Oh Dear, Oh Deer

Oh dear indeed. My camera wire malfunctioned whilst I was uploading 3 months’ worth of photos and makes onto the computer – losing almost all of them! Hence the absence of recent blog posts. But, less frustratingly, here’s the “Oh Deer”:

Ana's quilt

My good friend moved house recently and I really wanted to make them a throw quilt for their sofa. Their tastes are pretty clean and minimal; white, grey, subdued egg shell blue. They even manage to keep the children’s toys tidy! Ahem, yeah, just like me. 😉 And Ana seems to be slightly in love with the deer/ stag silhouette at the moment, which can be found in subtle places in their home – on a cushion, on a tea-towel and so on. So I set off through the UK online shops looking for a set of fabrics with a grown-up colour scheme, but bright enough to lift a room or grace a picnic – and preferably with a few deer too. DSC_0072

I have had this grey/ mustard/ teal colour scheme in my head for a while, and have been dying to make a quilt using it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. And, being the kind of fabric-obsessed web surfer that I am, I also immediately knew my best chance of finding modern, clean, grown up yet quirky prints. “M is for Make” is a really fabulous shop. The owner, Kate, has a definite style and fabric taste; the shop is full of modern, often geometric fabrics or stylised prints, but with a healthy dose of whimsy in there – not taking itself too seriously. Well I think so anyway – she’s like a “cool hunter”!

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As you know, I most often quilt with precuts or collections – partly because there is no local quilt shop with a large selection of prints, partly because it is the cheapest way of getting a bit of lots of different fabrics, fat eighths only just being introduced in the UK (and fabric being twice as expensive as in the US). But choosing my own fabrics was SO. MUCH. FUN. And I was so thrilled to see that the colours on the computer did indeed match those on the fabrics I received. (Phew!)
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I had actually taken photos along the way in order to give you a bit of a tutorial and as an aide memoir for me for the next time, all of which are now fairy dust in the ether… although the construction is very simple and so it was probably unnecessary anyway. Here’s a bit of a guide, just in case you wanted the maths:

You will need for the quilt top (approx 55″ x 55″ finished) :  

  1. 61 (sixty one)  6″ fabric squares. Assuming you have well-cut fat quarters and you can cut 9 (nine) 6″ squares from each one, you only need 7 fat quarters. Not all fat quarters are that well cut. If you had more fat quarters, you would have fabric left over but would end up with more variety in your quilt. I had 14 different fat quarters and have fabric left over.
  2. A yard of white background fabric, cut into 3.25″ strips. 
  3. rotary cutter, decent ruler, thread etc etc you know the drill!

Cutting and assembly: 

The quilt is made from 2 blocks. Sew everything together using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

  1. Block A is a basic 4-patch. Take 2 of your 6″ squares and sew together, RST. Repeat with another 2 squares , open both out and sew together into a 4-patch. You need 12 of these.

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2. For Block B,

  •  You need to subcut your 3.25″ wide white strips into 26 (twenty six) 6″x 3.25″ rectangles and 26 (twenty six) 11.5″ x 3.25″ rectangles.
  • Then take a 6″ x 3.25″ rectangle and sew onto the side of a 6″ square. Repeat on the other side. Then sew a 11.5″ x 3.25″ rectangle to the top and bottom, finishing the block.
  • You will need 13 of these blocks.

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3. Easy peasy! Really at this point you should check all your blocks are the same size. They should all measure 11.5″ square. but seam allowances being what they are when the fascist quilt police are looking the other way, they may not all be the same. It’s okay. Find your smallest block and trim them to be all the same size; even if that is 11.25″ or  11″, it’s better than not being able to sew your quilt together or it not lying flat when it comes to basting.

4. And now sew together, alternating block B and block A in a 5 x 5 grid, as below. Very simple 🙂

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I decided not to put on a border, and just bound it in the beautiful Kona solid in teal. I used the number print from Ikea on the back, which looks great with this quilt – and such a bonus that it is 60″ wide, has a nice soft handle and is very cheap!

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I used my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient for the batting, which gives it a gorgeous snuggliness and drape, and quilted it in a freemotion all-over loop-de-loop pattern. DSC_0034

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Obviously my house is not a Scandinavian inspired, white minimalist and modern looking house, so I appreciate that my sofa doesn’t suit this little quilt really -but I’m sure my friend’s sofa will!

Oh I nearly forgot to tell you the fabrics! They were mostly from the collections Yoyogi park by Heather Moore for Cloud 9 fabrics, Mod Basics from Birch Fabrics, Westwood by Monaluna fabrics, the Kona teal and a lovely fabric from Botanics collection Carolyn Friedlander. I could have just kept adding fabrics from that shop I really could, but tried to be restrained.

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Incidentally, the lovely Kate from “M is for Make” instagrammed my order picture and it got so many “likes” that she made some of them into a bundle called “forest bundle”. You can see it here if you are interested:

http://www.misformake.co.uk/search?type=product&q=goldteal

Right, I had better get off to bed. Why does the bloggy muse always float by so darn late in the evening? Hopefully my dreams will be filled with teal fabrics and peaceful deer tonight. May yours be too!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

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The Nine-Patch Disappears…. (tutorial and layouts)

See? Not a sign of it anywhere…

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Hello you lovely craftilicious folk. So I’m in the process of making 2 more charm quilts – and I’m a bit close to the wire with this deadline. Hopefully by next time I will show you them both finished (or I would have had a deadline fail…actually I prefer the words deadline unsuccess).

For quilt 2, I have been playing with the Disappearing Nine-Patch a.k.a. D9P.

This is a pretty common block, and all over blogland, but it’s easy and makes quilts which look more complicated to make than they are. Just in case you’re not too familiar with it, I did these “show + tell” pictures with some 2.5” scrap squares.

How to make a Disappearing Nine Patch block (D9P)

1. Start with making a nine patch. You can use all prints or solids and prints. I decided to use prints and white solid. You need 4 squares of white and 5 prints (my prints were all different in my real quilt).

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2. Sew them together in rows as shown below. The middle one is special as you will see, but in my real quilt it was just whatever randon charm square came out of the pile.

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3. … and sew the rows together to make a nine-patch

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4. Next get your rotary cutter and ruler and slice down the middle of the block, and again at right angles as shown below:

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5. Play with your new blocks! See what has happened to the middle square? It has become the littlest square in the block and will be distributed more widely throughout the quilt. You might use this in your thinking in some quilts.

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That was the layout I eventually used.

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That picture is a very common layout. I once did a baby quilt in that, again using white solid ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuckoo-blue/8048473613/ ).

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Or a “bigsquare-littlesquare” look. Bear in mind that when you use lots of prints it will look more complex and scrappy…

In fact, I’ll just show you how they look. I took pictures of the different layouts whilst I was trying to decide what look I was going for.

Making the Quilt top – finished size 52” square

  • 80 printed 5”x 5” charm squares (2 charm packs with 4 left over)
  • 64 solid white 5” x 5” charm squares (or enough white fabric to cut these)
  • rotary cutter and ruler
  1. Make 16 nine-patches as shown above, and slice into quarters. At this point you should trim your blocks to make sure they are the same size. Mine were pretty much the same, so I didn’t bother out of sheer laziness, and I just tried to match up the seams well when I was sewing.
  2. And then play! Until you get a layout which pleases you.

Note the pictures below are taken with ONLY 12 nine-patch blocks, not 16 as in the finished quilt top. This is the one I eventually went for obviously:

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I liked this one below, but the hubster wasn’t so keen. I quite liked that it was simple and easy on the eye (some people don’t like complicated patchwork) and the fabrics touch each other. Although I would have needed to do some jiggery pokery and shuffling around of the blocks if I had gone with this layout – still you get the idea). Hubster thought it was too simple for his eye. I think he has seen so many quilts, his brain has progressed beyond simple patterns and now he likes “interesting”. This has an advantage of being symmetrical around the edges, unlike layout 1 (did you spot that?)

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Next, I alternated the blocks between a square above and a reconstructed nine patch. I think on a bigger quilt or one with more blocks it would have been a more obvious “chain around the 4-patch” look.

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At this point I realised that with 12 blocks I was better laying it out as a 3 x 4 block grid, so here is that same layout with the pattern a bit easier to see.

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And finally, this is the one which almost won out. It looks pretty scrappy, but it is organised chaos! In the end I decided to go a safer, less complex pattern as it is for someone else.

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There are more options of course – you could take each D9P 4-block unit and sash it in white – 2.5” strips or smaller would be nice, choosing any of the layouts above for it, or mixing it up with a traditional nine-patch. And, as you can imagine, if you use all prints you get a very scrappy look! 5” squares would be too busy for me in that case – but 10” (layer cake) squares would be perfect! You could even just place them randomly.

OK, well again it’s wayyyyy past my bedtime. Hopefully next time I can show you these two little lap quilts finished and we can do some prettiness chat! By the way I used a charm pack of Strawberry fields and one of Honeysweet, both by Fig tree Quilts for Moda for this quilt.

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Edited: more pictures of the finished quilt are here if you would like to see :

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/91088996087/quilts-of-gratitude

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…

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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…

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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

Christmas Stockings and Christmas cheer

Eeeeek! It’s nearly Christmas! So excited about this Christmas  – we are not hosting it this year, so will be able to hang out with our family without organising the food or preparations, and play with my brother’s new puppy, yay! Anyway, given that a sewing blog should have more sewing and less puppy in it, I’ll move on  –  to Christmas stockings! Hurrah for Christmas stockings! Apparently in Germany, they used to leave out shoes and Santa would put sweets in them. I might have nicked my dad’s shoes when I was little…

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You might have seen the one I made for a wee baby boy called Matthew a couple of posts ago. Well, this one is for his mum. They are commissioned by a neighbour of mine, and I think she liked the idea of one which matched Matthew’s, even though I offered her the choice of some more grown up ones. Obviously you know your own family, so she felt Chloe would like this, although at the time it was only part-finished (and nameless!). It was nice to finish it, as I think it did end up quite nice, and looks like a pair with her son’s.

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I made Chloe’s stocking with a white cotton exterior, a red cotton lining and the cuff and heel with a flannel christmas tree fabric from … I can’t remember! I’ll have a think an insert here, but it could be by My Mind’s Eye for Riley Blake.

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I rather liked this little penguin on Matthew’s stocking (I designed him 3 years ago for my son’s little friends’ stockings – on my flickr stream if you are particularly interested, although I think I’ve got more polished over the last years), so decided to give him a wee friend:

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Again, I had fun just freehand cutting felt, keeping the shapes simple is the key to this! And particularly enjoyed the hand stitching. I used no. 8 perle cottons again, and the are lovely to work with, and add texture and a shimmer, which I don’t remember getting with the little embroidery I have done in the past using embroidery floss. Running stitches and backstitches – not difficult! But I think they look nice anyway.

And finally Chloe’s name in pink:

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And then the other daughter in law! My neighbour got 2 daughters in law and a baby grandson in the space of a year – lucky lady! And such a lovely family. The brief for Carolyn was “pastel”. I read “more grown up”. Unfortunately I can’t get good pictures of this, so you’ll have to trust me when I say it looks better in the reality (again!)… That’s one thing about Christmas crafting in Scotland – difficult to get any light to photograph in!

Well I most definitely did not freehand cut the felt for the stag! I found a nice silhouette of a deer on the internet, sized it up, printed it out, traced it onto freezer paper, ironed it onto the felt and cut round it. Once I sewed it onto the stocking I could then “draw” with my needle and perle cotton thread and a running stitch. It was very therapeutic.

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The little pink hearts were sweet and fun to add a little touch of colour. The whole thing was lovely to make – I think the white makes it feel wintry and snowy, not to mention Scottish, without being too “in your face” Christmas holly and all. After all it is a christmas stocking, you could applique a beach and it would look Christmassy. Well in Australia anyway.

I’ve only swithered about whether I should have done the lettering in pink felt – part of me is still unsure, although I like it better in my hands than on pictures. I think pink might have messed with the magic of the pink hearts on a frosty day, and the white gives the impression of having been made of snow. I’m saying that, but in reality whatever my subconcsious feels is being firmly slapped down by my conscious which says I don’t want to unpick and re-do it!

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well that’s a lot of words about stockings (and as ever pictures!), so I’ll take my leave of you and maybe even get in an episode of “Firefly” which we got on boxset last Christmas and are only just getting round to watching now! It’s those cold winter nights, make us couch potatoes 😉

Poppy

xx