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!

Completed: wholecloth handquilted pillow

With the Dutch modern quilt guild we have a theme each quarter and we are challenged to make things that fit inside this theme. Last summer the theme was modern traditional. The challenge was to create something with a modern twist using the churn dash, ohio star, dutchman’s puzzle or basket traditional block.

I played around with the idea of doing a wholecloth quilt where the quilting defines the shapes of the traditional block. I got as far as making a small quilt sandwich and machine quilting the outlines of the Dutchman’s puzzle. Then I got sort of stuck on what to do next and it just sat in one of the piles on the desk next to my sewing machine.

The first theme of 2021 was slow stitching and we did a Zoom hand quilting workshop for which I needed something to practice on. Instead of making another quilt sandwich I simply pulled the unfinished Dutchman’s puzzle from the pile and started stitching in the background triangles without much of a plan. Just starting is sometimes the best way to get out of indecision. I used the Sulky 12wt Cotton Petites thread that I had received from the DutchMQG for this theme and I really liked sewing with it. It sewed smoothly and didn’t tangle.

After filling in the background triangles it was time to do something with the geese and I thought the piece needed a bit more colour so I switched to the thicker Wonderfil Perle 8 thread that I already had in my stash and picked green, blue, pink and yellow. After finishing I didn’t like the yellow so much because the contrast with the green background wasn’t as good as with the other 3 colours so I replaced it with a light brown which worked much better.

At some point I also started to hate the black machine stitched lines and pulled those out as well. Much, much better.

For the back of the pillow I picked a quilting cotton from my stash and underlined it with another piece of cotton before installing an invisible zipper. I am very happy with how this pillow turned out. I am now toying with the idea of doing a larger wholecloth quilt to create a handquilted sampler using traditional block shapes. I do tend to overthink these things and am currently stuck on what to choose for the background fabric since that is going to define the look of the piece so much. Suggestions anyone?

Completed: a set of fabric crowns

One of my nieces turned 4 years old so we needed to come up with a gift to celebrate. She likes to dress up and is very much into princesses so I thought it might be fun to make her a fabric crown. I was also in a sewing funk and thought a relatively simple project would be a great way to get out of it.

There are already plenty of tutorials and patterns out there for fabric crowns and yet I decided to make up my own. One reason was that I didn’t have a printer at hand when I wanted to make the crown so I couldn’t print a template. The main reason, however, is that I’ve realized that the designing of these kinds of items and figuring out the best way to construct them is one of the things I like best about sewing. It may take longer to make something but it is a lot more fun when you figure everything out by yourself. At least for me it is. I also understand that some people prefer to know where they’re going when they’re sewing and use a fool-proof pattern.

I did scroll through a list of Google images of fabric crowns to decide on a style before I started drawing the pattern. I liked the pointy ones where the spikes become lower from front to side so that’s what I went for. After drawing I wrapped the template around my daughter’s head to determine how far the sides of the crown should extend to allow for some room for the elastic I put in the back.

Because I used my daughter as a living dress form to determine the size she quickly realised I was making a crown and immediately decided that she wanted one as well so I ended up making two. She also specifically asked for a green one.

For each crown I cut two pieces of Decovil light slightly larger than the crown template. This is a fantastic fusible interfacing; it is firm, yet flexible and ideal for a project like this. These pieces were fused to the front and back pieces of fabric for the crown that were also cut slightly larger than the template. On the right side of the front piece I traced around the template so I knew where to put the decorations. I used a set of iron on glitter stars that were sold as elbow/knee patches. You can’t go wrong with stars and glitter on a crown. Each crown was also decorated with some sequins that I sewed on by hand. For my niece I only picked a couple of colours but my daughter wanted all the colours.

The front and back pieces were then layered on top of each other wrong sides together and I put some fusible stuff in between that had come with some IKEA curtains to make a fusible hem (I obviously used a sewing machine to hem those curtains…). During pressing I protected the sequins with a pressing cloth. Fusing the two layers ensured that they stuck together when I cut out the final crown shape. It was also very helpful for keeping everything in place when I used a zig zag stitch to finish the edge of the crown.

Deciding on what to use as a closure probably took the longest. Since I didn’t have the intended recipient on hand for try-ons I wanted it to be somewhat adjustable. I considered snaps and Velcro but both those options will probably require help from an adult to adjust and as a parent I really like it when my children can play with their toys without adult assistance. I am also not so sure that Velcro is so desirable to use close to hair as it may get tangled in the male part. So, in the end I decided that the fabric part of the crown would not go all the way around the head but at the back a piece of soft and stretchy elastic would supply some adjustability. That probably makes my crowns a sort of crown-tiara mashup. For the elastic closure I cut some fabric that was the same width as the back of the crown. Sewed the elastic to one side, folded it and attached it to the crown with some vertical stitch lines and some more zig zagging around the edges to get a neat finish.

My daughter is very happy with her new green crown!

Completed: Kantha running stitch pillow

Some days I simply crave a finish. Luckily I have plenty of unfinished projects lying around to satisfy that itch. One was half a pillow that I started for one of the projects in the Alison Glass stitch club 2020 that focused on hand stitching. This was a project from the June issue to get familiar with the Kantha running stitch. The idea was to create a piece of patchwork from strips and just fill those in with the running stitch and then sew it to a back to create a pillow.

I gave it my own twist by using a single background colour and a couple of floating colourful rectangles. The colour of the Wonderfil perle 8 cotton threads I used for the Kantha stitching were matched to the colour of the strip I was sewing and I think this looks really nice in the strips that have a splash of colour in them.

The front of the pillow was completed in just a couple of days. I enjoyed doing the running stitch and once I got the hang of loading multiple stitches on the needle sewing was pretty quick. Then I got kind of stuck on the back. I had found a fabric in my stash that I thought would look nice but I wasn’t sure what kind of closure I wanted to do. Envelope? But I felt the print on the back might not look so good cut up. An invisible zipper? But I didn’t have a matching colour… And so the piece sat unfinished for more than 6 months even though I picked it up a couple of times but I kept asking myself the same questions.

In the end I decided that an invisible zipper would look best and that this pandemic is taking too long to wait for matching zipper colours. I’d have preferred to use a black one but I did have grey on hand and since the zipper is invisible you only really see the zipper pull anyway.

The front was already constructed as two layers and I only trimmed it square and did an overlock stitch around the edges to prevent fraying. For the back I also cut a lining piece because I feel that pillows do look better when they’re lined instead of a single layer of fabric.

Whenever I make a project like this I think I should do hand sewing more often since I enjoy it so much when I am doing it, but then usually I end up not not doing any hand stitching for months. This quarter my guild’s theme is slow stitching though and that is a very good reason to pick up some hand sewing needles soon.  

I also should buy more pillow forms because each time I make a new cover I have to remove one from another pillow. Or I should stop making more, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon right?

Completed: Dress 18 from Knippie December 2019/January 2020

I made a dress for my daughter using a pattern from Knippie December 2019/2020. If you feel it doesn’t really look like the line drawing you’re absolutely right. The pattern came from a party issue of the magazine and it features a lace ruffle at the shoulders and a detachable overskirt. I am not big on ruffles and detachable skirts aren’t really all that practical for everyday use. I was looking for a basic dress pattern for knit fabrics and couldn’t really find anything else in my stash that fit the bill so decided to give this one a try skipping on the extra frill.

I gave my daughter some options for fabrics from my stash and she picked this lovely stripe. It feels very soft on both front and back and behaved well under my sewing machine. Sewing the dress was quite straightforward. Stripe matching was definitely more successful on one side, however, and when I got to hemming I realized this was probably due to how I cut the back bodice because the stripes at the back hem are definitely not so straight…

I followed the instructions for attaching the neck binding but this is definitely not my preferred method. You start by sewing the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the bodice and then fold it over to the right side, fold the other raw edge under and topstitch. I find this super fiddly and had to use a lot of pins to get it to look somewhat decent. With a solid fabric this is probably easier than when you’re also dealing with a stripe though. The V is created by folding the attached binding at the front and sewing a small diagonal seam. One advantage of this binding method over what I usually do is that the finish on the inside is very neat. I just find it a lot easier and faster to attach the binding already folded.

One of the annoying things of the current pandemic situation is that it’s not possible to buy matching thread. I didn’t have any dark enough blue thread left and in the end decided that topstitching with black thread would be preferable to waiting until I could buy matching thread with the risk that by that time my daughter no longer fit the dress.

My daughter is happy with her new dress so that’s always a win. I do find that the V-neck finishes a bit on the low side though. It’s a too cold right now to not wear anything underneath which now sometimes peeps out. Otherwise it looks comfortable to wear and that’s one of the most important things when you’re an active 4 year old.

Completed: curvy crosses drawstring bag

In December I participated in a winter swap organized by the dutchMQG. We each had to prepare 12 gifts for another member and some of the gifts had to be handmade. They were opened in the 12 days preceding Christmas and it was a lot of fun to see what everyone received. I had to make something for Ingrid and she loves blue and plus blocks so to combine those two in an item was a given. Each quarter we also have a specific theme at our guild and at the time it was curves, so I also wanted to include some curved piecing

For my final gift I made a quilted drawstring bag. I first sewed 9 improv curvy cross blocks to create a panel for the front of the bag. This was framed in a dark blue solid fabric to make it large enough. For the back panel I used a single piece of the same dark blue solid. The front was quilted in the ditch and on the back I quilted one large curvy cross.

The front and back panels were sewn together and the corners at the bottom were boxed so that the bag can stand up on its own. I did not use a separate lining. For the sides I used French seams and for the corners the seams were bound with a strip of fabric because the layers just got too thick for French seams.

For the closure at the top I used a single layer of the dark blue solid because that would make it easier to close the bag than when you have to pull a quilted layer together. The top was folded over to create the channel for the drawstring. It was attached to the main piece and again I used some binding to cover the seam.

I dug through my collection of saved ribbons for something suitable to use for the drawstring and found this nice off white piece that was just long enough. I am very pleased with how this bag turned out!

My first newsletter goes out on Saturday so if you don’t want to miss it there is still time to sign up here! I will share a personal story of how I came to be where I am now and what my plans are for the near future.