Completed: A fabric hug

160303_1This quilt was a very belated birthday gift for my youngest sister. It was supposed to be finished early January 2014 but was delayed several times.

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When my sister asked if I’d mind if she moved into the same building my boyfriend and I were living in at the time I didn’t hesitate for a moment. Of course I didn’t. I think we both benefited from the arrangement. She didn’t feel quite so alone when she moved out of my parent’s house to go to university at 17 and I got another person close by that could help me out when life got tough.

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A couple of years later my boyfriend and I moved to a house and while she was now a very short bike ride away instead of just a stairwell we still saw each other often.

This changed in 2013. She finished university, moved to a different city to start her first job and a bike ride turned into a train ride. As a result we don’t see each other as often as we used to and I miss that. So for her birthday I wanted to give her a special gift. One of the things we used to do together was watch Grey’s Anatomy huddled together under my very first quilt. This quilt is small, it measures less than 1x1m, but it can cover two sets of legs when two people in need of some extra warmth like each other enough.

160303_2So, a quilt it was to be. I devised this plan probably a week before her birthday. That was my first mistake. I do not make quilts in a week, I simply do not sew that fast and should know better. My second mistake was to sort of start sewing straight away instead of carefully thinking about the actual design of the quilt. My mind needs some time to figure out the best layout. This process can easily take weeks for a more complicated quilt but should take at least a couple of days so I can test out some different options. Sooo, to make a long story short, I had already pieced quite a bit of the top when I realised that the layout was completely wrong.

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I went through several design options before I picked the final layout for this quilt.

If you’ve been around long enough you’ll know how much I like unpicking… I considered to simply soldier on (and seriously I had to unpick everything) but deep down I knew I would regret not fixing the mistake every time I would lay eyes on the quilt. So, I did nothing. For a very long time.

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A year later I had another attempt at finishing the quilt in time for her birthday. I unpicked the lot and changed the layout. Then we bought a house and that took up a lot of time, but at least I got most of the quilt top completed this time. Only issue, I didn’t love it as much anymore, so things stalled again…

160303_8Then I bought two packs of ten squares from Cotton + Steel, Tokyo Train Ride and Mochi, and started playing with these. At some point I realised I should just turn this top into a quilt for my sister because I was loving it so much more than the abandoned quilt. And now it is finally finished, a quilt for my sister that made it into her hands a couple of days ago.

160303_7The top was made by first cutting the squares into triangles and combining these in light and dark pairs using the different values to create a pattern. This was the first time I used I Cotton + Steel quilting cotton and I love it, it is super soft. For the backing I used a confetti print that was combined with a column of 10” squares that were left over from piecing the front. The batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool and Guttermann Sulky thread was used for the straight line quilting. The quilt was bound with a dark blue solid fabric.

Happy belated birthday little sister, it was a pleasure to be there when you turned into a woman.

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Sewing baby burp cloths with my sister

completed burp cloths

Set of three burp cloths sewn by my sister.

When people know you can sew it is inevitable that you will at some point get the question “could you make me *insert random item here*?”. At the start of your sewing career this question might still induce excitement. Yes! With my newly acquired skills I can make a set of 8 matching pillows for your new couch! And I don’t care that it will take me all weekend because I’m still really slow at this whole sewing thing!

towel side

towel side

After you’ve been sewing for a while it becomes a bit difficult though to get enthusiastic about hemming yet another pair of trousers for someone else when you have a list of about a hundred items that you really want to make for yourself. However, these question askers are your friends and family and you don’t really want to disappoint them by immediately saying no. They are asking you for some help after all!

My solution to this problem is that I now offer to show them how they can make (or fix) the item themselves. If they’re really motivated they’ll take me up on my offer and we’ll spend an afternoon or day making it. Yes, it will probably take about 3 times longer to complete the item, but I’m spending time with someone I enjoy spending time with and I can show them my hobby. While they might not fall in love with sewing at least I think they’ll appreciate more what it takes to create something. If they don’t take me up on my offer it apparently wasn’t that important to have it made anyway so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.

My sister didn't want to pose so I had to...

My sister didn’t want to pose so I had to…

A couple of months ago my sister asked me if I could make her a cute baby item to give to one of her expecting co-workers. Hmmm, I don’t even know this co-worker so why would I make a gift? I offered to help her make something. Some grumbling ensued but she agreed to come, although no date was fixed yet. I wondered whether she really would.

Tracing

Carefully tracing around the pattern.

But she did and I looked around for a simple project for a first time sewer. I found it in the free “The perfect baby burp cloths” pattern from So Sew Easy. What I like about this pattern is that it is shaped so it fits better around your neck and shouldn’t slip down as easily as a rectangular burp cloth. I’m sure we’ve all seen parents carefully position a cloth that slips down as soon as they lift their baby, leaving their clothes dangerously unprotected, so this simple adaptation seems like a good idea. I also found patterns that have this type of shaping on both sides but those reminded me of oversized sanitary napkins…

Sewing two layers together.

Sewing two layers together.

For one side we used a white towel and for the other side some ten squares from the Urban Zoologie collection by Robert Kaufmann. Towel and fabrics were prewashed to prevent uneven shrinkage later on. For each burp cloth two ten squares were pieced together. We reasoned that a right handed person is most likely to burp a baby on their left shoulder and made sure to position the owl and bird fabrics so that some of the animals would feature in the upright orientation in the centre on the front. We ended up with three rather adorable burp cloths made by my sister. I only showed her how to do each step. I think she did really well and she preferred sewing curves to sewing straight. Will she sew more often from now on? Probably not, but that was not the point.

Lacking a real baby we made use of an imaginary one...

Lacking a real baby we made use of an imaginary one…