Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHello Tokyoites, this is your last prompt for the quilt top, covering weeks 17 and 18 of the Tokyo Subway Map Quilt-Along! I’m very sorry about being overdue posting the prompts. Hopefully you’ve already finished sewing, if you were keeping the speed, and if not, this is the perfect time to get back in the game, after the holidays.

I have yet to receive more of the background fabric, but I’m crossing my fingers it’ll arrive in the coming week.

Sewing the week 17 and 18 blocks:

  • Block 22
  • Block 23
  • Block 24
  • Block 25

How has your progress been? Even? Bursts of activity followed by times of making other things? What do you think of the pattern?

For me personally, it’s been a wonderful way to rummage through my stash, since I don’t sew in a manner that creates huge amounts of scraps, but then again I’ve noticed how some colours are less represented than others. For instance dark green is rather measly a part of my stash! The pattern itself is a great practice in consistency, no matter what seam allowance one has chosen.

Do you have other thoughts and comments? I wish you a wonderful new year and will check the hashtag again on Instagram in the next couple of days!



Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500px Whoa, week 15 (14.-20.12.2015) has begun with the last row of blocks being sewn for Tokyo Subway Map Quilt. How are you doing? Still on-board?

I’m thinking I should start piecing the rows as long as I have no white background available. We’ve had a postal strike and mail is very messed up still, so I’m not counting on having any more fabric before Christmas.

Sewing the week 16 blocks:

  • Block 20
  • Block 21

Are you in the Northern hemisphere? Feeling the darkness? We have no snow here and some days are quite grey, which is wearing me down a bit. I have projects to work on, but it’s a bit difficult to muster up the energy to do some sewing. Hope things will be easier once we have some relaxing days off.


Nina With Freckles - Sunset walk 2015-12-07

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxHrm, so this is what things look like when I don’t sew. We had a storm here over the weekend with water levels rising quite a bit, sea debris filling beaches and walking paths next to the water, and a very grey sky to look at.

Today, however, the sun decided to show itself again, and since I’m stuck in limbo with no white background (really bad planning… :D ) I thought I’d put up a “down for soul maintenance” post on my own behalf – but with prompts, of course, for those poor souls among us, who still have a sewing schedule to stick to. (Obviously I have some catching up to do later, but never mind, I’m silly like this.) And since I have your ear and also happen to be in chatty mode, we celebrated Independence Day here yesterday. In two years, it’s the big one and I hope to make a bit more of it then, but all weekend this year was mainly about chilling for me. Didn’t even look at the festivities in the presidential palace, gowns and other stuff. But, we do have prompts to send out into the world, so without further ado…

Sewing the week 15 blocks:

  • Block 18
  • Block 19

Rather scary! Only one more block left of the third row… What say you, things going well? Or a total disaster? Or something in between perhaps? Happy Monday!


Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 14 main 2015-11-30

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxYikes, almost forgot to post today! Ahem, welcome to week 14 (30.11.-6.12.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! :)

So, like I mentioned I’ve run out on white fabric, but I wanted a nice, crisp photo of my blocks (9 and 10 need pressing still, hence the gap) to show my progress. But of course the days have been rather dark and dreary, almost like someone knew I wanted to take a photo… Tut tut. Perhaps you can get a general idea despite the slightly overexposed impression due to extensive tweaking? It was SO MUCH FUN to lay out all the blocks on the floor! There are some places here and there where my points are off with a hair, but never mind, it’s going to look brilliant once done!

Sewing the week 14 blocks:

  • Block 15
  • Block 16
  • Block 17

How is it going at your end? Nevy mentioned sewing only on weekends, which seems to be working beautifully for her – because she’s a bit ahead, can you believe? Star student *smiles widely* Heh, sorry, I’m just a bit envious.

And just because I had the camera airing out, another photo!

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 14 closeup 2015-11-30

Have you thought of making another quilt of the same pattern in the future? Or is this it? I think this will be my one and only, because there’s so much work in both cutting and sewing, even when the technique is suitable for a complete beginner, too. Happy December as per tomorrow!


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.