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?

Completed: pencil roll

My daughter’s school participates in a project that collects shoeboxes filled with some school supplies, personal care products and small toys. These are then shipped to other countries and distributed to children living in poverty so they receive a gift with some practical and fun items.

handmade pencil roll rolled open showing 12 coloured pencils.

All packaging material has to be removed from the gifts because in the receiving countries they may not have the ability to dispose of the waste in a sustainable manner. Fair enough, but I thought it was a bit messy to have 3 pens, 3 pencils and 12 coloured pencils just lying around in the box among all the other items. So, I decided to make a pencil roll to at least keep the coloured pencils organized. I imagine that this will also be useful for the eventual recipient as a storage solution.

Two fabrics on top of eachother. The one below for the outside of a pencil roll. the one on top will form the pockets for the pencils.

I didn’t want to spend too much time making one and searched for some quick tutorials. This 10-minute one was definitely the quickest tutorial I found! Not sure I’d be able to finish one in just 10 minutes though, but it’s definitely quick. I did not follow the instructions exactly because in the tutorial the roll is made from a single fabric and I wanted to include a print on the inside to brighten things up.

A pencil roll in progress. The pockets for the pencils have been sewn but the edges still need to be finished.

The outside fabric is a curtain remnant and I used the part that was already hemmed (time saver!) for the top of the roll. It was cut to 8 1/4” x 12.5” which allowed me to make twelve 1” slots for the pencils leaving ¼” on each side to finish the edges.

A pencil roll in progress. The edges of the fabric have been overlocked but the tails still need to be buried.

The pocket is a piece of quilting cotton that I doubled up so the top also didn’t require any finishing. I simply sewed from top to bottom to create the pockets, but at the top of the pocket I did some backstitching to reinforce that part. The sides and bottom were finished with my overlocker with the threads that it already happened to be threaded with. The tails were hidden in between 2 fabric layers at the very end.

The outside of a handmade pencil roll showing the ribbon that is used to close it.

On the outside I sewed a 50 cm ribbon to one of the sides as a closure. I am happy with how this pencil roll turned out and I hope one little girl will be able to use it for a long time to make pretty drawings.

A handmade pencil roll, rolled up and tied up with a ribbon.

Completed: a set of fabric crowns

One of my nieces turned 4 years old so we needed to come up with a gift to celebrate. She likes to dress up and is very much into princesses so I thought it might be fun to make her a fabric crown. I was also in a sewing funk and thought a relatively simple project would be a great way to get out of it.

There are already plenty of tutorials and patterns out there for fabric crowns and yet I decided to make up my own. One reason was that I didn’t have a printer at hand when I wanted to make the crown so I couldn’t print a template. The main reason, however, is that I’ve realized that the designing of these kinds of items and figuring out the best way to construct them is one of the things I like best about sewing. It may take longer to make something but it is a lot more fun when you figure everything out by yourself. At least for me it is. I also understand that some people prefer to know where they’re going when they’re sewing and use a fool-proof pattern.

I did scroll through a list of Google images of fabric crowns to decide on a style before I started drawing the pattern. I liked the pointy ones where the spikes become lower from front to side so that’s what I went for. After drawing I wrapped the template around my daughter’s head to determine how far the sides of the crown should extend to allow for some room for the elastic I put in the back.

Because I used my daughter as a living dress form to determine the size she quickly realised I was making a crown and immediately decided that she wanted one as well so I ended up making two. She also specifically asked for a green one.

For each crown I cut two pieces of Decovil light slightly larger than the crown template. This is a fantastic fusible interfacing; it is firm, yet flexible and ideal for a project like this. These pieces were fused to the front and back pieces of fabric for the crown that were also cut slightly larger than the template. On the right side of the front piece I traced around the template so I knew where to put the decorations. I used a set of iron on glitter stars that were sold as elbow/knee patches. You can’t go wrong with stars and glitter on a crown. Each crown was also decorated with some sequins that I sewed on by hand. For my niece I only picked a couple of colours but my daughter wanted all the colours.

The front and back pieces were then layered on top of each other wrong sides together and I put some fusible stuff in between that had come with some IKEA curtains to make a fusible hem (I obviously used a sewing machine to hem those curtains…). During pressing I protected the sequins with a pressing cloth. Fusing the two layers ensured that they stuck together when I cut out the final crown shape. It was also very helpful for keeping everything in place when I used a zig zag stitch to finish the edge of the crown.

Deciding on what to use as a closure probably took the longest. Since I didn’t have the intended recipient on hand for try-ons I wanted it to be somewhat adjustable. I considered snaps and Velcro but both those options will probably require help from an adult to adjust and as a parent I really like it when my children can play with their toys without adult assistance. I am also not so sure that Velcro is so desirable to use close to hair as it may get tangled in the male part. So, in the end I decided that the fabric part of the crown would not go all the way around the head but at the back a piece of soft and stretchy elastic would supply some adjustability. That probably makes my crowns a sort of crown-tiara mashup. For the elastic closure I cut some fabric that was the same width as the back of the crown. Sewed the elastic to one side, folded it and attached it to the crown with some vertical stitch lines and some more zig zagging around the edges to get a neat finish.

My daughter is very happy with her new green crown!

Completed: boxy pouches galore!

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

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

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

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

Newsletter

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

Tutorial: Greeting cards with fabric

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

What do you need?

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

Method

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

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

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

4. Put an old needle in your sewing machine.

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

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

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


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

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


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

Alternatives

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

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

Completed: Teacher’s bag

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

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

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

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

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

Completed: What makes you think I love triangles?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Details of the walking foot quilting.

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

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

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

Completed: A quilt for Lana

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

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

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On the back you can see the quilting much better.

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

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Small marks to help me quilt in the right direction

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

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

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

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Completed: 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: 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.