Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Go green and abandon the plastic bags!

Today I have been rather busy. In the morning I finished the second of the bags using some linen/cotton printed by Hollabee.
This is the first one, the print is Icy Blue Floating. Since it was just a little piece, I used some navy blue heavy cotton to make a shopping bag. The lining is solid dark blue, and there is a zippered pocket inside. This one I made during the weekend, so I had the photo taken on Monday!

Below is the bag I finished this morning. (Photo from Monday.) The pattern is Rubine Red Swirl.
The bag is a little smaller than the first one, and I used the whole bit of printed fabric to make the top of the bag. Therefore the outside pocket is of the navy cotton. For the lining I used the same beige checked fabric as under the kotkarankki text on my blog head. Inside pocket with zipper here too.

The rest of the day included a train trip to Kerava to meet my son after his day at work. Before I met him I had some time to got to a fabric shop I know from the early days of my life here. Luckily the shop was celebrating their 28th anniversary. For fabric purchases over 28 euro they gave 28 % discount! This was an offer very hard to resist and so I didn't ;). I bought some flannel in two baby prints for my preemie quilts and other baby quilts I have planned to make for sale. This was absolutely necessary because I don't have any flannel left for the preemie quilts' backing, and I have plans to make a girly baby quilt to go with the blue pinwheel quilt I recently finished. Maybe I feel a little better about my shopping if I start cutting the pink quilt this week.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Girl Scouts and Brownies

At the moment I'm doomed to survive without my husband's digital camera until next Sunday, so I'll have to manage with to pictures taken before today. This one certainly was:

When I was very young, I was a girl scout like my elder sister and my both brothers. I'm the little one in the picture and the twins are in the middle. Scouts still have a Scout Week in April, with a parade and all. Years ago scouts used to wear the uniform at school during that week, even I did. The girls had blue dresses and the boys brown shirts. This reminds me of one of my earliest exciting childhood memories that I really remember myself and not because someone told about it, because I was there alone: I was five or six years old and on my way home from the kindergarten/play club at the vicarage. It was April just like now, the snow was gone and I wanted to make a short-cut across a field. The field was rather wet and muddy, and suddenly I was stuck up to my ankles in my little wellingtons in the mud. I couldn't move my feet. I was getting worried and most probably I was crying. I was all alone in the world. I couldn't see anyone. The clay and mud were cold. I was supposed to go straight home, and I was late. Then I saw two people, a boy scout and a girl scout in their uniforms, and they came to rescue me. The big boy lifted me up from my wellies and carried me to the dry road, and the big girl got my wellies from the mud and cleaned them a little in a ditch, and they walked with me a bit to see that I get home all right. Happy End.

Maybe this nice memory was one of the reasons why I joined the Brownies in Melbourne (sic!) as a faraway member. I must be the most faraway member, because we have 11 time zones between us! Anyway, their plans seemed like such fun to me, and now I have embroidered my name panel they sent me:

I'm very glad I can make anything to be my uniform, and so I decided to sew me a new brown apron, and then I'll sew this panel on it. I never liked the blue dress uniform when I was a girl scout. This time I shall like everything!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Pay It Forward

I'm happy to announce that I have joined the PIF on another Ulla's blog. Here's how it works: I will make and send a handmade gift to the 3 first people who leave a comment to this post on the blog requesting to join the PIF exchange. I do not know what the gift will be yet, and it won't be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent within 6 months and that's a promise. What you have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

This PIF comes from Kviltstina via Ulla's fiber blog.

I have not finished any of my new sewings, so I'll show you something nice I have from my crafty ancestors: silk embroidery threads wrapped in handkerchiefs and gauze. I sometimes open the bundles and just enjoy the pretty sight!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Good girl!

Before ... and after

Notice how the shadows of the trees have changed.

I feel like a hero today. I have been doing my least favourite household chore, cleaning the windows. Well, not all of them, but four out of nine. And if you look at the next picture, you can understand why this is not a child's play:

We have triple glazing and all six surfaces need to be washed. In this window it makes 18, and in the smaller ones 12. I cleaned two small ones, this one and one with 10 surfaces. The balcony door has a different glazing. Now my daughter's old room is fresh for her to come and sleep here after the concert on Thursday. And I have lots of sunlight in my office corner. The pictures are from this room. The black giant bird in the first picture was one of the flies between the window panes. The next thing to do is a lot nicer: I'll go and iron fresh curtains for two of these windows. And a lot of shirts and trousers, too. And after that I can allow myself a new project. I'll think about it when ironing, but I think it will be two things. One includes embroidery and one bags.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Pinwheel quilt and green thoughts

This is the pinwheel baby quilt with the checkered binding you voted for a while ago. I sat and waited for my father-in-law when he was having his feet seen to; and watched one episode of Heartbeat to finish the hand sewing part. The light blue shirts are not all the same colour, but when re-using material this can be accepted. (British series with village life and old times are my favourite.) Notice the little flowers, I have never before used embroidery in my quilts. The white squares looked so pale that I tried to cheer them up a little.

I haven't been lazy at all: on Saturday I finally made myself a light shopping bag to be carried with me at all times:

The pattern is a copy of our normal big plastic bags. Today I used it for the first time and carried 5 one litre jars, vegetables, apples, bread, cheese, meat and biscuits. It was very comfortable to carry. I used French seams because the material is synthetic, and I put a green bias binding at the top because a) I had a suitable length available and b) I'm going green with this bag.

It folds this small, and I will make a little pouch from the rest bit between the handles to keep the bag this small in my shoulder bag.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Life goes on

The big project is over, and I feel empty inside. A little proud, too, to have such a big work finally done, but more empty and a little sad. When I was quilting the Grandmother's garden for Kaija, I kept thinking about the grandmother's garden where it all started. In 1993 I was spending some time at my parent's home with my three kids during their long summer vacation. The house used to be our summer place when I was little. I remember the big house being built, and something about the earlier summers when we slept in the attic of the sauna. The log cabin was built before I was even born. From that attic I found many of the fabrics used in the quilt. Old clothes and rest fabrics from my mother's sewings were stashed there for future use in rag carpets. Luckily they were not yet cut in thise narrow strips. This way I ended up with pieces of flower dresses, nightgowns, table cloths, pillow cases etc. from four generations of girls and women. They all spent their summers, or part of their summer, in this lovely place by the lake. My grandmother and her sister, my mother, her four daughters and six granddaughters. That is a lot of memories. It would be such fun to seat all these girls in the garden for the late mid-morning coffee, "elvakaffe" like my grandmother used to call it, postponing the necessity to make some real food (stuffing us with sandwiches to keep the tummy quiet). We would sit in the front garden under the big rowan tree, where we could see the lake between the aspen stems. The sun would be shining, but there is shadow under the tree. A light warm wind from the lake, finches singing in the tree and the swallows over the lake. Wagtails running on the lawn, butterflies by the flower benches. There is the round garden table with four armchairs for the eldest, two benches by another table for the next generation and the two garden swings and the playhouse steps for the youngest. Perhaps strawberries with sugar and whipped cream, or icecream if the day is hot. The coffee drinking would go on and on like everything there does. It is like the time freezes when we go there, there is practically no outside world. The perfect place to start cutting some paper hexagons for a project as eternal as the peace in my grandmother's garden. You just have to trust that everything will go fine.

These rhubarbs come from that garden, too. I brought them to our own garden over twenty years ago, and they keep coming up every spring with their big red heads from the cold earth. In a month or so I will bake a delicious rhubarb pie and eat it with my own family in our garden.

Friday, 18 April 2008


There it is! My Grandmother's garden quilt took the summers of eleven years, a long maturing period of four and a half years and finally two months of rather intensive quilting with the support of my virtual friends and my sewing group. I feel a little empty now. Yesterday was busy, I cut and sewed the bindings and finally signed the quilt. Then I put it in the washing machine, and this morning it was dry. The wadding didn't shrink as much as I was afraid it might do. The colours and the feel of the quilt are fresher now. I had storaged the blocks in a basket for the long period this quilt needed to be finished, and they were dusty. I also had marked the blocks with masking tape (not to be recommended!) and left the tapes there for several years. The stains washed away! I had already bought some acetone for stain removal, but luckily I don't need it for this.

My embroidery skills have not developed very well, but this can be read. I had to document the time spent on this quilt, although there has never before been such intensive period like this year's.
I still have to work on the hanging system, the knots in my fishing line are not totally reliable.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Hand quilting is ready

This is almost what it will look like when it is ready! These pictures are from yesterday afternoon, and in the evening, at ten, after Grey's Anatomy, the hand quilting was finished.

Now I have cut the edges straight and sewn the bindings by machine to the front. I will now go and start the 7.40 m final part and sew them by hand to the backing. No time to write more today! And no time to visit any blogs :(

Monday, 14 April 2008

Finishing projects started by previous generations

This is the tea cosy I told you about in my post yesterday. My grandmother or her younger sister, our spare-grandmother (they lived in the same household), started the embroidery at the time this was a fashionable design. I embroidered some cherries on this side and the most part of the other side and made the lining. My grandmother and her sister were both born in the 19th century, and this project most probably is from the time before the second WW.

This second tea cosy I only put together, it was all embroidered by either one of the sisters in the early part of last century. I really like both of them and I use them when I serve coffee with my fine coffee pot. Maybe three times a year. We don't often have visitors.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Botanical observations

Yesterday when I brought my father-in-law his lunch, I saw this sign of spring. The hepatica, or liverwort, is not common in this area, but belonged to my childhood and youth 140 km north from here. In this same picture (upper left corner) is a wood anemone in bud, and that again is something I wasn't used to see at home. In this Southern part of Finland the white flowers cover the earth usually at the time of Mother's Day, the second Sunday of May.

These are some tulips I made a couple of years ago when I was learning the paper-piecing technique. It was fun to be able to make such narrow lines and accurate corners, but it also took some picking up of seams when my pieces kept ending up the wrong way.

The third "botanical object", Grandmother's garden, is progressing steadily. The borders are a lot easier to quilt than I thought, but there will not be too much time to spare if and when I intend to give it to the exhibition on Friday evening. I want to thank everyone for the compliments I and the quilt have received. The quilt is not so much a proof of skills or talent. It shows hardneckedness and stamina, and it shows that I'm not a very young person because I started sewing it in 1993 with and for my daughter, who was nine years old that summer. It is absolutely the oldest work in progress I have started and about to finish. However, I have finished older and much older projects inherited from my mother and my grandmother. I will tell about them another time. Now I'll go and quilt some more!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Progress report, and I have been tagged

This is what I have been doing lately. Last night I finished quilting the blocks. Now I still have the dark blue areas to fill with stitches, four of them on each long side, plus the corners.

The reverse looks like a jiggsaw puzzle, the modern ones where you can put a sky bit in the garden and the shape is a perfect match but you can see it is not. I prefer the old hand made puzzles, where you can choose an interesting empty space and try to find the piece that belongs there.

Something new has happened to me. I have been tagged by Eileen's Attic. Here are the rules:

1. Once you have been tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.

(If, once again, my link in the text is not working, try the other link on the right)

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.

4. Tag 7 people and link to them.

5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

As I'm fairly new in the blogging world I'll only tag five people. However, I'm rather weird so I'm ready to tell all seven facts. Here they come:

1. I don't have a driving licence because I never dared go to driving school.

2. I don't know how to ride a bicycle.

3. I walk a lot and use commuter trains ;)

4. I'm left-handed when I write but use tools in my right hand.

5. My most disliked household chore is window cleaning.

6. I like ironing.

7. I very strongy dislike mice.

These are the people I want to tag:

Kaija from paperiaarre, she is my lovely and talented daughter

Karen from Contemporary Embroidery

Helen from Quilts and ATCs

Susanna from Zen Yarn , she is my niece and busy with her little son

Lise from Norway in Lise's Blog

These are all blogs I visit often, and I would like you to learn to know them too. And of course I'm curious about their facts, too. And, again, if my links here in the text don't work, all these blogs have links on the right and they do work.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Planning ahead would protect you from nasty surprises

This picture has nothing to do with my current doings, but I have only been hand quilting like a maniac so there is nothing new to show. This is a group of Christmas angels I made some time ago. They are busy with baking gingerbread hearts and decorating the house with stars and red hearts, an one has notes for their chorus parctice.

My unability to think very far ahead has protected me from becoming desperate with my deadline for the Grandmother's garden quilt. You see, I just started quilting on Valentine's day and thought that April 19th is really far away. Then I noticed that my quilting lines are too far apart, so I started quilting the "middle" hexagons (over 200 of them) last week. And then, last night, it really hit my brain that there are the empty areas of the framing I used to get the edges straight. They will pucker and sack and look awful when the batting shrinks. There are four largish triangles on each long side of the quilt. By the time I finish the hundred and something hexagons still to be quilted I will have found a nice way to solve the newest problem. It will probably be appliqued hexagons with quilting around them like I'm doing now, scattered in the empty areas, or just hexagonal quilting, or both.

My teacher has promised me that unfinished work can also be exhibited, but I'm still really trying to finish by the end of next week.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Which binding?

Now you have a chance to express your opinion and tell me which fabric I should use for the binding of the new baby quilt I have almost made:

The options are from the left: A) plaid like in the Friendship Star, B) blue floral print on white, or C) white floral print on blue. D) would be the heart print used in the pinwheels and for the backing. "I like it" will be a reasonable enough argument, feel free to comment. If you convince me, I may follow your recommendation!

This was the situation last night. I hope to finish the quilt tomorrow. Everything I used was from stash!

Grandmother's garden was kind of ready stitched when I started thinking what it will look like when I have washed the quilt and the cotton batting shrinks like I've known all the time it will do. And to avoid a catastrophy (in a small scale, but personally a disaster) I decided to quilt around each middle hexagon (where the pin is) between the zigzag lines three rows apart.

That means over 200 hexagons if I counted correctly. And that means that I should have started quilting around the blocks to emphasize their form instead of trying to make less and end up doing something that may be described as "interesting" or "a personal view". And at least as much work.
So, help me, which binding for the little pinwheel quilt?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Working for my fabric diet

This is something I found on Saturday when I was digging in my boxes:

And after a little thinking I did this on Monday:

And some of this, too.

Later I will show you what became of it. These were leftover pieces from my Friendship star quilt.

Yesterday I had wonderful news from my daughter Kaija. She won the second price in a big bookbinding competition. You can read more here. I'm proud to have a talented daughter, and especially glad that her talent is in her hands as well as in her mind and her heart.