Completed: boxy pouches galore!

My daughter turned 4 years old and as a result no longer goes to daycare but to school. Time does really fly these days. We wanted to give her 3 daycare teachers a special goodbye gift and decided (well, I suppose this decision was mostly mine) on quilted pouches with improv piecing.

My daughter dug through my scraps to find pieces she wanted to combine. For a lot of the sewing and quilting she even operated the foot pedal and scissors button. This goes better each time we sew together. The original plan was to make the entire pouch using improv pieced scraps but we ran out of time and the piece we had made just wasn’t big enough to make 3 pouches. Instead I cut it into 3 wedges and let my daughter pick a solid fabric to combine with each piece. For some extra interest I also used a piece of cork leather for each pouch that was added after the pieced panel was quilted. I love it when a change of plan results in an even better looking item!

Add a lining, a zipper and some binding to finish off the inside seams and 3 pouches were completed. My daughter was super happy with how they turned out and excited to gift them. It was funny to see how she decided that certain fabrics definitely had to go in the pouch for a specific teacher.

A new journey has started. Going to school is very different from how we imagined it would be when we enrolled her. Schools in The Netherlands will be closed for at least another couple of weeks for most of the students. On the days she can go it’s just a couple of students in the class. On the other days there is a half hour online meeting with the teacher and we do some assignments with her at home. I am happy that she does appear to be enjoying herself. That’s probably an advantage of starting school now, she has no clue what it is really supposed to be like.

Newsletter

I’ve decided to try something new and am starting a monthly newsletter at the end of January. I’ve been digging deeper into Adobe Illustrator and am now using it to turn some of my designs into real quilting patterns! If you’d like to know a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes and don’t want to miss anything you can sign up for the newsletter here.

Tutorial: Greeting cards with fabric

I’ve been using tiny scraps to make greeting cards. I came up with the idea when I wanted to send a pretty card but didn’t really have anything suitable left and didn’t want to visit a shop to buy one. It’s a super quick method and I thought some of you might be interested in a tutorial so you can use up some of your own scraps in a fun way!

What do you need?

  • Blank (coloured) greeting cards
  • White or coloured card stock (I use 160 gms)
  • Fabric scraps
  • Ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Sewline glue pen (or another basting glue that doesn’t leach through the fabric)
  • Thread
  • Old sewing machine needle to sew through paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Double sided sticky tape

Method

1. Use the rotary cutter and ruler to cut a piece of card stock slightly smaller than the front of the greeting card.

2. Cut fabric scraps and arrange on piece of card stock until you are happy with the layout.

3. Use the glue pen to stick the fabric to the card stock. Only use a small amount of glue, it’s just to make sure the fabric doesn’t shift around when you’re sewing.

4. Put an old needle in your sewing machine.

5. Make sure the ends of top and bobbin threads are pulled out a bit before starting to sew. Sew through the fabric scraps and make sure to also leave a thread tail at the end.

6. Pull on the thread at the back of the cardstock to pull the thread that’s on the front through to the back as well.

7. Tie a knot in the threads and either trim short or weave the ends into the stitching.


8. Put a couple of pieces of double sided sticky tape on the back of the card stock.

9. Use a ruler as a guide to make sure that you stick the piece of card stock centered on the greeting card.


10. Write message on the inside and put in the mail!

Alternatives

For an even quicker make you can also stitch the fabric directly onto the front of a double greeting card. The stitching and thread ends will show on the inside of the card but that’s part of the charm of a handmade card right? Do make sure to open the card before you start sewing though or it may be very difficult to write your message afterwards. I probably don’t need to spell out how I came up with that last piece of advice…

I also like to make fabric postcards using the method described in this tutorial that I made years ago, but those postcards take a lot longer to make so it’s not something I’ll do when I only have a little bit of time to sew. Have you ever used fabric to make greeting cards? 

Completed: Teacher’s bag

My daughters go to daycare and one of the teachers recently left. My youngest is probably her biggest fan so we were a little sad when we heard the news. So, I decided to make her a gift with a little help of my eldest.

The original plan was to make a simple tote bag with appliqued fabric scraps on both sides. My daughter was in charge of scrap selection and placement. My task was to sew everything in place according to her instructions.

I fear I may no longer be able to make “simple” tote bags. After completing the front and back panel I thought “hmm, you can of course see the zig zag stitching inside the bag, a lining to cover that up would be nice”. This was quickly followed by “if I’m making a lining I may as well make the bag even more useful by adding a patch pocket”, “a key chain so keys don’t get lost among all the other stuff would also be nice” and “an adjustable strap so she can choose whether to wear it as a shoulder bag or cross body would be great and I do still have webbing and sliders in my stash”.

After all that I was sort of able to stop myself from adding more features except that I really wanted to add a closure at the top of the bag. One of the quickest closures to install is a magnetic snap. Sadly I didn’t have any in my stash. There was, however, still time to order some so I did.

I am very pleased with how this bag turned out. There are some risks when you let a 3 year old select scraps but I really like what she picked and how they’re arranged. I didn’t have enough black webbing to make both sides of the strap so I let my daughter decide whether the teacher would prefer yellow or pink as an accent detail. No idea whether pink was really the correct answer to that question but I certainly like it!

Completed: What makes you think I love triangles?

This quilt started as a “what if” experiment. I have a stack of colourful 10’’ squares and thought to myself “what if I layer them on top of each other, slice them into two triangles, put one triangle to the side and then repeat this procedure twice with the other one? The next step was mixing up the fabrics to get as much variation in the blocks as possible and sew them back together into squares.

I wanted to make 30 blocks and picked 33 different fabrics so I’d have some extra blocks to play with. After sewing several seams and a couple of trimming steps in each block I could square them to 8’’, so the final quilt measures 37.5 x 45’’ or approximately 94 x 112 cm.

It was a lot of fun to choose a layout. The 3 different sizes triangles in the blocks create additional shapes in the design and I kept adjusting the placement of the blocks over several days to achieve the final layout.

For the back I started with the improv pieced name of the recipient and added two rows of trucks/tractors because I know he’s into that kind of stuff. It gives the quilt a bit more of a child vibe than I usually go for, but I quite like it.

Let there never be any doubt who’s quilt this is!

The batting is Hobbs Tuscany cotton wool and thread a variegated Guttermann Sulky that I already had in my stash which is a very good match for several of the colours in the quilt.

Details of the walking foot quilting.

For the quilting I decided to go for a no markings needed design and sort of followed the shapes that I saw in the quilt. Quilting didn’t take as much time as I’d expected and I really like how it turned out.  

I love hand binding and this Karin Lewis Blueberry Park fabric is just perfect for binding because it seems to go with everything!

I’m thinking of making another quilt using this method but then using solids. Is anyone interested in a more detailed explanation of how to make these blocks? I forgot to take pictures when I made this one, but would be happy to make a small tutorial showing all the cutting and trimming steps.

Completed: A quilt for Lana

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So happy I finally finished this quilt! I basted it back in February and then all sorts of things happened in the world and the need to get if finished quickly disappeared. I quilted it a couple of weekends ago and added the binding over several short sessions.

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Batting is Hobbs Tuscany cotton/wool, which so far remains my favourite batting for quilts that will be used as blankets. It’s soft and drapey and, not unimportant, I like quilting it. The finished size of the quilt before I washed it was 96 x 114.5 cm, I didn’t measure afterwards but it’s probably slightly smaller now.

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On the back you can see the quilting much better.

I used a neutral Guttermann Sulky 30wt cotton thread for quilting. The quilting design is simple. In the lighter parts I quilted ½’’ away from the seam lines and in the darker parts I did a zig zag that is the mirror image of the zig zag created by the seam lines in the quilt. I only did very minimal marking for the zig zag and even though I didn’t always hit the mark exactly you can’t really tell in the finished quilt. The child’s name was quilted with a more shiny purple thread.

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Small marks to help me quilt in the right direction

For the binding I picked a black fabric and while it’s perhaps not the most obvious choice I like how it turned out. I still need to gift this quilt but I don’t think the parents read my blog so it’s probably safe to already show it here.

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All the long straight lines in the lighter parts of the quilt are done.

Although it’s not really obvious on this blog (yet) I have been spending so much more time in my sewing room lately and that is great. I am experimenting with different techniques, quilt designs and generally just having a lot of fun. Expect to see some more activity here in the coming months when all those projects (hopefully) get finished!

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Completed: Bellen blazen mini quilt

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Bellen blazen

This year the dutchMQG has set a theme for each quarter and there is usually also an activity organized around this theme. With this quarter’s theme “colour” we had the option to participate in a swap to make a miniquilt for another member. We had to make an inspirational mosaic for our swap partner and answer some colour-related questions.

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Mique’s mosaic

I had to make something for Mique and she said she likes curves, abstract art and happy colours. She also said she’d basically like her partner to make anything as long as it brought joy. Ah, well, that sounded totally doable and up my street!

In the questions she answered that she liked everything by the painter Kadinsky, so I had a look at his work and noticed a lot of colourful circles. So, combined with her liking for curves I figured I’d give her a quilt that, apart from the binding around it, doesn’t have a single straight seam in the top! I played around in Illustrator for a bit to get a layout I liked. Considering the options on how to piece the quite complex design I thought that English Paper piecing (EPP) would probably be my best bet. So I recreated the design using a compass on four A4 160gr sheets I had taped together and cut to a 16.5’’ square.

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The right picture shows the circles I drew with the compass, they’re a bit hard to see, sorry.

As a complete side note, I found Florence Knapp’s book “Flossie teacakes’ Guide to English Paper Piecing” extremely useful in figuring out how to wrap the papers and piece the curves. I ordered her book as soon as I saw that she had written one as I’ve followed her blog for several years now, enjoy her writing style and admire her intricate EPP work, despite my complete lack of understanding of her love for Liberty prints (sorry folks, most of those prints just don’t do it for me). Anyway, if you want to get into EPP I can highly recommend Florence’s book.

Since the theme was colour I wanted colour to play an important role in the design and I thought the cirles would be an excellent opportunity to play around with transparency. Years ago I bought a light and dark fat quarter bundle of Kaffe Fassett shot cottons so I had a lot of different colours to choose from. I cut a tiny piece of each colour and started playing around by laying the pieces of fabric on the still uncut piece of paper. When I found a layout I liked I labelled each tiny piece of fabric with the corresponding number of the pattern piece. There are 28 pattern pieces and 27 different colours.

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Playing with colour.

The next step was cutting the paper into templates and I made sure to also label each piece on the back (since the front would end up covered in fabric) and also indicated which other templates a piece had to be joined on each side to make my life easier later on.

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For wrapping around the paper templates I used a Sewline glue stick because Florence specifically advised this for wrapping curves. I didn’t have any trouble wrapping and it was certainly a lot faster than the thread basting I had used for my previous (and to be honest very limited) EPP endeavours.

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Piecing sections.

For piecing I used Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread which I have in several neutral colours, picking the shade that was least conspicuous for each seam. Sewing went smoother than anticipated (feared?), probably because I carefully considered the order in which I put things together, trying to keep the seams as short as possible and avoiding any sharp corners. It’s certainly not perfect, but close enough for me.

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All pieced, paper still inside.

For the back I decided to sort of stay in the Kaffe Fassett theme and selected four 10’’ squares with prints that certainly tick the happy colours box. I recently decided that I wanted to experiment a bit more with different battings and this time I used Quilters Dream Poly Select and so far I like working with it. It gives quite a flat finish.

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The overlapping circles of the top started to remind me of blowing bubbles which I did a lot with my daughter during the first couple of weeks of the lockdown. When I started considering how to quilt the top I decided that I wanted to incorporate that idea even more and selected a variegated thread to add more colourful overlapping circles. I used several plates to draw circles and quilted them with a walking foot. Since I was going to turn the quilt constantly to sew the circles the quilt was spray basted to prevent the fabric from shifting.

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Rejected binding options.

Selecting the binding took a long time as I auditioned a lot of fabrics before I found something that worked. White and grey fabrics were too boring and didn’t add anything to the design. Dark fabrics were better but dominated too much. In the end I pulled some leftovers from a solids jelly roll that, if I remember correctly, was designed/curated by Elizabeth Hartman. When I started playing with those it all came together. When the right colour was added to a side it enhanced the design so a colourful, pieced binding it was.

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I think the binding works well on both sides, which was a lucky accident since I originally planned to use a single binding fabric.

As a final touch I added a label. I rarely make labels this elaborate, usually it’s just my initials and the year, but for this piece it seemed like the right thing to do. I named this quilt “Bellen blazen”, which is Dutch for blowing bubbles.

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I am super pleased with how this small quilt turned out and I found it quite difficult to stuff it in an envelope to mail to someone else. I just have to remind myself that without this swap I would never even have made anything like this. I learned a lot from the process of making this quilt and am now contemplating making something similar for myself.

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Quilting close up.

Finally, I am guessing some of you will be curious to know what I received in return? Erica made me a beautiful quilt inspired by Katie Pedersen‘s “Fractured quilt” from the book “Quilting Modern”. This quilt is one of my favourites in this book so that choice was spot on. I also really love the colour combinations and that the quilt is bound in a way that you can’t see the binding (or should I call it a facing?) from the front. I think that really works for this quilt. I am going to hang it in my sewing room so I can look at it often. This was definitely a good swap to participate in.

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The quilt Erica made for me.

Completed: The red quilt

I made this quilt in 2016 but thought I had lost the pictures, I found them though so to keep a more complete record of all the quilts I made I am showing it today.

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When I started designing this quilt I wanted to make a red quilt so I started playing with lots and lots of red fabrics. Apparently I am not so keen on that much red because in the end all that was left was one red square, a red binding and some red quilting thread. It was an interesting experiment but for me red just works so much better as an accent colour.

If I remember correctly the grey fabric was a Kona cotton layer cake called Silent Film. I am not sure whether I used all the shades that were in it.

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For the backing I used a print from the Blueberry Park collection by Karen Lewis for Robert Kaufman. I’ve used it before for a backing and I am a little sad that most of this fabric is gone now. I did buy another print from this collection when I was in New York last year and am now regretting not getting more of it. Somehow it blends really well with a lot of other prints. The design on the back was kept simple with the child’s initial and two floating squares. I am pleased with how this turned out.

For the quilting I created a straight line quilting grid but used 4 different Gutermann Sulky thread colours that were matched to the fabrics in the quilt. The red thread crosses through the red square and then I worked from dark to light grey to the outside in each column and row. It is difficult to see in these pictures but I thought it added a bit more interest.

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I am now wondering whether I used so much more of the light grey in this quilt or whether I used it for another quilt as well. I guess it is probably the latter…

This was not a very complicated quilt to make but I do love the graphic effect with the different shades of grey and that pop of red.

Completed: A birthday backpack

200128_backpack1My daughter turned 3 years old and I wanted to give her a backpack designed and made by me. It was ages ago since I made a proper bag and I loved (almost) every minute of making it.

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I designed a simple bag with a main compartment with an O-type zipper (this was really hard to find so I am happy I found one in a somewhat matching colour) and two outside pockets. One that closes with a zipper and one that is a bit more open that closes with a flap with a snap. I really had to restrain myself from adding more pockets and fancy features. The bag is not very large since the intended recipient is still less than 1 meter tall so there is not really a lot of room to add extra stuff. A 3 year old also doesn’t need all those bells and whistles and they would have added extra weight which is not ideal when you want your child to carry her own bag.

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Years ago I read a blog post in which cork fabric was used to make a bag and I have ever since wanted to try that stuff. It sounded like a strong and durable material which is great for anything made for a toddler. It is also available with silver stuff in it which is great when your toddler likes anything with glitter.

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Not too shabby pattern matching on the top. I love the O-type zipper with 2 zipper pulls.

I paired it with a green Art Gallery fabric with yellow and white flowers, yellow quilting fabric for some accents, a yellow zipper, green and yellow webbing for the straps and some adjustable sliders. The print fabric was also used for the lining. On the outside the print fabric was interfaced with fusible Decovil 1 light which gives it a bit of a leathery stiffness. The front and back cork fabric were interfaced with fusible vlieseline/vilene S320, but that may not have been absolutely necessary because the fabric itself is already quite firm. Anyway, I hoped the bag would stand up by itself and it does.

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back before assembly

I sewed the outer and inner pattern pieces at the same time and finished the seam allowances on the inside with bias binding. On the front and back this turned out to be much easier than I expected. On the bottom this was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever sewn. I was super glad that I now have a Janome Horizon MC9400 because I am not sure the 3160 would have been able to handle all the bulk in the corners. In the end I managed to get it done with a lot of patience and I am happy this binding is located in a place that nobody will ever take a closer look at. If I ever make another backpack I think I’ll have to create a different type of bottom to make the assembly a bit easier.

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Attaching the binding to the front piece and attaching the bottom to the main bag. I am not sure why I ever thought 10 wonder clips would be sufficient for this project…

My daughter loves her new backpack and I hope she will be able to use it for years to come.

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And now I really want to make another bag for myself…

Completed: Baby Bandana Bib

Recently one of my daughter’s daycare teachers went on maternity leave. The daycare asked all parents if they wanted to give her a small gift so they could surprise her on her last day. My husband immediately suggested washing detergent to get rid of those inevitable yellow poop stains. I thought that as a day care teacher she is already well aware of this less pleasant part of parenthood and something a bit cuter would probably be more appreciated.

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It doesn’t actually close around my dress form’s neck.

My sewing time is limited at the moment and I have a lot of larger projects going on so progress feels really slow. Sometimes it is nice to make something that only takes a small amount of time to create to experience that “I made something!” rush. I decided to combine the urge to finish something with the need for a small gift and made a bib to catch that endless stream of drool a young baby is bound to produce at some point.

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The pattern is the Bandana Bib pattern from simplysmallwonders.com (the account now appears to have been suspended, so I seem to have downloaded the pattern just in time…). It can be made from woven and knit fabrics, I chose knits because I think knits probably feel nicer against baby’s skin. The tutorial suggested adding an extra layer of woven fabric in between the two knit layers and I think this worked out really well. To make the bib somewhat adjustable I added two snaps on one side and one on the other.

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I made size 0-6 months, but when I compared it to some bibs I used for my own daughter I think they’ll fit for longer. Or the printer didn’t print it exactly to size which I can’t check because the pattern didn’t come with a box to check the pattern printed correctly. For an item like this I don’t think it’s much of an issue though if it turns out slightly larger than intended.

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I am very pleased with how this bib turned out and will probably use this pattern more often for quick baby gifts.

Completed: Another ombre baby quilt

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I finally finished the baby quilt for which I showed a completed back in May and started quilting in July

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It’s a fairly simple design using squares cut from two ombre fabrics by V&Co and the Cookie cutters cinnamon Cotton + Steel print from Kim Kight’s Cookie book collection.  I chose the ombre fabrics because I thought they were a nice match for the colours the parents used for their wedding and the baby’s birth announcement.

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For the quilting I chose a much denser pattern than I usually do. My new sewing machine makes quilting so much more pleasurable that I didn’t mind sewing this many lines. The downside was that I ran out of thread halfway through and had to buy more which caused further delays. As I was doing the quilting I worried that it would be too much but now that it’s finished I am pleased with the result.

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For the back I used the leftovers from the front and the child’s initial was made from the fabric that was also used for the binding.

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I prefer to bind by hand as I find it a relaxing activity and love the look when it is finished. I must be getting quicker as I reached the end much sooner than anticipated! Which was probably the only thing that went fast in the creation of this quilt…

Now, onto the next one!