Figgy Leafy Twirling Goodness!

It’s late spring here in Scotland – daisies, birdsong, yellow fields full of rapeseed flowers and even sunshine. No place for Autumn leaves? Oh, I think we could make allowances.

I can’t tell you how much I love this quilt! The pattern is Twirl by Fig Tree and Co. It’s charm pack and jelly roll friendly and I’ve never seen one I didn’t like. I think it’s the curling twirling stems which make it. For such a simple quilt pattern, it’s really pretty!

This is made with a variety of Fig Tree & Co fabrics from different collections including Honeysweet, Tapestry, Somerset, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Farmhouse, Strawberry Fields Revisited, Butterscotch and Rose and my new favourite, Chestnut Street. Many were charms and mini charms left over from my Fig Tree EPP hexagon quilt top (which is finished by the very way! Another story for another day) –  but this quilt looks equally as good using just one collection or other fabrics. In fact it was seeing the beautiful version made by my friend @sewbernice on Instagram which made me finally move this quilt to the top of the “To Make” list!

I did add a few extra yellows from Riley Blake’s Vintage Daydream collection as in the picture above. I love a bit of yellow in quilts – in this particular quilt it makes me think of Autumn sun on these softly falling leaves.

I borrowed my mum’s spare bed to see what it looks like on a double bed as mine’s a king sized. And my room’s much messier! I shortened this quilt from the original pattern – it should be 4 leaves across by 5 leaves down, which would have made it fit the bed nicely. I had wanted it as a lap quilt (it’s approx 64″ ) but I think I’ll sleep under it in the summer. I probably shouldn’t have shortened the pattern after all. I’m a titch though, so it’s all good.

I used one of my favourite ever fabrics on the back – Budquette in Nightfall by Bari J. I had 4 metres stashed away, and much as it was painful to use it all up, I love that I will get to see it all the time. I love the back just as much as the front! It’s difficult to use precious fabrics, and expensive to make backs from designer fabrics, but when it’s a quilt you are going to use, it’s worth it – you pretty much end up with a reversible quilt.

I used Sew Simple light 100% cotton batting, which is scrimless – you have to quilt it at least 4″ apart which means fairly dense quilting, but even so it is snuggly and drapes really well. Batting matters! I did an allover loopy leafy pattern with Superior Threads So Fine! Thread in the top and Bottom Line in the bobbin, which gives a nice fine quilting line on both sides. I’m certainly into this thread combination at the moment, and my machine likes it, but I’m not done with experimenting. No wonder quilting is an expensive hobby. So many options!

Right, I’m off to snuggle a new quilt. Hope Spring is bringing you all much joy and creativity, my friends.

Till the next time, Poppy xxx

P.S. you can buy the downloadable Twirl pattern here if you like:

store.figtreeandcompany.com/Downloadable_Twirl_by_Fig_Tree_Co_p

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Charity sewing!

It’s a wonderful thing to sew for family and friends – especially children. The pleasure of knowing that someone loves you enough to make something for you shows all over their face when you gift something handmade. And that feels good. But it’s another level of feel-good to know that your handmade gift is not only going to someone for whom it’s a wonderful luxury, but to someone who has probably never had someone spend lots of time and money on making something for them. Especially a child.

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This one is going to the incredibly worthwhile UK charity called Sibling Together, which sets up fun summer camps for children who have been separated by the UK foster system to bond again. I just can’t imagine. Children who have had such a tough start in life that they end up in foster care is hard enough to imagine – but to be separated from their siblings? Presumably, after all they went through together? Tough times. I imagine some need the totally new start, but for some it is because foster homes can take one but not 2 or 3 children. My heart breaks just thinking about it.

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Anyway, at the end of the camp they gift a quilt to each child to go home with . Apparently they really treasure the quilts, presumably as a reminder of their sibling and their experience, but it’s a blanket isn’t it? Something comforting about a blanket. And this one is certainly bright and cheerful!

The back – Ikea’s perfect Nummer fabric.

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I made this using a tutorial by the effervescently wonderful Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company, and is called the Double Square Star quilt. It’s pretty quick, it’s easy and it’s fun. I made it smaller than hers by using 16 blocks so it finished at 58″ x 63″ (it was square, but I trimmed the side borders so I didn’t have to piece the backing which was 60″!). Jenny shows you a block at a time, but it is easy to chain piece so long as you lay all your fabric out in piles beforehand, and it really was quicker than I had imagined. The tutorial is here if you fancy a go!

http://blog.missouriquiltco.com/double-square-star-quilt/

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I used 3 charm packs of “Bread n Butter ” by American Jane for Moda. I was so excited to use it, and I love the collection, but once I made a few blocks as above, I was regretting it. It was all too bold and primary coloured with the big blocks – just not me at all. In fact it was meant to be a gift for my friend with whom I used to work and who was retiring (and turned 60) but it just didn’t feel like her either. I liked it more once I put a big 5″ border around the outside, but was still not feeling the love; I needed to wait until I found the right recipient. After all, a quilt top is expensive, but finishing it is also expensive – far too much to be sitting around!

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But it was all the lovely folk on IG that made me recognise that my tastes are totally different as a 40-cough year old than they were as a 20 year old, and the idea of this one being my Siblings Together quilt this year was born. And suddenly I really liked it – it was like I could see who it was for and I got enthusiasm for it again. I quilted it with flowers and leaves and it transformed it in my eyes. I now think it’s great! Hurray! I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

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I really really hope that some wee person will like this quilt, maybe even grow to love it over the years. God knows, these children could do with some serious amounts of love. I’m so glad there are people like Siblings Together doing so much good in a harsh world. And so glad that I can contribute in some small way!

This is their website; they are on Facebook too.

http://siblingstogether.co.uk/

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Poor long-suffering quilt-holding hubster. I made him come to the entrance of the forest opposite our house and everything, just to take these pictures, so I’d better use them. I’m sure the neighbours laugh at us. True love that.

Enjoy the Spring my friends. Until the next time,

Poppy xx

PS. I’m doing tons of sewing which I just don’t have time to blog about – you can see it on my Instagram under “Cuckooblue” if you like – there is a link on the sidebar of this blog is you need it! Thank you so much for stopping by!

 

Oh Dear, Oh Deer

Oh dear indeed. My camera wire malfunctioned whilst I was uploading 3 months’ worth of photos and makes onto the computer – losing almost all of them! Hence the absence of recent blog posts. But, less frustratingly, here’s the “Oh Deer”:

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My good friend moved house recently and I really wanted to make them a throw quilt for their sofa. Their tastes are pretty clean and minimal; white, grey, subdued egg shell blue. They even manage to keep the children’s toys tidy! Ahem, yeah, just like me. 😉 And Ana seems to be slightly in love with the deer/ stag silhouette at the moment, which can be found in subtle places in their home – on a cushion, on a tea-towel and so on. So I set off through the UK online shops looking for a set of fabrics with a grown-up colour scheme, but bright enough to lift a room or grace a picnic – and preferably with a few deer too. DSC_0072

I have had this grey/ mustard/ teal colour scheme in my head for a while, and have been dying to make a quilt using it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. And, being the kind of fabric-obsessed web surfer that I am, I also immediately knew my best chance of finding modern, clean, grown up yet quirky prints. “M is for Make” is a really fabulous shop. The owner, Kate, has a definite style and fabric taste; the shop is full of modern, often geometric fabrics or stylised prints, but with a healthy dose of whimsy in there – not taking itself too seriously. Well I think so anyway – she’s like a “cool hunter”!

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As you know, I most often quilt with precuts or collections – partly because there is no local quilt shop with a large selection of prints, partly because it is the cheapest way of getting a bit of lots of different fabrics, fat eighths only just being introduced in the UK (and fabric being twice as expensive as in the US). But choosing my own fabrics was SO. MUCH. FUN. And I was so thrilled to see that the colours on the computer did indeed match those on the fabrics I received. (Phew!)
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I had actually taken photos along the way in order to give you a bit of a tutorial and as an aide memoir for me for the next time, all of which are now fairy dust in the ether… although the construction is very simple and so it was probably unnecessary anyway. Here’s a bit of a guide, just in case you wanted the maths:

You will need for the quilt top (approx 55″ x 55″ finished) :  

  1. 61 (sixty one)  6″ fabric squares. Assuming you have well-cut fat quarters and you can cut 9 (nine) 6″ squares from each one, you only need 7 fat quarters. Not all fat quarters are that well cut. If you had more fat quarters, you would have fabric left over but would end up with more variety in your quilt. I had 14 different fat quarters and have fabric left over.
  2. A yard of white background fabric, cut into 3.25″ strips. 
  3. rotary cutter, decent ruler, thread etc etc you know the drill!

Cutting and assembly: 

The quilt is made from 2 blocks. Sew everything together using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

  1. Block A is a basic 4-patch. Take 2 of your 6″ squares and sew together, RST. Repeat with another 2 squares , open both out and sew together into a 4-patch. You need 12 of these.

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2. For Block B,

  •  You need to subcut your 3.25″ wide white strips into 26 (twenty six) 6″x 3.25″ rectangles and 26 (twenty six) 11.5″ x 3.25″ rectangles.
  • Then take a 6″ x 3.25″ rectangle and sew onto the side of a 6″ square. Repeat on the other side. Then sew a 11.5″ x 3.25″ rectangle to the top and bottom, finishing the block.
  • You will need 13 of these blocks.

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3. Easy peasy! Really at this point you should check all your blocks are the same size. They should all measure 11.5″ square. but seam allowances being what they are when the fascist quilt police are looking the other way, they may not all be the same. It’s okay. Find your smallest block and trim them to be all the same size; even if that is 11.25″ or  11″, it’s better than not being able to sew your quilt together or it not lying flat when it comes to basting.

4. And now sew together, alternating block B and block A in a 5 x 5 grid, as below. Very simple 🙂

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I decided not to put on a border, and just bound it in the beautiful Kona solid in teal. I used the number print from Ikea on the back, which looks great with this quilt – and such a bonus that it is 60″ wide, has a nice soft handle and is very cheap!

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I used my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient for the batting, which gives it a gorgeous snuggliness and drape, and quilted it in a freemotion all-over loop-de-loop pattern. DSC_0034

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Obviously my house is not a Scandinavian inspired, white minimalist and modern looking house, so I appreciate that my sofa doesn’t suit this little quilt really -but I’m sure my friend’s sofa will!

Oh I nearly forgot to tell you the fabrics! They were mostly from the collections Yoyogi park by Heather Moore for Cloud 9 fabrics, Mod Basics from Birch Fabrics, Westwood by Monaluna fabrics, the Kona teal and a lovely fabric from Botanics collection Carolyn Friedlander. I could have just kept adding fabrics from that shop I really could, but tried to be restrained.

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Incidentally, the lovely Kate from “M is for Make” instagrammed my order picture and it got so many “likes” that she made some of them into a bundle called “forest bundle”. You can see it here if you are interested:

http://www.misformake.co.uk/search?type=product&q=goldteal

Right, I had better get off to bed. Why does the bloggy muse always float by so darn late in the evening? Hopefully my dreams will be filled with teal fabrics and peaceful deer tonight. May yours be too!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Jewel Box Quilt in Tapestry Fabrics – from 2 charm packs

Ever had fabrics so lovely that you knew exactly what quilt pattern you wanted to make with them? That would be a waste made into anything else? Even when you are REALLY close to the wire with this deadline and should go for simple?

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I always thought this was traditionally called a Jacob’s ladder quilt, but I’ve also seen it called a Jewel Box quilt. Given that Jacob’s ladder for me will always be that disturbing psychological horror film where the guy (Tim Robbins) sees peoples heads vibrating left and right superfast and is giving me a shiver just thinking about it now, let’s return to the world of pretty things and call mine a Jewel Box quilt shall we?

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My ex- boss has been my biggest fan for ten years and given me so many opportunities in my working life – and he’s moved the family (to follow jobs), turned 50 (!) and is having a 25th wedding anniversary this year. We’re going to their joint celebration this weekend at their new house, and I wanted to give them something for all those occasions. What better than a quilt using one of my favourite fabric lines – Tapestry by Joanna Figuera for Moda. I made another little quilt using these fabrics not long ago; you can see the blog post here https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude  … looks quite different doesn’t it? it is quite a versatile collection, and especially good for gifts where it can look colourful and classic all at once.

There are a couple of ways you could do this, but the easiest way to get a symmetrical quilt is to make this block:

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I had two charm packs and some white yardage so that’s what I’ll show you, but there are other ways to do it with precuts. This pattern uses the same block laid out differently to make quite a different looking (but beautiful!) quilt, and uses a jelly roll and 2 charm packs to make a bigger quilt: http://www.modabakeshop.com/2011/08/jewels-in-curio

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and this one is how I originally thought it would be done from just looking at the design, making 2 different (but simple blocks). http://www.modabakeshop.com/2011/03/sunkissed-jewel-box-quilt . The problem is making all these extra bits at the sides to make it symmetrical. She uses a layer cake to make a bigger quilt. I stuck with the traditional block.

Instructions (sorry I didn’t photograph every step!): For the quilt top you will need:

  • 2 printed charm packs (I used Tapestry) or 84 5” x 5” fabric squares – but remove any fabrics which are solid white or cream and replace with another print, cut from yardage. You need the contrast for this quilt.
  • 84 solid white or cream charm squares (I cut from yardage)

You will use 1 charm pack (42 squares) to make Half-square Triangles (HSTs) with 42 of the white squares
and the other charm pack to make 4-patches with the other 42 white squares.

1. So first the HSTs. Using one printed charm pack and 42 white squares make 84 HSTs with a print on one side and white on the other. I used my sizzix die cuttter to cut them and chain pieced them together, but I appreciate not everyone can or wants to do it that way (I might not next time!). If you need help to know how to make HSTs, try this link below for a picture tutorial from the fabulous “Freckled Whimsy”, making 2 HSTs at a time (they are easy!).

http://www.freckledwhimsy.com/2010/07/charm-pack-quilt-along-step-one.html

(Essentially you draw a diagonal line corner to corner with pencil on a white square. Lay the white square on the right side of the printed square so you can see the pencil line. Sew a parallel line 1/4” away from both sides of the line. Cut down your pencil line and open with pride to reveal your HSTs. )

2. Open them up and you should have a stack of 84 HSTs like on the right hand side of the picture below. Press the seams to the printed fabric and trim them to be 4.5” square. image

3. Next the 4-patches. Cut all your printed and white charm squares in half horizonally so you have 2.5” x 5” rectangles. Match each printed one to a white one and sew along the longer edge with a 1/4” seam. Open and press the seam allowance to the printed fabric.

4. Now cut these in half as in the picture below to make what I call little domino units:

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5. Now take these little domino units, mix them all up and sew them back together to make a pile of 4 patches like these on the left hand side of the picture below. you should have 84.

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6. Now make up one unit like this. Very carefully. it has to be this way, trust me, make them just the same and save yourself some unpicking. What? Me unpicking? No not me of course *looks up at sky, whistling innocently*. Sew one 4-patch, orientated this in the picture below to the white edge of an HST.

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7. To make the block,  Make another unit as above exactly the same, turn one upside down and sew together. Make sure it looks like this. It will be your template, and be there in times of doubt! Make a pile of your 4 patches all lying the same way, next to your HSTs, again all the same way as below. Lie them all carefully by your machine.image

8. And relax! Easy from now on. Chain piece them together into units of 2, then take 2, turn one upside down and sew together to make the complete block. Yippee!image

9. Now go forth and play! As you lay them together you can see the secondary pattern energing.

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10. Lay out in a 6 x 7 bloack layout:

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11. Sew them all together. I sewed on 2.5” white borders, and bound in a strong red.

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For the first time ever I used Quilter’s Dream wool batting, which is almost impossible to get in the UK… I found mine at www.passion4quilting.com which is a great site with some lovely fabrics at great value. The wool batting was 93” not 122” wide unfortunately, but I have told the shop now, so hopefully the site will be updated too. It is GORGEOUS! The finished quilt has a nice weight to it – it is much higher loft than cotton – and denser than Hobbs wool batting – but also feels much warmer (sewing the binding on whilst watching Tv is a good test of the warmth value!). Machine washable. Easy to quilt. Clung to the fabrics well. My only issue with it was (the price and) that my microstitch basting gun didn’t easily penetrate the batt to take in the bottom layer, and I’m a big fan of the gun now! I have enough for another quilt so will give it another go and report back.

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The wool’s high loft really accentuated the quilting – finally I did my New Year’s resolution of abandoning the stipple! I quilted in a loop de loop pattern, with some sweeping lines. It was quite easy actually – much easier than mastering the stipple with its echoing and not crossing the lines (I hate ugly stippling), and I really like the result…although I wasn’t sure at first – I wasn’t used to looking at a non-stippled quilt!

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Well, I loved making this pattern, and I’m sure I will do it again. It was less expensive than many quilts of its size as it only used 2 charm packs, and although it is more complex and I like simple patchwork, it still feels very pleasing to me. I’ll have a hard job parting with it, but I’m really happy it’s going to a good home.

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Block size – 8” finished. Finished size 52” x 60”.

Have fun, whatever you’re up to, ‘till the next time, Poppy xx