Completed: A Cuddly Baby Quilt

 

2016 will become the year of the quilt. I’ve already finished 2 quilts (to be fair, both were started before 2016) and I have 4 more in the making or planning stages.

160413_3A while ago our family was extended with the birth of a cousin. Almost four years ago one of the first quilts I made was for her older sister so of course I had to make one for her as well.

I started with nine 10’’ squares from the Urban Zoology collection by Robert Kaufmann. For inspiration I browsed the Moda bake shop and combined the looks of the Flower Girl quilt and the 9-Patch Posie quilt. The finished dimensions after washing are slightly less than 1m x 1m.160413_1The white sashing gives it a very fresh look, although it may not be the most ideal colour for something that could potentially get stained by baby spit. Although I suppose that’s what washing machines are for…

The batting is Hobbs 80/20. The backing was kept simple with a piece of purplish yardage and a strip of some fabrics that are also featured on the front sliced in.

160413_2

The quilting was done with the same Guttermann Sulky variegated thread that was used for her sister’s quilt. The quilting is mostly straight lines that more or less follow the sashing. Inside each flower I centred my six inch ruler and drew a square. Inside the squares the name of my cousin was quilted. It’s not too obvious but adds a nice touch.

160413_5

I printed the letters in 6 inch squares so I could center and trace them with chalk inside the squares I had already quilted.

The solid fabrics that were used for the centres of the flowers came from a jelly roll. These jelly roll strips were also used to make a scrappy binding. I guesstimated how long the strips should be cut to make a binding strip that was long enough to bind the quilt and I was off by half an inch! If I had cut one of the strips half an inch longer I would have been able to join the ends with a diagonal seam which has my preference because it is less bulky. But alas, I suppose I should be happy that I was able to join the ends at all with my obviously shoddy guess work.

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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.

Completed: Sweater 3b from Knippie 5 – 2010

160214_sweaterfront

A friend recently had a second child and I made a baby sweater. I wanted to try a new pattern and use a new technique to challenge myself somewhat. The sweater I chose has a neckline that is finished with a binding, but closes with snaps. This is a closure I had never made before.

160214_linedrawingThe pattern is from Knippie, a Dutch sewing magazine with patterns for children. I made sweater 3b from issue 5 of 2010. I had enough blue fabric left over from another project to make size 74. The child probably won’t fit into this sweater until autumn but I like to give something that they can wear more than once. The orange jersey was left over from an abandoned project that was cut out but never sewn. I really like how this shade of orange pops against the dark blue.

To make my life easier I decided to remove several seam lines that were only decorative in nature. For the back bodice this meant not cutting through the yoke line of the pattern piece. For the front piece it meant I had to tape the front yoke pattern piece to the right side so it became one pattern piece. This is not difficult to do but you have to be careful to line up the correct line of the yoke and front piece.

160214_sweaterback

Construction wise this was not a difficult project. All seams were overlocked and top stitching and hemming was done with my coverstitch machine. Attaching the neckline binding was fiddly and the most challenging part of the sweater. I ended up ignoring the instructions completely. I am still not entirely sure what I was supposed to do but I thought it became an annoyingly bulky affair that didn’t look pretty. Instead I took a single layer of the jersey, stitched it to the right side of the neckline with short extensions at the opening. Folded these edges to the back and stitched in place by hand. Folded the neckline to the inside and again stitched the ends in place by hand. The binding was then topstitched with my coverstitch machine.

160214_detailclosure

The instructions told me to stitch twill tape around the armholes and add applique but I ignored this as well. I like clean and simple.

160214_closureopen

You can see how I folded the binding to the inside and stitched the ends down by hand. If you look carefully you can also see where I missed part of the binding with the coverstitch machine and remedied this with some handstitches. From the outside you can’t tell.

Sewing baby burp cloths with my sister

completed burp cloths

Set of three burp cloths sewn by my sister.

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

towel side

towel side

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

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

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

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

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

Tracing

Carefully tracing around the pattern.

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

Sewing two layers together.

Sewing two layers together.

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

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

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

Completed: Knippie baby blouse

I sometimes find it difficult to sew for baby boys. One problem is that you can’t add too many cute frills because people might find it too girly. The second problem is that dresses are somehow just more fun to make. I usually end up making another Growing up sew liberated envelope tee. However, my colleagues have been creating a lot of boys lately so I’ve already given several of these tees away. It was high time for some diversification or risk people thinking I am a one-trick monkey.

140910_frontI still had some of the coronavirus fabric that would be great to use for a boy but the amount was somewhat limited so not every pattern was going to work. After much deliberation I chose blouse 6 from Knippie 5 2010 in size 74. If you compare the shirt I made with the line drawing you might notice that my version doesn’t look all that much like the drawing. First, I made short sleeves because of fabric limitations. Second, I don’t really like the western cowboy details so I left these completely off on the front and changed the curved yoke to a straight yoke and cut the back piece on the fold. I considered leaving out the yoke completely but inside yokes are pretty useful for embroidering sizes on so that persuaded me otherwise. I didn’t like the square pocket so left it off as well. In the pattern the front placket facing is cut separately which I really don’t understand when you don’t use a contrasting fabric (bulk, extra sewing, seriously why?) so I merged the front and front placket pattern pieces. On the sleeve piece some of the notches were missing but I didn’t have any trouble putting them in, it just took a little bit more care to get things properly aligned and eased in.

140910_detail collarThe main fabric is a baby corduroy that is really soft. It also doesn’t wrinkle much when it is washed which is a huge bonus for parents with young children. I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the collar and used some left-over fabric from another make. I think it works very well and probably makes the shirt better looking than if it had just been the main fabric. It does seem to become a bit of a theme though, not having enough fabric for what I want to make. I’m not entirely sure what that says about my project planning and fabric buying skills…

openI didn’t have suitable buttons in my stash and used snaps. This is possibly also a safer option in clothes for young children but I found it a bit challenging and time consuming to get them all spaced equally. Don’t do this bit when you’re in a hurry. They look really good though. I placed the top snap a bit lower than they did in the line drawing because I don’t think baby’s like having a collar really tight aroung their neck.

I didn’t follow the Knippie assembly instructions. According to them topstitching of the collar is optional. Optional??? Not in my book. I used French seams for the side seams and the yoke trick (also called burrito method) for the shoulder seams. This encloses all seam allowances which looks really great in my opinion. The seam allowances of the sleeves were overlocked and then topstitched in place.

140910_inside detailThere are two things that I am not completely happy about. I accidently cut the back yoke piece upside down (getting creative with limited amounts of fabric does have its risks…). Luckily little kids mostly lie on their backs right? I also should have used a lighter thread for attaching the collar because on the inside you can now see the stitching line. Other than that I think it turned out very well and I will probably use this pattern again.

 

Add a fabric tag to your handmade items

envelope tee with fabric tag

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

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

envelope tee

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

140615_adding eyelet

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

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

Yes, I did go a little crazy printing labels…

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

140615_front&back

Tutorial: Decorative jar hats

I made some strawberry & raspberry jam two weeks ago. What, in April? Isn’t that completely out of season? Yes, that’s why I used frozen fruit *gasps of horror from the jam police*. Ever since I started making my own jam I’m not really that fond anymore of the store bought varieties. I usually find them too sweet. I suppose I should make a huge batch in summer when fruit is in season and available everywhere but life doesn’t always work out like that. As a result we were out for ages and I missed it.

Ingredients

I suppose we should be glad she didn’t use orange juice from a carton…

The thing with using frozen fruit is that you have to wait for a bit for it to thaw before you can start the jam making process. So, while waiting I decided to make a little tutorial on how to make decorative jar hats, because I’m sure that’s what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

Jar hats

I recycle jars from store bought jam to put my homemade jam in but those jars aren’t always very pretty so I thought of a way to make them look more attractive when I turn them into a gift. It is a little hat that is placed over the lid and stays in place by either a piece of elastic or a ribbon. You can make them to fit any jar and would also be great when you gift a jar with homemade cookies, apple pie filling or even chocolate easter eggs. (Uhm, yes, I did plan to post this before Easter, but got completely sucked into Downton Abbey. I’ve just finished season 3 and am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the season 4 DVDs…)

Materials

Materials

  1. Fabric for top and bottom of hat
  2. Matching thread
  3. Paper to make pattern
  4. Compass
  5. Piece of elastic or ribbon
  6. Pair of scissors
  7. Chalk or disappearing marker
  8. Pins
  9. Measuring tape
  10. Safety pin (not in picture)
  11. Optional: embellishments such as embroidery floss, buttons, applique, fabric paint

Method

140419_measure jarStep 1: The jar hat pattern consists of two circles that have the same center. The inner circle has a diameter of A+2*B (see figure), this circle will cover the jar lid. You can either measure A and B separately with a ruler, or determine the whole measurement in one go with the tape measure. I used a tape measure and rounded my measurement up to 11 cm (don’t round down).

Step 2: The large circle has a diameter of A+2*B+2* 2 1/4” (5.5 cm). This will create a 2” (5 cm) skirt around the jar hat with a 1/4” (0.5 cm) seam allowance. For a very small jar you may want to make the skirt smaller, for a very large jar you might want to make it larger.

140419_schematicsStep 3: Use the compass to draw the pattern on your patten paper. Since you put the compass in the centre of the circles when drawing, the distance between the two legs should be half the diameter of the circles. My small circle has a diameter of 11 cm, so the distance between the legs was 5.5 cm. For the outer circle the distance was 5.5 +5.5 (skirt) = 11cm

Step 4: Cut your pattern from the paper. Cut around the large circle and cut out the smaller circle so you end up with a ring.

140419_pattern

Step 3 and 4

Step 5: Layer the two fabrics on top of each other. If you want to use elastic place the fabric for the underside right side up. If you want to use a ribbon place the fabric for the outside right side up. Place the pattern on top and pin. For this tutorial I made a hat with elastic so placed the solid pink fabric on top.

Step 6: Use the disappearing marker or chalk to trace the inner circle on the fabric. (First test on a scrap whether the markings will come off)

Step 7: Cut around the outside fabric. Do not, I repeat, do not, cut out the inner circle!

Marking and cutting the fabric

Step 6&7

Step 8: Make a buttonhole just outside the marked circle. For the hats with elastic the buttonhole should end up on the inside of the hat, for the hats with ribbon the buttonhole should end up on the outside of the hat. For very delicate fabrics you might want to reinforce the location of the buttonhole with some fusible interfacing before making the buttonhole.

140419_buttonhole

Step 8

Step 9: Layer the two fabrics right sides together and sew around the edge with a 1/4” (0.5 cm) seam allowance. I used my 1/4” foot. Leave a small gap for turning.

Step 10: Trim the seam allowance. I used pinking shears to ensure that the edge would be smooth after turning the fabric right side out. If you don’t have pinking shears you can also clip small notches into the seam allowance. Do not trim the seam allowance at the gap.

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Step 9 & 10

Step 11: Turn the hat right side out. Roll the seam in your fingers to smooth it out and press flat with an iron. Fold the seam allowance to the inside at the gap.

Step 11

Step 11

Step 12: Edge stitch 1/8” (3 mm) from the edge of the hat. This closes the gap. If you have an edgestitch foot that can be helpful. I used my blind hem foot and changed the needle position.

Step 13: Stitch over the inner circle markings. This creates the tunnel for the elastic or ribbon.

140419_sewing

Step 12 & 13

Step 14: If you are using elastic, measure how long the elastic should be for a snug fit around the jar. Cut the elastic a little bit longer.

If you are using ribbon measure how the long the ribbon should be to fit around the jar and tie into a nice bow.

Step 15: Use a safety pin to thread the elastic or ribbon through the buttonhole.

Step 16: If you are using elastic, tie a knot in the elastic and trim off the excess. Pull the elastic completely inside the hat. You are done and can put the hat on the jar.

If you are using a ribbon, place the hat on top of the jar and gently pull the ribbon so that the jar hat is shaped around the jar lid. Tie a bow into the ribbon and you are done.

Elastic

Step 14, 15 & 16

Did you ever consider dressing up your jars?

Jar hats

Completed: Sunnyside baby quilt & giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunnyside quilt handsewn binding

Giveaway has closed!

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

Sunnyside giveaway

This could be yours!

Rules:

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

140301_Sunnysidequilt_folded