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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Festival of Quilts – a picture post

On Sunday I made the journey to Birmingham (UK) for the Festival of Quilts.  It was almost overwhelming seeing so many gorgeous quilts on display (not to mention the shopping opportunities – but more on that at another time).  Rather than give an overview of the show, I thought I would share some of my favourite quilts.  They may not have been THE prize-winning quilts however they were all winners in my book.  

I loved the calm serenity of this quilt from the pictorial quilts section.

Quilt 67 - Marshwood Vale by Kate Dowty

Quilt 67 – Marshwood Vale by Kate Dowty

The sunny outlook and bright colours of this pictorial quilt I found very appealing.  You could find something new in this quilt each time you looked at it.

Quilt 60 - Good Morning Gorran by Brenda Thomas

Quilt 60 – Good Morning Gorran by Brenda Thomas

This close-up shows the amazing detail – all done a small domestic sewing machine.  Respect!

Quilt 60 - Good Morning Gorran (detail) by Brenda Thomas

Quilt 60 – Good Morning Gorran (detail) by Brenda Thomas

Here is one of my favourites from the contemporary quilt section.   A quilt covered in little dresses.  So cute!  And I loved the hats and shoes quilted in the background.  Can never have enough of those.

Quilt 718 - Nostalgia by Jannie Bloemers

Quilt 718 – Nostalgia by Jannie Bloemers

Quilt 718 - Nostalgia (detail) by Jannie Bloemers

Quilt 718 – Nostalgia (detail) by Jannie Bloemers

This quilt by Andy Brunhammer from the Art Quilt Category looked fairly nondescript until you looked at it through a camera.  Suddenly, the image revealed itself as the face of a sleeping woman (Bette Davis, no less).  How is this effect achieved?  I have no idea although it has “something to do with pixels”.  

Quilt 563 - Sleep Jezebel by Andy Brunhammer

Quilt 563 – Sleep Jezebel by Andy Brunhammer

I loved this tiny quilt by Joanna O’Neill.  It reminded me of the seven basic plot outlines – wo/man against something/someone, rags to riches, a quest and so on.  It is now difficult to think of a book that would not be improved by the addition of at least one cat.  

Quilt 8 - A Tale Worth Telling by Joanna O'Neill

Quilt 8 – A Tale Worth Telling by Joanna O’Neill

As lovely as these quilts were, I still prefer a quilt that can be used as more than a decorative piece.  I like quilts that keep you warm at night, share your picnic and that you can hide under during the scary bits in Dr Who (I still have nightmares about those statues!).  
This scrappy quilt, in which “no yardage was harmed in the making” was a delight.  Such a glorious collection of colours.

Quilt 327 - No Yardage was Harmed in the Making of this Quilt by Alison Robins and Krista Withers

Quilt 327 – No Yardage was Harmed in the Making of this Quilt by Alison Robins and Krista Withers

I also loved the blues and metallic gold fabrics used in this traditional sampler quilt.  Can you believe it was her first quilt?

Quilt 474 - Learning Curve by Janet Ann Bowden

Quilt 474 – Learning Curve by Janet Ann Bowden

And this one with a simple but very effective design of squares and half-square triangles.

Quilt 721 - Bank Holiday by Ruth Burdett

Quilt 721 – Bank Holiday by Ruth Burdett

Any of you who follow my Facebook page will have seen that I also entered a quilt in this year’s show.  Here it is on display.

Quilt 328 - Pot Luck Coins by Jen Kelson and Jenny Otto

Quilt 328 – Pot Luck Coins by Jen Kelson and Jenny Otto

And I received some very nice comments from the judges too.  All in all, a great day out.    

Bluebird Park quilt – a tutorial

This quilt I made was one of the most popular at my recent exhibition for Bucks Open Studios.  I have to confess, it is one of my favourites too.  
 
Bluebird Park quilt

Bluebird Park quilt

A number of people have contacted me since asking for the pattern. The world definitely needs more quilts so here is a tutorial to enable you can make your own version.
 
What you’ll need:
1 layer cake* (I used Bluebird Park by Kate and Birdie for Moda)
0.5 metre fabric for binding
3.5 metres backing fabric (more if you need to match patterns)
Wadding or batting approx. 60 inch by 66 inch (I used 100% cotton Quilters Dream Select)
Co-ordinating cotton thread
 
Cutting instructions:
To make the quilt top, cut each of the fabric squares from the layer cake into a 6 1/2 inch square, a 3 1/2 inch square, and two rectangles, each 3 1/2 inch by 6 1/2 inch.  The picture below will make it clearer as to how to cut your fabric.
 
Cutting diagram for Bluebird Park quilt

Cutting diagram for Bluebird Park quilt

 
You don’t need to always cut the largest square from the top left if the design placement would work better if, for example, the large square was cut at the lower right.  You just need to ensure that you get all four shapes.  Before cutting, I also checked that my layer cake squares were exactly 10 inch square.  It is probably not essential to do this so if you’re more of a “let’s get stuck in” kinda gal, then just get cutting.
 
Whilst you have your rotary cutter to hand, from the binding fabric cut 6 strips, each 2 1/2 inch wide, across the width of the fabric.
 
Sewing instructions:
Once you have cut up all your layer cake squares, you can start to have some fun. You now sew your layer cake squares back together using a different fabric design for each of the four positions in the cutting diagram.  
 
Using a 1/4 inch seam, sew a rectangle to a large square and press the seam toward the square.  Then sew another rectangle to a small square, pressing the seam toward the small square.  Finally sew the small square strip to the large square strip, nesting the seams where the points of the two squares meet.  This large square forms the block for the quilt.   
 
The quilt is comprised of 42 blocks which means you will use all of the layer cake.  If you wanted your quilt to go on a single bed, then I would make it as 7 rows with 6 blocks in each row.  If you wanted your quilt as a sofa throw like my version, then lay it out as 6 rows with 7 blocks across each row. 
 
Here is some printed card that I cut up to show the layout for the blocks.  
 
Bluebird Park quilt block layout

Bluebird Park quilt block layout

I couldn’t show the full quilt layout however there is enough that you should be able to see the repeat of the pattern.   The first four blocks in rows one and two form the repeat.  So row four would have the same block placement as row two.  This means your first block on row four would have a small square in the bottom left, the next block would have a small square in the top right, the third block would have a small square in the bottom right and so on.  
*Update:  the block orientation of the first two blocks on the second row is not correct.  The large square and small squares should be diagonally opposite each other.  The small squares in the first two blocks on the second row are in the correct position however the large squares in these blocks need to be moved from bottom to top and top to bottom respectively.  Many apologies for the error.
 
If you are using a directional fabric, such as Bluebird Park, you might want to lay out your quilt design before making up your blocks so that you don’t end up with bikes riding sideways or rabbits standing on their heads (unless you don’t want your quilt to have an obvious up or down).
 
Once you are happy with your block placement, sew blocks together for each row and then sew the rows together.  You will now have finished your quilt top, yay!
 
Sew your backing fabric so that it makes a piece at least 4 inches bigger on all sides than your quilt top.  Baste the backing, wadding and quilt top together then quilt as desired.  Finally sew your binding strips together to make one long strip and attach it to your quilt.
 
Congratulations!  You now have a lovely soft and cuddly quilt.
 
I hope you enjoy making your own version of my Bluebird Park quilt.  If you have any questions regarding the instructions, please do contact me.  Have fun!
 
 
 * layer cakes are produced by Moda and comprise 42 10 inch squares from a single fabric collection.