Blue and white upcycled shirt quilt

Blue and white is such a classic combination.  It is both fresh and calming with the relaxed feeling of a lazy summer’s day on the beach.

Summer day at the beach

I used blue and white as the starting point for a quilt that would be a gift for my brother.  He loves rummaging in charity shops so it seemed appropriate to use pre-loved shirts and create an upcycled quilt for him.

Trawling the local charity shops, I looked for men’s shirts in a variety of patterns.  Anything would do  – stripes, spots, checks, tone on tone designs – provided the fabric was 100% cotton and the colours were predominately blue and white.  I even found a few floral, James May shirt style patterns.  Best of all was the little boy’s demin blue shirt covered in dinosaur skeletons!  I mean, who doesn’t love a dinosaur?

Stack of blue and white shirts

Stack of blue and white shirts

 

I wanted to keep the design uncomplicated so as to show off the patterns of the shirt fabrics.   A straight forward nine patch block seemed just the ticket.  The shirts were cut into 4 1/2 inch squares and sewn randomly together.

Blue and white shirt blocks

Blue and white shirt blocks

 

Men need encouragement in their lives too, so I embroidered positive affirmations onto some of the plain fabrics and incorporated these into the quilt blocks.

Words to live by blocks

Affirmation blocks

 

White sashing, 2 inches finished width, was added to separate the blocks and to give it a fresh look.

Blue and white quilt

Blue and white quilt

 

A swirling design, called Hot Cocoa, was chosen for the long arm quilting.  It adds a great texture to the quilt.

Quilt detail showing quilting design

Quilt detail showing quilting design

 

And here is the finished quilt, complete with a dark navy binding to frame the quilt.

Quilt made from upcycled blue and white shirts

Quilt made from upcycled blue and white shirts

At 72 inches square it is a great size to use as a bedspread or to throw over the back of the sofa.  I love that it is a classic design with little personal touches that make it unique.

Have you made a quilt from upcycled clothes?  I’d love you to share a photo and if not, I’d encourage you to give it a go.  So much clothing ends up in landfill and it seems a crime to waste it when it can be re-purposed for a longer life.

Like what you see?  Remember you can follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest to see more of my lovely makes.

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New Quilting exhibition, Rheged Gallery – a picture post

Last week I made a flying visit to Cumbria to see the New Quilting exhibition at the Rheged Gallery.

New Quilting exhibition - Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

New Quilting exhibition – Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

Over 70 quilts are on display and 30 quilters have contributed quilts for the exhibition.   There is so much to see – traditional designs, modern quilts, detailed hand quilting, elaborate machine quilting, 3D works, quilts that look like maps, ones that look like travel posters, free cut quilts, improvised piecing and appliqué.  There are even some quilts from the early 1900s on display.

New Quilting exhibition - Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

New Quilting exhibition – Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

One of my quilts features in the exhibition and here it is on display, yay!

A Life in Film quilt - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

A Life in Film quilt – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

And here is a closer look at the quilt, titled “A Life in Film”,  that I made for my nephew.  It features Polaroid blocks that highlight aspects of his life – growing up on a farm, his love of basketball, a special trip to the zoo, his love of chocolate cake, to name but a few.  I know he’ll love snuggling under it when reading or watching TV.

A Life in Film quilt - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

A Life in Film quilt – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

But enough about my quilt.  Here are some of my highlights and favourite quilts from the exhibition.

Cologne Cathedral quilt by Greta Fitchett - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Cologne Cathedral quilt by Greta Fitchett – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

I loved this quilt of Cologne Cathedral by Greta Fitchett which represents a scene reflected in other buildings.  Those lines between the blocks are really skinny and must have been so difficult to get straight.  It reminds me of photographs made from contact sheets.

Coming into Land quilt by Alicia Merrett - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Coming into Land quilt by Alicia Merrett – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This was another of my favourites, by Alicia Merrett, showing a pilot’s view of a country landscape at night, with an air strip on the right hand side.  The quilting really helps to accentuate the contours of the landscape and I love the bright colours of the houses shining in the dark.

Sweet City quilt by Marita Lappalainen - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Sweet City quilt by Marita Lappalainen – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This quilt by Marita Lappalainen made me smile.  Recycled fabrics and crochet pot holders feature in this work of an imagined city.  She said that she wanted to make something “fairy tale like, childish and fanciful”.  I’d say she has nailed it.

Detail of Bitter Pills quilt by Sara Impey - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of Bitter Pills quilt by Sara Impey – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This quilt, Bitter Pills,  by Sara Impey was especially thought-provoking.  It is a whole cloth quilt featuring free-motion embroidery.  The juxtaposition of the bright colours of the capsules against the “bitter pills facing society” serves to heighten the power of this work.

Detail of Log Cabin quilt made in 1900 - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of Log Cabin quilt made in 1900 – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This shows the detail from one of the quilts, made in 1900, that is on display.  The quilt is quite large – certainly large enough for a double bed – and must have taken hours to hand sew all those tiny seams.

Detail of Blue Cabin quilt by Joy Salvage - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of Blue Cabin quilt by Joy Salvage – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

A modern day version of a log cabin quilt was also on display.  This one is by Joy Salvage, a young quilter in her mid 20s, and features log cabin blocks where each of the logs are only 1/4 inch wide!

Detail of After Boro quilt by Janice Gunner - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of After Boro quilt by Janice Gunner – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

I’m a great fan of scrappy quilts and I loved this one by Janice Gunner.  The colours she has chosen and the lovely hand quilting have transformed old fabrics (often rags) into something beautiful.

I could go on and on about the quilts but really, the best thing is for you to see them for yourself.  The exhibition runs until 23 April and is well worth a visit.

Like what you see?  Remember you can follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest to see more of my lovely makes.

Heart quilt – work in progress

I’ve been wanting to make a heart quilt for ages and finally decided to take the plunge.

The pretty aqua and pink floral fabric below is the one that I chose as the starting point for my quilt.  I then selected other fabrics in co-ordinating colours of pink, green, warm grey, aqua and bright navy.  Most fabrics were from stash however I did need to purchase a few more (as if I needed an excuse).

Fabric selection for heart block quilt

Fabric selection for heart block quilt

Here are the fabrics that I chose.   They look very light and pretty with a really summery feel (the dappled sunlight only adds to the effect).

All blocks were made using the heart tutorial by Cluck Cluck Sew.  I made the 10 inch block size and separated them with 2 inch (finished width) sashing.

Footprints on my heart

Footprints on my heart

This block is one of my favourites.   It has tiny footprints as part of the fabric design.  For me, it is a visual image of the old saying – “Some people come into our lives and leave.  Others leave footprints on our heart and we are never the same”.   I didn’t notice this when I selected the fabrics so this is one of those happy accidents – love those!

Heart quilt front

Heart quilt top

And here is the finished quilt top – finished size about 60 inches square.  Photographed on rather a dull, grey day however it still retains its prettiness.  If you look closely, you’ll see that I substituted one of the navy fabrics for another with more white in it which I think works much better.

Half square triangles

Half square triangles

When making the heart blocks, I also took the wise advice of Jeni Baker.  In her last newsletter, she recommends making half-square triangle blocks from the off-cuts as you make each block.  Initially I was going to save the cut off triangles in a plastic bag, knowing full-well that I would probably never get back to sewing them together.  Doing them as I went along means that I now have a stack of half-square triangle blocks ready for another project.  Win-win!

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Memories of childhood Polaroid patchwork quilt

Here at last is the quilt that I exhibited at the recent Festival of Quilts held in Birmingham.  It is called Memories of Childhood because I felt the little fabric pictures perfectly capture the joy and innocence of being a child.

Memories of childhood Polaroid quilt

Memories of childhood Polaroid quilt

With over 80 different fabrics used for the Polaroids, there is so much to discover in this quilt.  One hundred Polaroid blocks are featured in the quilt and no picture is repeated.  There are birds, wild animals, cats, dogs, insects, boys and girls playing, mythical beasts and much, much more.   This “Blast Off” block even glows in the dark!

Polaroid quilt detail

Polaroid quilt detail

You can see more detail In an earlier post  of some of the Polaroids before they were pieced into the quilt.

All the blocks are tilted to give the impression that the Polaroids have been randomly strewn across the quilt.

Polaroid quilt detail

Polaroid quilt detail

I love these Polaroid blocks.  They make a great i-spy quilt for rainy day games.  And imagine the stories you could make up with your children using these little blocks as inspiration.

The back of the quilt is just as lovely, featuring this fabulous print of scooter boys and girls by Aneela Hoey.  It has been carefully pattern matched for a seamless finish and the red and white binding (also by Aneela Hoey) frames the quilt beautifully.

Memories of childhood Polaroid quilt back

Memories of childhood Polaroid quilt back

At 61 x 62 inches (155 X 157 cm) it is the perfect size for picnics, cuddling on the sofa, a cape, a den, a bed or thrown over a chair.

The quilt is made from high quality 100% cotton quilting fabrics, wadding and thread and has been professionally long-arm quilted (the pattern is called cool beans) to make it sturdy and durable.   Warm and snuggly, this is one of my favourite quilts.  Definitely one to be played with now and a treasured heirloom for the future.  I’ll be listing it for sale via my Folksy shop very soon.

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Regent Street lawn quilt

Often simple is best.

Start with a couple of charm packs (I used Moda’s Regent Street lawn) and two metres of a solid fabric (I used Bella Solid in off-white).

Fabrics for Regent Street charm quilt

Regent Street lawn quilt materials

Cut the solid into 124 individual 5 inch squares.  Sew the charm squares and solid squares together randomly into 16 rows with 13 squares in each row.  Then sew the rows together.

Regent Street lawn charm pack quilt

Regent Street lawn quilt

As you can’t always find a fence tall enough I had to photograph the finished quilt hanging sideways.   The quilt is 72 inches by 58 inches which is easily big enough for a single bed or as a large throw for the sofa.

Here is a close up showing the backing and detail of the quilt.

Regent Street lawn charm pack quilt detail

Regent Street lawn quilt detail

The lawn fabric is beautifully soft and silky giving the quilt a luxurious feel.  And the long arm quilting in Curlz adds a lovely texture.

This quilt design is based on the Lazy Daisy pattern by Jeni Baker.  It is a easy, simple pattern that is perfect for beginners.

Like what you see?  Remember you can follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest to see more lovely makes.

A country cottage style quilt

Fabric designs featuring large roses and pretty, soft colours make the perfect choice for a country cottage style quilt.  This is a quilt I made some time ago using Tanya Whelan’s Petal collection (sadly no longer available).

Shabby chic/country cottage style quilt

Quilt made in Tanya Whelan Petal fabric

The colours appear sun bleached and summery whilst the overblown roses are reminiscent of warm afternoons relaxing in a country garden.

For the piecing, I chose an upscale version of a pattern appropriately named “square in a box”.  There are lots of variations of this pattern however I kept it simple with a large centre square framed in either a spotted or checked fabric.  The layout I chose alternates between blocks framed in spotted or gingham fabrics.  Initially I alternated the two rose designs too however I quickly changed that to a random placement of the centre roses.  Symmetrical layouts really are not for me.

Roses quilting on shabby chic/country cottage style quilt

Roses quilting detail on Tanya Whelan petal quilt

The quilt was long arm quilted using a dense pattern of open roses.  It is a little difficult to see in this photo however I think you can make out one of the roses in the gingham square.

Pieced backing on shabby chic/country cottage style quilt

Pieced backing on Tanya Whelan petal quilt

In keeping with the country style of the fabrics, I made a pieced backing for this quilt featuring the large roses and two smaller rose designs not used on the front.  The pink gingham fabric makes a charming binding to finish.

This quilt has been washed to achieve that lovely vintage crinkly appearance and is made from 100% cotton fabrics, thread and wadding.  It will be on display at my Bucks Open Studio event in June.  I’d love to see you if you are able to visit.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing details of more of my quilts that will be on display in June.  Remember you can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Polaroid blocks

Polaroid blocks are my latest obsession.  I love how you can use them to highlight the tiny details that might otherwise be overlooked in a busy print.  Take this pirate fabric as a case in point.  Did you notice the pirate shark, complete with eye patch and wicked teeth, in the main fabric?

Pirate shark patchwork block

Pirate shark Polaroid block

Polaroid blocks were all the rage a few years back and I think it is time they made a comeback.  I know that all the fussy cutting makes them greedy of fabric but I don’t care.  There are just so many adorable fabric designs that are crying out to be made as Polaroids.  Who could resist the cute little images from these Dashwood Studio prints?  (Oops!  Error alert – the pigeon fabric is part of the VeloCity collection from P&B Textiles.  This is what happens when you chop off selvages).

Polaroid quilt blocks in fabrics by Dashwood Studio and P&B Textiles designs

Polaroid blocks in fabrics by Dashwood Studio and P&B Textiles

And I adore these quirky illustrations from favourites by Heather Ross.

Polaroid blocks in Far Far Away and Tiger Lily fabrics

Polaroid blocks in Heather Ross fabrics

Aneela Hoey is another great designer whose images are perfect for Polaroid blocks.

Polaroid blocks in Little Apples fabric

Polaroid blocks in Aneela Hoey fabrics

Then there are these fab ones by new(er) kids on the block, Cotton and Steel.

Polaroid quilt blocks in Cotton and Steel designs

Polaroid blocks in Cotton and Steel fabrics

And if you really want to overdose on cuteness, you”ll love these sweet little images by Australian designer Natalie Lymer.

Polaroid blocks in fabric by Natalie Lymer

Polaroid blocks in Cinderberry Stitches

I love all these blocks however my absolute favourite from my latest batch of Polaroids is this little one.  A crow peeking in the branches from the Yoyogi Park collection by Heather Moore.

Yoyogi peeking Polaroid block

Yoyogi Park Polaroid block

Ok, I think that’s enough cuteness for one day.  I’m back to the cutting board as I have another 80 blocks to trim up.

If you’re inspired to make your own Polaroid blocks, then this tutorial by Capitola Quilter is a great one to use to get you started.

Milk churn patchwork quilt

What do you give someone when you want  something that says “you’re special”, something that says “thank you”, something that says “I love you”?  For me, the answer is usually always a handmade quilt (sometimes it is cake but that is another story).

Earlier this year, it was my privilege to make a custom order quilt for a couple who have a jersey cow stud.  When I showed my client a  fun quilt pattern featuring rows of milk churns (remember those?) we knew we’d found the perfect design.  I mean, dairy farmers and milk churns, what could be more appropriate?

Milk cow kitchen patchwork quilt

Milk churn patchwork quilt

The fabric collection is Milk Cow Kitchen by Mary Jane Butters for Moda.  Nostalgic, a bit kitsch, the collection features tiny jersey cows, vintage cars, kitchen utensils, milk bottle tops and my personal favourite, lots of moos!!.  There is even a recipe for strawberry jam.

Milk Cow Kitchen patchwork quilt detail

Milk churn patchwork quilt detail

To make the quilt I used this free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop.  I did change the pattern slightly by  adding an extra column of milk churns to make it wider and I changed how I added the sashing.  The milk churn lids were made as larger strips that are then cut down making it much quicker and easier to put together than it first looks.

Milk Cow Kitchen patchwork quilt detail

Milk churn patchwork quilt detail

The finished quilt was professionally long-arm quilted with an overall pattern called Cloud Nine.

Milk Cow Kitchen patchwork quilt backing

Milk churn patchwork quilt backing

And for the backing, I chose this green Lulu fabric from the Up Parasol range by Heather Bailey.  It is one that I wish I had been able to buy more of as it really is the most lovely light olive green.

The 100% cotton wadding in the quilt makes it irresistibly soft and warm and gives the quilt a beautiful drape.   At 70 inches by 64 inches, it is a very versatile size and perfect for a bed or a sofa.

Today I received the good news that Royal Mail and Australia Post did their bit and delivered the quilt safe and sound to its new home.  And I’m very pleased to say that it was a very welcome present that will be much loved for many years to come.  A special gift for a lovely couple.

Checkerboard quilt – a work in progress

Strangely I seem to have a number of half-finished quilts cluttering up my workroom.  I’m not sure how this happened.  Best not to dwell on the how and instead focus on getting them completed.

With this in mind, over the past week I have been working on a checkerboard quilt top that had been languishing on my dining room table for (many) months.   I had decided to use a jelly roll for the patterned sections and then very quickly wished that I hadn’t.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love using jelly rolls.   Sadly this one seemed to have more than its fair share of strips not cut on the grain and many were slightly wider than 2 1/2 inches.   After a bit of judicious cutting, thankfully this wasn’t too much of a problem.

Rather than cut out individual 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch squares, I used this strip piecing tutorial by Red Pepper Quilts.  I selected 33 strips from my jelly roll, cut them in half on the fold line and then attached a 2 1/2 inch wide strip of plain fabric  to the long side.   Although not really necessary, I cut the jelly roll strips in half to reduce any potential problems if the strips were wonky.   I really needed only 32 jelly roll strips for the quilt.  The extra one was to allow for any cutting errors (sad to say, there was one) and also ensured I had plenty of options when putting the quilt top together so that similar/same patterns weren’t right next to each other.  The sewn strips were then cut down to 10 1/2 inches long and then sewn to another pair of sewn strips.  Although these strips were slightly shorter than the 11 inches recommended in the tutorial there was more than enough fabric available when cross-cutting the strips.

Ambleside strips for checkerboard quilt

Checkerboard quilt strips

I worked on a quarter of the quilt at a time as I don’t have a large enough space in which to layout the full quilt design.  Making up blocks of 16 squares each as per the tutorial made it much easier to nest the seams together and the reverse stayed very neat and tidy too.

Ambleside checkerboard quilt blocks

Checkerboard quilt blocks

My quilt top is now complete and ready for quilting.

Ambleside checkerboard quilt top

Checkerboard quilt top

I love the colours in this one.  They are so soft and pretty.  And the white squares make it look lovely and fresh.   Here is a close-up so you can see all that prettiness in detail.

Ambleside checkerboard quilt top detail

Checkerboard quilt top detail

It reminds me of meadow flowers strewn across a white sheet and I don’t even mind the greys in this one.  Now I just need to choose the backing fabric and the quilting pattern.  Decisions, decisions.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I used an Ambleside jellyroll by Moda –  a very pretty, country cottage collection of rose, daisy, gingham and lace designs – and Bella Solid in Off White for the plain squares.

Back with more soon.

When it rains, look for rainbows

Is there anyone who doesn’t love rainbows?  They are so beautiful; a symbol of hope and a promise of better things to come.
 
Rainbow over rooftops

Rainbow over rooftops

The beautiful colours of Fancy by Lily Ashbury simply lent themselves to a rainbow quilt.  Even the press information about this collection described it as being like “rays of sunshine on a cloudy day” and “gorgeous, lush, and drenched with colour”.  

 

The collection was missing a purple so I hunted though my fabrics to find something suitable.  This was harder than it might seem as purple, particularly a dark reddish purple, is not a common colour in quilting fabrics (they seem to tend toward lavender and bluish purples).  Thankfully I found two.  

Purple fabrics

Purple fabrics

The sharks tooth is a fabulous match as the pattern mimics others in the Fancy collection.  The second had little birds on it.  At first, I wasn’t sure if this would really work with the other fabrics.  But then I remembered that in the song, “happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow” so it was obviously meant to be.  

 

The spectrum of colours made a coin quilt design an obvious choice for me.  I had so much fun making my last off-set coin quilt, I decided to use this as the basis for my rainbow quilt.  For this quilt, I used a jelly roll and simply removed any duplicate fabric strips.  The fabrics were used in the same order they were presented in the jelly roll and the same design was used across a row in each of the five columns.  A Flurry spot (Dashwood studios) in light teal was the perfect choice for the background.   

 

I had no dilemmas about what to use for the backing fabric.  It just had to be unicorns.  I mean, what else would you expect to find behind a rainbow?  Visitors to my Bucks Open Studios event were asked to help me choose which unicorn fabric to use.

 

Unicorn fabric from Far Far Away collection

Unicorn fabric by Heather Ross

It was an even split between the green and the purple colour ways of this lovely whimsical design by Heather Ross from her Far Far Away collection.

 

In the end, the decision was taken out of my hands as I could only source enough of the green colour way to complete the backing. Either one would have worked however the green is a beautiful, soothing colour that is the perfect counterfoil for the riot of colours on the front. 

 

The lovely, swirly Curlz (it’s my favourite) was used as the quilting design and a glorious sunshine yellow from the Linen Cupboard collection was chosen for the binding.

 

Off-set coin rainbow quilt

Off-set coin rainbow quilt

 

This cuddly, warm quilt in cheerful, sunny colours cannot fail to  banish dark days and rainy skies.