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.

Completed: A sleeping bag for stuffed animals

200520_3After we finished my daughter’s pyjamas we searched for another project to take on together and decided on a sleeping bag for her stuffed animals. Mainly because I really didn’t feel like making them pyjamas too…

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We took some small improv pieces I had made earlier this year and sewed those together to create two larger pieces. I didn’t take any measurements, just sort of guessed what size would be large enough for the toys she would most likely want to put inside.

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The back, which is the inside of the finished sleeping bag, is an unpieced piece of cotton. Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool. From my selection of quilting threads she picked a pink variegated one. The quilting is a simple straight line wonky grid that I think matches with the improv nature of the pieces.

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I lucked out with the binding because I had a piece left over from a quilt that was large enough. I really don’t want to use my iron when my daughter is in the room and I feared that the fold in the binding would not turn out so great without using an iron .

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Normally I am all for the clean look of a hand sewn binding, but someone was a little bit impatient to get this sleeping bag finished so I decided to do a machine sewn binding instead. It’s probably sturdier too which is great for a toy. I used two decorative stitches and realised that the stitch in the ditch foot that I can attach to my walking foot could be really useful to get the stitches on the front evenly distributed on the edge of the binding. Turning was a bit fiddly, but it did work. The back is a bit less neat, but I am not too bothered by that.

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Her toys had a really good night’s sleep.

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

A completed quilt top!

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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.
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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.

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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?

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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

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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

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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.

Completed: The red quilt

I made this quilt in 2016 but thought I had lost the pictures, I found them though so to keep a more complete record of all the quilts I made I am showing it today.

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When I started designing this quilt I wanted to make a red quilt so I started playing with lots and lots of red fabrics. Apparently I am not so keen on that much red because in the end all that was left was one red square, a red binding and some red quilting thread. It was an interesting experiment but for me red just works so much better as an accent colour.

If I remember correctly the grey fabric was a Kona cotton layer cake called Silent Film. I am not sure whether I used all the shades that were in it.

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For the backing I used a print from the Blueberry Park collection by Karen Lewis for Robert Kaufman. I’ve used it before for a backing and I am a little sad that most of this fabric is gone now. I did buy another print from this collection when I was in New York last year and am now regretting not getting more of it. Somehow it blends really well with a lot of other prints. The design on the back was kept simple with the child’s initial and two floating squares. I am pleased with how this turned out.

For the quilting I created a straight line quilting grid but used 4 different Gutermann Sulky thread colours that were matched to the fabrics in the quilt. The red thread crosses through the red square and then I worked from dark to light grey to the outside in each column and row. It is difficult to see in these pictures but I thought it added a bit more interest.

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I am now wondering whether I used so much more of the light grey in this quilt or whether I used it for another quilt as well. I guess it is probably the latter…

This was not a very complicated quilt to make but I do love the graphic effect with the different shades of grey and that pop of red.

Week 4/2020: What’s on my design wall?

Finally making progress on this quilt top. It’s grown a bit since I showed it last and I added some additional fabrics. I should be able to finish piecing it this week.

As I started assembling I thought it was interesting to visualize how a quilt shrinks with each quarter inch seam that is sewn. I know that you lose half an inch each time and take it into account when I design a top but somehow it still manages to surprise me. Perhaps because the design process often takes quite some time and I get used to the size that it had unpieced?

Completed: Another ombre baby quilt

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I finally finished the baby quilt for which I showed a completed back in May and started quilting in July

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It’s a fairly simple design using squares cut from two ombre fabrics by V&Co and the Cookie cutters cinnamon Cotton + Steel print from Kim Kight’s Cookie book collection.  I chose the ombre fabrics because I thought they were a nice match for the colours the parents used for their wedding and the baby’s birth announcement.

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For the quilting I chose a much denser pattern than I usually do. My new sewing machine makes quilting so much more pleasurable that I didn’t mind sewing this many lines. The downside was that I ran out of thread halfway through and had to buy more which caused further delays. As I was doing the quilting I worried that it would be too much but now that it’s finished I am pleased with the result.

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For the back I used the leftovers from the front and the child’s initial was made from the fabric that was also used for the binding.

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I prefer to bind by hand as I find it a relaxing activity and love the look when it is finished. I must be getting quicker as I reached the end much sooner than anticipated! Which was probably the only thing that went fast in the creation of this quilt…

Now, onto the next one!