Thursday, 28 August 2014

I Spy With My Little Eye ... Something Quilty!

If you've read the little blurb about me (just look to the right ->), you know that I watch far too many TV series. As in "I could probably do more productive stuff (e.g. sewing :-P) several hours a day" too much! Luckily, I'm a multi-tasker, so I usually watch TV, check my mails, cook and bake (and eat), write this blog and sew. All at the same time.

So while watching one of the countless series, I suddenly had what I call a "brain blitz": Why not combine these two passions of mine?

So just before the fall series start again, I came up with a challenge:


Find all quilty items in your favourite series!

Here are a few examples of quilts in TV that I have already collected:

This Melissa McCall's bed quilt as shown in Teen Wolf.

MTV's Teen Wolf, season 3 episode 7
I'm fairly certain that this is not actually a handmade quilt, but bought. Though it would be easy enough to recreate with triangles in different beige/tan and pink fabrics.

This one is from a fairly old series. Do you remember Fran Fine, the nanny with the very uhm...unique voice?
The Nanny, season 5, episode 17
In one episode she stripped her senile grandma to give her clothes to rapper Coolio (yeah, those were the times! Does he even exist anymore?).

It's a beautiful sampler quilt in light greys and pinks with a cream background.

I'd much rather be wrapped in this quilt than Coolio's "cool" rapper ski jacket!

The third one I found in a new series (that will be lucky to see its second season, it's just too cliché! Honestly, why can't they come up with at least a somewhat new idea?!) called Young and Hungry.

Young and Hungry, season 1, episode 5
It's a very scrappy quilt laying on the two girls' couch. As far as I can tell, it is not actually quilted, but tied with yellow thread, if I'm seeing correctly.

If you want to see this quilt in action, watch the last minute of the season finale!
 Soooo...have you spotted any quilts in your favourite series?
I for one will most certainly be watching TV with quilter's hawk eyes this coming season. I'll keep you up to date, no worries there!
All the best,

Friday, 22 August 2014

Seeing Everything in Black And White - Or My New Cushions

As I have blogged recently, I was working on beautifying my living room / bar / dining room / sewing room (talk about multi-purpose!^ ^). Today, I'm showing you the result.

My couch went from this....

Sad little pre-transformation couch this:
Hm, I think we need a bigger couch to fit all the cushions!

This whole room is actually all furnished in black and white.  It wasn't really planned, but once we moved in together with all our random furniture pieces, it just turned out that way. We decided to just go with the flow and have added a few black and white pieces since.

The advantage of a black and white living room is that you can easily pimp it up: Add a few candles and cushions in one colour scheme and it's a different room. Hang up colourful pictures, posters or paintings, and the room is transformed. That's what I've been doing so far. Whenever the mood struck (I call it "spring fever"), I bought a few new candles, a cushion or two and voilĂ : a new room!

This time I decided to simply keep it black and white. I experimented with a few other colours (mainly red), but simply didn't like the look. I'll probably pimp it up with one or two colourful cushions once spring fever gets to me again and wham! I'll have a new look!

I plan to post the tutorials for the cushions bit by bit on here, so you can recreate them if you want to.

Here are the links to the tutorials:



Tutorial soon to come

Tutorial soon to come!

The only problem I have now: I have so many ideas for more black and white pillows (no, cushions, right? I think I was told that pillows are for the head and cushions for the... uhm, lumbar region?) that I'm running out of space on my couch. I think I need to get a bigger couch...but then I'd need a bigger living room, so basically I'd need a bigger flat, for that I'd need more money, to get more money I'd need another job and...yeah, you see my problem here?!

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts/questions, so leave a comment (it's open to everybody!).

All the best,

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Cushion Tutorial: Black and White Rectangles

Hi there!

Today I'm sharing with you a little tutorial for a cushion cover with rectangles. You could of course also enlarge it for a whole quilt if you wanted.

What inspired me to make this was actually a wallpaper I saw somewhere.

Fabrics Needed

You'll need two different fabrics. I used black and white, but of course you can use whichever two solids you like - or even prints (best would be small prints, as the pieces are too small to see bigger designs).

Cutting and Sewing

Cut 3" strips from both fabrics, then cut them up into 3" squares. It depends on the size of the pillow you need to cover, mine was 50cm x 50cm (20" x 20"), so the instructions are for that size. But you can easily adapt them for your own pillow.

You'll need about 4 strips per colour, which yields at least 50 3" squares (or 100 total).

Lay at least one black and one white square on top of each other (I did it with 2 each, it gets too tough with more than 4 layers for me). Mark the white square both on the top left and the bottom right one inch from the corner (example on the left in picture). Then place your ruler on both those dots and cut the squares in half. If you're using one sided fabric then you need to cut 22 of each fabric as mirror image (example on the right). If you're using solids or any other fabric that looks the same on both side, you can just flip them whichever way you need them to be!

Now lay out your cut pieces by exchanging one side with the opposing colour. You'll need 55 blocks like the one on top and 44 of the one on the bottom.

 To sew them together, pick the two pieces up and overlap them slightly:

I actually eyeballed it, but you can also measure them. Of course, that'll take quiet some time, after all, you're making 99 blocks!

To help you with eyeballing it, here's my tipp: Your needle/seam should go into the angle where the two pieces meet (red line), which should be 1/4" from the straight edge of the two fabrics (blue line).

You can chain piece them all, but make sure you make two different piles for the two different blocks. This makes assembly far easier! Press all seams to the dark side.

Now take one block from each pile and sew them together. Make sure the colours are always opposing. They should nest nicely, so no pinning is needed!

After sewing them all into twos, you should have eleven left from one type of the blocks. Sew them to eleven sets of two.

(For the cushion, I actually sewed them together the other way around,
starting with them bottom ones, see below!)

It's best if you lay out all the columns so that you don't mix them up! Add two sets of twos to another, making sets of four, add them to another set of four, add to each one of the sets of three (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of that whole procedure).

Remember, you'll need 11 identical columns with 9 blocks each. All of them have to start with the type of block you made 11 more. For example, I always told myself "small black top left corner" as a reminder that I had to start all my columns (and therefore also all sets of two, etc.) with a block that looked like this:

Once you've finished your eleven strips of nine, take them to your ironing board. Press the seams in 5 of the strips towards the top, and the seams in the other 4 strips to the bottom. Make sure they don't bend and stay as straight as possible.

Take a strip each and sew them together. The seams should nest, as the seams go in opposite directions. Repeat 3 times. There's one strip left over. Now add the strip sets of two to another strip set, etc.

You'll end up with a rectangular shape. Cut back all sides symmetrically so that you end up with a square shape:

I added a cotton batting to the back and did some SITD, but, again, that was basically just to attach it, not to add structure. The backing was added as described in a previous post, with two pieces cut 20" x 26".

And that's how it looks like finished:

Front of the Rectangle Cushion

Back of the Rectangle Cushion

I hope the explanations are clear. If not, feel free to ask! :)

All the best,

Friday, 15 August 2014

My Second Quilt


Somewhere over the .... or Rainbow Strip 'n Flip

Today I'm showing you the second (well, the second one I finished, but the first one I started) quilt I've ever made. It is made with the same jelly rolls I used for my first quilt. I saw Cluck Cluck Sew's easy tutorial on the Strip and Flip top and decided that this was perfect for a first quilt!

And this is how it turned out:

Rainbow Strip 'n Flip Quilt

The Piecing

The piecing should have been quite easy. I mean, it's just strips, right? Yeah, "just" strips...

I ended up with bowed strips. I can't really say in hindsight why that is, just pick one of the following no-nos (which - of course - I all committed):

1. It might well be that the strips I worked with were already cut with an elbow in them.

2. I ironed - a lot, with steam and vigariously!

3. I did sew them in pairs, groups of 4, etc. but always from the same side.

4. My quarter inch seam was non-existent. (To my defense: I didn't have a quarter inch presser foot at the time. I'm also used to the metric system, so it was difficult to just eyeball it. I've gotten better with practice since, so go me!)

For the back I used up the absolutely last scraps I had left over from both this quilt and my First Rainbow quilt. Needless to say, some of those scraps were a bit uneven or too small, but I worked them into a half-decent strip to add some colour to the back.

Rainbow Strip 'n Flip Back

The Quilting

I again quilted with black thread, only realising half-way through that it would be quite noticable on the colourful batiks! Oopsy?
However, I think that was actually a lucky strike: These straight lines actually balanced out the bowing of the strips so that it is hardly noticable in the finished quilt!

Straight line quilting

To change it up a little, I quilted the "flipped" part diagonally and quilted straight lines on all for sides the border so that I ended up with four little checkerboards in the corners.

I tried to machine bind the whole binding, but after sewing down about one third of one side, I decided to rip it all out and do it by hand, because - well, let's just say it wasn't pretty!

Rainbow Strip 'n Flip in all its glory

Overall, I can say that I'm pretty happy how my first lap sized quilt turned out!

All the best,

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Endless Stars finished!

It finally came together: The weather was nice today and I had time to get out and take some photos of my new(-lish)ly finished quilt! I've been waiting for a long time, but the weather just wasn't co-operating. It was strange the last couple of weeks, mostly rainy and cold, but sometimes with spurts of sun and quite humid.

Now, to the quilt:

Endless Stars - ready to shine!

I've already shown the top in my last update (which - admittedly - is already far too long ago!).

The Piecing

I came up with this design a while ago when I was experimenting with string piecing in an attempt to create easy diamonds. As you can see, that diamond design pretty much failed, but I discovered this star design (as the first one? Maybe...or have you seen this one before?).

Endless Stars: the piecing

The two solids are from the Moda Bella Solids line. Can't remember their exact name at the moment, but if you are interested I could look it up (the light blue is bluer and a bit darker in reality, though).

Once I'd decided on the overall design, the top came together rather quickly.


The Back

I love creative quilt backs! Nope, that's not strong enough! I really, really, really absolutely, totally and unequivocally adore creative quilt backs!

I always say: We spend so much time and effort on the front, why not spend a few hours more and create a similarly stunning back?

That being said, I kept the back of this quilt rather simple, I didn't want it to clash too much with the front. And that's the result:

Endless Stars Pieced Back

The print fabric is called "Star Burst"; it's black, green and purple. Unfortunately, the green is not the same as on the front (it's more forest green than teal), but, alas, that's the downside of online fabric shopping! I had to wait about 2 weeks for it to arrive; I think our postman thinks I'm a bit, to say it nicely...wacky? I hate to admit that he's probably got me pegged quite accurately...

It wasn't actually the best print to work with, as it was not printed on the straight of grain (yeah, bummer), but I think I more or less managed to not make it noticeable.

Next to the length of "Star Burst", I added some leftover pieces from the front and finished off with some more black fabric.

Detailed view of the back

During the two weeks that I had to wait, the top was hanging on my living room wall and after looking at it again and again, I decided to cut it back. I felt that the dimensions were a bit off. It ended up being about 70"x52", a nice sized lap quilt (and I can absolutely attest to that, as I'm currently lying on my couch with my laptop, cuddled under - you already guessed - my Endless Stars quilt!).

The Quilting

I have to admit that the quilting was a pain in the tushy! I don't know (yet! :P) how to free motion quilt, so straight lines it was. I actually think I would have chosen that anyway, as I like the look of it, especially in modern quilts.

I wanted to draw all of the lines on the quilt, as I've realised that it is actually easier for me to achieve straight lines that way. Otherwise, my "straight line quilting" turns out to be, uhm..., really organic?

You can imagine that I spent quite a few hours crawling on the floor. Little tip: if you draw straight lines, make sure they are actually straight and get up and check from different angles from time to time. How do you think I know that?! After I drew on the lines on about half of the quilt, I got up and realised that they were getting more and more lopsided, I had to wipe it all off. Needless to say, I didn't quilt any more that evening!

All straight lines...

My main problem with it all, however, was not the drawing itself, but the white chalk pencil I used for it. I thought it would show beautifully on the black fabric (which it did), but basically every second line, the tip broke. And it broke again and again while I sharpened it. In a matter of minutes I ended up with a tiny stub I could hardly hold in my big man hand! I thought it might have been dropped and handled too many times during the shipping process, so I went out and got another one locally.

Same result. More than double the frustration.

I ended up sharpening normal chalks (you know, the ones you normally write on black boards with) and using them.

Upside a) they're really cheap,
and upside b) they show up on the fabric,
but downside a) they disappear rather quickly,
but upside c) they disappear easily!
And downside b) their points dull very quickly
plus downside c) they can make quite a mess when you sharpen them.
Apart from that, well, they're cheap! ;) And if you sharpen a bunch of them at a time, it really isn't too bad!

Does anybody have a great, affordable marking pen(cil) for dark fabrics that washes out easily? I'd be happy to get a few pointers...


The Binding

I decided to add a two-coloured binding. I think it was the right decision, it adds a little more colour and frames the quilt nicely.

I used Susie's Magic Binding Tutorial, and I have to say, it worked great! It's my first fully machine sewn binding, and of course, it could be more neat!

Fully machine sewn binding

The sewing line is a bit...drunk, the binding is not even everywhere and honestly? The corners are a bit of a mess. But I still consider it a success, as I've tried to sew on bindings by machine before and after about one side (if I was lucky I realised it sooner rather than later!) I always decided to rip the stitches out and do it by hand. I definitely need some more practise, I guess...

And here is the finished quilt one more time:
Endless Stars Quilt

I'd love to hear from you and I'm always open to questions! Don't be shy, leave a comment! :)

All the best,