F2F: March blocks

Today the King’s birthday is celebrated in the Netherlands and what better way to participate than by posting some orange quilt blocks? Or the holiday meant I had some time to finally write this blog post, which could also be true.


Fabric strips of different widths combined by cutting organic waves.

While the Netherlands are definitely strongly associated with orange, I’m not a huge fan of this colour and you’ll rarely see me wear it. Orange is a strong colour and can easily become too much. However, when this colour is used in moderation it can also add a dynamic touch to something that might otherwise have been a bit bland. I hope the latter is what I managed to do with this month’s blocks.


Equilateral triangle, that reminds me a bit of a danger signal.

March was Claire’s turn to receive blocks and she requested, brown, red and orange with a cream/beige/tan background. A palette that reminds me of autumn.


In this block I particularly like the light orange ray that brakes the frame. Without this strip of fabric the block was a bit boring.


Completed: A Cuddly Baby Quilt


2016 will become the year of the quilt. I’ve already finished 2 quilts (to be fair, both were started before 2016) and I have 4 more in the making or planning stages.

160413_3A while ago our family was extended with the birth of a cousin. Almost four years ago one of the first quilts I made was for her older sister so of course I had to make one for her as well.

I started with nine 10’’ squares from the Urban Zoology collection by Robert Kaufmann. For inspiration I browsed the Moda bake shop and combined the looks of the Flower Girl quilt and the 9-Patch Posie quilt. The finished dimensions after washing are slightly less than 1m x 1m.160413_1The white sashing gives it a very fresh look, although it may not be the most ideal colour for something that could potentially get stained by baby spit. Although I suppose that’s what washing machines are for…

The batting is Hobbs 80/20. The backing was kept simple with a piece of purplish yardage and a strip of some fabrics that are also featured on the front sliced in.


The quilting was done with the same Guttermann Sulky variegated thread that was used for her sister’s quilt. The quilting is mostly straight lines that more or less follow the sashing. Inside each flower I centred my six inch ruler and drew a square. Inside the squares the name of my cousin was quilted. It’s not too obvious but adds a nice touch.


I printed the letters in 6 inch squares so I could center and trace them with chalk inside the squares I had already quilted.

The solid fabrics that were used for the centres of the flowers came from a jelly roll. These jelly roll strips were also used to make a scrappy binding. I guesstimated how long the strips should be cut to make a binding strip that was long enough to bind the quilt and I was off by half an inch! If I had cut one of the strips half an inch longer I would have been able to join the ends with a diagonal seam which has my preference because it is less bulky. But alas, I suppose I should be happy that I was able to join the ends at all with my obviously shoddy guess work.


Just half an inch!

Overall I am very pleased with how this quilt turned out and I am certain it will be loved.

Completed: A fabric hug

160303_1This quilt was a very belated birthday gift for my youngest sister. It was supposed to be finished early January 2014 but was delayed several times.


When my sister asked if I’d mind if she moved into the same building my boyfriend and I were living in at the time I didn’t hesitate for a moment. Of course I didn’t. I think we both benefited from the arrangement. She didn’t feel quite so alone when she moved out of my parent’s house to go to university at 17 and I got another person close by that could help me out when life got tough.


A couple of years later my boyfriend and I moved to a house and while she was now a very short bike ride away instead of just a stairwell we still saw each other often.

This changed in 2013. She finished university, moved to a different city to start her first job and a bike ride turned into a train ride. As a result we don’t see each other as often as we used to and I miss that. So for her birthday I wanted to give her a special gift. One of the things we used to do together was watch Grey’s Anatomy huddled together under my very first quilt. This quilt is small, it measures less than 1x1m, but it can cover two sets of legs when two people in need of some extra warmth like each other enough.

160303_2So, a quilt it was to be. I devised this plan probably a week before her birthday. That was my first mistake. I do not make quilts in a week, I simply do not sew that fast and should know better. My second mistake was to sort of start sewing straight away instead of carefully thinking about the actual design of the quilt. My mind needs some time to figure out the best layout. This process can easily take weeks for a more complicated quilt but should take at least a couple of days so I can test out some different options. Sooo, to make a long story short, I had already pieced quite a bit of the top when I realised that the layout was completely wrong.


I went through several design options before I picked the final layout for this quilt.

If you’ve been around long enough you’ll know how much I like unpicking… I considered to simply soldier on (and seriously I had to unpick everything) but deep down I knew I would regret not fixing the mistake every time I would lay eyes on the quilt. So, I did nothing. For a very long time.


A year later I had another attempt at finishing the quilt in time for her birthday. I unpicked the lot and changed the layout. Then we bought a house and that took up a lot of time, but at least I got most of the quilt top completed this time. Only issue, I didn’t love it as much anymore, so things stalled again…

160303_8Then I bought two packs of ten squares from Cotton + Steel, Tokyo Train Ride and Mochi, and started playing with these. At some point I realised I should just turn this top into a quilt for my sister because I was loving it so much more than the abandoned quilt. And now it is finally finished, a quilt for my sister that made it into her hands a couple of days ago.

160303_7The top was made by first cutting the squares into triangles and combining these in light and dark pairs using the different values to create a pattern. This was the first time I used I Cotton + Steel quilting cotton and I love it, it is super soft. For the backing I used a confetti print that was combined with a column of 10” squares that were left over from piecing the front. The batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool and Guttermann Sulky thread was used for the straight line quilting. The quilt was bound with a dark blue solid fabric.

Happy belated birthday little sister, it was a pleasure to be there when you turned into a woman.


F2F: Let’s go green!

This month it is my turn to receive quilt blocks in the F2F swap. I’ve chosen green in any shade as my colour scheme and so far everyone has included at least one block that’s a bit on the modern site. It looks like I’m ending up with a great mix of modern and traditional blocks, nicely tied together by all being completely green!

Six sets of blocks have already made it to the Netherlands which is half of the blocks. Each time a set arrived I’ve put the blocks almost immediately up on my design wall so I can look at them as I am working in my sewing room. Until now I’ve kept them organised per maker, but in the final quilt top I will definitely mix things up.

green blocks

A great variety in style and shades of green!

The complete set of 36 blocks would make a (in my opinion) huge quilt, that I’m not really sure I have a use for and that is certainly way too large for me to quilt comfortably. I think I’ll select 4×8 blocks to make a quilt that we can use to cover up the bed in our guest room when it is not in use. The remaining blocks will then be used in the backing, or perhaps I can make a reversible quilt so we can vary a bit with which side is showing. This quilt will certainly brighten up the guest room as apart from putting in a bed and a night stand we haven’t really done anything to it yet.

I still have to receive 4 sets from fellow participants and make my own blocks to complete the quilt top. Pat passed away a little over a week ago which is why I am making 6 blocks instead of 3. We were able to complete her quilt in time for her to see it though. If you’d like to see how it turned out please visit Kate’s blog.

I’m looking forward to receiving (and making) the last blocks and I hope I’ll be able to show you some progress on this quilt in the next couple of months. I just love green…

Tutorial: Fabric coasters


Lovely (can you still call it new if you’ve had it for 9 months?) dining room table deserving of pretty coasters!

In May we bought a new dining room table so we can finally seat 8 people comfortably instead of 4 rather tightly (even though we still only have 4 dining room chairs, but that’s a different story). The top of this table is a lovely piece of thick oak and we would like to keep it looking lovely for as long as possible. So, no water stains please! We already had coasters, but these are pretty old. There used to be a picture on top that has long since disappeared, leaving only glue residues. Not pretty, although still functional.


boring old coaster

As I was pondering pretty coasters I thought of the fabric postcards that I make and realised that something similar might also work as a coaster so I adapted the postcard method to make coasters. The main difference is the type of interfacing and how it is used.

You will need:

  • Fabric for the top and bottom of the coaster, I used quilting cotton, but I think other cotton fabrics should work as well.
  • Decovil I Light interfacing (this is sturdy but still flexible and machine washable)
  • Thread



Step 1: Fuse Decovil I Light to 2 pieces of fabric large enough to make the number of coasters that you want to make. I realise there are 3 pieces in my picture, the piece of cream fabric was a bit oddly shaped so I couldn’t cut a single piece that was large enough.



Step 2: Place 2 pieces of fabric on top of each other, the Decovil I Light sides should be touching.



Step 3: Use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to cut fabric in 10×10 cm (4×4 inch) squares. Cut both layers of fabric at the same time.



Step 4: I like to use quilting clips to keep the squares in place when sewing around the edges. Pins don’t really work.



Step 5: Use the zig zag stitch (stitch width 5, stitch length 0.4 or 0.5) on your sewing machine to stitch around the edges. I usually use a Schmetz quilting needle size 90/14 and walking foot or open toed embroidery foot. I didn’t take a picture of this step but it is explained in step 7 of the postcards tutorial.



Step 6: Use your coasters!

We have been using these coasters since May and I like them a lot. We’ve washed one that became stained. After washing I gave it a light press with my iron on both sides and now I can’t tell which one was washed. Huge success all around.

Completed: Sweater 3b from Knippie 5 – 2010


A friend recently had a second child and I made a baby sweater. I wanted to try a new pattern and use a new technique to challenge myself somewhat. The sweater I chose has a neckline that is finished with a binding, but closes with snaps. This is a closure I had never made before.

160214_linedrawingThe pattern is from Knippie, a Dutch sewing magazine with patterns for children. I made sweater 3b from issue 5 of 2010. I had enough blue fabric left over from another project to make size 74. The child probably won’t fit into this sweater until autumn but I like to give something that they can wear more than once. The orange jersey was left over from an abandoned project that was cut out but never sewn. I really like how this shade of orange pops against the dark blue.

To make my life easier I decided to remove several seam lines that were only decorative in nature. For the back bodice this meant not cutting through the yoke line of the pattern piece. For the front piece it meant I had to tape the front yoke pattern piece to the right side so it became one pattern piece. This is not difficult to do but you have to be careful to line up the correct line of the yoke and front piece.


Construction wise this was not a difficult project. All seams were overlocked and top stitching and hemming was done with my coverstitch machine. Attaching the neckline binding was fiddly and the most challenging part of the sweater. I ended up ignoring the instructions completely. I am still not entirely sure what I was supposed to do but I thought it became an annoyingly bulky affair that didn’t look pretty. Instead I took a single layer of the jersey, stitched it to the right side of the neckline with short extensions at the opening. Folded these edges to the back and stitched in place by hand. Folded the neckline to the inside and again stitched the ends in place by hand. The binding was then topstitched with my coverstitch machine.


The instructions told me to stitch twill tape around the armholes and add applique but I ignored this as well. I like clean and simple.


You can see how I folded the binding to the inside and stitched the ends down by hand. If you look carefully you can also see where I missed part of the binding with the coverstitch machine and remedied this with some handstitches. From the outside you can’t tell.

F2F: May blocks and virtual quilt


You now probably think I’ve gone crazy in the head as I seem to have skipped January through April. The reality is a much sadder story.

Pat2fomEmmelyPat, who would originally have received her blocks in May was diagnosed with ovarian cancer prior to the start of the F2F swap. She still wanted to participate because it gave her a goal and something to look forward to. Unfortunately, her condition has recently deteriorated rather quickly and it is very likely that she will not make it till May.

Pat3fromEmmelyWhen we found out it was quickly decided that the swap would be rearranged immediately. So last week everyone dropped whatever they were doing and quickly made up some blocks in tan and teal (the colour of the Ovarian cancer awareness ribbon) and shipped them off to Sue.

Pat4fromEmmelyI made 5 blocks since Pat can no longer make her blocks and 36 blocks are needed to complete the quilt top. In a frantic sewing session I completed 3 and ¾ block in a single evening and completed the 4th and 5th the next morning. Pictures were taken in just minutes and the blocks were shoved into an envelope before I rushed off to work. Let’s just say it’s a good thing my job doesn’t require me to clock in at a specific time.

Pat5fromEmmelySue will do the piecing and binding of the quilt top and the quilting will be done by her son who has a longarm business. Hopefully, Pat will receive her quilt in time to enjoy it for a little while. Eventually it will most likely be donated to the Ovarian Quilt Project where it will be auctioned to raise money to educate the public about the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Since it takes some time for the blocks to reach Sue and the piecing and quilting will then take some more time, Kate already made a virtual quilt from all the pictures that we took of our blocks.

Pat's Virtual Quilt

Because I’m a scientist and therefore like facts and numbers I looked up some information about ovarian cancer. In the Netherlands around 1200 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually. Most women are diagnosed when they are 55-80 years old, but it can also affect much younger women. Especially women that carry mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have an increased risk of ovarian cancer and are advised to have their ovaries removed when they are 35-45 years old as a preventive measure. You may already have heard of BRCA1 and BRCA2 before because mutations in these genes also increase the risk of breast cancer.

One of the nasty things about ovarian cancer is that it can remain undetected for a very long time as the disease is usually asymptomatic in the early stages. When symptoms finally develop they are usually vague and could also have many other causes. Symptoms include a bloated feeling, feeling full or difficulty eating, nausea, pelvic or abdominal pain, frequent urination and severe constipation.

I got my information from kanker.nl (a Dutch platform where patients can find information about cancer and interact with other patients to share experiences) and the website of the Dutch cancer institute (both websites are in Dutch).