Completed: Stitch & Flip for Lette

Last year I made a quilt for my nephew and of course his little sister should get one too! I used the stitch and flip triangle technique from the book “Quilting modern” by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pederson. Each square got two triangles on opposite corners.

I started with the light grey background and used scraps for the triangles. When I ran out of the light grey I added the black and at some point also started to cut triangles from yardage, fat quarters and layer cakes because I wanted a different fabric for each triangle and not all of my scraps were large enough anymore. I even unpicked a couple of squares when I realised I had duplicates. When I ran out of black background I switched to neon green. I also made some pink squares but liked the overall look better without the pink. The blocks finish at 4 ¾’’.

The squares were rearranged on my design wall until I found a layout I liked and pieced together into the top. Then it took a very long time before I knew what I wanted to do with the back. For her brother I had included his name on the back and I thought it would be nice to also do that for this quilt but I just couldn’t decide on which fabrics to use. The solution came when I started to play with solids.

The batting is Hobbs Tuscany cotton wool, which remains my favourite. For the quilting I did a walking foot orange peel design that I found in Jacquie Gering’s book “Walk”. A book I can recommend to anyone who wants to get a bit more adventurous with their walking foot. To stabilize everything and get rid of most of the basting pins I first did some stitch in the ditch quilting using white Aurifil 50wt thread. For the orange peels I used 28wt Gutermann Sulky thread in 6 different colours. I only marked dots using a template and stitched from fabric intersection to dot to fabric intersection. This worked well and quilting went a lot quicker than I had expected. The curves aren’t exactly identical for every peel, but that’s ok. This curvy design adds a lot more to the quilt than a straight line cross hatch would have done.

The binding was the next hurdle. I always wonder how some people can already pick a binding fabric at the start of the project. I don’t even try anymore, probably because my quilts develop organically and I don’t always know at the start what it’ll look like in the end. A fabric that I think will work at the start nearly always doesn’t. Anyway, I thought I’d figured something out that would work, cut out strips from several solid fabrics but when I draped them around the quilt, it was just “meh”. Then I ordered some fabric but it turned out way too dark. However, it looked absolutely great with the top I had up on my design wall so unexpectedly I had suddenly solved another back problem. Still no binding for this quilt though. I proceeded by holding up lots and lots of different fabrics from my stash until I found the fabric that you now see. This is the aqua crosses fabric from the Safari life line from Stacy Iest Hsu. Only problem, I had maybe half a jelly roll strip left so that was not going to cut it. Luckily, I found a fabric store in the Netherlands that still had enough of this fabric in stock and all was well in the end. This fabric works with both front and back of the quilt.

In total I used 175 different fabrics in this quilt, 3, background fabrics, 160 triangles, 11 fabrics on the back and 1 binding. I think this is a record for me. I finished the quilt just in time to gift it on my nieces 1st birthday. If hope she’ll enjoy using it for a very long time.

Completed: wholecloth handquilted pillow

With the Dutch modern quilt guild we have a theme each quarter and we are challenged to make things that fit inside this theme. Last summer the theme was modern traditional. The challenge was to create something with a modern twist using the churn dash, ohio star, dutchman’s puzzle or basket traditional block.

I played around with the idea of doing a wholecloth quilt where the quilting defines the shapes of the traditional block. I got as far as making a small quilt sandwich and machine quilting the outlines of the Dutchman’s puzzle. Then I got sort of stuck on what to do next and it just sat in one of the piles on the desk next to my sewing machine.

The first theme of 2021 was slow stitching and we did a Zoom hand quilting workshop for which I needed something to practice on. Instead of making another quilt sandwich I simply pulled the unfinished Dutchman’s puzzle from the pile and started stitching in the background triangles without much of a plan. Just starting is sometimes the best way to get out of indecision. I used the Sulky 12wt Cotton Petites thread that I had received from the DutchMQG for this theme and I really liked sewing with it. It sewed smoothly and didn’t tangle.

After filling in the background triangles it was time to do something with the geese and I thought the piece needed a bit more colour so I switched to the thicker Wonderfil Perle 8 thread that I already had in my stash and picked green, blue, pink and yellow. After finishing I didn’t like the yellow so much because the contrast with the green background wasn’t as good as with the other 3 colours so I replaced it with a light brown which worked much better.

At some point I also started to hate the black machine stitched lines and pulled those out as well. Much, much better.

For the back of the pillow I picked a quilting cotton from my stash and underlined it with another piece of cotton before installing an invisible zipper. I am very happy with how this pillow turned out. I am now toying with the idea of doing a larger wholecloth quilt to create a handquilted sampler using traditional block shapes. I do tend to overthink these things and am currently stuck on what to choose for the background fabric since that is going to define the look of the piece so much. Suggestions anyone?

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!

Completed: Bellen blazen mini quilt

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Bellen blazen

This year the dutchMQG has set a theme for each quarter and there is usually also an activity organized around this theme. With this quarter’s theme “colour” we had the option to participate in a swap to make a miniquilt for another member. We had to make an inspirational mosaic for our swap partner and answer some colour-related questions.

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Mique’s mosaic

I had to make something for Mique and she said she likes curves, abstract art and happy colours. She also said she’d basically like her partner to make anything as long as it brought joy. Ah, well, that sounded totally doable and up my street!

In the questions she answered that she liked everything by the painter Kadinsky, so I had a look at his work and noticed a lot of colourful circles. So, combined with her liking for curves I figured I’d give her a quilt that, apart from the binding around it, doesn’t have a single straight seam in the top! I played around in Illustrator for a bit to get a layout I liked. Considering the options on how to piece the quite complex design I thought that English Paper piecing (EPP) would probably be my best bet. So I recreated the design using a compass on four A4 160gr sheets I had taped together and cut to a 16.5’’ square.

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The right picture shows the circles I drew with the compass, they’re a bit hard to see, sorry.

As a complete side note, I found Florence Knapp’s book “Flossie teacakes’ Guide to English Paper Piecing” extremely useful in figuring out how to wrap the papers and piece the curves. I ordered her book as soon as I saw that she had written one as I’ve followed her blog for several years now, enjoy her writing style and admire her intricate EPP work, despite my complete lack of understanding of her love for Liberty prints (sorry folks, most of those prints just don’t do it for me). Anyway, if you want to get into EPP I can highly recommend Florence’s book.

Since the theme was colour I wanted colour to play an important role in the design and I thought the cirles would be an excellent opportunity to play around with transparency. Years ago I bought a light and dark fat quarter bundle of Kaffe Fassett shot cottons so I had a lot of different colours to choose from. I cut a tiny piece of each colour and started playing around by laying the pieces of fabric on the still uncut piece of paper. When I found a layout I liked I labelled each tiny piece of fabric with the corresponding number of the pattern piece. There are 28 pattern pieces and 27 different colours.

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Playing with colour.

The next step was cutting the paper into templates and I made sure to also label each piece on the back (since the front would end up covered in fabric) and also indicated which other templates a piece had to be joined on each side to make my life easier later on.

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For wrapping around the paper templates I used a Sewline glue stick because Florence specifically advised this for wrapping curves. I didn’t have any trouble wrapping and it was certainly a lot faster than the thread basting I had used for my previous (and to be honest very limited) EPP endeavours.

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Piecing sections.

For piecing I used Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread which I have in several neutral colours, picking the shade that was least conspicuous for each seam. Sewing went smoother than anticipated (feared?), probably because I carefully considered the order in which I put things together, trying to keep the seams as short as possible and avoiding any sharp corners. It’s certainly not perfect, but close enough for me.

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All pieced, paper still inside.

For the back I decided to sort of stay in the Kaffe Fassett theme and selected four 10’’ squares with prints that certainly tick the happy colours box. I recently decided that I wanted to experiment a bit more with different battings and this time I used Quilters Dream Poly Select and so far I like working with it. It gives quite a flat finish.

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The overlapping circles of the top started to remind me of blowing bubbles which I did a lot with my daughter during the first couple of weeks of the lockdown. When I started considering how to quilt the top I decided that I wanted to incorporate that idea even more and selected a variegated thread to add more colourful overlapping circles. I used several plates to draw circles and quilted them with a walking foot. Since I was going to turn the quilt constantly to sew the circles the quilt was spray basted to prevent the fabric from shifting.

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Rejected binding options.

Selecting the binding took a long time as I auditioned a lot of fabrics before I found something that worked. White and grey fabrics were too boring and didn’t add anything to the design. Dark fabrics were better but dominated too much. In the end I pulled some leftovers from a solids jelly roll that, if I remember correctly, was designed/curated by Elizabeth Hartman. When I started playing with those it all came together. When the right colour was added to a side it enhanced the design so a colourful, pieced binding it was.

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I think the binding works well on both sides, which was a lucky accident since I originally planned to use a single binding fabric.

As a final touch I added a label. I rarely make labels this elaborate, usually it’s just my initials and the year, but for this piece it seemed like the right thing to do. I named this quilt “Bellen blazen”, which is Dutch for blowing bubbles.

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I am super pleased with how this small quilt turned out and I found it quite difficult to stuff it in an envelope to mail to someone else. I just have to remind myself that without this swap I would never even have made anything like this. I learned a lot from the process of making this quilt and am now contemplating making something similar for myself.

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Quilting close up.

Finally, I am guessing some of you will be curious to know what I received in return? Erica made me a beautiful quilt inspired by Katie Pedersen‘s “Fractured quilt” from the book “Quilting Modern”. This quilt is one of my favourites in this book so that choice was spot on. I also really love the colour combinations and that the quilt is bound in a way that you can’t see the binding (or should I call it a facing?) from the front. I think that really works for this quilt. I am going to hang it in my sewing room so I can look at it often. This was definitely a good swap to participate in.

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The quilt Erica made for me.