Tuesday, December 28, 2010

improvisational quilting

This could very well become my first completed quilt. All four blocks of it. (Not counting the wonky star block on the back.)

I was about to cut some orange, red and pink striped fabric for the binding when my son freaked on me. "It doesn't go!" And so it will be a boring blue binding for this teeny tiny mini-quilt. But at least it's doable, which is more than I can say for the other, near forgotten one.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Now that I have caught the quilting bug I can't stop thinking about design and fabric and piecing techniques.

Sadly, I put away the quilt I started because I'd been looking at it so long I couldn't stand it anymore and the white fabric I bought for the sashing is wrong, all wrong. I couldn't decide between white and off-white or even whether maybe it would be fun to use a color or a pattern, but I ended up just going with white because it seemed like the simplest solution and I would definitely be able to make use of the scraps.

It looked awful. Really, really awful, even after just sewing two strips between the three blocks in the bottom row. At least the white will come in handy elsewhere.

G says to use an off-white, but I feel like that would be so dreary and also make the quilt look dirty. I am thinking a pale green, like Kona celery (and again, I don't know because I've only seen it on the computer screen), but that would mean buying more fabric and I am not buying anymore fabric at least until the fabric I've already bought arrives. If I don't draw a line - no exceptions! - my purchases will spiral out of control.

So, the blocks have been folded away until I reach a decision and buy more fabric. I have a feeling though that when my new fabric does make its way to Italy, other projects will take priority, like the little Birch Organic car quilt I promised my son and the Art Gallery quilt I have been busy designing.

I think I am a little obsessed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

done and done

We spent a lot of the weekend at home and everything was so nice and quiet I had plenty of time to spend in my sewing room.

The tablecloth was so so easy and I love the way it looks even though it is in the local mountain style, tirolese which is not usually our thing. A lot of people around here, especially up in the mountains, have fully embraced it, and the fabrics are beautiful and in a very soft cotton weave that I do find appealing, but I don't think I could do all my upholstery, curtains, linens, etc. all in the tirolese style. We don't really have anything that traditional but I think for Christmas it works really well and this fabric is so bright and happy. We will use it for our Christmas day brunch.

I also made this little book mouse for our babysitter's mother, who is a librarian. She is French and visited us a few months ago. When she saw the animals I was making for the school market, she asked if I'd make one for her. So here she is, complete with a book in her pocket.

These are from Kata Golda's "Hand-Stitched Felt" and they are so easy for me to make now - I can do them in a little over an hour from start to finish if there are no interruptions. That has yet to happen, of course. But still, they are fun and sweet and I love how each one is different. I hope the recipient likes hers.

Friday, December 17, 2010


  • Elf hats for the school Christmas pageant: done! (but not pictured because I finished them about five minutes before I had to take them to the school)

  • Stockings for my sons: done!

  • Holiday tablecloth: more than halfway there.

  • Stuffed animal requested by our babysitter's mother months and months ago: not even started.
And once I get all that done, I can finally get back to my neglected shabby chic quilt. I am hoping to spend some quality time with it this weekend, Christmas shopping permitting. And only if my little helper will let me:

Here he is hiding in the sewing room closet, right where I used to keep the batting.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the dangers of online shopping

The fabric I ordered in November arrived last week. 

It was a lot like a surprise because I wasn't sure how much it would actually resemble the little pictures on the website. Ordering fabric online is a little strange that way. It's hard to get an idea of the size of the pattern and how do you know if the your monitor is off and you're seeing the wrong colors?

You don't.

But it all worked out regardless. I love the fabric. I love it so much in fact that it only took a few days for me to begin to lose my self restraint and go back to see what else was available.

First, I promised myself I'd only browse. But I really don't have much of a fabric stash since I just started out with this sewing obsession hobby. Before I knew it, I'd decided on a few more fabrics and was placing another order.

And then another.

And then there was that one last order last night before going to bed. I couldn't help it. I found a Sherbet Pips charm pack on etsy even though they weren't supposed to become available until the spring. It was so whimsical, so sweet. I had to have it. But no, I shouldn't. Then I watched while one of the two packs listed was purchased before my very eyes. That was it. I nabbed the other.

Now that I have more fabric on the way, I have a bunch of new projects to think about! A quilt for my sons and I already know who is getting the lovely red and aqua quilt I'm planning to make out of last night's impulse buy. Oh, I can't wait for all those packages to arrive!

And in the meantime I am not allowed to buy any more fabric.

name change

I realized there is another blog with the same name. Apparently I'm not as original as I thought.

So I will be moving everything over to a new blog, to be known generically as My Other Blog until I can think of a name.

Updated: OK. The deed is done.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Wouldn't you know it. About two hours after I complained about having to wait so long for that fabric to arrive, it did. And it is so lovely.

It is very different from the Italian fabric I am using now. The colors are brighter, the patterns more modern, and as tempting as it is to put away the blocks I've done and start something new and fresh, I am still prodding along with the Blimunda quilt.

The blocks have already been ironed and I have been playing around with them. I had them arranged like this temporarily when my husband came in to see what I was up to. He ended up switching everything around and it looks so much nicer now that I think I will keep his arrangement.

At this point the quilt is much bigger than I initially thought it would be. It is going to end up big enough for a single bed or to fit all of our small family snug on the couch. I bought some white for the border and backing, along with batting. I am going to do thin strips of white around the blocks and a white backing with one 12-cm strip (or two?) all the way across the back made up of my scraps from the blocks.

I am thinking I will quilt it in a grid through the blocks. I like the way the squares will look when the quilting lines run on each side of the ditch, about one or two centimeters away from it, almost highlighting the points where the different fabrics meet. And then once I've done that, I might do some handquilting around each block in yellow, orange or green Perle cotton thread because I think that would look pretty and sort of be in keeping with the shabby chic look I am going for at this point. Actually, I am really looking forward to the handquilting part.

Not that I haven't enjoyed this whole process because it is so relaxing, but also exciting at the same time. I love the way the fabrics look next to each other once they are sewn and pressed.

And then I think I might pick up some more of that orange fabric for the binding. My husband says to use the pale green stripes, but I wouldn't mind using that bright orange. It's not gingham, but almost, and has a faint green line running through it which I just love. I could handstitch the binding on with green thread and it would be a very sweet way to close up my sandwich.

But that is not going to happen anytime soon. I have yet to finish the stockings and my son's teacher has asked me to sew the gnome hats for the Christmas play, which of course takes priority over everything right now...

Friday, December 10, 2010


As I slowly (but surely!) piece together the top of my first quilt, I am beginning to think about a border, backing and binding. I have been to a couple local fabric stores to browse, but I haven't seen anything very promising and the prices are so expensive. The cheapest cotton quilting fabrics are at least €18/metre! The ones I favor are more than that, and I don't even care for those all that much.

And then on top of that I am having mixed feelings about my quilt. It's the color scheme, mainly, which is all over the place. (What was I thinking?) I am beginning to toy with the idea of adding a small off-white or tangerine border all around the squares. Or else just around the outside. Maybe that would tie it all together? Or, quite possibly, make it worse. And it would just add to the amount fabric I need ...

In the meantime, I am still waiting for my beautiful fabric to arrive from the US. I ordered it in November and it was supposedly shipped on the 20th. The cost is a small fraction of what I would have paid for anything remotely similar here, but the wait is long.

Monday, December 6, 2010

two felt bags

for two young girls.

These are for our babysitter's cousins in France, aged eight and ten.

my first mistakes

I have cut all my squares for the blocks and I really like it! So I might not be in love with the color scheme and I can see where I could have chosen fabrics I like a little bit more, or just bought more of my favorites and left out the ones I don't care for so much, but I think it will work out anyway.

Also, I calculated wrong and made my squares too big! They will end up 12 cm instead of 10. The blocks are much bigger than I had planned for!

Oh well, it will be nice to have a larger quilt anyway.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I have quite possibly a few too many projects going on.

I cut out some squares for my Blimunda quilt to get an idea of what the blocks will look like, and I really do like the vintage look the fabrics have together, although when it's done it will look like nothing like a real Blimunda quilt by Barbara. The colors I have chosen are too drab in comparison, but I think it will be a nice starter quilt anyway.

I am also working on some felt bags for our babysitter to give her younger cousins at Christmas. They are two shades of pink which the babysitter picked out and the felt is so easy to cut and stitch and assemble, but I am hand stitching little appliques on them and that takes time. I am almost done with the first, but am still deciding what to do for the second.

While I mull over that ... I have started in on the Christmas stockings for my boys! My grandmother knitted them personalized wool stockings, which we left at my parents' house last year, so I am making them a couple of felt stockings to get us through this Christmas. It's just not Christmas without stockings. I have all the material, and have pretty much finished one, only it needs to be stitched together and I still need to attach five little bells. And then I'll get to work on the other.

And the French rag doll book I ordered on Etsy came last weekend and I love it. I have my patterns cut out and ready and I am set to begin. If only I had more time!

But today I have some work to do, some special pasta sauce and a birthday cake to make for my son who's turning two today, and the house to get in order...

The quilt - and everything else - will just have to wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

just another kitchen mouse

How about we call her Persimmon?

I need to stop making these! But it's just so addicting: a nice, neat project you can finish in one evening, a little therapeutic simple hand stitching, a bow or two, and a cute, cuddly animal at the end.

Friday, November 26, 2010

the blimunda quilt

I've been stalking the Blimunda blog in preparation for my first quilt. If Barbara checks her stats at all she'll be glad for the two countries that divide us.

Following her tutorial, I am planning an easy peasy square block quilt. She has chosen eight seven dot and circle fabrics. And now that I've found my fabric as well, it is getting easier to imagine I'll actually be able to do this.

I had about an hour to spare yesterday evening and so I went to a fabric shop that opened in October. The selection wasn't as big as I had hoped (even the owner mentioned her glee when she entered a fabric store in the US for the first time a few years ago) but I found the four fabrics on top of the pile pictured fairly easily. I also really like the bursts of color in the bottom fabric, but I have mixed feelings about the polka dots on the yellow and green. I bought enough fabric that if I don't end up using those two, I should still have enough.

The shop owner gave me a 20% discount, and still it felt like the fabric was so expensive compared to American prices. If I find it is relatively simple to get the fabric I ordered on Etsy, I think I will just have to learn some patience and go that route from now on.

Barbara does her measurements in inches, but all of my supplies are based on the metric system and let's face it, it is much easier to calculate centimeters than it is inches, so I am sticking to what I know. I will cut nine 14-cm squares for each of my blocks. That should give me 10-cm squares once they are assembled for 30-cm blocks at the end, considering a 1-cm seam, which sounds fairly close to what Barbara has calculated.

I laid everything out on the couch in my office, which is probably where I will end up displaying the quilt unless I give it away, and when I got up this morning, I came in to have a peak and see if I still like the fabrics I chose. And I do! All except that green, which I'm still not so sure about.

So I hid it under the yellow.

My husband has taken the boys to school and it's snowing now, which is a nice excuse to skip my run and stay inside with all my plans for the Blimunda quilt.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

decisions, decisions: fabric

And now, onto more serious pursuits: I found a quilt I'd like to make in this book.

But I'm finding it difficult to get my hands on fabric I like here that is priced reasonably. There are lots of very beautiful cottons and linens but they are pretty expensive. Most craft stores stock what they call "American cotton" for quilting, but the pickings are slim if you like bright, cheerful colors and less traditional patterns. If you like dark green, brown and maroon, pastel florals and teddy bears, you're in luck.

Unless I want to spend a fortune on designer fabrics in boutiques, which I don't, at least not for my first foray into quilting, I will either have to make do with what they've got at the local craft shop or drive out to the big (by Italian standards) fabric shop in Rosà, which about an hour away by car, so I have to plan accordingly.

In the meantime, as an experiment, I ordered a set of 16 fat quarters from an Etsy shop based in the US. The fabric is very pretty and reasonably priced compared to what it would cost here, even after shipping costs.

The quilt instructions said I'd need 12 FQs, and I figured I could maybe use the leftover 4 for the back? Or in case I mess up?

Anyway, the fabric should arrive next week and it will be interesting to see how all the pieces look laid out together and what the tax charge is when they deliver it (or summon me to pick it up at the least convenient customs office). I love the fabrics I chose, or at least the way they looked in pictures on my computer screen: lots of light green, some bright tangerine, and a little brown. I won't be using it right away, though.

This is because although the quilt I had in mind is rated easy, I am taking the advice of an expert and starting off with something smaller.

I will be following Barbara's tutorial for making a small quilt on Blimunda quilts. And although I would have loved my first quilt to be in one of her windmill patterns, which I adore, especially the orange and blue in her Etsy shop here, she is doing a simple square quilt that I think I should be able to handle. The top has "only" 135 small squares

Which brings us back to finding fabrics: I need eight! So it looks like I am going to need to organize a trip to that fabric store sometime soon. And decide on colors! And patterns!

This gives me something to think about while I put off working at my real job...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the room to which i steal away

This is our spare room. It used to be the quiet little bedroom where our au pair slept, but it has been empty since my youngest started preschool, and so I've reclaimed it.

It has a sloping roof and one small window, which make it one of the darkest rooms in our house, but it is a cozy little room, perfect for sorting through fabric and thinking.

During the week, the only time I have for stitching is after the boys are in bed, and this room is just across the hall from them. We live in a converted barn, and our part of the building is where the hay used to be stored. Downstairs was where the animals lived, and another family lives there now. Their three-year-old daughter sleeps just below this room, and I don't like to use my sewing machine after my boys and their daughter are in bed because it's so noisy in the quiet of the night.

Which means more hand stitching!

The pattern is from Kata Golda's "Hand-Stitched Felt", and I think I've made about a dozen of these little creatures - maybe more - since September. Most are for the Christmas market at my sons' school to raise money for school supplies and furniture (small, simple, wooden beds for the small children) but I've already given some away to the daughters of friends. These little mice and bunnies are so easy to make and so hard to hold on to.

Sadly, I'm out of polyfill, so these gals won't be finished until after Thursday, when I'll be picking some up at the fabric & yarn store. Not sure yet if I will take them to market or give them away.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the beginning

I started this goose (or duck?) a few years ago. I cut and hemmed her little webbed feet. I cut out her head and gave her eyes and a beak. And then I wasn't quite sure how to proceed, so I put her away in the closet. She didn't even have a body. I thought she didn't stand a chance.

Except, years later, I bought a few books on hand (and machine) stitching so I could craft something decent to sell at the Christmas market to raise money for my sons' school. Reading through the books, I remembered my poor little goose. Lucky for her, I managed to find all her pieces, and all she needed were a body and some assembly. It didn't take long. I gave her a shawl and she was done.

But I wasn't!

I started crafting like a woman obsessed, in as much spare time as a self-employed mother of two can expect to enjoy, stealing stitches whenever I can.

This blog is to keep track of projects, progress, ideas, and, most importantly, inspiration.