Spiderman and Invisibility (or how to quilt with invisible thread)

The thing about having a wee boy is that despite having all the loveliest fabrics imaginable and an itch to try out some really complex and beautiful quilting designs (Kaleidoscope quilt anyone?), your child will look at you, big brown eyes shining and say “Will you make me a Spiderman quilt, Mummy?” And then will proceed to pick out two almost identical, but crucially apparently NOT THE SAME, equally busy and very Spidermanny fabrics for front and back respectively. It’s done, he loves it and his mummy, I kept the fabric whole and added a border – it’s not in itself worth a blog post… except perhaps for the quilting.

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This is the “back” of the quilt where you can see the quilting. I chose to do loop and star quilting as Kiddo loves it, having seen it on a quilt I made for another wee boy; I can attest that it is much easier the second time round – once you get your head round it it seems it’s a piece of cake! I showed how to do loop and star quilting (on paper) here if you needed any pointers:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2014/10/24/bartholomeows-reef-bermuda-baby-boy-quilt/

But on the front of the quilt I used invisible thread:

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Looking at the other side (which is not invisible) now, I am not sure I needed to bother. But I was concerned about the busyness of the print clashing with the quilting thread and it all looking like a giant mess. Especially as one side was very dark (the other had more white/light blue and grey in it). But for whatever reason, I chose invisible thread, and it certainly looks cleaner, but with subtle texture and pattern.

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That’s the side quilted with invisible thread and the next is the side quilted in a pale blue:

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The difference is more noticeable in real life! (isn’t it always?)

Anyway, this is the second time I used invisible thread, the first being on a project for Kiddo’s school last year when I made a quilt from the children’s drawings (but camera failure deleted the photos – arrrrggggh), and for which invisible thread was pretty important. At that time, I trawled through blogs and websites to try and get some understanding on how to use it, and made notes. Notes which I followed again with success again, so if only for myself I thought I would write them here too!

NB. *Apologies for not being able to credit the sources, but it was last year and I read quite a lot of articles about it… A google search will bring up all my sources! I do remember a newsletter from Barnyarns being really helpful – they are so knowledgeable about threads and notions! And it is where I got my thread. *

http://www.barnyarns.co.uk

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How to Quilt with Invisible Thread

  1. Invisible thread is either nylon (A.K.A. polyamide) or polyester. Polyester sews more like very fine thread and won’t melt as easily with an iron, so I decided to use it. I have some nylon invisible thread and it feels stiff, a bit more like wire but some folk prefer it apparently. The thread I used is called Superior MonoPoly clear very fine polyester, from Barnyarns. I used this as my top thread. It’s superfine but my Janome handled it easily.
  2. You CANNOT use invisible thread in your bobbin. It will stretch, break and tangle inside your machine. The tension would be all over the place even as you wind it. You need a very fine but strong polyester. I used The Bottom Line by Libby Lehrman for Superior Threads in my bobbin (I think Barnyarns recommended it as I got it from there too!) and it worked really well. It’s very fine (a 60 weight), but strong and I had no problems. You could try a 50 weight too but probably nothing thicker (the bigger the number, the finer the thread).
  3. Because invisible thread is a monofilament (one strand, not 2 or 3 ply), it is extremely fine (and stretchy). This means you need a very fine, very sharp needle. the thread will not expand to fill the hole made by a needle, unlike normal quilting thread, so you need a really fine needle like a size 70/10. If that’s not small enough try a size 60 (the smaller the number the finer the needle!). For sharpness use a microtex or a topstitch needle. I tried both and both worked well. I might say to go with a topstitch needle if you pushed me, but I doubt there’s a big difference. A 70/10 topstich needle was fine for me.
  4. I only free-motion quilted but I assume this next info is true for straight line quilting too. Turn the tension on your machine right down. because of the stretch, a normal tension will stretch and snap the thread. If your stitches are looking very very shiny and thin you will need to lower the tension even more. Experiment. On my Janome I had to reduce the tension to a 2.

and hopefully that’s it! Otherwise it was just like quilting with normal thread, and it feels like normal thread now it’s quilted.

I actually really like the thinness of the 60 wt bobbin thread too even though I usually only use 50 wt cotton – you can see the quilting but not too prominently (below). I need to do more experimenting!

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Phew! Hope that helps if you want to have a go with invisible thread, obviously there are loads of other options, I’m just saying what worked for me as I didn’t have any problems, but feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or experience with using invisible thread!

Happy sewing/crafting/drawing/art-making/life-making all.

Until the next time, Poppy xx

 

 

 

Tilda and Wedding Quilt Prettiness

OOOH, Tilda. Tilda to the UK born child of Indian parents means watching strange, brightly-coloured movies in an unknown language on grainy VHS with a beautiful Sari-ed lady in the advert in a rice field and the song “Tiii-lda Basmati” (the best rice, which I still buy now). And possibly the only understandable bit in the movie for my brother and me. But now it means this: 

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Soft, vintagey, floral, prettiness with both a modern freshness of colour and an authenticity you don’t often find in modern fabric lines which are so often “trying” to have a vintage feel but don’t quite make the grade.

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I admit the colours are not showing up well in our first-week-of-spring-cold-but -bright Scottish sunlight; you might have to trust me about the gentle romance of these fabrics. I used fat eighths of the Apple Bloom and Spring Lakes collections, but then took out the teal colours from Spring Lake and added Taupey-greys and Cadet blues from other Tilda collections.

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It is a commission quilt; my friend commissioned it as a wedding gift for a lovely girl whom I did actually meet once and I thought was fabulous. I had a telephone consultation with her, and they live in a whitewashed Scottish cottage with pale, duck-egg blues and ivory/ white colours. I just knew Tilda would be the right fit. Not the rice obviously.

The big squares were cut to 8.5″ and the smaller ones making up the 4-patches were 4.5″, and I just alternated them. You would need 13 fat quarters or 26 fat eighths or equivalent to make this quilt which finishes at 61″ square with a 3″(ish) border. It’s a great throw size – big enough for 2 on a sofa or someone to nap under.

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This is the back – Pernille in Cadet blue, pieced with some charms from the Tilda collection “Happiness is Homemade”.

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I really love the back! Almost more than the front, always disappointing when it takes a fifth of the time… The couple’s bedroom is duck-egg blue, so I am hoping that this will make up for the pinks and greens on the front of the quilt; a certain degree of reversibility. I hoped that the other colours would make this quilt fit into their home even if they re-decorated. They’re going to need to keep loving shabby-chic pastels though!

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I quilted it in a loop + swirl pattern, and if you look very carefully you can maybe see a “L + M” quilted in the middle (the couple’s initials). It’s not showing up very well here, but that is kind of the point… Batting is Quilter’s Dream Orient, a natural batting made of cotton, silk, bamboo and Tencel (eucalyptus), which gives it a wonderful drape and softness, without a lot of weight. It is definitely my favourite batting for special quilts, although it is expensive.

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That bright, bright sunlight to which we have become unaccustomed over the winter certainly shows off the texture that free-motion quilting gives a quilt. I love that all those curves soften the geometry of squares, but so subtly.

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I feel pretty sure she’ll like it, if only because I had the opportunity to talk to her about her tastes. What I am less sure about is how I will feel about letting it go! Do I always say that? This time I decided to buy a few Tilda charm packs for a summer quilt for us, just to make the hand-over easier!

After all, with fabrics this beautiful and timeless, it’s worth allowing the name to share brain space with some slightly trippy childhood culturally-significant memories, huh?

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Hello long-suffering, quilt-holding husband!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Postage stamp thoughts…

Happy 2016 lovely creative folks! Thanks for stopping by – despite it being 4 months since my last confession. And since switching to WordPress I get stats, which shows you guys keep checking in, so double thank you for putting up with my prolonged absence!

SO much to tell you about; I had an amazingly successful craft fair and have some thoughts on that; some Christmas stockings for which a tutorial has been requested several times; I have some quilts in the making; I did some free motion embroidery; my EPP hexagon quilt top is 3/4 done; I wanted to show you how I made a wee felt mouse doll in a tin for a friend… it’s hard to know where to start!

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(A few things from my craft fair)

But I’m going to show you the postage stamp quilt that I am currently so into that I am finding it difficult to do anything else, despite it supposedly being a side-project. Including neglecting the shabby-chic commission quilt for a wedding which was 4 months ago… don’t panic, they knew I’d be busy! They didn’t know I would be seduced to the Dark Side of the, er, superbright & scrappy, admittedly. (I don’t think I’ve got the hang of Dark Side quilty metaphors…)

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I have had this yearning for an ultrabright, not very grown up, superscrappy, rainbow, box of sweeties, star-bright, flowers and unicorn vomit quilt for a while, having been inspired by the bazillion amazing, scrappy postage stamp quilts out in blogland, but was actually pretty shocked to discover that I didn’t have many scraps big enough to cut a 2.5″ square from. You need 1,024 X 2.5″ squares for a 64″ square quilt. I was reluctant to cut into uncut FQs in case I needed them for other projects and found myself short. I had about 300 mostly different, big-enough scraps, in the colours I wanted, which I cut up but obviously I needed a whole heap more:

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So I decided to use charm packs. I have a terrifying weakness for charm packs and precuts. To have a tiny bit of a whole collection of beautiful coordinating fabrics in my hand makes my heart flutter a little. But it does mean that there are more errant charm packs hanging about having a fabric party in my cupboards than there will ever be quilts. That’s scrap, right?

It wasn’t until I saw this just perfectly-perfect quilt from “Focus on Quilts” (http://www.focusonquilts.com.au/one-more-post-before-i-leave)

focus on quiltspostage stamp quilt

that I truly fell head over heels. I think it’s because a lot of the scrap quilts you see have a tendency to go quite dark, and I really wanted a crazybright quilt; hers kind of all coordinates and still manages to look happy-scrappy. So I started with a base of the same collection as she did, my favourite collection, Happy go lucky, by Bonnie and Camille for Moda, and then added a few other packs which used similar colours; adding a bit of pink, but no brown, black, dark green or purple.

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I highly recommend visiting that blog page btw, she shows off a variety of utterly gorgeous quilt confection perfection, as well as listing the charm packs she used for her quilt.

Once I partly pieced this 16 x 16 square piece (about 32″ square) I reflected on how it looked a little “flat”. Maybe the colours were too coordinated? It used some “happy go lucky”, “beach house”, “one for you, one for me” (it’s just OK) and “garden project” (which is really really nice) – all for Moda. So I chopped up and threw in some “Sunkissed” and “Ambleside” which I had left over from other projects. Once it also had my own scraps in, it seemed to have a bit more depth from the varying shades of each colour, which I think helps, although it will be paler overall.

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Some more 16-patches ready to be sewn at some point, this time with scraps in:

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But… I think the thing I will enjoy the most is looking at the pieces of scrap fabric I used from my stash. Already, my eye sees them immediately + recognises them as fabrics I bought with love and have used. I like the effect of the charm pack squares but I don’t have that same feelingyou know, I think I might have to raid my stash after all to make it feel more unique and like it’s mine.

By the way I am doing most of this as a “Leaders and Enders” project. This is a technique devised by Bonnie K. Hunter I think (http://quiltville.blogspot.co.uk/). You know how when you finish a line of sewing, you cut your thread, leaving long ends of thread which essentially get wasted? Or when you start sewing, esp piecing triangles or delicate fabrics, your machine tries to eat the fabric? My mother-in-law always uses a piece of scrap fabric to start and finish her sewing (the needle stays in this fabric piece when you finish sewing/ switch off the machine).

Well, a leader/ender is a small bit of patchwork you want to sew together; you use that instead of scrap fabric so it doesn’t eat the corner of the HST you’re making for your proper project, chain piece everything you want to, and then finish with another small piece of your “leader/ender” quilt.

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That’s my “Ender”, which I left in the machine for whichever quilt I decide to work on next time, when it will act as my “leader”.

Before you know it, within a few quilts you have sewn together lots of small 2.5″ squares, first into pairs, and then into 4-patches. Without you really noticing you’ve done it. Well, it slows you down a little I admit. But I certainly didn’t notice sewing 1,100 little squares into 4-patches, as much as I would have done had I tried to just piece them all at once (I might have sworn off quilting forever!).

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I kept them all in a shoebox next to the machine, which was also good for the ten min mindless sewing break. Healthier than fags and booze… 😉

Once you put the 4 patches together, the 16-patches seem to go together pretty quickly, and because it’s scrappy, it’s all pretty mindless. Instead of trying to keep your rows in order, you just sew randomly. Bliss.

There are other ways to do this of course. The amazing goddess of modern square-based quilting, Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has a great tutorial on doing postage stamp quilts using 2″ x 7″ strips cut from scrap or stash. (her squares will finish smaller at 1.5″). I can see that working very quickly, though not as a leader/ender. Her fabulous tutorial is here:

http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2012/04/postage-stamp-quilt-tutorial.html

Meanwhile… My New Year’s resolution after playing more guitar and moving more is to sew less for others and more for us! My boy wants a Spiderman quilt, which is making me very happy, and I envisage a scrappy string quilt (I have lots of strings), a liberty quilt, 1030s feedsack repro picnic quilt, Heather Ross quilts for my two nieces and of course a bright bright postage stamp quilt! There, it’s in black and white – you’re my witness. After the 3 commissions I have to do first. I’ll start after that 😉

Until the next time, may 2016 bring you much love, joy, peace and happiness,

Poppy xx

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”:

Ana's quilt

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

Hexagons in Spring

This is my only slow-burning project. I’m not really a slow-burning kind of girl; hence this has been a lesson in patience and process rather than product. But the thing about slow-burning is you don’t really realise how productive you have been.

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I’ve posted about this a few times before (links at the bottom) – it’s an English-paper-pieced quilt top in the making, made of 1″-sided hexagons. I have to say I thought I might get to about 200 and turn them into a cushion, but I had that hankering, you know, the one which says “I will be a real quilter if I can do this”. That one. Even though you ARE a real quilter if you put front, batting, back and some stitches together. (Real, albeit maybe not astonishing.) Doesn’t matter though, we are our own worst critics, and sometimes we feel we should put ourselves through a rite of passage.

Apparently this is mine.

My all-time favourite designer is Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts for Moda, and this will be a homage to her work – hexies, hand sewn, kept as collections. I realised that although I wanted a scrappy feel, I also didn’t want a bright mish-mash, which I’d rather keep for a hard-wearing machine-quilted picnic quilt. But a hand pieced hexie quilt of my favourite designer’s collections? I’m being buried in this. I am NEVER letting it go.

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This is “Honeysweet”. I just love how all these florals feel traditional but not dull or stuffy.

Avalon/ buttercup

“Avalon”. Isn’t it amazing how that random navy blue can somehow fit into a hexagon quilt with no other blue in and you accept its scrappy nature? Or I just refuse to even contemplate that it doesn’t. It WILL fit. It will.

Buttercup

That’s “Buttercup”, so pale and floaty…

strawberry fields

And this is “Strawberry Fields”, an earlier collection which I can’t find anywhere now – I got this single charm pack from Australia. This quilt has definitely NOT got a small carbon footprint… I love this collection; so much nicer in real life, fresh, vibrant, mellow, pretty, perfect.

Fig and Plum/ buttercup

“Fig and plum”.

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“Tapestry”; this is one of my all time favourites – you can tell by the number of quilts I have made with it!

Fresh Cottons

This was a cheat because at the time of taking this picture a few days ago, it wasn’t sewn in – it is now though, along with some more. It’s “Fresh Cottons”. I’ve always been underwhelmed by this collection, but once it’s together it is nice and does work. It’s not my favourite; I’m not keen on the minty green somehow. It made the cut though, unlike “Mirabelle”, a more recent collection which I really didn’t take to at all.

I think this is about 1100 – 1200 hexagons sewn together. I was aiming for 1400 (about 60″ square), but it may be more like 1600; mainly because there are other and new collections which I love too. The nice thing is you can buy a charm pack and get the full collection and 160 paper-pieced 1″ hexagons from it, so it’s not like I have to buy a lot of fabric to get the collection. I have some “California girl” to go in:

California girl

Some “Somerset”

Somerset

Have ordered some “Aloha Girl”:

Aloha girl

And the release of this beautiful collection in September will make the end of the summer bearable:

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That might be enough. But if she keeps making such beautiful collections I might just have to keep going! Turns out slow burning is OK after all.

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And the best bit? Spring’s here, the sun’s out, and I can sit out in it whilst still sewing. Bliss.

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

p.s. you can find the three previous posts about this quilt here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/63599622305/hexagon-crazy

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/74315915679/sexy-hexies

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/84367443052/the-1000th-hexagon

A Patchwork Picnic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time, Poppy xx

Liberty Star Patchwork Pillow/ Cushion + Tutorial

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

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

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

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Bit of wobbly hand-quilting action going on there.

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

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

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

To make the patchwork cushion front, you will need:

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

Cutting instructions:

Let’s cut all our fabric up first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Layout

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

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

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

Making the patchwork star centre

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

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

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

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This is how you do it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Press everything.

Is it looking lovely yet?

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Adding the sashing

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

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

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Making the patchwork borders

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

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

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

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

Adding the final linen border

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

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

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 And Ta-Dahhhhhh! You’re done!

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

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

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

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

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

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Your cushion cover will measure about 19.5″ square.

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

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

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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

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

Pixelated Heart quilt for a New Year Wedding

My friend asked me if I would make a quilt for a lovely couple in their EIGHTIES who are getting a second chance at love. I guess those who are loveable may find love again no matter what their age…

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The Pattern is Pixelated Heart by the amazing Blue Elephant Stitches. I hope the happy couple love this sweet pattern as much as I do!

This is her quilt, made with low volume fabrics instead of white fabrics (I didn’t have the budget for that) – it is utterly stunning!image

You can find her blog and “how to” for this pattern here: http://blueelephantstitches.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/pixelated.html

She is SO talented, seriously you should look at her blog. And so generous – look how she breaks down this quilt for us to make it easier to sew as blocks rather than strips! And she invented the granny squares quilt, which is on my to do list. I love her work.

I had 2 rouenneries Deux charm packs – a beautiful collection from French General for Moda. I cannot get over how much I love French General fabrics, rich yet muted, classic but not old-fashioned, very very French.  I didn’t want to cut too much away from the charms but 5” charms were just going to make too big a quilt (again for budget). So I cut them to 4.5” – this quilt finishes at about 54” square.

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You can see the construction of mine best on this photo (top in progress). Obviously because I was using white fabric rather than low-volume fabrics as contrast, I didn’t need to sew the whole quilt as 4.5” squares, which saved time (another thing I didn’t have). It used 71 printed fabric squares and 40 white squares. I sashed it as above but then decided it needed a border, so I cut the sashing to 2.5” on the sides and 5” top and bottom… image

Then added a 2.5” red border from Rural Jardin which I had in stash. Definitely better.

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Stipple quilted – much as I like to experiment, there are reasons why classic quilting is classic, and I thought for a quilt like this I should go down that route. Had I used low-volume fabrics, straight line quilting would have worked, but I really think something as simple as this needs texture from the free-motion line, don’t you?

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Just LOOK at those scrumptious fabrics. It makes me want to go eat strawberry cream patisserie. New Year. Must. Resist.

What I really like about this is the size, the fabrics and colours, but mostly the fact that although it’s a heart, it’s not too cheesy – and when you fold it up or use it, it looks like a pretty patchwork quilt; it’s only when you spread it out and look from a distance that you see what it is. Perfect for a wedding gift for this loved-up pair apparently. Ahhhh.

Argghh, can’t seem to get this picture to orient the right way. Tilt your head to the right to see what it looks like draped over a box, and you’ll see what I mean about not knowing it’s a heart.

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Quilted with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting.

Things I don’t like about the quilt:

1. There is not quite enough white space aroung the heart. This was a budget / size thing for the backing and batting.

2. Budgetary concerns meant it has a plain white backing – it’s perfectly nice, but not as wonderful as it could have been and what the fabrics deserved.

3. It’s not for our house. Aye, there’s the rub. This quilt is designed and made for the happy couple but I don’t actually know the octogenerians in love, although I would like to. But the idea of a quilt in their new home signifying their love made me think about the pillowcases I’ve been meaning to make for my own son for ages. About how when I joked that a tiny baby quilt I was making was for him, he was actually disappointed that it wasn’t (even though it was tiny and completely unlike his tastes, I thought he would laugh!). It has shown me that I need to clear the decks and do selfish sewing for the next 6 months; make all those things for us that I need to, sew new buttons onto my coat etc. When you decide to sell a few things to fund your hobby, it seems that  hobby can inadvertantly grow legs, arms, and heat-seeking missiles and take over your life when it wasn’t supposed to. I guess everyone assumes you want to make a living from it eventually, so think they’re being helpful by recommending you etc – and whilst it’s SO flattering and lovely, you have to be careful. Particularly with deadlines when you’re well overdue making pillowcases with stars and trucks on. If you made a living from your hobby, it wouldn’t be a hobby would it? I definitely need to learn to say no for a while! Sometimes.

Oooh a random outburst. Must be New Year 😉

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And with that, may your 2015 be productive, happy and creative. May we all learn to say “no” once in a while.

’til 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

Bartholomeow’s Reef Bermuda Baby Boy Quilt

Oh my gosh I love this quilt. There are really not that many options for baby boy quilt collections which will grow with a child, but by bingo, this one checks all the boxes. I have never said “by bingo” in all my days before now – it must be special.

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I adore simple patchwork quilts – but particularly for heirloom quilts. My sister-in-law’s friend saw the one I made for my nephew Rufus here :

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/72250153872/boy-crazy-not-me-well-not-for-about-20-years

and apparently has been desperate throughout her pregnancy for one herself. I don’t know her as they live in Bermuda (!), but I can never refuse my gorgeous sis-in-law anything, and once the baby was born and duly named Matthew and not Rosie, I knew what collection I wanted to use. Especially in the sun – check out the colours even in the Scottish sun:

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My sister-in-law takes her quilts everywhere as a clean surface for the beach, grass or home for the kids and I guess her friend wanted to do the same. Now that she has received it, I can finally wax lyrical about this gorgeous collection.

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It is called Bartholomeow’s Reef by Tim & Beck for Moda, and features sweet but not too babyish little sea-life illustrations – waves, anchors, stars and a cute print with some characters on it – walruses and whales and such cuteness – all amongst bright geometric prints so that the overall effect will suit a 10 year old as much as a baby or toddler.

I backed it in this lovely monkey print by Dear Stella. It’s so sweet and the colours suit the front whilst giving an alternative theme on the reverse:

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They just look so much like my skinny active cheerful 4 year old boy! No mother of a small boy could look at this print and not grin with something akin to fondness. Watching my boy climb up the stair bannister, just because it’s there, leaves me in no doubt how related we are to our ape cousins!

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I used 100% cotton batting – Quilter’s Dream of course – with no scrims, binders or chemicals I just adore it and feel it’s the safest most natural choice for children. That or Dream Orient, but I didn’t think they needed the extra warmth in Bermuda!

So… the quilting. In the last few months, I was showing my friend how to free motion quilt and demonstrating some of the patterns she could use. At which point I realised that, despite my new year’s resolution, I had been putting off using a non-stipple on my quilts for fear of not doing a good enough job – but actually my quilting looked OK. So since then I have done a few. The first was the Jewel Box Quilt of a couple of posts back with loop-de-loop quilting here:

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 (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/97092626787/jewel-box-quilt-in-tapestry-fabrics-from-2-charm)  – where the quilting really showed up because I used a wool batt which has a higher loft.

I decided to try a loop and star pattern for the Bartholomeow’s Reef quilt – I think this picture shows it best:

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It was fairly enjoyable to do – I had to concentrate harder than for stippling – whether that’s because I have done about 50 stippled quilts (when on earth did that happen?!)or because it’s more difficult, I don’t honestly know. And it took tons more thread – but it wasn’t as difficult as you would think. My problem was that once I had finished, I really struggled with the non-regularity of it compared to a stipple. I really worried that she wouldn’t like it. I had to literally show it to everyone that would look, who all said it looked great, suited a child’s quilt, and added another dimension to the quilt that I relaxed. I think I wasn’t used to looking at non-stippled quilts! We don’t get much free-motion quilting in the UK although straight-line quilted quilts are starting to take off here. Really it was when my boy saw it and pounced on all the quilted stars fascinated, folowing the lines with his wee finger to the next one that I really did relax! Now I’m so glad I did it – and the recipient loves it!

This is a quick paper sketch of how it’s done, quite straightforward, some loop-de-loops and then a 5-lined star followed by more loop de loops. Start with loop-de-loop of different sized loops:

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Do an extra long line:

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make another line as if you were going to do a triangle:

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but don’t close the triangle, continue the star like this:

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Finally return to the beginning and continue some loop de loops. FIll the page, I mean area of fabric, with more of the same putting stars at intervals.

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It pays to practice this one on paper I found, although I usually don’t have the patience for a lot of practice, I figure I can practice on the job! And again I did more practice on a couple of quilt sandwiches on the machine before doing it on my quilt as there is something which my brain found visio-spatially weird whilst doing the stars. I had to think less about it by the end of the quilt. It’s a sweet look for kids, but it definitely makes a statement I thought. The hubster said “well, it’s a very SUBTLE statement…” Which makes me think that only quilters really see all these details lit up in neon like the aisle lighting in an aeroplane…

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I bound the quilt in this lovely stripe from Pirates by Riley Blake, which I really love. The colours were perfect for this collection and you can’t really beat a stripey binding. I used the navy wave pattern to cut the letters, steam-a-seam 2 to attach and sewed round by hand to secure. You apparently don’t need to with steam-a-seam, but I would hate the letters to come off. The steam-a-seam prevents fraying though, or at least prevents a lots of fraying. I have seen the results of much washing and it does work 🙂

The delighted mum sent me a gorgeous picture of her baby son gurgling away looking very happy and handsome on his quilt, and much as I’m dying to show it to you, the programmer Hubster who has banned any photos of Kiddo on our blogs (he blogs about creative programming solutions, it’s all symbols and looks like a zillion lines of a massive expletive to me) – well he would have a FIT. But I can assure you that this quilt is in good hands.

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So perfectly little boy!

Now, whether I can stop myself making Kiddo a larger version of this quilt I’m not sure. Meanwhile, I’ll look at its rolled up-sunshiney, stripey bound picture and smile. Or maybe that’s because of the Liberty behind it. Ahhhhh, Liberty.

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Until the next time, lovely creative peeps, have a fun time whatever you’re up to,

Poppy xx