Fancy Foxes in Liberty!

Elizabeth Hartmann of http://www.OhFransson.com is a genius. Everyone knows it, but really, until you make her Fancy Fox quilt (or another of her patterns I assume), you don’t really appreciate it.

It really is a great pattern. Simple to piece using basic techniques, fun and cute, and the fox face is beautifully realised. She gives you all the cutting instructions and fabric requirements – and it all seemed to work out exactly as she said. I chose to make the original fancy fox pattern (there is a larger/giant block too with a different pattern) which you can get as an immediate pdf download here in her shop:

http://ohfransson.bigcartel.com/product/fancy-fox-quilts-pdf-quilt-pattern

It started with a friend of mine who fell in love with the fancy fox quilt but wanted me to make it alongside her. She sent me a gazillion pictures of Fancy Fox quilts, all of which I resisted, until finally I saw one in beautiful Liberty of London Tana lawn fabrics and I suddenly saw potential. I cut all my background fabric, noses and eyes, made these 4 with her, and then stopped for months as life took over. My friend decided not to go ahead with her project so no longer needed me to make them with her (she’s dyslexic), and these little foxes lay forgotten.

And then the lovely Michelle of http://www.coleandtaffy.com decided she wanted to make a Liberty fancy fox quilt, at a gentle 2 or 3 foxes a week, and we decided to sew along together on Instagram (she is @coleandtaffy and incredibly talented!). Soon we had others joining us, and my little foxes started multiplying, really without much fuss at all.

I have never sewn projects in this way – a kind of gentle, back-burner way. Usually I start, finish and end a project before starting another;somehow that makes me sew on some kind of self imposed deadline, like preparing for battle. I didn’t know I sewed like that until I sewed along with Michelle, who seems to have multiple projects on the go at all times. It felt like a very mindful way to sew. I would have chain pieced them all and had it done within a week had I been left to my own devices, but there was something very conscious and satisfying about sewing each fox individually. I even gave them names.

Meet Heather, Heather, Heather and Veronica:

10 points for getting the 90s film reference!

By midway, I started to think about some sort of colourwash layout. By this time, Michelle and a few other IG friends were not only cheering me on but had donated pieces of Liberty for my quilt and it was all starting to feel rather special.

One thing I would say is that at first my 1/4″ seam allowance was a little too scant, and it affected how much overlap there was in the background fabric under the chin (there was too little). This meant some of the noses would get blunted in the seam allowance when I sewed it together – so watch your seam alllowance very carefully! I bought myself a gadget, Liberty fabrics being too expensive to get wrong:

This is a seam guide called “seams sew easy” by Lori Holt and it’s genius. The only issue is you have to reposition it each time you replace the bobbin, but it’s still worth it. Not only did it resolve my seam allowance issue, but it meant I didn’t have to draw a diagonal line on the squares for the flying geese on the fancy fox block …or any other blocks where you sew a diagonal – snowballs, geese etc. HSTs are going to be much quicker now…

Anyway, suddenly I was done! Obviously the kind of suddenly that happens over months. Not really suddenly at all.

My background fabric was a grey cotton chambray for softness, and the cheek fabric was a white lawn cotton, to try and retain the sofness from the Liberty lawn fabric. I used kona black for the eyes and noses as I figured they’d be too small to really affect the softness… So I chose Quilter Dream Orient batting, with its scrimlessmix of silk, bamboo, tencel and cotton because it’s so soft with a beautiful drape and I splashed out on a Liberty back, an aqua daisy print called Bellis.

I really pondered the quilting. It seemed to me that lots of people in blogland had sent theirs out to a longarm quilter and gone for a woodgrain pattern. I knew I would never do that design justice, but I liked the idea of woodland. So I quilted a loopy leafy allover design using wonderfil invisifil thread – very fine polyester that I hoped wouldn’t show up too much on the very contrasting background and cheeks. The effect was good; subtle quilting without it being invisible thread but it kept snapping in my machine! Eventually by changing to a bigger needle, I just about got through. I’d really like to try it again for the effect but I’m reluctant to go through that again.. I don’t know why my machine didn’t like it! Annoyingly it doesn’t like Aurifil thread either…

Some pictures… because obviously I haven’t included enough!

Can you see the leaves? Kiddo says they are all baby foxes peeking out from their nest in a bush. He loves this quilt because it’s very soft and very snuggly, even before the first wash. And because ..foxes.

Hello Kitty Liberty! So cute. Why does every piece of Liberty just feel so special?

Aw my lovely Liberty foxes! The lap quilt comes out about 60″ x 52″ ish and is a really fun make. It looks good in most fabrics , so long as you ensure a high contrast between the cheek, eye/nose and background fabrics, And it’s actually pretty economical for prints – each fox face uses a  5″ x 9″ or 2.5″ x 18″ piece of printed fabric) I can imagine doing this lap quilt with half a jelly roll or half a layer cake  . I’m so tempted to buy the giant size pattern now – I don’t think I’m done with these foxes yet.

Meanwhile, I’m off to snuggle some very fancy foxes! Until the next time,

Poppy xx

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

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

A week of sewing like a madwoman? I feel a craft fair coming on..

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Of all the things I’d planned to blog about – and there is now a queue – this was not one of them. 6 days ago I agreed to do a craft fair – which is in 5 days time – eeeeeeek! I think I must be a little insane.

It’s the same craft fair that I did a year ago, in our village, usually for a charity, and is part of a stately home open day, where there’s a bouncy castle, facepainting etc. I did it last year at 3 weeks’ notice and thought I was a mentalist then, but apparently that was me being organised, positively relaxed even… The day before it, I launched this blog, and since then I’ve had a nice gentle stream of sales and interest from the village which has been very lovely. So maybe that’s why it felt right to do it again.

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So this is the very popular zippered purse, this one in Sidewalks by Riley Blake. It’s pocket sized but bigger than last year to more comfortably fit cards as well as cash. Interfaced with batting for durability and that soft feel, and of course always a pretty lining, because we deserve eye candy inside our purses even if there’s not as many notes in there as we’d like!

Pretty and floral designs:

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(Clockwise from top left – Enchant for Riley blake, Flutter for Riley Blake, sweet shoppe Michelle D’Amour for Bernatex, Songbird in white, from Vintage Summer Collection by Little Yellow Bicycle for Blend, Sweet Shoppe, Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille for Moda)

Liberty coin purses:

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Brights and retro:

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(Clockwise from top left – Flutter by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, Blue birds on lampost by Kate and Birdie from Bluebird Park for Moda, Sidewalks by October Afternoon, Flutter)

Fun or for kids:

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(Clockwise from top left: oh darn, cannot remember the name/designer/anything about the owl fabric! Sorry! Going Coastal by Emily Herrick, Out at Sea by Sarah Jane fo Michael Miller Fabrics, Ele train shroom by Dan Stiles for Birch fabrics (organic), Bluebird park by Kate and Birdie)

And the most popular thing I seem to make, the large toiletry bag /washbag

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Lined with white canvas, interfaced for stability with softness, I love these! And they have improved the look of my dressing table no end, they are deceptively big and take all my bits and pieces including my hairbrush. That one was in Flutter red for Riley Blake…

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That was Ele Train Shroom by Dan Stiles for Birch and is Organic cotton – somehow manages to be grown up as well as cute.

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Not that I made them to be sets, but they could be – the flat pouch is a makeup pouch or handbag organiser for keys/ phone/ purse/ lippy whatever. Or a pencilcase, especially when made in a kid fabric.

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The above is Sidewalks by October Afternoon for Riley Blake – this is my new current favourite fabric 🙂

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Jungle Elephants (makower)

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Peak Hour Ad White by Kellie Wulfsohn for Riley Blake – so cool! Especially with a bright fabric lining (from Space collection by Makower I think)

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Out at Sea by Sarah Jane – I’m a bit obsessed with those mermaids! Remind me of the Heather Ross Mendocino Swim Sisters which I never got any of but now is so rare it sells for a small fortune on etsy – I actually gasped, even though that’s something you only think happens in novels. This is not a bad second though. I got some of this with my little niece in mind, but haven’t yet managed to make her something yet – a swim bag maybe…?

Not everything is newly made this week, I have a few lavender pillows which still smell divine, and one or two kindle cases – soft yet waterproof and padded to prevent scratches or mishaps with burst waterbottles in your bag or by the pool. This one is in Songbird in white by Little Yellow bicycle for Blend fabrics.

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And finally… some Scrabble tile pendants! These are fun, sweet and funky – an image on a wooden scrabble tile topped with an epoxy resin seal, a nickel and lead free bail on the back and sold with a silver plated (nickel/lead free) chain (or alone). I’ll have about 50 on the day. They seem to sell well at fairs, so fingers crossed, and though this is a small selection, they are mostly different from each other. 

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The best thing about doing these this year has been “meeting” (virtual, she being in the US and me being in Scotland) a lovely lovely Etsy seller called Leslie at the Graphicalmuse, whose talented work you see on pendant numbers 2 and 4 above. I love Etsy and love these amazing and lovely creative folk we get to “meet” through the blogging and crafting world. This whole craft fair is worth it for having made a new friend 🙂

So I’m finished sewing now; I don’t want to get too tired before the fair because I found the event fun but tiring last time, and I’m going to follow all my advice I gave myself after doing it last year, but get organised well in advice.

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/48960849472/craft-fair-and-other-stories

I wondered why I could blitz through all these makes, when it normally takes a while to do one washbag  – the answer is factory line preparation. I spent 2 days literally collecting all the fabrics I wanted to use, then cutting everything – fabrics, interfacing, gathering all supplies everything. Then sewed it all up. I broke 6 needles. And I sewed like a maniac until I was SO BORED of sewing, which has never happened before that I can remember. And my room looked like this: image

So I’m glad to be getting it back, and am excited about some more quilting, because I got new quilting toys that I can’t wait to try out! I’ll tell you next time. By the way, anything I don’t sell will hopefully finally get put onto this blog and/ or a facebook page for sale, though probably UK only unless I get a lot of pressure!

Meanwhile, enjoy doing whatever you’re doing, and see you very soon.

Till 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