January 25, 2014

What's happening

Things have been a bit quiet around me for a while. I realize I've shamefully neglected my blogging. This isn't because I haven't done anything, but it's more because I've been finishing old things and didn't feel so excited about it. More like going on like a horse in a slow trot.

So what's happening? Weeell; here are the things I'm currently working on: Mainly very old projects that felt like stones around my neck and have been dragging me down. But with a little help from the ladies of the Lazy Bums group I've tackled some of the oldies and actually found out I'm enjoying myself hughely.

Lets start with last months challenge; a sampler kind of quilt. We had our global retreat day - 24 hours of mad sewing and it was just great. I couldn't wait for the day to arrive and when it actually did I started a couple of minutes after midnight, only to realize I wasn't the first one, even if I was in the time zone to go first. Lizzie, the Swedish Scrapper and Susan, Sgcrafty, sewing somewhere in USA both beat me to it. Susan was due to start 8 hours later, but as she was at an IRL retreat at the time she joined in a bit early and I think actually was the last one to stop. During those 24 hours we kept chatting and sewing. Some sissies like me did sleep for a bit and some even took time off to eat, but mainly it was about sewing and chatting. It was so much fun to see how one lady after another jumped up on the train and joined in! We did get a lot done that day and it was so much fun that we are going to repeat it on the 29th of March. I'll keep you posted.



I picked my Just takes 2 project. It's a sampler with 100 blocks. I'd made 7 blocks some time ago until I didn't know how to proceed and pushed the project to the side to wait for the "right" time. So this was the right time and I made 6 blocks. It doesn't sound like much, but believe me - I had a lot to do! Afterwards I made some more and this is how it looks like now. I've put the next block, a feathered star on today's to do list. We'll see how I manage.

Then we have Joseph's Coat. It's a handpieced everlasting project. I don't remember when I actually started on it, but I've been at it for a very long time. This is one of the projects I've put on this years to do list (it was on last years as well...) and I've actually managed to finish all 56 blocks and made the first 6 rows on the quilt. (You really don't want to see my poor fingertips.) One of the problems with this quilt was that it was a quilt along, but the instructions stopped halfway and we had to figure out ourselves how to proceed. I'm not sure if I've got everything ok, but I've got only 2 more rows to go and then I can start on the handquilting.



Talking of which. My DD1 and I went a couple of years ago to a handquilting class and came home hot on starting with our handquilting. Well, it wasn't a success! I picked up a very old sandwiched quilt and started on the quilting (after some practicing of course). It didn't work the way I wanted so I disgustedly threw the project in a corner, not wanting to see it ever again. You see, I'm outing myself as a total sissie. A couple of weeks ago I was a bit bored and looked through the adverts from Craftsy and found a handquilting class by Andi Pedeira. It was a special offer so I thought what the heck, I'll throw the 11 euros after the 30 euros for the first class and see if handquilting is such a lost cause for me. It wasn't. This time I was able to grasp a lot more of the information (no chatting ladies around to distract me) and I'm actually finding handquilting to be rather addictive. Of course I had to find my way around it, but that's life. I've bought 4 or 5 kinds of different quilting needles and 4 different kinds of handquilting threads to find what I like to work with. Some of the quilting needles have such a small eye it's very difficult to thread them even with this handy helper. But not all of them. You have to decide for yourself what is more important to you. To sew with a very fine needle, but a small eye, or with one with a bigger eye. I've chosen the second one for myself, but I'll probably switch later.



And I found out to my great surprise that the thread from Gütermann wasn't suited for the task. Perhaps I'd only picked a bad one, but still... I use Gütermann for sewing all the time and am very happy with the quality, so this was indeed a big surprise.



The challenge for February in the Lazy Bums group is to finish something for someone else. I picked to finish all my outstanding bee blocks. I've had a very bad conscience about not finishing them ages ago, but it's been very difficult. I cannot say why, only that it is. Now I hope for a new boost of energy and get them off to their final destination. At the moment I'm working on three and have prepared all of them.

Missed out a bit, but it'll be fine...


Then I have the quilts I'm making for my daughters. My youngest was so thrilled by the scrappy floating stars I made last summer for my friends that she wanted one for herself. This is how far I've managed to work with  it.


I ran out of bleached white Bellas solids in November and had to order some more. After 4 weeks of waiting it came, but it had a slight yellowish tone to it. I didn't want to send it back so I put it on the box with the other backing fabrics and ordered some more. The whitest kind they had. It came shortly before Christmas and once again it wasn't as white as the original. No, I didn't order a third time. My daughter had a close look at the fabrics and decided she wouldn't mind, so I can go on and make the border. Puuuh!

Of course I cannot make one daughter a quilt and leave the other one without one. So I picked up a pattern and some fabrics I'd ordered for this project and decided to surprise her. The pattern is called Jovial from Basicgray. Honestly, it's a complete waste of fabrics! Don't buy it unless you want to get rid of your stash. It looks lovely and turned out to be a 3D pattern, but I wouldn't use it if I had the choice.



I've told you about sewing the backing, how two of the blocks disappeared into thin air in the post "Beam me up Scotty". Those blocks were gone for almost three weeks and finally I had to make new ones. I'd expected them to reapperar immediately after I finished the new ones, but that didn't happen. What happened was that a week later I was showing my projects and I happened to stand near my chair and must have moved it in some way, because suddenly the two blocks fell down on my feet! They must have been in the chair the whole time. I'd checked that chair like 5 times and my daughter as well, but they were so well hidden we didn't see them! Must have been my prayers to St. Anthony, the saint for lost things that finally worked! I'd almost lost my faith in him, but he was only a bit slow in delivery. So sorry Anthony for doubting you!




January 7, 2014

Lazy Bum's global retreat

If you've followed the posts in this blog you must by now know the Lazy Bums. It is a group of talented ladies more keen on starting new projects than on finishing the old ones.

We have been at it for almost one and a half years now and we have accomplished a lot during that time I'm happy to say. This years round started in August 2013 and we've finished 61 UFOs so far. That is almost half of what we've planned to finish this year.

The idea of the group is to finish one project a month. To make it more interesting we have monthly challenges and you are rewarded by points if you finish a project. At the end of the year a prize is waiting for a lucky winner.

We have done a lot of different things so far, chosen projects according to colour, age, a special number or way of sewing. In November we made triangles as fast as we could. Once we even had a secret partner choosing the challenge for each of us. It was fun, because you didn't know what your partner was going to come up with.

For January's challenge Gi came up with a fabulous idea - a global retreat! The idea is to pick up a longtime project like Dear Jane or Farmer's Wife and for 24 hours sew blocks together.


Very inspiring I must say. How are we to finish these brutes otherwise? It is so much easier to sew the blocks if you know that you are not alone! I'm going to try my hand at the remaining 93 blocks from my Just Takes 2 quilt. It is a sampler BOM by Sentimental Stitches. The patterns were free for a short time, but you can still get them for a small fee.

We are from all over the world, so the time zones are making the simultaneous sewing a bit difficult, but I think we've found a way to manage. The global retreat begins on the 11th at midnight in your own time zone and you can sew for 24 hours. At the end of the retreat Gi has promised prizes in three different cathegories, but I don't know them yet. Nerd, eager beaver and cheerleader have been suggested.

Should you like to join in on the fun, feel free! You find us on Flickr.

January 6, 2014

Beam me up Scotty!

First of all I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! Lots of sewing and what ever else makes you happy! Kind of scary that a new year has started with so much left from last year to do...

But that is not what I wanted to write about this time. There is just this question troubling me since some time - am I the only one with extraterrestrial experiences? I'm not thinking UFOs this time (who hasn't loads of those somewhere hidden deep behind other stuff?) No, I'm talking real uncanny phenomens! Like that time I was making some totes for the London FQR and a zipper was beamed off into outer space. Oh yes, it was! One moment it was in my hand and the next it was gone, forever! Well, one of those things I thought and went out to buy a new one. Still it troubled me, because I couldn't find the zipper. And I still haven't!



Now, last week I was finishing 8 parts for a Flying Home Compass block. I sat in my chair, removed the paper from the backside and started pinning the pieces together. It didn't take me long to realize two left parts had disappeared into thin air! I couldn't find them anywhere and by now I've looked through the trash twice. And I did have 8 pieces to start with; found the paper for all eight in the bin. Gone just like that!

I've been looking for those pieces the whole week, hoping they would turn up, but so far nothing!
Am I getting feebleminded? No of course not!

November 9, 2013

Fussy cut squares swap

I know, I know, I should not sign up for any swaps, but once in a while I cannot resist. Must be some kind of defect in my genes. The latest one is the fussy cut square swap hosted by Amanda (whatthebobbin). 

The task was an easy one; only 12 paper pieced 4 ½” x 4 ½” blocks. I’m not a great fan of paper piecing, but this one even I could manage. Well, almost. Block no 11 turned out to be a beast. I cut it wrongly, twice! How stupid can you get? You’d think after the first mistake you’d check everything, but nooooo…


Anyway; I managed and here are my blocks. They are already in Texas, waiting to be distributed and sent on their way to their new homes.

It was such fun to make these blocks that I even made a deal with Anneliese (mailfromthecheekymonkey) to swap three directly with her.
Here are the ones Anneliese sent to me. Too cute for words!


And here are her new blocks in exchange. They are already on their way to Ireland.

Now, what do you do with these blocks? Frankly I hadn’t the slightest until I saw something like this; a small sewing case. So I had a session with my sewing machine and out came this:


I’m giving it away to a young girl, but at least I have an idea what to make with my loot when it finally hits my post box. 

And what have you been up to today?

October 19, 2013

Stamp it up swap

During the Fat Quarterly Retreat in July in London several classes were offered. We had the opportunity to sign up for 4 classes according to our wishes. One of the classes offered was about how to make your own stamps. Actually this theme didn't interest me, so I made other choises for myself.

But firesoul Nicky (Mrs. Sew and Sew) joined the group and was hooked. She only talked and breathed stamps afterwards, infecting everyone in her vicinity with the stamp virus. It got so bad she even started the Stamp it up swap. In no time at all she convinced a group of fearless nonbelievers to join.  

Nicky is my truffels pig so I immediately signed up and a new adventure started. First thing; how to make these stamps? And then, where do I get the stuff I need? Thanks to the flood of information we were swamped with both questions were no issues for long and I got started. Very helpful indeed, but puuh! Making some stamps can't be that difficult? Just a bit of carving; even small kids can do it. I distictly  remember some sessions with potatoes.

I duly made my inspiration mosaic (not my favorite occupation), but the amount of ahs and ohs wasn't very impressive, so Nicky made another one for me. A lot better than mine. Thanks Nicky!

After some time we were alotted our partners and I was very happy to draw Ulrike (Flohstiche). We had spent some time together in London and I knew some of the lovely things she'd made for herself. I even had a picture of a pouch of hers. That certainly made my life a lot easier!



I love this pouch and immediately decided to give it a baby brother. The fabrics were soon picked out from the stash, but the stamp? My first one took a long time to do and as was I making the last touches my hand slipped and the stamp was in pieces. So was my finger.

Perhaps I should do something a bit less challenging? I made a fish, nice and easy. Idiot proof. My daughters very immediately inspired to make their own stamps and they did a very good job of it. But Ulrike picked the fish as her favorite and I was able to continue with the task on hand.

Sardine tin
I decided to make the fishy stamps only on the lining, because I didn't want to mess up the pouch.


The pouch was fun to make, but the pattern not that easy, or perhaps my brains were away on holidays? I spent quite some time working out how to sew those litte squares in the right order. Once I got the knack of it the pouch was soon finished and on its way to its new home. 

After that the next fun part began; stalking the postie. And then on sunny day there it was, my new gorgeous pouch with darling giraffes! Amanda (what the bobbin) from Texas sent me all these goodies and even the giraffe stamp! Thank you so much Amanda for this generous gift!


Enough for today; I've got to make some giraffe fabrics...

September 19, 2013

Armchair needlework organizer - tutorial

In the evenings I like to sit in my chair and do a bit of sewing in front of the TV, a nice, calming occupation after a long day's work. What I don't like is to get up from that chair everytime something is missing.

What I clearly need is an armchair needlework organizer. It has to have enough pockets for everything I need, as well as a pincushion, a thread holder and - very important - scissors that are fastened to the organizer. I don't know about you, but everytime I put something down it seems to disapperar into outer space, never to be seen again. Quite annoying! I want to be able to take this organizer with me everywhere I go.

I couldn't find anything like this to buy, so I came up with this tutorial. I've posted a tutorial before and this one is almost the same, but I've made some improvements.

 

The tutorial is divided into three parts; a pincushion, a thread holder and the organizer with the pockets. For the organizer you need two fat quarters. I used three fat quarters because I wanted to use three different fabrics from the gorgeous Comma line. Just love this line! You can get it at Cindy's place, the Fluffy Sheep Quilting Shop.


What you need

2 or 3 Fat Quarters
1 key ring or a lanyard
scissors
5" Velcro (if you can get the wide kind, I'd recommend it)
Fusible interfacing (14" x 9 1/2")

Cutting instructions

Fabric # A - 2 x (14" x 9 1/2") organizer - mainbody, outside and inside
                   - 1 x 1" - 1 1/2" from the whole lenght of the fabric, for the strings

Fabric # B - 2 x (5 3/4" x 9 1/2") organizer pockets
                   - 4 x (2" x 5") thread holder
                   - 1 x (4 1/2" x 4 1/2") pin cushion
                   - 2 x (1 1/2" x 4 1/2") pin cushion                  

Fabric # C - 1 x (3" x 4 1/2") pin cushion
                   - 4 x (2" x 5") thread holder

 

Instructions for the pin cushion

We'll begin with the easiest item; the pin cushion.

1. Sew the Velcro in the middle to the 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" piece of fabric B on the right side. I chose the soft side of the Velcro, in case I later want to use the pin cushion somewhere else. The scratchy side tends to pick up everything you don't need.

 

2. Nect sew the upper side of the pin cushion. For this sew the 1 1/2 " x 4 1/2" fabric B strips on both sides of the 3" x 4 1/2" piece of fabric, right sides together and iron it.

3. Now make the pin cushion in the usual manner. Put the right sides together and sew almost all around, leaving a gap to turn the pin cushion inside out.

4. Fill the pin cushion with whatever you use for filling and sew the gap together by hand with some stitches.


Instructions for the thread holder


1. Place your fabrics like on the picture above.

2. Sew the short sides together starting 1/4" from the edge. You will need this space soon.


3. Now sew the Velcro on the right side of the fabric in the middle like in the picture.


4. Sew the long sides, one after another, A to B, B to C, C to D and D to A.
It might be a good ides to mark the pieces in some way, because it's difficult to keep track of which one is which. Leave the first 1/4" open.

5. Make the second one like the first one, but without the Velcro and leaving a gap to be able to turn the threadholder inside out.



6. Put the thread holder inside each other, right sides together. Pin the edges and sew the upper seam.



 7. Turn the thread holder through the gap inside out and close the gap with some invisible stitches. Your thread holder is ready.





Instructions for the organizer


1. First of all I made the upper seam on the pockets, fabric B. I folded the upper part of the long side of the fabric twice for this.


   2. Next I made a long ribbon out of one of the fabrics. I cut a 1 - 1 1/2" piece out of the whole width of my pocket fabric, fabric # B, ironed it through the middle and then once again on both side of the middle (just like for binding). Then I sewed the whole lenght and cut the pieces for the strings as I needed them.


2 pieces for the fastening of the organizer
1 piece for the key ring or lanyard

You had better decide for yourself how long you need your strings. I chose a long one for the scissors, because I don't want to bend everytime I'm using the scissors.

3. Attach the key ring or lanyard to the string and fasten your scissors. They will never again get lost!



4. Place the pockets right side up on one of the fabric  # A  14" x 9 1/2" pieces.



Next sew a seam in the middle of the pocket fabric, or you can choose different sizes for your pockets, depending on what you plan to put into them. I sewed a couple of times forwards and back to strenghten the seam at the beginning. Make only the middle seams, the rest will be taken care of later.

5. Place the Velcro where you want to place your pin cushion and the thread holder and fasten it well. If you can get hold of wide Velcro I would recommend to use it; it gives a better hold. Before fastening I put one end of the scissors string under the Velcro and fastened it at the same time.

6. Next iron some stabilizer to the background fabric # A and attach one string where you see it fit.





7. Now place your two main body pieces right sides together, taking care that your strings don't get in the way. Place the second one in the middle of one of the short sides. Sew almost all around the outer edges, leaving only a space open to turn the organizer inside out.





8. Turn the right side out and cut the corners. 

 

Push the corners out with whatever you use for it. At last make a seam all around the outer edges on the right side to make a nice finish. Don't forget to tuck the fabric from the gap properly in. Attach you pin cushion and the thread holder.



Your organizer is ready to go! Have fun with it!





September 15, 2013

Encore une fois

When Jen from Quilter in the Closet showed a picture of her newest quilt I was intrigued by the design. Luckily she'd posted about it as well and is actually starting a QAL end of September. The idea is to make caleidoscope blocks out of a fabric with large patterns. 

Picture borrowed from Jen; Quilter in the Closet
I was a bit dubious if this was something for me, but I did a deep dive into my closet, looking for some fabric with a large pattern I wouldn't need for anything else. And there it was, two pieces of fabric I'd chosen for curtains in my workroom. The kids quickly stopped me in my tracks at the time; the fabric was simply too hideous, so it had a very long nap in my closet. 


Perfect! No one would be missing this and I had some material to play with.

For the QAL I needed a book as well, but Amazon was very forthcoming and I soon held it in my hands. I got One-Block Wonder Encore out of a choise of three books. Frankly; this book put me off for a bit. The quilts didn't appeal to me at all. But Jen's quilt is lovely, so there must be more to this and I have nothing to loose.

Of course I'm much to impatient just to wait for the QAL to begin, so I started with the cutting. You cut the fabric on the report and stack 6 reports on each other before cutting smaller pieces with the help of a rotary cutter with a fresh blad, a long ruler and a 60° ruler.

Last night I had my fun with some Stack and Whack. It was too dark to see the colours of the fabrics I needed for another project and I'd just finished some 280 blocks for another Scrappy floating Stars quilt, so why not give this a go?




This morning I woke up, all eager to see what I'd produced last night and immediately began with one small block. One block wouldn't hurt, would it? Just a peek at what the quilt might look like. And then another one, and another one...I had to see what the blocks would look like, because everyone is different. After 14 blocks I made a short breakfast break and uploaded some pictures. Now I'm off again; I want to see where this one is going.


Excited? Why not join us?

September 12, 2013

Wallpapering and a crocheted basket

Some time ago I introduced these friends of mine here. Did I mention how much work they are putting into transforming a rather normal house into jem? No? 

Well some fifteen years ago they bought an estate in the middle of nowhere. An old lady used to live there with her 20-30 cats. That is until she died. The cats and the lady disappeared, but not without leaving some hints of eau de chat behind them. Ok, ok, so you couldn’t enter the house without a proper gasmask. Of course everyone tried to keep up their smiles while gagging and telling them they had bought a good place and everything was going to be just fine. Honestly I expected them to tear down the place und built something new from scratch and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Not these guys. They worked like slaves every free minute renovating everything that they could think of and because they are both smart it was a lot. I’m not so sure anything from the original house still remains.

One of the projects was new wallpaper. But not the usual kind. No! Did you know you can use fabrics as wallpaper? And I’m not talking about fabric wallpaper, I mean real fabric, the kind you can sew with. The technique is different from papering the walls. No glueing of walls here. You fasten the fabric on laths, then turn the lath around so you cannot see where you’ve fastened the fabric. After that you fasten the lath on the wall. Then you tighten the fabric up. I cannot explain the procedure properly, I was only watching every now and then while they were working. Some sewing with hand was involved as well. 


What I did see very clearly were these piles of leftover fabrics they discarded in the trash. Of course I couldn’t let that happen and ran away with as much as I could grab.

This is what I made out of the scraps. I cut the fabric in 1” ribbons like you do for weaving carpets and crocheted a basket. Sadly I ran out of fabric before the basket was quite finished, but they reassured me there was more. I left the needle in the basket and will take it with me on my next trip and hopefully finish the basket. Perhaps with a glass of Lillet beside me?


August 27, 2013

Kräftskiva

When Cindy asked for a block representing our homes in the Star of Africa bee I had to stop and think a while. A long while. The Star of Africa bee is about making blocks representing something from your own country; the beemama decides which specific theme.

Of course I’ve been moving around during my life; I’ve even moved from one country to another. Which one of the homes should I pick? The one I lived in as a child? It was a rented one and one I don’t like to think about. The one I live in now? No. Of course it’s dear to me and I helped build it twenty years ago and I’m still taking care of it as well as I can, but it’s not in my home country. Is this the moment I sever my ties to my country and decide to be something/someone else? It doesn’t feel right, so we’ll leave this thought here.

So clearly a house is not what I’m looking for. What else, what is this elusive feeling of home? To make things more difficult I belong to a minority in my own country so not everything is suitable for my means. 

 

When I’m in Finland I travel around from one place to another, visiting friends and family, never staying for long. (You know fish starts to stink after three days, and the same goes for guests.)This year was no different. I had a marvelous time everywhere I went and I’d loved to stay, but then I’d have to sever my ties to my life in Germany. Not an option.

So what to do? Then it came to me, while I was helping to prepare the table for a traditional kräftskiva. I suppose you don’t have the slightest idea what that is about, do you?

Well, once a year we Swedish speaking people invite friends to eat crayfish with lots of dill and bread. My father used to go catching crayfish end of July with my brother and my godfather. They set out late in the evening with everything you need and spent the night in cold water, looking for the creatures. Afterwards my mother put the crayfish into boiling water and they turned red. Delicious! You are only allowed to catch them for a short time, that is the reason for the once in the year thing.

Nowadays almost no one catches crayfish themselves; we buy them at the supermarket. But still this meal is something quite special for us. We sit around a table decorated with crayfish inspired things, wearing a bib under the chin.  We eat the crayfish, drink snaps and sing silly songs! Crayfish clearly need water to swim, but you’re not allowed to drink without singing a song. So we sing! Songs with traditional tunes, but the texts are a bit different. Quite silly in fact. So silly you cannot help laughing. Of course the snaps helps as well oiling your vocal cords…

This is home to me! This year I was lucky enough to be invited to two kräftskivor. The first one at Mika and Martins place after that waterfall episode at the railway station. 


It was actually such a good party that when I went to bed I couldn't find my jimmies and sat down on the sofa to think about their whereabouts. Three hours later I woke up, still on the sofa and still no jimmies.

The second one during our wool dyeing session with Åsa and friends. 


It was just as good as the first party, only this time I was a bit more cautious with the singing.

Dear Cindy, this is my block for you! I’m sorry for taking such a long time making it, but it’s made with lots of love! The picture is not a good one; the background is white, promise :-)