Scrappy log cabin quilt!

It’s the summer holidays here and Scotland is currently 27 degrees, which is a definite heatwave for us! So I’ll try to be (uncharacteristically) quick so I can take advantage of it! But I wanted to show you this:

Isn’t it pretty? I really love it. It’s my first log cabin quilt ever – after making literally hundreds of quilts! I’m completely in love with this classic block. And this quilt!

A basting shot!

I’d always wanted to make a scrappy bright log cabin quilt but somehow it had never happened. I had a plan in my head and I needed to do the maths, so that was the delaying factor. Anyway @sunnydaysupply on Instagram (www.sunnydayfabric.com) proposed a lot cabin sewalong, so I decided it was a sign!

There are many many tutorials for log cabins, so I won’t do one, but I will give you my measurement notes in case you fancied doing one like mine.

Anyway, I did the maths and decided on this as a block measurement diagram:

You’ll have to cope with a lot of my handwritten notes today! This block will FINISH at 10.5″ square. I decided on 30 blocks for the quilt in a 5×6 grid, and chose this palette below. Isn’t it delicious?

It was so fun to go through my stash and choose fabrics which fitted into the colour palette! I chose 6 colours, 5 (or more) fabrics in each.

They’re all 2″ strips, cut to size and put into piles as labelled below:

The low volume fabrics (pale background fabrics) are cut into the same piles EXCEPT FOR THE 11″ PILE – you don’t need that one.

CUTTING

Cutting Prints:

You want 30 fabrics cut into strips measuring 2″ by: 2″, 3.5″, 5″, 6.5″,’8″, 9.5″, 11.

You actually need a 45.5″ x 2″ strip of each of 30 prints to make this quilt.

Clearly this is too long for most quilting cotton as the Width of Fabric (WOF) is 44″ before cutting off selvedges. So you could use 30 WOFx2″ strips but you also need an additional 30 strips measuring 2×5″.

You’re best to cut your log cabin strips from Fat quarters or fat eighths. You need to start with a piece of 30 prints measuring 6″x 18″.

OR you could cut your strips from 30 layer cake slices, but you’d have the most wastage and you’d still have to cut 30 different 2″x11″ strips. You could OMIT the printed 2×11″ strip entirely for a smaller 9″ finished block and a different look – and you could then do it with a layer cake.

Follow one of the 3 options below:

Cutting Low Volumes:

This is easier for cutting as you don’t need the 11″ strip. You need 30 fabrics cut into strips measuring 2″x : 2″, 3.5″, 5″,6.5″,8″,9.5″.

You can use a 30 WOF strips, or fat eighth or fat quarter pieces measuring 4″x18″, or 30 layer cake pieces (most wastage).

SEWING

Now you’ve cut out your entire quilt, this is the fun part! Mix up the fabrics in each pile and enjoy the randomness. Don’t worry too much about the individual blocks looking beautiful, if it looks great all cut out, it’ll look great as a quilt.

Using an accurate 1/4″ seam throughout, follow the diagram below:

You sew in rounds. Start with the centre print 2″x2″, sew the 2″ low volume square (1A) to it, finger press it open. Sew 1B to it, press/ finger press open. Sew 1C to it, press open. Etcetera etcetera etcetera! When you’ve finished press your block. Pressing as you go, even with your finger, will make a big difference to this block.

Now play! There are so many possible fun layouts with this block. I chose diagonal stripes, as there is so much going on in mine I thought it needed simplicity in the design.

I laid it out in a 5×6 block grid and bordered it with a 2.5″ low volume border.

I free motion quilted some flowers and loops using my favourite Konfetti thread by Wonderfil and Quilters Dream Orient batting. My boy thought this this one should go to his cousin, so only the best for family!

I’ve loved making this one! If you want to make the same, apologies for all the hand written stuff, I’ve no appetite for doing diagrams on a computer. And now I should leave, now that I’ve been nice and brief 😂😜

Final size: 57″x 67″.

Enjoy your summer whatever you’re doing! I hope it’s a creative and fulfilling one.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

“Stars At Your Feet” – quilt tutorial

Hubster thinks this should be called “Jailbreak” as the stars look like they’ve escaped from their blocks of colour! 🤣👏

That these little stars are so naughty only makes me love them more! It’s the third time I’ve made this design which I originally came up with for a wedding quilt using a layer cake I was obsessed with at the time. Each time I’ve posted the design on Instagram, I’ve had so many requests for a pattern/ tutorial that I thought I really should oblige!

This quilt is particularly special – I’ve agreed to make it on behalf of my son’s class for the end of year teacher gift. She’s a very very special teacher, who happens to love art, and I know she’s going to be touched that the parents got together to give her this quilt. This time, rather than using only charm packs, I also included many favourite floral fabrics from my stash – it’s made it unique and special and I’d happily keep it!

But she deserves it more than I do; educating 23 nine year olds is no mean feat, especially when I seem incapable of getting one nine year old to even flush the toilet consistently! 🙈

Tutorial

I’m going to be pretty detailed even though many of you won’t need it, because some people who messaged to ask for a tutorial/ pattern are beginners! If you’re experienced, then please don’t feel you must read all this!

Okay, let’s do this.

Fabric requirements:

  1. 3 charm packs (OR 72 printed 4.5″squares and 64 printed 2.5″ squares from 2 mini-charm packs or cut from stash)
  2. 1.75 metres (a full 1.75 yards) of 44″ white background and inner border fabric
  3. 1 metre printed fabric for outer border and binding (a full perfect yard)

Cutting:

Cutting Prints:

1. Printed Star Points: you need 64 2.5″ squares for these.

If using only charm packs: Take one of the charm packs and select 32 of the darkest prints. These will need to contrast well against the white background so set aside the lightest prints for another project.

Cut the 32 5″ squares into half, to make 2 sets of 32 2.5″x5 rectangles. Save one set for another project and cut the other set into half again to make 64 2.5″ squares.

2. Star centres: Select 8 printed 5″ charm squares for star centres. Cut these down to 4.5″ square and keep in a separate pile.

3. Printed block backgrounds: choose 64 printed 5×5″ squares from the remaining 5″ charm squares. Use the darkest prints as they need to contrast well against the white background fabric. Cut these down to 4.5″ square.

Cutting white fabric:

1. White star centres and white block backgrounds: cut 8 strips measuring 4.5″ x width of fabric (w.o.f.). Subcut each strip into nine 4.5″ squares, for a total of 72 white 4.5″ squares.

2. White star points: cut 4 strips measuring 2.5″ x width of fabric (w.o.f.) . Subcut each step into sixteen 2.5″ squares, for a total of 64 white 2.5″ squares.

The above picture is what you end up with: 72 white 4.5″ squares, 64 white 2.5″ squares, 72 printed 4.5″ squares, 64 printed 2.5″ squares.

3. Cut White inner border: cut 6 white strips measuring 2.5″ x w.o.f.

Cutting printed border fabric:

1. Cut 6 strips measuring 3.5″ x w.o.f. for border

2. Cut 6 strips measuring 2.5″ x w.o.f. for binding.

Before you start sewing:

Draw a diagonal line point to point on the back of all the white and printed 2.5″ squares.

Sewing the White Star Blocks

This is what we’re aiming for:

You will make 8 of these blocks.

For each block you need 8 printed 4’5″ squares, 1 white 4.5″ square, and 8 white 2.5″ squares. Lay them out as below to get a nice mix of colours:

Then lay on your 8 white 2.5″ squares on the “points of the compass” squares as below:

*Notice the way the pencil lines go – they will make a “V” shape pointing towards the centre square.*

Now take one of the printed squares with its 2 little white squares over to the sewing machine.

(My machine has a vinyl seam guide on it, ignore it you don’t need it if you’ve drawn lines on your little squares!)

Match up one of the white squares with the bottom corner of the printed square as above.

Sew ALONG the pencil line as below:

You’ll end up with this:

Good. Now with a pair of scissors (or rotary cutter) cut off the bottom left hand corner, about 1/4″ away from the stitch line. Cut off and discard both the white and the printed fabric.

Fold back the white triangle:

And press:

Now do the same with the other white square… Lay your white square on the corner:

Sew along the pencil line then cut off the bottom triangle about 1/4″ away from the sewn line:

Fold it back and press:

This is where it fits into your block:

Do this to all 4 “compass point” blocks:

Finally, sew them together in rows using a 1/4″ seam allowance, then sew the rows together.

(Tip: use the edge of the unaltered squares as your sewing guide for your 1/4″ seam, as the squares you’ve sewn on won’t be as perfectly 4.5″ square)

Now make 7 more of these blocks for a total of 8. Each block should measure 12.5″ square.

Sewing the Printed Star Blocks

You will need 8 of these blocks.

The process is the same as when you made the white star blocks above, but below is a reminder:

First lay out your block using one of the 8 printed 4’5″square star centres you set aside at the beginning and 8 white 4.5″ squares:

Now choose 8 printed 2.5″ squares to become the star points:

Lay your printed 2.5″ square FACE DOWN on top of your white 4.5″ square. Your pencil line is ON THE BACK of your little square and should be orientated as in the picture below.

Sew along the pencil line:

Cut off and discard the unwanted triangle 1/4 away from the sewn line as you did for the white star blocks earlier. Cut off both printed and white fabric and fold it back as below:

Do the same on the other side:

Apparently I’ve lost some photos here 😱, but you do exactly what you did for the white star above, and then sew it all together to get your printed star blocks. Here are more pictures of making your star points and how it fits into the final block:

Note: if you like you can chain piece all the 32 printed star point blocks as I did – it’s quicker, but there’s also something nice about being intentional with your blocks, so so whichever you like, it’s supposed to be fun!

Make 8 printed star blocks. Each block should measure 12.5″ square.

Putting the quilt together

You should now have 8 white star blocks with a printed background, and 8 printed star blocks with a white background.

Lay your blocks out in a 4×4 grid alternating the white star blocks with the printed star blocks.

Sew them together in rows, then sew the rows together.

Adding the Borders

This piece should now measure 48.5″ square, but no one’s seam allowance is perfect! To avoid warping and wavy borders the best thing to do is measure your side before adding the border strip and cut the border to fit perfectly.

Sewing the inner white border

  1. First take the six 2.5″ white inner border strips and join them all, end to end with 1/4″ SA to make one long strip.
  2. Now measure the two sides, then cut 2 border strips to the correct measurements, pin at the start, and and middles of the strip, then sew on. Press and repeat the process with the top and bottom of the quilt. Press.

Sewing the outer printed border

Sew together the 6 printed 3.5″ strips and to end with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

As above, measure the two sides of the quilt, cut border strips to fit, pin at the end then the middle and sew in. Repeat the process with top and bottom outer borders.

AND YOU’RE DONE! 🙌👏👏👏❤❤❤❤❤

Phew, that tutorial felt like it took a loooong time. Let me know if you have any questions or something is just plain wrong. It’s just a free wee blog tutorial, so it’s not like it’s pattern tested or anything!

So to finish:

I used a lovely 100% a scrimless cotton batting called Katahdin Autumn weight by Bosal , and quilted it on my domestic machine with loops, leaves and flowers.

Grey chevron on the back:

It’s not been washed yet but it’s all drapey and snuggly already – I do love it! I did use some charm squares left over from other projects, mostly Little Miss Sunshine and Tuppence by Moda, but there are several other fabrics from my stash and scraps in here, some Bobbie and Camille, some Art Gallery fabric, Tilda border, even a Heather Ross print – this one was truly scrappy and for that reason has my heart. I really hope my son’s teacher loves it as much as I do. She deserves it.

Oh, I should have said, it’s 59″ square. Good throw size or picnic size. ❤

I hope you enjoy making this, if you decide to! Let me know if you do. You can find me on Instagram at @cuckooblue or comment here if you’d like.

Have a great summer, you lovely creative people.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Quilted to life: Tilda Stems Quilt

I have never done so much “custom” quilting on a quilt before – and never been so proud of a quilt! I’m amazed at the difference it’s made to what was originally an “it’s quite nice” quilt top. And I’m amazed at what our domestic quilting machines can do!

This started life 8 months ago, having spent a sweet but somewhat tedious few weeks sewing up zillions of cushions for kiddo’s school library, I had that sudden urge to make something more complex. You know the way that you find yourself suddenly making something unplanned just for the joy of it? Totally normal right? I really don’t care what the bank manager says. 😜

I had had the “Stems” quilt pattern from Fig Tree and co on my to-make list for a long time, and a Tilda fat quarter bundle of both Memory Lane and Cabbage Rose lines. I still absolutely love these fabrics, rich but so pretty. So without thinking too hard, I just started… And immediately turned to Instagram for help!

Most folk chose the green dotty (would you have?). I wonder how different it would have been with the charcoal!The pattern is great, very easy and lends itself well to chain piecing, so it came together quickly.

You know… I quite like this, but I still wish I had put a wider inner white border. If I do this again, I definitely will. As a result I didn’t love it immediately. Good size though – 53″ x 68″ and since it was such a spontaneous project, there was something freeing about not having invested hopes and planning into it.

Anyway I had other projects to do, so I put it aside for a few months until a few months later…

When I decided to quilt it – with feathers! The first feathers I’ve done on an actual quilt! Not actually that difficult and to be honest I thought they were ugly whilst I was doing them! I love them now, it goes to show that you can be too close whilst you’re quilting, give yourself a break 😄 Quilting always looks better when it’s done.

See? Not perfect, but overall 😍 I used Wonderfil Konfetti 50wt cotton thread in white.Then it hung around for some more months, until I worked out what to do in the petal sections. A stipple? Loopy meander? In the end I decided I needed a hand project and went for some big stitch hand quilting.

I tried pink and white thread but the black won, as it stands out strongly up close, and gently from any distance. I used Spagetti thread, a lovely silky 12 weight double gassed for low lint, non glazed, non twisted thread. Good value too!

Some folk find quilting through the the layers of quilt top, batting and backing difficult, and many resort to doing one stitch at a time or giving up. The technique of hand quilting is different from the running stitch action if you want to go quickly and load several stitches at once. There are a number of ways to do it, including using a hoop which I sometimes do. I put some videos on my Instagram , @cuckooblue :

It’s easier at the edge as you can put your supporting thumb on the top of the quilt. The quilting videos on my Instagram have explanations of how to quilt like this through the layers.The needle “rocking” is key to getting stitches forming at the back (ie going through all the layers). Rock your needle! 🙌 😎

Finished! Except for the borders, which again waited a few months whilst I pondered. I decided to quilt a leafy vine on the inner border and a flower and petal design in the dark blue border. The latter doesn’t show up in photos but it’s a lovely surprise up close!

Can you see? There are quilting videos on my Instagram page (@cuckooblue) but I took a video of me explaining how to do the border quilting if you’re interested:

Finally finished the binding last night and I’m so thrilled and, I don’t mind admitting, quite proud! Let’s allow ourselves to be proud of ourselves now and then, although I know being humble comes more naturally to most of us ❤🙂

Stats: 53″x 68″

Pattern: Stems by Fig Tree and co, plus an added 4.5″ border.

Fabric Memory Lane and Cabbage Rose by TildaQuilters Dream Orient batting

Quilted on domestic (but fancy) machine Janome 8200mcp with Wonderfil Konfetti cotton thread

Hand quilted with Spagetti 12wt cotton thread in black.

The transforming effect of quilting! Up close it’s so much more noticeable. Sewing really is our superpower!

Hope you’re all having a lovely Spring! As you can see from the picture above, Scotland is blessing our Easter Sunday with sunshine, for which we’re most grateful! Till the next time,Poppy xx

A finally finished postage stamp quilt!

This quilt has been a LONG time in the making!

64″ x 80″ of 2″ scrappy fabric goodness. Worth the wait?

I started it as a Leaders and Enders project. You know, when you have a big box of small pieces next to your sewing machine and you start and end long seams and chain piecing by sewing them together and always leaving a piece under the needle?

Like this above. It stops your machine eating the fabric when you start sewing something together, especially like an HST or corner. And then at some point you realise you have a heap of blocks sewn together – a quilt with hardly any effort!

That was my box of squares – those pictures came from my original blog post when I was making the quilt top and I described that process and Leaders and Enders in more detail. The post is here if you want to see it.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/cuckooblue.co.uk/2016/01/13/postage-stamp-thoughts/amp/

Hee hee, patchwork craziness! It’s not staying on this bed… But it is the first quilt I’ve made that actually covers my king sized bed! The top anyway.

Anyway, 2 years ago I found I had all these 8 patches and I spent a happy relaxing weekend sewing them all together. There’s something so restorative about mindless sewing, especially when vast quantities of interesting fabrics are involved!

But then, gosh, I dunno. 64″ x 80″ is a big quilt and I got put off by the basting. I’m a terrible basting procrastinator. Anyway, I finally plucked up the courage, and guess what? Yep, totally fine. I never learn!

This time I used a new batting by Bosal – called Katahdin Autumn weight. It’s needlepunched 100 % cotton batting, crucially with no scrim. I say crucially because I dislike the polypropylene scrim binder that you get in many battings. It can range from 5% (eg Sew Simple cotton) to 12.5% (Warm & Natural “cotton”). This is a conversation for another day, but suffice to say I almost exclusively now use Quilters Dream battings for this reason, although it’s very expensive in the UK. However this new Katahdin batting came on the market, and I’m impressed! It’s maybe a smidge heavier and less silky than Quilters Dream Cotton (Select weight) but really very good. I will definitely keep using it. Although Quilters Dream Orient will be reserved for my special quilts obviously!

How sweet is this backing? I got it from The Fabric Guild UK at an amazing price. I wish I’d bought the whole roll. I love it. Oh and I did some loopy free motion quilting to soften all those lines of course.

I’ll leave you with my “quilt in the wild” shot – not really so wild; it’s the entrance to the forest next to our house; we were literally opposite our house! But I love the way that firstly my husband looks like he’s been pixelated, and secondly how those majestically tall trees can make an 80″ quilt look like a handkerchief! ❤

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Toutes Les Étoiles/ All the Stars; a French-Inspired Quilt and tutorial

So my dad informed me I hadn’t written a blog post in 6 months. My dad! Who knew. So to appease his apparent need for some sewing chat and to kickstart my blogging this year, here’s Toutes Les Étoiles, the only quilt I ever named:

My friend got married in a beautiful château in France 2 years ago and invited us, starting us off on the most wonderful holiday near Bordeaux. When we got to the château, this was my room:

Isn’t it gorgeous? Authentic antique furniture – and check out that quilt! I examined it carefully and it’s certainly seemed to be a handmade quilt, just the right amount of wobbles and mistakes to feel authentic. Ahhhh. The wedding party had the château to ourselves for 4 days and it was truly heavenly; we all got on well in idyllic romantic surroundings with beautiful weather and the happy couple were truly happy. Great memories.

Anyway, a few months ago they bought a house in the country together (fairly near us) and since this year is their 2 year and aptly-named “cotton” anniversary, I thought a quilt reminiscent of their French wedding might be a good housewarming present.

I used a Moda layer cake of French General’s Rural Jardin which I’ve been hoarding for far too many years and is now out of print, but they bring out beautiful, authentic-looking French inspired fabric collections regularly if you like the look of this one. Check out the back:

Do you like it? I do. It’s some Toile de Jouy quilting weight fabric I bought years ago from a French importing shop, which sadly didn’t survive the recession. I pieced it together with some leftover charm squares cut in half.

It’s not difficult to see how you make this quilt top, but here are instructions if you need; at least the maths is all done!

Tutorial

*Stitch everything right sides together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, the more accurate the better! *

Quilt top measures 56″ x 64″

Fabric Requirements:

  • 3 – 4 charm packs* (or 1 layer cake cut into 5″ squares)
  • 1 yard of printed fabric for outer border and binding
  • 2.5 yards of white background fabric 44″ wide

*Note: you can make this quilt with 3 charm packs but 4 gives more options for removing fabrics with low contrast with the background fabric. You can cut 42 5″ squares from stash instead of a charm pack if you prefer. Leftovers can be used in the pieced backing.

Cutting:

Cutting the Printed Charm Squares:

1. You will need 100 printed fabric charm squares, for the patchwork and the inner border.

Remove any charm squares which have poor contrast with the white background, although one or two could be used for the star centres.

2.Choose 15 printed charms for the star centres. Cut these down to 4.5″ squares.

3. Take 60 printed charm squares and cut into quarters, yielding 240 2.5″ squares. Keep them in sets of 60.

4. The remaining 25 charm squares are for the inner border. Cut these in half yielding 50 5″x2.5″ rectangles. set these aside for the inner border.

Cutting the White Fabric:

1. Cut four 2.5″ x Width of fabric (WOF) strips. Subcut these into 60 2.5″ squares.

2. Cut 14 more 2.5″ x WOF white strips and subcut these into 120 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles.

3. For the two borders, cut 11 more 2.5″ x WOF strips. Join these together end to end to make one long strip and then leave aside until you are ready for the borders.

Making the Star blocks:

1. Take 120 2.5″ printed squares and on the back of each one draw a diagonal line in pencil from one point to the opposite point.

2. Now make your first flying geese unit. Lay one of your squares, right sides together (RST) onto on of the white 4.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle so that the pencil diagonal line goes from the top right corner of the rectangle into the bottom middle.

3. Sew along that pencil line

4. Cut off the triangle (both the printed and white bits) below the pencil line, cutting about 1/4″ away from the sewn diagonal line. Discard the cut off triangle.

5. Fold back the printed fabric to reveal your flying, um, goose.

6. Take another 2.5″ square, lay it onto the white rectangle with the pencil line going from top left to the bottom middle then sew along that pencil line.

7. Again cut off and discard the excess triangle fabric.

8. Fold back the printed triangle and press – you now have one flying geese unit, which will be one side of your star.

9. Make some more of these flying geese units. You will need 60 all together.

10. To assemble one star block, you need one 4.5″ square centre, 4 flying geese units and 4 white 2.5″ squares. Lay these out as below.

11. Sew a flying geese unit to each side of the centre square.

12. Next sew the 2.5″ white squares to the ends of the top and bottom flying geese units as shown below,

13. Sew all the rows together to make a sawtooth star block. It should measure 8.5″ (if your 1/4″ seam allowance is accurate).

14. Make 15 of these star blocks and press.

Making the Chain blocks:

Okay, this is where I confess that I lost some photos and can’t show you quite as step by step, but they are really easy. I’ve done a mock-up with some other fabrics below.

1. Take 60 of your remaining printed 2.5″ squares, sew them into pairs and then sew the pairs into little 4 patches, like the middle of the above picture. You will need 15 4-patches.

2. Next sew a white 2.5″x4.5″rectangle to either side of each 4 patch.

3. Now take the remaining 60 4.5×2.5″ white rectangles and sew a printed 2.5″ square to each side of each white rectangle.

4. Finally sew the rows all together. you should end up with a block that looks like this below! (excuse the blurriness, it’s cut from a bigger picture!) It should also measure 8.5″ square, if your 1/4″ seam allowance is accurate). You need 15 of these blocks. Press.

Assembling the Quilt:

Lay out your star blocks and chain blocks in an alternating pattern, starting with a chain block. Make a 5 by 6 grid as shown below….

2. …and sew it all together.

Adding the Borders

1. Measure the sides of your quilt. If seam allowances were entirely accurate the sides should measure 48.5″, but they never are totally accurate. Measure the sides and then cut white border strips to that length – this helps prevent warping of your borders that can happen if you over stretch the borders as you sew. Pin on the border at both ends and in the middle and then sew on the side borders.

2. Next measure the top and bottom borders (theoretically 44.5″), cut a length of white 2.5″ strip to that measurement. Pin and sew on your top and bottom white inner borders.

3. To make the scrappy inner border, sew together twelve 2.5″x5″ printed rectangles that you made at the beginning by halving the charm squares. Sew this to one of the sides of the quilt and trim off the excess. I figure it’s scrappy so it really doesn”t matter if it’s perfectly symmetrical.

4. With the remaining white strips, make a second white border in the same way as described above.

5. Finally, cut and join 2.5″ strips from your printed yardage fabric and add as the final outer border. I used the same fabric as my binding too.

…and you’re done!

I used Quilters Dream Orient, my all-time-favourite batting and free motion quilted it with a loop and leaf design. It’s my favourite quilting, it looks classy but somehow fairly modern and leaves enough areas unquilted to keep the quilt snuggly. Quilters Dream Orient can be quilted up to 8″ apart despite having no scrim, which is a real bonus for snuggly quilts!

Oh and I forgot to say, you can use halved leftover charm squares sewn together and bordered with 2.5″ white strips to piece the backing if you like!

Well, I’m pooped after writing all that. seriously, no wonder it takes me 6 months to get to a computer! I’ll resolve to do this a bit more often, hear that Dad? After all I’m on Instagram (as Cuckooblue) most weeks, even every few days… hmmm I think I might see a connection!

Off to admire my, I mean, my friend’s, new quilt.

If you make it, I hope you like yours too!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

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

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!

 

Scrappy Plus Sign Quilt (- and tutorial)

Gosh – first of all, Happy New Year! I hope this year is a happy and creative one for you all. I’ve been really slack at blogging last year, but I am keeping up regularly on Instagram, so do come and say hello on there if you are an Instagrammer!

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Now and then though, I feel the need for more words than you can put on Instagram, and this quilt calls for one of those times. It isn’t my design, in fact a lot of folk have made a “Low Volume Plus Quilt” before, but since I changed the measurements from what you can find on google to be charm pack friendly, I thought I would include those measurements here.

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I completely love this quilt! The design was first devised by the amazing Ashley of Filminthefridge.com , who took one of the borders of Alexia Abegg’s “Marcelle Medallion” quilt and made it into a quilt all on its beautiful own. You can see hers here; it is a slightly different pattern to mine and different measurements, but a similar effect:

http://filminthefridge.com/2013/04/02/marcelle-plus-quilt/

A scrappy low volume quilt has been on my radar for a few years now; but I realised  that in doing so many fairs and commissions, I had accumulated a great stash, but had had no time to do any of the selfish sewing I had wanted to for a while… suddenly 2016 felt like the right time to try some of those long-awaited projects. Just before Christmas and New Year. Well, the muse strikes when she strikes!

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I had accumulated some low volume fabrics (fabrics which read as neutral or almost white) for the background, but in order to keep it really scrappy looking, I started with a couple of Moda charm packs of a great low volume line – Zen Chic’s Modern Backgrounds Paper. I then topped up with all kinds of low volume fabrics from stash and scraps, including lots of leftover charm squares from other projects. Because of that I had to choose measurements which were as charm pack friendly as possible, and decided on this block:

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Excuse the terrible image! I made it on Word, but then couldn’t work out how to save it as a jpg to insert – ended up taking a photo of it. I’m not going to win any awards for tech any time soon!

Obviously for the bright crosses, you can’t use charm squares – unless I guess you used  five 2.5″ squares of the same colour and increase the scrappiness! That would look cool too.

It’s such an easy block – there are no seams to match, and it is all extremely forgiving. You can likely work it out from the diagram above, but just in case you would like some basic directions for a 50″ x 60″ quilt, here goes:

You will need: 

30 different printed fabrics, size 2.5″ x 11″

120 low volume fabrics, size 2.5″ square (or 30   5″ charm squares, cut into 2.5″ squares)

120 low volume fabrics, cut into 4.5″ squares.

I liked making mine as individual blocks, so that’s how I will describe it, but obviously you could chain piece them all if you like. Sew using 1/4″ seam throughout.

  1. First cut your printed fabric strip into one 6.5″ x 2.5″ piece and two 2.5″ squares.
  2.  Sew a low volume 2.5″ square to each of the printed 2.5″ squares, and both ends of the printed rectangle.20161129_171907
  3. Sew the 4.5″ low volume squares in rows as the  diagram or the photo below:20161129_181342
  4. ~Ta-da! Easy-peasy. The block should measure 10.5″ square and will finish in your quilt at 10″ square. 20161129_184356
  5. Make 30 of these blocks and then sew them into a 5 x 6 grid as shown in the “I’ve just been basted” photo below: 20170105_165253

It goes together so quickly and I loved making those blocks! And I have a new-found obsession with low volume fabrics; me and any new found fabric obsessions are not a good combination for my wallet.. I might need to start doing commissions again! I batted it with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting – an all-natural blend of silk , cotton, tencel and bamboo that quilts, feels and drapes beautifully and quilted it with some free-motion loops, daisies and leaves. I’m going to have to show you some photos:

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And OH MY. Look at that backing. It’s my current favourite print – a grey/navy floral from Tilda’s Memory Lane collection. It is a definite indulgence, but I’m so happy to have a whole quilt back with it. I love the back almost as much as the front! Because the back is so dark, I didn’t want the thread to be too visible in the bobbin. So I used The Bottom Line thread in white by Libby Lehrman for Superior threads – it is a 60wt polyester which has given a beautiful subtle quilting line in my print, not too obvious in the navy but keeping the pink flowers fresh and clean. In the top thread I used one of my favourite cotton threads – Konfetti 50wt Egyptian cotton thread by Wonderfil which doesn’t break in my machine unlike, sadly, Aurifil does. And a size 70 topstitch needle. Thread can make such a difference to a quilt – especially when you don’t want to detract from the prints or busy up the design too much. So important – but I do agonise over it sometimes!

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I’m off to snuggle it, and hopefully also  the wearer of those battered old shoes which you can see below that quilt! Wishing you all a wonderful 2017.

Until the next time, Poppy xx

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

Starflower chain quilt – finally finished!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pieced a back:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time,

Poppy xx