Free motion embroidery fun – A Bird Cushion

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A year ago little Emily was born, and I made her a quilt in Sophie by Chez Moi for Moda. In fact here it is, hurriedly photographed on our uninspiring then-driveway before bundling into the car to go meet the new wee princess: 

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You are just going to have to trust me that it’s very sweet when next to a baby instead of thrown over a chair on a driveway

Anyway, she’s one all of a sudden. Yeah, I did mention it was a year ago, but you wouldn’t believe how fast that year has gone, not to mention I am in denial that time is passing this quickly, whatever my grey hairs are saying. And I rather suddenly needed to think up a present. I can’t tell you how much I love this wee girl, she’s just too adorable for words, so I felt like making something special.

Having decided on a freemotion embroidery cushion, I looked to the web for inspiration, feeling too short of time to think up a design – and saw this beautiful cushion which I shamelessly copied (well a little shame, but isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?)

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It looks like it is made by a German artist, but couldn’t find her name. The link is here; she seems to have a shop of other lovely things:

http://de.dawanda.com/product/33525229-Kissenhuelle-Sommerbrise-40x40cm

It’s been years since I did any freemotion embroidery (I did some bags with birds on very similar to the above and sold them for charity), so wanted simple but effective.

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I had a 26” x 26” cushion inner from Ikea – these are a great size for a reading pillow in bed by the way – and another moda charm pack in sophie, to match Emily’s baby quilt.

I cut a 17” square piece of white fabric  and chose some charms to cut into 2.5” squares, which I used to cut into the bunting flags. One charm square for the little bird, a scrap for the wing and a scrap of black felt for the dot of the eye. I used wonderweb to fuse the pieces to the fabric and then rougly outlined everything on the machine a couple of times using black thread. Trying to be imprecise goes a bit against the grain, but it was fun, and gave it a “drawn on” effect (as it should be apparently).

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Then I sewed two strips of 4 charms with 1/4” seam allowance, centred it, sewed to opposite sides of the picture and trimmed the excess. Next I sewed two strips of 6 charms and did the same to complete the “frame”.

I added Emily’s name in pink – I used an alphabet die in my BigShot with Steam-a-seam2 fusible web, but could have printed the  “emily” in Times New Roman font as big as would make the letters about 2” tall, traced it onto the Steam-a-seam2 BACKWARDS, ironed it onto my fabric and cut it out. A bit faffy but worth it. I hand stitched round to secure so as not to lose the neat lines.

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This is the finished cushion cover lying on my rather rumpled bed. No idea when I will learn to stage my photographs. Although you can’t see in this picture, I backed the front with 100% cotton batting and quilted a straight line round the inside of the big white square 1/4” away from the edge of the charms, and another line all the way round but this time within the charm “frame”. If that makes sense. It’s just to secure it anyway. An envelope back using a pretty wildflower print:

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And it was all done. It looks quite pretty on the little sofa in the corner of my bedroom. Who says pretty bird pictures are just for little girls? Good thing for her that it has “emily” well and truly stitched on.

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 And the reaction? Emily’s mum loved it. Ooohs and ahhhs from the other mums. Emily toddled off precariously to empty the contents of a  kitchen cupboard onto the floor, pretty much oblivious. Emily’s 4 year old big brother said “But it’s the wrong ‘E’”.

“It’s art,” I said. “It’s modern”.

“It’s wrong,” he said, and busied himself playing with one of Emily’s OTHER, not-wrong gifts. Pah. I’m going to spell his name wrong when I make him one.

😉

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Oasis quilt for baby Maisie

A few weeks ago, my neighbour phoned to ask me to run over and meet a very special little girl, who just been adopted by a very special mummy.  My neighbour wanted to commission me to make her a quilt, and asked if I could chat to the mother about it.

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This lovely lady and her husband had wanted a child for over 10 years – and although it’s not my place to describe her story and health troubles, trust me, it’s so heartbreakingly sad – but also so amazing that this point has arrived!  Anyway,she had heard 6 weeks previously that she could adopt a 5 month old baby girl; adopting a baby is almost unheard of in the UK, the child is usually older, and so it is very special for adoptive parents here not to have missed the first few years of the child’s life.

Anyway, all her previous heartache has been washed away with this sweet baby girl’s smile. My 4 year old son, who likes a captive audience, kept her entertained by doing all his “supercat” jumps and “running like Turbo”, so I saw that smile a lot! Maisie is her name; I used Steam-a-seam to applique letters on, and then slip stitched in place after quilting. Steam-a-seam is the only fusible web I trust to stop the edges fraying too much in the wash, but I still sew the letters in place as a quilt gets so much washing.

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Maisie’s mother told me she adores “shabby chic” and quite traditional prints – and pink for girls. She has bought some big playroom boxes in the roses design from Ikea and loves them – I knew what she meant as I have the matching fabric from Ikea, which I decided to put on the back –

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Bearing this in mind, I picked out the two Oasis Trail charm packs by Three Sisters (Moda) which I’ve had for ages and sewed them together in traditional simple patchwork with an off-white border. I still maintain  that 3 Sisters’ fabric is the softest moda fabric hands down – lovely to work with.

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This was my first opportunity to use my new basting gun – a microtach gun by Avery Dennison so I was a bit excited! Can you see the little black tacks which look like tiny ants? Those are tacks that the gun puts through the fabric layers when you are basting. They are very fine plastic, and come in white (so hard to see to remove when you are using light fabrics like these!) or black – and the gun is easy to use – point the needle of the gun into all three layers of the quilt sandwich, pull trigger, and pow! It’s in place. (A very gentle pow by the way. noone will be calling the police on you). I usually use pins to baste, but they were interfering with my quilting flow, as I had to stop and take them out – and I kept breaking needles when I missed taking them out… Not so with these – you can quilt over them if you need to, and they don’t get in the way. Did it stop the slightly jerky edges I got when I had to stop to remove a pin when stippling?

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Yes, I think so; although maybe noone else noticed those things, I did.  And the quilting experience was MUCH nicer. The only annoying bit was removing them – hard to see, so you have to be careful, and you cut them out – fiddlier and more time-consuming than pins, but I did it methodically whilst watching TV so it was pretty relaxing. I think I will continue to use them over pins purely because it’s so much easier to quilt with them.

So here’s my patient husband, holding up yet another quilt, this time in Maisie’s mummy’s taste – size 42” x  51”. I used Quilter’s Dream Orient batting for its properties of washability and warmth. So soft and silky too!

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Having experienced years of miscarriage before Kiddo arrived, I understand how it tortures a very maternal woman not to have a child, a gaping hole which just can’t be filled even if everything else is great. It’s not rational but it’s all consuming, and vanishes once you hold that child in your arms. It was so joyously uplifting and rather moving to meet this baby and mother, so obviously in love with each other, and a real privilege to sew up an heirloom for Maisie, which I hope she will treasure for many years.

Until the next time,

Poppy xx