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March 5, 2012

I finished the 'Indigo Blue' quilt!

I finished the 'Indigo Blue' quilt that I was making for my husband on February 25 2012!
When I went to check when I had started this quilt, I found that the pattern I drew for this quilt, dated from January 2011. All in all it took me about a year, because I have finished the 'Hands of Friendship' small quilt in 2011 also as well as other little projects.

I tied the quilt with a pretty ribbon and an indigo blue rose to offer it to my Hubby.
And yes, he loves this quilt!
We still need to make a picture of the entire quilt that I will post here too.

It was fun making this quilt. Even squaring it off was fun in a way. As you can see, I use old scale weights to keep the top and my rulers from sliding. It brings back memories as I work on this old table that used to belong to my parents-in-law and I use the weights I once gave to my MIL and that have come back to me after she passed away in May 2011.

Unlike my previous quilts, (where I have had to make sure that I cut of enough to square it) this one came out with 4 perfect 90 degree angles, without any need for adaptations!

I can see that practice, practice, practice works for quilting... LOL.

Somehow I love making the binding - yes, I know that many quilters dread that part, yet I enjoy it. First there's the cutting of the bias tape - I needed 10 yards of it to fit around this quilt - of course there's the ironing (I use a double binding) and then the rolling of the lengths of pressed strips on an empty thread spool. A lot of work that I spread over 2 days. But ah, the joy of the end-result:

It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to look at such a roll of binding for a day or two, previous to attaching the binding to the top. 

I sewed the binding to the top on my Janome 7700 and then hand-stitched it to the back of the quilt. That part is fun too as you can just sit quietly in a chair and see the progress, although it took me several days to finish it. Must admit though that there was a feeling of relief mixed with joy in making those last locking stitches on February 25! The quilt was really all done and finished!

My husband had promised to get take-out Indonesian food in celebration of finishing the quilt. So we enjoyed a lovely meal too that evening too.

Bye for now!

January 23, 2012

My sewing room set up and my new machine: the Janome MC11000 v3.0

In December 2011, just before Christmas actually, my husband and I purchased a second machine for me: the Janome MC11000 v3.0.

It's a previously loved machine (yes, secondhand) purchased through a very friendly Sewing Machine Store in Amsterdam. As I cannot travel they were willing to bring me 2 machines to choose from. And I chose the Janome (over the Designer 1 by Husqvarna).

The reason why I bought another sewing machine is that I really wanted a machine that could embroider. And the price on this machine was so good that there was no doubt. This machine could also do FMQ for me in frames... haven't tried that out yet. We are still getting acquainted, the MC11K (another name for the MC11000) and I. What I have done on her is great and I love the fact that the feet are interchangeable with my Janome Horizon MC7700 (of course not the Acufeed feet - but the MC11K also has a dual feed foot).

So, while my Horizon was in Amsterdam for a much needed service / fine-tuning check-up, I have been sewing and embroidering on this machine a lot.

Needless to say that the sewing area in our living room needed some re-arranging! Somewhere in October 2011 or so I had made hole in the old diningroom table that used to belong to my parents-in-law and that I have been using as a sewing table, to fit my Janome Horizon so the sewing height was flush with the table.

There's a specially purchased multiply wood board underneath the machine. I can adjust the height so the MC 11000 fits in the hole too! (didn't know it would fit but it turned out it did!).
But I mainly keep the Horizon in it and the acrylic table that it came with fits perfectly over the opening.

Now to give you an added idea of how I worked prior to the new machine, the above picture tells it well: my Horizon on the right part of the table so there's plenty room left for a quilt to be quilted, the ironing board on my right that doubles as an extra working area and to the left something I really love: my MIL's glass coffee table that now serves as my cutting table! The perfect height for me on top of the dining table! (and sufficient storage space underneath too for sewing accessoires and fabric).

Here's a detail picture of my cutting table:

So, as you can understand: no room for the Janome MC11000 in this set-up!

The glass cutting table is now on another table, waiting for a more definitive solution (possibly my filing cabinet so I can keep my fabrics there like Karen shows in her blog).

So my sewing quarters now look like this:

...and it's great! The wooden chest of drawers holds all the feet for both machines, my threads and some hoops for the MC11000. I plan to hang hooks on the left of the chest to hold the larger hoops. I have my rulers haning on the right side of the chest. And I can pull the chest of drawers out from underneath the table to double as a support for a large quilt or even as a table where I can put a folder or the pattern I am working on (like a ITH (in the hoop pattern)).

I love my set-up as I have a view out of the window onto the street:

Projects made with the MC11000
So now on to show you a few things I made with the MC1100:

The 2 brown ones are for my hubby and me, featuring our initials. The 2 red ones were made for a female friend for her birthday. The ITH (In The Hoop) pattern used is by Stichinjenny. - do check out her wonderful blog when you're there!
It's fun to watch the machine sew by itself:
Though you miay not see much progress in this movie:
the sewing machine is making a sating stitch around the coaster
It reminds me of: 'look Mom, no hands' when the embroidery machine works all by herself!

And then I also made these fabric cases in the hoop:

The ITH pattern I used is by Five Star Fonts.

Here's a view inside the red one: there's a separation flap of fabric giving the case 2 pockets:

I made this one for the same friend who received the 2 red coasters.

Meanwhile I have joined a couple of Yahoo groups and my knowledge of machine embroidery is increasing thanks to all the helpful tips and the knowledge in those groups! I hope to be able to contribute too some day.

Another blog entry here soon will be on some more tips. Small things I do that really help and that might be helpful for some of you too!

Bye for now,

January 22, 2012

Quilting on my Husband's quilt: the Indigo Blue Quilt

The holiday season over, I finally had more time to start finishing the big Indigo Blue quilt that I am making for my hubby. During these months I had been pondering which pattern I would use to quilt this quilt... Mind you, with the other large sized quilt that I have made (the 'Shades of Beige' quilt - my very first one) I just did a SITD (Stitch-in-the-Ditch - for my blog-readers who aren't familiar with the quilting abbreviations) to finish it, but I really wanted to FMQ (Free Motion Quilt) quilt this one. And I didn't want to mess it up.

Needle Book
e-reader fabric case
Lately I have been experimenting more with FMQ . I finished the 'Hands of Friendship' quilt (Yes, I will post those pictures too in another blog-entry) and I quilted some small stuff ( a needle book and a fabric case for my ereader) so I am getting the 'hang' of it. Not fully profiscient yet, but I really enjoy it! The initial fear for this art of sewing is gone. That in itself is a huge step!
And I must say that I find FMQ far easier than SITD. While doing SITD you have to be so focussed all the time making sure you stay straight on the seems, especially when you cross over seems. And you have a lot of thread-ends to work away in the layers afterwards. Not mentioning that you also do a lot of turning and twisting the quilt around getting it through the harp of the sewing machine...

But I had used a hearts and swirls pattern for these 3 projects. Not a very masculine pattern for this quilt that I'm making for my husband... :-). So I prayed for wisdom. And the moment I had the quilt under my machine, putting the needle down through the layers of fabric, it's then that I knew how I could quilt this quilt! Praise the Lord! I would use a heart-shaped pattern as I have been using, but make it into a leaf instead of a heart! So I took away the quilt and practiced a bit on a sampler sandwich.
I was so encouraged by the Lord's evident guidance. He is there every step of the way!

So I knew then that I would apply that pattern to the white blocks and the white and blue fabric blocks in this quilt and SITD (yes, that too) around the indigo blue squares. This past week I realized as my quilt progressed that I could quilt the long section with the smaller and thinner blocks also with a leaf pattern. It's almost impossible to stitch-in-the-ditch that section as it would require a tedious turning around of the quilt. I will do that quilting with a top blue and bottom white thread.

My hubby took this little movie last night while I was FMQ-ing.

 (you can click on the small square on the right bottom of the frame
if you would like to see the movie in full screen mode)
To baste the sandwich ( joining the top with the backing and the cotton batting in between) - by the way I apply Susan Shambler's method with 2 wooden trim boards-  I didn't handbaste it all over. I mainly used safety pins which I now regret because the 3 layers have shifted somewhat. Minor shifts but the quilt is not as flat in a few spots as my Shades of Beige quilt or the Hands of Friendship quilt (that I did handbaste). Oh well, it's handmade stuff... that's what I say to console myself. So you keep on learning. Right?!

And here a few detail shots of the FMQ:

I use white top and bottom thread
for the light blocks
This is the section I was quilting
in the little movie my hubby made.

this is the reverse side. I used the same
white and blue flowered fabric for the back.
This is a front  side block - you can see
how  I doodle-qulted around the patterns.

After the sandwich is fully quilted, I will need to cut the biais-binding (from the white and blue pattern fabric I still have left over for this purpose) and square off the quilt etc.... one step at a time! I can now stitch on average 45 minutes per day, but not every day. So patience is in order here. LOL.
But I enjoy the progress made and hope you do too!

Bye for now,

November 19, 2011

Progress in quilts

It's been a while - haven't been feeling well lately. (The aftermath of injuring my head almost 4 years ago.) So I didn't have the energy to write a new entry on my blog...

All in all I am grateful though that there were days that I was able to sew a bit. And there must be some kind of expression about 'a stitch a day makes a quilt in a year's time' ?... Chuckle. 'Cause in the course of all these weeks I was able to finish the top for my husband's quilt and do some more sewing too!

As I wasn't in the energy-flow to start the process of sandwiching and quilting this huge quilt (my husband stood on a chair this afternoon to hold this quilt for the picture) I decided to finish another project I had lying around... It's a paper-piecing lapquilt I started possibly in 2009... It too is from a pattern called 'Right Hand of Friendship' by Marcia Hohn. In 2009 I had made 35 squares...
this picture doesn't show the set of 3 squares I had already sewn... there are sets of 4 that make a larger block.

Just needed 1 more to have a center of sorts for a lapquilt, totalling 9 blocks, each block consisting of 4 squares. If I were to make a nice-sized lap-quilt, I would have needed to sew another 20 squares.
As I lacked the courage to do so I chose to just sew that 1 last square and opted for making lots of borders to enlarge the project to a lap-sized quilt. Here it is on my design wall...
and a few days later I finished the top:
A quilt needs a back, of course...  so again a few days later I assembled some borders around a piece of fabric originally bought for the purpose...

That's how far I got... now I need to muster the energy to iron both top and backing and start assembling the sandwich... LOL.

These past weeks I felt more like making other things. Small projects in between to gather some energy that comes from creativity. You must know how that feels...

So I made a bowl out of fabric (I have the book by Linda Johansen - 'Fast and easy Fabric Bowls' that I bought at my local quilt store 'The Stitch Cottage'. It's hard to find Timtex or other stiff interfacing in Holland, so I cut 2 pieces of canvas that I joined together with an equivalent for Fast2fuse. That worked out OK, though be it was a lot more work...
I had it drying on the radiator on our hallway (This radiator sure needs a lick of paint as I found out through this picture!). My Tupperware salad bowl was just the right size to help the bowl get it's firm round shape!
I don't have a better picture right now to show... I brought it to my mother's house 2 weeks ago for her to enjoy and look at... These pictures give you an idea of the result. I love those 2 blue fabrics, how well they go together, although I bought them at different times and locations.

And then another day I decided to make a fabric basket. This one is made in colors that go well in my living room. The lady who made the pattern is Amandajean from Crazy Mom Quilts. She calls them 'storage cubes' and she uses cardboard as interfacing. It's a bit tricky to make but I enjoyed this project and the result:

So there you have it... lots of little things done these past weeks. It amazes me too... :-)
Bye for now!

October 21, 2011

Great tips from Karen: Hair Elastic Bobbin Keeper and more!

October 20 / November 3, 2011

(Updated) I came accross the blog that Karen keeps and have linked her blog to my list of blogs. Today I just wanted to share with you some of her great ideas and tips like this nifty idea that I read there on her blogspot. Just love these ideas! But do go over and check her blog for many more great ideas. 

"This is such a great idea for those little unruly bobbins loaded with thread. They just keep unwinding and unwinding...especially if you are traveling with them to a class.
Here's your solution: mini hair elastics. They are the stretchy, fluffy kind. They come in many colors, so you can even match them to the thread. Just slip it over the bobbin and that thread isn't going any where. Karen"

Now, isn't that a great idea! Easy, cheap and so convenient. Now why didn't I think of that myself... ;-) (I ordered those pink plastic bobbin keepers from the States last year- cost my a fortune on taxes etc. And to think I could have used this idea if I had known about it. But that's always the case... you don't know till you know.)
Following up on this tip, I found another set of great ideas on her blog
here - Mind you, I'm just 'clipping' out some ideas of hers from that blog that I love most. So go and check her blog if you want to read more.

"Do you have a daily pill case hanging around? If not they are available in any drug store. How about using it as a travel case for your bobbins. Great to take it with you to a class or when you're going on a retreat.

"Don't forget another Tool Time idea of using the mini hair scrunchies to wrap around each bobbin. They hold the thread in place so it won't unwind. Click here for that post.
This is a big pill organizer case that was my mom's. It's a weekly box that has morning, noon, evening and bedtime spots."

"Here's a rectangular pill casewith longer compartments. Perfect to hold all your different sized needles."

"Half could be machine and the other could be hand sewing needles. Karen"

Karen also has a tip to reuse empty pill bottles (with a tight closing lid) to keep all the bits and pieces of broken or dull needles and pins. That's something I came up with too (prior to reading her blog). I love this so I am posting her pictures.

"Label it clearly with "OLD NEEDLES" or "BROKEN NEEDLES"...much safer to store them all in a bottle and then just throw the whole bottle away once it's full." (Or dispose of it through your chemists: here in the Netherlands, we can bring these 'sharpies' safely packaged in such a bottle, to our chemist's who will dispose of it accordingly - like he does for used medicinal needles).

And here's her tip for re-using empty spay bottles (medicinal or other) to make a water-spray bottle for your ironing. Easy to take with you to workshops or quilting and sewing lessons you take! I love the way she embellished the bottle with some fabric and Mod Podge.

So THANK YOU, Karen!

Bye for now,

October 14, 2011

Uh Oh! - I need to resew a whole block....

Yesterday evening I found out another reason one can benefit from having a design wall... As I was checking out the direction of the sashings around the sampler-blocks for the top- right block, I saw that I had altered the direction of the sashings of the bottom right block... Oh No!!
  As the right and left wide sashings run from top to bottom, the ones around the sampler blocks should do so too... And for the sake of uniformity in the quilt... as the sashings for the top left block in the left panel of this Indigo blue quilt for my hubby run in that direction, so the sashings in other identical blocks should also....
this is the block on the top left of the quilt (left panel)
 It took me a while before I mustered the courage to start ripping up the seams... It helped to look at it on the design to figure out what would be the easiest way to tackle the job.
These pictures were taken yesterday evening... you can see a part of my sewing table!

And so I needed to cut two long sashing strips. So glad that I had enough fabric left over....
 I wasn't able to finish it yesterday evening, so I stitched the last sashings back in place this morning.
See the difference?....

My husband was sure that no one would have seen the mistake... That's really sweet of him, isn't it?! His idea would have saved me a lot of work. But I'm sure quilters will see it. And if they wouldn't, I would always know about it... so I just had to repair the block. And now I am grateful for the result. It was more work than I thought, because once you rip open so many seams, all those uggly little threads start to appear... So I roller-cut all the edges again, getting rid of all the loose threads. And a lot of pressing with my iron was part of the job too of course. But hey, we're used to that aren't we? LOL.

Oh well... one is never too old to learn! I hope I won't make this mistake ever again.

Top right block of the right panel
In order to finish the the top right block of this panel, I needed one more sampler block. So I appliqué'd 2 butterflies wednesday. They are part of the design of the fabric that I am using as the basis for this quilt. It's an indigo and cream fabric I bought at Ikea in Delft years and years ago. This is how the block turned out:
I hand-embroidered the butterflys' antennae.
As the 9 sampler-blocks are now joined together with the narrow sashings, I 'only' need to add the top-to-bottom oriented sashings and the 4 wider sashings around it. Yippee! that means that I will be able to join it to the other part of the right panel. That will bring me to the final part of joining the left - middle - and right panels which means that the quilttop is almost finished...

Back to sewing now...
Bye for now!

October 12, 2011

It's so sweet... to have grandchildren!

Last year, when I purchased my great new computer-controlled sewing machine (the Janome Horizon 7700QCP) I wanted to learn how to sew on her before starting a large project. So I made this little wall quilt.
I found the pattern for Sam and baby Sue at

and added some vintage band around the bonnet of baby Sue.
 The grass she sits on is a combination of embroidery stitches and I added some monogramming on top too:  ' Sweet'  surrounded by hearts and bows.
it was an experience in precise-stitching to do the applique stitches!
The finished block size is 9 1/4" square. (23,5 cm square). It symbolizes my 2 first Grandchildren: a boy and his baby sister. I love them to bits!
Meanwhile we have another grandson... he was born this year. Still need to make a new block I guess with 3 kids in it. Chuckle.

I did make a few things on my sewing machine for this grandson. But that will be the entry of another blog soon.
It's windy and rainy out there today. Not one of my best days either (pain). Will try to do some sewing now on the Indigo Blue quilt. I'll take pictures to keep you posted if I get around to sewing.

Have a great day!