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!

 

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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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: 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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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Just half an inch!

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