Completed: Fractured Safari

A quilt with a fractured strip pieced design made from the Moda Safari Life collection by Stacy Iest Hsu hanging in a playground.

A couple of weeks ago I had some uninterrupted time to myself because my children were staying with my parents for a couple of nights. I used some of that time to finally turn a quilt top into a quilt!

The front and back of a foundation paper pieced strip pieced block is shown before it was trimmed.

The design was inspired by the “fractured” quilt from “Quilting Modern” by Katie Pedersen and Jacquie Gering and a mini quilt that I received from my quilting friend Erica that was based on that quilt. I enlarged the blocks and instead of making square blocks I made them rectangular. The top is completely foundation paper pieced and I figured that it would be easier to simply use the US Letter sized FPP paper that I had as is, instead of cutting it into squares. If you do this you have to keep in mind though that you need to make left and right blocks because, unlike square blocks, you cannot position rectangular blocks in all 4 orientations.

Two stacks of foundation paper pieced strip pieced rectangular blocks showing that you need to make left and right blocks when you make rectangular blocks.

I used a jelly roll of the Safari Life collection by Stacy Iest Hsu supplemented with a couple of fabrics that I thought looked nice with it. There is a lot more brown in this fabric collection than I am usually drawn to but these fabrics are so much fun with all the animals on them that I couldn’t resist them.

The blocks were made over a year ago (yes, I am kind of slow at finishing quilts…) and the FPP strip piecing did not take that long. Choosing a layout did take a while though because I kept changing the position of certain blocks until I was finally happy.

Quilt hanging in a playground. The back of the quilt is shown. It is pieced with black, ochre and blue Makower Linen Texture fabric. The the name Thomas is pieced. Gridline quilting with yellow thread.

For the back I tried to find a print that would work with the front but locally I couldn’t find anything that I got excited about. They did have a pretty good selection of Makower Linen Texture though. These fabrics read as solids but there is some subtle pattern in them. This was the first time I worked with these fabrics and they are soooooo soft. I will definitely use them again in future projects. I bought 3 colours that worked with the colours in the front and essentially pieced a second top incorporating the recipient’s name.

A quilt is being prepared for a photo shoot. The quilt is draped over a park bench to attach a row of gaffer tape to the top so it can later be taped to a beam in an playground.

I am trying to be a bit more adventurous with my batting choices so instead of using Hobbs Tuscany cotton wool I used Quilters Dream Cotton Deluxe. This batting also quilted easily and I really like how the finished quilt feels but it is quite a bit heavier than the cotton wool blend.

Foundation paper strip pieced quilt made from Moda's Safari Life collection by Stacy Iest Hsu draped over a yellow railing in a playground.

For quilting I already had a perfect dark yellow in my stash and I went with a 2 inch grid which is a lot denser than what I usually go for and I LOVE it. Totally worth the extra time it took to quilt (not having children around helped a lot here). Even though the quilt is rectangular I chose to do a square grid. Because I sewed the first quilting lines through the center and worked my way out from there I think it works very well. On the back the quilting is much more visible than on the front and I think it looks amazing against those almost solids.

Detail of the center of a strip pieced quilt. The quilting was done with dark yellow thread in a 2 inch grid that intersects at the center of the quilt.

For the binding I decided to use some strips that were left over from making the top. I didn’t want to frame the design on the front of the quilt with the binding which I think would have happened if I had used the ochre fabric that I used on the back which was another option I considered. A bonus of these fabrics in the binding is that there are hidden animals in some spots which I found super fun to discover when I was hand sewing the binding to the back.

A quilt is folded so that all corners of the binding are visible. The quilt is made from Moda's Safari Life fabric collection by Stacy Iest Hsu.

Before washing the quilt measured 98×130 cm and I believe it shrank a little bit but not much. It’s a good size to snuggle under on the couch. Or build huts and tents, which is what my kids tend to use quilts for.  

A folded quilt made from Moda's Safari Life fabric by Stacy Iest Hsu placed on a grey chair.

I am super happy with how this safari quilt turned out. It has already been gifted and it has found a good home where it will be loved.

A quilt hanging in a playground. It was a windy day and the quilt is blowing almost horizontal in the wind.
It was sooo windy when I took these pictures. I was lucky to get a couple of shots in which the quilts were hanging semi straight! My little helpers were making sure that everything went alright. Did you spot both of them?

New Directions: Pattern tester makes!

From my work as a scientist, I know that papers improve a lot when you receive feedback on the text and figures from colleagues or peer reviewers. After reading a text again and again and again you simply no longer spot missing words or typos. When you are completely submerged in the subject, concepts that are super clear to you may not be as clear to others that know less about the topic and may require additional clarification.

So, knowing how valuable feedback can be, I had the New Directions pincushion pattern tested before it was released to make sure that there are no errors in the FPP templates or instructions. Two of my quilting/blogging friends offered to test the pattern for me for which I am very grateful! They were able to provide me with useful comments and suggestions that I incorporated in the instructions.

New Directions pincushions made by Sanne from sewbysanne.

Sanne tested both the flat and boxy pincushion options and I think she used some fun fabric combinations. The top of each pincushion has a slightly different look because of how she positioned the fabrics. Also, look at those nice fussy cut flowers in the center squares!

New Directions pincushions made by Sanne from sewbysanne.

Tierney tested the flat pincushion option, I think she used shot cottons and they give her pincushion a luscious look. I must admit I was surprised at first that Tierney wanted to test the pattern at all because she has not kept her thoughts about FPP a secret in the past!

New directions pincushion made by Tierney from tierneycreates.

As I went through the process of writing a pattern and having Sanne and Tierney test it, I started to think whether it would be good to have a peer review system for sewing patterns to improve the quality of what’s available. I quickly realised that it would probably not work because in science the peer review process is part of getting your work published in good journals. While there are several quilting magazines to which you can submit pattern ideas, most patterns do not end up in journals but are self published. It got me wondering though, which sewing magazine would you consider to be the Nature and Science of quilting?

New Directions Pincushion pattern release!

For quite a long time now I’ve had a dream to create sewing patterns. This past year I’ve taken some big steps to make this dream come true!

The most important step was spending a lot of time playing with Adobe Illustrator, to learn how to use more of this software’s many functions and how to use those functions more efficiently. As it turns out I really enjoy doing this and as a result my first pattern is now completed! I’ve created detailed instructions on how to make the pincushion that I made for the dutch MQG swap that I participated in last spring.

The top of the pincushion is made from a foundation paper pieced 3” finished block. The sewing pattern contains instructions to turn this block into a flat or boxy pincushion. It is of course also possible to use the block in a quilt if you don’t want or need another pincushion!

I chose the name “New Directions” because the shapes in the block remind me a bit of a compass. This pattern also marks a new direction in my sewing and quilting hobby because it’s the first pattern that I’ve created for other people to use. This feels both exciting and a tiny bit scary.  

The New Directions Pincushion pattern has already been released to the subscribers of my monthly newsletter. If you’d like to get the pattern as well, that is still possible. When you sign up for my newsletter you can now download the pattern for free.

Now that New Directions is out in the world I am going to focus on the next patterns that are already in the pipeline!

I’ve also worked on developing a logo and house style. You may already have noticed that my blog looks a bit different from the last time you visited. I’ve tried to incorporate some of the house style features on my blog. The theme I am currently using is a bit limiting in what I can change, however, so eventually I am going to move my blog to

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: Erica’s pincushion

In May and June the Dutch MQG organized a pincushion swap and of course I participated. I had to make something for Erica, which is great because last year she made me a very beautiful mini quilt so it was nice to make her something in return.

Everyone had to make an inspirational mosaic and answer some questions so their swap partner could get some ideas. Erica likes green and nature and wanted a small pincushion with room on the sides to stick needles in. The pincushions in her mosaic contained a lot of triangles (my favourite!) and fussy cutting which I decided to incorporate into my own design.

I played around in Adobe Illustrator to create a foundation paper piecing pattern to use for the top of the pincushion. The block was originally 4 inches but as I started assembling it this felt too large for a small pincushion and I reduced it to 3 inches. Oh, and yes, I do remind myself to check the printer settings before printing FPP patterns.

I was super happy to find a fabric that I could cut a ball like flowery thing out of that somewhat resembled the flowery pictures that she put in her mosaic. That fabric also contained several other smaller items that I fussy cut for the corners. I picked some green and yellow-green fabrics to work with that purple fabric and as a fellow lover of green I am very pleased with how it all turned out.

The sides are 1 3/8’’ high which was mainly determined by the print that I wanted to fussy cut. The sides were sewn to the top and bottom using Y-seams and this came together without problems. Y-seams don’t scare me. I filled the pincushion with lavender scented crushed walnut shells. This was the first time I used this type of filling and I really like how it feels when you push the pins into the shells. Apparently it helps to keep your pins and needles sharp. I also like that it adds some weight to the pincushion so that it sits a bit more stable. The lavender smell is great; it reminds me of summer vacations in southern France with my parents.

My guild’s theme for this quarter is scraps so I made a scrap card to send with the pincushion. As part of the swap we also included 50 grams of our own scraps in our package so we’d all get some new fabrics to play with. I chose a variety of sizes and shapes and a combination of prints and solids.

You are probably also curious to see what I got in return. Ingrid made me a pincushion from the Deluxe pattern of Heidi Staples. I love the fussy cutting of the text fabrics that she included. This pincushion has a pocket that can be used to put a pair of scissors in but I prefer to keep my scissors elsewhere so I used the nine patch to organize the different types of pins that I use most often. The top of the pocket can be used to clip wonderclips on, I think this feature will really come in handy. The scraps that I received were very different from the fabrics that I currently have in my scrap box so they were a very good addition to add some more variety to my projects. All in all, I consider this another very successful swap!

Free pattern: Foundation paper pieced star

Yesterday I entertained myself by designing and sewing a foundation paper pieced star. I suppose I could have used an existing pattern since there are probably at least a dozen patterns available similar to what I made but designing the block is half the fun. The 12×12” (30×30 cm) star is created by sewing together four 6×6’’ (15×15 cm) blocks, 44 pieces in total, so it’s not overly complicated to construct. I should probably practise a bit more though as not all of my points and matches are as sharp as they’re supposed to be…

140215_StarI_1The real problems were caused by my printer however. I created the block in Illustrator and you would think that a 6×6’’ square drawn with the “draw a square” function, or whatever it is called, would be exactly square when printed. It wasn’t. It was slightly off and resembles a trapezoid. I’m pretty sure it was caused by the printer because I held my quilting ruler up to my computer screen and the square looked pretty square in the PDF on the screen. I tried some different printing settings and then decided to just start sewing and fudge if necessary as it wasn’t off by that much (1/16’’ at most). It drove me nuts though and I wasted quite a bit of time trying to get things to print right. (Edit: I did print the pattern on a different printer and it was exactly square, so I suspect my own printer is inaccurate.)

StarI blockSince I already had the pattern in digital format I thought I might as well share it. I am convinced the pattern should be square when printed on a printer that isn’t mine but if someone would like to check this for me that would be great and relieve me of that tiny piece of doubt nagging at the back of my mind. On the left you can see what the pattern looks like and if you want to download the PDF you can click here. The pattern is for personal use only and does not contain any paper piecing instructions because I am assuming you already know how to paper piece if you want to use the pattern. Below I’ve put the cutting scheme I used for my fabric pieces to save you time calculating this yourself.

StarI block_cutting schemeNow all that’s left to do is decide what to do with this block now that it is pieced together. Make several more and turn it into a quilt or add a border and make another pillow?