A Patchwork Picnic

It isn’t though. It’s completely staged because I forgot to mention when I
wrote the tutorial for the one on the left that is was actually commissioned
for someone else. I don’t get to keep it. Yes, my new year’s resolution has
failed spectacularly to kick in, and I am still making for others with no
additions yet to our house. Still this one is a retirement gift for an
apparently wonderful NHS Healthcare worker (a Health Visitor) who seemingly
deserves things of much beauty and love. So. I’m spending time with it. Hanging
out. Like a crazy old quilt lady. I’ll may have to make me one too… 

I’m partly posting because I wanted a picture of the cushion when it was properly
filled – The cover is 19.5″ square and it looked too “floppy” last time, with a
20″ cushion pad. Now it has a 24″ pad and looks lovely! I think. I know,
everyone knows you should go bigger… And partly because I wanted to see it
alongside my Liberty dresden cushion, blogged here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love

My wee dog was most upset with this photo shoot. Usually a quilt on the
ground means happy hours of lazing about, snuggled next to mummy chewing a
stick, hopefully with the baby-dinosaur, which is clearly how he sees Kiddo,
engaged in some crafty activity and not charging about with various brightly
coloured missiles in his hands or leaping randomly off furniture. This time it
was a “I know it’s sunny but it’s way too cold for picnics” and everything
swept back in. He kept up this stance of protest next to a juicy pile of sticks
for some time before sloping back inside. Wee cutie. 

I know how he feels. Bring on summer. My ambition is to have a whole heap of
cushions ready for when it happens for real, hopefully very soon! Meanwhile, if
you fancy a go at either of them and need any guidance, the tutorial for the
one on the left is here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/114218367457/liberty-star-patchwork-pillow-cushion-tutorial

and link to someone else’s far-clever-than-mine tutorial on Dresden plate cushions is within: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love

Meanwhile, here’s to dreams of summer laziness amidst quilty love. And
apparently some big chewable sticks.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

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Anyone else need to shorten sweatshirt sleeves? A life-hack tutorial

So I appreciate this is a massive step away from what I normally blog about, but anyway, this is what I did today that made me feel proud:

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Seriously. What do mums do if sewing isn’t their thing? 4 year old Kiddo is starting school in 2 weeks; he’s a tall enough but a wiry little kid rather than a solid/ chunky wee man. Meanwhile his school sweatshirts come in size 3-4 and then 5-6. What the?! Isn’t there a whole age they missed out there? The 3-4 was too tight for him to get on and off himself, so I got the 5-6 and convinced myself he would grow. A lot. In 2 months.

He hasn’t.

He’s played, he’s eaten (well as much as he’s ever going to), he’s slept, he’s run, climbed, learned and laughed (a lot) – he’s done pretty much everything a kid should. Except grow those arms! The age 5-6 is comfily baggy but not outrageously big everywhere else – except for those neanderthal arms which are literally falling  way down below his hands all the time. Grrrr. I defy any child to learn to write or draw like that. And I defy any parent to teach a 4 year old boy to roll up their sleeves. Teaching them not to shout “poo-poo pants!” in an alarmingly mock-tourette way to break the tension of formal silence is enough achievement for mums of small boys to feel they deserve some kind of award.

So here goes if you have a similar problem, or maybe need to buy a bigger size for your child’s body but struggle with the long arms. Now, because although I’m not in ANY WAY a clothes maker/ alterer (a sewist but rarely of clothes) and I winged it, I’m calling it a life-hack. And because that sounds unashamedly cool. If you are comfortable sewing with a machine it’s pretty easy (I think). I was lucky to have a secondhand sweatshirt to practice on before cuttting up the new one, so you might want to do have a practice run too (though my prototype run turned out fine too).

DISCLAIMER: I’m just telling you what worked for me, and won’t be held responsible if it doesn’t work for you 😉

How to shorten a child’s sweatshirt sleeves

1. Right. Well this is what the original cuff of the school sweatshirt looked like. My cuff looks smaller afterwards, because I took a bigger seam allowance than I probably needed to, and I didn’t topstitch afterwards (because that was never going to look this neat).

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2. Inside out it looks like this:

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3. Arm yourself with a good sharp seam-ripper – and unpick all those stitches. You want to unpick all the stitches which attach the cuff to the sleeve. It takes a while. Have a cup of tea to hand, maybe some tunes and take your time. You especially don’t want to damage the cuff itself – the sleeve you’ll be cutting off anyway.

4. Done? Good. At this point you need your model. Bribe child with chocolate to get him to put on the sweatshirt and stay still for 30 seconds whilst you decide where you want your new sleeve to end.

Mine was about 3 and 3/4 inches from the end of the sleeve*. Next subtract about 3/4” from that to allow for your seam allowances when you sew your cuff back on. So I needed to cut off 3 inches. I left the sleeve just slightly long (maybe up to his first knuckles) to give some growing room but keep his fingers free.

(Note: I said subtract 3/4” because I was later going to sew my cuff back on with a 3/8” seam allowance, so the maths works for that allowance. If you don’t want to shorten your cuff as much as that, you could use a 1/4” seam allowance to sew the cuff back on; in this case you only need to subtract 1/2”  from your cutting measurement* here. Etc. It’s a small difference, not sure how much it matters, but thought I would be accurate!)

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On the left is the sleeve still attached to the shirt. In the middle is the bit I cut off. I just got my ruler and cut parallel to the unpicked line where the cuff was. I didn’t worry about the fact the sleeve was sloping or whatever. it was parallel, so it would do. On the right is the cuff. See how small it is next to the sleeve? Obviously that’s because it’s a cuff and so is stretchy. Don’t worry about that, it all works out fine…

6. And this is the sleeve (on the left) that I am going to attach to the cuff (on the right):

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Freakily different sizes huh? It didn’t matter too much for this sweatshirt as it wasn’t too much bigger than the original difference but see below if yours is a much bigger difference.

(NOTE: If you were really cutting a lot off the sleeve so the sleeve was really wide and the difference between sleeve and cuff was much bigger than the original, then you will need to take in the sleeve a bit, otherwise you’ll get a bunched-up “puffy” look round the cuff. Especially for an adult shirt. Turn the sleeve inside out and kind of draw a gentle line from about the elbow to the cut end of the sleeve, aiming to make the cut end of the sleeve about as big as it was before you cut a big chunk of sleeve off. You might want to do it on top and bottom of the sleeve which shouldn’t be too obvious. Sew along your drawn lines. Make sure you do exactly the same on the other sleeve. I wasn’t too concerned about it as it’s for a 4 year old boy who really couldn’t care less – and it all worked out fine, but you should bear it in mind if you think it’s going to look too bunched up)

7.  Turn your sweatshirt inside out. Put the cuff into the cut end of the sleeve, raw edges matching at the top – and the seam line matching. There should be no “right” or “wrong” side of the cuff as they seem to be double sided and folded over, but if there was, you would put right-sides together.image

8. Match up the seam lines on one side and pin:

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9. Now put your fingers inside and stretch the cuff so that it lies flat against the inside of the sleeve:

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10. …and pin the opposite side, then pin all the way round. Pin like crazy baby! The more the better.

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11. And when you let go, the cuff will spring back giving a puckered look. This is completely fine..

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12. Take to your trusty sewing machine. At this point I  wished the sleeve went round my machine, but the sleeve diameter was too tiny. Still I was just a bit careful and it was very straightforward. I sewed on the inside of the sleeve/cuff as Ifelt I could see better what I was doing that way and ensure I wasn’t sewing through the other side. Taking a 3/8” seam allowance (you could make this smaller if you like), carefully sew the raw edges of cuff and sleeve together. Make sure you stretch out the cuff to ensure the sleeve is nice and flat as you sew. The cuff will spring back just fine.

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Sorry, these are not natural sewing pictures – I was using my right hand to take a picture and clearly not actually sewing. You can see the sleeve fabric is not bunched up and the cuff fabric is stretched to lie against it nicely. sew all the way round.

13. Backstitch to finish and take it off the machine to admire, and check the right side looks good. By the way, I used a universal needle, polyester thread and a straight stich with normal tension and pressor foot and it was all OK, but you could test it all on the scrap you cut off the sleeve if you like.

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14. That is still the reverse by the way. Pretty! Not. Never mind, put it back on the machine and zigzag round to finish the seams. I warn you, on my practice sweatshirt I first did a fancy tight overlock-type stitch, and it made it very stiff and possibly annoying to wear I’m guessing, so on the others I just did a gentle, fairly loose zigzag. To be honest the raw edges felt nice and soft and I almost left it like that for comfort, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take before they unravelled, so chose to zigzag the edges.

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15. Turn inside out – and beam. Try it on your wee man who will say “Oh! It’s good!” quickly followed by “I want to take it off” before running away to play some more.

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16. Hear M-People’s song warbling round in your head “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” – and think “This.” 🙂

Back to prettiness next time folks. Meanwhile enjoy the summer and whatever it is that makes you feel proud.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

The Nine-Patch Disappears…. (tutorial and layouts)

See? Not a sign of it anywhere…

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Hello you lovely craftilicious folk. So I’m in the process of making 2 more charm quilts – and I’m a bit close to the wire with this deadline. Hopefully by next time I will show you them both finished (or I would have had a deadline fail…actually I prefer the words deadline unsuccess).

For quilt 2, I have been playing with the Disappearing Nine-Patch a.k.a. D9P.

This is a pretty common block, and all over blogland, but it’s easy and makes quilts which look more complicated to make than they are. Just in case you’re not too familiar with it, I did these “show + tell” pictures with some 2.5” scrap squares.

How to make a Disappearing Nine Patch block (D9P)

1. Start with making a nine patch. You can use all prints or solids and prints. I decided to use prints and white solid. You need 4 squares of white and 5 prints (my prints were all different in my real quilt).

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2. Sew them together in rows as shown below. The middle one is special as you will see, but in my real quilt it was just whatever randon charm square came out of the pile.

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3. … and sew the rows together to make a nine-patch

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4. Next get your rotary cutter and ruler and slice down the middle of the block, and again at right angles as shown below:

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5. Play with your new blocks! See what has happened to the middle square? It has become the littlest square in the block and will be distributed more widely throughout the quilt. You might use this in your thinking in some quilts.

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That was the layout I eventually used.

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That picture is a very common layout. I once did a baby quilt in that, again using white solid ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8048473613/ ).

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Or a “bigsquare-littlesquare” look. Bear in mind that when you use lots of prints it will look more complex and scrappy…

In fact, I’ll just show you how they look. I took pictures of the different layouts whilst I was trying to decide what look I was going for.

Making the Quilt top – finished size 52” square

  • 80 printed 5”x 5” charm squares (2 charm packs with 4 left over)
  • 64 solid white 5” x 5” charm squares (or enough white fabric to cut these)
  • rotary cutter and ruler
  1. Make 16 nine-patches as shown above, and slice into quarters. At this point you should trim your blocks to make sure they are the same size. Mine were pretty much the same, so I didn’t bother out of sheer laziness, and I just tried to match up the seams well when I was sewing.
  2. And then play! Until you get a layout which pleases you.

Note the pictures below are taken with ONLY 12 nine-patch blocks, not 16 as in the finished quilt top. This is the one I eventually went for obviously:

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I liked this one below, but the hubster wasn’t so keen. I quite liked that it was simple and easy on the eye (some people don’t like complicated patchwork) and the fabrics touch each other. Although I would have needed to do some jiggery pokery and shuffling around of the blocks if I had gone with this layout – still you get the idea). Hubster thought it was too simple for his eye. I think he has seen so many quilts, his brain has progressed beyond simple patterns and now he likes “interesting”. This has an advantage of being symmetrical around the edges, unlike layout 1 (did you spot that?)

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Next, I alternated the blocks between a square above and a reconstructed nine patch. I think on a bigger quilt or one with more blocks it would have been a more obvious “chain around the 4-patch” look.

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At this point I realised that with 12 blocks I was better laying it out as a 3 x 4 block grid, so here is that same layout with the pattern a bit easier to see.

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And finally, this is the one which almost won out. It looks pretty scrappy, but it is organised chaos! In the end I decided to go a safer, less complex pattern as it is for someone else.

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There are more options of course – you could take each D9P 4-block unit and sash it in white – 2.5” strips or smaller would be nice, choosing any of the layouts above for it, or mixing it up with a traditional nine-patch. And, as you can imagine, if you use all prints you get a very scrappy look! 5” squares would be too busy for me in that case – but 10” (layer cake) squares would be perfect! You could even just place them randomly.

OK, well again it’s wayyyyy past my bedtime. Hopefully next time I can show you these two little lap quilts finished and we can do some prettiness chat! By the way I used a charm pack of Strawberry fields and one of Honeysweet, both by Fig tree Quilts for Moda for this quilt.

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Edited: more pictures of the finished quilt are here if you would like to see :

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude

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/