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)


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!

Finished? – Not quite!

July 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Embroidery, Patchwork, Quilting | 5 Comments

My Mexican Bird project is progressing nicely. In fact, I took a picture a couple of weeks ago that I could easily sell as the finished quilt:

Mexican Bird with Binding

The machine quilting is finished, and a nice pink binding added, but I’m not quite there. If you look at the picture of the painting this is inspired by, there’s lots of white highlights:


I’ve added the tiny feathery lines with machine quilting before binding the quilt, and I’m now working on the stronger lines in some of the leaves and the dots between the stems and the leaves:


The spiral on the leaf is worked in chain stitch, the dots are done in French knots. Here’s another area where you can see both:


While the effect is subtle when seen from a distance, I think it really makes a difference, here’s an area where the dots are still missing for comparison:


I’m also thinking about highlighting the centres of the petals of the pink flowers, since they are a bit flat currently. Lots of TV stitching ahead!

Mexican Bird – Paint by Numbers

June 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 7 Comments

I’ve got quite a few pictures to show you, but very little blogging time at the moment. I’ve been busy on the Mexican Bird Project, though, with what turned out to be a case of “Paint by Numbers”.

So, here’s a gallery of progress pictures going from a sketch on fabric to a quilted and painted piece. Sorry for the wonky and occasionally blurry pictures – the lighting conditions were not always ideal.

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I ended up using the Inktense blocks like watercolours, which gives the quilt the impression of being painted rather than drawn, which I like. I managed to get away with very little bleeding, after being worried about that with my samples.

Currently I’m adding the quilting that goes on top of the paint, and then I’ll need to pick the right colour for the binding.


Mexican Bird – New Project!

March 28, 2016 at 9:10 am | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 2 Comments

It is almost a tradition by now that my patchwork group uses a couple of days on the long Easter weekend for sewing. Having finished my challenge project for this year, I needed something new to take along. A couple of things came together to create the idea for this one:

First, I got a set of Inktense blocks from my quilting friends as a birthday present. Not generally being somebody who uses paint of any kind on her quilts, I was a bit stumped what to use them for.

Second, I have a couple of beautiful folk art paintings from South America on my living room wall, and a couple of weeks ago my mom remarked (not for the first time) that one of them would make a beautiful quilt:


I agree with the suitablity of this one for a quilt, but wouldn’t want to appliqué all those bits and pieces, and what about those feathers? So when my mom brought this up again a couple of weeks ago, things suddenly clicked. This would be a perfect opportunity to try out my Inktense blocks! There would be some challenges involved, for sure, but I can easily imagine for this to make a very effective quilt. So, I spent most of the weekend making some samples:


Most of the shapes on the original painting are outlined with a dark colour, and I choose to quilt the outlines with dark grey thread. I also got myself a set of Inktense pencils in addition to the blocks, so I would be able to draw finer lines. You can see the lines below the quilting on the frame on the left side of the sample. When dry, Inktense acts a lot like pencil, but to fixate it and bring out the beautiful colours, it must be made wet. When you’re not careful, this can lead to bleeding, which you can most clearly see on the blue shape on the left.

I decided to try to recreate the white shading on the blue leaves and the structure of the feathers by quilting heavily on top of the finished colour field, and I quite like the effect. The colour underneath the white quilted feather is a bit weak on this sample to bring out the quilting nicely, though.

I finished all the painting first on this sample before starting to quilt. In order to possibly contain the bleeding a bit better and to try out a few more things, I created a second sample:


Here I put the grey quilt lines in first, and painted on top of the already quilted piece. My thoughts were that the quilt lines would possibly form a natural barrier for the bleeding, and the batting would soak up some of the water instead of it spreading out into the fabric. This mostly worked, and I like the effect. There’s only a little bit of strong bleeding on the brown twigs at the top. This sample showed me another potential problem, though. The white quilting on the blue leaf on the left suddenly isn’t white anymore, it’s blue! Looks like I need to be very careful to properly fix the pigment into the fabric before quilting on top of it, especially when using white thread. It also matters how much paint I use and in which way: painting with the Inktense sticks on already wet fabric gives a strong colour, but a higher tendency for bleeding out and the necessity to use even more water to fixate the paint.

So, definitely more adventure ahead when making the full quilt, but I have a much better idea now what to be careful of. I have now transferred the whole pattern to the fabric and am currently basting the quilt – it’ll be a few days before I can show much progress!

Crumbling Beauty – Finished

November 30, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | Leave a comment

The arabic star pattern quilt I posted about here has been finished for a few weeks now. The yearly exhibition of my quilt group finally gave me the opportunity to get a decent picture of the whole quilt:

Crumbling Beauty

I’ve named the quilt “Crumbling Beauty”, since the image I finally chose came from the idea of a colourful mosaic slowly falling apart with the passing of time. Its size is about 1*1.5 meters.

One decision I made fairly late, after I finished quilting, was to have the pattern symmetrical in the vertical direction. I had to cut off about 10 cm of the quilt along the left side to achieve this, but I’m happy with the result. The quilt has a very asymmetrical feeling anyway due to the way the colourful part is concentrated in the upper left corner, and I think having at least the pattern symmetrical balances that a bit. I also can see a cross forming around the central blue octagon in the middle of the upper part, extending vertically and horizontally through the red stars. I’m not sure how visible this is for others, what do you think?

Tips and Tricks for Machine Couching

August 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 2 Comments

I seem to have contracted the couching bug lately, looking at my recent projects. First mention of this technique is here, way back in 2010, resulting in this quilt:


1001 Nights full viewI also used it in this year’s challenge quilt, and quite recently, to quilt the second incarnation of the arabic pattern from the quilt above.

While doing so, I realized that I have amassed quite a bit of experience with machine couching by now, and thought that some of the things I figured out might be interesting to others as well. So for once, I remembered to take a few pictures of the process. Here’s how the quilt looked like the last time I posted about it:

Crumbling Beauty - LayoutI finished the top pretty much in the arrangement you can see here, layered and basted it, and started quilting by emphasizing the pattern lines with a black thread with some sparkles in it. Here’s a picture of my sample, so you know approximately what I’m talking about:

Finished SampleThe pattern is all straight lines, with quite a few more or less pronounced corners. It is those corners that need a bit of care to make sure the couching thread ends up where it needs to go, and the corners themselves nice and crisp. So, after sewing up to a corner, I’m turning the thread and carefully pinning the next corner, like this:

Couching - Pinned CornerYou can see that I’m not pinning the couching thread itself, but catching the fabric twice, once immediately before the thread and once after guiding the pin over the thread. This keeps the thread able to move up and down, so I can easily regulate the tension, but fixes it sideways. I’m using a normal zigzag stich in my sewing maching to hold the thread down. When approaching the corner, I try to make sure the needle ends up on the inside of the corner before turning. I sew up right to the pin or even just beyond it. This helps to make the corner crisp.

Couching up to cornerAt this point, with the needle stuck in the fabric, I lift the foot and turn into the new direction, stretching and pinning the couching thread to the next corner in the process.

Couching - after turningI then continue sewing towards the next corner, where the process repeats. The result looks pretty good, I think, I hope I can show you the finished project soon!

2014 Challenge – the Patchwork

January 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 5 Comments

So, looking at the strong graphical patterns of the fabric, I though it would work out well to use a magnified section of the pattern as a patchwork block. Some drawing and fiddling later, I had this:

Test Block for 2014 challenge

Since I liked what I saw, I started making the other eight blocks needed part by part. Starting with the easy things, the quarter-sqared triangles:

2014 Challenge - Quarter Squared Triangles

Followed by the squares made from irregular triangles:

2014 Challenge - Triangles

You can already see that I had to be pretty economic in my use of the black and white fabric, since there was so little of it, but I managed somehow.

The half circles:

2014 Challenge - Half Circles

And from that, the completed half blocks:

2014 Challenge - Half Blocks

Combined with the smaller squares from above, I got eight blocks:

2014 Challenge - Blocks

Adding the test block back in makes 9 blocks, which can be arranged into a 3*3 pattern:

2014 Challenge - Center

Looks pretty dramatic and captures the fabric well, I think. Since this ended up being a bit smaller than the required 40*40 cm, I added a narrow white border:

2014 Challenge - Top

It’s now a bit too big, so some of the border will be cut off once it’s quilted. We’ll look at that next week I think, this post does have enough pictures already!

Quilt Group Challenge 2014 – The Challenge

January 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | Leave a comment

It has quickly become a tradition that my quilt group does a challenge each year for the next exhibition. During our yearly exhibition in November we’ll choose the parameters of the challenge, and then we have time till the next one rolls around to come up with something. This year, my challenge quilt was finished less than a month after the exhibition, I just couldn’t help myself. I even remembered to take a few pictures of the process, so I’ll share those with you during the next weeks.

But for today, the challenge. We each got a piece of this fabric:

Challenge Fabric 2014

The piece as shown is about 15*55 cm in size, which is all each of us got to work with, since the seller of the fabric didn’t have any more than that.

Additional parameters:

  • Finished size of quilt: 40*40 cm
  • Additional fabrics allowed: plain black, plain white and one additional colour.
  • The challenge fabric must be clearly visible on the front of the quilt.

I have to admit that I was very happy with the choice of fabric, and I was part of the small group that chose it. I’ll show you what I did with it next week. So, what would you do with it? Any ideas?

For inspiration, here’s some previous years’ challenge quilts of mine:


Fassett Challenge - Finished


Challenge 2012 - Finished




1001 Nights full view

They’re quite different from each other, I think. So how will this year’s look like? Find out next week!

Quilt Group Challenge 2013

May 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 2 Comments

For a few years now, my quilt group has issued a challenge to make a small (40*40 cm) quilt with a common fabric (or theme) for our yearly exhibition in November. You can read about my contributions for previous years in their own posts: 2012, 2011, 2010.

This year’s fabric was chosen after quite a bit of discussion, but it won on the merits that it definitely isn’t boring, and we were sure to get a lot of radically different quilts:

Fassett Challenge Fabric

As usual, everybody got about 25*55 cm worth of fabric. On the left, that’s my piece, and on the right one I had borrowed to get more of the repeat. Those are big color repeats on the fabric, each individual piece shows only part of the repeat, and since my plans included extending the pattern into another fabric, I needed to trace the part of the pattern I didn’t have in my piece.

While a few of my quilting friends cut the fabric into very small pieces, so the flowers aren’t visible anymore and only the colour impression stays, I decided not to cut up the fabric at all. I wanted to show the pattern in as big a piece as possible. So, I transfered the tracing onto a piece of dark purple fabric:

Fassett - Tracing

then I ironed both fabrics onto some iron-on batting, so the pattern continues from one to the other:

Fassett - before quilting

Machine quilting the whole thing took quite a while, despite its relatively small size. I used an orange machine embroidery thread on the purple, and a rather subdued green on the Fassett fabric, since it definitely didn’t need more colour. Here’s the back of the finished quilt, where you can see all the quilting.

Fassett - Back of quilt

I added an orange strip as a border between the two areas, and finished the piece as a pillow cover, which I think would be a great use for it after the exhibition.

Fassett Challenge - Finished

I enjoyed making this piece, and I think it does show off the fabric nicely.

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