Completed: a round quilt with a sheep in the center

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Does a quilt always have 4 corners? Of course not! One of my friends asked if I could make a round quilt that they could use as a mat in their round playpen. Challenge accepted! Luckily, I already had a 25’’ 9 degree wedge ruler that makes it (almost) a breeze to make a circular design. You can make really spectacular designs with this ruler but I kept it fairly simple for this first attempt at making something circular.

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After a look around the recipient’s living room I decided on a blue with some orange colour scheme. For the front I used some fat quarters from Elizabeth Hartman’s Rhoda Ruth collection for Robert Kaufman. I used 8 blueish/greenish and 2 orange fabrics from that collection and I added some grey fabric from Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park collection, also for Robert Kaufman.

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From the grey fabric I cut 8x 3.5’’ strips, from each orange fabric 4x 3’’ strips and from each blue fabric 1x 7.5’’ and 1x 5’’ strips. They were pieced in the following order: grey, wide blue, orange, narrow blue. The ruler was used to cut 5 wedges from each strip set, alternating the grey fabric at the wide and narrow end of the ruler.

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Fabric strip sets waiting to be cut into 40 wedges.

Since the quilt will be mainly used as a playing mat inside a playpen the back probably won’t be on display very often so I only used the grey fabric. That I was 4 or 5 months pregnant when I made this quilt also made me want to just move on to the quilting stage instead of piecing something else first. Quilting was done with my walking foot and I kept it simple by just following some lines in the quilt.

To cover the hole in the center I enlarged a sheep silhouette picture I found somewhere (but I made this quilt so long ago that I really can’t recall where, sorry!). It was attached with a satin stitch after quilting. To secure it in the middle I quilted the child’s name inside the sheep.

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To cut the quilt to size (95 cm diameter) to fit the playpen I made a circle out of tracing paper and used that as a template.

The quilt was also bound with the grey fabric. For a square quilt the binding is cut on grain, but since for this quilt the binding had to go around a curve I cut it on the bias so it had some stretch. The outermost edge of the quilt has a larger circumference than the 1/4” from the edge which is the stitching line for the binding as it is attached. To make sure that the binding will fit around the edge as you fold it to the back it is essential to somewhat ease the binding in when it is attached to the front so the binding strip is as long as the outermost edge. I was a bit anxious about getting this right, but in the end it worked pretty well.

This project pushed me out of my comfort zone but I am glad it forced me to finally make good use of that ruler. It was a lot easier to use than I had anticipated. The trickiest part is that you really want to be very accurate with your cutting and piecing because your circle will otherwise not lie flat when it is completed. Luckily, I didn’t run into any problems and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I’ll definitely use this ruler again.

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Oh, the absolute joy I felt when my 1/4 circles were exactly 90 degrees!

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Week 17/2018: What’s on my design wall

Last week’s 2-coloured units were stacked in layers of 4 and I made another angled cut. The two sides were mixed and matched to make 4 new units with different colour combinations. I put them on my design wall and started shuffling. I did want the colours to be somewhat evenly distributed across the quilt, but I also wanted some bleeding to occur so that from a distance you can’t immediately tell that the quilt is made from rectangular units. I have started assembly of the top by sewing 4 of the units together to make larger rectangles.

I didn’t use a ruler this time. Quite liberating.

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I am already thinking about the back. Somehow I am pulled towards recycled denim, but deterred because of the weight it will add to the quilt sandwich which may prove quilting a bit more challenging than I prefer.

If you want to have a look at how this project evolved from last week click here.

Completed: a non-shifting nursing pillow

A nursing pillow was one of the first things I made after my daughter was born. Nursing sessions with a newborn take forever (at least with my child they did) and it can get quite taxing on your muscles when you have to hold your baby in a good position for a prolonged period of time, several times a day. I really needed some support to make it workable.

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I had used a nursing pillow to support my belly when I slept during pregnancy but it didn’t really work for nursing. I had to constantly rearrange it because it shifted and I could only get it to somewhat work when I sat in bed. Well, that was fine for the first couple of weeks, but at some point you want to move your life back to the living room during the day. I tried using some other pillows to support my daughter when I sat on the couch but it just didn’t work. The most annoying part was keeping the pillow in a good position for the duration of the nursing session.

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So, I decided to take matters into my own hand and create a non-shifting nursing pillow. I researched some free nursing pillow patterns and decided to use one from make-baby-stuff.com because in the description it said it was slightly thicker than certain store bought pillows and that quite appealed to me as one of the issues with my other pillow was that it wasn’t really high enough.

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The only adaptation to the pattern that I made, and which was the key to prevent shifting, was to add an adjustable strap with a side release buckle at the back. This strap was repurposed from a bag I never used. To attach the strap to the pillow I first partially sewed the concave side of the pillow closed, so that I could still sort of lay the fabric flat as I sewed on the straps. I made sure to position the closure for the strap so that it was a bit to the side as I didn’t want it digging into my back. I then sewed around the rest leaving a gap at the front for stuffing. I stuffed it as well as I could and hand sewed it closed. The fabric is a quite sturdy remnant of curtain fabric.

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I considered sewing some covers for the pillow, but I just didn’t really have that much time for sewing in those early months and in the end I simply placed a towel on top, which is perhaps not as pretty, but certainly functional. And functional is just what you need as a new mom.

Week 16/2018: What’s on my design wall?

Last weekend I wanted to do some improvisational piecing and just started cutting. I used a selection of blue and orange/brownish fabric pieces from Cherrywood fabrics grab bags which were stacked in piles of 4, sliced once at an angle and pieced together to make 4 units with different colour combinations.

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I think I’ll do another round of stacking, slicing and piecing.

I am going to see how I like doing a short post like this with a single picture of something I’m working on right now as a (semi) regular feature. I am usually more of a completed project blogger so we’ll see if I can keep it up.

Completed: Elephants on parade quilt

A friend’s daughter’s birth announcement card had elephants on it. So, naturally, I wanted to make an elephant themed quilt. Drawing anything that looks proportionally right is sadly not one of my talents so I googled around to get some inspiration on how to get a recognizable elephant on a quilt. I came across a free quilt pattern from Shwin & Shwin that contains templates to create an applique baby elephant and a partial mother.

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That the quilt should contain some green was easily decided because her nursery has a green wall and if you have been paying any attention on this blog it should be clear by now that I am a great fan of green (and not just green walls!). I also found a fabric with elephants on it which helped decide the rest of the colour scheme. I made two scrappy pieces that were larger than the two elephant templates. The fabric was then cut somewhat to size and folded around the templates and pressed with my iron to create the elephant shape. To make sure the edges stayed put when attaching the elephants to the background fabric I used some wonder tape to keep them folded down. This worked quite well. The pattern doesn’t contain a pattern piece for the ear of the baby elephant so I had to cut one myself. It took several attempts to get something that I thought looked right.

The size of the quilt was decided by the background fabric. I thought this fabric looked a bit like it could be the kind of soil elephants parade on in the wild and I only had about a yard. I considered enlarging it by adding a tree to the side or something like that but thought it would distract from the elephants (and I would again have the issue of having to draw a recognizable tree…).

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For the back I improvisationally pieced the child’s name using the same fabrics that were used to piece the elephants on the front. Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool.

For the quilting I used my walking foot and inside the elephants somewhat followed their shape using an orange variegated thread and as a result you can now also sort of see elephants on the back. On the soil I did some wavy lines using a green variegated thread to imitate ripples in the sand.

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With the applique (and using an actual pattern!) this is quite a different kind of quilt than I usually make but I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Completed: A quilt for Ivy

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During my blogging hiatus I made several baby quilts because I wasn’t the only one in our circle of family and friends to have a little one. The last one that was completed is the first to make an appearance here. Mostly because I didn’t have to search where the pictures ended up…

This quilt made me happy when I was working on it and that is mostly due to the fabric. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it up on my design wall. The majority is Kate Spain’s Sunnyside collection for Moda. I used this fabric collection once before for a baby quilt, but this time I used all prints in the collection and added another 4 fabrics from my stash (can you identify which ones?).

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Front, quilted, not yet bound.

For the front I cut three 4.5’’ squares from each fabric and simply started throwing them onto my design wall until I had a 10×10 square that contained each fabric at least twice. Then some rearranging ensued to make sure there wasn’t too much dark blue in one corner etc. Essentially, I tried to make the rearrangement appear random by effectively making it less random.

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Back, quilted, not yet bound.

For the back I started with some improvisational piecing to get the name of the recipient into the green fabric. A strip of left over squares from the front ties the designs of front and back together. I didn’t have enough of the green fabric left to use for the entire back and found a greyish print in my stash to fill the gaps at the top and bottom.

Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool which is my go to batting at the moment. The quilting is a simple straight line walking foot design using a pale grey Gütermann Sulky thread.

The binding is a grey fabric from Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park collection for Robert Kaufman. I bought several yards of it a couple of years ago and have used it for backs and bindings of several quilts. I could just squeeze the binding of this quilt out of the last bit I had left.