Wedding Quilts and Guilty Quilty Musings…

I’ve had to give up this quilt in a hurry, and have only just looked at the hurriedly taken photos and I tell you, they JUST DON’T do this thing justice.

image

Is it showing up better closer up?

image

So my neighbour, the one I made this quilt for (Rural Jardin by French General for Moda):

image

…loves hers so much that she asked me if I would make a throw for her  son’s friend’s wedding. Her next door neighbour’s son actually – they grew up together, and of course my neighbour loves him as though he is her nephew. I know I’ve been quilting lots lately, but I thought I could fit another in especially I’m very very fond of said neighbour of mine.

So after going through some ideas – modern, bright, mixed with white, patterned, traditional… She decided she wanted an “heirloom” quilt – something that would grow with them, not bright or modern. We chose “etchings”, which I had used for my brother’s housewarming quilt here: https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/52416558284/in-love-with-my-machine

image

I really thought it was the right one, the little Parisian street maps and blueprints making it quirky but amongst classic prints, the colour palette which fits in anywhere. The fabrics by 3 sisters are remarkably soft and almost luminous yet always so classic. Ordered it. Brandished my rotary cutters with determination ready to cut it – and stopped. It just felt wrong. I think the couple are young, they don’t have a fancypants house like my brother (the Hubster and I are definitely the poor relations!) and I couldn’t see them using it as a picnic blanket or letting their first baby puke on it whilst he tried to fit all his toes in his own mouth as babies are wont to do.

Panic as the deadline was days away. No time to order new fabric. Looked around my fabric laden room – and my eyes settled on these.

Vintage Summer by Little Yellow Bicycle for Blend fabrics. And my heart sank a little bit.image

Sank because I KNEW these were the right ones. I had bought them originally for my brother until I saw their very grown up house and decided against. Sank because I had been saving them for almost 2 years for something special and never used them. And here today was the day. For folk I didn’t know. And yet who else just now would they suit this well?

image

I should have taken better photos, because I can’t tell you how much I love this quilt. The colours are so vibrant, the patterns are cool, fresh, arty, fun, classic and timeless all at the same time. The fabrics are really soft, and because backed it with a grey print from 3 sisters which are always supersoft, and batted it with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient – a mixture of bamboo, silk, tencel and cotton, it has a beatiful softness and drape.

This is the most beautiful quilt I have ever made. In my opinion. Even the Hubster said “wow, that’s a NICE quilt.”

And so began 24 hours of incredibly selfish quilty guilty musings. 

image

Can I really bear to let it go?

image

WIll this couple (whom I don’t know) really love it as much as I do?

image

Should I have really used up these fabrics on a commission?

The answer is I’m not sure how I will resolve my own selfish feelings of loss, but I do think it makes the perfect wedding gift for a young couple – classic enough to have as a sofa or bed throw but informal and pretty enough to use as a picnic or beach quilt and lovely for a first baby to discover their fingers and toes on or learn to roll over on, machine washable, full of beautiful comfort and practicality.image

Check out my embroidery! This is a most rare occurence and took ages, but I rather like it. The labels are by Riley Blake – they make a full panel of rather nice labels in 3 colourways, which was much nicer than doing my own.

And then I took it over to my neighbour tonight who was so thrilled. She is a huge fan of handmade and my quilts and fell in love, saying she almost didn’t want to give it away… a sentiment I told her I understood! But she assured me of how highly she thinks of this couple, how much they appreciate attractive, quality things, how much she thinks they will love the quilt. And I walked away feeling happier that it would be loved and go to a good home.

This collection is difficult to find now, but they did a “cheater” print – a patchwork print of all the fabrics, a bit of which is worked into the finished quilt actually and looked pretty convincing. So how did I muster up the strength to walk across the road and hand the quilt over today? By rising above my selfishness of course. And because this piece of loveliness arrived through the post today 😉

image

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Quilting tools and a French finish

My neighbour asked me if I’d make her a throw sized quilt pretty much the same as my favourite one which lies on my “snug” sofa most of the time; here is it is finished – clearly not lying on my snug sofa…

image

It’s made with my all-time favourite collection, “Rural Jardin” by French General for Moda. This line is so old and out of print that it is as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth, and I jealously guard the bit of it I have horded. It’ll probably be with me when I die, scattered for posterity under a tree or something. Size 59.5 square. This is the quilt top – in the sun, gasp:

image

Don’t be misled by the simple square patchwork, the red, white and blue (and beige), and the floral designs – this colection is soft yet rich at the same time, timeless, unmistakeably French inspired and authentic with it, and would look great in anyone’s room – or thrown on the grass for anyone’s picnic. I love that the simple patchwork allows the collection to shine but subtly, and that wrapped around someone it has a warm, heirloom feel. Here are some close ups:

image

image

If nothing else you can see my quilting in the unusually bright sunshine… I usually stipple my quilts, although my new year’s resolution (what!!? June? Really?!?) is to branch out this year, do some loop-de-loop and a few other designs I have my eye on.  But meanwhile I’m finally happy with my stipple, thanks largely to some new tools:

image

Exhibit A: one pair of S/M machingers quilting gloves. Completely genius invention. Before I used to grip the quilt with both hands and haul, I mean move, it around to achieve the meander; these have a grippy surface on the fingertips which allow you to move the quilt with your hands face down on the quilt – so much easier. This hasn’t changed my meander in itself but it has taken the strain out of it. For about £10, it’s absolutely my number one quilting accessory recommendation (I’m assuming folk have the right presser feet etc).

Exhibit B: the basting gun. I talked about this before (https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/81125927002/oasis-quilt-for-baby-maisie).  Mine is the microstitch basting gun and it puts a little plastic tack instead of safety pins. Tacks, by the way, which you can SEW over. Without breaking needles. This has made the biggest difference, both in terms of enjoyment and the meander itself because I don’t have to keep stopping to take out the pins which was breaking the flow, not to mention far too many needles. The little black ant-like things are the tacks.

image

And finally… the quilting table with the “sew-slip II”. The whattywhatwhat? I got the quilting extension table when I bought the machine a few years ago, but really until I got the gloves it didn’t help all that much. I kept forgetting to use it. Combined with the gloves though, it really does help. Particularly as I got the “sew-slip II” with the gloves – it’s a piece of slippy teflon (I think) with a hole for your presser foot/needle thing; it grips to your sewing machine bed temporarily, and reduces the “drag” when you move your quilt around. I don’t know for sure how much difference it has made, but I like the idea – and certainly my quilting this time seemed easier and more enjoyable. And quicker to boot. Here is an action shot:

image

Anyway, back to the quilt – this is the back: image

Some Rural Jardin in someone’s sale – how lucky is that! A row of charms – I had to add in some leftover “Etchings” by 3 sisters for Moda which toned well with the front – sashed by 2.5” of white cotton… the effect is pretty. And allowed me to join the backing fabric easily!

I used all-natural Dream Orient Batting by Quilter’s Dream – it really is so soft and silky. You can see the drape a little on this picture, and this is not yet washed and fairly densely quilted. I adore this batting. Next warmest to wool apparently, yet machine washable. Although if I could get Quilter’s Dream Wool in the UK, I would as apparently it machine washes well…

image

A binding in one of the faded reds of this collection: image

…And it’s ready to go. If I didn’t already have one of these, I’d struggle to let it go; as it is, I prefer this one’s backing and batting to my own! I wonder if she will notice if I swapped them… Ah well, I hope she enjoys it. It’s a collection that even the menfolk seem to like – this one got the seal of approval from her husband when he saw mine, so at least it should be loved 🙂

It is a shame that this collection is so hard to find, the blues with the two different reds are pretty special. The nearest I can see there is to this is “La Belle Fleur” by French General and looks nice from the pictures, sadly also getting older, which has a regency green in there too – or the latest “Le Bouquet Francais” which has a yellow added. I’m sure the latter is nice – but from the pictures I’m just not sure about the yellow… Still, French General rarely get it wrong, I think their collections are just more beautiful in real life than in photos. I’ll see if I can stretch to trying one! I’m amazed we have money left for food after the quilting supplies are done…

Till the next time, Poppy xx

Hexagon Crazy…

I love quilts. LOVE them. In our house even the dog has a quilt (the only way he’s allowed on the furniture). When my 3 year old is tired or in need of comfort he lies on a sofa and demands and then covers himself in a quilt  – which admittedly almost immediately becomes a tent, a flying carpet, an ice cream van, a snail house in quick succession – but that comforting cosy thought is there… And I love fabric. And squares. So, beautiful fabric, sew up squares, batt, back, quilt and bind. Not quick, but modern and compared to a lot of quilters’ amazing intricate quilts, if not instant gratification then pretty close. Like this one:

Typical of one of mine (on Flickr stream for more views), bright, squares, pleasing to my eye anyway.

Or our quilts which are most in use – dog on TV watching sofa – red, white and blue squares Rural Jardin quilt underneath, Butterscotch and Rose quilt relieved of duty now I’m up and photographing said dog, bit of random home decor fabric for dog’s quilt and high loft batting. He LOVES his quilt. And loves when we let him on the sofa with us. Hairy little rascal.

ANYWAY, so far so good. But suddenly I have been inexplicably thinking about HEXAGONS. Hexagons! Those tiny little 6 sided pieces which are really difficult to sew by machine, so you have to paper piece them. By hand. And then sew them together with tiny stitches. By hand. The shudderingly long process should have me quivering and running for the nearest charm pack to sew together in record time. But maybe it’s the idea of hanging out watching TV, on the sofa next to husband instead of locked away upright at my machine which appeals. I don’t know, and I’ve no idea how long this phase will last. But off I go, into the uncharted territory of English Paper Piecing…

I’m starting with this above picture – paper hexagons, 1” each side, Pretty small. And bigger fabric hexagons, 1.25” each side. you fold two sides of the fabric hexagon round the paper one and do a double stitch at the corner to secure, fold the next side and do another double stitch at the corner all the way round, the knot off.

It all started with the most beautiful vintage hexagon quilt my friend bought from ebay in need of some repair – but I haven’t been able to shake it from my thoughts. I must ask her if she’ll photograph it for me and I’ll post it here. Meanwhile, here is some beautiful hexie quilt inspiration from other (very talented) people’s blogs:

From Blog: http://luannkessi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/hexagon-text-quiltborder-fabric.html

and from quilthaven.co.uk this:

From : http://quilters-haven.co.uk/blog/2013/02/show-and-tell/heaxagon-quilt-2/

And so it begins…

It’s easier than I thought, and more relaxing – it takes almost no effort (once everything is cut out) to sit with a pile of hexagon pieces, fabric, needle and thread and watch TV or continue conversations.

and then you end up with this perfect little hexagon. I think it’s something maybe only a quilter will really adore, you can’t look at a hexagon quilt and not see the work that has gong into it.

And then you hand sew them with tiny stitches to each other:

Some people will outline all these “flowers” with a row or two of white hexagons, called a “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” quilt, but it’s not the look I’m going for, so I’m aiming to have all coloured/ scrappy-looking quilt. I say scrappy looking, but I actually would rather have a coordinated quilt in practice in my home, so I will use collections probably.

They look like this at the back  – but the papers just slip out (notice the middle one?).

I have a die cutter so got a die to cut the hexagons out of printer paper, but you can buy them from ebay sellers for just a couple of pound including p+p and you can reuse them. Some people use “freezer paper” apparently which can be ironed onto the fabric and make it easier to sew round them… may have to try it.

The flowers fit together like this:

and this:

I have chosen the brand new line from Fig Tree Quilts called “Honeysweet”. I love it. I adore so many of their lines – in fact, two of our sofa quilts are from their collections. These fabrics have a vintage feel but with fresh warm colours; they will always be timeless.I thought  at least I wouldn’t tire of making hexagons out of all those different and beautiful colours. But then when I saw this:

… I realised that a whole quilt out of just these in tiny tiny pieces will look  “flat”, like one piece of fabric and certainly not as though it has taken this long to make.

So I have decided to make the hexagons out of several different collections which I love (and actually some of which I have already so it makes sense!) all from Fig Tree Quilts collections. I would have LOVED to have Butterscotch and Rose in there, even though I have an entire quilt made from it, but I can’t find it anywhere – it is an old line. The good news for me is that the wonderfully talented Joanna Figuera who is the designer is prolific producing 2-3 lines for Moda a year!

So… I think I will also choose

Fig and Plum,

Tapestry,

Buttercup,

Avalon

and one or two more. I going to try and keep the collections mostly together but try and work it so they mix nicely, which shouldn’t be too hard as Fig Tree collections often mix nicely. And the yellow/blue collections will be the brighter spots… fingers crossed.

I’ll have plenty of time to work it out though because I want a 60” x 60” ish quilt… which means 1400 HEXAGONS!!!

Oh my giddy aunt. What am I doing?

There is a pretty simple way to machine piece “almost hexagons” – half hexagons they are called, but the pattern gets disrupted in the middle so I’m not keen on the look except from a distance or with solids, or very tiny scale patterns, when it looks great, and very like the real thing. (You can google half hexagon quilts if you want to know more)

So on reflection, I think it’s GAME ON.

50 so far. 1350 to go. better get sewing.

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

ps by the way, if you fancy making your own, here is a fabulous online calculator to work out how many hexies you’ll need (fewer if the hexies are bigger):

http://www.cddesigns.com/PaperPiecing/number.html