First quilt strip

Most crafts I like take time.  Handmade generally does.  Even cooking dinner from scratch seems to take longer (but maybe not always?).  True, I could probably sew a couple of garments in a day’s worth of uninterrupted time (if I ever had an uninterrupted day…).  I might also knit a hat or cowl in a day, with thick wool and bigger needles (probably…).  But most things I want to make I calculate as taking almost a month, if I can only craft for an hour or so each day.

So often, I get distracted.  By life, by study or by other crafts with a deadline attached.  Or I get stuck, and realise that sorting out the problem, recalculating and redoing are going to take even more time, so I stop.  I’m rather pleased that didn’t happen this week, I actually worked on what I said I would.  This is the first pieced strip for my kitchen table cushions.

It did take me rather a while. Because I’m learning. And because my sewing machine was cheap, not good, and takes time to coax into sewing neatly.  At the moment, I can’t wait to piece the next strip, and the next, and the next … but I can’t promise I won’t be distracted again by next week!!

And welcome everyone from Kirsty’s creative space, I’ll be visiting your blogs today, too.

In which I solve a quilting problem, without making a quilt

You see, I’ve been planning to learn quilting for some time.  Properly, following traditional patterns. With exact measurements.  And seams lining up precisely and neat corners.  At least to begin with.

It’s a skill I think I should have. And something I can really imagine enjoying, once I get good: playing with colour and pattern, within geometries and repetition.

But after all this time thinking, I still haven’t started yet.  Something’s slowing me down.  A worry.  I’ve finally worked out what it is: the product of quilitng … is a quilt.  I don’t have room for a quilt!!  Well, maybe one.  Two at the most.  Possibly three, but what if I really enjoy quilting and want to make more?  There must be more than 3 techniques I’d like to try.

We live in a really small apartment, with four people.  I have trouble enough storing the Winter doonas and blankets.  And everything else.  I don’t really want to add to our storage problems.  I could throw a quilt or two over the sofa (to be dragged on the floor by the kids?), perhaps give one or two as presents (gift the storage problem to someone else?).  I could put a quilt on the wall, but I don’t fancy drilling into these walls than I have to.  And then I’m stuck.  I do like to justify to myself that most of my crafting is useful.  Knitting produces gloves, scarves, hats, jumpers… sewing produces dresses, skirts.  But quilting?  Just produces more storage problems.

And then it hit me: cushion covers!  Lots of finicky little mini quilts.  Different fronts and backs.  We’ve at least four chairs.  And we’ll need a change of covers – eight.  And at this age, with the rate kids spill stuff – twenty!  Or more!  Plenty of opportunities to explore pattern & technique!

So here is my inspiration, courtesy the library:
– an encyclopedia of techniques;
– a modern quilt reference (I’m always drawn to modern looking quilts);
– the quilt book recommended by the librarian;
– an apartment therapy, for storage hints!

Our apartment is rated “small”.  Pity the other examples of small apartments don’t seem to include children.  And their toys.

And welcome everyone visiting through Kirsty’s creative spaces.

Twofer: knitting in progress

I’ve realised I rarely show work in progress here: each project seems to be featured only once, either at the beginning or the end.

Well, I’m still working on this, and still enjoying it.  I think it’d be a great pattern for a beginner, it’s only knit/plain/garter and decreases. But I think a beginner would need a friend to talk them through it, I agree it’s more like a recipe, it does require some  knowledge of knitting. And I read the decreases wrong, and had to go back: should’ve trusted that nagging feeling it wasn’t right.

I’m trying to finish both hats together, a bit like a chef tries to plate everything up at the same time. That way the kids won’t argue about who’s first, who’s second …. I hope!

Guilt knitting

I’ve been starting to think about writing down the knitting patterns buzzing ’round my head. I did once before.

This means, for the first time ever, I’ve bought wool just for swatching. I feel irrational guilt about it. You see, after swatching, some wool turned out too thick, or the slubs didn’t look right, or the whole idea won’t work, at least not now, not easily, not ’till I think about it some more.

I’m not a big stasher, I’ve 2.5 average-sized plastic boxes full of wool. (Ok, technically I should say “yarn”, but most of it’s actually wool). That’s my everything, all my half begun; abandoned; dreamt about but still untouched knit projects as an adult. I pretty much always have a plan for the wool I buy, even if that plan changes like, 5 or 6 times!

So I’ve been feeling really guilty about my just for swatching wool. And hurrying madly to find a project for it. Yeah, I fully agree that’s irrational, but it’s how I feel.

Mustaa villaa’s hat pattern is perfect for this situation, especially since it calls for 8ply/DK. If you’re Aussie you know that’s the most common weight here … by far. I’m really enjoying mixing the colours for the band, and looking forward to a guilt free knitting future. And to finally telling the kids, when I’m near the end: “Oh, yes, this one’s for you”.

My first patchwork: am I mad?

patchwork_bag_12010 is starting to feel serious: A is back at school, M’s starting soon (it’s a Montessori school) and I’ll be back at Uni before I know it. So I’d better hurry up and show you the only Christmas present I actually handmade!

Yes, Germaine, Mum did actually ask for a handmade gift. I suspect she knows I have more fabric/time than money at the moment … And so I took the opportunity to try my first patchwork.

The fabrics are from a charm pack: Botany by Lauren and Jessi Jung for moda. You know, I haven’t really used craft fabrics before. Admired them, yes. Stroked them on the bolt in the shops, uh, yes. But actually sewn with them? No, I’ve basically used dress fabrics: cheap or better quality.

So this project gave me a couple of surprises. First, I’d always thought that not using craft fabrics for dressmaking was kinda snobby: it isn’t. Roll on all the designers (actually it’s not their fault), roll on all the manufacturers offering craft fabric designs on dressmaking and other types of fabric. And second, I’d thought that combining the fabrics contained in a charm pack would be kinda brainless. I mean, they’ve been specifically designed to go together, haven’t they? Well, they probably were designed to match. But I didn’t happen to like that particular fresh Spring green with that particular turquoise. Might be just me. Or might be unrealistic expectations. Any rate, I decided one side of the patchwork bags would use mainly the fresh greens; the other mixed the turquoises.


Look pretty and neat, don’t they? But they’re actually a bit wonky. I mean, I knew attaching the linings would be a problem: I’d sized them without factoring in any space needed for bulky seams, turn of cloth or any concepts like that. As a result, there’s a tuck just where the ribbons are joined. And I rather like that tuck, makes the bags a little more interesting. Next time, I’ll design in a tuck (on purpose).

My other issue was a bit more unexpected. I’d chosen what I thought was a really simple pattern for my first patchwork: just lots of squares. Arranged in a grid. No fancy hexagons, diamonds, nothing. Just a grid. About an hour into sewing (I’m slow: I sew and think, sew more, ponder..). Anyway, about an hour into sewing I realised a grid-based pattern requires you to line things up exactly. And I couldn’t. I did try, with lots of pins. Hence my question: am I mad to worry if my patchwork is about 2mm out in places? Lots of places?

Deep down, I know the answer. No, I should be more accurate. It’d look better. So, dear experienced patchworkers, some more questions: what should I have done? I’ll admit to treating a my fabric like paper: folding in half, scoring and cutting (with scissors). Was that my downfall? I’ll also admit my sewing may have veered from straight by about 1mm on occasion: did those slight errors multiply? Or is there some particular technique I should have known about and used?

And yes, I did check my patchwork books, limited though my collection is. And I realised all my Japanese books are about hand patchworking. Not by machine. Even though one of them is specifically about different designs made from squares (and triangles). I also have Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson which doesn’t really have a lot of grid-based designs. Perhaps so you can make them last minute, eh? And they still look good as gifts? Yes, Germaine, there’s often quite a bit of truth to what you say, however offended we get. But nine patches are a traditional grid pattern, so there must be a way to align them?