How to make a luggage tag

After my last trip (to the festival of quilts in Birmingham in early august this year) I ended up waiting for my luggage at Bologna airport and ended up having to put two (!) suitcases back onto the conveyor belt, because even though they were identical to my suitcase, they weren’t mine. So I decided to make a big and resistant luggage tag that would make it easy to identify my suitcase in the future.

Here’s how I made it:

The tag measure 10×12 cm. For the front I prepared a quilted sandwich of that size folding the fabric over on the top (the other three sides will go into the binding).

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For the backside I cut a rectangle of transparent plastic (the variety that you buy in sheets sa cover for folders etc.). I then took three pieces of fabric folded in half (right side out) that I sewed onto the plastic. I placed the fold over the plastic from the right side and sewed it in place. Like that the double raw edges face outside and will go into the binding).

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For the upper edge (where there will be no binding) I folded the piece in half wrong side out and closed the one long side.

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Then I turned the right side out and added it to the top ofP1000747 the backside just as I did with the previous three pieces (the seam upwards).

For the binding I prepared a long strip (at least double the three side lengths with raw edges). I joined the two short sides to prepare a loop and then ironed the raw egdes for the seam allowance towards the wrong side of the fabric on both sides.

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For binding, I placed the front and back sides on top of each other, right sides out and clipped the binding in place all around the three raw edges, folding mitered corners in the two angles.

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I started sewing just above the tag, attaching the binding all the way around the rectangle and then continuing on around the loop, closing the strip all the way round.

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Now all it takes is a cardboard rectangle where to write your information.

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And this is how it lookes on the suitcase:

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Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
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Giulia’s Rubberduckies baby quilt

It’s september and time to start about christmas gifts.
Here’s the baby quilt I made for a friend:

“Giulia’s Rubberduckies”

The design is “Rubber Duckies” by Paper Panache.
The pattern is 16×16 inches so I cut the single sections and fotocopied them at 200%. Like this I had the 32×32 inch center that I framed with yellow borders (4 inches on the sides and 10 inches on top and bottom) for a 52 x 40 inch baby quilt.
The front has been made with hand-died fabrics.

Isn’t it cute??!!!

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I quilted the water and rubber duckies in the ditch and left the border unquilted so it remained fluffy. I used a medium wool batting.
The backing is a cute childrens’ print with red stripes on top and bottom (I happened to have that piece of handdyed fabric that perfectly matched the stripes on the print).

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Here is a picture of a little quilt in the original size of the pattern, the whole quilt, borders included measures just 58cm square (22.8 in). The fabrics are similar, they actually come from the same dyeing batch as the fabrics in the baby quilt, but the yellow is stronger and the blues are a darker.

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Quilts with hand-dyed fabrics

I love cozy, fluffy heart cushions, and so I would like to show you how to make them.

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You need enough fabric and stuffing (for these cushions I use regular polyester stuffing, it is soft und fluffy and can be washed and/or whatever leftovers and scraps of fabrics, batting and threads I have – see here for my tutorial for stuffing cushions with even the tiniest scraps) for the size you want your cushion to be and some cardboard for the template.

In order to have two sides of the heart that are as similar as possible, the template is only half a heart. Trace your half-heart on your cardboard and cut it out, but consider that your finished heart will be a little bit smaller than your template, because you have to consider seam allowance and the effect of stuffing (when stuffing the cushion it will become thicker, but at the same time a little smaller in height and length).

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Iron your fabric and fold it over on to itself and then place the template on top, aligning the middle (the “seam” between the two halfves of the heart) with the fold in the fabric.

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Now, cutting around the outer part of the template, you will cut one complete heart with two perfectly matching sides. Cut another heart following the same procedure.

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Place one heart shape on the table right side facing up and the second heart shape on the first shape right side facing down and make sure the two pieces are well aligned.

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Pin them together and start sewing them together starting from one of the longer sides and sewing all the way around the heart almost to where you started.

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Don’t forget to make some backstitches to fix the seam at the beginning and the end and leave an opening of about 5cm/2in for stuffing.

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Push the the fabric through the opening you left in the seam turning it inside out. Use a tool (a stick or long spoon will do) to turn the point and curves neatly out, if necessary.

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Now it’s time to stuff the cushion. Start putting your choice of stuffing into the heart through the opening you left on one of the sides. Keep on stuffing the cushion until it is as fluffy or hard as you want it to be.

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All that’s left to do is close the opening. That is done by hand with a simple hidden stitch.
Put the two sides of the opening together, turning the seam allowance inside and hold together.

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Thread your needle with a thread of matching colour and fix it with a knot. Start sewing from the inside beginning close to where the existing seam ends.

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Now finish the whole length of the opening by putting the needle through about 1/8 of an inch of fabric at a time, alternating stitches on the right and left side of the opening. Keep the stitches right on top of the folded edges and stitch only through one layer of fabric keeping the thread between the seam allowance and the outer fabric.

This is what your sewing will look like:

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Close the whole opening and pull the thread in order to completely close the opening. Then fix the end of the thread, hide it inside the cushion (make the knot close to the fabric, then push the needle with the excess thread through the cushion and, where it comes out on the other side, clip the thread close to the fabric (pay attention to clip just the thread and not cut into your cushion).

And that was it, here’s the finished heart cushion:

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Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
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Dyeing fabrics

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One of my latest interests is dyeing fabrics.
I have been taking two cotton dyeing classes with Marjorie McWilliams on quiltuniversity and I loved it! I am currently taking Quilters’ Pallette and I can’t wait to do Batik later this year.

Dyeing is a great subject for online classes as the physical distance to the teacher leaves a lot of possibilities for experimenting on your own. This is what I ended up with after overdyeing fabrics gone wrong (the small slips represent the color after the first dyeing process).

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Hand-dyed fabrics seem to be extremely well suited for landscape and portrait quilts. Mottling adds movement and variety.
I particularly like blues and purples and therefore chose to dye the 5 different shades of purple you see in the picture below:

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I ended up using these fabrics in the miniature landscape”northern mountains” designed by Susan Brittingham that I started to work on during her “Miniature Landscapes” class on www.quiltuniversity.com.

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The landscape is yet unfinished, but aren’t the purples in combination with the blue sky and lighter blue water just beautiful?

Under the Sea Baby Quilt

After a longer break from quilting and blogging I am back with this cute project I  designed for a friend. It’s his present for the birth of his baby boy (who came to this world yesterday).
As he and his wife will take the little one right to their house at the sea for the summer to come back to town only in autumn, I chose a sea-inspired pattern where I used a light blue centerpiece with dark blue borders and 6 cute appliqued sea-creatures in lively colors.

Here is a closeup of the centerpiece:
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All the animals have been made using my home-dyed fabrics. I have to admit that lately I end up using those fabrics (I do have a stash of them, too) much more than the commercial printed variety. Apart from the fact that I can always (try to) create the exact shade I want for my quilt, I particularly love the mottled effect that,while being true to color is not simply red or blue or green. Just look how perfect the green and brown fabric is for the shell of the turtle!And here are the details of some of the animals:

The octopus:

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The lobster:

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The turtle:

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How to make drawstring giftbags

These little bags are not only cute and easy to make, but, being useful for a variety of purposes, they are a little gift in itself.
With the right choice of fabric these little bags adapt to lots of occasions. The little bag below has been made from semitransparent, thin dark blue cotton with contrasting seams. It’s the perfect packaging for a delicate object as the rhinestone keyring you can see in the picture.

When I give a quilt I especially like to giftwrap it in its own drawstring bag. It’s nice and offers protection for when the quilt is being stored.

This is, by the way, my Giulia’s rubberduckies” babyquilt in its bag made from a baby girl print cotton fabric.

Now, making the bags is really simple. All you need to do is figure out the size of the bag. Start by cutting a rectangle of fabrice that is double the height of the finished bag plus 1 inch (2.5cm) by the width of the bag plus 1 inch.

Fold the fabric in half as shown above with the wrong side facing outside. Close the two long sides with a simple straight seam, and if you don’t use a serger, zigzag along the raw edges to protect the raw eges.

Then fold the upper, raw edge over twice towards the wrong side of the fabric, thus hiding the raw edge inside the fold.

Pin or cllip the hem in place all around the opening.

Sew in place with a straight seam next to the edge of the fold leaving a small opening (about 1/2 an inch / 1,5 cm) next to one of the side seams.

Now you can either use a ribbon or make your own, matching string.
To make the string cut a long strip of the same fabric (it should be at least double the circumference of the top of the bag). The strip should be about 1 inch wide. Fold the strip lenghtwise, ironing both raw edges towards the wrong side so that they meet in the middle of the strip.

Then fold the strip in half lengthwise, hiding the two raw edges inside the string. Iron.

Now sew a simple straight seam all along the open edge of the string to close it.

With a safety pin insert the string into the hem on the top of the bag throught the opening int he seam.

When the string has been inserted into the hem remove the pin and make a knot at both ends of the string to keep the fabric from unravelling and the end of the string from slipping back inside the hem.

The drawstring bag is finished.

Fill it with your. gift and draw the string

 

Our Delightful Home

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How to make a Pumpkin Table Runner or Placemat for Halloween

Getting ready for Halloween this year I prepared these pumpkin table runners / placemats.
Here’s how they’re made:
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First you need to prepare a simple template. The table runners should be symmetric, therefore I cut half a pumpkin from paper and placed it onto the folded fabric. I traced the outline of the pumpkin and cut through both layers. This needs to be done with the fabric, backing and batting.

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Then you place the batting on the table, the backing on top of it right side up and the top fabric last right side facing down.

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Clip or pin together and sew all the way around the pumpkin starting at the top and leaving a big enough space for the stem.

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Clean the edges leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Then turn the runner right side out through the opening for the stem. Now the fabric and backing should be on the outside with the backing hidden between the two layers.
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The stam is made from green felt. Cut a rectangle that’s fits the table runner and insert it into the opening. Then fold the seam allowance on both sides (front and backing) towards the inside and pin in place. Attach with a straight stitch.

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The pumpkin structure is created with quilting.

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If you want a simple pumpkin you’re done.
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Otherwise you can personalize your Halloween table runner or placemat with embroidery.
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This is what the backing looks like (the green one is the table runner with the embroidery).

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Here are the two runners together on the table:

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Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
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Get Your Crap Together

How to bind a quilt (hand-finished)

It’s a lot faster to machine-bind a quilt (for tutorial click here), but of course the stitching remains on top of the binding and thus in plain view. That can be avoided with hand-finished binding, where the binding is attached to the front of the quilt with the machine and then finished on the back by hand.

What you need to do:

Cut your strips and join them together to have one long strip that measures at least about 20 inches more than the circumference of your quilt. Refer to the picture below for how to join the smaller pieces to one long strip.

 

Before attaching the binding to the quilt, iron the strip in half lengthwise, right side out.

 

Now place the strip along the edge of the front of the quilt with the raw edges of the strip facing outwards.

Attach the binding to the quilt with a simple straight stitch, sewing 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the binding / quilt. Start in the middle of any side of the quilt and leave about 10 inches of the strip unattached, you will need that later to finish the binding.

Sew all along the edge of the quilt. When you come to a corner proceed as shown below to create a mitered corner.
First attach the strip up to just 1/4 of an inch from the edge.

Then, without cutting the thread, turn the fabric and stitch backwards, until the needle leaves the quilt.

Now first fold the strip upwards in a 90° angle.

 

And then fold it back down along the edge of the quilt as shown below.
Move the quilt back under the needle and continue to sew as before 1/4 of an inch from the edge of tht quilt/binding.
Continue sewing until you reach your starting point. Stop sewing about 5 inches from the beginning of the seam and leave about 10 inches of the strip from the end of the seam. It should look like this:
 Now you need to measure the two ends and sew them together so that they perfectly fit into the remaining opening.
To do that place them on top of each other along the edge of the quilt and mark the point where you want them to be joined.
 Them place the two strips (open, not folded in half) right side to right side (to make sure the strips are not twisted, first attach them with a pin and make sure they fold and turn as they are supposed to) and sew them together diagonally just as you joined the strips earlier.

 

 

When everything is right, sew the two ends together, cut off the excess fabric and attach the last piece of the binding to the quilt.

OK, the front is done. Now fold the binding up on the front.

And over onto the back to cover the raw edge of the quilt.
Fold it onto the back so that it covers the stitching (the seam with which you attache it to the front).

 

 Attach the binding to the back by hand. Insert the needle into the backing of the quilt just where the binding is supposed to finish and back out a little over to your left (or right, according to the direction you prefer to sew). With the same movement stick the needle through the very edge of the binding.
When you come to the corner attach the side you are working on just to the edge, then fold the binding over the corner and continue on the next side.
Finish to attach the binding all around the quilt.
This is what it will look like on the back.

 

While this is the binding seen from the front.

 

 

Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?

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How to make a soft and cozy hot water bottle cover

 

 

I love all kinds of gadgets that keep you warm in a cold winter night. And I especially love it when it’s not only warm but soft and cozy, too.
Hot water bottles are great, because they stay warm a lot longer than cushions filled with rice, wheat or other materials that you heat in the microwave (for a tutorial on a rice and lavender heat cushion that works just this way, click here). On the other hand the fabric cushions are a not nicer to touch than the rubber of the hot water bottle. To get the best of both all you need is a soft cover for the hot water bottle, and the best is it’s really easy to make.
I’m using my leftover fabric from the blanket with sleeves, but any fabric will do just fine.
I chose the simple envelope-technique, because it’s quick and simple to make and easy to use.
All you need to to is cut a piece of fabric that is a little wider and a little more than twice as long as you hot water bottle.

 

Sew a hem on the two short sides. Then fold the strip so that it is a little larger than the bottle and that the two short sides overlap just off the middle of the cover. The wrong side of the fabric is facing outwards.
Close the two long sides with a simple straight stitch and turn the cover right side out.
Fill you bottle with hot water and insert it into the cover through the opening.

 

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How to make a rice and lavender heat cushion

This little cushion combines warmth and aromatherapy to a perfect relaxing experience. Just place it in the microwave at maximum heat for a couple of minutes and enjoy the heat and the sweet scent of lavender.

Making a cushion is easy, all you need is fabric, rice and dried lavender flowers.

Start by cutting the fabric. How big do you want your cushion to be? Mine measure 46×21 cm (appr. 18×8.5 inches).
Cut a piece of fabric that measures double the desired size (don’t forget the seam allowance!). I cut my rectangle 93.5 x 22.5cm (36.5×21.5 inches).

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Fold the piece over, right side to right side and close both long sides of the rectangle plus the outer thirds of the short side. The middle third of the short side will remain open (this is where you will fill in the rice and lavender).

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Now turn the cushion outside out through the opening and draw evenly spaced lines onto the surface (use a pen that you will be able to get off later).

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Now mix rice and lavender flowers. To fill the cushion I used about 750g of rice and 75g of lavender.

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Mix both ingredients thoroughly and start to fill part of it into the cushion through the opening.

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When you put enough filling for the first segment, use a long object (I used a ruler) to move the rice and lavender all the way into the cushion.

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Then close the first segment sewing along the first traced line.

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Continue to fill and close the following segments in the same way.

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Finally fill the last segment and close the opening by hand using a blind stitch.

Now place the cushion in your microwave and within minutes you will be able to enjoy it!

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Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?

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