Monday, 31 August 2009

I'm loving angels

(and yes, I’m a Robbie Williams fan!)

I really love angels! I have made lots of them, and probably will for years to come. These little darlings are inspired by Excel clipart. I made different versions of them for Christmas a couple of years ago in all kinds of colour combinations; some appliquéd, some embroidered.

The first one is “Love you for ever”; inspired by the book with the same title (which I noticed for the first time in a Friends episode). It’s made from scraps (my favourite pastime) and lives with my daughter.

The other one is called “Grandma’s angel” and is free hand machine embroidered on a scrappy background. The name kind of gives it away; I did keep it for myself.

Anniversary weekend

Mom and dad’s 50th anniversary is over, and I’m back home. They loved their pillow, but my camera unfortunately drew it’s final breath, so I didn’t get a picture of them (or anybody else for that matter).

It was a lovely celebration with just family and close friends. Both my parents gave speeches that made me cry, but that’s ok, it was happy tears. I got to cook the anniversary dinner with my dear sister, and we spent a really great time in mom’s kitchen. It was my sister’s recipe (which she, by the way, had not tried herself), and she had to leave to pick up her husband (1 of 22.000 crazy people who rode bicycles for more than 90 km in freezing rain and mud), so I had to finish up the cooking alone. I had no idea what to do, or how the food should be served, the meat took an hour less to cook than anticipated, we turned on the grill by accident and burned a pan of vegetables (strange kitchen, new cooker), the pan dried out, and my aunt and me had to make the gravy from whatever we had on hand, but, what the …, it turned out ok, and nobody had the guts to complain.

I am lucky; I have a big, colourful and loud family. I just love family celebrations!

Sunday, 23 August 2009


I know many of you have these things lying around; but I use my bias tape maker for almost all my bindings made from cross cut strips. My tape maker is an 18mm one from Clover, and uses 1 ½” wide strips; perfect for single layer bindings. However; I do it a little different than the instructions.

Cut as many 1 1/12” strips that you need to go around the quilt + 10“ extra. I usually cut a strip or two more than I need so I have ready binding for small projects or scrap quilts. Fold all the strips in half, and using the 45 degree line on your ruler, cut the ends of all of them.

Place the ends of two strips together like this.

Use a ruler, and draw a line ¼” from the end. Place the ends together like this, and pin.

Sew along the line, cut off the snips, and press the seam open. Do likewise until you have one continuous strip.

Pull one end of the strip through the bias tape maker, and start pressing with a hot iron, but only the fold closest to you. Continue pressing as you move the bias tape maker along the strip.
Make a ¼” fold at one end of the strip, and press.

Place the folded end on one side on the front of the quilt, and pin. Check that the joining seams won’t be at any corner before you start sewing. I usually use my ¼” foot to make the width of the binding consistent.

Sew one side until you are ¼” (or the width of your finished binding) from the end. Stop, lift the presser foot and move the quilt ½” back again, then take a few more stitches to secure the thread. I find that I have more control this way; when I backstitch, the machine takes one stitch forward first, and I miss the ¼” mark.

Fold the binding in a 45 degree angle to your right, and finger press the fold.

Fold the binding to your left, and finger press. Start sewing the next side at the edge of the quilt. Keep on sewing and folding corners until you get to the starting point.

Sew until you are ¼”- ½” past the starting point. Cut the binding off in a 45 degree angle, and tuck one fold into the other.

My hands are not so good for hand sewing, so I baste the binding to the back by machine. It sometimes leaves some holes in the quilt or binding, but these are easily removed with a little water and a Q-tip. I also use a contrasting thread so the basting stitches are easy to remove.

Set the machine at the longest stitch length and the pressure of the foot very low (1 on my machine). Turn the quilt over, and fold the binding to the back. Still using the ¼” foot, sew all around the quilt.

When you get to a corner, fold the edge closest to you first and pin;

then the other.
Remove the basting as you stitch the binding to the back by hand.

Not just for bias tape!

I know many of you have these things lying around; but I use my bias tape maker for almost all my bindings made from cross cut strips. My tape maker is an 18mm one from Clover, and uses 1 ½” wide strips; perfect for single layer bindings.

Click here for instructions

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Mother Quilt

This is literally the mother quilt of the anniversary pillow. “4 angels for mom” was made for mom for her 70th birthday in April 2008. Mom is a blue person (colour, not state of mind!), so I collected blue fabrics for months. The blocks are really simple, made of 6 ½”*2 ½” strips, but the quilt was really challenging anyway…

I designed the angels, and decided they would look great made out of ¼” bias strips that I could baste on with glue. I went shopping for a ¼” bias tape maker, and went to work. It took hours ironing all the bias strips; the turn under allowances were so tiny, they kept popping up.

When I finally got to the gluing part, I had glue everywhere! The fabric glue stick was horrible, so fortunately I had my faithful Roxanne Glue Baste It as a back up, and the angels were thoroughly basted with a little extra glue for company.

I took my top to the sewing machine to appliqué the angels. I found some stabilizer that I tried to rip (only one way though, big mistake!) to make sure it would come off easily, and used a straight stitch to sew the bias strips down. Lots of twists and turns! Fortunately I tried to get the stabilizer off the first angel, before I sew the other ones, because it would not rip out, and had to be cut away with scissors. The rest of the appliqué went smoothly; it was so stiff with glue, that no stabilizer was necessary.

My mom uses her quilts on their round and big dining room table, so her quits have to be at least 160*160cm (64”*64”). My favourite batting is only 150cm wide, so instead of piecing the batting, I found a cotton batting that I bought ages ago. Armed with my basting spray, I smoothed every layer on my dining table, and sprayed and patted and sprayed and patted. No matter how much I sprayed and patted, the layers would not stick properly together, but at some point, I had to get started on the quilting.

I had planned a wonky grid quilting design, but the layers kept shifting, so the quilt is only quilted in one direction.

The most fun part was dressing up the angels. Mom has some rather painful health issues so there is
One angel with a corset for bad backs
One angel with a cast for broken arms
One angel with a cast and crutches for bad feet
One angel with a bandage and crutches for bad knees


My gift for my parents 50 years anniversary is done, and with almost one week to spare. It is one huge log cabin block (my first ever actually) made from 2 ½” scraps and an 8”*8” picture in the centre. It went together nice and easily. Quilting the picture however, gave me some headache. Did you know that you can’t “unquilt” a printed picture without leaving quite noticeable holes? Well, I didn’t, so there they are!
This pillow is very quick and easy to make; no zipper, no buttonholes, no binding.

The front:
Make a quilt top as large as the pillow form + a little extra for seam allowances and shrinkage during quilting.
Quilt it. I use a soft thin and rather firm polyester batting and no backing to keep the softness. Cut away any extra batting, and measure the front.

The back:Cut a piece of backside fabric as wide as the front. From this fabric you cut two pieces; the first length ca 2/3 of the length of the front. Lay it on top of the front and measure the 1/3 gap. The second length should be the gap + overlap; length depending of the size of the pillow; the larger size, the bigger the overlap. (8-9 “ is suitable for a 20” pillow).
Make a double fold in the long sides on both pieces; press and sew it down.

The pillow:Layer the front and largest backside piece, fronts together. If the front has a top and bottom side like mine, the first piece should be on the top. Pin along the 3 outer edges. Layer the second piece, and pin.
Sew around the whole pillow; I sew mine with the batting up to make sure the seam allowance is consistent. I also zigzag around the edges so it can withstand washing.
Turn the pillowcase, press the seams, slip the pillow form in, and you’re done!

Anniversary gift

My gift for my parents 50 years anniversary is done, and with almost one week to spare. It is one huge log cabin block (my first ever actually) made from 2 ½” scraps and an 8”*8” picture in the centre. It went together nice and easily. Quilting the picture however, gave me some headache. Did you know that you can’t “unquilt” a printed picture without leaving quite noticeable holes? Well, I didn’t, so there they are!

This pillow is very quick and easy to make; no zipper, no buttonholes, no binding.

Click here for instructions

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Big & Strong

Oh happy day! Today I got accepted into a lifestyle & exercise program called Big & Strong. Let’s face it; I’m too big for my own good, and not nearly strong enough! The program lasts until the end of January, and we will exercise 3 times a week, and have lots of lessons and group discussions.
And the benefits are tremendous! Never mind that I’ll probably not be a diabetic. Never mind that I’ll feel much better, and can play with grandson without getting exhausted (well, he’s two, and no grown up human being on earth can keep up with him for a whole day). Never mind that life’s going to be a lot easier, and I’ll get to buy a new wardrobe. You see; I’ll have less tensions and aches and pains and then I will be able to quilt more; much more!!!
Jokes aside; I’m sure I’ll be in agony for the next few months, but I can’t wait to get started on my new and improved lifestyle. I already have given up on chocolate, so how bad can it be???
I’ll let you know…

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

One shape, many quilts

“4 generations; just hanging round the house” (2004)
When my guild celebrated their 15 year anniversary 5 years ago, they issued a challenge to use a specific fabric in a quilt. The fabric reminded me of some pants I had years back, so I decided to make a quilt about house wear over 4 generations. I designed a female figure inspired by the lovely paper dolls mom used to make and clothe for us. Each figure is dressed in house wear typical for them: grandma’s house dresses, mom’s aprons, my funky pants, and daughter’s hundreds of tops; all made from the challenge fabric. To make the fabric really stand out, I used only solids for the rest of the quilt.

I love this simple shape so much, that I have used it several times in other quilts. The results are very different though.

“The golden girl experiment” (2006)
My artist’s statement: “This quilt is the result of experimenting with techniques, shape and space. It is depicting 4 different aspects of being a woman, and a tribute to the golden girl in all of us:
It is a Work of art how she pulls it all together
She should be the Star of her own show
She is often Defined by the surroundings
She is The supporting wall in the family and community.“
Each part is made separately and sewn together.
Experimenting means lots of fun and great surprises. The different techniques would make a great workshop.

“Star of my own life” (2006)
I loved the results from my experiments, so I decided to use one of them in my Hoffman Challenge. I pieced a background of rather dark solids, and fused a negative shape from a lime fabric + the challenge fabric. The lime looked all wrong, so I peeled it off and made another shape with turquoise fabric. Finally kind of happy, I added 3 borders on the sides.
The background is heavily quilted in lots and lots of tiny circles in orange and yellow to make the light beams. The rest of the quilting was a nightmare, so I put it aside.
I finished it later however, and gave it to a very special person.

“Background and foreground” (2006)
So, there I was, a few weeks to go before the deadline, no Hoffman quilt, and 4 shapes left over from the previous attempt.
Well, a quilter is nothing but resourceful, so I fused the shapes to 2 background pieces, quilted them, sew them together, put on a binding, blocked the quilt and shipped it off.
My artist’s statement: “When the spotlight seeks out perfection, others, or other sides, more colourful and exciting get left out in the background. However comfortable that might be, everybody should get recognition for who they are and what they do. Here’s to all “invisible” women and the support they provide in all aspects of life!”
The quilt got accepted into the travelling exhibition, and was exhibited all over USA for one year; it even made it to the quilt festival in Chicago. Not bad for some last minute leftovers:-)

“Fifty and fabulous” (2008)
I made this little quilt for my friend, Marit, when she turned 50. The shape is built with lots of 50-s. I had to think a bit about how to make it work, and I’m very happy with the result; and more importantly, so is Marit:-)

The picture was taken in a hurry as we were leaving for Marit's party; the corners are actually square!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A New Blog's Resolution

I’m not into New Years resolutions; anything I want to do, I would rather do now, and anything I really don’t want to do, I’ll still don’t want to next year!
However, the start of a new blog brings lots of new possibilities, and one of them is a New Blog's resolution:

Over the next year, starting today, I’ll recycle my stacks and stacks of quilting magazines. I’ll bring (and pass on) at least 10 magazines on every quilting meeting I attend. Well, it’s only 3 a month, but that means 30 less magazine in my house every month, and around 350 less over a year! And the best thing is that my quilting buddies will be happy, husband will be ecstatic, and our bookcases relieved. Win, win, win all over the place!

Got to go browsing through some old magazines now; have a guild meeting tomorrow…

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Nothing to wear

My favourite way of getting back in the groove when I’m in a quilting rut, is to cut out the same appliqué shape from lots and lots of scraps. I often use circles or ovals, but lately I have been cutting dresses. I arrange and rearrange the pieces until I’m happy with the result. This way I get the creative juices running just playing with different colours and textures, and I often fall back I love with my older fabric.

These quilts have been lying around for a while waiting to be signed and shipped off… They are made for LHL, The Norwegian Heart and Lung Patient Organization. LHL has a GoRed campaign to raise money for research on the female heart. The logo is a red dress with a white heart, so I have included one red dress with a white heart in each quilt.

I also made three smaller quilts for Ami Simms Alzheimer auction. They have to be within the maximum size requirement, so they look just a bit cramped, but well…

The quilts are made from my Nothing to wear pattern. I designed this pattern for a quilting festival arranged by my guild last year, but the idea for a “but I have nothing to wear!!” quilt had been in my mind for years. The quilts are easy and fun to make; all you need are some scraps and a background fabric, and you are ready to go. I have made quite a few in different colour ways to match the recipient’s wardrobe, and they look soooo different.

What to do next...

My current project is a gift for my parents for their 50 year anniversary in a couple of weeks. This anniversary is extra special to us, because my dad was horrible, horrible ill this spring. We spent almost 2 weeks with him in the Intensive Care Unit while he was in a coma on life support, but miracles happen, and he made a remarkable recovery.

I took a picture of him and mom after we had been on a walk the last time I was visiting. He was on leave from hospital and still using a walker, so he was so happy to be home and outdoors. I have printed the picture on a sheet of EQ Printables (I got mine here), and the result is perfect, even before ironing. My plan is to use it in a pillow with blue scraps left over from my mom’s 70th birthday quilt. It’s the first time I’ll use a printed photo in the front of a project; I have only printed labels before.


I am not a notion girl! I rarely buy new notions. It has been years since I bought new cutting tools (well except for some new rotary cutters that I needed; really!), but I had been drooling over the rotating cutting mats from Olfa since I first saw the 12”one. However, the 12” seemed a little on the small side for my use, so I passed. When the 17” mat came, the drooling was back on, and finally, last week I received mine from Hancocks of Paducah with lots of other stuff. It was like Christmas! Usually I try to stay under the NOK 200 (somewhere between 30 and 40 USD depending on the current exchange rate) limit to avoid the Norwegian VAT, but this time I just let go and filled that shopping cart with all of my heart’s desires.

These fabrics are the result from the shopping spree at Hancocks and a quick visit to my local quilt shop, Kreaktiv. I usually shop for my stash, very rarely for a specific project. This time I needed to fill up on my neutrals (never use a lot of them, maybe because I don’t have that many), and the oranges an purples, well I just love them! The ball fabric is for grandson, although I’m not sure what to make yet. I’m thinking of a pillow and/or a bag for carrying his stuff to and from day care. He is totally in love with footballs (or soccer to some of you), so he would love anything I make with the fabric. I also have a “Cars”-fabric that I got for him, so maybe a little of this and a little of that…

Friday, 14 August 2009


Puuuuh; the last boxes and bags have been moved from daughter’s old apartment to the new. It’s totally chaotic over there, but she prefers to organize everything herself; so good for her! They have been staying here for a while, and as their stuff is clearing out of our house, I am starting to move some of my own stuff as well.

My sewing space is so cramped, that I do all my designing and cutting on the dining room table. I’ll have to say it doesn’t do very much for our social life (like wining and dining with friends or family) so I can see some excavating of the table in the near future.

These two boxes are grandson’s favourite quilting stuff (the only ones he gets to play with and I do clear out anything sharp and sit right next to him when he plays with them; I’m not crazy!). The tool box is a cheap one from a hardware store (Clas Ohlson) with two layers of compartments that keep all kinds of stuff together and is very handy to bring to workshops or classes.

And the button box? What can I say - I love buttons.

"Class picture" (2007)

My daughter and grandson are moving house this weekend, so I thought I should do something really useful, like creating a blog.
I had great fun playing with the blog settings, and thought it might be appropriate to start with the quilt from my heading.

“Class picture” is one of my favourite quilts, partly because it’s a scrap quilt, but also because it’s very personal. It started out as a hand appliqué project when I needed some hand work to go, and just grew from there.

The scrappy tan background blocks were sewn into rows, and the ovals arranged into groups of similar colours. I really got into the whole hand appliqué thing, so it didn’t take long to get the rows finished. Then nothing, nothing, nothing, until one day I got the idea to make faces, and a class picture, out of them. The rows worked better as columns, so the whole thing was turned around.
I quilted the background rather heavily before I wrote between the rows. Every single letter is freehanded 6 times, so it took a while. The eyes and ears were hand embroidered very roughly at last.
The quilt was a part of the exhibition at Festival Of Quilts in Birmingham, England in 2007. My first:-)