Two years ago I attended a patchwork and quilting course for a birthday present, and then spent some money on a very pretty set of fabric. I was intending to turn this fabric into my first quilt but it took some time before I decided what I was going to do. My main problem with deciding was that despite being a beginner, I’m overly ambitious and wouldn’t have been that happy with simple squares and that I get bored easily so a repeating pattern was never really going to float my boat. After spending a lot of time on social media, I started to get a feel for the type of quilts that float my boat (generally very technical ones). So I settled on doing a sampler style quilt, because it would let me practice all sorts of techniques, and let me do it a bit at a time
My first blocks were some 6″ squares from the blocksnswaps blog. It was a challenge – some of the pieces were tiny and I hadn’t yet realised how tiny 1/4″ is. Neither blocks are actually 6″ squares. I’ll square them up one day. My favourite part is still the choosing the fabric.
The next time I sat at my machine I made two tile blocks from sewmamasew and a Poseidon’s Hall block from the 2015 fabri-quilt new block blog hop, designed by sarah from 123Quilt. The tile blocks were quite fun to make, but the Poseidon’s Hall block was tricky. I find the cutting of pieces pretty laborious, and don’t get me started on the trimming of the HST’s. I guess that’s what makes it so precise though. In hindsight my fabric choices for this block are not exactly brilliant – it doesn’t have enough contrast, but hey ho. This was my first attempt at chain piecing, and I attempted both pressing open and towards the dark side and decided that I like pressing seams open in most cases.
And then last weekend I tackled flying geese. I found a brilliant set of tutorials on the sewing directory which I will definitely be using again going forward. I made both blocks described. I cut all the pieces first and then went and took a break before coming back to do the sewing, and this is a method I will be doing again. These are possibly my favourite blocks so far. The points aren’t perfect but I like the colours. I had recently bought some extra neutral, low volumeish fabric for backgrounds.
I had a whole empty day last Sunday, so I got my sewing machine out. I recently had an idea about what to do for my first quilt, but made myself promise that I would finish my teacosy first.
I started making a teacosy about three months ago. I wanted to make a quilted object that I would use and that I could just have a go at all the different techniques on, so I bought some insulated batting to play with. I was using the tutorial from quiltingjetgirl as a starting point. Her tutorial is for a reversible teacosy and I decided that for the moment that’s probably not necessary. So I mostly used it as a size guide. I used the sizing for the larger teacosy.
In my first session of sewing I pieced together two panels. I cut some right angled triangles – I think half square triangles in quilting lingo – and then pieced them together as pinwheels. I did this in strips, so each panel was three strips of triangles. I really enjoy the process of patchwork, of the cutting shapes, and choosing colour combinations and then seeing the patterns evolve as you sew them together again. The pinwheels were quite tricky to match together. If anything I got worse as I went a long. I definitely need to rethink how I cut the fabric. I don’t have a lot of space so when cutting from large sheets of fabric, some of it hangs off the table. This can then move and distort when I’m cutting it. Today I tried cutting on the floor – this was also pretty tricky. I couldn’t quite get the right angle.
So once I’d got them pieced, it was time to quilt them together. It took me so long to figure out how to put a walking foot on my machine. I managed to dislodge the automatic needle threader (and no I still don’t know how it works). Eventually I got it going again and began quilting the first panel. And I hated it. The tension was wrong and the thing warped quite a bit and it was generally all a bit frustrating. With hindsight at least some of these problems would be solved if I a) bought some of the spray glue to baste it together properly and b) maybe practiced beforehand. But I’m impatient and cheap (the spray glue is expensive). And at this point I just put it away to deal with another day.
So when I got my machine set up this time, I just blitzed the quilting. Somewhere along my reading travels I read that if you quilt the lines in opposite directions it helps with the warping. And it definitely helped but this half was even less well basted so it still didn’t go that well.
And then I had to learn how to bind the quilted halves. A quick google threw up this tutorial from cluckclucksew. I chose this one because it looked simple and didn’t include any hand sewing. The instructions were really easy to follow and it was a great way to get very neat corners. My biggest problem was I didn’t take enough care with the seam allowance when I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt. This meant when I was sewing it to the back it was really hard to get it to line up with the edge of the binding on the front of the quilt.
My teapot must be incredibly fat, because despite having used the larger sizing, there was no way it would have fitted if I’d sewn the pieces straight together. So I added side panels. I cut two equilatrial triangles, where the edges are the same length as the height as the panels. I quickly quilted with a single line, then used the back fabric as the binding. This is definitely a quicker method but doesn’t look as good.
All that was left to do then was handstitch the panels together and I had a finished teacosy. No it’s not perfect, and it’s a funny shape (the side panels could have been smaller) but it keeps tea warm. And really that’s all a teacosy needs to do.
Last night was my craft night with the london sewing and craft group from Meetup. I’ve been going since about september last year. As I’ve more or less been self taught, my crafting has been a pretty solitary pursuit. So its really nice to meet up and see what other people are doing and also to show off my projects. My beadweaving is still pretty unusual among the people who go and despite them all being sewers and knitters (cross-stichers and crotcheters) they are always astounded at how much patience beadweaving appears to take. For me it is much easier to be patient and meticulous while beading than while sewing. But actually this is a post about sewing because last night I finally finished my second patchwork laptop case. I had done the majority over the weekend but there was a little hand sewing left.
I started both cases at easter, a small one for my personal tablet and a larger one for my work laptop. The smaller one was a bit more complicated. I’d seen a link on buzzfeed to ispydiy and an envelope laptop case. Their version is simply glued together, but I decided I wanted a lined and sewed laptop case. So I followed the outline and general shape. I’d learnt about log cabin patchwork at my quilting course and it was definitely my favourite technique of the day. I made three log cabin quilts and them joined them with some triangular pieces to get the outline I needed. I then joined it with the lining and hand sewed the triangles to the inside flap to seal it. The fabric choices for this one started with some fat quarters I bought in a shop in Bath. The tulip fabric is my favourite and was my starting place. I also had the flox afbric and the red star fabric. I bought the dotted fabric and paisley pattern along with the plain green. The others came from my stash of fabrics apart from the yellow which came from my mothers stash. I was trying to keep it quite fun and interesting but also to match the colours of the tulips with the red star fabric. This was pretty hard but I like the way it looks.
For the second case I simply made a large log cabin rectangle. Which I joined at the edges to make a case and added a lining and zip. This one is slightly more sedate colour wise. I started with the owl (again from bath) and the chinese print. Both had a cream background so I chose other prints with either cream bases or blue/black tones. The odd flashes of red/pink and the bright green/blue of the paisley really stand out.