Another fabric crown

Remember how I made a set of fabric crowns for my niece and oldest daughter? Now my youngest daughter has one too. She requested a blue one.

I made it during a nice afternoon crafting session with my oldest daughter. She made a bracelet from beads while I made the crown. She was very adamant that her sister’s crown should also feature a star like hers. Unfortunately, I am completely out of iron on star patches. I did, however, have this Alison Glass iron on patch that definitely features a star. And a safety pin. Quite a funny detail to put on a crown, but I’ll go with it.

The construction was basically the same as last time. The sequin colours that I used were matched to the colours on the iron on patch. The back of the crown is an Alison Glass print.

My daughter is very happy that she now has her own crown to wear. Not only because she wasn’t allowed to wear her sister’s, but also because this one actually fits her much smaller head.

Pictures come with complimentary peanut butter stains because my daughter already wore it to daycare before I could take pictures. Fortunately, I think it’s probably safe to wash these crowns…

Going patchwork mini

This quarter my guild has a mini & MAXI theme and a challenge to go with it. We could choose from the half-square triangle, pineapple, robbing Peter to pay Paul or crown and star blocks to make something to fit the theme.

I chose the pineapple block because I had never made one even though it is quite similar to the log cabin block which I love to make. Going maxi would quickly lead to a quilt top and, since I already have several tops still waiting to be quilted, going mini seemed the wiser choice here. A postcard maybe?

Scrolling through Google images for inspiration I saw a lot of different pineapple variations but they were all square, as most quilt blocks are. Since I was thinking about making a postcard, I started wondering what the pineapple block would look like if it was stretched out to fit a 4×6” block.

So, I went to Adobe Illustrator to play around a bit and I came up with a FPP design that I thought promising. It definitely qualifies as mini with 69 pieces and the smallest less than ¼” wide.

For the fabrics I chose a simple pastel colour scheme that is a bit outside of the colour range that I usually gravitate toward but I quite like it. The background is Bella solid Mint and the triangles are Coral Rose and Pale Pink. I thought it fun to make the small triangles pop.

At the beginning it was a bit fiddly, but the block came together quicker than I had expected. After a couple of rounds it’s possible to sew the four triangles in one go before you need to press again which really speeds things up.

To finish, I paired the patchwork top with a light blue fabric interfaced with Decovil light and simply zig zagged the edges with a reddish thread.

All in all, a successful experiment!

Completed: I’ll walk you through the forest

In July I made a quilt to participate in the Modern Quilt Guild’s “Make a difference challenge”. The theme was trees and the proceeds of the challenge went to Trees for the Future, an organization that wants to end hunger and poverty by training farmers to regenerate their land by planting trees that protect the soil.  

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make but then I remembered that I had started an improv trees and stars quilt using Kaffe Fassett shot cottons in 2018. At some point I got stuck on how to proceed so I only had a pile of blocks. With the trees theme I thought these blocks would be a great start to quickly assemble a quilt top. I used most of the blocks I had made and pieced it all together filling in the gaps with scraps. The shape started to get a bit weird quite quickly and because I didn’t want to make more stars or trees and ran out of background fabric, I decided that the best way forward was to make a non-square quilt. It was always meant to become a wall hanging anyway.

The back is a single fabric that kind of reminds me of tree bark and the batting is Quilters Dream Poly Select. I like this batting for wall hangings.

In the sky I wanted to quilt something swirly, very loosely inspired by Van Gogh’s starry night. This would be a pain to do with a walking foot because it’d require constant turning of the quilt. My FMQ skills are definitely not up to that level so I decided to hand quilt with perle 8 cotton and embroidery floss. And there went my “finish a quilt quickly” idea…

I wanted a denser forest so I quilted more trees, using different shapes to fill the outlines to add a bit more interest. Through the forest runs a path that is partly hidden by the trees. This is what the title “I’ll walk you through the forest” refers to. This quilt is going to hang in my youngest daughter’s bedroom and it signifies that I’ll also be there for her in those moments that her path in life might seem a bit less clear.

To make the deadline I added the binding before I finished quilting and this worked quite well. Usually I attach the binding by hand using the invisible ladder stitch, but this time I used some big stitches which was definitely faster and also looks quite nice on the back.

I am very happy that these blocks have finally turned into a quilt. I still need to add a label and a hanging sleeve though. The curved top makes the latter a bit of a challenge, however. If anyone has any brilliant suggestions on how to hang this quilt without the top flopping down, I would love to hear them!

Completed: Stripey scoop neck t-shirt

Whoah! I sewed a garment for myself! Now, that was long ago! I suddenly really wanted something new and colourful to wear. It had to be a quick make without any fitting so I pulled out the pattern for a scoop neck tee by Meg McElwee that I’ve used before. That t-shirt is probably my most worn self-made garment ever so it seemed like a safe bet to use it for some fuss-free sewing.

The fabric is a bit of a funky striped knit that I originally bought with the intention of making a dress for my daughter. When I laid down the pattern on the fabric, I realized I could just fit it on with nothing to spare. With the uneven stripes in this print there is only so much pattern matching that you can do so I only sort of did this for the sides and made sure that both sleeves at least featured the stripes in the same order.

Yes, it’s in Dutch…

I had to laugh a bit at myself because after making the first t-shirt years and years and years ago (pre-blogging) I had written down on the traced pattern that I had made the t-shirt 1 inch shorter than the pattern. Years later I used the same pattern to make a maternity t-shirt and then wondered whether I had also removed that 1 inch from the pattern or not and wrote that question down on the pattern as well. I can now attest that yes, I did indeed cut off the 1 inch from the pattern. I think nowadays I make clearer notes when I modify a pattern, or at least I hope I do.

I wore my new t-shirt the entire day before taking pictures and I can already tell that it is going to be another winner in my wardrobe.

Does anyone else suddenly feel the need for brighter colours in their life? I wear a lot of dark blue and grey and have done so for years but now I want more purple and greens and maybe even pink? We’ll see what comes next. I probably need to get some more fabric first, this was the only colourful kid fabric that my pattern fit on.

Sewing with young children, some tips and tricks

During the past year I’ve sewn quite a bit with my then 3-year and now 4-year-old daughter. It started so that I could do some crafting while going lockdown-crazy but it turned into something enjoyable for both of us. At first, she would just sit next to me or sit on my lap and hand me fabrics. At some point she wanted to use the scissors button on my sewing machine and I would tell her when I was done sewing a seam and she could cut the thread. After a while she also wanted to use the foot pedal. This took a bit longer to master, but she can now start and stop when I tell her to. I did have to make up the “only sew when there is fabric under the presser foot” rule though, because she would otherwise just go whenever she felt like it.

If you had asked me 3 years ago if I thought it would work to sew with a 3-year-old I would probably have said “are you crazy?”, but now I think it is absolutely possible if your child is interested and capable of following some rules. I thought it might be useful for other (grand)parents to see what I have learned from this experience so today I am sharing some tips. 

  • Keep it simple
    • Don’t try to make something super complicated with a young child around. You need to focus on your child and make certain that the sewing you do together is safe. For that reason I like to make improv blocks. You can just cut the fabric with scissors and it’s not so important to sew exact ¼ inch seams or perfectly matched seams.
  • Leave perfection outside the sewing room anyway
    • With the improv sewing we mostly do I just trim the seam allowances to approximately ¼ inch. The back of those pieces are ridiculously messy and uneven compared to the other things I sew, but I don’t mind. It’s the back. It will not be on display when the item is finished.
  • Be clear about what your child can and cannot touch in your room
    • I do not want my child’s hands near the needle of the sewing machine and for that reason I am still guiding the fabric through the machine while she controls the foot pedal.
    • Rotary cutters, sharp scissors and iron are off limits. There is only one pair of scissors in my sewing room that she is allowed to use and she knows this.
    • My daughter knows she can touch some of the buttons on my sewing machine like the thread cutter and speed control (yes, the latter can give some surprises while you’re sewing…) and she knows not to touch the others. It really would be too annoying if she changed the straight stitch to a zig zag or the stitch length. Has this always gone well? Hmm, I did at some point have some tension issues with my overlocker because she had touched the differential feed and stitch length dials, she now knows to stay away from them.

  • Be clear about which fabrics and supplies your child is allowed to use
    • My daughter knows she can pick anything from my scrap bins, but not from the larger pieces that are stored in the closets. When we need a larger piece of fabric for something I’ll make a preselection and give her a limited number of options to choose from. If I would not do this my daughter would most likely completely mess up my fat quarter storage system looking for pretty fabrics. This way she will also not end up disappointed because she picked a fabric that I was still saving for another project and do not want her to use.
  • Get a seam roller
    • Pressing seams certainly results in a better looking finished project but I really do not want a hot iron in a room with my child. She knows it can get hot and that she shouldn’t touch it, but accidents can happen and I rather prefer to have my daughter’s skin intact over perfectly pressed seams. At first, I finger pressed seams and that worked somewhat but at some point I bought a Clover seam roller and that does work much better. I now just use the seam roller when my daughter is in the room and give the pieces we made another press with the iron when she’s not around.
  • Plan ahead
    • There are some steps in a project that you can’t really do without a rotary cutter or iron or that need your full attention. When we sewed a bag for one of her teachers, I cut the pieces for the bag when my daughter wasn’t around so that she could help with the construction later on.
  • Follow your child’s interests
    • Ask what your child would like to make and then turn that idea into something manageable. We started because she found some improv trees I had made that she liked and she wanted to make some trees of her own and I thought we could just give it a shot. When she wanted to make pyjamas for her stuffed animals we made a sleeping bag instead.
  • Accept that your sewing room will turn into (an even bigger) mess
    • My scraps are now super messy boxes on the floor because my daughter is always rummaging through them. I can live with this.
  • Stop when you notice your child starts to lose interest
    • Children don’t have a very long attention span. If they want to do something different after sewing only 3 seams, that’s just fine. If you continue because you want to finish something they’ll just start looking around your room trying to find something more interesting to do and make a mess. There were days we added just 1 or 2 trees to our forest, that’s fine. Eventually we had enough trees to make an entire quilt.

And finally, if you really want to sew and your child doesn’t, you can also sew while your child is sitting next to you cutting up pieces of paper, taping fabric scraps to paper, sorting your beads or watching Netflix. Just saying…

For our latest project we made her teachers mug rugs as an end of schoolyear gift. She picked the fabrics from my scrap bins and told me how they should be put together. She operated the foot pedal for some of the seams and for others I sewed them while she sat on my lap. She cut the thread and sometimes lifted the presser foot. She picked the thread colours for the quilting and edges of the mug rug and decided whether we should do straight or wavy quilting lines. I absolutely love how both of them turned out!

Have you ever sewn with young children and have some other tips that make the experience even more fun?

Completed: Serpentine hat

There is a first time for everything and this time I made myself a hat! I used the Serpentine hat pattern from Elbe textiles and I really like this pattern. It only took 2 evenings of sewing, which made for a nice change from the quilts that I am making that take a whole lot longer to complete. I made size S which is a good fit for my smallish head (for commercial patterns I wear a 56 cm).

Despite my huge stash I did not really have much suitable sturdy fabric options for a hat (must change that soon!) so to try out the pattern I used a remnant of curtain fabric. I now match our former living room and current bedroom curtains… For the top and band I used the same fabric for the lining but I did not have enough left for the brim lining so I used a floral batik instead. Because the batik was not particularly sturdy, I put some woven sew in interfacing in the brim to add some structure.

Changes that I made

Apparently, I am not able to completely follow a pattern to the letter so I made some changes. Because I found the outer fabric a bit boring on its own I did some topstitching with contrasting 38wt Gutermann Sulky thread on the outside band before assembly and also through both sides of the brim before attaching it to the band. I think this may provide some extra structure to the brim too but I’m not entirely sure because I haven’t tested it without topstitching.

The pattern is written to be reversible but my hat isn’t. I am very much a Dutch stereotype when it comes to cycling. I also burn very easily when it’s sunny, so in the summer I often wear a hat when I cycle. We live close to the sea so on most days you can add some wind and then a hat is not very likely to stay on top of your head for very long. The two commercial hats that I own and wear have this feature inside the band that helps to keep the hat more secure on top of your head. It’s basically a tunnel of fabric through which a ribbon is threaded that you can tie so it fits snugly around your head. I incorporated this into the Serpentine hat by tracing the first 1 ¼’’ of the inner side of the brim and sewing this into a tunnel that is open on one side to thread a ribbon through. I now realize that it may make even more sense to trace the lower part of the band instead of the inner part of the brim, and I will try this next time. I first basted the tunnel to the right side of the band lining before it was attached to the brim. The outer band is attached to the brim by topstitching and if you add a tunnel make sure to push it out of the way so you don’t accidently stitch through it.  

This hat stays on my head very well. It does not completely survive the cycling test though. When there is a head wind the brim flaps up against the band so it is a bit too floppy for that purpose. For walking around it’s absolutely fine, however. On my next version I am going to use a sturdier interfacing to see if that adds the structure I need. I am also going for a much brighter colour because it’s summer!

Have you ever made a hat and are there any patterns that you recommend?

P.S. my June newsletter goes out tomorrow or Thursday so if you’d like to read a bit more about what I get up to, want some book recommendations or read about other random and not so random stuff there is still time to sign up!

Completed: Erica’s pincushion

In May and June the Dutch MQG organized a pincushion swap and of course I participated. I had to make something for Erica, which is great because last year she made me a very beautiful mini quilt so it was nice to make her something in return.

Everyone had to make an inspirational mosaic and answer some questions so their swap partner could get some ideas. Erica likes green and nature and wanted a small pincushion with room on the sides to stick needles in. The pincushions in her mosaic contained a lot of triangles (my favourite!) and fussy cutting which I decided to incorporate into my own design.

I played around in Adobe Illustrator to create a foundation paper piecing pattern to use for the top of the pincushion. The block was originally 4 inches but as I started assembling it this felt too large for a small pincushion and I reduced it to 3 inches. Oh, and yes, I do remind myself to check the printer settings before printing FPP patterns.

I was super happy to find a fabric that I could cut a ball like flowery thing out of that somewhat resembled the flowery pictures that she put in her mosaic. That fabric also contained several other smaller items that I fussy cut for the corners. I picked some green and yellow-green fabrics to work with that purple fabric and as a fellow lover of green I am very pleased with how it all turned out.

The sides are 1 3/8’’ high which was mainly determined by the print that I wanted to fussy cut. The sides were sewn to the top and bottom using Y-seams and this came together without problems. Y-seams don’t scare me. I filled the pincushion with lavender scented crushed walnut shells. This was the first time I used this type of filling and I really like how it feels when you push the pins into the shells. Apparently it helps to keep your pins and needles sharp. I also like that it adds some weight to the pincushion so that it sits a bit more stable. The lavender smell is great; it reminds me of summer vacations in southern France with my parents.

My guild’s theme for this quarter is scraps so I made a scrap card to send with the pincushion. As part of the swap we also included 50 grams of our own scraps in our package so we’d all get some new fabrics to play with. I chose a variety of sizes and shapes and a combination of prints and solids.

You are probably also curious to see what I got in return. Ingrid made me a pincushion from the Deluxe pattern of Heidi Staples. I love the fussy cutting of the text fabrics that she included. This pincushion has a pocket that can be used to put a pair of scissors in but I prefer to keep my scissors elsewhere so I used the nine patch to organize the different types of pins that I use most often. The top of the pocket can be used to clip wonderclips on, I think this feature will really come in handy. The scraps that I received were very different from the fabrics that I currently have in my scrap box so they were a very good addition to add some more variety to my projects. All in all, I consider this another very successful swap!

Completed: Stitch & Flip for Lette

Last year I made a quilt for my nephew and of course his little sister should get one too! I used the stitch and flip triangle technique from the book “Quilting modern” by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pederson. Each square got two triangles on opposite corners.

I started with the light grey background and used scraps for the triangles. When I ran out of the light grey I added the black and at some point also started to cut triangles from yardage, fat quarters and layer cakes because I wanted a different fabric for each triangle and not all of my scraps were large enough anymore. I even unpicked a couple of squares when I realised I had duplicates. When I ran out of black background I switched to neon green. I also made some pink squares but liked the overall look better without the pink. The blocks finish at 4 ¾’’.

The squares were rearranged on my design wall until I found a layout I liked and pieced together into the top. Then it took a very long time before I knew what I wanted to do with the back. For her brother I had included his name on the back and I thought it would be nice to also do that for this quilt but I just couldn’t decide on which fabrics to use. The solution came when I started to play with solids.

The batting is Hobbs Tuscany cotton wool, which remains my favourite. For the quilting I did a walking foot orange peel design that I found in Jacquie Gering’s book “Walk”. A book I can recommend to anyone who wants to get a bit more adventurous with their walking foot. To stabilize everything and get rid of most of the basting pins I first did some stitch in the ditch quilting using white Aurifil 50wt thread. For the orange peels I used 28wt Gutermann Sulky thread in 6 different colours. I only marked dots using a template and stitched from fabric intersection to dot to fabric intersection. This worked well and quilting went a lot quicker than I had expected. The curves aren’t exactly identical for every peel, but that’s ok. This curvy design adds a lot more to the quilt than a straight line cross hatch would have done.

The binding was the next hurdle. I always wonder how some people can already pick a binding fabric at the start of the project. I don’t even try anymore, probably because my quilts develop organically and I don’t always know at the start what it’ll look like in the end. A fabric that I think will work at the start nearly always doesn’t. Anyway, I thought I’d figured something out that would work, cut out strips from several solid fabrics but when I draped them around the quilt, it was just “meh”. Then I ordered some fabric but it turned out way too dark. However, it looked absolutely great with the top I had up on my design wall so unexpectedly I had suddenly solved another back problem. Still no binding for this quilt though. I proceeded by holding up lots and lots of different fabrics from my stash until I found the fabric that you now see. This is the aqua crosses fabric from the Safari life line from Stacy Iest Hsu. Only problem, I had maybe half a jelly roll strip left so that was not going to cut it. Luckily, I found a fabric store in the Netherlands that still had enough of this fabric in stock and all was well in the end. This fabric works with both front and back of the quilt.

In total I used 175 different fabrics in this quilt, 3, background fabrics, 160 triangles, 11 fabrics on the back and 1 binding. I think this is a record for me. I finished the quilt just in time to gift it on my nieces 1st birthday. If hope she’ll enjoy using it for a very long time.

Completed: a foxy nightdress

I made another pyjama for my daughter. Like last time I used the crossover tee pattern from Meg McElwee’s book “growing up sew liberated”. I did lenthen it by 3.5″ though to turn it into a nightdress.

She still fits in the size 3T that I made over a year ago but has definitely grown a lot since then so this time I made size 4T. There wasn’t enough fabric for long sleeves and she’ll probably mostly wear it during the summer so I opted for short sleeves. Last time I also made matching pyjama bottoms but as it turns out she doesn’t really like to wear pyjama pants and certainly not during the summer so I didn’t bother.

I tried to match the foxes on the two front bodice pattern pieces and this worked out reasonably well. To do this I first pinned the large front pattern piece to the fabric and then placed the pattern for the underlap on top. I drew around a couple of the foxes and made sure to match the foxes to those spots when I placed the pattern on the fabric.

For the ribbing I had a couple of options in my stash and went for the light blue because it was most summery.

Except for the top stitching everything was sewn with my overlocker. I used seraflock thread in the loopers for the first time and am pleased with how this turned out. This thread looks a bit fuzzy and is softer than regular overlocking thread. The edges of the seams feel very nice against your skin. I’ll definitely use this again!

My daughter is super happy with her new nightdress and I hope she’ll be able to wear it for a long time.

Completed: Daycare birthday treat

Sometimes I make things that do not contain any fabric, shocking right? My youngest daughter recently turned two years old and I made a treat she could take to daycare to share with the other children to celebrate. What they bring has to be healthy, a policy I fully endorse but a single box of raisins just doesn’t look so festive.

The past three birthdays I picked a nice children’s book and made something to decorate the raisins that fits in with the theme of the book. The children can enjoy their raisins and as a group they get a new book to read with the teachers.

This time I picked a book about a boy and an elephant that play hide-and-seek, David Barrow’s “Have you seen elephant?”. It’s very cute, the elephant is not particularly good a hiding as you can already tell from the front cover but the boy can’t find him at all. My daughter loves elephants and hide-and-seek, even though she doesn’t really get the rules yet. She still runs out of her hiding spot the moment you’re done counting, usually from behind the floor length living room curtains, but she has so much fun!

In Adobe Illustrator I drew a box with an elephant on one side to fold around the box of raisins. I am quite proud at how recognizable the elephant turned out! I had to omit the tusks though because whatever I tried they just looked ridiculously out of place.

Happy birthday little girl!