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

Advertisements

“Stars At Your Feet” – quilt tutorial

Hubster thinks this should be called “Jailbreak” as the stars look like they’ve escaped from their blocks of colour! 🤣👏

That these little stars are so naughty only makes me love them more! It’s the third time I’ve made this design which I originally came up with for a wedding quilt using a layer cake I was obsessed with at the time. Each time I’ve posted the design on Instagram, I’ve had so many requests for a pattern/ tutorial that I thought I really should oblige!

This quilt is particularly special – I’ve agreed to make it on behalf of my son’s class for the end of year teacher gift. She’s a very very special teacher, who happens to love art, and I know she’s going to be touched that the parents got together to give her this quilt. This time, rather than using only charm packs, I also included many favourite floral fabrics from my stash – it’s made it unique and special and I’d happily keep it!

But she deserves it more than I do; educating 23 nine year olds is no mean feat, especially when I seem incapable of getting one nine year old to even flush the toilet consistently! 🙈

Tutorial

I’m going to be pretty detailed even though many of you won’t need it, because some people who messaged to ask for a tutorial/ pattern are beginners! If you’re experienced, then please don’t feel you must read all this!

Okay, let’s do this.

Fabric requirements:

  1. 3 charm packs (OR 72 printed 4.5″squares and 64 printed 2.5″ squares from 2 mini-charm packs or cut from stash)
  2. 1.75 metres (a full 1.75 yards) of 44″ white background and inner border fabric
  3. 1 metre printed fabric for outer border and binding (a full perfect yard)

Cutting:

Cutting Prints:

1. Printed Star Points: you need 64 2.5″ squares for these.

If using only charm packs: Take one of the charm packs and select 32 of the darkest prints. These will need to contrast well against the white background so set aside the lightest prints for another project.

Cut the 32 5″ squares into half, to make 2 sets of 32 2.5″x5 rectangles. Save one set for another project and cut the other set into half again to make 64 2.5″ squares.

2. Star centres: Select 8 printed 5″ charm squares for star centres. Cut these down to 4.5″ square and keep in a separate pile.

3. Printed block backgrounds: choose 64 printed 5×5″ squares from the remaining 5″ charm squares. Use the darkest prints as they need to contrast well against the white background fabric. Cut these down to 4.5″ square.

Cutting white fabric:

1. White star centres and white block backgrounds: cut 8 strips measuring 4.5″ x width of fabric (w.o.f.). Subcut each strip into nine 4.5″ squares, for a total of 72 white 4.5″ squares.

2. White star points: cut 4 strips measuring 2.5″ x width of fabric (w.o.f.) . Subcut each step into sixteen 2.5″ squares, for a total of 64 white 2.5″ squares.

The above picture is what you end up with: 72 white 4.5″ squares, 64 white 2.5″ squares, 72 printed 4.5″ squares, 64 printed 2.5″ squares.

3. Cut White inner border: cut 6 white strips measuring 2.5″ x w.o.f.

Cutting printed border fabric:

1. Cut 6 strips measuring 3.5″ x w.o.f. for border

2. Cut 6 strips measuring 2.5″ x w.o.f. for binding.

Before you start sewing:

Draw a diagonal line point to point on the back of all the white and printed 2.5″ squares.

Sewing the White Star Blocks

This is what we’re aiming for:

You will make 8 of these blocks.

For each block you need 8 printed 4’5″ squares, 1 white 4.5″ square, and 8 white 2.5″ squares. Lay them out as below to get a nice mix of colours:

Then lay on your 8 white 2.5″ squares on the “points of the compass” squares as below:

*Notice the way the pencil lines go – they will make a “V” shape pointing towards the centre square.*

Now take one of the printed squares with its 2 little white squares over to the sewing machine.

(My machine has a vinyl seam guide on it, ignore it you don’t need it if you’ve drawn lines on your little squares!)

Match up one of the white squares with the bottom corner of the printed square as above.

Sew ALONG the pencil line as below:

You’ll end up with this:

Good. Now with a pair of scissors (or rotary cutter) cut off the bottom left hand corner, about 1/4″ away from the stitch line. Cut off and discard both the white and the printed fabric.

Fold back the white triangle:

And press:

Now do the same with the other white square… Lay your white square on the corner:

Sew along the pencil line then cut off the bottom triangle about 1/4″ away from the sewn line:

Fold it back and press:

This is where it fits into your block:

Do this to all 4 “compass point” blocks:

Finally, sew them together in rows using a 1/4″ seam allowance, then sew the rows together.

(Tip: use the edge of the unaltered squares as your sewing guide for your 1/4″ seam, as the squares you’ve sewn on won’t be as perfectly 4.5″ square)

Now make 7 more of these blocks for a total of 8. Each block should measure 12.5″ square.

Sewing the Printed Star Blocks

You will need 8 of these blocks.

The process is the same as when you made the white star blocks above, but below is a reminder:

First lay out your block using one of the 8 printed 4’5″square star centres you set aside at the beginning and 8 white 4.5″ squares:

Now choose 8 printed 2.5″ squares to become the star points:

Lay your printed 2.5″ square FACE DOWN on top of your white 4.5″ square. Your pencil line is ON THE BACK of your little square and should be orientated as in the picture below.

Sew along the pencil line:

Cut off and discard the unwanted triangle 1/4 away from the sewn line as you did for the white star blocks earlier. Cut off both printed and white fabric and fold it back as below:

Do the same on the other side:

Apparently I’ve lost some photos here 😱, but you do exactly what you did for the white star above, and then sew it all together to get your printed star blocks. Here are more pictures of making your star points and how it fits into the final block:

Note: if you like you can chain piece all the 32 printed star point blocks as I did – it’s quicker, but there’s also something nice about being intentional with your blocks, so so whichever you like, it’s supposed to be fun!

Make 8 printed star blocks. Each block should measure 12.5″ square.

Putting the quilt together

You should now have 8 white star blocks with a printed background, and 8 printed star blocks with a white background.

Lay your blocks out in a 4×4 grid alternating the white star blocks with the printed star blocks.

Sew them together in rows, then sew the rows together.

Adding the Borders

This piece should now measure 48.5″ square, but no one’s seam allowance is perfect! To avoid warping and wavy borders the best thing to do is measure your side before adding the border strip and cut the border to fit perfectly.

Sewing the inner white border

  1. First take the six 2.5″ white inner border strips and join them all, end to end with 1/4″ SA to make one long strip.
  2. Now measure the two sides, then cut 2 border strips to the correct measurements, pin at the start, and and middles of the strip, then sew on. Press and repeat the process with the top and bottom of the quilt. Press.

Sewing the outer printed border

Sew together the 6 printed 3.5″ strips and to end with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

As above, measure the two sides of the quilt, cut border strips to fit, pin at the end then the middle and sew in. Repeat the process with top and bottom outer borders.

AND YOU’RE DONE! 🙌👏👏👏❤❤❤❤❤

Phew, that tutorial felt like it took a loooong time. Let me know if you have any questions or something is just plain wrong. It’s just a free wee blog tutorial, so it’s not like it’s pattern tested or anything!

So to finish:

I used a lovely 100% a scrimless cotton batting called Katahdin Autumn weight by Bosal , and quilted it on my domestic machine with loops, leaves and flowers.

Grey chevron on the back:

It’s not been washed yet but it’s all drapey and snuggly already – I do love it! I did use some charm squares left over from other projects, mostly Little Miss Sunshine and Tuppence by Moda, but there are several other fabrics from my stash and scraps in here, some Bobbie and Camille, some Art Gallery fabric, Tilda border, even a Heather Ross print – this one was truly scrappy and for that reason has my heart. I really hope my son’s teacher loves it as much as I do. She deserves it.

Oh, I should have said, it’s 59″ square. Good throw size or picnic size. ❤

I hope you enjoy making this, if you decide to! Let me know if you do. You can find me on Instagram at @cuckooblue or comment here if you’d like.

Have a great summer, you lovely creative people.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

Toutes Les Étoiles/ All the Stars; a French-Inspired Quilt and tutorial

So my dad informed me I hadn’t written a blog post in 6 months. My dad! Who knew. So to appease his apparent need for some sewing chat and to kickstart my blogging this year, here’s Toutes Les Étoiles, the only quilt I ever named:

My friend got married in a beautiful château in France 2 years ago and invited us, starting us off on the most wonderful holiday near Bordeaux. When we got to the château, this was my room:

Isn’t it gorgeous? Authentic antique furniture – and check out that quilt! I examined it carefully and it’s certainly seemed to be a handmade quilt, just the right amount of wobbles and mistakes to feel authentic. Ahhhh. The wedding party had the château to ourselves for 4 days and it was truly heavenly; we all got on well in idyllic romantic surroundings with beautiful weather and the happy couple were truly happy. Great memories.

Anyway, a few months ago they bought a house in the country together (fairly near us) and since this year is their 2 year and aptly-named “cotton” anniversary, I thought a quilt reminiscent of their French wedding might be a good housewarming present.

I used a Moda layer cake of French General’s Rural Jardin which I’ve been hoarding for far too many years and is now out of print, but they bring out beautiful, authentic-looking French inspired fabric collections regularly if you like the look of this one. Check out the back:

Do you like it? I do. It’s some Toile de Jouy quilting weight fabric I bought years ago from a French importing shop, which sadly didn’t survive the recession. I pieced it together with some leftover charm squares cut in half.

It’s not difficult to see how you make this quilt top, but here are instructions if you need; at least the maths is all done!

Tutorial

*Stitch everything right sides together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, the more accurate the better! *

Quilt top measures 56″ x 64″

Fabric Requirements:

  • 3 – 4 charm packs* (or 1 layer cake cut into 5″ squares)
  • 1 yard of printed fabric for outer border and binding
  • 2.5 yards of white background fabric 44″ wide

*Note: you can make this quilt with 3 charm packs but 4 gives more options for removing fabrics with low contrast with the background fabric. You can cut 42 5″ squares from stash instead of a charm pack if you prefer. Leftovers can be used in the pieced backing.

Cutting:

Cutting the Printed Charm Squares:

1. You will need 100 printed fabric charm squares, for the patchwork and the inner border.

Remove any charm squares which have poor contrast with the white background, although one or two could be used for the star centres.

2.Choose 15 printed charms for the star centres. Cut these down to 4.5″ squares.

3. Take 60 printed charm squares and cut into quarters, yielding 240 2.5″ squares. Keep them in sets of 60.

4. The remaining 25 charm squares are for the inner border. Cut these in half yielding 50 5″x2.5″ rectangles. set these aside for the inner border.

Cutting the White Fabric:

1. Cut four 2.5″ x Width of fabric (WOF) strips. Subcut these into 60 2.5″ squares.

2. Cut 14 more 2.5″ x WOF white strips and subcut these into 120 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles.

3. For the two borders, cut 11 more 2.5″ x WOF strips. Join these together end to end to make one long strip and then leave aside until you are ready for the borders.

Making the Star blocks:

1. Take 120 2.5″ printed squares and on the back of each one draw a diagonal line in pencil from one point to the opposite point.

2. Now make your first flying geese unit. Lay one of your squares, right sides together (RST) onto on of the white 4.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle so that the pencil diagonal line goes from the top right corner of the rectangle into the bottom middle.

3. Sew along that pencil line

4. Cut off the triangle (both the printed and white bits) below the pencil line, cutting about 1/4″ away from the sewn diagonal line. Discard the cut off triangle.

5. Fold back the printed fabric to reveal your flying, um, goose.

6. Take another 2.5″ square, lay it onto the white rectangle with the pencil line going from top left to the bottom middle then sew along that pencil line.

7. Again cut off and discard the excess triangle fabric.

8. Fold back the printed triangle and press – you now have one flying geese unit, which will be one side of your star.

9. Make some more of these flying geese units. You will need 60 all together.

10. To assemble one star block, you need one 4.5″ square centre, 4 flying geese units and 4 white 2.5″ squares. Lay these out as below.

11. Sew a flying geese unit to each side of the centre square.

12. Next sew the 2.5″ white squares to the ends of the top and bottom flying geese units as shown below,

13. Sew all the rows together to make a sawtooth star block. It should measure 8.5″ (if your 1/4″ seam allowance is accurate).

14. Make 15 of these star blocks and press.

Making the Chain blocks:

Okay, this is where I confess that I lost some photos and can’t show you quite as step by step, but they are really easy. I’ve done a mock-up with some other fabrics below.

1. Take 60 of your remaining printed 2.5″ squares, sew them into pairs and then sew the pairs into little 4 patches, like the middle of the above picture. You will need 15 4-patches.

2. Next sew a white 2.5″x4.5″rectangle to either side of each 4 patch.

3. Now take the remaining 60 4.5×2.5″ white rectangles and sew a printed 2.5″ square to each side of each white rectangle.

4. Finally sew the rows all together. you should end up with a block that looks like this below! (excuse the blurriness, it’s cut from a bigger picture!) It should also measure 8.5″ square, if your 1/4″ seam allowance is accurate). You need 15 of these blocks. Press.

Assembling the Quilt:

Lay out your star blocks and chain blocks in an alternating pattern, starting with a chain block. Make a 5 by 6 grid as shown below….

2. …and sew it all together.

Adding the Borders

1. Measure the sides of your quilt. If seam allowances were entirely accurate the sides should measure 48.5″, but they never are totally accurate. Measure the sides and then cut white border strips to that length – this helps prevent warping of your borders that can happen if you over stretch the borders as you sew. Pin on the border at both ends and in the middle and then sew on the side borders.

2. Next measure the top and bottom borders (theoretically 44.5″), cut a length of white 2.5″ strip to that measurement. Pin and sew on your top and bottom white inner borders.

3. To make the scrappy inner border, sew together twelve 2.5″x5″ printed rectangles that you made at the beginning by halving the charm squares. Sew this to one of the sides of the quilt and trim off the excess. I figure it’s scrappy so it really doesn”t matter if it’s perfectly symmetrical.

4. With the remaining white strips, make a second white border in the same way as described above.

5. Finally, cut and join 2.5″ strips from your printed yardage fabric and add as the final outer border. I used the same fabric as my binding too.

…and you’re done!

I used Quilters Dream Orient, my all-time-favourite batting and free motion quilted it with a loop and leaf design. It’s my favourite quilting, it looks classy but somehow fairly modern and leaves enough areas unquilted to keep the quilt snuggly. Quilters Dream Orient can be quilted up to 8″ apart despite having no scrim, which is a real bonus for snuggly quilts!

Oh and I forgot to say, you can use halved leftover charm squares sewn together and bordered with 2.5″ white strips to piece the backing if you like!

Well, I’m pooped after writing all that. seriously, no wonder it takes me 6 months to get to a computer! I’ll resolve to do this a bit more often, hear that Dad? After all I’m on Instagram (as Cuckooblue) most weeks, even every few days… hmmm I think I might see a connection!

Off to admire my, I mean, my friend’s, new quilt.

If you make it, I hope you like yours too!

Until 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.

wp-image-96929715jpg.jpg

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!

20170107_135555

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.

20170107_134559

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!

plus-quilt

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:

plus-quilt

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:

20170107_13504220170107_13561920170107_135002

20170107_135235

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!

20170107_135601

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

Starflower chain quilt – finally finished!

Do you have a quilt top drawer? What am I saying! If you answer yes to “Have you quilted for more than 3 years”, then you’ll know all about the quilt top drawer. I don’t know why some tops just   get put off the big finish; you lose love for the fabrics, you have other more pressing projects to a deadline, you feel it needs a bit more added. But look what happens if you open that drawer now and then:

image

Look at that! My Starflower Chain quilt from… ughhh, February 2014. Eeek. At least that’s when I did the tutorial here, using 3 charm packs and a fat quarter:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2014/02/21/starflowers-chain-quilt-charm-pack-busting-hst/

image

Somehow I couldn’t find a reason to quilt this quilt before; it’s 61″ square so too big for a baby quilt, all the wrong colours for my house, too girly for my son, too pink & fancy for a picnic quilt for our boy-heavy family. And then I heard of Siblings Together.

Turns out that children placed in the UK foster care system are often separated from their siblings. I understand that it’s difficult to take in several children, but how awful for these kids. Anyway Siblings Together is a charity which puts on camps for these kids to get to spend time with their siblings. And some amazing quilters are leading the drive to make a quilt for each child to keep as a reminder of their time at camp. And I decided that this quilt top finally had purpose! You can read more here about the quilt and block drive here:

http://siblingstogetherquiltgroup.blogspot.co.uk/p/siblin.html?m=1

I pieced a back:

image

..using some of my favourite warm fabrics. I love the back! Almost more than the front.

image

image

I just stipple quilted it this time, it feels like an awfully long time since I stippled… It’s because I got a half-board of a new batting – EQS Sew Simple 100% cotton LIGHT batting, without scrim. I like Sew Simple and it is much cheaper than my absolute favourite Quilter’s Dream batting – but it usually has scrim, and I worry about that tiny bit of polyester melting in the event of a fire. Probably overkill I know but you have to do what you feel is right for you. Anyway this new scrimless batting has to be quilted less than 4″ apart, so the easiest way for me is to stipple. It quilted nicely by the way, although I had felt it was too thin when I first opened it out; the finished quilt has a nice drape and softness. It is probably more lightweight (cooler) than Quilter’s Dream cotton though (and Warm & Natural which is actually 12.5% polypropylene).

As it happens I also made a couple of blocks for the quilt as you go block drive. They are asking for this pattern and have a tutorial on the blog here:

http://siblingstogetherquiltgroup.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/block-drive-for-siblings-together.html?m=1

image

image

And the amazing Nicky of mrsssewandsow.blogspot.co.uk is putting all these blocks together that quilters send in to make more quilts! Some people are really special. She’s a very talented quilter too. That second photo of my blocks is hers by the way, from her Instagram.

Anyway it feels really good that this neglected wee quilt top will go to a little girl who will hopefully get pleasure and comfort from it for many years to come.  If you fancy donating a quilt block, top, back, fabric, time or skill to this informal amazing kind gang of online quilters all over the country and elsewhere, then do check out the siblings together quilt blog (or the original siblings together site if you want to know more about the charity and camps).

image

Ahhh, the evening sun as a WIP becomes a finished quilt. Quilter’s bliss.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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.

13091609_10208110090341928_558378850_o

13129050_10208110093222000_280471337_o

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:

invis1

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.

13112424_10208110091101947_25276260_o

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

13091835_10208110090621935_1308687007_o

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

invis2

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!

13106810_10208110094062021_1039514232_o

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