Sunday, 28 September 2014

Why triangles?

I like triangles! Whenever I look for more or less traditional patchwork blocks, I like those containing triangles best. And every time it takes so much more time than I have to make them.
  1. I cut a bunch of triangles in the chosen colors. The yellow/orange ones I have counted, the blue ones not, probably I have to cut more during this project.
  2. I sew two of them on the long edge together to get again a square (and no, I don't like the method to sew two times diagonal over two squares and cut later in the middle). I then have a long chain of triangles.
  3. Ironing
  4. Cutting of the threads and the seam allowance that is passing the border of the square.
  5. Sewing two squares together to get a rectangle
  6. Ironing
  7. Cutting little blue squares and larger yellow/orange ones
  8. Sewing together the parts to get a star, with one more ironing step in between and in the end.

Yeah!! Yippie!! I have 6 nice stars! :-)

But now I have to do the same again, as I need 12 stars for the planned Quilt :-(


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Fall crowns

The fall is progressing more and more - did I already mentioned, that I love that time of the year? - In the morning it is fresh and a little wet outside, but then the sun is coming out and we have the most lovely days! Red apples, pumpkins, berries, ... a lot of color is mixing with the still green leaves of the trees. 
I cycled some country roads and cut some leaf tendrils of hop, ivy and one other I-don't-know-the-name-of and also some rose hips for contrasting color. Then I made two very nice crowns. 

For the second one I used all the left over pieces and made a half crown. For fixation I took some ripped stripes of an old bed sheet (that I had already given to my husband for his workshop). I like the un-perfect look that it adds.

Happy and colorful autumn to all of you!


Monday, 22 September 2014

Finally ...

After the teacher of my youngest asked me for the fourth time, when my son would bring his painter's smock (I googled the word and hope it is the right translation), I had the necessary motivation to make one. 
As the one from last year is already much too small for my son (or he is to tall for it), I took this time an old shirt of his dad, without cutting it smaller. I took the collar off and then I had to do something for the sleeves. Of course I cut off about 2/3 of the length, but they have been still very wide. Last time I put in an elastic straps, but then I saw this post and thought immediately this is a great idea! Mine isn't by far as pretty as that one, but I think it will do it's purpose. Also I won't see my son in it, he is willing to wear it, the teacher is happy and I got one thing less on my I-don't-want-to-do-list, so I am happy too!
This has been a very quick photo before we left for school today. He can wear it also reverse, then the teacher has just to close one button on the back side.

And now I have to tidy up my sewing room. Not that it made a lot of mess to sew this smock, but tomorrow we will have new house guests and the official name of my sewing room is guestroom! Our poor guests are having less and less space in it, even when it is tidied up - sorry!


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

felted acorns

The fall is coming! The acorns are falling from the oak trees - in all colors as you can see ...
This are my first steps on needle felting. Already several years ago I got felting wool in nearly all colors as a present, but they have been in the cupboard since as my hands don't like to be long time in touch with soapy water. Yesterday I decided I wanted to try out this idea for felted acorns that I have seen often in the web. 
I wanted to do it with my kids, but it took me an hour to find the felting needles and in this time they found something else to play. Also it is quite dangerous to prick with a sharp felting needle on little woolen balls. I wore leather gloves.
Once I found out how to do (thank you you-tube) it has been soooo easy and I felted acorns in all color I had.

Lots of fun!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sailing away

Voila! The boat quilt is finished. I did the quilting yesterday morning and the binding in the evening and today my boys are already fighting about it ...
I like it much better now. The quilting is only horizontal wave lines, but it get the hole quilt in motion. You can see the water moving.
The sky is cloudy and because the binding is pulling the top a little in the wrong direction you get the feeling of wind. You never know if an error didn't turn out into something good.
The back is white molleton and I used a light batting. Even with the thicker fabric in the top it is now very soft and cuddly.
The final size is 1m by 1,40m. A good children size (it couldn't get any longer because of the length of the water fabric). I guess I will give it to my youngest. My boys like to sleep under their baby blankets (about 1x1m) and those are getting much too small now. For my elder son I have an other idea in mind...


Friday, 12 September 2014


Already back in June I mentioned, that I found a nice pattern, that I wanted to try out. Have a look on this nice little boat quilt. Isn't it perfect for a baby room?
I searched for a long time in the internet to find a nice patchwork fabric with newspaper print. I couldn't find any that I liked! It seams as if the trend of word-prints is nearly over (and I missed it completely).
In the only nearby fabric shop that has mostly deco-fabrics for curtains or cushions I finally found a newspaper print that has been okay, but the fabric has been too thick to make a real patchwork with it. I tried anyway to make some boats with it and applicated them on an old curtain (to stay in the same fabric family).
It took me all summer to find a fitting fabric for the sky. This is now a very soft jeans fabric from a skirt I wore when I have been a teen in school.
It is still a little boring though. I hope I can make it more interesting when I quilt it. 


Monday, 8 September 2014

2 happy clients

End of last week I got two demands for customized products and I surprised myself by already doing them very quickly this weekend. 

One was a writing case like this one, but smaller to host an calendar, an address-book, business cards and notes. As it has been a special size, I couldn't buy a folder for the inside. The friend who ordered the case gave me some cardboard and we cut three pieces (front, back and a small stripe for the width). With other carton pieces I tried out how to glue them easiest together, and found out that fabric with Vliesofix worked really really well. I will use that again. 
An elastic is fixed in two lashes to the fabric covering the cardboard, to hold pens.
Taking that as the base size I made step by step all the required slots and pockets as well as the outside cover and put it all together to an envelope that can be closed with a press button (middle of the flower in the belt).
From the inside it looks like this. I marked with little arrows where there are slots to put something in. 
Today my friend came to pick up her order and there was the moment of truth when we tried out if everything fits in as I had planned. Luckily it did!
I am very pleased with the result and my friend is very happy with her case too and loves the design! What do I want more?

The other happy client is mom of a cute 1.5 year old boy who needs new slippers for the nursery. She wanted the name on the slippers and I managed to cut and fix small leather letters on them - this took me longer than cutting out the slipper pieces and sewing them together. Fortunately the name isn't longer and the boys feet have already size 21.

So, this has been a very productive weekend and we had great weather on top of it too. 

A bientôt,

Thursday, 4 September 2014

up or down, left or right?

While painting the name on the tableau (see last post), I decorated also a simple uni shirt for my eldest.
I though it's funny and he can learn a few English words as well, but the sense in the words depends really on the position looking at them. On his chest the directions are written from his point of view, okay that is confusing only those who are never quite sure where left or right is (in my experience half of mankind), but what if he lifts an arm? The arrow is completely false in that case :-)
He likes it though and wore it directly to school today!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Long names

A cute little girl has been born by one of my friends. The present for her has been ready since a while, but I promised to put her name on it and this took me a while. Why are parents giving so long names to their kids and also more than one? Fortunately the family name is short (you can't see it on the photos though).
Okay, I have already added longer names, but the letters had to been small to fit on the road and has been quite fiddly to cut them out. For the painting I used the same method like here and again it worked very well!
You ask what it is? This is a fabric picture/tableau for decorating the baby room. It is either nice to look at, or you can use it as a board to collect for example the cards you got for the birthday. In the top right corner there is a pocket, to put in normal sized envelopes or cards. The white strap on the bottom is an elastic, where you can clamp papers behind or fix something with little cloth pins. 
The hole size is 40x40cm. The fabric is stretched over a wooden frame and fixed with stapler needles on the backside. I added two hooks to hang it up too.
You like it?


Monday, 1 September 2014

Handmade value

This weekend I discovered an internet discussion/movement that caught me immediately. It is about the fact that artistic handmade objects like amazing quilts are not getting honored as much as they should in financial means. 
There are lots of people saying "wow" and "awesome" if they see a wonderful unique and artistic quilt, but would they ever pay the price that it is actually worth? 
Surely it is difficult to price a work like that. If you sum up everything from the material to the hours that have been spend cutting, ironing, piecing, you might get a number, but it doesn't include your experiences and your creativity that makes this piece unique. How can you price that? And once you have a number, you can be pretty sure, that you won't find someone paying it to you! 
Find out more about this discussion for example on Sam Hunters blog, she founded the action:
She says that we have to train our customers to be aware of the real value of the piece they purchased. They don't have to pay it, but they have to know it and understand that they made a good deal, because what they payed is probably much below any reasonable figure.
Of course all the article I read about that topic have been from artists that make more or less their living with their art or being creators of incredible quilts, that I could never dream of. I am far from that level, but everybody selling handmade goods should be interested in this topic. How often do I see someone selling a piece in the internet and I think "how can this price even cover the materials - this is unfair for all the other sellers!". On the other hand, how often do I see someone selling a piece and I think "yes, it is probably worth it, but who the hell is paying that price - me not". 

And myself? Do I ask a reasonable price for the things I am selling? 
To be honest, I have never calculated down to the cent how much an article is worth. I know the individual quilts I have made (you haven't seen much of them in this blog jet, as this year I have been a lazy quilter) couldn't be payed by anyone. So I either keep them or give them as a present, but only to those who respect it. And for me it is part of the fun making it, to think during the process of sewing about the person who will get it in the end.
But I am selling lots of little things like bags, accessories, book covers, pictures, post-cards, .... My husband is asking sometimes if I am taking an appropriate price for this article or an other. And I am always responding, that this is the price I can live with. I eyeball the value of the ingredients and then think about how much someone else might pay to have it. So lets see with an example if it is working out for me! (I really just now made the calculations when writing this post, so it is a surprise for me too)

A simple wax cloth bag: They are very useful, I have sold already about 20, showed to some friends how to make them, gave lots as gifts and hear all the time that they are "so nice" and so "practical". 
Fabric needs:
2 pieces 40x40cm of wax cloth for the outside. Good wax cloth is expensive about 26€ the meter by 120cm width. Will be 3,50€ for the outside.
The lining is stable white cotton fabric. I get it cheap at the Swedish furniture house, it is about 10€ the meter by 150cm width. Will be 1,10€ for the lining.
For the handles I need about 50cm of belt, this is an other 0,80€.
Lets count 0,30€ for the thread and use of the machine.
This gives 5,70€ for the material used, not counting the scraps I am producing that can't be used for any project I will get payed for, and not counting the costs for shipping (if bought in internet) or for gas (if I drove to a store).
Fabrication time:
I can't name the time shopping the fabric. But lately I stopped the time for cutting and sewing and it's about one hour, as I have been sewing this simple bag already lots of times and don't have to think a lot about every step. What can I ask for one hour of my time? I am an engineer and those are expensive. Okay I am not a fabric engineer, so let's lower the price. I live in a really expensive region of France, if anyone offers me a job, I wouldn't do it under 20€/h, not including assurances etc. So let's say 20€ fabrication fee.
->> I should price this bag with 25,70€! 
I don't! I take 15€ when I am selling it from my house and 19€ when selling it in the internet, for covering also the fees for the platform provider and the shipping.
And this is the most simple bag I have. I make bags with a pieced outside, that took more time to do and I sell it for the same price. I have bags with flaps and I am selling them for 20€ and those take much more time and material.
You might think that I still make money on that bag, but for every bag I sell there is at least one other that is not sold, because clients always wants to have a choice. 
You might think that 10€ less is good for a piece I can produce half asleep! But if it is already 10€ for an easy product, how much will it be for a more complicated one?
One thing is for sure: I will not get rich in this business!

If you are interested, you can find better examples of calculations for very individual quilts here and here.

The internet discussion is also a lot about why do quilters themselves worship their work low! Is it because needlework has been always a female task that has been done for centuries quietly beside all other works for house and family? I don't want to drop into a feminist discussion here, but there is probably truth in it. For me it is also a big question of self-confidence! Don't panic, I won't tell you about my self image here, otherwise you might lower your opinion of me too :-)

Anyway, this has been filling up my head all weekend and it had to come out somehow. Next time I show something new I sewed.
Today is the last day of the kids vacation, so now we have a lot to do to prepare ourselves for a daily routine after two month of hanging around.

A bientôt,