Going patchwork mini

This quarter my guild has a mini & MAXI theme and a challenge to go with it. We could choose from the half-square triangle, pineapple, robbing Peter to pay Paul or crown and star blocks to make something to fit the theme.

I chose the pineapple block because I had never made one even though it is quite similar to the log cabin block which I love to make. Going maxi would quickly lead to a quilt top and, since I already have several tops still waiting to be quilted, going mini seemed the wiser choice here. A postcard maybe?

Scrolling through Google images for inspiration I saw a lot of different pineapple variations but they were all square, as most quilt blocks are. Since I was thinking about making a postcard, I started wondering what the pineapple block would look like if it was stretched out to fit a 4×6” block.

So, I went to Adobe Illustrator to play around a bit and I came up with a FPP design that I thought promising. It definitely qualifies as mini with 69 pieces and the smallest less than ¼” wide.

For the fabrics I chose a simple pastel colour scheme that is a bit outside of the colour range that I usually gravitate toward but I quite like it. The background is Bella solid Mint and the triangles are Coral Rose and Pale Pink. I thought it fun to make the small triangles pop.

At the beginning it was a bit fiddly, but the block came together quicker than I had expected. After a couple of rounds it’s possible to sew the four triangles in one go before you need to press again which really speeds things up.

To finish, I paired the patchwork top with a light blue fabric interfaced with Decovil light and simply zig zagged the edges with a reddish thread.

All in all, a successful experiment!

Completed: I’ll walk you through the forest

In July I made a quilt to participate in the Modern Quilt Guild’s “Make a difference challenge”. The theme was trees and the proceeds of the challenge went to Trees for the Future, an organization that wants to end hunger and poverty by training farmers to regenerate their land by planting trees that protect the soil.  

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make but then I remembered that I had started an improv trees and stars quilt using Kaffe Fassett shot cottons in 2018. At some point I got stuck on how to proceed so I only had a pile of blocks. With the trees theme I thought these blocks would be a great start to quickly assemble a quilt top. I used most of the blocks I had made and pieced it all together filling in the gaps with scraps. The shape started to get a bit weird quite quickly and because I didn’t want to make more stars or trees and ran out of background fabric, I decided that the best way forward was to make a non-square quilt. It was always meant to become a wall hanging anyway.

The back is a single fabric that kind of reminds me of tree bark and the batting is Quilters Dream Poly Select. I like this batting for wall hangings.

In the sky I wanted to quilt something swirly, very loosely inspired by Van Gogh’s starry night. This would be a pain to do with a walking foot because it’d require constant turning of the quilt. My FMQ skills are definitely not up to that level so I decided to hand quilt with perle 8 cotton and embroidery floss. And there went my “finish a quilt quickly” idea…

I wanted a denser forest so I quilted more trees, using different shapes to fill the outlines to add a bit more interest. Through the forest runs a path that is partly hidden by the trees. This is what the title “I’ll walk you through the forest” refers to. This quilt is going to hang in my youngest daughter’s bedroom and it signifies that I’ll also be there for her in those moments that her path in life might seem a bit less clear.

To make the deadline I added the binding before I finished quilting and this worked quite well. Usually I attach the binding by hand using the invisible ladder stitch, but this time I used some big stitches which was definitely faster and also looks quite nice on the back.

I am very happy that these blocks have finally turned into a quilt. I still need to add a label and a hanging sleeve though. The curved top makes the latter a bit of a challenge, however. If anyone has any brilliant suggestions on how to hang this quilt without the top flopping down, I would love to hear them!

Completed: Stripey scoop neck t-shirt

Whoah! I sewed a garment for myself! Now, that was long ago! I suddenly really wanted something new and colourful to wear. It had to be a quick make without any fitting so I pulled out the pattern for a scoop neck tee by Meg McElwee that I’ve used before. That t-shirt is probably my most worn self-made garment ever so it seemed like a safe bet to use it for some fuss-free sewing.

The fabric is a bit of a funky striped knit that I originally bought with the intention of making a dress for my daughter. When I laid down the pattern on the fabric, I realized I could just fit it on with nothing to spare. With the uneven stripes in this print there is only so much pattern matching that you can do so I only sort of did this for the sides and made sure that both sleeves at least featured the stripes in the same order.

Yes, it’s in Dutch…

I had to laugh a bit at myself because after making the first t-shirt years and years and years ago (pre-blogging) I had written down on the traced pattern that I had made the t-shirt 1 inch shorter than the pattern. Years later I used the same pattern to make a maternity t-shirt and then wondered whether I had also removed that 1 inch from the pattern or not and wrote that question down on the pattern as well. I can now attest that yes, I did indeed cut off the 1 inch from the pattern. I think nowadays I make clearer notes when I modify a pattern, or at least I hope I do.

I wore my new t-shirt the entire day before taking pictures and I can already tell that it is going to be another winner in my wardrobe.

Does anyone else suddenly feel the need for brighter colours in their life? I wear a lot of dark blue and grey and have done so for years but now I want more purple and greens and maybe even pink? We’ll see what comes next. I probably need to get some more fabric first, this was the only colourful kid fabric that my pattern fit on.

Completed: Dress 18 from Knippie December 2019/January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Completed: 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.

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 sleeping bag for stuffed animals

200520_3After we finished my daughter’s pyjamas we searched for another project to take on together and decided on a sleeping bag for her stuffed animals. Mainly because I really didn’t feel like making them pyjamas too…

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We took some small improv pieces I had made earlier this year and sewed those together to create two larger pieces. I didn’t take any measurements, just sort of guessed what size would be large enough for the toys she would most likely want to put inside.

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The back, which is the inside of the finished sleeping bag, is an unpieced piece of cotton. Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool. From my selection of quilting threads she picked a pink variegated one. The quilting is a simple straight line wonky grid that I think matches with the improv nature of the pieces.

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I lucked out with the binding because I had a piece left over from a quilt that was large enough. I really don’t want to use my iron when my daughter is in the room and I feared that the fold in the binding would not turn out so great without using an iron .

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Normally I am all for the clean look of a hand sewn binding, but someone was a little bit impatient to get this sleeping bag finished so I decided to do a machine sewn binding instead. It’s probably sturdier too which is great for a toy. I used two decorative stitches and realised that the stitch in the ditch foot that I can attach to my walking foot could be really useful to get the stitches on the front evenly distributed on the edge of the binding. Turning was a bit fiddly, but it did work. The back is a bit less neat, but I am not too bothered by that.

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Her toys had a really good night’s sleep.

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: Maternity t-shirts

Having experienced over 8 months of pregnancy so far, I can safely conclude that I don’t like it. I am looking forward to holding and seeing this little human that is growing inside me, but wish the growing inside me part didn’t have to happen first. If only I were a bird, or a man. My husband might argue that being married to a pregnant woman is not easy either but I don’t see him willing to trade with me right now. Especially with that whole giving birth part of pregnancy looming on the horizon.

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Funnily enough, I don’t think I look all that pregnant in these pictures.

During the moments I didn’t feel too crappy I managed to do some sewing but not that much. My sewing machine hasn’t been neglected this much since I first got it! Today I thought I’d show you some maternity wear. Actually, I’ll show you the only maternity wear I made…

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From the side though, there’s no mistaking what’s going on in there!

When my belly started to expand a bit too much to still fit comfortably in my regular wardrobe I adapted a t-shirt pattern hoping that I could use it to sew some t-shirts/sweaters that would last me through the rest of my pregnancy. I believe I was 24 or 25 weeks pregnant at the time (it took a while before I grew huge). I used the t-shirt pattern from Meg McElwee’s Sewing with knits Craftsy class. I made two t-shirts from this pattern years ago and at 25 weeks I was still wearing these although they started to get a bit short in the front. The fit of this pattern is a bit looser than the other t-shirts I made for myself which made it more suitable for an expanding body and a good starting point for a maternity shirt.

Changes made to the pattern:

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Schematic of changes (in red) made to the sewing with knits t-shirt pattern. The original pattern has shaped side seams but I found it too much trouble to incorporate this into the drawing.

  1. Added 1 inch to bottom of both front and back bodice because the rise of maternity pants is much lower than in regular pants and I wanted to keep the belly band of the pants covered.
  2. Added notches on both front and back bodice to make sure I could align the pattern pieces properly after all the changes that were later made to the front bodice only. The top notch is 18 cm from the top and the lower notch 6 cm from the bottom. I based this on how the original t-shirt fit me and took into account that I would lose some fabric in the seam and hem allowances. The area in between the notches is basically where I expected my belly to start and end at its largest, so where extra room is needed.
  3. Added 8 cm of extra length to front bodice to allow extra room for expanding belly.
  4. Added ½’’ of extra length to bust area of front bodice to allow extra room for all those additional cup sizes that you accumulate during pregnancy (it’s quite crazy, really).
  5. Graded out the sides of the front bodice to allow extra room for expanding belly. Started with nothing just below the top notch to 1 inch at widest part of belly and then straight down to the hem so in total 2 inches were added to the t-shirt circumference.

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My husband calls me turtle when I wear this t-shirt…

Construction wise the only changes that were needed were that the extra length that was added to the belly part of the front bodice was gathered to fit in between the two notches of the back bodice. The extra length at the bust was simply eased into the back by stretching the fabric between the top notch and top of the bodice as they were sewn together with my overlocker.

I managed to complete 3 t-shirts and I have pictures of 2. The third one is plain grey and I prefer to wear the ones shown here. Pictures didn’t happen until 36 weeks in a quick “let’s a least get pictures of these shirts while I’m still pregnant shoot”. I should have paid more attention when I put the shirts on, the one with 3/4 length sleeves was twisted a bit, the left side seam is oriented too much toward the front and the right side seam towards the back. Ah well, at least there are pictures…

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After more than 10 weeks of wearing these shirts regularly I can say that I am very happy with how they turned out. They are very comfortable and the changes I made to allow for expansion appear to be sufficient to also last the couple of weeks I still have left. I am glad I managed to make these shirts, I think I have worn them often enough to warrant the time spent making them and I feel much more comfortable in them than I would have been in the ready to wear shirts I tried on in stores and didn’t buy.

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Normal service will most likely not return anytime soon on this blog as it took ages to get this single blog post done… I’ll be back though, there are too many things I still wish to show you.

Completed: Shopping bag

140713_shoppingbag2My brain has been a little fried this week due to working too much and sleep deprivation caused by mosquitos in our bedroom (ok, and working at 2 am one night but that was for a good cause). I wanted to work on a simple project and decided to tackle something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

I used to have a shopping bag that I could attach to my bike. Sadly it got a large tear in one of the sides when I, one time too many, overloaded it. I missed using it. It made grocery shopping a lot more enjoyable because I didn’t have to carry a heavy backpack on the way home but could simply click the bag onto my bike instead. The clips of this bag still looked pretty good so the thought occurred to me that perhaps I could salvage these and use them to make myself a new shopping bag.

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If you now think that this doesn’t really sound like a simple project you should take into account that I have been making bags for ages and to me they’re just a couple of rectangles and straight lines of stitches with a little bit of easy maths involved to get the proportions right. Also, if your stitching is off by a couple of millimetres that’s usually not a big deal when you’re making a bag. In garment sewing a dart that is off by a couple of millimetres can already look really weird. I intended to match the pattern at the seams on the outside of this bag but it didn’t really work out that way and I don’t really care because it’s just a shopping bag.

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I started by taking the old bag apart (I can’t find the pictures that I thought I had taken before deconstruction) and it turned out the clips are attached to a large firm plate that was sewn to the back of the bag. There was absolutely no way I was going to use my sewing machine to stitch it in place in my new bag. Really, it feels like plastic and I think you’d need a really sturdy industrial machine to make that work. Fortunately, the old stitching had left holes so I used those to attach the plate to the new bag with a running stitch (after I had made a couple of buttonholes to fit the clips through).

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For the outside I used a piece of upholstery fabric I’ve had for years. I’m really curious whether someone has actually used this fabric to upholster their couch. Originally I had bought it to make a bag as well but thought it was probably a bit too much when I got home and only used a small piece to add an accent to that bag. Leaving me with a huge piece of left-over fabric that took up a lot of space. I already considered getting rid of it at some point because I couldn’t see what I would ever use it for. After making this bag I still have a huge piece left…

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The top of the bag was made with black canvas left over from this bag. For the lining I used black Kona cotton and two fat quarters from Jane Sassaman’s Wild Child collection for Free Spirit. If I had had enough black fabric I’d probably have used only black for the lining but I think the print is a nice surprise when you open the bag. Everything was interfaced with a fusible woven interfacing.

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I used a separating zipper for the top because I thought that would be easier during the construction and turned it into a non-separating one by adding a fabric tab at the end. The fabric tab actually caused me the most trouble. My first attempt at a different shape didn’t work at all. My second attempt was sewn wrong sides together and I didn’t even notice this until after I had trimmed the seams and tried to turn it right side out and surprisingly was met by the interfaced side… Luckily the third attempt worked out fine.

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The bottom of the bag contains a gridded bag bottom that is held in place by four metal bag feet and some hand stitches across the bottom seam. The plate that was already sewn in at the start did make the construction more difficult because it made the bag less flexible than it otherwise would have been. When I was trying to manoeuvre the bag so I could top stitch the top edge by machine I quickly realised that this really wasn’t going to work and used a hand sewn running stitch instead.

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Bag bottom before it was attached.

I am really happy with my new bag, although I still need to actually use it to transport groceries. It already wins from my old bag in the looks department and I only used materials I already had on hand, which means I saved at least 20-30 euros that I might otherwise have spent on a new bag.

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