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.

160413_2

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.

160413_5

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.

160413_4

Just half an inch!

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

Completed: Sweater 3b from Knippie 5 – 2010

160214_sweaterfront

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.

160214_sweaterback

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.

160214_detailclosure

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.

160214_closureopen

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.

Sewing baby burp cloths with my sister

completed burp cloths

Set of three burp cloths sewn by my sister.

When people know you can sew it is inevitable that you will at some point get the question “could you make me *insert random item here*?”. At the start of your sewing career this question might still induce excitement. Yes! With my newly acquired skills I can make a set of 8 matching pillows for your new couch! And I don’t care that it will take me all weekend because I’m still really slow at this whole sewing thing!

towel side

towel side

After you’ve been sewing for a while it becomes a bit difficult though to get enthusiastic about hemming yet another pair of trousers for someone else when you have a list of about a hundred items that you really want to make for yourself. However, these question askers are your friends and family and you don’t really want to disappoint them by immediately saying no. They are asking you for some help after all!

My solution to this problem is that I now offer to show them how they can make (or fix) the item themselves. If they’re really motivated they’ll take me up on my offer and we’ll spend an afternoon or day making it. Yes, it will probably take about 3 times longer to complete the item, but I’m spending time with someone I enjoy spending time with and I can show them my hobby. While they might not fall in love with sewing at least I think they’ll appreciate more what it takes to create something. If they don’t take me up on my offer it apparently wasn’t that important to have it made anyway so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.

My sister didn't want to pose so I had to...

My sister didn’t want to pose so I had to…

A couple of months ago my sister asked me if I could make her a cute baby item to give to one of her expecting co-workers. Hmmm, I don’t even know this co-worker so why would I make a gift? I offered to help her make something. Some grumbling ensued but she agreed to come, although no date was fixed yet. I wondered whether she really would.

Tracing

Carefully tracing around the pattern.

But she did and I looked around for a simple project for a first time sewer. I found it in the free “The perfect baby burp cloths” pattern from So Sew Easy. What I like about this pattern is that it is shaped so it fits better around your neck and shouldn’t slip down as easily as a rectangular burp cloth. I’m sure we’ve all seen parents carefully position a cloth that slips down as soon as they lift their baby, leaving their clothes dangerously unprotected, so this simple adaptation seems like a good idea. I also found patterns that have this type of shaping on both sides but those reminded me of oversized sanitary napkins…

Sewing two layers together.

Sewing two layers together.

For one side we used a white towel and for the other side some ten squares from the Urban Zoologie collection by Robert Kaufmann. Towel and fabrics were prewashed to prevent uneven shrinkage later on. For each burp cloth two ten squares were pieced together. We reasoned that a right handed person is most likely to burp a baby on their left shoulder and made sure to position the owl and bird fabrics so that some of the animals would feature in the upright orientation in the centre on the front. We ended up with three rather adorable burp cloths made by my sister. I only showed her how to do each step. I think she did really well and she preferred sewing curves to sewing straight. Will she sew more often from now on? Probably not, but that was not the point.

Lacking a real baby we made use of an imaginary one...

Lacking a real baby we made use of an imaginary one…

Add a fabric tag to your handmade items

envelope tee with fabric tag

140615_baking is a science tagToday I want to show you a simple idea I had about a year ago. At the time I wanted to add the phrase “baking is a science” to a bag I made for one of my sisters when she graduated. This is when I came up with the fabric tag. I still think that tag is a great addition to that particular bag as it really personalised it.

This weekend we went to a party to celebrate the birth of a little boy and I knew it was probably going to be busy. I had made another Growing up sew liberated envelope tee using the left-over fabric from my own striped Lady Skater t-shirt. I usually tell people what size the garment is and how to care for it but when it’s a busy party the parents are likely to forget immediately (oh the faith I have in people’s memories…). I could of course have printed the information on a piece of paper and put that in with the gift but a fabric tag would look much cooler and I was at that point also a little stuck on how to continue with my current  project so anything to distract me was welcome.

envelope tee

It’s not difficult to make a fabric tag. I make them the same way as I make my fabric postcards, the fabric is just cut in a different shape. I also add an eyelet to thread a ribbon or safety pin through. If you don’t have the tools to add an eyelet you can make a buttonhole instead. The eyelet does give it a very professional look though. I always use my Prym pliers but the eyelets (and snaps that you can also attach using these pliers) always come with a plastic tool thingy that you can use to attach them using a hammer. I’ve never had much success with a hammer but there are sewers that always use a hammer so your preference probably depends on how good your aim is with a hammer.

140615_adding eyelet

What to put on these tags? The options are endless. For both tags I show here I used transfer paper to iron the text onto the fabric. Dutch readers, I got mine at Action a couple of years ago, I’m not sure they still have it in their assortment but it’s definitely worth a look if you plan on using transfer paper. You could also write with a fabric marker if your handwriting is pretty. These tags would also work as gift tags for Christmas presents. I’m also thinking it would be really cool to have a logo and put that on one side of the tag to show that I made the item. That would also be a great touch if you sell your handmade items on craft fairs.

Yes, I did go a little crazy printing labels...

Yes, I did go a little crazy printing labels…

Do you have any other good ideas for items that I could use these tags for?

140615_front&back

Completed: A random assortment of items

The one thing the items I made yesterday have in common is that I really needed to get them finished but I never started them because I wanted to make other things first. The problem was the other things didn’t get made either because I felt I had to make these items first. It was a rather depressing vicious circle but yesterday I finally decided to get a grip and just get it over and done with. The stupid thing is I enjoy making these items so it really is the lure of the even shinier project that can sometimes keep me from being productive.

First, I made this fabric pouch. Intended for someone I swapped some handmade goodies with. I received my package weeks ago and still needed to get my items shipped. Bit of a problem if they aren’t actually finished… I hope it was worth the wait. The dimensions at the base are 23.5 x 10.5 x 18 cm (l x w x h). I chose these fabrics because these colours should be her favourites. The outside fabric is “Journeys dot dot dash” by Kathy Davis for Free Spirit. I bought it in Stockholm two years ago when I was there for a conference. I really like this quite simple design.

fabric pouchOn the inside I made a zipper pocket and a patch pocket that is divided into two. I hope it will be useful for storing craft supplies.

Pockets in pouch

Then some fabric postcards and a bookmark. Made the same way as described here. This fabric has a bit of a retro vibe that I think is fun and even though (or maybe even because?) it is a large scale print I think it works very well for postcards. It is “Wild Child Passionate Petunias” by Jane Sassaman for Free Spirit. I believe I also have it in a different colourway so perhaps I’ll make some postcards with that one as well.

fabric postcards

Lastly, a Growing up Sew Liberated envelope tee size 6-12 months for a baby boy born in April. This really is my go-to baby pattern. I kept it simple and used only one fabric (left-overs from the Comox Trunks) for the t-shirt but added some accents with contrasting thread for the coverstitching. This has the added benefit that I only have to thread my overlocker and coverstitch machine once instead of switching the right colour thread from one machine to the other several times during the construction. Because the sleeves on baby t-shirts are absolutely tiny I usually sew the hem first before attaching the sleeve instead of sewing it in the round. I did have difficulty matching it up when the sleeve seam was sewn. Apart from that I think the t-shirt turned out really good.

envelope tee

All in all, I had a productive day. Getting these items finished also helps to clear my mind because I can cross some items of my crowded mental to do list. Now it’s time to tick some non-sewing related items from that list…

Coverstitching details

Completed: Sunnyside baby quilt & giveaway

I finished my first quilt of 2014. It was made for the newborn son of one of my friends. She’s the first of my high school and university friends to have a baby so it was a very special occasion.

Sunnyside quilt frontI used Kate Spain’s Sunnyside collection for Moda. This fabric makes me happy (even though there are clouds and raindrops featured on some of the fabrics!) and I think it’s perfect for a baby quilt so I bought a fat quarter bundle. Note to future self: When you want to use a whole fabric collection to make one baby quilt, it might be better to get a layer cake instead since a fat quarter bundle featuring 40 fabrics amounts to 10 yards of fabric which is enough to make at least 4 quilt tops…  Just saying…

The finished quilt measures 35’’ x 47 ¼’’ (90 x 120 cm). I wanted this to be a relatively quick make and didn’t want to do any seam matching while piecing. For the front I cut 6.5’’ x 8.5’’ rectangles that were assembled in alternating columns of 5 or 6 pieces. The top and bottom of the columns with 5 pieces were filled up with 6.5’’ x 4.5’’ rectangles.

floral fabrics SunnysideI didn’t use all of the fabrics in the collection. There are a couple that are a bit on the floral side that I think are too girly for a boy’s quilt. I tried to include the two blue fabrics on the bottom row in the picture but on their own they looked out of place so I decided to duplicate some of the other fabrics instead.

At first I wasn’t sure what to do with the back. I considered using a solid with some blocks of the Sunnyside collection pieced in. The problem with this idea was that I didn’t have enough of a solid fabric in my stash that really works with this collection and there are no quilt shops in Leiden so buying something new would either mean going to another city or buy online. The risk of the latter being that the colour I pick might not work with the collection after all when I get it. Since I had a lot of fabric left over from making the top I simply cut 6’’ strips of varying length and assembled these in rows.

Sunnyside quilt backFor the quilting I wanted to stay in theme with the fabric and did a huge sun with sunrays in an orange variegated thread using my walking foot. The rays turned out pretty straight but the sun is a bit wobbly/wonky in some of the circles. I probably wanted to go too fast. In the centre of the sun I quilted the boy’s initial, I like this detail.

Sunnyside quiltFor the binding I had the same issue of not knowing which solid would work well. I realised that the fabrics that I could be certain would work were the ones that were already in the quilt. I searched Dutch online fabric stores and could find only 1 fabric from this collection for sale in the whole of the Netherlands and that’s the one I ended up using. The binding was handsewn to the quilt and I think this process took longer than the piecing of the front and back of the quilt. I love the look of a handsewn binding so I suppose it’s worth the time and effort.

Sunnyside quilt handsewn binding

Giveaway has closed!

Unsurprisingly, I still have quite a bit of fabric left over from my fat quarter bundle so I thought it would be fun to share some of it with one of my lovely readers. I cut pieces that measure at least 6’’x12’’ of each fabric from the collection.  Most are more generous. This is enough fabric to create a decent sized quilt top. I leave it up to the winner to cut it up into squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons or whatever else takes their fancy.

Sunnyside giveaway

This could be yours!

Rules:

  • Giveaway is open internationally.
  • To enter leave a comment that clearly states that you wish to enter the giveaway. If you just comment “hey, I like your quilt” I will assume you are not interested in the fabric.
  • You can enter until Wednesday March 5th, 20.00h UTC +1.
  • Only 1 entry per person.
  • Friends and family are allowed to enter.
  • Prize drawing will be performed by my boyfriend.
  • Results are incontestable

140301_Sunnysidequilt_folded

Some thoughts on gift making

I love making gifts for the people I care about. Nearly every time I get an invitation for a wedding or a housewarming or hear a baby is expected I get excited and think “oooh, I’ll make a gift!”. Sadly though, my creative time is limited and if I made a gift for every single occasion I don’t think there would be any time left to make anything else. As a result, I have to make choices and often the choice is made for me because I simply run out of time (planning these gifts and starting way ahead of time is not my strongest point). That gets me in a whole different spot of trouble because now I suddenly have to think about what to buy. Of course I didn’t give that any thought since I was going to make something and thus spend all my time thinking about what I was going to make and how I was going to do that.

Last week was no exception. I had a housewarming this weekend and decided weeks ago that I was going to make something (like I always do). But what to make? Hmm, since it is a housewarming I suppose it would be nice if the gift is somehow house-related. An apron, maybe? It is a bit of an obvious gift and I think most people already own at least one. For example, we have 3 and I didn’t make or buy any of those myself so chances are she already has one. A pillow? Could be nice, but I’m not sure whether she changed her décor during the move and what if I pick completely wrong colours?

Then I suddenly realise the housewarming is this weekend so I am running out of time (again!). On top of that I have a busy week at work, work several long days and am tired. Crafting doesn’t really happen when I am tired. Still, I stubbornly think I’ll manage to squeeze out a gift at some point, not sure when though. And what, that too.

Some of the options that crossed my mind the last couple of days:

  • Fabric bunting, it can be really festive to decorate your home with bunting for a birthday. Not sure though if someone living on her own is going to use it. Probably better to save this idea for families with young children.
  • A cherrystone pillow! That is really warm and cosy when it is cold outside. Problem, how on earth am I going to get my hands on cherrystones to fill a pillow and still have enough time left to actually make one? Might be a good idea for a future gift however!
  • Ooh, I know! A set of fabric napkins! That is really nice to have when you have some people over for dinner. And I can use the rolled hem feature on my overlock machine! That should make it a fast make too! And then I discovered that it is advised that you use fray-check or something to secure the thread ends. The only store I know in Leiden that might have stocked something like that closed its doors last weekend. Perhaps I should make sure to get some fray-check for future napkin endeavours.
  • I could of course make fabric napkins with mitered corners. But, do I really want to make 24 perfect mitered corners when I am tired? Not really, but perhaps I could make a set of 4 instead of 6? But that is still 16 corners, don’t think so, I’ll probably give up after napkin #1.

This time I was smart enough to admit a day before the party that it just wasn’t going to happen (I don’t really want to know how often I’ve had to rush on the day itself to get a gift). I went ahead and bought a set of nice, thick, soft, organic cotton kitchen towels in a lovely green colour that I think my friend likes as well.

Am I learning from all this? I sure hope so, it’s about time I get realistic about what I can actually achieve in the time and energy I have available. So, for now I have decided to only attempt to make gifts for newborn babies because that is something I really enjoy doing (probably until their numbers rise to ridiculous figures at which point I’ll have to get realistic again). For other occasions I am first going to see what I can buy. If I’ve already bought something I won’t be tempted to think I can still make something and waste a lot of time thinking about projects I never end up making in the process. I’ve already given at least one handmade gift to most of the important people in my life anyway. I will continue to make gifts but I’ll just be more selective in choosing the occasion.

After buying the gift for the housewarming on Friday I blissfully watched the men’s 5k speedskating on Saturday, which couldn’t have gone better for the Dutch team. Today I watched the women’s 3k speedskating which also went very well and finished a quilt top (also a gift by the way…).

Does anyone recognise these gift making dilemma’s? How do you prioritise ?