Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHi there, welcome to week 13 (23.-29.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! Schedule says we ought to be halfway through sewing the blocks, but schedule is up for debate in most participants’ cases :) I have no more Kona White, and hence have to take a little break.

On the other hand, now that I have a clear system of working in batches, I’m certain it won’t be too bad to catch up again once I have the fabric in my hands. It is exciting to see blocks growing – or should I rather say shrinking? because they look like cute mini versions once sewn together! – and that in itself makes the hard work of cutting scraps worthwhile. Without further ado, the prompt.

Sewing the week 13 blocks:

  • Block 13
  • Block 14

My suggestion posted a few days ago on Instagram to a fellow quilter, who felt she was behind, is worth repeating here. If you have yet to cut all lines, pick the scraps and backgrounds for the blocks we are working on now, stay on track from now on, and squeeze in a block here and there from previous weeks. No harm done! And make sure to use the hashtag #TokyoSubwayMapQuilt on Instagram so we can cheer you on!

Comments? Questions? Squeals of happiness? Groans of frustration? Floor is yours below! :)


Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 12 2015-11-16

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHello! Welcome to week 12 (16.-22.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! I finally got a turquoise fat quarter in the mail. Perhaps you noticed that in the original draft I had included a turquoise line, whereas when cutting, there was only dark blue and light blue?

Well, turns out the light blue line in the original pattern goes in both top and bottom part of the quilt, whereas the bottom part is turquoise in the updated pattern now for sale. I wanted the variation and changed the number of light blue prints and solids to accommodate a shorter line. But of course I didn’t have a turquoise solid yet, so that had to be ordered, but it’s arrived now and I’m very pleased.

The plan was to order Kona White at the same time, but the shop had run out on it, and I need to wait a while until ordering more, so it might be that the little I have left will run out this week. Preferably I’d buy a whole bolt of it, a girl can dream, can’t she ;) Hickups happen, but luckily it isn’t a huge one this time.

Sewing the week 12 blocks:

  • Block 11
  • Block 12

Did you have a productive weekend? Everything all right? Or dreadfully behind? Holler and the cavalry will arrive!


Hi there, I’ve been seeing some wonderful photos on Instagram since last blog post and serious progress is being made as we speak! Welcome to week 11 (9.-15.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL :)

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 11 2015-11-09

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxToday I want to discuss sewing from a block grid, as I had screwed up the two first blocks somehow, and only fixed them the other day. The block size is an 8×8 grid, and my system is different from the one in the tutorial pattern.

Let’s say that columns (vertical) are numbered 1 to 8 and rows (horizontal) are A to H, starting from top left corner of the grid. To make chain piecing possible, I place column 2 on top of 1, right sides together, column 4 on 3, column 6 on 5, and column 8 on 7. Then I stack from the bottom, row H, one pair on top of the next, such that you end up with row A as first pair (pieces A1 and A2) to sew.

In the little QAL logo that I’ve designed, A1 would be white and A2 light blue, whereas H8 is violet.

When chain piecing, to show where column 1 ends and column 2 begins, I add a little leader in between H1/H2 and A3/A4 pairs. This I repeat when all new columns start.

Then, when clipping threads, I place in a similar way A3/A4 on top of A1/A2, right sides together and continue down the column to H3/H4 on top of H1/H2. Stacking begins from the bottom once again so that the A pair is the first to be sewn.

The final step to create full rows of 8 pieces is to place A5/6/7/8 on top of A1/2/3/4, right sides together. Once all 8-piece rows have been created, I start stacking from row H, with A being on top.

In the photo above, you can see this arrangement for blocks 3-6. What remains is to press open all seams, then sew rows together starting from the top once again.

Sewing the week 11 blocks:

  • Block 8
  • Block 9
  • Block 10

I feel like we’ve moved past some kind of hurdle and even though sewing might happen slightly irregularly depending on other life circumstances, it still seems like a quilt is actually happening. Thoughts?


Nina With Freckles - T-shirt yarn 2015-11-03

If you’re following me on Instagram (@ninawithfreckles), you may have seen the t-shirt yarn, or tarn, I made yesterday. After cutting up those eight t-shirts, I added another one straight from the drying rack.

Currently, I’m deep cleaning my walk-in closet and since among others my cleaning gear is in there, I stumbled upon a stack of old t-shirts destined to be reused as something else. It’s not often that I clean my bike for instance, so despite a modest stack of items demoted to cleaning, I haven’t worked my way through these particular t-shirts in various dirty jobs around the house.

Being the frugal person I am, the thought of simply throwing out ‘good cleaning materials’ is positively mind-boggling, but I do want to declutter Stuff and so Pinterest has been my friend once again.

(A side note: I realise I haven’t updated my info here after having changed username. Very sorry about that! It’s @ninakmartin now.)

Back to t-shirt tutorials. I’ve pinned a few of them, but the one I liked best turned out to have a video as part of it. Here it is, made by Bao of Relevé Design:

Since many t-shirts have side seams, his tips shared in another blog post include scissors. I’ve treated some of the more protruding seams as he suggests.

And now my own comments on his tutorials. First of all, I like my rotary cutter. A lot. To a quilter, using an x-acto knife seems almost painful. In the next step, when cutting the final seams by hand, after a couple of t-shirts I got bored and wanted the job done quickly. Enter rotary cutter once more.

What you want to do is keep the t-shirt going through a face lift on the cutting mat. Spread out like a spider with a bazillion legs the part to be cut, then cut fabric. Slide to the right (if you’re cutting from the right side as in this tutorial; some start from the left side) the chopped off piece of yarn, and spread out the spider legs once more. Chop off yarn, spread out spider, repeat. See how I can’t chop off spider legs… I’m a delicate flower, sorry.

In some other tutorials I’ve looked at, the strips are cut much closer to the t-shirt edge (where the side seam is on some of them), but this causes a zigzag to form in the produced yarn. My recommendation is to stop at a greater distance, like in this tutorial by Bao, and that way you create a less curvy strip. If you intend to use a rotary cutter, the final diagonal snip will be swift anyway, so that part isn’t slowed down at all.

I’m sure I could think of more to share, but I’m trying to restrain the babbling a bit. As for future projects on my mind, I’ve pinned some basket tutorials to the crochet board, so check it out! There’s even a project involving ‘plarn’, not just ‘tarn’, and recycling plastic bags into yarn seems a great idea. Someone has made a laundry basket and it looks fantastic, although I may have forgotten to pin it, oops.

Have you reused t-shirts or plastic bags like this? My bee buddy Synnøve mentioned using a 12-millimetre crochet hook on spaghetti yarn (there’s a z in there somewhere but I no google now), which is a size I don’t have yet. T-shirts, however, are like Swiss train, always arriving and usually on time, so that size might be clever to invest in.

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 10 Blocks 6 and 7

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 10 2015-11-02

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxWell have I got great news! I purchased my first Aurifil thread earlier this autumn, and have used it for the first time yesterday. It is like a dream and the seams are so unbelievably flat compared to my old threads. Total convert here! Some people say thread will be as expensive as fabric and I get it now, yes I do.

Oh, and welcome to week 10 (2.-8.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! Wow. I’m running out on white Kona for the background as we speak, so it may take a while before I have more to cut, but luckily we aren’t progressing at lightning speed here.

Sewing the week 10 blocks:

  • Block 6
  • Block 7

That photo up there is block 6 in the making. My stash was diversified a bit earlier this year when receiving bee blocks from my Scandibee ladies, as some of them sent me pretty scraps. Six of the patches in block 6 are from those scraps and it makes me so happy to know that my friends are part of this process on a section of those subway tracks!

I received feedback just now on Love2Kwilt’s situation and life keeps throwing us around unexpectedly. I told her we will be cheering her on once she’s ready to roll up the sleeves with gusto once more. Anyone else feel they have fallen off the wagon? Need a tiny nudge or just a friendly smiley on Instagram? Any speed is good, even turtle speed, okay.


Yesterday I mentioned having been ill for a while, but another reason for a rather quiet blog is that I’m working on revamping the whole thing. I have my own domain already and want to move the whole shebang to self-hosting. There’s quite a bit to learn, however, and also I want to be sure I commit financially to the most optimal solutions.

So for instance my monthly projects turned quarterly projects, which I intended to post on 1 October, didn’t happen after all. In fact, I’m rethinking what I’m doing here in the first place, and am aiming to streamline categories, the visual aspects, you name it.

Also, my patterns are being worked on and there is a line of them waiting to be written, then published for sale. This last part is making me rather nervous, but on the other hand I’ve wanted to waltz firmly and regularly out of my comfort zone on this blog since the beginning. Being brave takes active efforts over and over, and what I have in my head and in my vector drawing app shows me that perhaps someone might actually want to pay a bit for a pattern of mine, so I just have to take a leap of faith and do my best.

Something as simple as a label causes me to shift a tad uncomfortably, and by that I’m of course talking about “designer.” Yikes, I have no problem these days saying that I design quilt patterns, but it’s a whole different story to call myself a pattern designer. See the difference?

For the longest of time I struggled with the label runner, because I had this idea that only very fit people were runners, which turned out to be a bunch of nonsense, as all it takes to be a runner is to move in running rather than walking. You know, that definition where not both feet are on the ground simultaneously? The way we all ran around when being kids still? Yes, that one.

Stepping into the identity of a pattern designer will take longer, I suspect, because I have no formal training, although I do my best to take an academic approach to learning more. Currently I’m enrolled in a graphic design course for beginners, it’s fun and turns out typography and I are a love affair that will never end.

If you glance back at the post title, see how I’ve written it in all caps for the first time? That’s part of the revamping project :) It’s slow, since I’m not outsourcing much to anyone else, but I’ll get there and I most certainly hope you’ll like the result. Since progress is of turtle speed, I don’t want to make any public announcements about deadlines, though, because we don’t know what we don’t know, right? And what we don’t know may take a lot longer than expected.

I also have a few sewing projects to wrap up before that, including the much overdue Simplicity quilt-along, so behind the seams (haha, pun intended) there’s quite a bit going on right now.

Are you an active blogger? Or an inactive one wanting to become more active, with more clarity and purpose? At the end of all this, I’ll share a little secret that I’m working on an e-book of sorts to help others in my situation find their way through moving from a free blog platform to self-hosting.

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 9 Blocks 3, 4 and 5

TSMQ Week 9

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHello lovelies, how are you doing? Welcome to week 9 (26.10.-1.11.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! We are having a beautiful day here today in Helsinki, and with all that sunshine I send you the newest prompt for our beautiful quilt.

Instead of taking photos earlier in the day, I decided to head out for a run, and the one above will be replaced soon enough (yep, I also need to do something about my pressing-board fabric, it’s looking rather nasty these days). We turned our clocks to winter time yesterday, which means the sun just went down a few minutes ago, and it isn’t even 17.00 yet. Yay, darkness… I don’t mind, but photos are a ghastly task to take during the winter months, in particular when you don’t have but a point-and-shoot at your disposal.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been rather quiet on Instagram lately, which was due to illness and then a burst of migraine lasting several days. The other day, however, I finally was able to check out the hashtag #TokyoSubwayMapQuilt once again and saw some really nice photos. It made me so happy to see how we are working on this quilt, basically spanning the whole globe.

Sewing the week 9 blocks:

  • Block 3
  • Block 4
  • Block 5

Perhaps you noticed how I switched around weeks 8 and 9? I decided to do that after having read some comments about not having cut everything needed yet, but next week, there will be only two blocks to sew. The average is 2-3 blocks each week, if you want to finish the quilt top by New Year’s, whereas if you aim to have the whole quilt finished then, speed up a bit and sew 3 blocks weekly.

Nevy mentioned being sick of cutting for the background and I don’t blame her :) It would have been so convenient to use at least skinny strips (skinny jelly roll), but we can’t have it all, can we, heh.

Hope your week 9 will be successful!

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 8 Blocks 1 and 2

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxOh my, we are ready to start sewing! As posted the other day, I’m not done with cutting yet, but I do want to stay on track from now on, so what is uncut still has to wait until I need those pieces in the blocks. So, yup, welcome to week 8 (19.-25.10.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL, when stuff really begins to show for realz.

In fact, I’m done sewing my first two blocks, but the lighting is so horrific now that we are approaching winter solstice (well, soon enough, heh, I know we just had equinox) and I don’t unnecessarily want to force bad photos on you.

Sewing the week 8 blocks:

  • Block 1
  • Block 2

If you intend to sew the whole quilt rather than quilt top only before New Year’s, now is the time to speed up and sew three blocks. Good luck with that project, I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines :)

As for the “normal” speed, I got a bit busy during the weekend, but promise I’ll check Instagram in the next couple of days. Questions? Comments? Happy Monday and happy sewing!

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 7 White background (3 of 3)

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHi everyone, sorry about the very late weekly post, I’ve been ill for quite some time. This week (12.-18.10.2015) is the final week of background cutting, after which we are (?) ready to move on to sewing blocks.

Unfortunately the unexpected hickup has led to my not being done with cutting for the background yet, but I’ll keep cutting once I sew, so we can start sewing as per Monday the coming week.

Cutting the pieces for week 7:

  • The last third of the background

How are you doing? Need a nudge? I’ll check out the hashtag on Instagram (#TokyoSubwayMapQuilt) this weekend to see whether there has been progress shown to the world. Hope to see you there! Happy weekend :)

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 6 White background (2 of 3)

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 6 background

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxLet’s talk white today! We’ve reached week 6 (5.-11.10.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL, which means it’s the second week of cutting for the background.

My guess is most people choose a white for the quilt-top background, but there are many whites. Do you have any favourites? How about manufacturers?

To mention one example, I really like the Bonnie & Camille fabrics by Moda, but the background isn’t white-white, but rather a creamy white. You know? In Kona solids by Robert Kaufman, this seems to correspond to the Snow hue. I have a little cut of it for a WIP, but my preference without question is Kona White, when placing the two next to each other.

I’ve heard somewhere that the inuits of Greenland have a huge bunch of names for different shades, tints, and tones of white hue (I suppose there’s just one white hue? never had this thought before). Perhaps it’s a myth only, but then again when I look at my own home, there are so many colours of white that I couldn’t possibly count them all.

What do you think of white in general? If you add a bit of a hue to it, do you prefer a warmer or cooler version of it? “Version” seems like the word to choose now :)

Cutting the pieces for week 6:

  • A second third of the background

How is your quilt coming along?