Saturday, 31 January 2015

RSC 15 Week 5: Goodbye Blue!

If you're looking for my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

Each month Angela at Soscrappy gives a different colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. January's colour is blue.

Last week I reported here how my card trick block was too big.

I've remade it using the method Angela showed and it is the right size.

Card Trick

Both times I cut up pre-cut 5" squares to make this block, and had just enough fabric. Last week the seam allowances were the main problem: I couldn't keep to a straight ¼" because the bulk at the corners of the centre unit was both pushing the foot sideways and was preventing the fabric from moving on. This time, when I got to the bulky part, I raised the back of the foot by putting a small piece of plastic between the foot and the fabric and so keeping the foot horizontal. The patchwork foot doesn't like having to go uphill! I could of course have used the walking foot, but I didn't think of that!

I have also pressed these seams open, something I otherwise never do, in order to spread the bulk somewhat, and keep the block flatter, and easier to quilt.

Vertical seams pressed open
I bought more blue on neutral small print to make the sawtooth star and for the alternate block. Unfortunately, the "blue" turned out to be black when I got it home! So the sawtooth star will have to wait.

I'm looking forward to going on to pink.

not many pink scraps
but some FQs and "nearly" FQs
 I'm linking up with Angela at Soscrappy the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Grow your blog 2015

Every night's a party night!

Join the party at:

2 Bags Full

Click on the picture for an direct link to the party.

Hello! I'm Marly. Welcome to my blog which is about my quilting projects. I live in The Netherlands, which is also known, not entirely correctly, as Holland, just across the North Sea from England, where I was born.

From Rijswijk looking north towards Leiden.
Densely populated, but with spectacular skies;
no wonder Rembrandt was the master of light.
Since, officially, I retired nearly three years ago I have taken up quilting and am passionate about it. I say officially retired because I was asked to continue working and so still teach Business English but fewer hours than before. I spend all the time I can at my Bernina 440 QE, experimenting  with colour and shape, trying my hand at FMQ and generally amazing myself!

At the moment I am working on an Optical Illusion Quilt I sort of designed myself.

Optical illusion
Study in green, yellow and purple
completed top
Sort of, because I attended a course at "Quilters Palet" in The Hague in which various grids were handed out and then we drew lines and coloured the spaces with crayons. In the end I rejected all my grids with drawn in lines and chose the simple grid but with ten different colours. I wanted to experiment with various shades of adjacent colours and a complimentary colour. Every one of the participants is creating a totally different and unique quilt. (you can read more about the process here and here)

I have discovered over the last year that I find it hard to resist BOMs (blocks of the month) and QALs (Quilt Alongs). Click on the pictures for more information

Quilt Alongs (or should that be Quilts Along?)

Quiltville Mystery: Celtic Solstice
It started with Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Celtic Solstice which I seriously underestimated. I thought it would take about a year, with a clue each couple of months, but of course, as everyone knows, Bonnie gives a clue each week, and expects it to be made within three days! I very proudly got mine finished in June!

Triangle quilt finished just before sunset, around 9:00 pm
 That was not bad going as in the meantime I had made and finished The Sassy Quilter's triangle quilt within the deadline. The last day, the day of the link up of finished quilts, I was literally sewing down the binding within hours of midnight. I was pleased, and still am, with the result which belongs now to my nine-year-old granddaughter.

From both these projects I learnt an enormous amount about piecing and FMQ (free motion quilting) Both Bonnie and Paula gave lots of hints on cutting fabric and putting blocks together which made for greater accuracy which was invaluable to a novice like me.

The Little Letters Project at the Temecula Quilt Company was my last QAL of 2014, and is now an almost finished top.

Little Letters QAL

This will  be my first quilting project in February. As I will be quilting  myself on my Bernina 440, I like to have a couple of projects lined up so I'm not forever changing needles, feet and machine settings - I invariably forget to change something.

For this year I have just signed up to the Elephant Parade at Sew Fresh Quilts, which starts on Monday 1 February. Can't wait!

Blocks Of the Month

Last year I took part in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I was so obsessed with the idea of a rainbow that I missed the word SCRAP! I didn't have any to speak of, so was rapidly augmenting my stash by buying FQs (fat quarters) and half metres from Quilters Palet my LQS (local quilt shop) and from "Birdblocks" Quilt shop in Amsterdam.

RSC 14 a month or so ago
Last year's RSC Sampler was several, like about eight, blocks each month to be made in one colour. I enjoyed this immensely, and the funny thing is that when I was putting it all together I discovered that several of January's blocks wouldn't fit, in fact one was almost an inch too small, and had to be remade. Trouble with ¼" seams? You bet! For the other blocks from the beginning of the year I was able to compensate with the seam allowance in the sashing! Gradually during the year I got more accurate which just goes to show:


well, not perfect exactly but better! At the moment the four sections of the top are together (this is going to be quilt as you go technique) waiting for borders and will be my second quilting project for February.

This year I have signed up for several BOMs:
whirling geese
card trick
 Isn't it funny: it always takes more time to make a block than to read the instructions!

Improv quilting
is something I want to do more of, my efforts to date having been just three cushions

first cushion
second cushion
(improv quilting, not patchwork), and and a few practice pieces that never made it to my blog. For this I need to be brave! I need to summon my courage and START! The trouble is I'm a perfectionist and a control freak (hmm, I wonder why I became a teacher!) and want a PLAN. Working without a detailed plan is my goal for 2015. So what are all those BOMs doing on my list? Avoidance? We will have to see if I manage to improvise round the given theme.

I can't resist the idea of sewing along with maybe hundreds, or even thousands of other quilters from around the globe. None of my immediate family or friends or neighbours quilts, so I need the companionship of the internet quilting community to keep me going, especially when facing a dilemma. Being able to consult the collective experience of the community is a lifeline.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my quilting adventures since I started my blog at the end of 2013. While you're here look around at my past posts, and don't forget that clicking on the pictures opens a link to more about that project.

I hope to see you again here soon and to share this wonderful hobby with you. If you are visiting from Grow Your Blog 2015 please leave a message here and I'll be sure to head over to your blog too. Even if you're not "growing your blog" this year, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy sewing


RSC 15 week 4 - Finally January blocks

Finally I have done some work on this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge, hosted by Angela at Soscrappy and made two block centres, one of which is finished and mounted in its Sawtooth Star frame:

Whirling Geese

I decided in December that I wanted my stars on a midnight blue background and bought blue fabric, only to be presented with an extra challenge when January's colour was, how could it be otherwise, BLUE. After some deliberation (three weeks!) I decided that while Angela had used blue on a neutral background, why didn't I just reverse them. I'm pleased with the result of the Whirling Geese block.

Card Trick
The other block is heading to the orphan block box. It's too big! Unpicking this is not an option so I either use it or throw it into the box of orphan blocks. How did it end up too big? Last December I made a card trick block in orange to make up the number of blocks for my RSC14 quilt. I made it by the method Angela posted for RSC15. So I know that, but always want to try something new, so when I read last week on Angela's blog a comment saying you could make card trick with a four patch in the middle surrounded by rectangles I decided to try. Unfortunately, I'm more mathematically challenged than I thought and the result is ½" too wide. If I trim it down to 6½" I'll loose my points. So into the box for repurposed items it goes! I'll put it down to experience!

I'm linking up to Soscrappy

RSC 15

so go and see what other quilters have made of the challenge so far.

Happy sewing


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Optical Illusion 2

A few weeks ago I posted about this project here. In the meantime I've been working pretty solidly on it. Ten days ago it looked like this:

progress to 2 January

Now we're here:

progress to 14 January
The ten strips on the left are stitched together, as are the four on the far right and the four very narrow strips in the middle. The other two are hot from the needle and they will be attached tomorrow morning before I start on the last three strips.

In my first Optical Illusion post I showed the sewing area. Not much has changed, except there are even more little pieces of fabric floating around. However I did have to make some changes in the fabric organisation in the form of eight pasta-sauce pots, labeled with the number of the colour on the swatch chart.

sewing set up
As I'm working with ten colours (four shades of yellow, five of green and one purple) some of which are very close together in value, I was constantly checking that I really did have the colour I wanted in my hand. All the fabric strips that I have cut are now kept sorted, and only once have I dipped into the wrong sauce-pot! Isn't unpicking paper piecing the devil of a job? This is a very time consuming process as I'm cutting each piece separately as I go, and thinking", "There must be an easier way!".

Some of the pieces are only about one third of an inch wide which makes sewing straight difficult, one side of the foot being higher than the other

Trying to sew a straight seam
when the seam allowance is almost as wide as the whole piece.
I hope I will have finished the top by the beginning of next week. Then quilting. How would you quilt this one?

I'm linking up to:

Let's be Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation

The links are in my right-hand side bar so go and have a look at what others are sharing today.

Happy sewing


The pen is mightier than the sword

This isn't a post about my work, but about drawing all quilters' attention to a new initiative in France.

Following the tragic events in Paris last week a new initiative has been started there:

For the unspeakable and to remember, Let our needles go,
 Reaction to what happened  these last days, against obscurantism of any form,

 but also for girls to go to school everywhere in the world …

 let us sew, embroider, quilt a pencil on each  work this year !

Merci de faire passer le message ! Thank you for getting this message out !
photo from
Explications en cours de rédaction !
Dimensions : 80 cm x70 cm environ
(copied from

There is a collection of French sewers' and knitters' responses here. (Go to her archive and choose "Nous sommes Charlie" / "We Charlie")

The Nifty Quilter has already started; you can see her example here. I intend to follow their example, but don't have a quilting project on the go just yet.

Will you join us in adding a pencil, the symbol of free speech to each quilting project this year?

Katell has added the following additional information:
One pencil may be put on the front or on the back on any quilt made in 2015, it is a reminder of this threat against our liberties. It is also hope.

I'm linking up to:

Let's be Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation

The links are in my right-hand side bar so go and see what others are sharing today.

Greetings to all


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Finish Along 2015 First Quarter

For the Finish Along hosted this year by Adrianne at On The Windy Side ,

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

my projected finishes in the first quarter are mostly well on their way to a finish. As I'm not the fastest though, five projects is a long list! Click on the caption under each photo for a link to more information.

1. Toadstool House
heads the list. It was on my last two lists in 2014, and just didn't make it. I did quite a lot to it, even though this is not my style at all!

Toadstool House

2 Optical illusion
is a project for a course running from November to January at QuiltersPalet in The Hague. 

Optical Illusion

These are the middle four of the 23 strips, and they are the narrowest. They don't look much like an optical illusion here, laid out on my ironing board, but by now I've made half of the strips. The last lesson is this week, and I'm aiming on having the top finished by then.

3 Little Letters
From the quilt along at Temecula Quilt Company

Little Letters

The blocks are all finished; I remade the X. I just need to finish the sashings and cornerstones, and quilt it. 

4 Rainbow Scrap quilt
From the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2014.

RSC 14

The blocks and sashings are finished. I just need to add borders and start quilting. In the meantime the RSC15 has already started!

5 Sew Together bag

Sewing: Sew Together Bag
Sew Together bag (photo from Craftsy site)

This is a pattern (by Sew Demented and available through Craftsy) that I've been thinking about buying for some time, but just bought on New Years Eve in a final dash before Craftsy sellers closed their doors to European customers because of new European Union Tax laws. (In case you missed this dilemma see here at My Quilt Infatuation).
I haven't started making the bag yet; I haven't even looked out the fabric, but I should be able to make it entirely from my stash. 

I hope that's realistic and even though it's longer than my last list I'll be doing my best to get them ALL finished by the end of March!

Happy sewing


Monday, 5 January 2015

Finishes in 2014 Q4

I'm linking this to Katy's blog, The Littlest thistle, for the finish along.

Finish Along 2014

Back in October I knew that the last quarter of the year would be very busy in the other parts of my life, so I said I would finish only three items (see that post). Well, I did! Just not the three I mentioned there!

table mats

Tulpen op Tafel (Tulips on the Table)

Not finished:

Almost there ... but, "a miss is as good as a mile":

Toadstool House
This is a project that's going on to the next quarter, and this thing really must be finished by the end of March.

Congratulations to everyone who met the targets and "Better luck next time" to everyone who didn't!
My best wishes to Katy for a speedy recovery and my thanks for hosting this year and helping me to set deadlines.

Best wishes everyone for health, happiness and creativity in 2015.

Happy Sewing


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Toadstool House nearly finished, but not quite!

This was originally a appliqué project from a workshop at Quilters Palet in The Hague, to learn how to use the Appliquick tools. The Appliquick tools work very well, especially when fixing really small pieces like the girl's hand or the pompom. As this isn't my style of interior decoration, and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it, I firstly abandoned it, and then decided to extend its scope, by adding free embroidery. I rather went to town on that, and there was even more, but I unpicked it the next day!

I also tried my hand at faux trapunto:

to make the little girl stand out more. I finally bought a suitable FQ to make the border earlier this week, got the borders on and was all set to go hand quilting this weekend.

Then, a new development: my daughter asked if I could make it into a cushion for a friend's birthday. Apparently one of her friends is really into this type of doll. I don't have a problem with turning it into a cushion cover; I'm pleased to find a use for it. Unfortunately I can't go further until she gives me the dimensions of the cushion.

So, this is NOT on my list of finishes for the Finish Along at the Littlest Thistle.

Happy sewing