Wednesday, 7 December 2016

P-P-P-Pick Up A Penguin!

Anyone else now got a craving for a chocolate biscuit?!

Item eight on my Q4 FAL list (item eight) was a Christmas cushion using the penguin fabric and octagons (surrounded by white frames so they'd look like they were on ice/snow), and it looked like this at the start of the quarter:
Two Christmas cushions and a runner

As I said, my plan was octagons and I'd carefully measured the penguins to check what size octagon they'd fit in without having disembodied flippers appearing in the frame, and that size was 2" x 2  3/8" with 1/2" triangles taken off the corners to create the octagon.  However, when I spread the fabric on the ironing board and started ironing the templates in place, it became apparent that there were three or four sizes of penguin and my original plan wouldn't work.  You can see here how few penguins fitted.  And it's also a lesson in opening up the fabric before making a plan as it's much more obvious from a distance that not all the penguins are the same size!
Puzzling penguins... I'd wanted to frame (whole) individual penguins for my second #Christmascushionalong cushion, but discovered last night that there are several sizes of penguins in this print and lots of them don't fit! I don't want disembodied wing t

So, time for a new plan.  After a bit of thinking, I decided to cut out as many penguins as I could and free piece the white round them, rather than having them framed.  I used a small ruler to draw a line 1/4" from the edge of each penguin and then cut them out with small scissors.  Here's the first one I released from the fabric:
Release the penguins! I think this is going to work... #Christmascushionalong

And here's how many I managed to release in the end - I started with the whole penguins and then moved onto any partial penguins who would have both eyes when cut out.  I still can't quite believe I got this many from a fat quarter!

I'm pleased to announce that a total of twenty-five whole and thirty-six partial penguins have been released! #Christmascushionalong #Ihopethisworks #thismightbemorethanonecushion #ormaybeacushionandatablerunner #quitefancyhavingpenguinsmarchingacrossmyco

I then set about framing them with white solid in a liberated/free piecing style (no measuring, no pinning, just lop off a bit of white, sew it on and then trim before tackling the next seam):
Four penguins. Another 32 to go. I'm going to trim them to 3.5" square (but not centre the penguin) and then piece them into a #Christmascushionalong top. The bits I cut off these will be used to surround other penguins.
Soon I had eight:
Eight penguins. (Or bits of penguins.) I'm hoping the way I've trimmed them makes them look cute and appealing and deliberately skew-whiff rather than 'they were supposed to all be straight and centred but I had a tipple before picking up the rotary cutte

Then the thirty-six I'd been aiming for (although I counted thirty-seven but couldn't find the thirty-seventh when I laid them out):
Thirty-six penguins #contrarytoexpectationsitturnsoutIdidntmakeanextraone #Christmascushionalong

And after a bit of dithering (which I think was the last time you saw them), decided on leaving them all the right way up (apart from one, and yes, it's deliberate!).  Then I had a dither about borders:
Choosing a (1") border... #ifIchooseoneofthesnowflakeprintsthenImighthavetohaveaseaminthelongborders #wonderingaboutalternatingrectanglesoftealandredaroundtheedge #butwhatwouldIdointhecorners #maybefourpeepingpenguins
and settled on the turquoise snowflake when I discovered I didn't have anywhere near enough of the red.  Suzanne on Instagram suggested red cornerstones and I thought that was a great suggestion, so went with it:

Penguins! In the end, I went for the turquoise border with red corners (thanks for the idea, @suzanneyerks!) as it turned out I didn't have enough red to do much of anything without piecing it together. I used more than I realised on the polar bears and,
And then, when I was getting the bits out ready to join some scraps of wadding for the backs of the cushions, I found an unexpected penguin in my sewing room - he just appeared from nowhere!!
You know how I counted the penguins when I'd made all thirty-six blocks and I actually had thirty-seven? And then when I laid them out I was back down to thirty-six again? Well... #unexpectedpenguininthesewingroom

After yet another bit of dithering over the quilting, I decided to do random lines round all the penguins so that it would look as though they'd been ice skating.  I used my walking foot and just moved the cushion round whichever way I fancied.  And, as per Clare's suggestion, I used a stripe for the binding.  I bound this cushion first to ensure I had enough to go all the way round.
*  The penguins are finished! #nomoreunexpectedpenguinsinthesewingroom I machine pieced all of this (and had a wobble halfway through when I thought I would run out of white. I didn't!) and machine quilted (using my walking foot) random lines round the pe

The back is just the same as the back of the polar bear cushion, so I haven't taken a photo of that.  Well, I say it's the same, there's just the small matter of it being on upside down, but we won't mention that, will we?

And here are my two #Christmascushionalong cushions with their inspiration, my penguin cushion from Joanne, which she made for me last year.  I realised he was getting lonely as he was my only Christmas/winter cushion, so I was determined to make him a couple of friends. 
And my two #Christmascushionalong cushions with their inspiration, which was made for me last year by @rosedahlia - he got lonely last year and I realised I needed more Christmas cushions to keep him company. I'm quite pleased with how well they work toge

This is a finish from my Q4 Finish-Along list, and I'll be linking up when the time comes (not long now - eek!)
2016 FAL

And excuse the grainy low light photo, but it's safe to say that Archie loves it when it's tuna for tea!

I love tuna night!!!
Thanks for popping in!


  1. I LOVE it!!! Too darn cute! I want one too now. lol

  2. I especially like the block where the penguin is peeking out through a tiny gap, and the ice-skating-track quilting is inspired :-)

  3. Mmmm I fancy a tea cayk 😀😀😀 love love love the penguins

  4. what a great idea! the penguins feature much better this way.-love the finished cushion.

  5. That was a very clever way of dealing with those awkward shaped penguins. This cushion looks great and the polar bears are fab too :)

  6. Hi Helen and Archie! I love all your penguins! Ice skating quilting is just perfect for them. That must have been very fun project. I like how you cut each penguin and add the white around.Thank you for inspiration - I want to do something like this! And I think I need to buy tuna, I'm sure Nero, Hanna and Nelli would be very happy! I have to say that blog post is totally better than IG. I saw your pillows there but here it feels like I'm at your home watching them! And I love always the stories! Have a great week! Last week was very challenging because 'Paris' was here. Today she goes home, phuh! x Teje

  7. I think when you cut those penguins loose from your fabric there was a close shave of having them run amok all over Archie's pad before you stitched them back into the ice! Great job on the cushion!

  8. Such a shame you cant win any prizes in the FAL because your creations are so brilliant.

  9. You have been so inspiring with your #christmascushionalong and so productive! I love this cushion and the trio look fabulous together. Archie should be on the adverts for the - he might even get paid in tuna which would make his day!

  10. The penguin cushions are even better than penguin biscuits!!!!

  11. I love your penguin series! I'm surprised to see that I had not commented earlier, I think I missed this post in all the holiday stuff going on. Thank you for participating in the FAL, on behalf of the 2016 global FAL hosts.


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