Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Little things

My father in law suddenly passed away on Saturday. We have been living next door to each other for more than 20 years, and I will miss him being around.

I appreciated our relationship, and enjoy looking back at those little things, like seeing him working in his garden right outside my kitchen window. He kept the most beautiful rose hedge.

I’ll have to make a rose quilt when I get back into the studio.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder, and I have the proof right here.

If you saw this, would you like it?

If you saw this, would you purchase it?

If you saw this, would you like to finish it?

What if you saw this fabric

and this

and these?

Well, I did indeed fall in love and did all those things listed above. It was hanging on a rack at the thrift store, three wonky log cabin blocks poorly stitched onto different glossy/stretchy polyester fabrics, hem lines intact and all, and with a strip of fabric added to each end. There was nothing straight about it, but wooosh, I was in love.

My initial plan was to hand quilt it over the summer while staying at the temporary house (after washing it in a mesh bag, of course). Not a good plan really considering all the layers of weird stuff. The only solution was to free motion quilt the whole top to smooth out the extra fabric here and there.

I layered it with batting and backing, and brought it to my guild meeting to do the quilting. My friends and I had so much fun with the idea of me spending so many hours on working with that old thing, but nothing would discourage me from finishing it.
(The snake pattern from my free motion quilting class can flatten almost anything)

I am so glad I did. It makes me smile. Big smile. I trimmed the edges and added a dark blue and white binding, but other than that, it is what it is. A table runner begun by someone and finished by someone else decades later. 

It will never be pretty and the pockets along the seams will be there forever, but it doesn’t bother me at all.
(It is indeed flat; the ripples and creases are from being packed in a box)

I think it’s fabulous. How about you?

Monday, 30 March 2015

The struggling quilter

Quilting should not be all easy, should it. I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t get that struggling feeling too often when it comes to quilting. I think it may be because I really enjoy working things out and get them right, and don’t mind spending time getting there. There are some things that make me grind my teeth though, and sewing machine issues are on the top of that list.

I started on a new quilt two weeks ago, I should probably call it The procrastinator. All the bits and pieces have been ready in my mind for a while, and they came together really fast as soon as I stopped procrastinating. I have been digging into my extensive thrifty stash for the background. A blue 60-ies polka dot skirt from MIL’s friend and a green tablecloth from the thrift store. Add the magic of sheer bits and bobs and some strings of yarn, and there you go. After laying it all out on the work table, I cut it into three panels to be quilted separately as I want them to be different and yet the same. Does that even make sense? I’ll be quilting them the same way, but with different threads, and I want the lines between them to be visible. How I’ll stitch them back together has yet to be decided, but first I need to quilt them.

(Two panels in progress)

I started with the yarn covered part as I love working the twists and turns. My initial thought was to outline each thread like this

but the painterly effect got totally lost, so I tried to quilt the negative space only which worked quite well. The middle panel has variegated green stitching and the side panels red/brown. 

When I got bored of quilting negative space, I moved on to the blue on blue on blue.

It started so well, curving this way and that around the polka dots, and I didn’t really notice how often the thread broke until it happened like every 6” or so and I had replaced the needle four times. I figured it had to be the thread that was causing the problems, and moved on to the second panel and a different thread. Same thing, over and over and over again. I should have checked the quality of the stitches too, but I was almost half way before I realized that the quilting lines looked awful on the front as the thread got thinner and thinner before it broke. Bummer.

I did a quick search on the Internet and found that the problem might be a nick or a burr in the thread plate. Sure, there were even two nicks (or burrs, I don't know), how did that happen!

(Same nicks (or burrs), different angle)

By this time I was ready to scrap both the quilt and the sewing machine, and went to the store to buy a new thread plate or a new machine. They did neither have the plate nor the machine I wanted, so I returned rather disappointed back to the studio with a nail file and some very fine sandpaper as recommended by the staff to try to fix it myself.

I cannot feel the nick anymore, but the thread is still breaking while free motion quilting. My sister suggested that I put nail polish on the edge to smooth out any tiny leftover burrs, so I’ll do that. After a few days away from the quilt, I have now installed my on-the-go machine in the studio. Did you know that 10 minutes of free motion quilting takes like an hour to remove?? 

It took a while to remove the offending stitches on that second panel, but now all is well in procrastinator quilt land.

How the store staff did not smell my frustration and offered me deal on a different machine I don’t know, but the nail file and sandpaper sure were much cheaper...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Every now and then I decide to take on any new sewing challenge coming my way. Even though they may not be quilting related, they can be good exercise skill wise, and think of all those exciting things one might enjoy if one had a go at them.

Earlier this year, when the staff in our little man’s kindergarden asked if I could make one of these sheepskins

into a leather mitten for story time, I said sure. Of course I can. It was to be as large as possible and did not need a thumb. I checked which supplies I needed, and purchased the recommended leather needles and super heavyweight thread.

The shape of the skin did not really shout mitten, but clearing my mind of any preconceived ideas of how one should look helped. I simply chopped the top off, and folded the short sides over to the middle to create a 3-D-ish shape. Sheepskin is actually easily cut with scissors.

Being a somewhat third dimension novice, I was rather pleased with figuring out this particular step.
(It's huge)

An hour or so into the project, after ripping bird’s-nesty seams for the umpteen time, I realized that maybe my lack of skills wasn’t the problem, maybe my sewing machine and the super heavyweight thread did not play nicely together. Determined to finish that mitten on time, I started stitching by hand, using the holes from the removed seams. It was painstakingly slow work, so I decided to have another go at the sewing machine. Using a regular size 90 needle and a regular polyester thread, the mitten came together in no time. Just like that.

The mitten was a big hit with the kids and the staff (they are easily impressed, I don’t think any of them sews), and is being used for telling the Ukrainian folk story as intended. 

And what did I learn? Sheep skin is no problem at all for the sewing machine without the leather paraphernalia, and I can do 3-D.

Another new thing this year has been working with stretchy fabrics. My daughter picked some for new cushions, and having never worked with such, I thought sure, why not.

With a brand new jersey needle in my machine, I went looking online for advice on how to stitch stretchy fabrics. 

I was happy to learn that I do indeed have a stretchy seam on my machine (number 17) 

and after a few hours of work, the cushion covers, two of them super soft ones made from jersey with zipper closures and all, were finished.

What I learned from this is that the No 17 seam does indeed stretch, but so does the fabric. That first cushion was a bit big, so I made the next a little smaller. A happy daughter and grandboys and a new skill is a win-win I’d say, and I could use the very same seam to make her a tube scarf for mother’s day.

The next thing I have agreed to is making a new cover for an armchair seat cushion for the kindergarden. I’m thinking something scrappy as my scraps are always at hand these days. The cover requires some huge-3-D-zipper math, but sure, why not?

Monday, 23 March 2015


The annual challenge from EQA (European quilters association) this year was “music with a touch of red”. Each country was given a specific red shape, and the Norwegian shape was to be a 15mm circle (hence the bobbin template in this post).

My initial idea was interpreting Moldau by Smetana. I spent a year worth of music classes working with this particular piece back in middle school, and have loved it ever since. My sketch was done and I was ready to go and then I had another idea – iPods in different sizes and shapes.

"iMusic" measures 12"*12" and the dark grey in the pictures is my couch, not a part of the quilt.

Using solid fabrics, it certainly has a more modern look to it. I kept the colours on the dark and cold side to make the red pop.

The machine embroidery is done with the batting as a stabilizer, and the hand work is done through all three layers. 

Artist statement: “The way I listen to music may have changed, but the beat is pretty much the same.”

I had lots of fun adding details. So much fun that I did a lot of restitching of areas that didn’t work so well. What can I say, I needed some hand work and besides that, a house is not a home until you’ve decorated at least half the rooms with little pieces of thread I'd say.

All the entries were on display at the annual meeting of the NQF (our national quilters association) this weekend, and usually the 16 quilts that get most votes will be on show at the Festival of quilts in Birmingham and then included in a three year suitcase exhibition. This year there were only 15 contributions, so they will all be included.

It will be interesting to see all the quilts on display as I am sure there are many ways to quilt music with a touch of red. Maybe someone else quilted Moldau...

Monday, 9 March 2015

Upcoming classes and a Movement class at Randaberg Husflidslag

I’ll be teaching two classes this upcoming weekend, and am getting my stuff ready to go. The class samples have been located and set aside and, with any luck, the printouts will come out of the printer first thing tomorrow morning. I was planning to teach locally only this spring, but when I was invited to visit a small guild up north, I couldn’t resist.

The classes I will be teaching are Christmas on Earth and Funky Fowl; two very different but equally fun classes with lots of room for creativity.

I have also set up a few classes to be taught in my studio over the next few months. The classes are Skyggesiden (The dark side, 3D effect),

Fargerike (colour theory with a twist) 

and Movement (painting with fiber). 
You will find all the dates on the “Kurs” page.

The last class I taught last year was a Movement class at Randaberg Husflidslag back in November.

I have said it before, but I'll say it again - the process from bits and pieces to finished projects is magic,

and the results are gorgeous.

I am very much enjoying visiting different Husflidslag which are local chapters of Norges Husflidslag, the national arts and crafts association. Their classrooms are often decorated with a variety of fabulously colourful pieces. Here are some pictures from a previous class at Sola Husflidslag posted back here.

If you would like to sign up for one of the upcoming studio classes, let me know and I will send you more information.

Thanks for stopping by:)