Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quilt for My Little Girl

Girly quilt
Every quilt has a story, right? The moment I discovered quilting  I knew I wanted to sew my daughter a quilt - a very girly one with lots of her favourite colour pink in it. For inspiration I got some quilt books by Kaffe Fassett from the library and we looked at them together. I made my own design using some ideas I got from Fassett's books. I was already a fan of Heather Bailey, so Nicey Jane by her was an easy choice. I also add some other fabrics from her.

I tried to work in a manner I thought was the wise thing to do - cut the pieces first and then make the blocks. Turns out that is not the way I like to work. I noticed half way cutting that I had made a mistake with the measurements. Frustrated I stopped and did not pick up the project until after months. This time I decided that I just want to have some blocks and started sewing, but after repeating the same block for the third time I could not take it any more, so boring. I was also not happy with the quality of the sewing. Funny how it shows when your not enjoying what you do.

Now what? I decided that I will not care about the mistakes, bad sewing or any of that. I'm just going to carry on no matter what. I changed the design as I went on, add a star and a small house and had fun!

When it was time to quilt I named the quilt "just do it" quilt. No ripping for the smallest mistakes, I was just going to have fun. It was my first time machine quilting after finally purchasing a walking foot (highly recommended!). The stitches are not perfect all around and I did need to do some ripping here and there but all in all the quilting was fast and fun. The binding is wider on the back. The sew line of the binding completes the quilted squares on the edges, so therefore I decided to machine sew the binding.

It took me a whole year but the quilt is now finally finished and  I love it! My daughter still loves pink and is very happy with the quilt (I was a bit worried she might change her favourite colour before I finish the quilt:). It is not a technical master piece, but it is made with love to honour everything that is girly and pink!

Girly quilt back

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wildlife Paparazzi

We have some amazing wildlife in our small garden. We enjoy regular visit from frogs, a Robin, and a Blackbird couple to name few. We also have lots of butterflies. I'm especially happy about the butterflies. The butterfly population is struggling partly because people have less flowers in their gardens. I happily make our garden butterfly-friendly by planting flowers, but we also have other treats available for hungry butterflies:
vlienders en vijg
I was not in time to harvest these too figs but after seeing at one point five Red Admirals enjoying the rotten fig I stopped worrying about it. Lazy gardening makes a wildlife friendly garden!

The sunflowers have also been a joy to watch. The bigger ones were popular amongst the green Rose-ringed Parakeets. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first time saw green parakeets flying around here in the Hague. Apparently once upon a time some of them escaped from their keepers, and really liked it here. Now there are thousands of them. 
green bird 2

green bird
We also had smaller sunflowers that were very popular among small birds like Great Tits and  House Sparrows. I didn't get even a blurry picture of them, they were just too quick to me. 

The only thing I have done intentionally to attract wildlife are some butterfly friendly flowers. The rest has come naturally by growing lot of eatable things and not having the time and energy to keep the place too tidy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Making of Baby Blanket II

I was inspired by the beauty of the spring season and wanted to catch some of that on fabric.
I used contact paper to make some stencils.
Getting ready for printing at my little "home studio" at our dining table.
Test prints on a piece of muslin
Work in progress on a white organic jersey
I hand quilted the blanket along the lines that you can already see on the previous picture if you look closely. The lines where drawn with a HB graphite pencil. I assembled the quilt  in such a way that no binding was needed.
I finished the quilt the night before my baby was born.
Here it is wrapped around my little boy this afternoon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harvest Time

I have been a very lazy gardener this year but I still have some harvest news to share. 

The fig tree has been very active and is producing more fruit that I can handle. The fruits are gorgeous but since it has been raining here a lot this summer (and still is) they are very watery. So far I have cooked them a little and mixed with yoghurt. I will try that again soon using my own yoghurt and by adding some spices to the fig confiture. ( I bought a yoghurt-maker and we are now having fun trying out different yoghurt cultures.)

The below picture makes me a bit sad. I had these wonderful green tomatoes and I was looking forward to making this excellent jam of them. After picking the tomatoes I didn't get to the jam making on that same day. Two days later when I finally wanted to start the they were all covered with some nasty brown stains and I had to throw them away.  What a shame.
Luckily we are not even planning to make wine of the grapes. We eat them as they ripen and nothing gets waisted. They are very sweet and tasty this year, which surprises me since we have had so little sun.
We also planted some borage to improve the soil (no idea if it works). I really love the small blue flowers. 
They are especially beautiful in the evening light. Below an attempt to capture some of that magic. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Diving in

Hurray, I'm a mother of three! For a month now - time goes so fast! My little boy is doing very well, sleeping eating and growing.

I'm so so relieved that I'm not pregnant anymore. When I'm pregnant it feels like half of my brain just shuts down or gets completely occupied with the little one living inside me. There seems to be so little space left for all the stuff that I normally like and enjoy doing. Almost instantly after the birth I feel like myself again. I'm back! And loving it.

Just few days before my little one was born I was sewing the below block for the do.Good charity bee (not the best picture and I did not take the time to iron either...). Rachel asked for ocean inspired block. I truly enjoyed making this block, it was something new and not too complicated (having my brain taken over by the pregnancy...)
July do.Good bee block
The last weeks and days of pregnancy are so hard, you are just waiting and waiting for it to happen. The block was such a nice distraction. The ocean theme was also a perfect match. I had been reading about a birth technique called diving and as I was selecting the fabrics and arranging the bubbles I was thinking about water and ocean and waves - and about giving birth. I know, it is all a bit woo woo, but the diving technique really worked for me. At every contraction I imagined that I was diving in to a deep ocean and that got me through the pain. I couldn't find any information about the technique in English and I'm thinking I should try to change that.

I just love the idea that this block that became part of my birth story is sent out to the world having a life on its own!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to Sewing!

Being pregnant has effected my sewing and all other kind of doing much more I ever would like to admit. But the last month or so it feels like I'm back again! Really nice feeling, I must say. 

A fabric store near us is closing down and they are having huge sales. It is of course very sad that they have to close but I rarely find anything there that I like. Also lot of the fabric is synthetic, which I don't prefer. But I did managed to find this brownish fabric that I really like and I bought 6 meters of it! It was only € 2.50 per meter...

I made trousers to my little boy using the Quick Change Trousers -pattern from Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner
Quick Change Trousers
And a maternity version of the Smashing Smock from her first book Seams to Me.

I really do like the fabric and I like to sew with it. The only problem is that we will soon look like the von Trapp family, so I guess I will take a break from this one for awhile. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First Rhubarb Pie of 2011


We had a amazing April and begin May in the Netherlands, like a mini-summer. We spent the time well enjoying our backyard and our home-grown rhubarb among other things. The first rose came up on mothers day, how sweet is that!

I'm not sure if this really qualifies as a pie. I made Finnish pulla with the children (sort of sweet bread) and used part of the dough for the pie. Making pulla is a state of art that I by no means master, so I don't feel confident to share any how to's.  Here is one recipe that is quite similar to the one I use.  When you have the dough you can make all kind of things of it, rhubarb pie being one of them. I just buttered the pie dish and filled it with rolled out dough. I cooked the rhubarb with little orange juice and some sugar and cinnamon. When it had softened (that happens in minutes) I removed it from the heat and added some potato flour. You can also use corn starch, although I'm not quite sure at which point you should add it. Then you just put the Rhubarb-compote on the top of the dough, brush the edge of the dough with beaten egg or milk for shines and bake it in 200 C for about 30 minutes. You can use a much thicker layer of rhubarb, this was just all that I had. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Project Selvage - Vote for your Favourite

I would have loved to write "please vote for me!", but I didn't make it to the semi-finals with my entry that you see above (not in repeat here). There are however 75 other talented designers hoping to be Michael Miller Fabrics next fabric designer. So head over to Spoonflower and vote for your favourite. I like this one. Katarina, the Serbian designer, also has a beautiful blog 

None of the more abstract designs where selected to the final 75 which I think is a shame. But I guess they picked up designs they think will sell. The voting ends April 6th. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Colour Red

My creation

Yellow is my all time favourite colour but I do love this shade of red as well. Just perfect, don't you think? Recently I also bought some red fabrics. When my daughter saw the fabrics she demanded that I would make a skirt for her. That was not what I had in mind, but I thought I will give it a try. We chose the Bo Peep Skirt pattern from Anna Maria Horner's book Seams to Me. I wanted to make it big so that she wouldn't out grow it too fast. We decided together on the fabrics and how we would arrange them. 
I like it and don't like it. All the fabrics used where quilt weight cotton which I think is too thick for this pattern. I also don't like the elastic waist, I actually wanted to figure out a more complicated solutions which I guess is progress! I mean, me sewing clothes and hoping for a bigger challenge - yay! Not so long time ago a straight seam was a challenge :)
What I really love is the ribbon. It was my daughter's idea. I have never been too keen on ribbons. I could not really find any use for them. Now I really want to figure out something to use them for. Any ideas? 

All in all it was a fun project. The children are using the skirt as a dress up costume when playing and I think it is just perfect for that! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Baby Boy!

For the last couple of months the blog has been a bit quiet and after 20+ weeks to the pregnancy I finally feel confident to share the reason. If everything goes well I will give a birth to a baby boy in July! He will be our third child and most probably the last one (sniff!). This is the first time we asked about the sex of the baby during the ultra sound and I'm glad we did. I grew up with two sisters so having a family with more boys than girls feels quite funny - 2 girls and 3 boys adults included.

For the third time I was taken by surprise how much energy pregnancy costs, at least for me. It feels so ungrateful to say but I'm not good at being pregnant. I'm having hard time accepting that I can't do everything I want, that I need more sleep and have to take things more slowly. Also the hormonal roller-coaster during the first three months seems to send me right back to the puberty and makes me very moody. I really try to be mindful about it, but it is still hard.

I'm sharing this because the first time I got pregnant I had no idea that pregnancy could be like that. I thought I would just be happy all the time and dress up in a beautiful pregnancy clothes and have all the energy in the world. Instead I was nauseous and so worried that something would happened to the baby. I was not enjoying it and on top of that feeling very guilty about it. It would have been so great at the time to read somewhere that it happens and it is fine.

I'm very much looking forward to the summer and the little baby. My almost four-year-old daughter is so exited about it and I just love that. We already bought some baby clothes together with her, she so sweet! I'm not sure how much my two-year-old son understands about the whole thing, but he likes to talk to the belly making funny questions like "baby, are you peeing?". My silly guy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mistakes and Being Good at Something

There was a time when I would say I'm not good at sewing. I had tried it, actually I had to do it at school, so I knew. Not any good at it at all. And why did I thought that? Because I made mistakes. And apparently I have this firm belief that if you make mistakes - well then you are just not very good at doing that specific task.

About two years ago something happened - I can't recall what it was exactly - and I got this urge to buy some fabric and start sewing. I bought this small pack of scraps and sewed a patchwork blanket to my daughter's doll.  It was so much fun and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to learn more. I started to google around and discovered blogs for the first time. All this people making beautiful quilts with amazing fabrics. Fascinating!

One day I was watching a video on youtube where a woman who had made quilts for 50 years (!) was explaining the basics of piecing. I was astonished when I heard her saying, that she keeps a seam ripper in her pocket, since you always will have moments when you just have to rip the seam and start over. After been sewing for 50 years she still needed the seam ripper. She was still making mistakes. I started to pay attention and between post showing beautiful quilts there where stories of mistakes and frustration. All these talented people were making mistakes! And they were not embarrassed to share that.

Sometimes I hear the advice that you should do what you are good at. Since I have that crazy idea in my head that being good at means that you make no mistakes I have decided to not to follow that advice. Here is my advice for me: do what you feel so passionate about that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and carry on. Even if you are not any good at it ;)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Instant Embroidery Bags

bags 1
Happy 2011! Or is it a bit late for that? Yes, I'm one of those bloggers that have been putting of the first blog post of the year thinking it should be something super deep and meaningful. I'm not so sure this will be one of those posts :)

I have had so much fun embroidering canvas tote bags. I'll be sharing some more designs soon.  A really great project to do if you are looking for some instant gratification. Well you have to stitch it first, which is OK since that is the fun part, right? And then you are done! I have also some white cushion covers waiting to be decorated. Can't wait to get my hands on those!

p.s. just in case you  are curios, the fabric peeking behind the bag is from Marimekko but I can't remember the name of the fabric or the designer. Can anyone help me with that?