Sunday, January 01, 2017

Advent calendar

In 2016 I decided to indulge my inner child and treat myself to an advent calendar. But not just any calendar, I went for a quilter's calendar with lots of surprises in it.
I received 24 numbered golden paper bags with fabric, thread, batting and instructions . all I needed to finish four different projects. Those who have followed me on Instagram know all about the excitement every day of discovering what that day's surprise was.

The first week I got a set of fabrics, template, zipper and batting to make a pillow:

Next out was all I needed to make a shopping bag that can be folded and tucked behind the pocket, making it a useful bag to keep in your purse until it is needed:
The third project was a set of christmassy pot holders complete with heat resistant batting:
The final project was a narrow table runner for New Year's Eve - perfect because that gave me a week to finish the last project:
All in all this was a great calendar, reviving those childish expectations running up to Christmas, and just enough work to do each day to be able to keep up with it all (although I must confess I did most of the sewing during the weekends...) - I had such fun with this that I'm really glad I went for it, and the best thing of all is that it seems to have given me back my sewing mojo, so much that I actually started the new year with cutting fabric for a new quilt!

Summing up

Another year is here and it is time to take stock. 2016 didn't seem to be such a productive year for me. Somehow I have become very good at relaxing without a piece of needlework in my hands. After indulging myself with a quilty advent calendar this December, however, I find the urge to create is returning. More about the advent calandar later, but here's what I have made in 2016:

Three finished quilts, various pouches and purses, some place mats and wall hangings, that sums it all up. But wait, there is more:
There are thre finished quilt tops, a lot of embroidery and a bit of knitting as well. And a bit of decoupage on those Driving home for Christmas cars. Maybe not to bad, just less quilting and more of the other stuff, that's all. But I predict more quilting in 2017. Have fabric, will quilt!
Happy new year!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Waxing lyrical

Sometimes a mad idea just grabs hold of you! I saw a picture of song lyrics done in cross-stitch and thought that was fun, but that it would also take too much time, so I dismissed it. Then one day I sat down to watch a new episode of The Big Bang Theory and trying for the umpteenth time to catch all the words in the theme song by Barenaked Ladies, the idea popped up: I would google the lyrics and stitch them, but I would do it in back-stitch, which would be less time consuming than cross-stitch. I charted the lyrics in my cross-stitch software, without spacing between words and breaking words when I came to the end of the line, thus mimicking the breathless, breakneck speed of the song. Keeping each word in one colour makes it readable. I must admit that it took a while longer than I had thought to stitch this, but I had fun doing it and now the song is forever stuck in my mind!

To unstick it, I started on another song right away and it just had to be one of the theme songs from my heyday: "We go together" from the movie Grease. While the first one was stitched in scraps from a celestial kit in tones of blue and gold, I chose pink and black for Sandy and Danny respectively with a hint of mint thrown in. Fun, but I'm done now. No more lyrics! And I've still got that Big Bang earbug...

Friday, November 18, 2016


Tada! Here's my newest quilt, Lorem Ipsum. I couldn't resist Jessica Jones's new fabric line Typography and bought a stack of fat quarters as soon as it became available. I didn't know what to do with those gorgeous fabrics at first, however and the stack just sat there on my work table for quite a while. When I decided that I needed another Sewtogether bag for my pens and pencils, my gaze fell upon that tempting stack and I started cutting into the fabrics. Once that first cut was done, inspiration struck and I started making blocks for this quilt. I added some grey and white solids and cut stacks of rectangles into wedges, changed the orders of the pieces and started stitching them together, ending up with strips of different widths - no measuring and no planning - quite a challenge for someone like me who actually like the maths involved in quilt making, but I managed to have fun with it.
I used this staple - the IKEA handwriting fabric for the backing. I'm so pleased with the fact that I actually bought a whole bolt of this fabric before it disappeared from the shelves. It has proved very useful!
It's not easy to see here perhaps, but I quilted it using a 3-step zig zag on the widest and longest setting and quilted parallel lines from top to bottom. I was a bit unsure about it to begin with as the fabric seemed to bunch up a bit, but by holding firmly onto the fabric as I was sewing I managed to avoid puckering and when I let go of the fabric I got quite a nice texture to it.
After asking for a bit of advice on Instagram, I ended up with a teal and green striped fabric from my stash for the binding, adding a few pieces of Typography fabric along the way.
I worried that the quilt might be to busy-looking, but once I took it outdoors for a photo session and saw it in the clear cold light of an autumn morning I decided that I loved it. This is a keeper!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cosy printer

I treated myself to a sweet little printer to print photos from my phone this summer. A fun little gadget, but I soon decided that it needed a bit of protection from all the other stuff rattling around in my bag. So a little printer cosy was what I needed...
I grabbed some pieces from my scrap basket and stitched them together into a long strip. I used a piece of batting to measure how big I wanted the piece to be, stitched the fabric pieces on, added a piece of backing fabric, turned it inside out and quilted the finished strip before adding a piece of ribbon before I folded it over, creating a pocket big enough for the printer and stitched a seam along each side, much like I did with my iPad cover, some years ago.
Easy peasy and quite sweet, like a little present waiting to be untied.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


I hope I didn't scare you, but I have actually finished a quilt! In time for Halloween, actually, but I only just found time for a photo session. I realized that I had amassed quite a selection of Halloweeny fabric and decided to put them all together in a quilt. I put together blocks of squares in different sizes, from four-patches with big squares to 36-patch blocks with tiny squares. I feared that it would all become a great mess, and I suppose some would say that it is, but looking at it from a distance I quite like it. I let the tiny squares gather in the middle and used ever increasing sizes going out from the diagonal. A few lime green patches along the diagonal gives a bit of extra zest to the design.
 For the back I used the leftover fabric and just pieced everything together randomly until I had a big enough piece. I used a thing backing so it could be used as a tablecloth with a soft drape, or I could hang it on the wall if I like. It might become a bit predictable, but I went for black and white stripes for the binding this time as well, as that was the only thing that seemed to work.
I'm still getting to know my new sewing machine, so I have been a bit careful about quilting motifs, so I went for the standard swirly meander I tend to fall back on, using a shiny orange thread. I'll challenge myself to be more adventurous the next time...

Friday, October 14, 2016

What's going on?

I think it's time to take stock. It's not that I don't spend time sewing, but I seem to have very little to show for it. Well, lots of little things, but what about all the big quilts?
I have spent a lot of time reorganizing my sewing space this summer, so at least all the finished quilt tops are stored in one place, but it is about time to settle down and do some serious quilting now I think...

First of all there is this, my Wuthering Heights quilt:

I think I finished this top in August 2015 and had intended to have it finished by Christmas, but I don't know what happened...
Then I started this in January:
The top is actually finished, but I couldn't decide how to quilt it, and while I was working on it I fell in love with a new fabric line, and started another quilt right away:
And then it happened again, I got distracted by another project - I found a fabric bundle I couldn't resist and started planning yet another quilt:

And as if having four finished quilt tops wasn't enough... As I mentioned I have been reorganizing a bit lately - my ten little Moppe drawer units from Ikea, that I have had for years, became one large unit on wheels and in one of the drawers I came across yet another quilt top:
I remember making this  very early on in my quilting career - it must be at least 15 years old, maybe 20 - and I was so disappointed with it because I just didn't have the right rainbow of colours I wanted. I actually thought I had thrown it in the bin, but no, like the pack rat that I am, I had just hidden it away in a drawer and now, here it is again and it doesn't look all that bad. Maybe I can rescue it? Make it into placemats maybe? Well, it isn't my number one priority, because I also have a Halloween quilt in the works! Yes, I started another one!
This is the first block with the smallest pieces and it looks a mess - there are blocks with larger pieces that let the fabrics stand out more, though, and I hope it works as a whole. I will try to get started on the quilting this weekend and then we shall see...
And once I have started quilting I can just go on and do another, and another... Unless I get distracted by a new project along the way...
Short attention span, anyone? What? Where?

And in case you were wondering about those drawer units, here's a before-and-after shot of them:

They are given a wash of paint, glued together and mounted on a small wall cupboard that I have attached wheels to, so now I have one piece of furniture instead of a wobbly stack of drawer units that would shift about every time I opened a drawer. Yes, happy with this one.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Medieval courthouse steps

It seems like ages since a made a new quilt and finally I have made a bed quilt for myself! The starting point for this one was a Mulberry home dec fabric featuring embellished letters like the ones you see in medieval manuscripts. I cut the letters apart and added strips around in Court House Step fashion in jewel-like colours with a bit of bling to go with the theme of those beautiful old books, often featuring covers embellished with gold and gems.
The pattern is from an old Quilt Sampler Magazine, but with larger central squares and narrower strips to allow for the size of those letters. A double width bali print with swirls of colour on a black background serves as both backing fabric and binding.

This was the first quilt I quilted on my new Bernina, so I chose the old easy standby, meandering in large loose loops to get the feel of quilting on a new machine. I think I'm ready for more intricate patterns now, but I'll choose a smaller quilt next time...