Tuesday, 22 December 2015

An open wide pouch to gift

For a long time I had been meaning to make an open wide pouch from the pattern by Noodlehead (Anna Graham), but so far it never happened. Then yesterday, I decided to just go for it! It went together so easily that I have been wondering why I waited so long! The instructions were very easy to follow with loads of images.

I adapted the fabrics a little: I shortened the height of the bag panels by ½" each and inserted an accent strip 1" wide between the panels with a ¼" seam. The total panel sizes were then as in the original instructions for the small size pouch (7" x 10").

- these gloomy, wet days are not the best for photography, the colours are closest to those in the next picture -

I ironed interfacing onto the reverse of the outside panels after inserting the accent strip, and added top stitching at each side of the accent fabric.

For the lining I used a grey shot cotton, which went well with the outside fabrics. After sewing in the zip I top stitch all the way around the opening with the same top stitching thread as before.

I debated for a good while whether to include a label, and if so, what it should say. I do like to show that an item is handmade, but I don't like to boast (not too much anyway!). In the end I went for a label just saying my tag name, which means they can find out who made it, but only if they are really interested.

However, it made me think I really should be deciding on a "proper" label text, and maybe have some printed ready for future use. And I am sure there will be more of these in my future! I may want one for myself first of all, since this one has been given away already...


Saturday, 19 December 2015

A last minute challenge

Last week (and this week, too!) I missed the "Tip on Thursday" (you had been warned it might not be that regular), but it was going to be very short anyway: "Don't decide to take part in a challenge two days before it's due!" Especially when you also have two Christmas concerts and a quilting class to go to in those two days...
No surprise that I didn't listen to my own advice!

I have been a member of the Irish Patchwork Society of Ireland (IPS) for years now. The Southern Branch meet once a month in Cork city, and going to meetings helped me enormously getting to know people when I first moved here, they are a friendly bunch! There is coffee, tea, biscuits and chat, show and tell, demonstrations and/or a speaker, a diverse library, and a shop (of course!). There are also regular initiatives like a block of the month, or a challenge (usually at Christmas and over the summer). While I enjoy seeing what others are making, in all the years I haven't been tempted to enter in any of the challenges and I didn't think I would enter this time either, but I pulled myself together was inspired at the last minute.

For this challenge we were each given three circles of fabric, at least two of which should be used to make a Christmas item. Of course I could do that... I was going to make a table mat anyway (I had seen a lovely eight-pointed one demonstrated just there)! Then I discovered that the circles were not only three different sizes, but also of different types of fabrics: There was a 5" circle print with robins, a 3" circle of solid white flannel, and a 2" circle of plain black felt. Mmmmm. I wasn't so sure now...

However, ideas kept nagging at me, until at the last minute I decided at least I could give it a try. Searching my boxes for Christmas fabrics I didn't find as many as I thought I had, but they had to do. After all there was no time to waste! Before class on Thursday morning I drew some circles on Bondaweb, and while at the class I pondered which fabrics I would use.

Thursday afternoon saw me ironing Bondaweb to the robin fabric, the black felt, and three other fabrics. I sewed the eight pointed shape as a background, played with an appliqué layout, ironed, sewed and quilted, backed, sewed and quilted some more, added some details by hand... and gave a sigh of relief! If it wasn't up to challenge standard at least it was up to my standard and I'd be happy to have it on my table! I even added some gold embroidery to my black felt circle to tie it in with the other fabrics.

And if you want to make your own table centre, or indeed place mat, coasters, mug rug... or if you need a last-minute gift, I wrote a tutorial, too. Follow the link, or find it under my new "Tutorials" tab.

- edit: I have now written a proper pattern for it, with easy step-by-step instructions. 
Find it FREE on Craftsy or via the link in my Patterns and Tutorials PAGE -
And the challenge? Yes, I did win, too, and now I have another challenge to ponder over the holidays: What to make with this big box of flannel fabrics! I have some ideas already...


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Accurate Sashing - Tip on Thursday #3

Sashing to fit

If it looks as if I am making a whole series of Tip-on-Thursday blog posts, I never set out to do that. But it seems that I have a few tips to share, so for the moment I am running with it... I am not making promises for the future though!

During the week I came across two (completely unrelated) people who had trouble lining up blocks when putting sashing between them. In some cases it can be very annoying to notice that blocks have shifted along the sashing, and sashing strips do not align straight across. I have made a few sashed quilts, and the trick I used seems to work so I am happy to share it here in case more people find it helpful.

My very first quilt was this small sampler (and it is hanging on my wall still, twenty-odd years and many house moves later):

There are only 6 blocks so it wasn't too difficult to line up the blocks evenly along the sashing, but since this quilt was made as a first project to learn the techniques, it was made using the methods as I was taught them at the time.

This is how I did it, and I do it this way still:
- In this example I assume that all the blocks are the same size and are placed in a straight setting as in the sampler quilt above. -

Step 1: Trim your quilt blocks to size: If they are very unevenly sized (for example because they are made by different people) you may decide to trim them to a smaller size then originally planned, or you may want to add an extra edge to a very small specimen. In this example I'll use 12" square blocks, so they are 12½" unfinished.

Step 2: Decide on your sashing width, and cut your strips. I'll make the strips 3", so cut size is 3½" wide.

Now to attach the sashing: Make your blocks fit the sashing, not the other way around. And sorry, but don't just start sewing sashing strips to your blocks and trimming away what sticks out either! Instead:

Step 3: The first sashing strips are as long as the width of your block, in the example 12½", so cut enough strips exactly to that size. Line up each block with a sashing strip, match up the corners, and pin them. Then ease any discrepancies between block and sashing along the length. Since I made the sashing strips to size there should not be much difference, but sometimes the blocks are not that accurate, or they are stretching a bit.
Sew together, and press the seam allowances the way you want/need them to go (I won't go into that now). Continue until the blocks are joined into the required long strips of alternately blocks and sashing strips.

Step 4: This is the crucial step!
The long sashing strips go between the long block/sashing strips (from step 3), and it is here that it can be tricky to line up the intersections. Again, don't just start sewing!
Mark up those intersections instead, and align your cross seams to your markings:

Start at the corner, this is 0 (zero). Since your first block is now 12¼" wide (finished on one side only), make a mark at 12¼", then 3" further (finished sashing width), then 12" further (finished block size), etc, ending with a mark where the last block corner should be (12¼" away from the previous marking). Do this on both (long) edges of the sashing strips.

- If you are sure of your markings, you can trim the strip to size, or you can sew first so you can be certain that the strip is the right size before cutting. Also, sometimes strips need to be joined together to make a sashing strip of enough length. I do this with a diagonal seam, and press this seam allowance open for a least obtrusive result. -

Now, pin each cross-seam to its concomitant marking, no matter if it fits exactly. Remember, you are making it fit! Again, ease any discrepancy between the pinned markings/seam intersections working on only one section between pins at a time. Use more pins if needed, especially if you are easing a (relatively) large amount. When sewing, take your time. Where a lot of easing has to be done and to prevent pleats, gently stretch the two fabric layers between the markings, so they lay together flat while sewing.

Sew, press, et voilà!

I use this method for all long sashing strips. When there is more than one long sashing strip, I make sure that they are all of exactly the same length, too. The result is a straight, flat quilt, with crossways sashings lining up where they should.

An other quilt I used sashing in wasn't quite so straightforward since there were different sized blocks so the intersections don't all go straight across:

However, the same principles were applied: The long horizontal sashing was marked according to the sizes of the blocks and sashing width that needed to be stitched to it. In this case, one side of the sashing strip was marked for 12" blocks (and one 6" block) and 3" sashing, the other side for 6" blocks with 1½" sashing.

Oops, sorry for the fuzzy pic!!

In another quilt the blocks were very uneven (a collaborative effort, above, and sorry for the fuzzy photograph!), and I had to trim them all to 11⅞". In this case I marked at 11⅞" instead of 12½". If blocks are very stretchy, maybe because their edges are on the bias, still pin the corners to the sashing markings, easing the excess between the pins. Remember, you are making the blocks fit the sashing, not the other way around... If the discrepancy is very big, check the markings you made. You may have made a mistake measuring them out (how do I know?!). Also, measure out the markings using a ruler, preferably the same one you used to measure how big your blocks are. Did you know that a measuring tape
s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s with use?!

Dependent on the fabrics used, I mark lightly with pencil, making sure to mark well within the ¼" seam allowance. Sometimes I indicate my markings with a pin perpendicular to the strip edge instead.

Thinking about my tips to share I realise that my first quilt teacher gave me a good grounding in basic quilt making techniques, and though I have learned a lot more since, I still feel the benefit of her generous teaching!

Happy sewing, and make those quilts beautiful!