Full of hearts

This year, quite early on, I decided I wouldn’t craft many Christmas presents. As it happened, by the time I usually get around to start on my Christmas crafting, I was about to pop and completely lacking my usual crafting mojo. Then, next thing I know, it was November and I was starting my quest for the perfect gifts for our loved ones. And I wasn’t going to make anything. Nothing. Nada. Yeah, right…

First, I made the album photo for my mum (she loved it, by the way). Then, I was told that a certain person would love a crafted present. And that they love hearts.

Full of hearts cushion

Nothing says “you’re important to me” quite like a handmade heart-full cushion cover

Now, there’s nothing terribly difficult about this cushion cover. The patchwork is made of 16 squares (12.5cm / 5in finished). I really wanted some low volume prints for the background. But guess what? I have 0 – ZERO – low volume prints in my stash. None whatsoever. So I went to my next favourite thing of the moment: greys.

Heartfull cushion in progress

When in doubt, choose your favourite colour combination…


To create the template for the hearts, I simply cut a 12.5cm paper square, folded it in half, traced half a heart slightly smaller, then cut it. I used this paper heart to cut all my fabric hearts. I chose not to use any kind of fusible web to help the appliquéing process. I first started to free hand machine embroidered the hearts, but hated the look of it.

So I hand embroidered 17 hearts (16 on the front, 1 on the back)

Handquilting and appliqueing

Handquilting and appliquéing at the same time


I’m very happy with how the whole thing turned out. The back uses bigger pieces of some of the greys. I added a lapped zipper to help removing the cushion inner (for easy washing). It’s quite a big cushion, 50 cm (20in) square. And the recipient liked it. Win!

Puttin on the Ritz, finally

Years ago, when we were still living in another country and when I still had my teeny little fabric shop, I fell in love with Bunny Hill Designs and their take on “baby / children” lines. One of the last collection I got to stock was Puttin on the Ritz, which was delivered to me around the time we made the decision to move (and thus close shop). So while I managed to sell most of my stock, I got left with a layer cake (which I had earmarked for myself anyway) and lots of charm packs.

While I loved the line and the fact that the layer cake was only made of greys (you could choose from several options, if I remember well, grey, blue, pink or mixed, I think), the charm packs puzzled me more (which is probably why had so many left over) with their mix of colours. I have, slowly but surely, been using the greys charms, leaving the pinks and blues out of my projects.

After finishing the Little Man’s Big Quilt and 2 baby quilts, I felt it was time for me to dig out my Puttin on the Ritz collection and do something with it. To be honest, I had always thought that my first project after those would be made with my Ruby by Bonnie and Camille collection, but when it came to pulling fabrics out, I went for Puttin on the Ritz.

Puttin on the Ritz

Yes, it is French inspired. And yes, I like it!

I wanted a simple pattern which would not require me to cut down my layer cake’s squares (each being 10in / 25cm square). The reason being that I didn’t want to add fabric to bring it up to a larger sized quilt. And I was feeling lazy too.
Still, not so lazy that I didn’t think twice about cutting enough charm squares (5in / 12.5cm each) into 4 smaller squares (2.5in / 5cm each). After all, for the optimal use of my layer cake, I just needed 168 small squares…

A Simple Pattern

1 small square became 1 small triangle in each corner of each layer cake squares


I knew I wanted to “snowball” my layer cake squares (which is a funny way of saying “make them look round-ish with triangles in the corners). There are plenty of tutorials out there to show you how to “snowball” a square, some of which will have you trace a line on the back of all your small squares, or press them along the diagonal to create a sewing guide. With 168 SMALL squares, this wasn’t going to happen. So I eyeballed it. What I didn’t consider is that while my eyeballing is pretty good (I’ve been sewing enough diagonal lines on small squares), it is not perfect and when it came to putting the big snowball together, my triangles would not match perfectly. And while I am usually not bothered by things being a bit off from time to time, being off all the times would have driven me up the wall.

So, how do you solve a problem like off-ness? (Yes, I made that into a word). You add sashing (a border between the squares) and cornerstones. No, you don’t necessarily need to add cornerstones, but I thought I would be nice touch. Plus, I felt like cutting even smaller squares (no, not really, but hey, I only needed 56 or so of them…).

Better with Sashing

1. Testing the look over a white background
2. Cutting teeny squares


Before making my final decision, I put a few snowballs over a white background. This convinced me that the sashing was the way to go. Then it was just a question of cutting a lot of strips and squares (all the while cursing my lack of foresight re: the eyeballing of the snowballing).
Because I didn’t want to add too much to the size of the finished project (I’m still slightly traumatised by the quilting of the Little Man’s Big Quilt), I decided to cut my strips and squares to 1.5in / 4cm wide.

Finished

Ooo, pretty!


Having used all 42 squares of my layer cake, I went for a 6 columns x 7 rows. When putting together long rows and columns such as these, I like to divide into chunky blocks rather than rows. I find it’s easier to match seams like this rather than putting together many looooooooooong rows. So ideally, for a project like this one, you’d have 2 super blocks made of 3×3 snowballs with their sashing, which you’d sew together to create a hyper block of 3×6 snowballs. And you’d have another 2 super blocks of 4×3 snowballs, which you’d sew together to create another hyper block of 4×6 snowballs. Then, you’d have 2 halves of your quilt, meaning you’d have only 1 long row of 6 blocks to sew together (I hope that makes sense?).

Anyway, it is finished and I’m very happy with it. For now, this quilt top has gone to live in the box of quilts awaiting quilting. When I come around to quilting it, the finished project will be around 64in x 74in(160cm x 185cm), which will make it a big throw size or a small single bed quilt (so not so little….).

Now, have I used all my Puttin on the Ritz? Nope……..

Finished: Disappearing 4-patch baby quilt

Ages ago, when I had a little online fabric business, I fell in love with this lovely line of fabric called Modern Workshop by Oliver and S for Moda. When it finally arrived, I just managed to put 1 charm pack aside for myself before all my stock got sold out. Then, I managed to hold onto it for what? 3 years? without doing anything with it. Until the last couple of weeks.

You see, I have been trying to destash a bit, and my favourite way to do it is to actually make things with the long hoarded stuff. My precious. Well, I still haven’t touched my Fandango charm pack or my Summerville Jelly Roll, because you know, there’s precious. And then, there’s Precious with a big P.

So out it came and very quickly a new baby quilt was made.
I wanted something quick to make, so I went for a disappearing 4-patch. I more or less followed the instructions from this awesome Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial. I made a couple of changes. The first one was that instead of a 1in / 2.5cm cut either side of the centre seam, I used a 1.25in / 3cm cut, so that I ended up with finished 1in / 2.5cm “sashing” (I hope that makes sense? if you follow the video to the letter, your “sashing” will be 0.75in / 2cm wide).
My second change was a slight layout change: where she turns the centre square, I didn’t. That’s it.

Layout options

I played around for the most satisfying layout

I didn’t realise how much pink there was in this charm pack (much more than the aquas or orange) which bothered me a bit. Since I needed only 40 squares for this quilt, I excluded 2 of the pinkest ones (charm packs usually have 42 squares), but still, it felt overly pink, so I banished all the pink squares to the outer edge, keeping only the brown with pink prints for the centre of the quilt. I’m happy with how it turned out, I think it doesn’t read too much as a “girl” quilt. It’s not like the baby will care anyway!

I love the backing fabric. Love love love. And I still have plenty of it. Hurray.

Finished quilt and backing

Isn’t this backing fabric glorious?

The quilting is a (wobbly-ish) variable grid, with lines about 0.5in / 1cm outside the “sashing” lines. It makes for a light and squishy quilt. Plus, it was easy and done in a couple of hours. Bonus.
The binding also came from the stash. Yep, all the fabrics used in this project were FROM THE STASH. Including the white squares, which were cut up from my dwindling stock of favourite white fabric (Moda Bella Solids in Snow I think, code 9900-97. Yes, I still remember the fabric codes!). I’m down to my last 1.5m of it, which makes me antsy. I’m trying very hard to not order some more in. You know, just to be on the safe side. In case there’s suddenly a worldwide shortage of it.

Lovely little squares

Looks like hard work!


The beauty of the disappearing 4-patch is that it makes this finished quilt look like hard work. Look at all those teeny 1in / 2.5cm squares! What tricky piecing. Not. The smallest piece I had to deal with was a 2.5in / 5cm square. And that, my friends, is magic!

Finished: Grey, orange and green baby quilt

With Littlest Man’s arrival looming in, I felt like I needed to make him some blankets of his own. Because, you know, there weren’t enough blankets in the house.

Favourite Colours Combination

I’m in love with orange and grey, at the moment. And green was a nice contrast.


All the fabrics were bought specifically for this project. I used 7 Fat Quarters and 1 Fat Eight for the front and binding (from Stitch) and I used about 1.25m (I bought a 1.5m piece) of grey zig-zag fabric from Lincraft which had Joann written on the selvedge (so coming from the big chain of store in the States, which is kinda cool).
The dots and chevrons in orange and green are all Riley Blake fabrics. I love love love those prints from Riley Blake and they come in such a wide array of colours, there’s always one to work with your project. I’m not quite sure what the greys are, as I bought them as FQ without selvedge.

It took me a while to decide what design to go for, I just wanted something simple and quick, without being squares. I was a bit squared out at this stage! In the end, I went from a “jelly roll race” design.

Lots of strips

There’s something satisfying about cutting lots of strips


For that design, I had to cut all my fabric in 2.5in / 5cm strips. After that, it was just a question of sewing loooooooooooooooong strips together, which was kind of boring, if I’m completely honest.
But I like the look of it. I wish I had been more precise in putting my strips together as the seams ended up a bit wonky in places. Ah well, it doesn’t bother me (too) much!

For the quilting, I didn’t want to do straight lines or free-motion.

Diamonds and Zig zags Quilting

Trying out a different kind of quilting


After a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing, I decided to try out a combination of big Zig-Zags and Diamonds. I traced all my lines with a water erasable marker. Then I quilted the thing, following the lines and turning the quilts around A LOT. I would not recommend this kind of quilting on anything bigger than a lap quilt as it requires a lot of quilt maneuvering under the arm of the machine.

All in all, I’m pleased with the end result. It’s a bright and cheery quilt, perfect for a little baby and I can’t wait to put it to good use!

Finished: the Little Man’s Big Quilt

Finally, I get around to show my biggest quilt to date! After being in the making for over 3 years, I am so glad that it is done and that it is finished!

I had collected the “children” prints just for this quilt, but that wasn’t enough for the quilt I had in mind, so I added to this little stack of 8 or so fat quarters of prints with spots and dots prints from my stash. I may have a problem with spots and dots, as it looks like at least 50% of my stash is made of them!

In use

As soon as it was finished, it was put to good use!

Some stats:

  • Each square is 8in / 20cm finished
  • There are 88 squares in this quilt
  • The finished quilt is about 64in / 160cm by 88in / 220cm. That makes it a twin-sized quilt
  • The “children” prints are all from Ann Kelle Remix collection from a few years back, in the boys collection
  • All the fabrics, including the backing, came from my stash.
  • For the piecing, I used Guterman thread Sew-All 100% polyester in white (0000 colourway?, can’t remember)
  • For the quilting, I used Guterman thread 100% cotton in white (because they didn’t have enough stock of the Sew-All when I bought my thread for quilting
  • I used about 1700m of thread for quilting (!!!)
  • The binding is a scrappy binding made of all the fabrics from the quilt, meaning that I have very little lefftovers
  • The cutting, piecing and making of the binding took about 8 hours
  • The quilting took over 20 hours
Time for Binding

What’s not to love about a very scrappy binding?

The Little Man is very happy with his quilt. He’s been marveling at some of the prints. Which is kind of cool as I bought them when he was a very toddling toddler, a long time before he expressed an interest in owls, planes or monkeys (or whales, or turtles!).

A Few Favourites

What’s not to like about these?

I had almost enough of this wonderful green spotty fabric from Lakehouse Dry Goods, it was a big remnant from when I had a shop. To be honest, when it came time to close the shop, I just couldn’t part with it and I’m glad I didn’t. It worked almost perfectly for this project, it was just 75cm short to be used for the full backing. So I had to come up with something to add to it. I had this fat quarter of Michael Miller animals on grey (they reprint it every season or so, in different colourway, I think) that I thought would be a nice touch, combined with more dots in matching colors.

Some Details

I love the backing. And the dense loopy (imperfect) quilting.

But really, next time I even think about doing this super dense time on such a big quilt, shoot me, ok?… It’s a good thing that I’m thrilled with the result. And the Little Man too.

The making of FrankenBatting

Before I show you all my finished projects, I thought I’d share my FrankenBatting, because it makes me SO happy.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have much money to spend on crafts and hobbies supplies, so I learned to make whatever we could afford go further. So nothing makes me happier than leftover pieces of batting. And with my recent 3 finished quilts, I had plenty of leftover batting to play with.

So I made some FrankenBatting.

FrankenBatting

Isn’t it lovely?

There’s nothing difficult about making FrankenBatting, you just need a thrifty mind (I use any pieces that is larger than 10cm / 4in), a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch (don’t forget to alter your thread tension) and some white thread.
Then, it’s just a question of butting 2 pieces of batting together and stitch them (not on top of each other).
Soon enough, you’ll have a brand new piece of batting, which will be perfect to make cushion covers, placemats, tablerunners or even a baby blanket. Once quilted, you really can’t tell the difference between FrankenBatting and a piece of off-the-bolt batting. If you’re worried about it not holding together, choose a denser quilting pattern (meandering stipple, small grid, etc).

FrankenBatting details

Mindless process, good result

My last projects have left me enough pieces to make a FrankenBatting big enough for a baby quilt. It’s a shame, because I don’t have any baby quilt tops to use! Maybe I should work on that!

Now, while I love making and using leftover pieces of batting, I would not make anything bigger than maybe a throw sized quilt. My reasoning is that anything bigger will be an investment in time and money for the quilt top (and back) which deserves a brand new piece of batting. But that might be just me!

Of paper and fabric

My very first quilting project was a teeny quilt made with flowers using the English Paper Piecing (EPP) technique. I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time, but with just a needle and thread, some fabric, a few paper pieces and a massive amount of patience, I made my first quilt. So it’s no wonder that 4 years on, I still love picking up pieces of paper to make flowers, hexagons and other diamonds shaped bits of quilt.

Ages ago, I started a small EPP project. I had 2 rules: 1) to only use scraps, 2) to only use said scrap only once. It is no wonder that it took nearly 3 years to finish this little project! Probably because unless it is the smallest of fabric pieces, I don’t really see it as a scrap! Anyway, I’ve called it done this last weekend.

Very scrappy hexies

3 years in the making!


It is just about 17in / 44cm square. When I started it, I had no idea what I was gonna make with it. Now, I know. It will be on a cushion cover, hopefully before the end of the decade! There’s a lot of memories into this little piece with quite a few leftovers from my first quilts. There are also some fabrics that had found their way in my stash that I didn’t really like the look of. But mixed up with some old time favourites, they don’t bother me so much.

Because it was a no sewing machine weekend – only because I wanted to spare the boys the incessant tack-tack-tack noise of my current quilting project, punctuated with the not so occasional swear word, I started another EPP project straight away.

Teeny hexie flower

I may have a spot issue…


One thing that had frustrated me with my previous EPP project was that the size of hexagons I had chosen (1.25in / 3cm) was too big for my bottomless scrap pile of 2.5in / 5cm strips (what can I say, it seems to be my most favourited cut!). So when I started this new project, I decided to go with smaller hexies. Well, small is actually big when talking about those 0.5in / 1.5cm hexies! But aren’t they cute? This flower will become a pincushion when the sewing machine is freed from the monster quilt project (it certainly feels like a monster this morning!)

This little flower didn’t occupy the whole of my weekend. Plus it did absolutely nothing for my scrap pile, so I started another EPP project!

Starburst flowers

More EPP… What can I say, I just love it!


This time, the hexagons, triangles and diamonds have 1in / 2.5cm sides. While the hexies fit perfectly in a 2.5in / 5cm strips, the triangles and diamonds are very good with 1.5in / 4cm strips, which I seem to have quite a lot of too. Now, it’s not the miraculous project for getting rid of scraps (it seems to have only scratched the surface so far), but I’m fine with that. It’s another project I don’t know what I’m going to make with, which means it’ll probably end up as a cushion cover sometime in the future. Anything bigger would probably take me a decade (those triangles are teeny!!). If I finish this project in the next 3 years, I’ll be happy.

The Little Man’s Big Quilt

Over the last few years, I had been collecting fabrics with the goal of making my soon to be oldest son a twin-sized quilt for his bed. With across the world moves and lack of funds, this project kept getting delayed. Until last November, that is, when I decided that the boy would have a quilt for Christmas.

The making of a big quilt

A finished quilt top, back in November!


While the quilt top only took a couple of days worth of cutting and sewing, it didn’t get done before Christmas. For two reasons: 1) While the whole quilt top, backing and binding came from the stash, spending that much money on batting felt a bit extravagant at the time; 2) I was terrified of quilting it.

Fast forward a few months, and I bit the bullet. I was going to finish it, yes I was!

Getting the quilt sandwich ready

Let’s make a quilt sandwich!


It took about 5 gruelling hours (with a few breaks) to get the whole thing sandwiched and ready for quilting. It fit on my living room floor. Just. That makes me wonder how I’ll baste the other awaiting quilt tops which are about one third larger… But let’s not think about that just yet.

The next step was to quilt it. I considered all my options. I even considered hand quilting it, because I wasn’t sure I could wrangle it around my sewing machine… My favourite quilting style is straight lines, but on such a big quilt with such big blocks (8.5in / 21 cm finished), it would have required to maneuvre the quilt too much for my liking. No, there was only one sensible thing to do. It was to free-motion quilt it.

Quilting it

A big job for my little sewing machine.


I chose to go with a very dense scribbled kind of quilting. It just felt right when I started, possibly because it is very forgiving in terms of pattern (but boy, is it greedy in thread!). I spent a bit of time finding my ideal rhythm to limit the “eyelashing” on the back of the quilt (when the top thread is pulled completely to the back of the work making some unsightly loops).
The quilting is not perfect, far from it, but I am satisfied with it. While it won’t earn me a medal at a quilt festival, it is decent and the receiver couldn’t care less about the not-so-perfect quilting.

Now I just need to get it finished… It’s slightly easier now that I’m reaching the borders (there’s less weight / drag to fight against), but I’m still not halfway there… Better get back to it!