Challenge 2019 – Music!

December 29, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 4 Comments

Every year, my quilt group issues a challenge to make a small 40×40 cm quilt using specific materials. We show the results in our yearly exhibition. Here’s what I did last year.

This year we got this fabric – black with gold. Challenge 2019 - Fabric

The theme to go with it is, unsurprisingly, “Music”. This was not going to be a problem, and sure enough, one day I got hit by an idea. An additional constraint I give myself for these challenges is to make them out of my stash, if at all possible. So, here’s what I pulled out:

Challenge 2019 - Fabrics

I already had this nice cream and gold fabric, and added some solid black and cream. A very short time later, there was this:

Challenge 2019 - Pieces

Here’s the finished top:

Challenge 2019 - Finished Top

Quilting added some more sparkle, and as I usually do with these challenges, I finished it into a pillow cover:

Challenge 2019 - Finished

Wouldn’t this make a great decoration for a music room? This project went from idea to completion in a couple of weeks, which happens seldom to never for me.



Another Rainbow Quilt

December 15, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 4 Comments

I’m just now getting around to write about the quilting project that slowed down my embroidery for a while this summer. My favourite Quiltshop was celebrating its 20th birthday with a competition titled “Feuerwerk der Farben” – hard to translate, but approximately “A fireworks of colours”. The task was to create a quilt 45cm wide and 70 cm high fitting the theme. Anybody who’s been reading here for a while knows that I love making things in all the colours of the rainbow, so of course I had to play.

My early ideas were very ambitious and didn’t quite work out for one reason or another, so my design got simpler and simpler as time was starting to run out. The relatively small size requirement didn’t help, either. That was the point where I started collecting all my not-quite-solids and cut squares out of them. Here’s one of the earlier layouts:

Early design with diagonal squares.

I really liked this one, but couldn’t quite nail down a harmonious layout, and the construction would have been fairly complicated. So in the end, I went for a very simple layout:

Rectangular layout of quilt.

After that decision was made, the actual sewing was fairly easy. I went for a stained window look with black strips separating the tiles. Here it is proudly hanging in the exhibition:

The exhibition has been over for quite a while, but you can see what everybody else came up with on the shop’s website. The colours were much more vivid in real life than in the pictures, though!

Challenge 2018 – Penrose Tiling

April 1, 2018 at 9:55 am | Posted in Patchwork | 4 Comments

Every year, my quilt group issues a challenge to make a small 40×40 cm quilt using specific materials. We show the results in our yearly exhibition. Here’s last years entry.

This year, we got a particularly ugly fabric to use – we were pretty much unanimous in that assessment. But then, it isn’t called a challenge for nothing, isn’t it?

Challenge 2018 - Fabric

Since we decided the fabric was enough of a challenge, there are no other constraints. As long as some of the fabric is visible and the quilt is approximately 40*40 cm in size, you’re fine.

As opposed to last year, I immediately knew what I wanted to do with this. I like English Paper Piecing, and I love to play around visually with mathematical concepts. Penrose tilings are a way to pattern the plane with a non-repeating pattern. One particular tiling of this nature is formed out of just two different rhombs, and making a quilt of this has been on my list for a long time. A different type of Penrose tiling is been used as the basis for the internet-famous Passacaglia quilt pattern.

The flowers on the challenge fabric were just the right size to be fuzzy-cut for some of the stars, and in order to emphasize and not hide the pattern, I made the rest of the rhombs out of red and white solid fabric for the fat and skinny rhombs, respectively. I think it worked well, here’s the result:

Challenge 2018 - Penrose Tiling

I like the effect of the little flowers creating a bigger flower in the middle of the stars. For the quilting I made use of a different attribute of this tiling that I hadn’t noticed until I read about it, but is pretty obvious once you know it: since the opposite edges of the rhombs are parallel, you have various sets of parallel lines going in different directions over the pattern. That means you can run lines through the middle of each rhomb and end up with uninterrupted lines from edge to edge of the quilt – ideal for machine quilting with no fuzz! I choose a yellow thread to show up on both the red and white rhombs, taking up the colour of the flowers. I think it works well, and I love the smaller stars showing up inside the bigger stars of the pattern!

Christmas Sewing

December 17, 2017 at 9:23 am | Posted in Patchwork | 6 Comments

As I already wrote in my SAL posts, sewing some presents has been occupying me for the last weeks. I have two teenaged nieces which are always hard to buy for – I’m the aunt with the books, so they’re guaranteed a new book each birthday and Christmas, and I’m adding a bit of money for them to spend. In addition, I used to make sure there was something handmade included in their presents. This has gotten less the older they got, but this year I had an idea: I’m pretty sure teenage girls can never have too many bags to store and carry around whatever. So I’ve asked them for their favourite colours and got to work.

Knick Knack Bags

There’s a fancy little bag with loads of pockets and zippers that’s gone around the internet a couple of times during the last years that I always wanted to try. One of the vendours at our yearly exhibition is selling a pattern that is a variant of this, so I got it this year. I started by making a model for myself, which turned out to be the right idea, since I needed to practice dealing with zippers, and the internal zippers on my own version definitely don’t open and close like they should. Turns out when they say to make sure the fabric around those zippers needs to be aggressively pulled back before top-stitching, that’s not cosmetic, but necessary so the zipper doesn’t get caught in the fabric when trying to move it. So the internal zippers on mine are pretty much cosmetic and will have to stay open.

Knick Knack Bag - Rainbow

I tried to use leftovers for this project, and my version has a rainbow theme, the internal pockets going through all the colours of the rainbow.

Younger niece responded with “grey or dark blue” as her favourite colour, so I found a light grey print in my stash and added a very dark blue for the binding. The inside is solid greys and a lighter blue:

Knick Knack Bag - Grey and Blue

The older nieces wish of red or pink or turquoise or something, while being fairly broad, turned out to be almost incompatible for my stash. At the end I found a fat quarter in pinks with a gold print on top, but needed to go buy the dark red solid to go with it. For the inside I found a very light pink with fine stripes in my stash, and I used more solid grey for accents.

Knick Knack Bag - Pink

I’m happy with how the bags came out and hope the recipients will like them!

Scrappy and Useful

July 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 1 Comment

My old ereader hadn’t made the healthiest of impressions lately, and to save myself from the horrors of it breaking on me in the middle of my vacation, I got a new one. Of course the new one has a different size than the old model, and besides, its bag was getting a bit tatty from being carried around all day, everyday. So, a new bag was in order, and what a good opportunity to use up some of those scraps! I pulled out a coordinating set of leftover strips from my scrapbox and got to work:

Ereader - old and new

Old on the right, new on the left. And since I’m sure you’ll want to see the bags instead of the books, there you go:

Bags for Ereader

Both are made using the same steps: prepare a piece of batting and backing, and sew the strips directly onto it, saving the quilting. The first strip (at the opening) is sewn right on right directly together with the backing, so after turning there isn’t an open seam there. When the batting and backing is all covered with fabric strips, fold into bag, give the flap its final form, and edge all the open edges with bias tape. To make that step easier, I sewed the front and back together using a straight stitch first, which is then hidden under the bias tape.

A quick, satisfying and useful project, and a few scraps gone!

Challenge 2017 – Fall Jewels

April 30, 2017 at 8:48 am | Posted in Patchwork | 5 Comments

Every year, my quilt group issues a challenge to make a small 40×40 cm quilt using specific materials. We show the results in our yearly exhibition. Here’s last years entry.

This year, I was a bit stumped to start with, and took a while to come up with an idea for this:

Challenge 2017 - Materials

There’s some gorgeous-looking but hard-to-work-with blue velvety stretchy fabric, which I had already stabilized with some iron-on interfacing in the picture. Then there’s a nice ribbon in a kind of olive colour, and a button. There were different buttons to choose from, I spontaneously went for the leaf.

So, what to do with the loot? The blue fabric, while it looks and feels lovely, is not very patchwork-friendly. In addition, turns out there’s not very much of it, which killed my first plan. At the end, I took the leaf button as the topic and central point of the quilt:

Challenge 2017 - Finished

The idea was to show the gorgeous colours of fall leaves lying on a lawn. The panel in the middle was made with English Paper Piecing, leaving a hexagonal hole in the middle. I then prepared the backing and batting, layed the dark blue fabric – two strips for the sides and a hexagon in the middle – on top of it and attached it with a couple of seams. Then I put the panel on top, securing it on both sides where the ribbon would be attached later. Everything else I secured with the free-motion quilting. First I did leaf forms on the fall-coloured areas, and then meandering for the background. In hindsight, I think the thread I used for the meandering is a bit too strongly coloured, especially on the pale tiles. After quilting, I hand-stitched the ribbon on top where the panel overlays the blue background. From the colour scheme, this will fit nicely into my living room, so I finished it as a pillow cover, which is a nice use for those 40×40 cm pieces.

I’m leaving you with a detail view of the quilting:

Challenge 2017 - Detail

Seven Sisters – a leftover challenge

April 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 4 Comments

Last year, our quilt group went away for a weekend retreat for the very first time, and we managed it so everybody could come! To mark the occasion, one of our members, who tends to end up with all the leftover material for our raffle quilts, collected all the leftovers, made 14 nice packages out of them, and we drew lots to choose from the packages. I got a pretty early number, and from all the packages still there at that time, here’s what I chose:

Seven Sisters - the Leftovers

I immediately fell in love with the paper-pieced stars and the colour scheme. But, what to do with them? The challenge was to use our package to make something for this year’s exhibition, coming up in November. After a while of having the pieces laid out and thinking back and forth, I decided to make a tablerunner. I’d have to add a few stars and quite a bit of background, and I was lucky again that the same friend who set the challenge still has about half a bolt of the background fabric, so I could get some from her. Otherwise I’d have had to be very creative. As it was, it just was quite a bit of work, since I wanted to mix the differently coloured stars up, so I needed to disassemble the blocks first before I could sew them together again. I learnt quite a few tricks about English paper piecing that way – and the fact that there are quilters that sew so densely that it’s almost impossible to get the pieces apart again, while with others you just have to look at the seam sternly and it will fall apart on its own.

So, here’s the table runner ready for this year’s exhibition (I even already attached a tunnel):

Seven Sisters - Finished Tablerunner

I decided to quilt spirals in the dark hexagons, so the stars could pop out even more:

Seven Sisters - Detail with Quilting

Oh, and you’re interested in how the original raffle quilt looked like? I was as well, since this quilt was from 2005, when I wasn’t yet involved with this group. It took quite a while, but after repeated asking one of the members found a picture she took back then, so here it is, and you can see exactly where my leftovers came from:

Seven Sisters - Original Raffle Quilt (2005)

Scrapbox management

March 19, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 2 Comments

Reading about Kate’s efforts at scrap management, I got inspired to have a look at my own, much smaller scrap collection. Being somewhat in need of a new handwork-in-front-of-TV project, I decided to see how many 1-inch-hexies I could create out of the contents. Turns out not as many as I thought. Here’s the box after emptying out, with everything that wasn’t going to become hexies lying around it:

empty scrapbox

On the left side, there’s a small pile of solids that doesn’t belong in there, since I do have another scrap bag just for solids. On top, a few pieces that are pretty much big and coherent enough to count as fabric, even though they live in the scrap box. And that big pile on the right, pretty much everything that’s too small to cut a 1-inch-hexie out of it. Also some non-patchwork fabrics, and some black and white stuff that I didn’t want to include in the rainbow of hexies I was planning.

Looks like it’s still going to fill the box, and it did. The pieces I did pull out became this:

scrap hexies

Hexies in all the colours of the rainbow. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them yet. The plan is to make more, keep them sorted by colour and maybe use them for some colour exploration or smallish projects. Since a hexie turns out to be pretty big for most of my scraps, I may also continue cutting rhombs for baby blocks out of the fabric left over. Lots of geometric forms to play with!

If you want to create your own EPP templates for hexies, baby blocks, triangles and more, I recommend the graph paper generator that I also link from my sidebar, so I can find the link whenever I need it. Very useful tool!

Progress on this may slow down now that winter sports TV season is pretty much over, but that also means that spring is on the way and it’s time to find inspiration outside.



A Year of Quilting

November 12, 2016 at 10:03 am | Posted in Patchwork | 5 Comments

Last weekend saw the yearly exhibition of my quilt group, where we show off everything we’ve created over the past year. Seeing everything hanging together, I’m always impressed by what everybody manages to do over the space of a year.

So I think this is a good time to look at my contribution for this year’s exhibition. Turns out, even though it doesn’t feel like that much, I did get things done.

First, the group projects. Every year, we make a quilt to raffle away for charity at the show. For quite a few years now, we decide on next year’s quilt during this year’s show, and then get together on the 6th of January to sew the top. It generally takes the rest of the year to add the borders, get the quilt professionally long-arm-quilted and add the binding. Here’s the result a lucky visitor won last weekend:


When the top was finished, we had one left-over block, which I used to make a pillow cover to go with the quilt:


Then there’s the yearly challenge project, where everybody gets the same constraints to make a 40*40 cm quilt. I already wrote about my contribution, and here’s the whole panel with everybody’s quilts:


And of course, I had my own quilts at the show.

Rainbow: Gravity


Looks like I haven’t posted a picture of the finished quilt yet, but there are a couple of relevant posts here and here.

Mexican Bird


There’s a whole pile of previous posts regarding this project:

  1. Getting started
  2. Paint by Numbers
  3. Adding hand embroidery
  4. Some decision making
  5. Documenting the Project

Looks like I’ve also been a better blogger than I thought! I think it’s good to occasionally look back at the things that did get done, especially with a hobby where things generally proceed at a glacial pace. Hope you enjoyed the little visit to our show!


After the Finish – Documenting the Project

September 18, 2016 at 7:19 am | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 3 Comments

So, once a quilt is finished, in this case my Mexican Bird, the work tends to be almost, but not quite completely done. At that point of time my worktable tends to be a mess: left-over fabric, design sketches, photographs I’ve been working from, and samples all lying around. There’s way too much work in there to throw it all away, and those are the physical artefacts of making this particular quilt. So, what do I do with all that stuff?

First, the samples:


They still have raw edges that need to be cleaned up, which I take care of with zig-zagging around the whole thing. To put them away in a folder, I take a strip of strong cardboard, fold it in half and catch the sample beween the layers, attaching the cardboard to the fabric with enough space to punch a couple of holes in the cardboard:


Now I collect all the paper, sorting out what I want to keep:


There’s the photograph I took, the original tracing on transparent paper, and the smaller copies of that I used for working out the colours and other details.

All of this goes into an A3 folder, where it lives happily ever after together with all the other finished projects.


I’m now free to clean everything else away and start with whatever’s next!

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