurrah. I actually toyed with the idea I was getting good at this… that brief feeling of smugness didn’t last…

Meanwhile – aren’t the fabrics great? Bright, pretty, fresh, modern but with a slight ethnicity to them which I can’t quite place.

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And quilted up, with a stipple pattern, slightly bigger than I’d normally go because of the high loft batting. I like the way stippling breaks up the squares. One day I’m going to do some loop-de-loop quilting on a whole baby quilt, I love the look but haven’t been brave enough to stray from what I know best on a whole quilt!

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I’ve used fire retardant high loft polyester batting – it gives it a nice puffiness which is perfect for baby quilts. Although I’d rather go for natural low loft cotton batting for quilts, as that’s the look and feel I really love, I’ve decided that because it’s not recommended to use quilts in babies under 1 year, a small quilt like this (43” x 38.5”) is most useful with some puffiness and loft as a clean absorbable, bright cosy playmat or tummy time/ nappy off time  mat, good inside on hard or dirty floors or outside even on slightly damp grass which is used later as a snuggly blanket for reading etc. I throw them in the washine machine and they come up like new. I’ll need to find some sun to photograph it under!

I thought I’d bind it and because of the colours decided white would be nice, clean. Wrong. I HATED it. Couldn’t even bring myself to photograph it. Much unpicking later and it’s back to unbound and waiting for some attention. Bang goes that smug feeling.

Quick charm quilts, don’t you just love ‘em? I mean why on earth would anyone bother doing something like English paper piecing 1” sided hexagons by hand and sewing them up by hand into a full sized quilt? i mean how long would something like that take??? Gotta be crazy to try it, right? Er, OK. Ahem. More on this next time…

Till then, happy sewing, browsing, cooking, playing, running, watching, living life through colour however you like to do it,

Poppy

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