This blog is no longer active, come over to www.quiltingbuttercup.com for more.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

How to prepare a bias strip

In sewing you often need bias strips, they perfectly adapt to cureves and angles. You can get ready made bias strips in a good variety, but I prefer to have exactly the strip I want, in a certain matching fabric or just that hue of blue or red or whatever colour I am working with. Luckily, making your own bias strips is pretty easy.

"Bias" refers to the diagonal of the fabric, where it is more elastic.
In order to prepare your own bias strip, all you need to do is fold your fabric over along the diagonal and start cutting from there.

I am working on a fat quarter, so length and width are slightly different.
Start by folding the quarter diagonally into a triangle as shown below.

 Then I simply cut along the folded edge.

Cut enought strips to join them to the length you need considering that joining two strips you will lose a good inch.

Join the strips together as shown below, placing them right side on right side and sewing diagonally (like that the seam will run diagonally when the bias is folded and create less bulk).

 Continue joining all strips in the same way.
When done cut away excess seam allowance.

Iron the seams open.

And here's your finished bias strip.

Now all you need to do is iron it in form for it's intended use (for example ironing the seam allowance on both raw edges for binding etc.) and you have perfectly matching bias.

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?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.

How to make German "Quark" (curd)

Now this is for all those Germans scattered over the world, who, like me, miss some German food (yes, there is good German food!) and for everybody else who loves this delicious dairy product.
I only live 700 km from Germany, still in Europe, but real curd is just not available over here. My parents bring lots of it when they come to see me, but I finally decided to try making it myself. I found several recipes in the internet, but as some list ingredients I cannot get here in Italy just as I can't get curd, I finally settled on trying two ways: for the first you only need fresh milk, for the second fresh milk and the juice of 1 lemon.

From what I understand curd is the solid matter that remains when you sift sour milk. The lemon simply helps to make the milk turn sour faster.

Now here's the setup:

I will put the fresh milk into the blue bowl and fresh milk with freshly squeezed lemon juice into the white bowl.

So I started waiting, checking on my two bowls every now and then and after about 38 hours the milk with the freshly squeezed lemon in it was sour (I prepared the bowls friday night and the milk turned sour between saturday evening and sunday morning) with the proteins nicely clotted while the pure milk was just starting get sour and was still very liquid.

To separate the Quark / curd from the remaining liquid (Molke / whey) prepare a bowl and a sifter.

Place a thin kitchen towl over the sifter and pour the sour milk into the sifter.

You can see the texture of the mass above while below the pure milk form the blue bowl is still very liquid.

I put the still liquid milk back in the blue bowl and left the milk with lemon juice from the white bowl in the sifter. It takes some time while the whey slowly drops into the bowl below.

While the curd gets thicker.

From 1 liter of fresh whole milk I got 0.7l of whey and about 300g of Quark / curd:

The texture is slightly chunky, a bit like cottage cheese but with really small chunks. The taste is fine, creamy and just as it is supposed to be. I tried it with lavender sugar and cherries and, my favourite, with banana and chocolate chips. It was perfect and it didn't taste like lemon at all so using lemon juice to speed up the process seems fine.

In the evening the second bowl had gone sour, too, so I put the mass in a sifter until it was of a nice texture. Unfortunately it tasted just like what it was: milk gone bad. I had to throw it out.

This is what it looked like:

From my little experiment it seems, that initiating the process of milk getting sour by adding some lemon works fine. It makes the protein clot without it actually going bad. The simple milk acutally gone bad produced a curd that had that slightly bad taste and was not really edible.

So in a nutshell, the version with fresh milk and lemon worked perfectly, and from the experience I described above I suggest you try that approach. It's just 3 little steps:

1) Place milk in a bowl with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and wait until the protein clots
2) Sift the mass to separate the curd from the whey
3) Enjoy

 Did you try this recipe? Let me know what you think, did you like it? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let me know, leave a comment or send me an email using the contact form below or using my contact details.


How to make a garden apron

To be able to comfortably carry my basic tools and materials with me when gardening, I made myself one of those garden aprons. I really love it, because apart form being functional it's really cute!

I made this apron from scraps, but you should be fine with 3 fat quarters.

Cut the following pieces from your main fabric, backing fabric and batting:
 - one 50x28 cm rectangle
 - one 50x22 cm rectangle

Place the backing fabric right side down onto the table, place the batting on top of it and then the fabric right side up on top of both other layers.

Quilt as desired. I quilted simple parallel lines using the guide that comes with my sewing maching.

Prepare both rectangles in this way. The smaller piece will be attached to the larger piece in order to create the pockets. In the picture below I turned the front piece around in order to create some contrast, in the finished apron the pockets will be of the same fabric as the larger piece.

For rounded bottom edges, fold both layers with the small piece placed on top of the large piece as shown above in half so that all 4 bottom corners are lined up.

Place a round template (as you can see I am using a DVD) on the top layer and adjust the corner to the rounded template cutting through all 4 layers.

Lay the two layers flat on the table. Your apron is taking shape.

Now prepare the binding (for details on how to bind a quilt, have a look a this tutorial). Given that we are making round edges, it's better if the binding is cut on the bias. First attach the binding to the upper edges of both pieces only.
When done, place the smaller piece on top of the larger piece aligning all edges and bind the remaing outer edges, joining the two pieces in the process. Pay attention to the rounded corneres to avoid creases.

Now it's time to attach the belt.
Cut two strips measuring 5x50cm each. Fold one short side over for about 1 cm an sew a hem.

Then fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong side out and close the second short side and the long side with a simple straight stitch stopping just short of the hem as shown below. Turn the strip inside out throught the opening and iron flat. Prepare both strips in the same way.

Now fit the upper edge of the apron into the opening of the belt.

Wrap the sides of the belt over the binding of the apron, make sure the lower seam allowance of the belt is turned inside and join the two pieces sewing along the two outer edges of the belt. You can keep on sewing along the long side of the belt just to the end, as that will help to keep the belt strip flat.

 To finish the apron you only need to divide the pockets. To do that decide how big you want your pockets to be and sew a simple straight seam through the two layers of the apron preferrably right onto one of the quilted lines on the top pocket layer.  Divide the compartment in as many pockets as desired.

Congratulations on your finished garden apron!

This post was featured at:
<a href= photo partybutton1_zpsaf59da8f.png

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?
Write a comment or send me an mail using the contact form at the bottom of the page.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

How to turn a small coffee table into an upholstered stool

I got the idea for this project last tuesday in the office. Eventhough it is rather cold for the season (just above 20°C), in the afternoon the weather was really humid and oppressing and I felt like putting my feet up under my desk while working. For the moment I improvised by placing a cushion I kept in the office after I broke my arm in march onto the dustbin, but that's obviously far from perfect. And then I remembered that second coffee table I had in the living room that was always in the way. I ordered myself a tacker that arrived only three days later and started to transform the coffee table into an upholstered stool.


Simple Coffee table (mine is of the 5€ a piece variety)
Polyester batting
Tacker and staples

First I measured the table and prepared several layers of batting. The first layer of batting covers the whole table, every following layer is a little bit smaller than the one before. Like that the stool is soft and comfortable and the center is more stuffed than the sides, giving the top of the stool a rounded shape.

Then I cut another, final piece of batting about 15cm longer and wider than the width of the table plus the side of the table area (it has to cover all the layers of batting that are already in place, too). Last I cut the fabric, adding another appr. 10cm per side in comparison to the final layers of batting.
I placed the two final layers on the floow and the upturned table with all the layers of batting on top.

I folded the fabric over onto itself in order to create e hem.

Then I folded excess fabric (with the folded hem) and batting over wrapping it around the top of the table and stapled it in place first on one side, then on the opposite side (make sure it is fairly tight to create a nice tension on the finished cushion) and finally on the remaining two sides, wrapping the fabric nicely around the corners and legs of the table.

This whole project didn't even take two hours to complete.

I am more than happy with the outcome. I don't even feel like hiding it under my desk in the office and will probably find a place for it at home.

 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?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Travel in style part 3: How to make a custom fit neck cushion

This is the third part of my "travel in style"-tutorial series. Let me show you below how to make a custom fit neck cushion to use during your travels. If you prefer to use an inflatable cushion that will take less space in your luggage, click here for the tutorial for a matching cover.
This cushion is part of a set with the comfortable eye mask (click here for tutorial).

I like these neck cushions to be big, so your neck doesn't bend so much when you fall asleep, and therefore I will make a big cushion. Think about what you want and adjust your custom fit cushion accordingly.

You will need:
Cotton fabric
Stuffing (you may use regular polyester stuffing or, if you have lots of small craps left from previous project have a look at this tutorial for how to use them as stuffing)

First we need to prepare our template.
Measure your neck in order to know how big the space within the cushion has to be. Trace the lines of the cushion (pratically a C with corners) so that the room within the C is big enough to fit your neck comfortably. Think about how long you want the sides to be and how thick you want it to be. You might even want a different thickness in different parts of the cushion.

I prefer the second (red) version and will make myself a cushion that is thicker on the sides and thinner in the back.

The measurements of my cushion are:

 First you need to prepare your paper template. Prepare the template in the actual size of the finished piece, we will add the seam allowance later, because like that we will be able to trace the actual finished measurements and be able to sew right on the traced line.

Cut the template. Place your fabric (if you want to make the set as shown above, remember to use the same fabric for the eye mask) right side down on the table. Trace the template once, then flip it over and trace a second, mirrored image. Or, alternatively, place two layers fabric right side on right side, trace the template on the top layer and cut both fabrics int he same way as shown below.

Cut the pieces adding seam allowance.

Place the pieces one on top of the other, wrong sides out, and sew together with a simple straight stitch right on your traced line. Fix the seam at the beginning and at the end with a few backstitches and remember to leave an opening of about 5 cm in the center of the back.

Turn the cushion inside out through the opening so that the right side of the fabric faces outwards.

Stuff the cushion through the opening.

I like these neck cushions to be pretty well stuffed, eventhough that makes closing the opening more difficult as it will have more pressure from the inside. Stuff your cushion to the desired level and then close the opening with blindstitching.

Fluff your cushion in order to evenly distribute the stuffing and you're done.

This is what your cushion will look like.

And now, rest well during your next trip!

 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?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Travel in style part 2: How to make a cover for an inflatable neck cushion

For those, like me, who happen to always take more stuff than they need on vacation, avoiding bulk is of importance, especially when travelling by train or plane. Therefore I love those inflatable neck cushions, that fold up neatly into almost nothing when unused. I do not like the material they are made of, eventhough many try to make them more soft and less plasticky. Therefore I will make a cotton cover for my inflatable neck cushion that matches my eye mask (click here for the tutorial). If you want something softer, use fleece or whatever other fabric you prefer. If you don't need to worry about bulk and prefer to make a custom fit neck cushion from scratch, the tutorial will be online in the coming days.


This is what you need:
inflatable neck cushion
cotton fabric

Measure your neck cushion (inflated) as shown in the pictures below.

Measure the length of the outside of the cushion (above) and the circumference of the cushion at the thickest part (below).

Cut a piece of your outside measure plus 10cm x your circumference plus 2 cm from your fabric. My cushion measures 80 cm (outside) and 34 cm (circumference), therefore I to cut a 90 x 36 cm rectangle from my fabric.

Additionally cut a 4cm x circumference of your cushione plus 15cm strip (mine measures 4x50 cm).

Iron the rectangle in half lengthwise, wrong side out. Close one short side and the long side of the rectangle with a simple straight stitch leaving only the last 2 cm of the long side open, to obtain a long tube.

Now turn the remaining raw edge inside for about 1.5cm and sew it in place with a straight stitch close to the raw edge.

The last 2cms of the long seam remained open and therefore there will be a small opening where the two raw eges meet inside the tunnel you just created.

This is where the ribbon will go to close the opening.
To prepare the ribbon take the long strip you cut from your fabric and iron both raw edges towards the inside so that they meet in the middle.

Then fold the strip in half lengthwise and iron it so that the raw eges are hidden inside the strip.
Close the strip sewing along the open edge.

Now use a security pin to insert the strip into the tunnel you created earlier.

Fix the ends of the string with simple knots.

Put the cover on the inflatable cushion making sure that the opening is as close to the valve as possible. Uncover the valve, inflate the cushion, then cover it completely and close the opening using the string.

I like to fold the corners of the other end of the cushion towards the inside in order to make the fabric stay close to the cushion in all places.

And here's the set of coordinated eye mask and covered inflatable neck cushion.

Have a nice trip!

 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?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.