Completed: curvy crosses drawstring bag

In December I participated in a winter swap organized by the dutchMQG. We each had to prepare 12 gifts for another member and some of the gifts had to be handmade. They were opened in the 12 days preceding Christmas and it was a lot of fun to see what everyone received. I had to make something for Ingrid and she loves blue and plus blocks so to combine those two in an item was a given. Each quarter we also have a specific theme at our guild and at the time it was curves, so I also wanted to include some curved piecing

For my final gift I made a quilted drawstring bag. I first sewed 9 improv curvy cross blocks to create a panel for the front of the bag. This was framed in a dark blue solid fabric to make it large enough. For the back panel I used a single piece of the same dark blue solid. The front was quilted in the ditch and on the back I quilted one large curvy cross.

The front and back panels were sewn together and the corners at the bottom were boxed so that the bag can stand up on its own. I did not use a separate lining. For the sides I used French seams and for the corners the seams were bound with a strip of fabric because the layers just got too thick for French seams.

For the closure at the top I used a single layer of the dark blue solid because that would make it easier to close the bag than when you have to pull a quilted layer together. The top was folded over to create the channel for the drawstring. It was attached to the main piece and again I used some binding to cover the seam.

I dug through my collection of saved ribbons for something suitable to use for the drawstring and found this nice off white piece that was just long enough. I am very pleased with how this bag turned out!

My first newsletter goes out on Saturday so if you don’t want to miss it there is still time to sign up here! I will share a personal story of how I came to be where I am now and what my plans are for the near future.

Completed: Are we out of the woods yet?

Oh pandemic of 2020… I started this quilt together with my daughter during the first lockdown in the Netherlands which lasted from March to May. I did show some of the process before, including how it started and how I assembled all the trees into a quilt top.

This is an image of a quilt with colourful improv trees

Basically, in an effort to stay sane with two kids at home 24/7 and hardly any time or energy left to do stuff for myself, my daughter and I started making improv trees using scrap fabrics that she picked from my scrap bins when my other daughter was sleeping. She enjoyed spending time in my sewing room with me and I could get some sewing done. Win win.

I turned all those super scrappy tree blocks into a randomly arranged forest representing the pandemic and uncertainty we are still in.

This image shows the back of an improv tree quilt with the haning sleeve and label.

After completing the front my daughter wanted to make more trees for a while, and a house, so I just used those for the back of the quilt. Which looks quite nice, but since the quilt is a wall hanging this side will not be on display very often.

I took a long time deciding how to quilt it. I considered simple straight line quilting from top to bottom, or wavy horizontal quilting, but that just didn’t really feel right or like it would add much to the design. Suddenly I realized I could create a denser forest by quilting tree shapes over the fabric trees. I really like how that turned out, even though I vouched doing a design that requires less starts and stops and burying of threads next time. The batting is Quilters Dream Poly Select which I like for wall hangings.

This images shows a detail shot of a colourful improv tree quilt that has trees quilted on it.

For the binding I chose a tiny white polkadot on petrol that I think works well with both the quilt and the colours that we’ve already used to decorate our daughter’s room. As usual I hand sewed the binding because I really love how that looks. On a quilt this size it doesn’t even take that long.

This image shows all four corners of a quilt binding.

The hanging sleeve was made from the same fabric and since I had never added a sleeve I looked around for some tips and tricks on how to do it and ended up following a tutorial from Suzy Quilts. I also added a label and then the quilt was finally completed right in the middle of the second lockdown in the Netherlands. What could be more fitting?

This image shows a detail shot of a quilt label

Now all that is left is hanging the quilt in my daughter’s room. Due to the lockdown all home improvement stores are closed at the moment, so I’ll need to dig around to see if we have any wooden rods and screw eyes laying around that would be suitable.

This image shows a detailshot of quilted trees on a scrappy improv tree quilt.

I wish everyone a very good (hopefully physically distanced) Christmas tomorrow. I am hopeful that 2021 will bring better times. In March I was very sceptical that we’d have even one vaccine ready by the end of 2020, how glad am I to have been proven wrong on this count. Stay safe and sew!

Week 20/2020: What’s on my design wall?

A completed quilt top!

200512_designwall

Are we out of the woods yet?

Super happy with how it turned out! I think I managed to keep the distribution of the trees pretty random. How did I do this?

  • I tried to place larger and smaller trees next to eachother so that their differences in height and width create variation.
  • I sometimes added a bit of filler fabric so that the tops, bottoms or sides of two or more trees that are placed in a row or column don’t align exactly.
  • I first created sections and within these sections tried to alternate horizontal and vertical seams when combining subsections of multiple trees.
  • I used 3 Y-seams or inset seams to avoid one seam running from top to bottom or left to right.

200512_sections

The order in which the different sections were pieced.

I kept changing the layout of the part of the quilt that was not yet pieced so I could fit it to the part that was already pieced as best as possible. I also kept creating more trees as needed to fill up gaps. I definitely spent more time thinking about how I was going to piece the next part than actually piecing.

For the filler fabrics I chose 1 black and 2 white fabrics. The black fabric contains lines that come from hubs that connect to other hubs. I thought this was a great representation of a rapidly spreading virus. I deliberately used this fabric mostly in one of the corners and only a couple of smaller pieces in other spots. After all, we’re trying to get out of this situation and I am hopeful that we will, at least at some point.

200512_yseam

Don’t be scared of Y-seams, once you know how to do them they’re really not that hard.

One of the white fabrics has silver dots forming star constellations. These represent cured people and places without virus. The last fabric contains little lightbulbs with golden hearts. Which is kind of corny, but my little girl does like some sparkle and I thought they could represent all the innovations that take place in science and medicine right now.

Now I have to think about a back, which I’ll probably keep quite simple since the back of a wall hanging is very rarely on display. And how to quilt it… That part will take some time to figure out as well. Which is just as well since I also appear to have run out of batting.

Week 17/2020: What’s on my design wall?

200424

So, we have made more trees. The novelty of picking fabrics has worn off a bit so I’ve also added some of my own combinations. To a couple of pieces I’ve added a bit of white and silver fabric so they became large enough to turn them into rectangles. When I’m happy with the composition, I’ll have to find a way to piece all these differently sized pieces together. The gaps will be filled with white and black fabrics. I’m having fun so far.

The forrest is growing

200417_designwall

Are we out of the woods yet?

During the past two days my daughter and I have added more trees to our forrest and I think we’re getting close to the number that is needed. Some fabric combinations definitely work better than others, but overall I still really like where this is going. I even have a title! I am notoriously bad at coming up with good titles and in different times I would probably just have called it “The quilt with improv trees” or something equally boring. Now it’s called “Are we out of the woods yet?” which seems an apt description for the pandemic we’re currently in.

Week 16/2020: What’s on my design wall

200415_designwall

With my kids at home all the time I am finding it difficult to find time for creativity. Well, apart from drawing and glueing with my daughter that is, but somehow that’s just not the same as using thread to put colourful pieces of fabric together.

Today, however, I found the solution. My husband and I both have a room on the top floor of our house. His is mostly used for working from home. Mine is filled with sewing related stuff, but I also use it for work. Our kids don’t really spend a lot of time on this floor. Now, however, we are spending so much more time at home and it’s a bit weird that mom and dad go upstairs to work instead of somewhere else. As a result our 3 year old daughter is spending a bit more time in those rooms now. She loves my husband’s whiteboard and finds my mowing machines fascinating (in Dutch the work for sewing machine (naaimachine) is even closer to mowing machine (maaimachine).

Today she noticed some improv trees I had up on my design wall and she really liked them. They are not for her though, which she found a bit disappointing. I suggested that we could make her some trees and she found that a very good idea. I let her pick fabrics from my scrap bag and only guided her in a different direction when she picked scraps that were too small. I just love what she put together. It’s bright, it’s happy and we are going to make more tomorrow. I intend to turn them into a wall hanging for her room.