Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stuff I made but never posted

Whoops, seems like I've been neglecting the blog lately. I've got a good excuse - I've been to busy knitting. So let's make this a catch-up post. Here's all the stuff from the past month and a half. 

Middlefield pullover (from the book New England Knits)

Bella Lana Reversible Cable Scarf
Hermione's Cable & Eyelet Hat
Adventures in felting: Before
And after 1.5 hrs in the washing machine on 60 C.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My quilt ;)

Guess what? I made another quilt. I stumbled onto this tutorial for a great looking quilt block called Granny squares. The moment I saw it, the little voice inside my head went: You must make this. And it was a great opportunity to use up the fabric and batting I had left over from my previous quilt. I added some red fabric from my stash, the stuff I originally bought because I wanted to make a bed-sized quilt. The chunk of batting I had left measured about 60 x 42 inches, so my quilt is about the same size - Google tells me that this size is a lap quilt. 

The piecing of the blocks was relatively slow - each block consists of 25 little squares that need to be sewn together. Simple, but time consuming. But I really like the result, it's an effective block. 

I quilted the whole thing with free motion squiggles. Mostly because I wanted to secure my stitching in the pieced blocks a little more - some of those fabrics were really fraying. 

The quilting is better that it was the last time, but still far from perfect. It's so freaking hard to maneuver the quilt around when you don't have a decent sewing surface. I need a conference table, I really do. 

For this quilt I sort of grouped my little sewing table, my computer table, my ironing board and the TV table. Made the Alps from furniture, because each table was different height. And my quilt would regularly fall into the empty spaces between them. The amount of curse words I uttered would probably set a record. 

I managed to pinch the fabric on only two places, so that's an improvement. And I learned how to bury the threads in the quilt, new skills are always good.

I didn't have a big enough fabric chunk that would cover the whole back, so I combined the stuff I had. 

The whole quilt is perfect for lying on the couch while watching TV, reading or knitting. 

And that brings me to my finished knitting project. Express Lane socks. The socks that almost took me a year to knit. No idea why, the pattern is great and not that complicated. The yarn is Regia, one of those 100 gram skeins. I decided to use the whole thing, so the socks are almost-but-not-quite knee socks. 

Next project? Well, since I put my sewing machine away and finally vacuumed all the little bits of thread my whole apartment was covered in, my next project will be good old knitting. Such a clean craft, with barely any mess. I'm starting the Middlefield Pullover.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Manuel's Quilt

The baby quilt for a friend's little boy is finished! There are a few mistakes, a couple of weird bunching up of fabric, but all in all, I'm pretty proud of myself. I kind of want to keep it ;-) But alas it's too small for me, the finished measurements are 85 x 113 cm (34 x 45 inches).

I used six print cotton fabrics for the squares, and solid white for the sashing. The back is also cotton, one of the fabrics I used for the square. 
When choosing the fabrics, I was going for soft blue palette, boyish colors, but still something soft (and pastel - somehow when I think of baby stuff, they're always in pastel colors). I'm not so sure I managed to choose the right colors for a boy, with all the red bits it kind of looks girly. What do you think? 

Sewing the blocks was really fun, even tough it took a couple of test runs with scrap fabric and a lot more math than I expected. Each row has the same block, but in different fabric combinations. Since I chose really similar fabrics, their colors sort of blend together into one. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, perhaps I should have added a little more contrast? I spent at least an hour at the store trying to match up the colors. Who knew choosing a color palette would be so hard? I should probably do some research about colors and contrasts before my next fabric purchase.

The batting is thin polyester I bought in a roll. I still have some left, just enough for a little couch quilt. That's going to be my next project.

It's quilted using free motion stippling. (Check me out using the quilting lingo ;-). Way harder than it looks - thank God the front of the quilt is mostly white. I find it really hard to control my speed and to maneuver the quilt under the needle at the same time. What can I tell you, my arm/leg coordination was never really good. As a result, some of my stitches are extra long, while others are tiny. But apparently practice makes perfect, so I'm estimating by the time I make my 10th quilt, I will have mastered the stippling. Stay tuned ;-)

On a couple of places I pinched and sewed the backing fabric, creating stupid little folds of fabric. I later unpicked those stitches and tried to fix it by hand the best I could. It's far from perfect, but still way better than it looked before. Advice for this problem: Sew slowly and make sure the backing fabric doesn't wrinkle as you move the quilt under the needle. 


As for the time spent sewing - I managed to sew all the blocks in two days. I was on a roll. And also on vacation. Adding the sashing and basting and quilting took another two days. One more day to attach the binding and an eternity to sew it to the back by hand. Just kidding, it was more like an hour each day for four days.


Final verdict on quilting: fun. Can also be used as a workout program, since you have to press every seam you sew. That means pin the fabrics, sit down, sew, get up to iron, repeat in an endless loop. But the finished quilt makes you feel very accomplished, so it's worth it.

All that's left to do now is to wash the quilt (and pray that no seams come apart in the washing mashine) and to send it to the new mom! I hope she'll like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Random practice pieces

I generally don't like to make practice pieces. I'm more the 'let's do it and see if it works out' kind of girl. But my latest hobby is quilting, and I wanted to make a baby quilt for a friend who's expecting. And a quilt is a pretty big thing to mess up, especially if it's a gift. So I decided it would probably be a good idea to practice on smaller pieces first. 

I dug into my fabric stash and pulled out some odd pieces and went online to find tutorials for quilt blocks. Sewed a bunch of squares before I decided I could probably make something useful. So I made a potholder and a placemat.

Pinwheel block. The points of the pinwheels should be pointier.

Star block.

I started with the center block and then pretty much just added more fabric around it, until I used up all of this blue leaves cotton. The evening star block was a lot of fun to make, even though I didn't manage to match up all my points perfectly. But this was a practice piece anyway. I quilted it 'stitch in the ditch' style. Learned that I should also probably practice sewing a straight line. 
Great Youtube tutorial for the Star block can be found here

A friend asked if I could knit her niece some baby booties. So I practiced that as well, since I've never knit anything baby sized before. I just need to present them to the friend and see if she likes this style before I knit the real thing.

OK, so that was it for the practice pieces, I'm going back to working on the actual baby quilt. I started the thing back in July, I'm almost finished now, just hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt. It's taking forever. I'll probably bomb you with tons of pictures once I finish it completely. For now, just a little sneak peak: 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Karlsruhe & München

Pretty much the summary of how I spent my summer vacation. Traveled to Karlsruhe and München. I loved both cities, despite the cloudy and rainy weather. Both beautiful, full of green surfaces, with amazing botanical gardens, especially München with its garden next to the Nymphenburg palace. 

München, Neues Rathaus
Karlsruhe, view from the Schloss tower
Now, I know you all know this trip of mine didn't go without some yarn shopping. I didn't get to do any yarn searching in Karlsruhe, because it was the weekend, everything was closed anyway. 

But I made up for it in München.I want to move there and spend every day in one of its yarn shops. I only visited three stores that were in the center of the city, the ones I could reach on foot while sightseeing. I told myself I would only buy a skein from each, like a little yarn souvenir. 

But then I went inside and lost all my sanity. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Blouses and my questionable taste in fabrics

Here's what I don't like about sewing: in order for something to fit right, you have to make a ton of adjustments, there's loads of pinning and trying on and you basically sew everything at least three times. At least I do. So far, I made all my muslins from old sheets. But now I ran out of old sheets. So I decided to take a walk on the wild side and make a wearable muslin from my stash fabric. And I do have a stash of fabric. A stash of some of the ugliest prints known to man. I know I liked it when I bought it, so what happened? Has my taste changed that much since last year? 

Anyway, here's a blouse I made completely according to the pattern from Burda. I'm too lazy to check which one, maybe it's this years June edition. 


My first time making anything with a collar. Obviously I messed up in a couple of steps. The interfacing I used is too flimsy, so the collar doesn't stand up nice and crisp like all good collars do. I failed to match up the ends of the buttonhole placket, so my collar ends don't meet up when I button the shirt all the way through. And I misread a whole section on sewing the bias tape on the neck, turning something on the buttonhole placket this way or the other - the collar is basically a complete mess. But it somehow works.

The sleeves could be a little shorter, but I'm pretty satisfied with how I set them in. This thing also has darts. Those long darts with two points. Scary, I know.

The fabric is practically transparent, some sort of cottony stuff. It wrinkles easily and I'm not too crazy about the print. Questionable fabric choices, indeed.

After finishing my shirt, I felt pretty confident in my shirt making skills, so I made one for my mom. A different pattern, but also from Burda. Don't even ask about the fabric. I don't know why I bought this. My mom likes green, and they didn't have solid colors. It's viscose.

I still need to add buttons.

This pattern had better collar instructions, so this one came out perfectly. Just look at those crisp edges. I guess practice really does make perfect. 

Or does it? Introducing my third regrettable fabric purchase. A yellow Miss Sixty jersey with white flowers print. It was supposed to be my beach dress. In this one I learned that I need to cut my binding strips way shorter than I did here, to make the neckline and the armholes gape less. The original plan was to add elastics to the waist (so that I can wear it with the top slightly over the elastic so that it looks like a two-part dress) But I gave up on that. It's not likely I will ever go out in public in this. I mean - it's yellow. The armholes are too big. The hem is probably a bit askew. And it's very, very yellow.

It is very comfortable though. I've been wearing it around the house and with these ridiculously high temperatures lately it's been a life saver.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A quilt shop! In my town!

Amazing discovery! Rijeka has a quilt shop. An actual quilt shop. They sell finished quilted stuff such as pillowcases and blankets, but they also have oh so pretty cotton fabrics they sell by the meter. They even have charm packs and jelly rolls. Jelly rolls in my town. I am super excited, as you can probably tell. Do you know what this means? No more online ordering of fabrics and, more importantly - no more postage and customs fees. Yay!


This is a great step forward in my quilt making plan. You see, I plant to make a quilt for my bed. It's going to be red and white, to match my furniture. I've been slowly collecting fabrics for the past year or so, most of them I ordered online, disappointed in the utter lack of cute fabrics in my town. Up until now. 

But seeing how I want my big quilt to be perfect, I have to practice first. So I bought a single jelly roll.

It has five strips of 7,5 cm x 140 cm of cotton fabric. Combined with some fabric from my stash and store-bought bias tape, this jelly roll produces this: 

Mini quilt I have no idea what to use for, but I'm super proud of it.

The back. The cream bits are where I used the 5th strip from the jelly roll.

I didn't have any batting, so I used leftover flannel from my pajama making days. The floral pattern of the flannel kind of shows through the cream parts of the backing, but I think it adds to the charm and the general eye piercing loudness of the quilt. 

The piecing of the squares went super fast and was probably the easiest part. I had so much fun arranging the finished blocks on my floor, trying to decide how to sew them up. I probably needed one more jelly roll to make something of a flowing pattern, but this was for practice anyway. 

The actual quilting, well, that was a pain in the ass. And something I really need to practice before I take on an actual size quilt. Controlling the fabric by yourself is really hard. In some places I went to fast, which produced large stitches, and in others I barely moved the quilt, resulting in tiny stitches. I also learned why you need gloves to quilt - your palms just can't grip the fabric and make it move the way you want to. 

The binding went okay. I learned how to miter my corners (thank you Amy Butler, finally some use from In stitches) and really put my patience to the test when sewing the binding on the back. With blind stitches. By hand.  

And now, let me bomb you with way too much images for one post.

Stitch'n'bitch to demonstrate the size.

Some corners are matched up better than others.
Blind stitching the binding on the back took forever.
There's a great bunch of video tutorials I used in making this quilt, all pretty much from the same lady: Missouri Star Quilt Company YT channel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Today's post is brought to you by the letter S and the number 3.

S as in Sorbetto, a free pattern from Colette patterns. This top was a huge hit around the sewing blogosphere a while back. I'm a little late as far as sewing trends go, but I finally decided to see what the big fuss was about. Sorbetto is a simple (relatively) fitted sleeveless top with bust darts and a center pleat. It was my first time ever sewing bust darts and also my first time putting in bias binding around the neckline and sleeves. The result - freaking nailed it. At least I think so.
The instructions were amazingly clear, every step well illustrated, so well in fact, that I decided to buy the Colette book, even tough most of the patterns are for skirts and dresses (and I never wear those).

I made my own bias tape, with my bias tape maker. I bought it years ago, never used it and pretty much thought it was a failed purchase. But now I see that it was the best investment ever.

The fist Sorbetto is all linen. Linen is a great material to sew with, easy to cut and easy to put together. But a total bitch to iron. And to wear, because it creases so easily and isn't really flowy. 
For the life of me, I can't seem to photograph red stuff.

I'm really satisfied with the fit, the darts are hitting my boobs where they're supposed to, and the bias binding experiment turned out great. The neckline is a little too wide/open for my taste, especially in the back, but that's something I tried to fix on Sorbetto nr. 2. I still had some batiste fabric left from my Burda blouse, so I used that. 

I'll iron this thing one of these days, promise.

And the third Sorbetto is for my mom. She wanted a v-neck. Took a while before I figured that one out (many a sheet was sacrificed in the muslin making process), especially with the bias binding. But here's a great tutorial I used. Man, I love the Internet! 


I understand now why the sewing community went nuts over this pattern. It's simple, easy to sew, easy to adapt and you only need a couple of hours of sewing and you have a finished top. Super instant gratification!

In other sewing news: Look what I bought from romantales

This pile of Burdas is keeping me quite busy - I just love leafing through them and making big, big sewing plans. Some of the patterns are truly timeless, some are obviously making a comeback in this years Burda, and some are sooo amusing. Check out the shoulders on this lady: