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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Completed: Two Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tees

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Yes, there are alpacas on my t-shirt! We’ve been experiencing some uncharacteristically good weather for the past month or so and with it came the desire for some fresh new t-shirts.

I downloaded Maria Denmarks Kirsten kimono tee pattern in early 2013 (I just saw that there was a pattern update in September 2013 but I used the earlier version which apparently has a slightly different sizing). You can get the pattern for free by signing up for her newsletter.

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I believe I finally printed and assembled the pattern sometime in 2015 but somehow never got around to actually making it. During my recent sewing room clean up it turned up again and it was just what I needed.

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I made a size S without alterations and I am happy with how it fits. For my first version I used a solid rayon knit fabric that I still had in my stash to test fit and the alpaca version is a cotton knit fabric I found in a local fabric store. I really like the background colour. The alpacas are not really what I would ordinarily choose to wear, but I quite like them too.

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The top only requires 75cm of fabric and I can make one in 1.5 hour or so using my overlocker and coverstitch machines. If the good weather continues I may end up sewing another one!

Completed: A wedding tie and corsage

Last week I showed you the jacket I made to wear to my wedding, today I am showing you my husband’s tie and corsage.

I researched tie making for a bit and bought the PDF of David Page Coffin’s “Custom making neckties at home” booklet. If you do plan to make your own tie I can greatly recommend getting this as I found it very useful for making the tie pattern and constructing the tie.

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It was a time consuming project. Several years ago they had to make a tie in the Great British Sewing Bee and I believe they had 2 hours or so to complete it. I am not surprised most (perhaps even all?) of the contestants did not finish in time. I did do some trial pieces first for sewing the tip section of the blade to make sure I really understood all the steps when I was making the final tie.

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The outer fabric is the same as what I used to make my jacket. This was not ideal as it has a bit of stretch to it. I used a wool tie canvas interfacing and I think this worked well. For the lining I used a piece of quilting cotton.

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I also made corsages for my husband and our families. These were created by cutting 8 fabric circles which were then folded in half twice and then  the bottom of the circles were stitched together to form the flower (for a tutorial click here). I then glued the flowers to a felt circle using fabric glue. The felt circle was glued to another circles with a magnet in between the two pieces. The magnet was used to attach the corsage without having to pin through expensive suits and dresses.

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I didn’t have a bouquet because I didn’t want to have to drag it around all day. To me it didn’t really make sense to give our family a corsage with real flowers when I wasn’t carrying any. By making the corsages from the same fabric as my jacket and my husband’s tie we did have a link to what our families were wearing.

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Picture take by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

 

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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The beginning of a knee hole mending journey

I try to mend my clothes if they still have some life left in them and if the repair ends up almost invisible. Items can be left on the mending pile for quite a while though because creating something new generally appears far more exciting than mending something that is already there.

I’ll have to change my tactics though. My daughter currently crawls faster than her shadow and as a result the knees of her trousers get a good workout. A couple of weeks ago she came home from daycare with her first hole in a pair of trousers. Since she’s still growing quite quickly, leaving something on the mending pile for say, a year, isn’t really an option if I still want her to wear it afterwards.

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The offending hole.

I debated whether it would be worth to try to fix these trousers and last weekend I gave it a try. I didn’t think I’d be able to mend a hole this size in a knit fabric invisibly so I went for a patch. I don’t really like to use patches on the outside of my own clothes, but for kids clothing I think it can be fun.

I cut a heart shaped patch from a scrap of red jersey fabric that was attached using a running stitch using a very strong Gütermann upholstery thread. It didn’t take long to create this patch and she has already gotten one extra wear out of these trousers. I have no idea how durable this method of mending is.

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I considered adding a patch to the other knee as well but that would have more than doubled the repair time since I would have had to carefully place it in exactly the same spot on the other leg.

So, my knee hole fixing journey has started. I expect there will be many more repairs to come in the next couple of years. I plan to try different methods of mending to see which methods work best and to keep things interesting for myself. Do you have any tips for durable mending methods?

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Inside view of the repair. The edge of the patch is a bit closer to the hole than I would have liked, I think the fabric shifted when I sewed it on.

Completed: a round quilt with a sheep in the center

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Does a quilt always have 4 corners? Of course not! One of my friends asked if I could make a round quilt that they could use as a mat in their round playpen. Challenge accepted! Luckily, I already had a 25’’ 9 degree wedge ruler that makes it (almost) a breeze to make a circular design. You can make really spectacular designs with this ruler but I kept it fairly simple for this first attempt at making something circular.

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After a look around the recipient’s living room I decided on a blue with some orange colour scheme. For the front I used some fat quarters from Elizabeth Hartman’s Rhoda Ruth collection for Robert Kaufman. I used 8 blueish/greenish and 2 orange fabrics from that collection and I added some grey fabric from Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park collection, also for Robert Kaufman.

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From the grey fabric I cut 8x 3.5’’ strips, from each orange fabric 4x 3’’ strips and from each blue fabric 1x 7.5’’ and 1x 5’’ strips. They were pieced in the following order: grey, wide blue, orange, narrow blue. The ruler was used to cut 5 wedges from each strip set, alternating the grey fabric at the wide and narrow end of the ruler.

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Fabric strip sets waiting to be cut into 40 wedges.

Since the quilt will be mainly used as a playing mat inside a playpen the back probably won’t be on display very often so I only used the grey fabric. That I was 4 or 5 months pregnant when I made this quilt also made me want to just move on to the quilting stage instead of piecing something else first. Quilting was done with my walking foot and I kept it simple by just following some lines in the quilt.

To cover the hole in the center I enlarged a sheep silhouette picture I found somewhere (but I made this quilt so long ago that I really can’t recall where, sorry!). It was attached with a satin stitch after quilting. To secure it in the middle I quilted the child’s name inside the sheep.

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To cut the quilt to size (95 cm diameter) to fit the playpen I made a circle out of tracing paper and used that as a template.

The quilt was also bound with the grey fabric. For a square quilt the binding is cut on grain, but since for this quilt the binding had to go around a curve I cut it on the bias so it had some stretch. The outermost edge of the quilt has a larger circumference than the 1/4” from the edge which is the stitching line for the binding as it is attached. To make sure that the binding will fit around the edge as you fold it to the back it is essential to somewhat ease the binding in when it is attached to the front so the binding strip is as long as the outermost edge. I was a bit anxious about getting this right, but in the end it worked pretty well.

This project pushed me out of my comfort zone but I am glad it forced me to finally make good use of that ruler. It was a lot easier to use than I had anticipated. The trickiest part is that you really want to be very accurate with your cutting and piecing because your circle will otherwise not lie flat when it is completed. Luckily, I didn’t run into any problems and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I’ll definitely use this ruler again.

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Oh, the absolute joy I felt when my 1/4 circles were exactly 90 degrees!

Completed: a non-shifting nursing pillow

A nursing pillow was one of the first things I made after my daughter was born. Nursing sessions with a newborn take forever (at least with my child they did) and it can get quite taxing on your muscles when you have to hold your baby in a good position for a prolonged period of time, several times a day. I really needed some support to make it workable.

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I had used a nursing pillow to support my belly when I slept during pregnancy but it didn’t really work for nursing. I had to constantly rearrange it because it shifted and I could only get it to somewhat work when I sat in bed. Well, that was fine for the first couple of weeks, but at some point you want to move your life back to the living room during the day. I tried using some other pillows to support my daughter when I sat on the couch but it just didn’t work. The most annoying part was keeping the pillow in a good position for the duration of the nursing session.

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So, I decided to take matters into my own hand and create a non-shifting nursing pillow. I researched some free nursing pillow patterns and decided to use one from make-baby-stuff.com because in the description it said it was slightly thicker than certain store bought pillows and that quite appealed to me as one of the issues with my other pillow was that it wasn’t really high enough.

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The only adaptation to the pattern that I made, and which was the key to prevent shifting, was to add an adjustable strap with a side release buckle at the back. This strap was repurposed from a bag I never used. To attach the strap to the pillow I first partially sewed the concave side of the pillow closed, so that I could still sort of lay the fabric flat as I sewed on the straps. I made sure to position the closure for the strap so that it was a bit to the side as I didn’t want it digging into my back. I then sewed around the rest leaving a gap at the front for stuffing. I stuffed it as well as I could and hand sewed it closed. The fabric is a quite sturdy remnant of curtain fabric.

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I considered sewing some covers for the pillow, but I just didn’t really have that much time for sewing in those early months and in the end I simply placed a towel on top, which is perhaps not as pretty, but certainly functional. And functional is just what you need as a new mom.