Mini Dresden Pincushiony Gifty Goodness!

I have the BEST ever next door neighbour. She’s the generation before me, but possibly even better for that. She’s fun, cheerful, quirky, loves children, independent and adventurous, in love with her husband and family, esp the grandchildren, and her home and garden are open, welcoming mazes of treasures. Her garden has stone owls, hidden copper dragonflies, sparkly things twirling from trees, squirrels and chickens (real ones) – she even has a window in her hedge, for goodness sake. AND SHE SEWS. OMG. I love her. What do you give a lady like that for her birthday?

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This is a pincushion – it’s filled with lavender because I tried polyfil toy stuffing and I didn’t like the puffiness nor the lightweightness for a pincushion. i heard you could fill them with crushed walnut shells or somesuch, which adds weight and sharpens yours pins (is this true?)  – but since I didn’t have any I filled it with dried lavender. It is kind of potent, but I think she’ll like it.

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I made a tiny dresden block with Liberty of London Tana lawn fabrics – you literally need squares of 1.5″ – I am addicted. 3.5″ dresdens – I could die from the cuteness.  I downloaded the template from here:

Mini Dresden Pattern Digital

which is free if you sign up to the newsletter (no biggie, the fabric shop is gorgeous) or $1, and includes instructions on how to make it. It’s so easy to make a dresden block – I admit though that the tiny-ness what a bit fiddly, but it didn’t take more than an hour or so and that was the first attempt.

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I whipstitched mine by hand onto a charm square of “modern backgrounds paper” fabric by Zen Chic for Moda, and made a centre circle in the same fabric. My centre circle is not perfect, I should have slowed down a bit to stitch  such a small circle, but sometimes you can feel your quilting-time-hourglass sand running out! I did some hand “quilting” to flatten down the circle a bit, you can probably see it.

I backed it with a square of cotton batting for some stability, before sewing it RST to a red floral charm square leaving a hole to turn it right sides out, filling with dried lavender flowers and whipstitching the hole closed. Easy peasy.

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Aw cute. Thank you Westwoodacres for the pattern!

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Until the next time,

Poppy xx

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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

Liberty Star Patchwork Pillow/ Cushion + Tutorial

Hello lovely creative types, so… how best to gloss over my prolonged bloggy abstinence? How about we make up with a tutorial? You might not need one as it’s pretty simple, but you know, since I took pictures…

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This is Liberty of London fabrics and linen. The pattern was actually born when i decided to make a thank-you present for my lovely neighbour who let me use her shower for 2 weeks whilst our bathroom was ripped out and replaced. I now have a hotel bathroom! I’m so tempted to hold dinner parties in it – it’s the nicest room in the house… Anyway, she is more traditional, so I made her this:

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This is made with Kona snow cotton… and Liberty fabrics I actually bought at THE REAL LIBERTY OF LONDON SHOP. In London no less. I was slightly in heaven. But also a bit overwhelmed by all its beauty after this pilgrimage (the shop itself is just aesthetically gorgeous)… and by the prices. I felt I should buy something so bought a little charm pack of 36 2.5″ squares, although I had to add 4 more from stash to make this. I must tell you though they came from  Alice Caroline Supply (http://www.alicecaroline.co.uk/) and are cheaper to buy from the website. But that wasn’t really the spirit of it all was it? My neighbour was suitably pleased.

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Bit of wobbly hand-quilting action going on there.

But I wasn’t thrilled to be honest. I thought that the patchwork border got lost round the sides of the cushion. Amateur. This is what it looked like before it became a cushion – I thought it would make a pretty mini-quilt or wall hanging…

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See what I mean? So I was a bit disappointed. Anyway, I thought I would try and fix it with an extra row of sashing:

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And certainly you can see it better. but if you decide to make one, you can decide on how you like it! So, for many folk, that will be it as it’s quite simple construction and with a little experience it’s straightforward to work this out, but as sometimes it’s nice to work from instructions, here goes! This is for the Liberty and Linen cushion. Clearly you can make it in anything you like – a moda mini-charm pack and white solid would be nice.

To make the patchwork cushion front, you will need:

  1. A 10″ piece of Linen (44″ wide, I’m assuming your solid comes as 44″ wide)
  2. Forty 2.5″ x 2.5″ Liberty or patterned fabric squares
  3. 24″x24″ square piece of batting (I used cotton)
  4. 24″x 24″ square piece of cotton backing fabric (this will be on the inside of the cushion, so it doesn’t need to be too nice)
  5. rotary cutter, ruler, scissors, thread, sewing machine, unpicker (you won’t need that) etc

Cutting instructions:

Let’s cut all our fabric up first.

1. Cut the linen fabric into four 2.5” x 44” strips.

2. Strip 1: cut into
Four 2.5” x 2.5″ squares
Four 2.5” x 4.5” rectangles
One 2.5” X 13.5” rectangle

3. Strip 2 : Cut into
One 2.5” x 13.5” rectangle
Two 2.5” x 10” rectangles

4. Strip 3: cut into
One 2.5” x 22” rectangle
One 2.5” x 18” rectangle

5. Strip 4: again cut into
One 2.5” x 22” rectangle
One 2.5” x 18” rectangle

You should now have linen cut into:
4 x (2.5” x 2.5) squares
4 x (2.5” x 4.5”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x10”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x 13.5”) rectangles
2 x (2.5” x 18”) rectangle
2 x (2.5” x 22”) rectangles

6. And your 40 Liberty 2.5” x 2.5” fabric squares (either buy as a mini charm pack or cut these)

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Photo shows my cutting in progress. If you think you’ll get confused, label each pile’s measurements with a scrap of paper. I started to arrange my Liberty fabrics in a rainbow.

Layout

Now arrange your layout as you like it. If you are going for random, this will be easy, you won’t need to lay it all out, you can just start sewing! But I did this:

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In the centre, the top two squares will be the top two points of the star, the bottom two will be the bottom points of the star etc. The 4 in the middle will be aa 4-patch which makes the centre of the star.

I think of a rainbow (unsurprisingly!) when thinking about which colours go together. Red – orange – yellow – green – blue – dark blue/indigo – violet/purple – red to enable the colours to meld in a natural way. Obviously orange is made from red and yellow which is why it’s in between them etc, so it works better than red and green next to each other for example, when green has no red in it. Anyway, have a play around until you like it.

Making the patchwork star centre

(BTW I’m not generally a big presser until the end out of sheer laziness, but with this, given it’s going to be a centrepiece and small, I pressed at almost every stage. It keeps everything neater, there’s no doubt.)

1. Sew your centre 4 patch, first by sewing 2 squares together, then the second 2 together, then join them as a 4 patch. Press.

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2. The star points are flying geese rather than HSTs – much easier.  You are aiming for this:

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This is how you do it:

  • Draw a diagonal line in pencil joining opposite points on the wrong sides of each of your eight squares reserved for the star points.
  • Lay one of these patterned squares, right side down onto one of the 2.5” x 4.5” pices of linen, with the bottom end of your diagonal line towards the centre of the fabric (it won’t be in the centre). Make sure your edges line up nicely.
  • (if you are using directional prints then be careful with this step, you could easily end up with your fabric upside down. Ditto with getting the two fabrics mixed up – I did this and had to change my layout – rather than unpick…)
  • Sew along your pencil line.
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3. Now before you cut off the excess, it’s worth folding down the right side to check you are happy.

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4. If you are then you can go ahead and trim that excess piece on the wrong side – both the linen and patterned. You’ll end up with little triangles of scrap for a tiny project. Press.

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5. Repeat the process on the other side of your linen rectangle as shown in the picture. Don’t worry that there is a bit of overlap, that’s in the seam allowance when you sew them all together. Press.

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6. And you have one side of your star!. Do this with all 8 points onto your four 2.5” x 4.5” pieces of linen.

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7. Now take your top row star points and sew a 2.5” x 2.5” linen square onto either side. Repeat for the bottom two star points.

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8. Sew your side star point pieces to the centre 4-patch…

9. And then sew the top and bottom rows on.

10. Press everything.

Is it looking lovely yet?

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Adding the sashing

11. Sew one 2.5″ x 10″ rectangle to one side of your star. Trim off the excess (I always make sashing bigger and trim in case my seam allowance isn’t always perfect). Repeat on the other side. Trim excess.

12. THEN sew the 2.5 x 13.5″ pieces along the top and bottom, trimming the excess linen afterwards. Press.

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Making the patchwork borders

13. Sew your top 8 liberty squares together and put to one side. Repeat for the bottom eight squares. Now make the left side and right sides which will both have 6 squares. Press.

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(somehow I managed to sew 9 squares on the bottom row! Doh! Had to unpick after all…)

14. Sew the sides onto your star block first and then press, before sewing on the top and bottom pieces. pin your patchwork strips to the linen first to ensure it reaches the full length, and match up the seams at the corners as best you can. Press.

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Now at this point you can batt, back, quilt and bind and use as a mini quilt or wall hanging which measures 16.5” square (above). Or you can add the outer linen border to finish your cushion as I did.

Adding the final linen border

15. This is exactly what you did before. Sew the 2.5” x 18” linen strips onto the sides of your star block and trim the excess.

16. Now sew the final two pieces, the 2.5” x 22” rectangles to the top and bottom and trim the excess. Press everything…

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 And Ta-Dahhhhhh! You’re done!

17. Now, make a quilt sandwich as normal. Lay the cotton backing fabric face down, lay over the cotton batting, lay over the patchwork piece and smoother everything over to ensure there are no wrinkles. I pinned with safety pins (it’s not worth getting out the gun for such a small piece I found) to baste.

18. Quilt as you like – straight or hand quilting on this would be lovely! I machine- quilted with an overall stipple…

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19. And then did a little decorative hand quilting with perle 8 cotton in a red colour.

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20. Finally add your cushion back and a zip as I did (or make an envelope back as I showed here:  https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/78267964842/liberty-dresden-pillow-love   ).

My back is Heather Ross Unicorn in Purple from Far Far away II – and I LOVE it.

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Your cushion cover will measure about 19.5″ square.

Add an insert (go a bit bigger, maybe 22 – 24″ square, as you can see from the  picture above, mine isn’t full enough at 20″ square, I’ve ordered another insert) … and enjoy your new cushion!

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Well I hope this makes up for the absence. Actually, I Firefox has crashed so many times when I have attempted a blog post, I’ve lost 3 already, and this one crashed at least 15 times. I kept saving as a draft and wrote most on Word and copy/pasted. Anyone else having trouble? I’m either going to have to abandon Firefox (likely) or Tumblr (less likely). As a plus, I have a few posts to share when I resolve this. Meanwhile, hope your creative mojo is mojoing away.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Edited: you can see how it looks with a fuller cushion insert and in the sunshine here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2015/03/26/a-patchwork-picnic/

Rainbow Liberty quilted blanket

Do I have time to show you this even though it’s waaaaay after bedtime? Oh I think so.

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I made one of these for my niece-who-is-on-the-way-and-about-whom-I-am-beyond-excited, but hers is more pastel colours and handquilted and somehow I never got a decent photo of it (the light etc) before I gave it to my sister-in-law in anticipation and with all our love and wishes for a safe delivery! I thought I loved it until I made this – I think it’s the vibrant colours. It’s for my neighbour/friend’s new grandchild. 

It was very easy really and started out as a charm pack from this seller on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ZuzusCrafts

I laid it out as random patchwork to get a look at it, and although I liked it a lot… –image

… I knew she wanted “the same as yours” – not that I could get exactly the same fabrics of course. These are all brighter, and the rainbow actually works better for it. It looks different as a random selection doesn’t it?

These are some of the beautiful fabrics:

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It came out at 27” square,

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and whereas once I thought that was too small to be of use, esp when it’s not recommended that babies sleep unsupervised under quilts, i now think it’s the perfect pram blanket, carseat blanket, snuggler blanket when you are holding them in the cold UK winter, baby mat, anywhere where the parent/responsible adult is there. A clean surface to lay your baby down in a pinch on the grass or even to change a nappy. Washable and pretty, what more can you ask?

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Well a whole heap more, because I batted this with quilter’s dream wool, which has a higher loft than most batting so is “puffier” – and whilst warm it is breathable like cotton, not like fleece etc where there is more risk of overheating. I also backed it in the softest lawn cotton and stippled it – I honestly cannot believe the softness when you do this with lawn cotton. It’s like snuggling a cloud. Lawn cotton is thin, so you have to be a bit more careful when sewing with it, but it is deceptively strong and feels like silk. I remember running my hands over my mother’s silk saris when I was little and feeling like it was as though there was magic in the touch of them – I’m not one to say “feels like silk” lightly.

This is the backing – not Liberty, but lawn cotton, and pretty:

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I really hope she likes it – the baby is due in January Ithink.

I told my husband that I wanted a big one of these for Christmas, and he casually said, “OK I’ll run you one up.” He should NOT tease me this way! I saw though that Moda’s Regent Street lawn collection has just been released – and I’m thinking this may be a way of getting the Liberty Lawn look and feel without the pricetag? Here it is, but I think there are more colours in it – hard to know what the whole collection looks like at the moment as it is so new, but from what I can see online there are some pretty prints here. I think I may treat myself in the new year.

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And with the scary thought that I have already leapfrogged us through Christmas and into 2015, I will love you and leave you, I am off to hopefully dream about pinkness and pretty blue flowers 🙂

‘Til the next time, Poppy xx

Liberty Dresden Pillow Love

Liberty. Dresden. What’s not to love?

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Yeah, I knew you’d get it. Maybe only those with such a need for the aesthetically pleasing that they wander through blogland searching for it, really get it as we do.  Liberty Tana Lawn is quite honestly the diamond of fabric – silky soft, so bright and pretty your heart aches, and such magnificently classic prints that I swear they will NEVER date. Never.

Are liberty fabrics expensive? Oh, you bet they are. But did I say they will never date? So, an investment then. And that’s what I’ll be telling the Hubster when he works out how much Liberty has suddenly entered this house.

And then the Dresden. Such a pretty block, and so classic. But they can look a bit old fashioned… I must say I didn’t really think I would ever make one – and I probably wouldn’t have, had they not appeared in blogland with bright, fresh colours and a clean modern feel. And a few years ago I saw Jo from www.mybearpaw.com ‘s lovely dresden pillow in the flesh and it helped change my view that Dresdens weren’t modern:

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I even got myself an EZ dresden ruler last year , but had never used it. So when my sewing friend Alison had had a hard week, I invited her over for our first (and hopefully not last!) sew-therapy session. I knew just what I wanted to do. I bought a Liberty charm pack fromPickClickSew on Etsy and added a few more prints from my stash until I had 20 x 5” squares. With the Dresden Ruler I  cut 2 wedges from each square, so when Alison came over we each had a pile of 20 wedges ready to get started on. And we did.

I used instructions from this marvellous and easy tutorial from the amazingly talented Elizabeth Fransson:

http://www.sewmamasew.com/2010/04/dresden-plate-block-sew-along/

She made this black and white doll quilt, rather than a cushion, but the principle is the same of course.

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I used Essex linen in natural for my cushion back, cut to 17” square. In fact Alison and I both decided on linen for our cushion backs, so with identical fabrics and linen, you’d expect the cushions to be very similar wouldn’t you? But whilst I decided on a rainbow effect, Alison went for a scrappier look. Also once we’d made the dresden plates we had to decide on how to applique them onto the background linen; she chose to zigzag hers on the machine with white cotton, whilst I hand stitched mine on, and added batting and a bit of handquilting too. They did end up looking quite different! This is Alison’s:

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The zigzag applique made a kind of outline effect, which is really pretty. Amazing how all the fabrics just look great together. Her cushion front was finished well before mine!

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…at which point mine was still pinned to the background, and was being handstitched. I had made the inner circle, but hadn’t appliqued it on yet, so the inner circle is small and raw-edged in this picture below:

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… and then after a couple of hours watching a film, I’d stitched on the dresden and inner circle, added some cotton batting to the back and lightly handquilted with perle cotton – just a simple running stitch around the outside, and either side of the inner circle. It looks surprisingly like it’s pieced onto the background, it really doesn’t look like applique.

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It’s taken me almost a week to finally decide on the back – and I decided to splash out and use this lovely piece of purple liberty which I had. It would be so easy to cut corners or scrimp on fabric and then end up with something I don’t love as much as I would have; I’m not making more of these for our house, so it might as well be as close to perfect (in my eyes!) as it can be!

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I went with an envelope back, very simple to do of course – cut 2 pieces of fabric which when overlapped will make a 17” square to cover the cushion front, like 17” x 14” and 17” x 11”. I pinned mine to cotton batting as the Tana Lawn is very lightweight fabric and I wanted to match the weight of the front. There is a significant overlap as you can see, otherwise the cushion gapes, especially without a button closure, but you can have a smaller overlap and add a button, poppers, whatever. Double hem the two edges which will be in the centre, lay the big piece over the smaller, or however you want the back to look when it’s finished, and pin together.

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lie the cushion front onto the pinned together back, right sides together, and pin:

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Sew all round with 1/2 ” seam allowance, then zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

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Unpin, turn out and:

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View of the bit of very simple quilting:

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You can’t really see the envelope back – benefits of choosing a busy print:

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My piano and my Liberty Dresden Pillow. Ahhhhh.

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Whatever you’re up to this weekend, hope you’re having fun!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

A Little Liberty

A quick post today for a wee blanket – but no less pretty for being small! Well how can it not be pretty, when it’s made with Liberty Of London fabrics? Liberty Tana Lawn is the softest, most feminine cotton fabic ever. And the prints are gorgeous, usually floral, and always exquisite. My good friend is having baby daughter number 3 very soon, and she has lots of my quilts in her house. Loved and used though they all are, she really has enough quilts for the littlest one to roll around on – and she won’t be rolling around fo a few months! So I decided to use my precious little stash of Liberty (“little” because it is so expensive!) and make her a blanket.

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It’s just basic patchwork squares as you can see; not only is it my favourite, despite enjoying doing some more taxing patterns lately (more in future posts!), but it feels wrong to cut up Liberty any more than  you have to. Besides, I don’t have enough of the fabric to cope with more seams and still be big enough to use! it’s 30 x 5” squares sewn together.

I just backed it in a beautiful soft cuddle fleece I got at my local quilt shop (Fabrication in Haddington) at a great price, and didn’t put any batting in between. The fleece was a real pain to work with – although I only remembered to use a walking foot after I had begun, so the fleece did stretch and misbehave, and the blanket isn’t perfect. However, it’s not too noticeable, and it is soooo soft and cuddly, perfect for the pram, car, or just a snuggler!

I used perle cotton to hand quilt round the edge:image

and aurifil gold thread to handquilt lightly along the vertical seams

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The light handquilting (and ahem, imperfections due to the fleece troubles) gives it a “homespun look”, which I don’t normally do, but I actually think it’s really sweet – traditional and lovely for a new baby. i know my friend will love it – she’s worth using the Liberty for, not only because I love her dearly, but also because she has such lovely taste, I know she’ll appreciate it!

I’m rather in love with LIberty after this little blanket – I need to do some saving up and see if I can make myself a quilt. Eeeek. I’d have to save up a lot – but oh, it would be so loved!

Hope you’re all having a fun weekend whatever you’re up to,

till the next time,

Poppy xx