Scrappy log cabin quilt!

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

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

A basting shot!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CUTTING

Cutting Prints:

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

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

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

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

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

Follow one of the 3 options below:

Cutting Low Volumes:

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

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

SEWING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final size: 57″x 67″.

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

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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A finally finished postage stamp quilt!

This quilt has been a LONG time in the making!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Use all the scraps! Using cut-off geese or binding triangles

I don’t know about you but I hate to waste fabric. So pretty; to sweep it into the bin feels sacrilegious. For a change I’m not even exaggerating. So when I’m making flying geese, those tiny triangles left over make me sad. “Use me,” they say. “Give me life and purpose, that I might bring joy to this world .” They haunt my dreams. Okay so now I am exaggerating. So with some of the leftovers of a recent quilt, I made a block:

I think it’s called a bow tie block; it’s certainly not my invention anyway! Each square finishes at 2″ – these triangles were left over from making geese with 2.5″ squares. I know this isn’t going to set the world on fire but – Hurray for a use for the geese off-cuts!

I know there are other things you can do – with my fancy fox quilt of a few posts back I did an extra line of stitching before cutting them off and made tiny HSTs… Never used them! I might still use them but it actually slowed down my working a lot; I’m not sure if I’ll do it again unless they were a lot bigger.

Anyway, you may well not need a tutorial but for anyone who would like one, here goes with a quick picture demo:

You need: 2.5″ background squares and triangles cut off from making geese or binding. Seams are 1/4″ throughout.

1.Lay triangle on top of the 2.5″ background square, RST as below. You want to ensure that when you sew and fold it back, the resulting triangle is bigger than the background square corner. Other than that it doesn’t matter where you place it. These are going to be wonky bow ties!

2. Here I’m just folding it back to check out will be bigger than my background square before I sew it.

3. Sew 1/4″ away from the triangle’s diagonal

4. Fold back the triangle and finger press (or use an iron)

5. Flip it over and trim the excess fabric with scissors (or your rotary cutter)

6. Finished and cute!

7. Repeat on the other side

…And sew together – make sure your white background stripes are all going in the same direction.

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An 8.5″ block. I’m thinking if I alternate them with blocks made from 2.5″ squares or 4.5″ squares I could actually make something fairly big from them? Or I could just keep collecting my geese triangles and keep going.

Anyway, an uncharacteristically un-wordy post today, I’m off. Hopefully next time I can show you which quilt needed all those flying geese!

Till the next time, Poppy xx

Scrappy Plus Sign Quilt (- and tutorial)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You will need: 

30 different printed fabrics, size 2.5″ x 11″

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

120 low volume fabrics, cut into 4.5″ squares.

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next time, Poppy xx

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

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”.

tapestry

“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”

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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