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.

Spring Kids’ Clothes Week

… was far more successful than Autumn’s.  I finished something!  Yay!

Only one thing ‘tho, I was hoping for at least two finished things – I have 2 children.  And actually, it took all “day.”  Although a “day”, for me, is a frequently interrupted period of time, so perhaps 6 hours straight? Or less, allowing procrastination time?  Perhaps I did my week’s worth after all, just on one day?

The skirt is for the littlest.  She doesn’t seem as into clothes, or as critical of them.  I’m glad she still accepts jeans without complaint.  Particularly on cold, windy, rainy days.  And I’m glad she isn’t too influenced by preschool yet, she has her own mind. All the other little girls seem to wear skirts or dresses, everyday.

She has occasionally commented she doesn’t have many skirts.  Trouble is, most of her clothes were her sister’s.  And her sister keeps almost all the skirts, they’re the favourites, even when they’re getting short.  So I’m glad the first handsewn item was for the littlest – she has something first, for once.

The pattern is “b.f” from 女のこのお’洋服 (ISBN 978-4-529-04437-0).  I chose it for the little tucks at the sides (front and back).  I’m not sure the polka dots show them off that well.  The fabric was her choice, she often chooses red clothes, although she says her favourite colour is still blue.  Even after starting preschool.

It was easy enough to sew.  Yes, I can read the instructions, so I did!  I took my time sewing, to make sure it looks neat.  Even if she isn’t fussed how her clothes look now, she might change her mind later.  I made size 110cm.  But, realistically, that’s her big sister’s size, she’s closer to 100cm.  I just wanted to make sure littlest could enjoy the skirt for a good long time.

By the way, here is nearly the first time she appeared on this blog – hasn’t she grown!

Kids’ Clothes Week: Day 2

One hour today got me all pieces traced onto the red fabric, 3 pieces cut. Half an hour extra and I’d cut the remaining pieces. I didn’t trace or cut the fake sleeves yet. They’ll be contrast fabric, and surely not first in the order of construction? (Actually, it’s pockets first, then shoulders; neckband; sides: good.)

How I love tailor’s chalk! Once in a while, having the right tools helps so much. I thought it mightn’t mark the furry side of the fabric so well, but it did, easily.

Distractions today? Not so much. Unless you count a monologue about what it’s like to work in a library (from a 5 year old point of view) as a distraction. I don’t.  Having kids around when I sew is half the point: so they see where clothes come from, how they’re made. And so they see that the skills they are learning at school (like neat cutting) actually are useful, right through life …

Sewing’s tomorrow. That will be … interesting. I haven’t used a twin needle before & I’m not sure how this (cheap, crappy) machine will handle fleece. We’ll see.

Kids’ Clothes Week: Day 1

Meg from elsie marley sent out a challenge: work for one hour each day for a week, sewing children’s clothes for the coming season. See how far you get.

Well, there’s my one hour, above. Two sleeves traced, one back. Some reading the instructions.

I wanted to be honest. And to find out how long sewing really takes me. How can I improve, estimate for the future, try to fit more sewing in my life if I don’t know how long things take? (That’s roughly what my software programming lecturer says, anyway. But not about sewing).

Maybe I’d be quicker if:

  • I wasn’t trying to be so environmentally friendly & use up all the little scraps of pattern paper;
  • I had a bigger kitchen table … or perhaps a more professional set up?
  • I wasn’t distracted by emails about a University group assignment, asking if my part’s done (yes, done & sent). I’ll blame my cutting the hem fold line (stuck back together) on that distraction. And tracing the wrong size pocket (easily scribbled out) and forgetting to trace a neckline on related distractions, too. I didn’t count them in my time.
  • I’d’ve known the sleeve on view B is really a different shape to sleeves A and C. I ended up having to trace them all, because I want a fake long sleeve, rather than an argument about which top to wear underneath.

It actually took me 2.5 hours to get the whole dress traced. Which doesn’t seem quick. But it is honest and it will help me estimate better and sew more kids clothes in the future.

Wonder how much I’ll get done tomorrow?

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?