Scandi Bird quilt – finished at last

The Scandi Bird quilt is finally finished!   It has only been 5 years in the making but the final result is worth it.

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Each of the birds was first appliquéd onto squares of plain off-white fabric.  They  weren’t difficult to do, just very time-consuming.  Whilst I’ll never say never, I can’t see me rushing to make another appliqué quilt.  They are not my zone of genius.  Still, it was good to step outside my comfort zone and give it a go.

Initially I was planning to have 41 birds in the final quilt separated by blocks of four fabrics.  Given that it was taking me so long to complete the birds I then changed tack to have fewer birds and more co-ordinating fabrics.  This meant I had to raid my fabric stash for some additional fabrics since I only had a limited amount of the initial fabrics and what I had would not stretch that far.

Fabrics used in scandi bird quilt

Fabrics used in scandi bird quilt

On the left are the fabrics initially selected for the quilt and on the right are the extra fabrics I pulled to add to the quilt.

Smaller squares in coordinating colours were added as a frame around each appliqué bird to form a block before sewing the blocks together.

Scandi bird quilt block

Scandi bird quilt block

The coloured squares have been placed in a scrappy arrangement.  Many people think that scrappy quilts are easy to do when in fact they take a lot of careful planning.  I’ll share some tips on how to create a good scrappy quilt in a later post.

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

At 64 inches square, the quilt brightens up the bedroom and is easily big enough to cover the top of the bed.

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

It is perfect as a throw when reading,

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Or daydreaming in a sunbeam.

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Scandi bird patchwork quilt

Quilts don’t have to live solely inside.  They also make fab picnic blankets.


The quilt back features sassy 1950s ladies, carefully pattern-matched as always for a seamless look (I think the recipient secretly likes these ladies better than the quilt front).  For the binding I used a bright blue floral that also features on the front of the quilt.

Scandi bird patchwork quilt - detail

Scandi bird patchwork quilt – detail

Wavy lines were quilted horizontally across the quilt which gives it a lovely, cozy texture.  I’m quite proud of the quilting on this quilt as it was done on my domestic sewing machine – the largest quilt I’ve quilted so far.

This quilt went to its forever home in December last year where it is cherished and well-loved.

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Quilters Hangup – a review

Today I put the finishing touches to the quilt I’ll be exhibiting at this year’s Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.   Anyone who has exhibited a quilt before will know that these preparations include the addition of a hanging sleeve.

Attaching pre-prepared quilt hanging sleeve

Attaching Quilters Hangup

In the past, I have made my own hanging sleeve (essentially a tube of fabric attached to the quilt back that allows a hanging rod to be inserted).  Nowadays I don’t bother making my own.  Instead I use a ready-made quilt hanging sleeve called Quilters Hangup.

I first came across Quilters Hangup last year and I love them.  They are made from a sturdy cotton fabric and come in a natural unbleached muslin (this in the one I use) and black.   Pre-made to the regulation 4 inches tall, the Quilters Hangup also includes a pleat at the top edge that allows quilts to hang flat!    And the rainbow thread on the back  is a pretty touch.

Pre-prepared quilt hanging sleeve

Quilters Hangup

Quilters Hangup may not be the cheapest option however they do save a lot of time.  Simply cut to length and hem the ends.  There is enough in each pack to make a hanging sleeve for even the largest Super King size quilt.  Quilters Hangups can be sewn into a quilt before or after sewing on the binding.   I prefer to hand sew my Quilters Hangup to the quilt after binding.  My quilts are made to be used rather than hung on a wall, so it is essential that I can easily remove the sleeve.  Plus making the sleeve removable means that I can re-use the hanging sleeve when exhibiting other quilts the same size.

I’m sure Quilters Hangups are readily available in America as they are a USA product.  For those in the UK, I purchased mine from Sew Hot.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Improv patchwork

Funny how things don’t turn out how you planned.  One of my New Year resolutions was to write a weekly blog post.  And we can all see how well that turned out!   Well, I am not giving up on my resolution just yet.  So on to my first post for the year.  Better late than never.

Two weeks ago I spent a fabulous day with amazing quilter Charlotte Newland at The Village Haberdashery learning the techniques of improvisational patchwork.

First up was making blocks from scraps chosen at random from plastic bags – with NO peeking!  Given that I have a thing about colours going together, I found the no peeking aspect particularly challenging.   And I was pleasantly surprised at how well my scrappy block turned out (ooh, the Liberty print!).  Doing this with your own scraps must bring back many happy memories of items you’d made earlier.

Improv patchwork block

Improvisational patchwork block

For our next block we were allowed to add in pieces of our chosen fabric (the orange butterflies) along with randomly chosen scraps.  I love the tiny pieces of text fabric in this block.

Improv patchwork block

Improvisational patchwork block

The main part of the day was spent making a piece of improvisational fabric from three fat quarters.   Below you can see what I made after a lot of cutting and sewing.  This was a lot of fun and very liberating.   Need to cut with a ruler?  Nah.  Your seams aren’t a perfect 1/4 inch?  Doesn’t matter.  Want to leave in the selvages?  Go ahead.  What bliss!

I’m not sure I like my final result but this isn’t a surprise as I did deliberately choose fabrics that weren’t my favourites.  I haven’t decided what to make with it yet.  A wall quilt, perhaps a mat for the cat…

Improv patchwork sample

Improvisational patchwork sample


Charlotte also showed us how to sew improvisational curves, snowball blocks and sticks.  Sorry, I don’t have photos of these as I was far to busy sewing.

Thanks, Charlotte for a great class and an opportunity to work outside my comfort zone.  I know that I’ll use what I have learnt in future quilts, particularly the improv log cabins and curves.

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.