vrijdag 3 maart 2017

Easter Basket

It's almost spring!
 When I saw the tutorial for a basket tote Caroline at Sew Can She made in February, I immediately decided I would make an Easter basket from the pattern. I really like the shape of this tote, and the construction seemed pretty straight forward.

Front view.
Back view.

I went all out, making an embroidered center panel, and hand pieced side panels. I printed the pattern slightly smaller than the original, simply because I was too lazy to figure out how to print the pieces at 100%. So I simply did "fit to page" and went from there. I did have to trim some of my side panels tops off to make the thing fit, but the shape came out just fine in the end. My basket is 8 inches high in the middle.

Pretty cute...

For the embroidered panel I chose a pattern from doe-c-doe. I purposely chose something cute and fit for spring, but not something that screams Easter, like bunnies or Easter eggs. That way the basket is not too seasonal, just all year round cute. I used stem stitch on all the lines, with a variegated thread in light blue for the kitten.

Isn't she sweet?
Even cuter with a duck and daffodils in the mix.
For the side panels I English paper pieced a bunch of 1" hexies in a pleasing combination of fabrics. I actually used leftovers from my Splendid Sampler Quilt (see previous posts). I'm glad to say that even after a year of sewing with these fabrics I still haven't tired of them.

Thanks to the Splendid Sampler I found out I really like EPP.
I just have to show the other side panel, too!

I did simple straight line quilting (no walking foot).

I think the colors are lovely and give a positive spring feeling!

All panels were then stiffened using a layer of fusible batting first, then machine quilting and then adding some stiff fusible stuff that I don't know the name of. It's something fibrous but not woven. I've no idea what its intended purpose is. I just picked it in the Veritas because it felt like it might do the job. And it did!

The basket is sturdy enough to stand by itself.

It opens up like this, with lots of room for Easter eggs!

And snapped shut, it still stands proud!

Joining the panels was a real struggle, but I managed in the end. I like the structure of the stiff panels, but I might try a basket with just fusible batting, and see how that works. I added a magnetic snap and I think that is the only thing I'm not 100% happy with, apart from the handles. Two things went wrong with the snap. First of all, I put it in quite low on the lining, for fear of not being able to add the bias trim because of the snap getting in the way. So it distorts the shape of the basket a little when closed. Also because I didn't manage to line them up perfectly, which probably goes back to not working to scale and being sloppy with the seam allowances... . Secondly, the snap is really strong. You have to pull quite hard to open it. But it's only attached to the lining, and the lining is only attached to the bag at the top, with the bias binding. So when I tried to open it, it felt like I might tear the snap out of the lining. I did strengthen the lining as per instructions, so it should be fine. Or I might tear the lining out of the bag, a more likely scenario, it is just quilting cotton, I wouldn't have been surprised if after just a few minutes in the hands of my kids, they would have torn the lining. So I strengthened the whole thing by quilting right through al the layers around the snap. Now it feels sturdier.
The snaps look really professional.

See the messy hand quilting around the snap, to hold it firmer in place?

You can see how the top doesn't quite line up...

... and how the front is distorted by the snap.

But all in all, I'm very pleased, with the shape and the colors

 Making the handles was not hard, with the tutorial provided. I made my fabric strips a bit wider and added a cotton core in the handle. I am pleased with the result. I'm not so pleased with the messy top stitching with which they are attached. That was the result of the stiffness of the bag, and the fact that it is smaller than the pattern. Next time, I'll try attaching the handles before constructing the bag. The reason I didn't do that this time is that 1. I followed instructions on this point and 2. I thought it would be better to decide the position of the handles once the bag was constructed.

I just tell myself the cuteness of the kitty distracts from the messy top stitching :-).

All in all I'm very pleased with my project, it makes a nice addition to my Easter decor.

My Easter window sill.


maandag 20 februari 2017

What I've learned from the Splendid Sampler™ quilt along.

This is my The Splendid Sampler™  so far:

Ninety-seven blocks, forty sashed, twenty joined. Mostly numbered blocks, a few bonus blocks and a few of my own.

And these are just a few things I learned along the way:

1. Quilt alongs are fun!

2. I learned how to use a rotary cutter!

3. I learned to sew an accurate scant 1/4 inch seam.

4. I learned that I enjoy a bit of handwork: English paper piecing, needle turn applique or embroidery.

5. I learned that I don't enjoy foundation paper piecing.

6. I became more confident in picking colors.

7. I found out that having a deadline and feeling like you have to finish something is fun, and also that letting go of the deadline is okay.

8. I learned that having a go at a block that seems too difficult, or just not pretty, often yields surprisingly satisfying results!

9. I learned some new techniques: reverse applique, needle turn applique, English paper piecing, piecing curved seams and machine applique.

10. I learned that when you start learning, you don't want to stop! (so I tried improvisation piecing on one block, which was fun!)

zaterdag 14 januari 2017

January Mini

For Finish It Up Friday project: scroll down please (it's the mini). I also linked the mini to Can I get a whoop?, but feel free to whoop my other sewing projects, too!

I haven't even finished my Splendid Sampler top, and I'm already thinking of what sewing project to tackle in the new year. The Splendid Sampler was my first go at a quilt-along. I wasn't sure it would be my thing, because I'm a seasonal sewer. I sew quite a lot in winter and spring, when there is not a lot to do outdoors, and no big concerts coming up for my band (one of my many hobbies is playing the clarinet in a harmony orchestra). In summer I spend more time outside, gardening, camping, hiking and jogging, and in autumn I'm busy preparing for the band's most ambitious concert of the year, which is always in the beginning of January, so sewing takes back seat then. I was afraid that taking on the splendid challenge would stress me out, take time away from other hobbies and other sewing projects, and that I would be sewing because I had to, not because I wanted to. But I found that challenging myself to keep up, and to make blocks that I didn't immediately like actually fueled my creativity and boosted my confidence. Here's a few pictures to prove that I sewed other things than Splendid Sampler blocks!

I made this tunic for Marieke, it has a big pocket on the front, but it's so perfectly pattern matched that you can't see it! And that despite the fact that I made this with a coupon, and I even had to make the sleeves a bit narrower to get the thing cut. I bought the pants to match, since Marieke requested brightly colored pants for winter.

A small zippered pouch.

It's a Christmas gift for Laura, a classmate of Pieter. She loves horses.

The back is pretty too!

I knit 3 Christmas animals like this, 2 bears and one white rabbit. I gave this one to a colleague who is ill, Kris, and the other two to my godson Jan, and his brother Kamil.
I made myself a little make up pouch.

My new style icon!

I used leftovers from a quilt (as yet unfinished, just needs quilting), and did quilt as you go.

I made this label out of the self edge!
Once I had my block-tracking-system in place, I wasn't stressed out about lagging behind when I was focused on other things, like going camping, or hiking with my husband, or just doing some other sewing. But the challenge of trying to keep up did take me back to my sewing machine even when I didn't really feel like it, and often I would enjoy the sewing once I got started. So I've been looking forward to finishing the Splendid Sampler top, and at the same time fearing a big black creative hole at the end of it!

My January Mini, and a Cyclamen, on the window sill.

Lovely texture of hand quilting.
So I was glad and excited to see the first quilt of a Monthly Mini series at Sew Can She! I immediately made the January Mini, which is pleasing in its simplicity and beauty. The center friendship star contains two fabrics which I also used in my Splendid Sampler, the rest are random fat quarters I still had lying in my fabric cupboard. I plan to make 12 mini's this year, using only fabric that I already have on hand. I hand quilted it, and tried the binding method explained on the site. I added corners of the backing fabric for easy hanging. I put the little quilt up in our living room for now, but the walls here are already very busy with children's drawings, so I plan to give it a spot over the sofa bed which we will have in our music/guest room.

January Mini

On my mini-wall

See that wall to the left of the stove? Full of children's art work!

Tiny snail in the Lauren and Jessi Jung focal fabric.

Winter sun accentuating the quilting.

That will be a while yet, because at the moment that room still serves as the master bedroom. Willem and I have to paint the back room first, fix the skirting, put up the light fixtures, revarnish the floor, fix the curtain rod, put up curtains and then move our bed and cupboards there. Hopefully I will also be able to spread my finished Splendid Sampler over the bed! Once our bedroom is done, we can start to get the music/guest room in working order. If you know that we also have a built in cupboard and skirting to do in the living room, a bathroom that needs some new wall tiles and flooring, and a mudroom that still has no toilet or sink, you can guess that my mini might be staying in the living room for a while yet... Maybe I should do a monthly house finishing project instead of a monthly mini?

One more close up. Did I say I like the texture of hand quilting?

I just saw this Moda sampler block shuffle! That seems like fun, too, and mostly pieced blocks: my favorite!

woensdag 11 januari 2017

The Splendid Sampler™ - only 12 blocks behind!

Yes, I'm still slowly catching up! I don't think I'll cross the Splendid Sampler™ finish line on Valentine's day, but I won't be far behind. And then I plan to hand quilt the thing in the coming year.

Here are my latest blocks:

86- Unity Star

66 - Happy Thoughts

89 - From Colorado to the Midwest

75 - Stitch Crazy

60 - Hearts and Flowers (simplified)

57 - Starting Point

58 - Homeward Bound

53 - Whirling in Circles

59 - Circle of Friendship

85 - Flow

40 blocks awaiting sashing, 20 are already sashed and joined, another 20 lined up in my sewing basket, with the sashing cut and ready for sewing (so they are not in the picture because I didn't want to mess up the whole organization I've got going for that!)

I'm really looking forward to finishing the last 20 blocks and joining them for a huge quilt top. It was so much fun to be along for this huge quilt along. I have learned a lot, from sewing an accurate 1/4 inch seam to starching, from needle turn appliqué to reverse applique, from working really accurately to letting a few not so perfectly matched points slide, and much, much more! I've become quite confident in picking colors for my blocks, and more open minded towards trying something new and forestalling judgement, because sometimes the blocks that didn't appeal to me at first became real favorites once they were done. Or a technique which I thought I wouldn't enjoy (like EPP) turned out to be quite fun.

Apart from quilting this beauty, I have some other sewing plans in 2017. One is to sew some more clothes, for me, the kids, and my husband. And I'm considering sewing along with the Monthly Minis by Sew Can She.