Completed: Ombre equilateral triangle quilt

180407_3When Vannessa Christenson from V and co. released her first fabric collections for Moda, I was intrigued by the ombre fabrics in her lines, so I bought a yard of each of the 7 colourways. It took a while before I dared cut into them.

For my first quilt with these fabrics I used chartreuse, plum, blue, orange and grey and combined these with 2 flowery prints from my stash that I thought fit with these colours.

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Front, quilted but unbound.

I cut a whole bunch of equilateral triangles from each fabric using an equilateral triangle ruler (really, if you want to make something like this get yourself a dedicated ruler, it makes your life at least ten times easier). At first I just threw the triangles onto my design wall and didn’t really like it that much because it seemed a bit too messy. When I placed them in a diagonal dark to light gradient I started to like it a whole lot more and cut even more triangles to achieve the effect that I was after.

The assembly of this quilt was no walk in the park. I had to unrip it several times because I realized I had made some mistakes in the layout, certainly learning a lesson about being a bit more patient when I am making something and letting the design sink in first before I run to my sewing machine.

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Can you spot the differences with the final lay out that you can see in the next picture? Do you also see that the left part is already pieced here?

Unripping is not something I enjoy so this caused some quite extensive delays. I knew I had to do it because the mistakes bothered me too much but I kept putting it off. The unripping probably also caused some of the triangles to stretch out a bit because in some parts it became quite difficult to match the corners.

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The sun was a bit too harsh when we took pictures of the finished quilt.

For the back I kept the piecing a bit simpler. I didn’t have anything in my stash big enough that I liked, but I still had quite a bit of the ombre fabrics left and decided to make a jelly roll race quilt. Instead of cutting 2.5’’ strips I cut mine 3’’. It turned out slightly too small so I added a strip to the bottom and top to make it tall enough.

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Back, quilted but unbound. The quilting lines are easier to see on the back.

Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Wool/Cotton blend and I quilted it with a light and dark grey Gütermann Sulky thread following some of the patterns that I saw in the design. I quite like how this turned out. For the binding I used a light grey fabric with a subtle print.

It took a while to get this quilt done but I am glad I persevered. It has already been given to a sweet little girl.

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My very first quilt or how I started quilting

My first quilt never made an appearance on this blog because it was made before I started blogging. Since I am doing some catching up right now I figured I might as well show some pictures of it. This quilt has lived on our couch ever since it was completed and it still makes me happy when I look at it. 180502_6I started sewing after taking a beginners sewing class in 2009. At first I mostly made clothing and bags. Quilting I associated with old-fashioned, a lot of hand sewing and a lot of brown and drab unappealing fabrics (the latter may have had something to do with the quilting fabrics that were available in The Netherlands at the time?).

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The quilt top was made by creating nine 16 patch blocks using half-square triangle units.

At some point in the autumn of 2011, however, my interest in quilting began. I had started reading more blogs and came across really beautiful bright and modern quilts and thought “Wow! Quilts don’t have to be drab and boring!”. I still thought it would be difficult to make one but I read (a lot) more blogs and watched YouTube videos on how to make quilts and at some point I realized that I wanted to give quilting a try.

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The back is not as purple as it looks in this picture. The binding in the pictures of the front give a better representation of the true colour.

How to start though? From all the reading and watching I had done I realized that I would definitely need some new tools before I could begin. At Christmas that year I received some money from my parents and in-laws and I knew what to spend it on! During a shopping trip with one of my sisters I bought a large cutting mat, 2 rotary cutters, 2 rulers, marking pencils, pins, a large piece of batting and quite possibly several other items that I now no longer recall. Anyway, the owner of the store probably had a good day because of my visit.

In a second-hand bookstore I had found a book by Katharine Guerrier called Scrap Quilt Sensation that looked really interesting so I brought it home and after looking at all the projects I decided to make a scrap quilt. I didn’t have any quilting fabrics, but this was easily remedied by buying several sets of scraps from a webshop. Most were 4’x4’ and some pieces were a bit larger and I cut them down to 4’x4’.

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Two books I used to learn more about the quilting process.

It took ages to decide what kind of design I was going to make. In the end I followed Sew Katie Did’s Value Quilt Tutorial for making a value quilt using half square triangle units, but instead of making a quilt with a single design I made 9 different 16 patch blocks inspired by some of the quilts in Katharine Guerrier’s book.

I had a lot of fun deciding how to lay out the 16 patches and I love how I managed to make some of the designs continue into the next block. I started with 6 blocks but quickly realized I would end up with a super tiny quilt and added 3 more. It’s still a small quilt though; it measures less than 40’’ square.

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Detail of the front.

So, at some point I had a quilt top and still needed to quilt it. I bought a walking foot, a spool of Gütermann Sulky variegated thread and a book on machine quilting by Maurine Noble. After some practice swatches I very carefully basted my quilt with safety pins (which I now no longer do because it is a pain to remove safety pins when you are quilting). For the backing I used a fabric from my stash because I liked how the colour looked with the fabrics on the front. Batting is Hobbs 80/20. I didn’t do any marking on the quilt and just started quilting somewhat following the shapes that were created by the different values.

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On the back you can really see how crazy the quilting is.

I had just enough fabric of the backing left to create the binding and attached it by machine, folded it to the back and then sewed it down by hand. To my surprise I even liked the hand sewing part.

It felt really great when I finished this quilt. Every other quilt I have made since completing this quilt is no longer in my possession, but this one is not going anywhere. It shows me that if you are willing to invest some time to learn a new skill you can end up with something you truly love.

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!

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.

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.

Completed: The cutest thing ever (wearing a pair of LMV Lou trousers)

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La Maison Victor Lou trousers

Less than a week after my last blogpost a little girl was born. A year has already passed and it is amazing to see how a tiny baby evolves into a small person within such a small timeframe. Naturally, like every parent before us and every parent after us, we feel she is the most adorable, delightful and cute thing ever.

Also, a very time-consuming thing. I have sewn over the past year but nothing too complicated and there have been many weeks during which I didn’t even enter my sewing room. I am currently making an effort to sew more often because for me sewing is a relaxing activity. Creating something useful and beautiful gives my day just that little extra in between all the endless cleaning of messes, sterilizing stuff and wiping of runny noses that you have to do as a mother.

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For my birthday my friends got me a subscription to La Maison Victor, because even if you don’t have a lot of time for sewing it is nice to get a little bit of inspiration in your mailbox every now and again. The September/October issue of 2017 has a pattern for baby trousers that I liked the look of so one day, when my daughter was napping, I decided to give it a go with a remnant of green sweatshirt fabric.

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That’s the front on her bum, people!

I decided to leave out the drawstring detail on that first pair because it is purely decorative and finishing something quicker is a plus when you don’t have a lot of time. However, every single time my daughter wears that green pair to daycare she is wearing them back to front when I pick her up. Apparently, the curved line at the front screams “This is the back!” when there is no drawstring (my husband also put them on back to front the first time). Needless to say, the fit is not so great when you put them on backwards.

180331_4When they are worn correctly, I do really like them and since a lot of her trousers have suddenly become too short I decided to make another pair. This time I included the drawstring to avoid any more confusion. I used a nice thick organic sweatshirt fabric. The back of the fabric feels super soft and is a lighter shade of blue than the front which makes for a nice detail when the cuffs are turned up. The seams were overlocked and the hem was turned up and sewn down with a triple stretch stitch.

Changes made to the pattern for this second pair:

  • Lengthened the legs by an inch or so because I figured that she can wear them with the cuffs folded up at first and that way she’ll hopefully be able to wear them for a couple of months longer.
  • The pattern calls for 3 cm wide elastic but I only had 2.5 cm on hand so I made the waistband narrower to fit my elastic.
  • Because I narrowed the waistband I didn’t bother with the original buttonhole markings of the pattern because the buttonholes would have ended up in the wrong position. When I made the blue pair I simply drew some markings on the fabric where I wanted them to be. Looking at the line drawings mine are probably spaced somewhat closer together than in the pattern.
  • I forgot to interface the area around the buttonholes, even though I made a practice piece with interfacing to test buttonhole sizes. Can happen to anyone right? I think it will probably work without interfacing in this fabric since it is quite sturdy.
  • The pattern has you thread the ribbon through the gap at the back of the waistband. Uhh, doesn’t it make more sense to thread through the buttonholes in the front since you need both ends coming out of a buttonhole? I also think it makes more sense to sew the ends of the elastic before inserting the ribbon.
  • I think that a piece of ribbon or string that can be pulled out in a garment that is meant for young children is dangerous. Therefore, after threading the ribbon and making certain that both ends were the same length, I stitched in the ditch at the back of the waistband securing the ribbon in place. This also secures the elastic and prevents it getting twisted.
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I like to freehand embroider the size in children’s clothes.