Jewel Box Quilt in Tapestry Fabrics – from 2 charm packs

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

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

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

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

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

Jewels in the Curio Quilt

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

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

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

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

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

How to Sew Half-Square Triangles (HST) – 2 at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quilts of Gratitude

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Teachers… I’ve always had a lot of respect for them. And now even more.

Last year my little boy started at a local nursery but was utterly distressed to the point where his behaviour changed profoundly (read “lovely boy became a rabid, savage, tantrumming monster”), following which I took him out and put him into another nursery in a neighbouring village with – seriously – THE MOST amazing nursery teachers in the universe. So kind, yet firm, warm, confident, listened to us, listened to him, encouraged us to become part of their school and community. He settled within a few days. Not one tear or tantrum; he has completely thrived. They turned our family around, took out all the worry and stress we were feeling for our son. They gave us so much. All I could give them both on his last day of nursery were quilts:

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So don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has made a quilt knows this is not a small gift, or even an inexpensive gift. But I was so glad I could give them something in which the evidence of how much I appreciate them was in every little stitch. Of thousands of stitches. Even then, it doesn’t convey all my gratitude (although they were overwhelmed as you would expect lovely folk to be!) – but short of giving them our car, this was the best I could muster 😉

Anyway, the first quilt was a slight variation on the Little Lady Patchwork’s “Charming Stars” quilt pattern from Moda bakeshop, to be found here:

Charming Stars Quilt

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As you can see, instead of doing all stars I did 5 star patches and 4 nine-patches. It went together very quickly, partly because charm pack nine-patches are superfast – I didn’t think too much about fabric placement, just went with a variety in each block. Quick, and I think I prefer it like this – now how’s that for a bonus 😉

The fabrics are “Tapestry” by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda. It used 2 charm packs (well, 77 charm squares to be exact), some white cotton and 12.5” of a border print. The fabrics are so timeless, as they always are with Fig Tree Quilts’ collections, but not as “sweet” as some of the collections; she lives in a farmhouse, so I thought this might fit in with that traditional feel. The quilt measures about 52” square.

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Do I have any regrets about this quilt? Did I preempt a “…brown border??” question which might have been forming in your head? Well, although I like the quilt a lot, especially in our house and double-especially in the flesh, I can’t help but wonder if I might have preferred a different coloured border. I had some red, and some of the minty bluey colour. I think it would have changed the feel of the quilt completely. On reflection though, this will fit into a farmhouse better than the other options. I now can’t work out if that final answer is the truth or if it’s my natural “life’s too short to go round regretting small stuff you can’t change” mentality.

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You might have seen this second little quilt in the making a couple of posts back, where I showed how to make it (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/89599354437/the-nine-patch-disappears-tutorial-and-layouts). I actually really love it finished – although this isn’t a quilt which really works in my house, I found it a tiny bit hard to let it go. This is partly because it is made with a very rare, older, gorgeous Fig Tree Quilts line (Strawberry fields) as well as with a more recent one, Honeysweet. The two collections mixed beautifully. The following pictures show some of the so-pretty-my-heart-aches prints:

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I showed them to a few folk, and this one in particular stole several hearts. I bound it in a slightly retro feel blue floral from their “Whimsy” collection, that I had in stash, and it was perfect. I hadn’t really thought I would like this D9P pattern so much, but quilted up it looked really great. The top took much longer to make than the charming stars one, which surprised me somehow – silly really, you make blocks, cut them up and re-sew them – how did I not think that might take a while??

Both quilts measure about 52” square – lap size/ sofa throw size, perfect for those chilly winter evenings in front of the TV in Scotland. Both used 2 charm packs. I used my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting in both, for softness, warmth and washability, used plain white backings (to keep costs down in truth) and stipple quilted both. I resisted washing them, although I love seeing them all crinkly; in this country where the lovely crinkliness of quilts is not well known I think it’s better to give them looking “new” and let them wash them and acquire that beautiful antique look. For once I did put a label on saying thank you and the date – I hope they bring these wonderful teachers warmth and comfort for many years to come!

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As an aside (kinda), all the other parents felt the same way about these teachers; the nursery parents got our kids together and did fingerprint trees, got them framed and gave them to the teachers all together on the last day of nursery. They were so touched. All very emotional, but in a good way.

I downloaded the finggerprint tree here – edited the legend in Microsoft “Paint”, printed on some nice ivory card and used a lovely non-toxic ink called Tsukineko Memento ink (colour Lilac Posies). The kids did 4 fingerprints each and I wrote the name by one of them. We all really loved how they turned out.

http://onefabday.com/diy-project-free-fingerprint-tree-template/

Now onwards to school and beyond… I’m not sure if I’m ready for this! How can my baby be growing up so fast?? Thankfully at the moment, the thing he seems most aghast at when listening to the story of the three little pigs is not that a wolf can blow down a house and try and eat little talking pigs, it’s why they would possibly want to leave their mother’s house in the first place… I think I’m safe for the moment 😉

Hope you are all enjoying a summer holiday! Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Boy Crazy! (not me, well not for about 20 years…)

Hellooooooo! And happy new year! What a marvellous time of year this is, full of good intentions and a (perceived) clean slate. I get so joyous I accidentely celebrate by making huge steamed puddings and scoffing with my boys with lashings of custard. Before remembering my good intentions. Oh well; it went down a treat and the littlest one loved it, despite being usually a chocolate fiend. I used Delia Smith’s treacle pudding for a change from chocolate or marble which I’ve done before:

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I should point out that this one was NOT mine, which collapsed a bit when I upturned it (I made it with more fragile gluten free flour) but which tasted delicious nonetheless. The recipe is here by the way:

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/sweet/steamed-treacle-sponge-pudding.html

Other than that I shouldn’t have much to report on this sewing blog, given that the sewing has not really restarted in earnest (yet). However I have loved catching up on all the Christmas iplayer goodies – I mean, Sherlock is back! Sherlock! – on the sofa next to the Hubster whilst sewing up my hexagons. Oh yes, the hexagons. That project is still underway and is happily keeping my fingers working and my head out of mischief. I have posted a few pictures on Flickr, but will update in the next post.

Meanwhile here is a sweet baby quilt I made for my gorgeous brand  new nephew for Christmas! It’s made from a fun range called Boy Crazy by Dani Mogstad for Riley Blake designs. 

Here it is basted (see the pins?) and on the sewing machine:

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Aren’t the colours and designs great? I wanted something bright for him which could last him more than a year or two. This has blue, orange, white, brown, red, yellow stars, zigzags, circles, diamonds, rockets, cars, words – phew! What’s not to love?

Here is my hand guiding the stippling quilting. Stippling is my favoured quilting pattern – it’s classic and inoffensive, and I love the way it helps to breaks up all the straight lines of the traditional square patchwork which I love so much, and meld all the layers together into one beautiful piece. Maybe if quilts were more common in this country I would tire of stippling; and I AM going to try some loop-de-loop quilting this year – oooh get me, taking risks and all – but at the moment I am happy with the humble stipple! For those not in the know, stippling is like wiggly lines all over the quilt – like bends in a river, some of which follow each other and some of which don’t. You’re not supposed to cross the streams, like in Ghostbusters – but sometimes that happens on my quilt and no giant marshmallow man blows up in my face, so it can’t be that much of a crime.

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and then ta-da! It’s finished! (thanks Grandpa for being the quilt holder!)

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Of course the problem with quilting in Scotland is the weather – I couldn’t wait for a day with more light to photograph this in, partly because that might have taken 3 months, and partly because Grandpa was taking it over to my brother-in-law’s that day in preparation for their Christmas, so whether or not this photo does the bright colours justice, here it is!

But let me assure you, this range is supercute, bright, cheery and perfect for any little boy, and probably up to the age of about 10-14 depending on the boy. See the stippling?

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I used a 10” stacker of Riley Blake’s Boy Crazy, cut it into 5” squares, sewed together and put a white 3” border round. I used the same yummy stripy binding that I used on the elephant quilt a couple of posts back, from Space by Makower, which I love on this quilt. This is one of my favourite ways to make a rich, very scrappy kid-quilt; the eveness of the squares help the eye cope with the mix of colours and patterns, the white border not only helps to tone down all the colours, but gives some space for a name, which I’ve done here – “Rufus” is my sweet nephew’s rather cool name. I used Quilter’s Dream Orient batting to provide more warmth than cotton but still be machine washable and dryable.

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It finished up about 43” x 52”, which I think is the perfect child quilt – you can see by Grandpa who is 5’11” and not rake-thin by any means that it will last for a child for a good many years as a lap quilt, extra layer, something to throw down on the grass or beach to lie about on – and of course as a lovely playmat full of interesting things to look at when he’s discovering his fingers and toes!

You can tell, I’m quite into this collection and quilt – not as much as I’m besotted by my nephew though! And the family have literally just moved to BERMUDA (2 days ago), so I’m gutted i won’t see him change over the next few months until we see them again. However, the upside is they can send me a good picture of his quilt in the sun 😉 Preferably with him and his big (but still very little and totally adorable) sister on it!

Better go before I get teary! Wishing you all the most productive, happy, healthy 2014 – and one full of colour and creativity!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Elephants, peacocks and splashes of colour

A while ago I made a baby quilt which a neighbour of mine snapped up for her little baby grandson; on the back is the most glorious print from a designer called Violet Craft, who designs for MIchael Miller fabrics. My neighbour has a daughter in her twenties, and was smitten by the print from the moment she saw it, and asked if I would make a wholecloth quilt from it for her daughter. Her daughter seemingly just adores elephants and my neighbour is convinced she is going to be absolutely thrilled with this print.

And here it is:

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Isn’t it the most beautiful fabric? It’s called Parade Day in Grey from the collection “peacock Lane” by Violet Craft for Michael Miller fabrics.  It reminds me of celebrations, of fireworks. Of hot, dark nights in far-off lands. Of adventure, of the world being a wondrous place full of mysteries and laughter. My only regret is that I didn’t notice this collection until it was almost out of print, and this is the only fabric I got. I love the collection as a whole and its bright sorbet colours remind me of the summer days we rarely get in scotland!

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So I wasn’t sure about this brief; firstly a wholecloth quilt the top made from one piece of fabric) seems… well, cheating, doesn’t it? Although you can’t slice into this incredible scene either, so it’s not like I had any other solutions! Secondly, Catriona is in her 20s, and I was worried it would be too childish for her. Apparently she has a charcoal grey sofa and this will go well whilst providing the colour the room might need, so my neighbour was unconcerned, but I wasn’t. Still I made it, and you know what? I love it. I really do.

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It’s about 55” x 55”. In order to make it wide enough, I used 5.5” sashing of Kona charcoal, with a 3 inch border along the top. The charcoal was a good match to the background dark grey, which although nearly black it has little white lines on it, which adds a kind of “drawing” feel to it, and gives the print texture and movement, so dark grey was perfect.

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In order to reconcile myself with giving this to a grown woman, I decided on a more grown up but still fun backing. I love this numbers in words 100% cotton print from IKEA. The words are in deep grey, which is perfect, and it works reallly well with the front. It’s a grey day in Scotland today with no bright red elephants and trees bursting with colour to cheer it up here, so apologies for the dark pictures!

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Catriona lives in norway, so I wanted to make this as warm as possible. I almost went with wool batting, but the potential difficulty in washing it put me off. Cotton is the coolest, and I try not to quilt in polyester in case it might end up over a sleeping child. I tried for the first time Quilter’s Dream Orient – a blend of silk, tencel (eucalyptus!) bamboo and cotton, which supposedly combines the best of these natural fibres and although not as warm as wool, it supposedly isn’t far off. I really liked it, easy to quilt, no issues, nice drape and softness afterwards, machine washable. Apparently it won’t shrink, so maybe go with cotton if you want the antique crinkly effect after washing.

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The biggest issue I had and I’ve still not resolved in my mind is the quilting thread. I went with white as you can see, and it’s not too dense a stipple (although I seem to be out of practice!) to avoid breaking up the design too much. White works for the fabric itself which does have those little white lines on it anyway, but of course it doesn’t really work for the solid grey borders, where it all shows up, quilting mistakes and all. I didn’t really want to muddy the bright colours of the print by using grey thread, which would also have changed the back. The only thing I could have done was use a variegated coloured thread, although I was worried about making a mess of stringy colour all over the front. So in the end, white it is. Now the quilt is finished, I think it looks good as a whole, but I’m still trying to work out if I should have quilted it differently!

I am very happy with the binding though – this is a stripe I got from my local fabric shop, “Fabrication” in Haddington. I am pretty sure it’s from the Makower company from a collection called “space” – rockets and aliens for little boys. Laura, the lovely owner, had this on end-of-bolt offer, and I took all she had – it’s such a versatile print – stripe, boyish enough for boys, multicoloured enough to match most projects and despite that, not too “primary colour” to be used for adult projects. Perfect. And stripy bindings – well. Yummy. Calorie-free yummy.

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Finally, a label with mum + dad’s choice of message, and it’s off to its new owner for Christmas! 

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Hurrah. I hope she likes it. And hope your Christmas shopping, baking, sewing, crafting, playing or denial is all going swimmingly!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx