Category Archives: projects

Experimental quilting- work in progress

Noelle Olpin

An experiment in every way.

I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head and in my dreams for a while now. With a bit of stolen time each day, I started dyeing fabric with coffee and tea, cutting without a straight edge, stitching blocks and washing fabrics and then arranging blocks.

Noelle Olpin

Then, making up the design and mapping all the blocks together.

No Rules Quilting, as I’ve come to think of it, is harder than you might think. It’s experimental quilting and you can’t do anything wrong, ever. Which is a relief and also a burden.

When there isn’t any one telling you what to do, no rules or steps to follow, the process can be exhausting. A constant mental battle on what you’ve been taught and know to be accepted (no exposed edges or uncut thread ends) within in the quilting/sewing communities and the beauty of irregularity, imperfection and what some might think of as a big mess.

Noelle Olpin

I like the result so much, I’m willing to toss all the rules aside and see what shakes down.

noelle olpin

At this point, the project slows down. The piecing work has been done on a sewing machine so far. I have plans for slow stitching- hand stitching the finish work. I love the look of Kantha quilting, so a lot of that look will be involved.

Noelle Olpin Noelle Olpin Noelle OlpinI’ve been attempting to let the ideas flow for finishing the edges on this experimental quilt. The project isn’t very big, a wall hanging size in fact (22″ x24″).

Perhaps a traditional binding, maybe not? A frame with the quilt stretched across the inside like an animal skin? Hung from a stick with loops? Stapled to the wall?  We shall see…

Now, I carry this project with me wherever I go. Because the beauty of hand stitching is that you can do it anywhere and everywhere. And that’s what audiobooks are for…

Have a wonderful day!

 

easy felt Christmas ornaments DIY

christmas ornaments fabric scraps

Making felt Christmas ornaments as gifts for friends or for your own tree is fun and can be a great family activity. Be prepared to make a big mess and glue your fingers together in the name of Christmas fun.

felt ornaments

Here is how to make felt covered styrofoam ball Christmas ornaments:

felt christmas ornamentTo make felt Christmas ornaments you will need a hot glue gun, styrofoam balls and 2 pieces of felt cut into circles.

felt christmas ornamentFirst put a thin, small amount of glue in the center of the felt. The hot glue tends to melt the styrofoam so use as little as possible throughout the entire process.
felt christmas ornamentPlace the styrofoam ball in the center of the glue area on the felt.
felt christmas ornament

Pick up the ball, holding the glued center area and snip with sharp scissors at 1 to 1.5 inch intervals around the felt, about 1 inch long snips.

felt christmas ornament

Put a thin layer of glue on the first felt section.

felt christmas ornamentsPress the glue covered section down against the styrofoam.
felt christmas ornamentsCover the second section with glue, covering the whole section but especially the corners.
felt christmas ornamentsPress the second section down, overlapping the first section so it lays flat against the styrofoam.
felt christmas ornamentsRepeat the process of gluing and pressing down the felt sections working your way around the ball.
felt christmas ornamentsMake sure to put glue on all corners to flatten down the felt so you still have a round ball shape.
felt christmas ornaments

felt christmas ornamentsKeep gluing until one whole side is finished.
felt christmas ornamentFinish the other side the same way- begin with a bit of glue in the center if the felt.
felt christmas ornamentsPlace the ball right in the center of the felt circle, in the glue area.
felt christmas ornamentsPick up the ball and the felt circle, holding over the glued area. With scissors, cut slits around the felt about 1 to 1.5 inches apart.
felt christmas ornamentsBegin by putting a thin layer of hot glue on the first section, especially on the edges and corners.
felt christmas ornamentsThen follow gluing the first with the second section overlapping the edges as you go along, until you finish gluing all of the sections down.

felt christmas ornamentsYour styrofoam ball should be completely covered with felt now and ready to embellish.

felt christmas ornamentsIdeas for trimming your ornaments: ribbon, rick rack, sequins, sequined trims, sequins (and straight pins for attaching), colorful felt shapes, beads.
felt christmas ornaments
I added the beads and small felt circles (about the size of coins) to the top and bottom of the ornaments when I hung them. I ran I long needle with a thin ribbon through the center of the styrofoam ball so the ornament is held from the bottom with a ribbon going all the way up through. Good luck, and have a very -handmade- Merry Christmas!
felt christmas ornaments

American flag quilt

American Flag quilt by Noelle Olpin

American Flag Quilt by Noelle Olpin, 36″ x 31″

I made this pattern up myself, I’ve had the idea of an American Flag quilt tucked away in a corner of my brain for awhile. A few elements that influenced it’s making: First of all, I dislike throwing any scrap of fabric- no matter the size or shape, so I had plenty of scrap fabric ready to go. Second, I admire the quilters of Gee’s Bend (this is an extreme understatement). And lastly, my love for flags has been growing throughout the years as I’ve traveled, participated in humanitarian work in Nepal and Cambodia and sent my kids on foreign exchanges and adventures of their own.

All kinds of flags have caught my eye- country flags, nautical flags, Native American Indian tribe flags– all intriguing and beautiful in their representation of solidarity and national pride. And the useful (sneaky to land lubbers) messaging aspect of nautical signal flags in the coolest. Through these aligned preferences and concepts, this quilt was born.
american flag quilt1I started by collecting up all of the tiny scraps of red, white and blue fabric I could possibly find, and began randomly sewing them together.

american flag quilt, making the stripesAs I pieced things together, I tried to roughly create the shapes I needed- long narrow strips for the red and white sections, then blocky blue and white strips for the star section.
making an american flag quiltAfter continuing to piece together reds and whites into long skinny pieces, I starting sewing them together. My goal was obvious imperfection and wavy lines- which is a lot harder than you would think. I put the rotary cutter away and cut everything with scissors… in my lap and not on a flat table.
stars on the flagI made the ‘stars’ section in strips of white and blue squares.  A tiny bit of basic math went into this part because I was striving for 50 white pieces or stars in there. I tried to make the blue and white sections about 1-2″ squares. Nine rows of 5 or 6 white chunks, semi-lined up and sewn together with blue strips in between.
making the stars for flag quiltI found this actual star fabric while searching through my collection of blue fabric scraps and decided to incorporate it, a strong mental suggestion for those who aren’t compelled by abstract patterns.

american flag quilt, abstract starsLooking at the back… very messy and in my opinion it’s intriguing to see the process and framework. As you can see, I still did plenty of ironing throughout the process.
building the quilt stars back
building the quilt starsIf you look closely, you can see that some of the selvages (unfinished fabric edges) have been left exposed on the quilt top and sewn with visible top stitching. I want the exposed edges to be visible and the slightly frayed aspect to add texture and imperfection of the finished quilt.
stars and stripes quiltIn laying out the three pieces, I found that the blue and white section was too small and needed more white stars too. So I pieced and added another small blue and white section.
american flag quilt, making the starsHere’s the added-to blue section (the part to the farthest right)- finally making the entire section the right size.

american flag quiltHere are all three pieces ready to be trimmed and sewn into one.
stars and stripes

stars and stripes quilt

And, of course,  a view of the backside.

flag quiltAnother look at the back as the pieces come together.

abstract american flagHere’s a backlit look at the finished pieced flag quilt top, showing off all of the tiny pieces that combine to make up the color portions.
american flag quilt topI love looking at the light coming through the fabric, before the batting and the back fabric get put on.
american flag quiltNow, I’ve got to decide how to quilt the top. I’m picturing simple, but hand stitched… This is going to take some time, but the end result with be worth it with a very organic, homemade and home grown feel.
red and white top stitchingI did a bit of machine top stitching to hold layers in place, then finished up with an easy running stitch with embroidery floss and pearl cotton thread in coordinating colors. Mostly straight, uneven stitching with an occasional swirl built in for some fun and curvy lines.
am flag top stitch
american flag details
topstitching on american flagI added an occasional embroidered star over the white star blocks with a couching or double running stitch.
flag quilt signature

With a final embroidered signature in the corner on the back, the American flag quilt is finished.
back of flag quilt

Here’s a view of the full back side. I always sew a sleeve for hanging at the top of all of my quilts. A flat, thin piece of wood (or metal, I’m using a yardstick in this picture) cut to the just under the width of the quilt helps the quilt hang straight across the top and keeps the quilt from eventually sagging in the middle like fabric is inclined to do.

Note: A hole is drilled into each side of the pole or stick, close to the ends. Then the holes are placed over nails in the wall to hang it up.

back of quilt