Thursday, 28 April 2016

Bits & Pieces


I can't remember now what I saw on Instagram that prompted this sudden purchase, but I was left with a yearning for some softer, calmer colours and Oakshott's Scandinavia bundle answered this perfectly. I bought the tiny fat 1/8th pack, which may seem too small to be good for anything, but I actually think when a fabric isn't patterned, I often end up using it much more economically as I'm not trying to fussy-cut certain parts of the print, so I'm hopeful it will still be usable. It was even lovelier than I'd been anticipating and it looks so deliciously creamy and soft bundled up here in perfect colour order. It's very deceptive once unfolded, as one moment it looks quite coloured and the next the colour is barely there because of the white thread used on the warp of the fabric.

English paper piecing curves

This week I've returned to some more curved paper piecing. I designed these shapes one evening last week and if it goes to plan, then it will hopefully become a pattern. However, its progress has been hampered slightly by what-comes-next fabric-indecision (thank you, people of Instagram, for being such a wonderful advisory board). I'd really like a wise man to come and give me the gift of decisiveness (which sounds alarmingly like I'm comparing myself to the baby Jesus; I'm not. I'd just like a gift from a wise man) because it would up my productivity levels quite incredibly. Discussing it with my husband this evening he said: I think you just need to go for it, because in the time you've spent feeling indecisive you could have actually finished and completed all three options that you were weighing up! This is probably true and I've suddenly realised while writing this that maybe my husband is actually the wise man!

English paper piecing

Nb. You might think Magic Mirrors can cure indecisiveness as you can essentially see a mock up of all the options...but for some people, even that doesn't help!


In other news, thank you so much for all your wonderful advice to my quilting dilemma in the last post. I'm yet to finish unpicking all the machine stitches but, as suggested in the comments by Pieces of Cotton and also Cathy, I've now trialled some diagonal hand-stitching in a large corner and really quite like it. I couldn't quite face doing tiny hand stitches though and I suddenly remembered that I had the solution to that sitting patiently in a drawer. A few years ago I'd met Kim Porter of Worn & Washed at The Festival of Quilts and had fallen in love with how soft and squishy her quilts looked - possibly a combination of the batting she was using (I have a vague recollection that it was 100% poly, which made me rethink this option as they felt absolutely gorgeous), the soft, recycled fabrics, but also her larger quilting stitches. The three elements came together to make her quilts feel and look utterly divine! Anyway, she'd sold me some of her needles and thread and when I took them out of the drawer this week, it felt most enabling to see the label bearing the words 'needles for thicker thread and bigger stitches'. I find it really hard to do things on a larger scale, so for me, what you can see below feels like huge (and quite liberating!) progress. And this corner of the quilt feels exactly the way I'd hoped it would, so although I'm not looking forward to all the unpicking, which I think will take several hours, I think I'll enjoy the finished quilt more. Kim doesn't seem to have a shop as such, but if you're interested, I think she's going to be at The Decorative Living Fair at Eridge Park in May.

big stitch hand quilting

This post is brought to you from the middle of the night as I've woken feeling hideously nauseous after eating food containing garlic, which I normally avoid. When I came up to my sewing room with the idea of writing a post to distract myself, I saw that my half-finished quilt was in here and I can now attest to the wonderfulness of a wool batting, because I'm sitting under it right now and I was toasty within about thirty seconds of draping it over me. The voile backing is so incredibly soft and lovely so I've now added a quilt made of voile on both sides to my list of things to make at some point.  I made this one back in 2010 and it's by far and away my loveliest quilt in terms of 'feel', but I find the colours a bit wishy-washy now that my daughter is six years older and she tends to have this one out on her bed (or more often trailed across her floor because she's a teenager and that's exactly where I would have left it at her age too!). There aren't a huge range of fabrics to choose from when it comes to voile though - Free spirit used to do a collection of voile solids, but that seems to have disappeared. Finally, in writing this post and thinking about quilts-past, I've also realised that I've made three quilts for my daughter and only one for my son and his lone quilt is incredibly basic, so this too may need to be added to the quilt list too!

Sleep tight (or be highly wakeful and effective if you're reading this during the daytime!),
Florence x

Monday, 18 April 2016

A Quilt Block, a Quilt Dilemma and Some Random Thoughts

I bought these Anna Maria Horner Loominous fabrics last month and they're beautiful - they all have slightly different weights and textures and the feel of some of them surprised me by being perfect for dressmaking, as well as quilting. However, as I'd purchased them in fat quarters, I decided to use them for quilt making rather than a tiny bandeau top. I'd also somehow missed that they have shiny threads woven through them, so that was another revelation on seeing them with my very own eyes. The floral at the top is one of my favourite Kaffe Fassett prints, which happens to go well with them.

Not having had quite enough of English paper piecing curves with my Perpetual Spring pattern, I decided to draft something with a few more of them and found myself surprised anew (this is seemingly the post where I'm surprised by everything!) by how much easier they are to sew than I imagine them to be when I'm not actively sewing them.

Below is a photo of the block - mid-construction - reflected in my magic mirrors to give an idea of what it would look like if there were more of them. Although I've mentally moved onto my next EPP project, so I'm not sure that there will be more of them.

On other sewing matters, this quilt top (which I adore and very much want to get on with using!) has come to a sorry pause in production due to quiltification issues. Here is the sequence of events in reference to the photo below, which shows machine quilting in the upper half and hand stitching in the lower half:

1. I started off doing really dense straight-line machine quilting, which is a look that I love as when viewed at a distance I think it tends to change the way the prints look, making them appear as though you're seeing them through the blur of rainy window pane. However, having gone to the trouble of buying dreamy wool batting and backing the quilt with voile for softness, I was alarmed to find that the dense machine stitching makes the quilt feel stiff and unyielding. So after a few hours of quilting, I stopped and left it for a week to have a think about what to do.
2. I had a think about what to do and there were no helpful thoughts to be found in my head. Just a yearning for the feel of a hand-stitched quilt.
3. With no plan and pretending that the machine stitches weren't there, I began to do some hand quilting. I kept to the same density of stitch lines using small stitches. I did not consider that doing these two things in combination would mean that the quilt would take several years to complete. I only realised this a few days later when I had achieved just six lines of quilting and had only covered 2" with them.
4. On realising that the enormous quilt is now a hideous mishmash of hand quilting and machine quilting (I think those two things can look completely dreamy together, but my section of machine quilting is so large that there's no sense of the two intermingling) I put down my needle and have been background-thinking about this problem ever since February, without ever reaching a logical conclusion.
5. Here are the options that I think I have: do I finish this the easy way, by speedily unpicking the hand-stitches and machine quilting the whole thing and accepting that it's not quite as squashy as I'd like, but that it does look exactly the way that I wanted it to? Does dense machine quilting become softer with washing, I wonder? Do I unpick all the machine quilting, which will take forever and may leave holes in the fabric, unpick the hand-stitching and then hand quilt it with larger stitches in rows more widely spaced? Do I leave it under the bed for a few years festering while I think for a bit longer? I would love your input and Nell is now guarding the quilt for me (along with my trailing laptop cable), with her beautiful black button eyes, until I have been placed on a more sensible track.

In other random thoughts:

A few months ago, I decided to leave my less natural skincare products behind and have switched over to using Fushi products. I use their organic, cold-pressed Rosehip Oil in the morning as it's really quickly absorbed and has an oddly 'dry' feel to it that makes it perfect for using under make-up; and I use a mixture of Rosehip Oil & Evening Primrose Oil in the evening to treat my hormonal skin. The rosehip oil is also fantastic for treating scars, which is necessary after a freak (and slightly amusing) incident a few months ago when I was draining some ravioli rather too enthusiastically and a piece leapt up from the colander and slapped me on the forehead, leaving a large burn - although thankfully not in a square, with perfectly pinked edges! I also use Fushi's organic virgin shea butter on my skin and hair. It has a really hideous consistency that needs to be warmed in your palms to emulsify and it takes a lot of work to absorb it into the skin, but the results are miraculous. I really love that their products are so pure that with most of them you can choose to drink them, put them on your food, put them in your hair or put them on your skin.

I found Fushi's glass bottles slightly maddening though as they tended to drip, leaving little drops of oil about the place. I've now decanted them into little bottles and found them to be much more user-friendly. Plus, I've put gorgeous Rifle Paper stickers on them, which make me happy every time I use them.

Let's talk weird clocks. When I was a teenager, my father travelled a lot and was sometimes away for a few weeks at a time. As well as him arriving home, I would also always really look forward to the gifts he'd bring with him, which seemed deliciously foreign, such as a Japanese kimono or a little origami bookmark. From one trip, when I was about 12, he gave me a digital alarm clock. Several years later when I was away at university, one term I painted quite a lot of my furniture and I decided to spray my alarm clock silver (completely obscuring the settings in the process!). Since then, my husband and I have regularly agreed that the alarm clock is a hideous monstrosity with its flaking silver paint, but for some reason neither of us could bring ourselves to replace had become this weird thing that we felt sentimentally attached to, even though neither of us knew why; almost like a talisman. However, this month we painted our bedroom, got a brand new bed and finally it felt like the right time to move on and have a grown-up alarm clock (I love the video which tells the story of the name behind this clock). I hope the adventure continues to be just as good with a new alarm clock in tow but if it falters even slightly, I shall buy a spray can and modify it! Do you have anything in your own home that is hideous but that you're too attached to to get rid of? I feel slightly ashamed to be sharing a photo of this, but it feels worthwhile to preserve the memory of it and also to properly convey what a curious thing it is that I've chosen to have this by my bedside for twenty-seven years. And just in case you're wondering, it's set ten minutes fast for tricking-ourselves-that-we're-late purposes that we find we no longer need, so our new clock is set to the right time.

Finally, a book. Last night, I read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin - it's a simple, easy novel to read, but at the same time it draws complex and interesting characters that I quickly became attached to - I absolutely loved it and read it in one long sitting. Have you read anything good lately?

Florence x

Monday, 21 March 2016

A tutorial: How to Make String Art (with a needle and thread)

String Art Tutorial How To

In the house where my husband grew up, there was a piece of string art on his bedroom wall that his father had made years earlier: it's strung on painted black wood, with red thread wrapped around the nails that have been carefully tapped into place. We've taken it with us from house to house and it's so geometrically perfect and fascinating to look at; although the colours don't feel overly restful and I've always really regretted not taking the opportunity to ask my father-in-law to make one for me in different colours when he was alive. 

string art

One of my birthday gifts from my husband this year was nine identical empty box frames. It felt like a really lovely invitation of a gift and contemplating what to make to go in them has preoccupied my thoughts on and off. Initially, I was going to create nine English paper pieced quilt blocks, but I struggled to find fabrics that felt right. Finally, last week I realised that I'd really love to have a go at making something inspired by my father-in-law's string art, but without using nails and wood.

I used some beautiful Melton Wools from Abraham Moon for the backing - it's really lovely and many of the colours have a soft heathered appearance - I'm planning to make some cushions from them at some point. Melton II and Melton III are my favourite ranges (although they have lots of herringbones and tartans for dressmaking too). If you have a spare few minutes and are as enraptured as I am at seeing cloth being woven, then do go and watch the video on the Abraham Moon site, as I think you will love seeing the traditional processes this British mill use.

String art close up

The first evening that I began experimenting with string art, I stayed up until 3.30am, as captivated by this new form of making as I had been when I first began making rope bowls. Just like the bowls, it's often a surprise to see exactly how the piece will turn out and what form it will take - it's really thrilling to watch the point at which a curve begins to form, threads begin to cross over one another and a new pattern begins to appear! The one below was the first I made - I wish I'd stuck to the outline of the circle a bit more religiously, but I love the colours changes in it.

pacman string art

I made quite a lot of different designs and, if you're interested, I'll put some links to how to create them later on as there are a lot of sites studying mathematical geometry that will put you on the right track. However, as the original 1970s designs were mainly nails and string, I thought I'd write up a quick tutorial about how to go about a basic abstract design like the one below, created using needle and thread. Officially, it's string art, but that seems like a beast of a name to give to something made with finer threads, so from here on in I'll refer to it as thread art. Let's begin.

String art tutorial 5

Ingredients List: 
  • Cloth/Fabric
  • Lightweight interfacing (optional)
  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Ruler
  • Frixion/erasable ink pen or chalk
  • Protractor
  • Thread
  • Needles (I used Clover's Gold Eye Embroidery Needles Sizes 3-9)
I have an absolutely loathing of skeins of embroidery floss, because not only does it seem to tangle itself into the most hideously untanglable knots, but it's also multi-stranded, which offers further potential for knotting. Instead, I used Lana wool thread made by Aurifil, which is 12-weight (so quite thick), single-stranded and served on a spool, which combats all of my badly-behaved-skein-of-embroidery-floss problems. In the UK, it's stocked at Eternal Maker and Pretty Fabrics & Trims.

I ironed a thin layer of fusible web to the back of my Moons' Melton Wool cloth to stabilise it, although I'm not entirely sure this was necessary. 

To get a really even finish, it's often desirable to make quite a lot of markings on the fabric and they need to be clear and precise. I think Frixion pens, which disappear with ironing, are about the only thing that would have worked on my textured cloth - they left perfectly clear marks and were erased in seconds with the iron, once I'd finished. 

String art tutorial 1

Begin by drawing a circle onto your fabric. All of my designs are based on a 4" drinks coaster, but any size will do. 

String art tutorial 2

Next, use a protractor to mark dots at evenly spaced intervals around the perimeter of the circle. I found that 5 degrees apart was perfect for most of my designs, but again, anything will work as long as you're consistent. 

String art tutorial 3

To produce a similar shape to mine, which my son has named 'pac-man' after the iconic 1980s video game character, start about two-thirds of the way across the circle, but you can actually start anywhere. The nearer to the edge you are, the more narrow the curve you'll create; the nearer to the centre, the fuller the finished shape - you can see examples of both on one of my pieces below. 

Moon string art

To make things clearer, I've created a few diagrams about the stitch order you should follow! 


You can see on the above example, that I'm always moving to the right at the top of the circle and to the left at the bottom of the circle; making lines that pull against each other in opposite directions like this is what eventually causes the threads to form a curve (or would do on a less ugly diagram, but you get the idea).


You can actually use far longer lengths of thread for thread art than you'd ever use when hand-sewing. To change thread colours, just overstitch or knot a few times on the back of the fabric to secure your stitches before changing colour. I love the point where the threads overlap and a triangle appears. Just keep sewing until you've reached the bit where the gap (to the right of number 1) is finally filled in.

abstract string art

I thought I'd share some of the other resources I found useful, as I did quite a bit of research. The flower below came from a pattern that I found on this site

flower string art

I regretted doing the one below in white, as it looks more snowflake than flower, but it's a really pretty pattern. You can find it here

snowflake string art

The pattern below I found on a maths website: it's a cardioid. I haven't heard of a cardioid before and I feel more inclined to believe that it's actually a juicy fig that's been cut open and is lying on my work surface! You can find details of how to make your own fig quite a long way down this page. 

fig string art

I may redo the next one at some point as it's quite a long way from being perfectly executed, but it's a curved stitch isometric cube...that disguises its own cubeishness once you've stitched it. 

String Art in Progress cube string art

When I turn it the other way up, it makes me think of someone wearing a gas I prefer it this way up. 

horseshoe string art

This lucky horseshoe just arrived of its own accord as the result of some free form experimentation. Ditto the raindrop below. 

teardrop string art

There are at least another nine or ten designs that I ended up cutting off the cloth and starting over with. Interestingly, some of the more complex designs that I really enjoyed creating didn't look as aesthetically pleasing once they were finished. These are the final nine I've chosen and at some point this week I'll hopefully get them into their frames and up on the wall. 

string art

Some more general links, just in case you're interested: I love this design, but I didn't like the colours I chose for it, so I haven't shared it here. This design is amazing and would look really impressive - I didn't attempt it as most of my pieces were around 4" finished and it seemed one that would only work on a larger scale. I researched some books around thread art, but it seems that many of the really good ones went out of print when string-art went out of fashion. However, I'll be scouring second-hand bookshops for How to Enrich Geometry Using String Designs and Curve Stitching: The Art of Sewing Beautiful Mathematical Patterns and/or hoping that thread art may come back into fashion and cause the books to be reprinted. 

Born in 1977 and owning our own original piece of string-art, I feel I may have reopened a box that also contains Burt Reynolds' moustache and John Travolta's dance moves in making these. Revival is an odd thing: there's something slightly cringe-inducing about revisiting an era, but these are too much fun to make to leave permanently behind in the 70s and I'd implore you to join me on the dance floor in making some of these yourself.  

Florence x

Ps. Whilst on the subject of 70s-inspired crafts, for the last few years I've seen more and more woven wallhangings popping up in my Instagram feed - I'd love to make some of those too!

Monday, 29 February 2016

Perpetual Spring English Paper Piecing PDF Pattern

English paper piecing wallhanging in yellow

I'm so excited to finally be releasing my latest English paper piecing PDF sewing pattern. While I was tempted to just call it 'The Daffodil One', which is how it's referred to in my own house, I'm imagining other sewers may wish to reincarnate this pattern in colours other than yellow! So, the name 'Perpetual Spring' feels like it could represent any number of springtime flowers and echoes the optimism that seems to hang in the air at this time of year, as well as reflecting the recurring flower shapes in the design*. 


One of the main quirks of this pattern is that it involves some curved piecing, which may be a welcome variation for experienced English paper piecers (and to be experienced at EPP, I really think you only need one project under your belt to have grasped all the basics!).  

So here are a few details about what the Perpetual Spring pattern includes:
  • Full-size pattern pieces that can be printed on regular printer paper at home.
  • A mix of photos and diagrams to clearly illustrate how to construct the blocks and sew the pieces together. 
  • Lots of tips for how to english paper piece curves - from wrapping the papers to sewing the actual pieces together.
  • A colouring sheet so that you can plan out a colour scheme.
  • Used at 100% actual size the pattern pieces produce a finished design that measures approximately 24.5" x 25",  but the pieces can easily be scaled up on a photocopier for a full-size quilt. 
  • The pattern includes a 3/4" seam allowance around the perimeter of the completed piece - this means that you have extra room built in to: frame it; bind it; make it into a cushion (which you'd need a seam allowance for); or use it as the central medallion in a quilt. 
  • The more complicated piecing is a suitable challenge for anyone who has successfully completed at least one paper piecing project already. 
  • It's instantly downloadable for you to save and print out from your own computer 
  • It costs just £6 (at the time of writing, that's around $8.40USD, $11.70AUD, $11.30 CAD). 
  • You can buy a copy, here!
Buy the Pattern!


If you buy the pattern, I would love to see how you get on with it, so please do feel free to tag a photo with #PerpetualSpringEPP on Twitter or Instagram or email me a photo at flossieteacakes (at) gmail (dot) com.

English paper piecing close up

If you'd like to read more about my own version of Perpetual Spring (which I quilted before framing), you can find a post about it here

Or if you're looking to read more around EPP, you can find a post on fussy-cutting here; a post on my favourite threads for EPP here; a guide to framing your work here; or a post written for complete beginners when I myself was one too, here (note, use good quality paper, rather than card now!). Or if you're interested in an EPP Pattern that doesn't contain curves, you might like this one.

Florence x

* For me, the name Perpetual Spring is also a nod to the fact that I started sewing this piece as the daffodils were coming out last spring and finished it only as they were coming out again this spring! It's truly not a pattern that takes anything like a year to complete - the actual sewing time was probably just a few weeks in total and I'm sure many people would sew it up even quicker - but I am unhurried in both my stitches and seemingly in my need to complete a project in any particular timeframe. Perpetual Spring has a little more grace as a title to it than Slow Loris though, no? Did you know that the slow loris has the slowest primate life history, with a pregnancy that lasting for six months, only to give birth to babies the weight of a handful of paperclips!

Saturday, 20 February 2016


My yellow English paper piecing is finally finished and the pattern is written and will be ready to go out into the world after a final read-through next week after half term (UPDATED: The pattern is now available here). From both a technical and aesthetic point of view, for me this is definitely a favourite-EPP-thing-I've-ever-made. 

This was my first experience of sewing curves using English paper piecing. I started off using a few techniques to make piecing the curves feel more manageable (these are covered in the pattern!), but it gradually became almost as instinctive as piecing straight edges and I was eventually able to dispense with these crutches and do it entirely by sight and feel. I found the trickiest part of this design was actually wrapping and sewing the curved diamonds that tapered to such a fine point.

Above is the wrapping of the point and below is the sewing of it. I found these quite fiendish to begin with, but again, the repetition meant that it eventually fell into place for me and I've been able to put some tips into the pattern instructions that will hopefully make it a quicker learning curve for anyone else who sews them. 

In the past with wall hangings, I've always left the papers in place and framed the finished piece, but by the time I reached the end of this project, I had such a yearning to do some hand-quilting that I tore out the papers and set to work. It's odd when a longing to do something hits like that, isn't it - it always makes me think of Rapunzel's pregnant mother feeling compelled to encourage her husband to steal the witch's lettuces, as in this case it did feel self-indulgent not to just call it 'done' as there's no real function to the quilting with it being wall hung. I used Quilter's Dream 'request weight' batting to avoid puffiness (request weight is the batting with the least amount of 'loft' and height), some pale yellow King Tut thread for hand-quilting and several episodes of the recently aired BBC adaptation of War & Peace for entertainment.

I then bound the edges, but I think because I usually frame my wall-hangings I just couldn't get used to the way it looked (see the shot below) and after letting it sit on the wall to percolate, I realised that I'd just probably love it more if I framed it, so the binding came off and a frame was ordered and I do feel much happier with it now.

I've hung it over our bed and I really love the way its appearance changes throughout the day; in the morning sunshine it takes on a deliciously warm, golden glow. 

I'm now really tempted to start another one, possibly in pinks or blues, but I'm even more excited to see how it might look if others choose to make their own versions once the pattern is released.

This week has been half-term and I've been involved in a surprising amount of off-piste sewing. My fourteen-year-old wanted to make some pyjamas, so we looked at a few options and she fell in love with Tilly & the Buttons' Fifi pattern. We finished the camisole top in two sessions (I directed, she sewed) and we're now just waiting for a spare couple of hours to finish the shorts. 

I've also been sewing name tapes into all of my grandmother's clothes this week as she's moved into a care home just a few miles away. I've always felt a certain amount of nervous-but-hopeful-butterflies-in-the-stomach apprehension for the year ahead when sewing in my children's school name tapes, and it's odd to unexpectedly be reunited with these same maternal feelings, but on this occasion for my grandmother, as she ventures forth in putting down new roots, embracing different routines and making new friends. She is approaching it all with such enthusiasm that I can't help feeling in awe.

What are you sewing at the moment? 

Florence x

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

St. Louis 16-Patch Quilt

At the start of this year, I decided to finally do something about the fact that we don't have a quilt that's big enough to cover a sofa's-worth of people in our living room. Until now we've invariably snuggled under a patchwork of smaller quilts or more often the beautiful cashmere blanket that my mother gave me for my thirtieth birthday as it's amazingly warm. But after eight years of snuggling, it's starting to show its age and I don't want it to reach a level of wear where I have to part with it, so I'd rather just minimise its use and allow it to go into semi-retirement over the arm of a sofa where I can still see it everyday.

I decided that I wanted something in bright, saturated colours, which automatically makes me think of prints by Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner and Kaffe Fassett. Amy Butler fabrics seem a lot harder to find at many online quilt shops nowadays - I still really love her designs though and really like the more painterly, less geometric prints that feature in her last few collections, Violette and Bright Heart - only Stitch, Craft, Create and Cotton Patch seem to stock a wide selection in the UK. When my fabrics arrived, they really did make me feel completely joyful - I absolutely love these prints and instantly texted photos of them to both my sister and mother as it felt like a great ball of warmth and sunshine worth sharing.

For the piecing, I've kept things completely simple and chose to make the quilt from 16-patch blocks, with two prints per block. Although it's not a complex block, I used a tutorial that I found here as Steffani has done all the hard work in terms of thinking about which way to press seams.

Here's my chair temporarily reupholstered in four inch strips of fabric. The very, very eagle-eyed may notice a curious selection of things appearing on my desk. In addition to sewing paraphernalia, over recent months I have become the proud owner of a replica Mini Cooper (a gift from my husband in lieu of a real one) and a miniature golden retriever in glorious moulded plastic, which my husband thought I might appreciate on the grounds that our loft rooms are a Nell-free zone. I really love these strange little additions and my eyes are yet to become used to them in the way that they can with things I'm expecting to see, so I enjoy looking at them every day!

The repetitiveness of the piecing allowed me to become really obsessive and geeky about the way that I was working (that's a good thing in my eyes!). Building in strict seam matching standards and economies of time in the production line became a really fun part of making up the blocks! I realised that normally whenever I reach for a pin, there's a pause in work flow as I try to avoid being stabbed while finding one that's both straight and is actually a pin (my needles tend to end up in with the pins and because I hand-sew a lot, there are about fifty of them mixed in there!), so I put only the exact number of pins that I needed to sew each seam onto my magnetic pin cushion and loved how much this simple change sped up the sewing!

Although it may look random, I also had a strict fabric pairing criteria for each block: there had to be one lead print and one filler print; the filler print had to contain at least one of the colours contained in the lead print; but the filler print could not have the same background colour as the lead print. I don't think the results of this are obvious, but I always think that details like this make something feel right, even if only in my head.

I loved seeing these mushroom and fill up my design wall. My daughter made the blue and black one at the top left of the wall (and in the photo below) and it's my favourite block so I put it in the centre section of the quilt when I came to laying them out later. I really loved teaching her the clever way that these blocks are made up (as per the tutorial I linked to earlier) so that you don't have to piece 16 individual squares and so that the seams all nest nicely.

I've now completed 36 blocks and I'm at the point of sewing them all together. This quilt is huge and the only room where I could lay it all out was the living room. When I put the blocks down, I realised that it just looked like a giant mess, so I went down the root of trying to give it some order that, again, may not be instantly apparent, but which hopefully helps the whole thing to hang together and look right. I decided that every other block should have either some orange, pink or red in it and that the ones in between would be cooler colours. I felt much happier with this layout even though Nell looks to have grave doubts about it. Please excuse the rumpus of cushions; there is no time for beautifying a room when arranging quilt blocks.

And goodness, did I ever think I could get to the point of arranging a whole quilt top on the floor and Nell just instinctively knowing that she shouldn't trample over it? At three years old she is becoming an incredibly thoughtful little creature who tries really, really hard to control her impulse to bound around willy-nilly and now just bounds when it looks like she won't knock things over or destroy them. Just after this photo was taken she lay down with her chin on the corner block, quietly watching me place the rest of them (I've noticed she will often do this: following my eyes the whole time, she will place just a paw or her nose gently on something that she knows isn't really hers, as if trying to strike a compromise and trying to ascertain that I do love her dearly and so am willing to share a little with her, while simultaneously doing this testing-of-the-waters so carefully that she is reassuring me that if it's permitted then she knows to take care!). Sometimes it really amazes me that we've invited this creature (who at first seemed like a wild animal) to share our home with us and that it's all actually okay and that we all live happily alongside one another and that two entirely different species have formed a family. Do you ever get hit by this sense of how odd it is that there are animals in your house*, but how weirdly fine and normal that feels?

Anyway, back to the quilt. I did quite a lot of batting research and I'll let you know the results of that once I've quilted it, but I'm hoping for super puffiness and softness!

Florence x

* Only applicable if you have pets. If there are uninvited animals in your house then I have everything crossed for you that they leave quickly!
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