Completed: A cover for my Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 keyboard cover

Yes, you read that correctly, I made a cover for a cover. Which may perhaps at first seem like an odd thing to do but to me it made perfect sense.

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Sometimes I want to take something with me that I can use to easily make notes on and send e-mails. A phone is a bit too small and while a laptop would work, it is also a bit heavy and large, so I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. When I bought it I could also get the keyboard cover for free which sounded like a useful addition for what I want to use a tablet for. I also liked that this tablet comes with a stylus that you can use to simply write on the screen.

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Closed cover

 

However, I wasn’t entirely sold on the design of the keyboard cover when I received it. My main objections:

  1. It looks yawn-inducing boring, I am not sure I could make it look even more boring if I tried.
  2. I am not so sure that the keys won’t scratch the screen of the tablet when it is closed.
  3. There is no real closure, it just folds over and that’s it, nothing is holding it in the folded position which seems like a bit of a risk if you throw it in a bag with other stuff.
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Boring, right?

If you would want to use the tablet for taking pictures there is also no hole in the cover for the camera. Since I think it is a bit ridiculous to use a tablet for taking pictures I don’t really find this an issue but I suppose other people might.

Ever since laying eyes on this cover I have been thinking on how to improve and prettify it. One option I even considered was making a completely separate cover and only using the keyboard cover when I want to use the keyboard, but that would mean lugging two things with me which is also a bit stupid and would probably result in me leaving the keyboard at home.

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Open cover with flap still covering the keyboard.

As I was playing with fabric and the cover I realised I could also simply cover it up and add the features I was missing. I sort of made this project up as I went along and while it certainly didn’t turn out perfect I think it will do the job just fine.

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Outside and lining before they were sewn together.

The outside of the cover contains a very thin layer of polyester batting and is quilted but without a backing. The flap that folds to the inside to cover the keyboard has a single layer of iron on fabric interfacing. To the outside I also sewed a very subtly stretched piece of soft elastic that is used to keep the cover closed. It also contains two tubes of elastic that are used to hold the stylus in place when it is not in use. The keyboard cover came with a thingy to hold the stylus that can be glued to the cover but this sewn solution seemed more practical to me.

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From left to right, the empty fabric cover, the fabric cover with the keyboard inserted and the fabric cover with keyboard and tablet.

The cover lining has a pocket on one side that the keyboard covers slips into to hold it in place. The tablet attaches to the keyboard cover via magnets and this still seemed to work just fine when there was one layer of fabric in between the tablet and the cover. I used the selvedge of the fabric so I didn’t have to do a hem or double layer to have a finished edge. On the other side the keyboard is held in place via two pieces of elastic. At the centre there is also a piece of ribbon for extra security, this was attached after partially sewing the outside and lining pieces together so I could determine where exactly to put it. The lining part of the flap has no interfacing to keep the flap thin.

I am happy with my no longer boring cover. Do you still think it is crazy to make a cover for a cover?

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Week 29/2018: What am I quilting?

I’ve finally started quilting the quilt for which I made this backing. Originally I had planned some simple lines, spaced quite far apart. I changed my mind though after buying a new sewing machine! Several weeks ago, I brought my sewing machine in for a repair job and since I was already in the shop I took the opportunity to test some fancy sewing machines as well. I decided to buy the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400. It offers a lot more harp space, 28 versus 16.5 cm on my Janome 3160. It also has the walking foot option included and this works soooooo much better than the walking foot on the 3160. The stitches are much more even, things move much smoother (possibly also because of the extra harp space). Anyway, this much more enjoyable walking foot quilting experience made me decide to try a much denser quilting pattern for a change. The lines so far are only ½ and 1 inch apart.

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I do wonder whether it would have been better to use a more neutral thread for this denser quilting pattern. I picked the thread when I still had a lot less lines planned and perhaps I should have reconsidered this choice as well because it does stand out quite a bit.

Week 27/2018: What’s (almost) on my design wall?

I think we probably all have some fabrics in our stash that we’re reluctant to cut into because we want to save it for something special. Several years ago I bought two fat quarter bundles with Kaffe Fassett’s shot cottons and so far I’ve only enjoyed looking at them. That is going to change though! I bought some additional yardage in the eucalyptus colourway and am now in the process of deciding which of the fat quarters to combine it with.

The quilt this fabric will turn into is bound to bring me even more pleasure than the stacks of bundled up fabrics so it’s stupid not to use it.

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Week 25/2018: What’s on my design wall?

For my Cherrywood quilt I auditioned several background colours using Photoshop and decided on dark blue. I’ve now attached the fabric on all sides and I’m pretty happy with the result. It still needs some squaring up and I’m debating how much I am going to chop off the bottom. It currently measures about 130×230 cm. I know people make much larger quilts than this but to me this feels ginormous and I’m somewhat dreading the quilting stage…. Perhaps if I use a really thin and lightweight batting it will still be enjoyable?

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Curious what this top looked like without the border?

I am giving FMQ a second chance!

FMQ being free motion quilting, which is a quilting technique in which you use your hands to guide the fabric through your machine instead of letting the feed dogs do it for you. This gives you a lot more options for different quilting designs because you can stitch in every direction. It also requires a lot more practice than a walking foot because it’s not so easy to get a (somewhat) consistent stitch length as you are manoeuvring all over your quilt.

I tried FMQ when I was still quite new to quilting back in 2012 or 2013. I mostly remember being frustrated by the whole process which is why I gave up pretty soon and never tried again.

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This is one of my first practice sandwiches.

So, why am I trying it now? Over the past two years I have been making a lot more quilts so I am also doing a lot more quilting. It would be nice to occasionally use something different than straight lines for the quilting of my quilts. During the gettogether of the DMQG last weekend we also had a show and tell and I loved some of the FMQ designs that others had used, it made me a bit envious and willing to give it another go.

So, over the past couple of days I’ve been playing a bit with FMQ and, much to my surprise, I actually find it a quite pleasant activity. Even after only a couple of days I already feel that I am getting more control over where I am stitching and I don’t think the stitching looks all that bad for something I’m only just trying out.

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Today’s practice piece with (not so straight) lines.

I can think of several reasons why I now find the process a lot less frustrating. My expectations were pretty low this time, so perhaps I am more easily pleased by what I am creating? I think the back of my stitching looks a lot better now than it did all those years ago, perhaps the Aurifil 50 wt thread that I have used for these practice pieces works better with my machine than what I used before? I also have less physical issues right now than I did 5 years ago, possibly allowing me to move the sandwich through the machine a lot smoother and giving me a more pleasant looking result.

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The back of today’s practice piece.

Anyway, the only way I will eventually dare to use this technique on an actual quilt is to practice a lot more. So, my goal for the coming month is to attempt some FMQ every day. Today I have made several small quilt sandwiches to use in the coming week so I only need to grab one and start stitching. This way 10-15 minutes a day should be totally doable.

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Stack ready for some quilting fun this week! The squares on the sandwich were also free motion quilted to get some extra practice.

Completed: Ombre equilateral triangle quilt

180407_3When Vannessa Christenson from V and co. released her first fabric collections for Moda, I was intrigued by the ombre fabrics in her lines, so I bought a yard of each of the 7 colourways. It took a while before I dared cut into them.

For my first quilt with these fabrics I used chartreuse, plum, blue, orange and grey and combined these with 2 flowery prints from my stash that I thought fit with these colours.

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Front, quilted but unbound.

I cut a whole bunch of equilateral triangles from each fabric using an equilateral triangle ruler (really, if you want to make something like this get yourself a dedicated ruler, it makes your life at least ten times easier). At first I just threw the triangles onto my design wall and didn’t really like it that much because it seemed a bit too messy. When I placed them in a diagonal dark to light gradient I started to like it a whole lot more and cut even more triangles to achieve the effect that I was after.

The assembly of this quilt was no walk in the park. I had to unrip it several times because I realized I had made some mistakes in the layout, certainly learning a lesson about being a bit more patient when I am making something and letting the design sink in first before I run to my sewing machine.

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Can you spot the differences with the final lay out that you can see in the next picture? Do you also see that the left part is already pieced here?

Unripping is not something I enjoy so this caused some quite extensive delays. I knew I had to do it because the mistakes bothered me too much but I kept putting it off. The unripping probably also caused some of the triangles to stretch out a bit because in some parts it became quite difficult to match the corners.

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The sun was a bit too harsh when we took pictures of the finished quilt.

For the back I kept the piecing a bit simpler. I didn’t have anything in my stash big enough that I liked, but I still had quite a bit of the ombre fabrics left and decided to make a jelly roll race quilt. Instead of cutting 2.5’’ strips I cut mine 3’’. It turned out slightly too small so I added a strip to the bottom and top to make it tall enough.

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Back, quilted but unbound. The quilting lines are easier to see on the back.

Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Wool/Cotton blend and I quilted it with a light and dark grey Gütermann Sulky thread following some of the patterns that I saw in the design. I quite like how this turned out. For the binding I used a light grey fabric with a subtle print.

It took a while to get this quilt done but I am glad I persevered. It has already been given to a sweet little girl.

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Week 20/2018: What’s on my design wall?

I am now much happier with this quilt backing than I was last week. The changes that I made are not huge but I think they make a difference. I cut some fabric from the left side and sewed that to the top. Last time I had a partial improv border at the bottom that is now less high and I also added it to the left side. I am going to look at it for a couple more days but I’m fairly certain that this is what I’ll end up using for the quilt. Next up: basting, auditioning of threads and picking a quilting design!

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