Sunday, October 25, 2015

In progress

I have spent my spare time redecorating and organizing stuff lately - a never-ending story, it seems...

I finished this quilt top before I started, but I was all out of batting, so I had to leave it for a while. Now there's really no excuse - my batting has arrived, my living room is painted and almost everything is sorted, so it's time to start quilting.
This one is for my own bed. Yes, that's right - I have been quilting for 25 years or so, and I still haven't got my own bed quilt, so it's about time I think...
The pattern is from an old issue of Quilt Sampler. I'll follow up with close ups of the courthouse step blocks and more information when it's done.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A bit of this and that

I've almost finished summing up all the stuff I've made during the first part of the year by going through my photos. Here are a few bits and pieces. The first is a whatchamacallit to rest the sewing machine pedal on to stop it from sliding out of reach. I was in danger of disappearing under the table when sewing as the pedal kept slipping away, but I came across an idea on Pinterest that was easily copied. It's just a piece of that material you put under rugs to stop them from slipping with binding all around. At one end I added a "sausage" of fabric filled with batting to stop the pedal from skipping off the mat. A very simple idea, but I'm happy to report that it works! So there will be no more of that laid-back sewing here in future...
My teddies needed something cushy for their slidey bums, and I had just the right teddy fabric for a little throw to drape over their bench. A cushion with ruler marks and stenciled numbers (an idea from Marie Claire Idées) finishes the ensemble.
So here they are, ready to welcome visitors.
I've had some wooden letters lying around for a while, with a coat of white paint they make a positive demand on my sewing room wall.
And since there can't be enough open wide pouches in the world, I made another one for a young friend. These are fun to make, and quite addictive, it seems!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The cats in the bag

- or on the bag, actually!
I bought a medley from Keepsake Quilting som years ago, featuring some fun cat prints, but I have been at a loss as to how I could use them in something where they could be shown off in all their glory. A friend and I keep swapping interior design magazines and she tends to carry her loot home in plastic bags with handles that will cut into your hands if you carry too many mags in one go. She is also a cat lover, so I came up with an idea of making her a tote bag for her magazines, with soft padded handles that would make it a joy to carry those mags home.
I used the cat panel one one side. On the other side I cut a square of four cat images and stitched borders of the companion fabrics around it.
The panels were quilted lightly with straight lines. Boxed corners and extra padded handles makes for a sturdy bag that can carry a lot.
A light green lining with text about dreams and inspiration finishes the bag. 
I realize now that I should have taken better photos, as the colours seem a bit off, but the bag is in full use by my friend, who loves it, so these will have to do.

Friday, September 11, 2015

S'mores or mug rugs, as some call them...

In between projects I like to take some time out by grabbing some bits and pieces from my scrap bag and sew them together. I cut and stitch again building the pieces up to at least 7 x 9". I keep a bag of batting scraps and larger fabric scraps for backing at the ready, so I can start quilting right away.
The quilting is done with heavy thread in different colours and fairly close lines. Since I can't quilt a straight line to save my life, I make them deliberately wavy. I really love the texture that this gives, and the heavy thread lines also helps bring the patterns and colours of all the different fabrics together, I think.

Once a piece is quilted I cut it down to 6 x 8". Starting out with a larger piece gives me some choice for the finished look, since everything up to here has been completely random. I usually find something from my jar of leftover binding pieces to complete each mug rug.
These mug rugs are so much fun to make that once I get going I can't stop. I work on four or five pieces at a time, and once I finish them the thought is there: let's make some more... The last time I sat down with a bag of scraps I ended up with 15 of them. So maybe we should change the name - not mug rugs but call them s'mores? Very healthy s'mores even though they're addictive, right?

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Flower boxes

I bought a roll of Kaffe Fassett Collective fat quarters in purple and teal at a show a while back, and thought they needed to be cut into rather large pieces to shine. I ended up with a bento box variation with small and large "boxes". I used Kona snow as a contrast. Once I started laying out the blocks, I discovered that at was all a bit meh... I loved the colours , but they needed something more to make them shine. After an audition with members from my stash, I ended up with a couple of yellows and that seemed to do the trick.
Once I had assembled the top and had a good look, I realized that one member of the cast wasn't pulling his own weight. he fabric in itself was lovely, a light blue with pink polka dots, but there was just too little contrast to the white. I ended up with making four blocks with a bright pink, unpicked the bland blocks and inserted the pink ones. Ah! Much better!
I quilted this one with wavy lines through the blocks, creating large petal shapes, using a petal shape cut from thick paper as a guide. In between the petals I used a tight meander to make the petals stand out.
The back is a lovely chrysanthemum print by Philip Jacobs that I just couldn't bring myself to cut into. Here it comes into its own and brings a smile to my face every time i look at it. A triangular label sewn into a corner an purple binding finishes the quilt.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Bali pop

I bought a roll of Bali Pops - precut 2 1/2" strips of Bali fabric from a show a couple of years ago and have had a hard time talking myself into opening it up and start cutting. Instead it has been a colourful decoration on a shelf in my sewing room for so long I was worried that the outer strip would fade away. Eventually I got started, sewed the strips together in threes and cut them into triangles, using the 45 degree line on my standard ruler.
I started sewing the triangles together in pairs, using the same colourways opposite each other, but after a while I got bored and mixed the rest up so that nothing matched in order to get a bit more variety in the quilt. I ended up with 16 blocks in a 4 by 4 layout.
The leftover bits and pieces were stitched together and combined with some purple and lime green bali fabric for the backing. I quiltedit in a swirly pattern and added orange binding to add a bit of interest. So, the bali pop roll is no longer gathering dust on my shelf, and instead I have a colourful throw and not a single scrap left over!

Friday, August 28, 2015


When I found this pattern in Love Patchwork and Quilting I thought about my stack of fabric from the Road 15 line from Sweetwater - motifs like houses and trees and road names, what could be better for a quilt with house blocks? And quite boyish as well - perfect for the young man I had in mind.
Once I started making blocks I felt that the grey, blue, green, black palette was a bit flat, so I added some yellow and red from another Sweetwater line, Noteworthy. I was quite happy with my choices as I was working on the quilt, but once I saw the finished quilt at a distance, I thought the red and white looks too pink to be right for a boy's quilt. I added black binding, to toughen it up a bit, but I still fear it's too girlie for a 14 year old boy.
Nah,  I think I'll  keep this one and make a different one for the boy in mind. Luckily I have another eight months to make a new quilt, since I was planning forward for once - it obviously doesn't pay to have too much time!
Mind you, I love this quilt and I'm happy to keep it. It has what has become a recurring theme in my work: houses. The blocks consist of houses made of house patterned fabric, and would you believe it, it's also got an Ikea house fabric as backing - what's not to like? Since the blocks are made of groups of houses, the name gave itself: "Villages". It's quilted with my go to loose loopy, spirally design which makes for a quite soft and drapey quilt - just right for snuggling up with on the sofa during the winter.
My obsession with houses might make me see things a little differently, though: A friend of mine, upon seeing the quilt exclaimed: "Love those big flowers!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And a bit of stitching

I stitched this sampler a while back from a pattern in Stitchery Magazine. By the time I'd found a frame the right size, I'd mislaid it, but as these things work out, I found it again while I was looking for something else. Of course I'd put a finished cross-stitch sampler in my box of ribbons! I have no idea how it ended up there, but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time... Anyway, once I'd found it, and while I still knew where the frame was, I got the job done and here's the result. I don't know if you can see it clearly, but the poem is by Emily Dickinson.
On a trip to Denmark a few years back I came across this pillow in a shop window and just had to get the kit. I have been stitching a little every now and again since I finished the Emily Peacock pillow, and eventually I crossed the finish line on this one as well. The pattern is from Fru Zippe.
I couldn't resist going for the matchy matchy look on the back and included a zip and flap to match the contrast colours on the front. I might be the only person who notices, but somehow these things give me immense pleasure. I'm funny like that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A bit of knitting

This winter was not all about sewing. Thanks to Knitty and Ravelry my interest in knitting has been revived these last few years. During my teens I was hardly ever seen without a knitting project in my hands, where I went the knitting went and numerous sweaters were made during lectures at college, waiting for buses, chatting with friends... Somewhere along the way it all stopped, but the skill is still there and my hands luckily remember how to go about it. I fell in love with these Deep in the Forest mittens and especially this version. I used a Schoppelwolle Zauberball in shades of blue for the background and I love the effect of twilight seen through the trees. I tried a different Zauberball first, but the shades of blue were too dark to get the effect I wanted. That one came in handy for my next project, though:
My next project was inspired by various fair isle designs seen online, and somehow the idea of making a Harry Potter-inspired sweater occurred to me. I started charting various ideas: spells and potions, brooms, owls, the sorting hat, a snitch Harry's patronus, wands, glasses and the scar on Harry's forehead. I needed to test all the different borders and knitted them in the round, ending up with a rather long tube, realizing that I had too many borders for a sweater. I stitched the ends of the tube together and ended up with an infinity scarf. It proved to be very difficult to photograph, so here's a small collage of various borders instead. And now that I have tested the borders (and modified some) it can also serve as a pattern to choose borders from, should I ever get round to making that sweater.
I'm easily distracted, though, so there are always new projects tempting me. This book was a great discovery that will provide endless inspiration. The genius of these patterns are that you begin with a few stitches and increase along one side until the scarf is as long and wide as you want it, or until you run out of yarn. No need to worry about gauge and the patterns can be used for any kind of yarn you have. I haven't come all that far on this one yet, but I can tell that it will become a favorite. Eventually.

My Ravelry page is here, by the way.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Looking back

 -or what I did last Christmas...
I thought I'd do a bit of summing up from these months of no blogging. My Christmas sewing was all about panels, it seems. I unearthed this old Santa panel from the depths of my stash and finally got around to doing something about it. I cut it apart and ended up with three items: a quilted cushion:

 A small wallhanging:
 And a larger wallhanging with a bit of a complcated log cabin/star thing going on. I didn't plan this one very well, so I had to wing it and ended up cutting the tips of the star off.
 -But you can always cheat a bit, right? A few strands of embroidery floss later and you wouldn't know if you were galloping past on a big horse...
 The best thing about this was that I got to use that panel that I had been procrastinating about making into something for ever. Yet another example of how you should just get in there and do something - it doesn't take as long as you think!
Proof in point: these fun panels from Laurie Wisbrun got made into cushions as soon as they arrived and it took no more than a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer report

Somehow the months have raced on and there has been no blogging. I seem to have drifted along, doing this and that, posted the occasional picture on IG and that may be just what I needed, but I miss having a record of all I've done and what ever I was thinking while I did it. So I think it's about time I got back to a set of routines including a bit of blogging.

Let's begin with what I did during my holidays. I stayed at home this year, and imagined that I didn't do all that much, but looking back I have proof that I wasn't completely idle! A wall quilt, a top for a lap quilt, a shoulder bag, three pouches and a giraffe - not too bad, is it?

If you follow me on IG you will have seen it all before, of course, but there's something to be said for showing it all together - it feels like a result! And if anybody asks me what I did over the holidays, I have my answer ready: "Oh, I made a giraffe"...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tote with magic magnet closure

I promised to talk more about those 241 totes and here they are! I made my own 241 earlier in 2014, and when my cousin and his family visited during the summer both his wife and the two almost grown up daughters showed so much interest in it that it was clear to me what I'd be making as Christmas presents for them. I had bought some home dec weight fabric at Fabrics Galore at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia last spring that was perfect for these, giving them a bit more weight and strength than quilting fabric would have done. I used a cotton/linen mix for the pockets and quilting weight cotton backed with woven interfacing for the side panels.

The first tote got a transport theme, with buses, tires, license plates on the outside, and a great VW Beetle fabric for the lining.
The next one has a collage-like fabric on the outside. I almost kept this one for myself as I loved the fabric so much, especially paired with that lovely Laura Gunn fabric for the lining, but I managed to part with it after all!
The third one is a travelers tote with maps both inside and out. There's no knowing where it would lead you though, seeing as going north from Canada you would end up in Indonesia...

I added pockets on the inside with a strap and a snap hook to fasten your key or mobile phone pocket to. I also added hidden magnets as closure and for future reference - this is what I did:

The magnets are of the flat kind embedded in a square of plastic. I cut a couple of fabric tags a bit wider than the magnets and decided the length by how far down from the opening I wanted the magnets to be. Each magnet piece was stitched to a fabric tag like this.
I then machine basted the tags to the two lining pieces, making sure I put them the right side so they would actually snap together once the bag was turned the right side out.
A piece of interfacing ironed to the tag on the inside of the lining ensured that the tags lie flat inside the lining, and then it was just a matter of stitching the outer bags and the lining together around the edge. I really like this solution - no visible closure, no prongs to stab through the fabric and the bag opening snaps together like magic! For more photos, check out my Flickr album.