A finished skirt!

Yep, green skirt has gone from WIP Wednesday to Finished Friday!

It fits and everything! I’m thrilled with it 😀

Stats:

Random cotton knit from the by-kilo bins at Abakhan. I think I had about 1.6 metres. No pattern. I just drew around a skirt I own and love, and added a seam allowance. I sort of figured out the waistband as I went (leading to a bit of learning by trial and error). Side seams and hems were super easy. My vintage machine doesn’t have fancy stretch stitches, so I just used zig-zag and it was fine.

I love this fabric. It’s something I would definitely have ignored in a clothes shop, but it jumped out at me in the fabric store. The pattern reminds me of a wrap skirt my mum had in the late 70s/early 80s in red and black.

Waistband shenanigans meant I gave up fighting my machine for one seam and hand-sewed. I used this tutorial to do herringbone stitch, a stretchy handsewing stitch. Troubleshooting my machine’s skipped stitch issues also meant I learned how to adjust my machine’s timing, which was a groovy bonus 🙂

Next time I’ll make the waistband a little narrower. I used 40mm elastic and it kind of sticks straight up at the front – my tummy, on the other hand, doesn’t. I think narrower elastic will fix that. And oh yes, there’ll be a next time! Sewing clothing was much easier than I feared! I’ve got a t-shirt pattern to try out next, on some lovely purple stripey jersey.

My biggest reason for a Whoop Whoop this week is more personal. I started quilting and sewing just a few months ago (back in May, just before I started this blog). I was very bored; I’d been off work ill for a couple of months and needed something creative I could do at my own pace. I’ve knitted for years, but I was giving myself tendon problems by sitting and knitting all day!

My illness is nothing major or life-threatening, just some incredibly painful complications from a simple little operation at the beginning of the year. And now, finally, I’m well enough to go back to work! There’s my WHOOP WHOOP! I’m not fully recovered yet, but enough to get back to the office next week. I’m so happy to be going back to my work and my colleagues. Even with quilting, I’ve been so bored stuck at home!

The best thing is, I’ve gained an addictive new hobby. Quilting has occupied my time and my brain, and given me a great deal of pleasure, both from the finished items and from learning something new. I’m even starting to learn how to sew clothes, something I’ve dreamed about for years but had written off as ‘too complicated’. It will take some adjustment to figure out how to fit sewing and quilting time into my back-at-work schedule, but I’ll make it happen. I love the sewing too much to stop 🙂

But first, we’re celebrating my return to health with a little weekend away. Peaceful countryside and some good food, what could be better?

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a WHOOP WHOOP!, and TGIFF over at Mama Love Quilts this week.

A bag, and a bonus basket

Sometimes a project happens when circumstances collide in just the right way.

  • Nosing around for fabric online, I came across the delightful Lakehouse Tea Labels fabric. Lovely, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d use it for.
  • I also stumbled across Ayumi’s cute lunch bag tutorial. I use a backpack for work, so I don’t need a lunch bag, so I filed it away for ‘maybe for someone else’.
  • A few months ago, I got some fancy French macarons as a treat for my mum. She loved them, but she also loved the sturdy paper carrier bag they came in – she’s been using it as a lunch bag ever since. Alas, it’s made from paper, and when I last visited she told me it was falling apart.

… aha! One plus one plus one = the cutest thing I have ever made!

 

I didn’t add the drawstring top, because mum’s got arthritis and I thought she might find it fiddly. It’s cute without it, and there’s plenty of room for lunch:

Now, the path to cuteness wasn’t smooth. Ayumi suggests a firm interfacing, so I duly ordered some firm Vilene. Firm? You could build a house with this stuff! I was dubious when I ironed it on, but carried on regardless. When I had to really struggle to turn the bag right-side out, I knew it wouldn’t work out. I set it aside, and made a new outer for my bag (it turns out that ‘medium’ Vilene was just fine). I kept the firm interfacing for the handles (but just used a single layer).

I didn’t want to waste that pretty fabric, though, so I came back to my rigid ‘bag’. I made a second liner to go inside, and some binding for the top, and voila! A useful basket!

It will likely end up in the kitchen, holding spare tea towels.

How firm is ‘firm’ Vilene? This is a glass bowl:

Project stats:

Ayumi’s lunch bag tutorial (for the bag) and improvisation (for the basket). Lakehouse Dry Goods Penelope Tea Labels in Tea for the outer; a Thimbleberries Subtle Solid in a mustardy gold crosshatch for the lining.

I learned that making a bag isn’t difficult or complicated at all! I whipped the bag up in about an hour, ignoring the diversion with the interfacing. The basket took a similar amount of time. The bag, in particular, has a very high cute-to-effort ratio. I’ll be making this again – I might make one for me with the drawstring top for a knitting bag.

And I learned to follow my first instinct about interfacing. If I struggle to fold it in half when it’s fused to fabric, it’s too firm for a bag!

Sheets and pillowcases, oh my

My favourite sheet shrank in the wash. It’s covered in lovely, luscious peacock feathers. The top sheet and pillowcases were still good, but the fitted sheet no longer, well, fitted. They don’t make this pattern any more. We use a coordinate solid for extra pillowcases, so why not just go get a matching solid fitted sheet? Unfortunately, the colour was on clearance. No fitted sheets the right size left, just a flat sheet.

This is exactly the kind of straightforward domestic project I would have shied away from 6 months ago, not confident that I could do it well enough. But now, with my new-found quilty sewing skills? I picked up that flat sheet and some elastic, and hit Google. With the aid of this tutorial (with a little adaptation), I turned that flat sheet into a fitted sheet. With French seams! Who knew there was more than one kind?!

Enthused by my success, I contemplated the shrunken sheet, and decided I could turn it into a pair of pillowcases. I didn’t even use a tutorial for this, just looked at an existing pillowcase for measurements and construction and winged it. French seams again, too. I’m so happy with how these turned out!

And the best part? I still have half a sheet left. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but the cotton is like butter, so soft. It almost feels like Liberty lawn. I’m keeping the leftovers for stash, that’s for sure!

Pezzygon Park – finished!

Yes, that’s right. Wednesday’s WIP is Friday’s finish. Tiny quilts are clearly the way of the future!

Stats:

A variation on Hexagon Park by Lynne from Lily’s Quilts. I reduced the size of the hexies (I started with charm squares, not a layer cake), and I changed the size of the strips between them too. I also made fewer blocks to finish up with a quilt approximately 20″ square, which will be headed to my local branch of Project Linus for a preemie baby. Hexies are Pezzy Print, surrounded by Moda Bella Snow. The binding is from Happy by Me and My Sister from Moda (22315-14), and the backing is a ‘waves’ print from Fabric Freedom. Machine quilted down the zig-zags between columns of hexies in a thread that toned with the background fabric.

I love that backing fabric. It makes me want to sew a bunch of fishy blocks using it as the background 🙂

Lessons learned:

I learned a lot with this one, too. Spray starch helped so much when cutting those bias edges. I don’t think I got much stretching at all – I think I’ve conquered by fear of angles! Not all of my points match, but they’re a vast improvement on my first quilt. Pinning and accurate cutting helped a lot (imagine that!). I squared up my blocks at a couple of points during the construction process, which also made a big difference for how accurately they came together at the end.

I mostly used this technique for machine sewing the binding. I was a little apprehensive, but it worked a treat – you really can feel the back of the binding from the front. It also gave me lots of practice at stitching in the ditch, which I’m getting better at. I only went up onto the binding in 2 or 3 places, which I’ll count as a win! Next time, I just need to adjust the width of the first binding seam (attaching the binding to the front), because it’s a little wider at the back than I’d prefer.

It was really nice to see how much I’ve learned so far, compared to my first quilt. This is only my second complete quilt (the third top I’ve pieced). And just like last time, the machine quilting was so much fun!

I have the thread to quilt Quilt 2 now, but first I need to whip up a little bag for a birthday surprise. I’ve got the pieces cut, I just need to sew it together (my first adventure with interfacing!).

And finally, but certainly not least, I got lovely fabric in the mail today! I won a giveaway at Very Kerry Berry this week, and got these gorgeous Art Gallery FQs in the mail today. The pale one on top has got the better of my camera, I think – it’s very pretty in person. I think I might need a pretty lunch bag of my own, too!

Linking up at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for my Whoop Whoop!, TGIFF at Missy Mac Creations this week, and Richard’s LAFF. Also linking up with Quilts are For Giving’s Tuesday linky party, and 100 Quilts for Kids.

A finished object!

That’s right, I finally finished my cutting mat bag. For a ‘simple’ project, this certainly took a lot of time and caused several headaches. Note to self: next time I think “That’s easy, I can wing that!”, take it as a warning sign.

Here’s the outside. I love that swirly tree fabric (Ikea, home dec weight). I made two sides (you can see them in this post), each a sandwich of swirly trees, a cheap fleece blanket for ‘wadding’ and a leaf print for the inside. I sort of bound them together to cover the raw edges and create a gusset for extra space (I didn’t cut my sides big enough).

I ‘quilted’ the outside fabric to the fleece following the swirly tree lines. It’s my favourite bit of the whole project 😀 I was worried I’d mess it up, but actually, this went perfectly first time (unlike all the ‘simple’ things like cutting bits the right size!).

There are pockets on the inside to hold rulers (you can see them better in this post), and the mat slips in between.

This was one of those projects where every simple little thing went wrong and had to be re-done or bodged improvised, but I got there in the end! It does the job it’s meant to and it looks cute, so I won’t argue 🙂

The final stages of this bag were causing a bit of a blockage in my sewing mojo. It just wasn’t going right, but I didn’t want to start a new project because I didn’t want to change the machine settings (lazy, right?). Now it’s done, I feel so much better and want to sew All The Things!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a Whoop Whoop!, and TGIFF over at Stop That Owl this week.

Baby’s first quilt – finished!

My first finished quilt! Go me!

Stats:

A variation on a Trip Around the World quilt, made with strips from a Kona Solids Classic jelly roll and Moda Snow. Machine quilted in a square double spiral, using King Tut thread in Cleopatra. Binding: Benartex Scribble Multi. Backing: from the Very Hungry Caterpillar range. The quilt finished at 34″ square.

Lessons learned:

Accurately cut pieces are vital if you want to achieve an accurately pieced result! I pre-washed my jelly roll strips, which left me with frayed edges, which meant my squares are far from square. They also don’t line up – I didn’t know about pinning my seams to help them match up. My borders are wavy, because I measured the edge of the quilt, not the middle.

Machine quilting turned out to be much easier than I feared. I attached the binding by machine, too, and that worked out ok. On my old sewing machine, I had no seam guide, so if I was using the walking foot, I couldn’t easily measure the seam allowance properly. On my new machine, I do have a seam guide, so next time I’ll be able to sew an accurate 1/4″ seam and use the walking foot.

I love the binding fabric, and the backing is super cute and cheerful, but I wouldn’t use them together again. They’re too busy together. I should probably have used a single-colour stripe for the binding instead.

Now don’t think I’m putting myself down for writing this! I’m a scientist, after all, and part of my job is to analyse, to learn, and to do better next time. I love the quilt I’ve made, and I love it even more for all the lessons I learned making it 🙂

Linking up with Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, TGIFF at Quokka Quilts, and Richard’s LAFF!