Organising my fabric stash – Round 2

NWF Fabric stash organising 1 2015-04-12

In the past, I’ve written about both organising and storing my fabric stash, but in particular how I categorise fabrics has changed a bit, and so here is round 2, an update on the order in which I store them. I’ll also show the bolts I have in use now. The Ikea Kassett boxes are as much a favourite as before, and the collection has grown by a few.

The pencil palette starting with yellow is still how I think of the colours, but I’ve moved pink to go between red and violet rather than orange and pink. The rainbow colours fit into two boxes of the Kassett size, which is one step larger than dvd. In the photo above, there are six boxes of that size, one of the dvd size, and two of the cd size.

Here’s an outline of what this post is about:

  • Organising fabrics:
    • Quilting cottons:
      • Patterned fabrics
      • Solids
      • Some pondering about cut sizes
      • How to handle earmarked fabrics for various projects
      • How to handle scraps
    • Canvas-weight fabrics, cotton-linen blends, double-gauze, fleece, etc. and embroidery fabrics
  • Folding fabrics:
    • Mini bolts
    • Micro bolts

Let’s begin!

Patterned quilting cottons

For some reason, when I think of fabrics and categorising them, I begin from the patterned fabrics, so here goes! In box 1 there are yellow, orange, red, and pink fabrics, whereas box 2 contains violet, dark blue, light blue, turquoise, and green fabrics:

NWF Fabric stash organising 2 - The rainbow 2015-04-12

After the rainbow comes beige and brown (the stack in front only), and then the multi-coloured fabrics:

NWF Fabric stash organising 3 - Beige brown and multicoloured 2015-04-12

If you compare the height of the folded fabrics in beige, brown, and multiple colours to the rainbow fabrics, you will notice that the former aren’t on bolts yet. I’ll talk more about the bolts below.

Next up are the grey and black fabrics:

NWF Fabric stash organising 4 - Grey and black 2015-04-12

Some fabrics have been purchased to be used as collections in projects, even though I usually prefer to make my own mixes and matches. Also, I have a few fat quarters (whereas most of the fabrics above are in fact skinny quarters or half-yard cuts), which all go into a dvd-sized box:

NWF Fabric stash organising 5 - Fat quarters and project bundles 2015-04-12

A quirky thing is that fat quarters certainly are a quarter of a whole unit, but maybe you can see which fat quarters originate in the EU? Up on “top”, the Bonnie and Camille fabrics are metric fat quarters, as is the only batik in my collection down in the right-hand corner. Apart from the end-of-bolt cut navy B&C in the middle, the rest are fat quarters from North America, which are based on the yard. 1 yard is 91.44 cm (or 0.9144 metres), whereas 1 metre is 1,0936133 yards.

The larger project bundles are stored in a Kassett box two steps larger than the dvd-sized box:

NWF Fabric stash organising 6 - Large project bundles 2015-04-12

These are fabrics that I have earmarked but not begun cutting into yet. I do have other boxes for various works in progress, but for these neat stacks of fabrics, the quilt-shop bags used for shipment work beautifully when repurposed like this.

Solid-coloured quilting cottons and miscellaneous other fabrics

My solids are in a sorry state still. I’m drooling whenever I see projects made by others where they clearly have been swimming in the Kona pool. While the current stash doesn’t exceed 20 colours (some solids are elsewhere right now), the intention is to expand this category in the future; hence the spacious conditions of the current fabrics.

The miscellaneous box contains canvas-weight fabrics as well as cotton-linen blends, linens, a Nani Iro double-gauze (which I have no idea of how to use but it’s so pretty…), and a black fleece. In the same living quarters are the embroidery fabrics:

NWF Fabric stash organising 7 - Canvas linen blends etc and Solids 2015-04-12

Lately, I’ve looked at the canvases again, but haven’t yet been able to decide what to use for an embroidery basket.

Scraps of quilting cottons

Scraps are still stored the same way, in two cd-sized boxes, with one for miscellaneous scraps (I like ziplock-/minigrip-type of bags to keep them flat to avoid extra work) and the other for designated projects (for instance the Tokyo Subway Map quilt).

NWF Fabric stash organising 8 - Scrap fabrics 2015-04-12

There’s is a logic to the minigrip bags in the miscellaneous-scraps box, but after making the spider-web blocks for February Queen Bee of Scandibee, Lizzie, it is in a state of holy mess still. Gotta choose one’s battles and all that…

Now that we have looked at how I store my fabrics, excluding the vintage and pre-quilting-me categories, I think it’s time to dig deeper.

How I categorise my patterned quilting cottons – The rainbow-coloured, beige, brown, grey, and black backgrounds

Categorising my patterned quilting cottons makes my heart sing. There’s something about finding similarities and then pondering whether they are strong enough to cause sub-categorising or such to happen, or whether to accept a certain level of lack of “control”. I hesitate to call it lack of control, because I decide what goes where, and nobody can tell me otherwise, roughly put, but disorganisation doesn’t quite fit either, at least not when categories are named loosely. What on earth am I talking about? Let’s see :P

The first concept that I already mentioned in the first article on the topic is tone-on-tone. Hue is “colour” (a pure colour) and so I begin with fabrics, which don’t exhibit anything but either “lighter or darker colours” (forget colour theory for a while, okay, or this gets insane) of the same hue. In the pink case below, there are three fabrics starting from the left that are tone-on-tone fabrics:

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to categorise fabrics - Tone 1 2015-04-12

For some reason, the pink category is abundant in comparison with some other colours. Anyway, tone is hue with some grey added, whereas we get a tint when white is added to the same hue, and, finally, a shade arises when black is mixed into a hue. Like I said, following religiously colour theory would make the task of categorising seriously, humongously nasty, but I shortly had to mention the origin of tone to make sense.

In the categorisation of quilting fabrics, one usually sees tone-on-tone mentioned, and this is how I think of it, too, since I can’t easily determine what the hex values or such of a particular specimen would be. Suffice to say, the pink on the far left looks “dirtier”, more greyish black, compared to the “clearer” pink next to it. I let the eye decide.

Next up in the photo above, we have two fabrics of what I call white-on-tone. Next to them, I have placed tone-on-white fabrics, of which there are also two.

Finally, there’s a merry mix of tone-on-whites and white-on-tones where other colours have been added, too. These “multi-coloured tones” I sort only according to pattern size, which is either small or large, relatively speaking. I see eight small-patterned multi-coloured tones above, whereas the large-patterned category contains only two fabrics. This is entirely subjective, and also depends on what the current fabrics are in my stash. The main point is that there isn’t just the hue alone or hue combined with white in this section.

When we look at my dark-blue fabrics, the situation is this:

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to categorise fabrics - Tone 2 2015-04-12

From left to right, 3 tone-on-tones (you might choose to put the wavy fabric elsewhere but I recall it as entirely blue and that’s what matters), 0 white-on-tone, 1 tone-on-white, 4 small-sized multi-coloured tones, and 2 multi-coloured tones that could be chucked in the larger category but which sort of are small-sized as well. Subjective this is…

This same organising structure I maintain for the whole rainbow as well as beige and brown fabrics, but what about grey fabrics?

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to categorise fabrics - Grey 2015-04-12

Exactly the same. We see: 1 tone-on-tone, 2 white-on-tones, 0 tone-on-whites (the striped fabric includes black), 5 small-patterned multi-coloured tones, and 1 large-patterned multi-coloured tone. You already know the drill regarding black fabrics, but, for good measure, here they are:

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to categorise fabrics - Black 2015-04-12

From left: 3 white-on-tones, 4 tone-on-whites, 3 small-patterned multi-coloured tones, and 1 large-patterned multi-coloured tone.

To summarise:

  1. Tone-on-tone
  2. White-on-tone
  3. Tone-on-white
  4. Small-patterned multi-coloured tone
  5. Large-patterned multi-coloured tone

How I categorise my patterned quilting cottons – The ones with multiple colours on white background

In between brown and grey, I have squeezed what I think of are multi-coloured fabrics. In reality, they are on the greyscale in the sense that their background is white, whereas grey and black fabrics as presented above have those background colours.

The problem arises when I try to define a dominating colour in the pattern on a white background, and where it’s been possible, I’ve thrown these fabrics into categories 4 and 5 above.

If you look at the fabric with the pink birds on a white background earlier, you’ll see the occasional yellow bird, too, but my eyes still read it as a dominantly pink pattern. The flowers next to the birds have other colours than pink, but again, pink dominates the pattern. Then we have lots of yellow squares amongst red and pink squares, and the story goes back to there also being a similar fabric in cool hues – which I recall as mainly blue. Subjective experience once again :) The point is to know where you will spontaneously look for a particular fabric.

Here, however, is a bunch of fabrics, which my brain views as “multi-coloured” in that I recall them as a complete mix of several colours:

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to categorise fabrics - Multicoloured 1 2015-04-12

You might recall the fruits of the first fabric as red or pink, perhaps, but I haven’t been able to decide whether there’s more red or pink, and so I might look for it in both places. In fact, I also view the green leaves as quite striking, so my memory has put them in the mixed category from the beginning. Another example are the bikes, which have yellow baskets and black wheels. My eye recalls all of them, including the pink.

The newest tweaking of this category happened yesterday when I noticed a pattern for the first time. I have themes going on! Above, there are two fruits, five flowers, (on my kitchen table pulled out for this month’s bee blocks are a few animals), and four “stuff”.

Below, there are four scallops, two miscellaneous geometric patterns, three dots, two triangles, and four stripes:

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to categorise fabrics - Multicoloured 2 2015-04-12

It makes me happy to find similarities like this, and while it can be a pain to establish some kind of system, this kind of organising helps me stay motivated to clean up after I’ve finished cutting for a project.

I think I would maintain it even if my sewing space wasn’t my kitchen table, because as you saw earlier, I’m no fan of scrap baskets, but if cuts are large enough to actually be able to “do” something, I’d rather keep them “in the system” still.

This brings me on to the final section of this post, namely how to fold fabrics in a neat way.

Folding fabrics – The mini and micro bolts

Whenever I can make something easier for myself, I try to stick to it. In the case of fabrics, I don’t want to press more often than necessary, and to cut accurately one obviously has to press things beforehand. This is yet another reason for my dislike of scrap baskets, but it wasn’t only until recently that I solved the problem regarding folding cuts smaller than the mini-bolt size.

The mini bolts were introduced in 2013, which suddenly seems like ages ago. The size of these comic backing boards is 171×266 mm, and after investigation it seems like other boards wouldn’t fit my Kassett boxes as well, so pay attention to this if you are interested in creating a similar folding system for yourself.

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to fold fabrics - Mini bolts 2015-04-12

Above is a skinny quarter and a half-yard cut for comparison.

Anyway, mini bolts and too small cuts. Enter micro bolts! They are nothing but free postcards that I had floating around. I’m not sure whether they are acid-free like the comic backing boards, but the intention is short-term use.

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to fold fabrics - Micro bolts 2015-04-12

Yep, they look almost like mini bolts. What you can’t see is that three of these aren’t folded completely around the postcard, but are merely sitting on top of it. Size-wise these micro bolts fit perfectly into the tiny space in the Kassett boxes, like you can see in the very first photo of this post.

For comparison, a micro bolt on top of a mini bolt:

NWF Fabric stash organising - How to fold fabrics - Mini and micro bolts 2015-04-12

See, lots less pressing necessary. And it’s so cute, too!

As usual, if there’s anything at all that you feel like commenting on, or asking perhaps, feel free to do so! How do you feel about organising fabrics, is it something for you? Or do you wish your stash would be more contained, but don’t know where to start?

MQGIM Mug rug swap Spring 2015

NWF MQGIM Mug rug swap 2015-04-04

If you’re an individual member of the Modern Quilt Guild, please join us in a mug-rug swap! We’re coordinating this in the Flickr group, so hop on over there.

And speaking of this group of people, we can be found also on Instagram under the very inventive hashtag mqgim. The photo above was taken in night ligthing, I should add, as well as treated with text layers in the Over app. I cringe when I see bad photos like that, but such is life on Northern latitudes.

Happy Saturday!

April 2015 Projects – Challenge

Flickr shandilee - Magnolias against the sky 640

I love magnolia trees, absolutely love them! Just had to get that off my chest first. All right, and in April, I would love to get my projects moving in the following ways.

I would like to finish the following projects:

  • Scandibee April blocks – Deadline 30.4.
  • Case for embroidery scissors – Deadline 30.4.
  • Basket for embroidery stuff – Deadline 30.4.
  • Journal cover – Just do it, deadline 30.4.
  • Pin cushion – Deadline 30.4.

These projects I’d like to make progress on in the following way:

  • MQG Riley Blake fabric challenge: Yoga mat bag – Decide on improv style.
  • Bag for cutting mat – Make one FPP block.
  • Secret project – Keep working on it.
  • MQG indie members’ mug-rug swap – Pick fabrics.

This looks like quite a lot. I have a very busy month ahead of me, and probably will end up scratching, moving stuff around, postponing some and adding other stuff, but that’s all right. As long as I keep making something, I’m happy. The only real deadline is the one for the Scandibee April blocks, which is healthy to remember.

March 2015 Projects – How did I do?

Flickr peaceful-jp-scenery - Dreamy 640

It feels great to be back at using these overview posts! This month, I wanted to finish the following projects:

  • Scandibee February blocks – Deadline ASAP > Done 18.3. Blogged.
  • Scandibee March blocks – Deadline 31.3. > Done 31.3. Blogged.
  • Blog about Scandibee January blocks – Deadline 31.3. > Done 20.3. Blogged.
  • Pencil case for dad – Deadline 31.3. > Postponed because of other small projects. Oops…
  • Pencil case for sister – Deadline 31.3. > Postponed because of other small projects. Oops…

I also finished these:

These projects I wanted to make progress on in the following way:

  • MQG Riley Blake fabric challenge: Yoga mat bag – Start drafting how to best use the fabrics > Have decided to do some kind of improv panel on top of a buckety kind of base. Will consult Lucie Summer’s “Quilt Improv” book (see below).
  • Tokyo Subway Map Quilt embroidery – Correct the support line locations and finalise colours on pattern > Postponed, want to make storage gear for the embroidery stuff first.
  • Triangle Patchwork Box Pouch – Buy zippers of right length and kind (to make four pouches) > Will make only one, and it has been postponed to make way for more important projects.

NWF Lucie Summers - Quilt Improv 2015-04-03

These new projects were also made progress on, in that I:

It’s wonderful to regain energy, is all I can say. And it doesn’t hurt to have functioning tools, either, of course.

Scandibee March blocks

NWF Scandibee March blocks 2015-04-03

The Scandibee March Queen Bee, Ruth, asked for two 12.5”x12.5” blocks of 16 patches each. Her request were three Christmassy bright red patches among thirteen low-volume ones. Talk about picking the right colour scheme for a project that has its root in traditionally red and white Scandinavia! :)

I asked about these greyscale fabrics before cutting, as some of them read a but more black than what she might have liked. The tightest pattern reads black and hence I chose to include it only once. My low-volume stash really is challenging still, though, but I’m sure it would be a good investment to find new fabrics in this category. They simply are lovely.

Sewing machine challenges

Some of you might remember my early-day problems with the quarter-inch presser foot, or rather its quarter-inch guide. The latter was a wobbly piece of metal (junk really), which caused my seams to be larger than a quarter inch, so I unceremoniously ripped it off in anger one day. Afterwards I made some attempts at figuring out the exact placement of the elusive quarter inch, but have kept winging it since. But now Ruth made it clear (and I totally agree with her, of course!) that this was a block where a neat grid is to be expected, so I just had to figure this out.

Before sewing, I drew lines, lots and lots of lines, on a paper. First, I tested the placement of the needle and saw that the fifth position supposedly is in the middle of the presser foot – yet isn’t. I should turn the wheel down a bit to the whereabouts of 4 perhaps, but the blasted thing doesn’t move until around 3-3.5, at which point the needle is visibly off-centre in a not-so-good way. The conclusion is that I can’t trust the needle wheel the same way as the stitch-length wheel that moves in clear increments (decimal millimetres) at least in theory. I hate stuff that is supposed to work, but doesn’t… Ugh.

Next step was to figure out exactly where in relation to the quarter-inch presser foot that the quarter-inch line would move. While one line was moving through the middle of the presser foot and the other was underneath a red line on the foot (at least that marking is to be trusted, thank goodness!), the needle was off-centre by a hair. Only that hair wasn’t like the scant “hair” one should sew below a quarter inch. Sigh.

Now I have an idea of where the fabric should move to create a scant quarter-inch seam. But of course it isn’t this easy… I seriously hope you didn’t expect that…. *eyeroll* What I mean is that when I keep the scant quarter-inch seam allowance from the quarter-inch marking on the presser foot, fabric moves in unpredictable ways, because the feed dogs refuse to cooperate.

What I have to figure out still is exactly where to place the needle (with the help of aforementioned inexact needle wheel), whilst moving the fabric underneath the quarter-inch marking. That’s the only way to have enough fabric to produce an even movement and hence an even seam allowance, but right now I don’t have it in me to test more stuff to ensure a super-precise result. Deep sigh. If you’re a Bernina seller and feel like having someone test one of your new Bernina models, I’m your woman…

The blocks

But back to the blocks before I get too worked up about my sewing machine. Cutting 3.5-inch squares was easy enough and quite quick. Sewing was annoying due to the machine, rather than the pattern itself, but pressing taught me new things, which I love!

Ruth asked for nested seams (which I detest quite frankly), but they do have their place in patchwork and so I went all out trying to produce as neat a result as possible. In this 16-patch block you must consider how to press rows later, and in my first block I didn’t see this before pinning like crazy two rows together.

It is preferable to press the row closest to the feed dogs in such a way that the run smoothly over the seam allowances. When you nest the seams, this means that the seam allowances on top, touching the presser foot, will approach said foot in a way that can cause the fabric to pucker up. But since you see what is going on, you can adjust the fabrics to sit flat in the stitches. Heureka.

To create as neat points as possible, I pinned along the whole length of the rows. Usually I remove pins before sewing, but this time I left them in place quite a few times, including when running over seams pressed towards the feed dogs. Obviously you can’t avoid having at least some of them run in the unfavourable direction, and then it helps to reduce puckering to have a pin assist the machine.

Normally I use steam when pressing, but this time, due to trying to create a perfect 12.5-inch block without distorting the fabrics, the iron was dry. This is visible in the photos above, but I did press with steam before sending Ruth her blocks, as the “sloppy” finish bothered me too much.

My conclusion

While these nested seams are no favourite of mine, I’m determined to master them. Creating perfect points is hard work, and sometimes I don’t feel like using a pattern again, but these square patches are incredibly versatile and so it seams (haha, pun intended) like a good idea to keep practicing. Pressing seams open is my preference for many reasons, but nested seams truly can be the only alternative in some cases.

My impatience can get the better of me sometimes, but I’m grateful that Ruth chose this block both because it is a basic set of skills as well as a reason for me to tackle stuff on my to-do list (have been meaning to sort the quarter-inch seam thingy a long time already).

Check out the other contributions in our bee pool! I can’t wait to see what Ruth will create from the blocks.

How do you feel about basic patterns like this one? Find them too boring? Or safe and nice? I keep thinking of scraps in this context and see the whole rainbow in front of me again. Oooh, and disappearing something-patches like Kristy’s Modernized D9P, a disappearing nine-patch block! Perfect points aren’t entirely silly, you know.

Secret project

NWF Rainbow project 2015-03-27

I know the definition of a secret project is to, um, keep it secret. But it doesn’t count if the evidence is the size of 300×300 pixels. Right?

Craftsy - Elizabeth Dackson - Start Foundation Paper PiecingFor the Craftsy class Start Foundation Paper Piecing with Elizabeth Dackson, I dug out my Caran D’Ache to plan out an improvised mini-quilt of sorts. I need a bag for my cutting mat for when I can’t keep it on the kitchen table, and since one should make sure to keep them as flat and/or straight as possible when not in use, a proper bag should do the trick. The blocks in this class are of different sizes and so I’ve shrunk three of them to fit the smallest one, which is an eight-inch square.

I will place them in a square grid on one side of the bag, with some sashing between blocks, but for the idea to work, colours have to be just right. And so the Caran D’Ache box from my childhood of pencils, a water-colour palette, and crayons came out. Can you guess which my favourite colour used to be when growing up? I think it still is, if I had to pick just one colour out of them all :)

NWF Caran D'Ache 2015-03-27

It’s blue, recently expanded to all the cool colours. I can’t figure out why I’ve used the black pencil so much, because while it is another favourite today, I really didn’t think much of it in my youth. The yellow was used to draw suns, I think. Why? No idea.

As for drawing, I “suck at it, question mark”, but the point of my little supersecret preparation drawing was to get an idea of whether the chosen colour scheme would work or not, rather than create the next Picasso. It has worked nicely in my bag project, but the scribbles are all over the place and I might edit that part out of the reading-the-blog experience when I post about its making.

It’s ridiculous really, but I got the vibe from all my art teachers until the last one during the last three years of school that I simply cannot draw. I imagine it’s a bit like when one hears that one cannot sing or produce other forms of music, both of which do come naturally to me, and still, at 30+, I feel extremely self-conscious about drawing. Sorry to say so, but at my age (insinuates that I have a whole bunch of life wisdom *snicker*) I feel a teacher has completely failed a student, if the latter thinks (s)he just can’t grasp a particular subject, but I sense a minor rant developing, so moving on to my art classes.

If my memory serves me still, I took two of them in upper-secondary school (sort of equivalent to the American high school), and in one of them we had to draw in black and white after some leaf or branch or such. It’s the first time I’ve nailed anything and I still recall the feedback, which left me glowing for days. I was told I could draw, how about that!

But then, things slipped back into She Who Cannot Draw, and here we are. I’m figuring I have to push myself with force out of my comfort zone on this one, hence the sneak peek above of a quick, untamed mockup. It’s interesting as I’m beginning to notice a pattern here (post archived in Musings category for this reason…), and it has to do with the sense of insecurity.

If I’m really insecure about something, it’s easier not to do anything at all to improve the situation. Because fear of failure, of course. Eyeroll. Whereas if I feel I have at least some kind of idea of what I’m doing, like most of my projects presented on this blog, the threshold to jump into something new is much smaller. Maybe 2015 is the year when that all-or-nothing attitude finally has to go? Have to ponder. Do you ponder such things, too?

Anyway, projects, including the March blocks for Scandibee Queen Bee Ruth, are cooking in the background currently, so will post something more before the month is over. Happy Friday!

Pretty pin cushion in need of filling

NWF Pin cushion 2 2015-03-25

Ah, I finally made a pin cushion! Well, it’s almost done, because I still have to hunt down some good filling, but the patchwork and quilting is done. It is lovely, simply wonderful to finish sewing projects!

Craftsy - Camille Roskelley - Playful Piecing TechniquesThe pattern is by Camille Roskelley and it is the first project of the Playful Piecing Techniques Craftsy class. Ever since watching the first lesson last year, I’ve been meaning to make one of these nifty contraptions, but my research into fillings took me to a standstill. Apparently crushed walnut shells or similar would be one of the best materials, but after having searched some local pet-shop websites, I’m still standing in square zero. Next step is to stop by a pet store and then to check with one of the fabric shops.

Since I started the project the other evening, the lighting wasn’t very nice, which is why the progress photos appear only now, after you have seen the more vivid colours:

NWF Pin cushion 1 2015-03-25

The quilting that Camille does is quite simple, but I need to practice more than straight lines. Using my walking foot, I did indeed quilt straight, but the pivoting and loss of first guide line still throws me off a bit in my precision. I also embraced a quality this time that fits with “Done is better than perfect”, which quite frankly should be observed even more around here. Oh, and I started the whole thing by drawing an X with a hera marker, but probably drew it too lightly or didn’t have enough light in my working area, because I barely saw either line.

The choices of quilting threads were interesting. I have inherited a bunch of 50-weight cotton threads in all sorts of colours, and while one might seem suitable at first, once it’s been quilted in place it no longer looks as smashing. The green, dark navy, and violet were the only options, but the turquoise got a first line quilted in another thread. Colour-wise it was better, but its weight clearly around 30 or heavier even (I’m not very good at estimating thread weight yet), so I ripped it out again. My seam ripper is excellent, by the way, and it seems to have earned the red dot award a couple or so years ago, so I’m not reluctant to use it at all.

Anyway, since I managed to fit five lines in each quadrant of the back, and since three fit into the coloured areas, I added two more in the white areas of the top in an attempt at echoing the design. The quilting feels like I’m still practicing, so I’m okay with a slightly wonky result.

I did, however, rip out the last middle seam, or I know the half-millimetre shift in the centre would have annoyed me to no end forever and ever, so the second time I did pin the whole seam properly. Watching the Bernina used in several Craftsy classes makes me think it’s not just me, but currently a new machine is out of the question. At least I corrected what I could :)

How many pin cushions do you have? And what shape and size are they? I’m thinking my appliqué needles might want their own.

Scandibee February blocks

NWF Scandibee February blocks 2015-03-24

The February blocks for Scandibee Queen Bee Lizzie were a tad more challenging to make, compared to the January blocks, but on the other hand I jumped with eagerness into my scrap basket.

Lizzie asked for two 12.5”x12.5” blocks with red fabrics in the background, made according to the Spiderweb block tutorial by Em of Sewing by Moonlight. Em has provided downloadable templates for both the four “kites” and the squaring up of the quarter blocks. While the latter worked well in theory, I probably had taped the two pieces together in a slightly wonky way, because the first block made was challenging in its final stages to say the least. I barely had anything to trim off, so I decided to send both blocks untrimmed to Lizzie – in particular since I still don’t have a 12.5”x12.5” ruler.

When making the second block, I trimmed each quarter block an eight of an inch larger than necessary. This made it much easier to attempt creating perfect points in all intersections and I achieved this goal fairly well. At least I wasn’t ashamed to send my contributions to the Queen Bee. Another tricky thing with my machine is the not-so-great backstitching that it does, which caused me to tie knots rather than backstitch.

Challenges aside, the Spiderweb blocks were fun to make, but I think I won’t make a whole quilt with this technique, not by myself at least. The process is fairly slow, when you strive for perfect pattern placements, and also want somewhat harmonious-looking blocks. And of course that’s how I roll, in both good and bad.

NWF One-hour basket 2015-03-23I see time and time again how I prefer quality over quantity, and it’s okay. Clearly, I still feel torn about not cranking out stuff in large volumes, but I think it’s also to do with the fact that quilts are large and sometimes daunting projects. This probably holds true in particular because I have two sampler quilts in the making, which means learning new techniques in each block. Yesterday’s quick 1-hour basket showed me that I should keep making smaller, much quicker projects next to the larger ones, to feel like I’m making constant progress, regardless of speed. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that in my professional life I only have huge projects going on at the moment, and if my leisure is characterised by equally slow progress, it’s easier to feel overwhelmed, disappointed in a sense, and slightly frustrated as well. Something worth chewing on for sure! How do you deal with this? Not think about it at all? I’m possibly over-analysing things here… Wouldn’t be the first time for it to happen :)

Lizzie updated her Instagram yesterday with a photo of my stuff for her, so now I can let out a sigh of relief that nothing got lost in transit. Check out the other Spiderweb blocks in the Scandibee Flickr pool if you like! They are gorgeous!

My first 1-hour basket

NWF One-hour basket 2015-03-23

The 1-hour basket has begun to float all over the sewing accounts on Instagram, after Kelly of kelbysews published the pattern for free a few days ago, and I decided my iron with paraphernalia needed a new home. The name of the basket sounded promising enough that I’d manage to start – and finish, no less – a project within a reasonable timespan (whatever that means).

In theory, the project takes about an hour, but since I’m still trying to find permanent homes and arrangements in general for my crafting stuff, not only did it take some time to audition fabrics, but then the fusible fleece was missing for a short while. The amount of piles isn’t that huge, but rummaging through them took its moment. Then there’s the fact that my pressing board sits on the kitchen countertop, and the fact that I’m not always the best at washing dishes, so to clear the space took another moment. But once fabric selection had happened Saturday evening, in theory I could have finished the project in that hour. Only then I spent time chatting on the phone, too, so progress was slow enough that I did the top stitching, closing of the lining seam, and final pressing yesterday.

But enough babbling. The basket pleases me beyond words! I love the fabrics, both the Tape Measures in Aqua, a canvas from the Made With Love collection by Moda Fabrics, and Small Flowers in White from the Spring Street collection by Carolyn Gavin.

The pattern itself is also such a nicely written work. The photos are spot on, the layout clear, and the text to the point. The only things I would change are:

  • the nesting of the seams, because in quilting I prefer opening them rather than pressing to the side, and there’s considerable bulk where two canvas layers meet two fleece layers all on top of each other.
  • the size of the lining opening for turning the project inside out. I left it about three inches wide as instructed, but had to take out an inch or so worth of stitches, when the bulky exterior refused to become small enough.

Another thing I’ve observed is that people’s basket handles seem quite floppy compared to mine, even when they have added some kind of interfacing, but I want to stress that there are four layers of canvas and nothing else in mine.

I also took care to fuse each section of the fleece for about ten seconds under a moist cloth for long-term attachment to the exterior canvas. This gives a wonderful finish to the basket as a whole, I think, and it stands quite rigidly as well for such a soft construction.

Since this one fits my iron with neatly rolled-up cord, the water cup thingy, a starch bottle, and a pressing cloth, I most certainly will make more of this basket at some point. There’s more fabric where those came from, although I’m unfortunately running out on fusible fleece, I realise in this very moment to my great horror.

In the meantime, why don’t you go make one of these, too, and show me!

MQG Riley Blake fabric challenge

NWF MQG Riley Blake challenge 2015-03-21

Recently I received a neat and lovely little stack of Riley Blake fabrics for the latest Modern Quilt Guild fabric challenge. The six fabrics are designed by Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish for her “The Cottage Garden” collection and are wonderfully well coordinated.

From left to right, the fabrics are:

  • Cottage Main in Grey
  • Cottage Wallpaper in Grey
  • Cottage Newsprint in Teal
  • Cottage Birds in Grey
  • Cottage Wallpaper in Teal
  • Cottage Aster in White

The calm look and the size of the individual cuts made me think immediately of my yoga-mat bag. A yoga mat rolled up obviously has a circular footprint, which means I’d incorporate a 360-degree piece for the first time. Also, there might be some improvisational piecing coming up, but time will tell about that one.

Finally, the major “new thing”, which is a requirement of the challenge, is the pattern itself. I’ve looked at different options amongst free patterns, but none is quite what I want, so once again I’d make something from scratch. Good thing that this challenge runs from March until July! Stay tuned for more :)

On Instagram and other social media, you will find projects under the hashtag #mqgfabricchallenge.