Friday 30 September 2016

Sending and receiving

At the beginning of the month I showed you the One Hour Basket that I made for the Modern Quilters Ireland summer swap. I also told you how happy I was with my make. I even wrote a tutorial on how to make a tartan panel like the one I used for my basket.

Of course it is exciting to participate in a swap. Getting a partner assigned to make for, seeing her (it is usually "her") mosaic, thinking of what to make, and how, and in what colours, and which exact fabrics to use. Then the making. And the being pleased. Followed by thinking about the extras. What should be included, and what is too much - you can guess that this was my first swap, and I did worry about getting it right...

But in all that I did forget about receiving!!
Of course I was one of the partners, too. Putting up my mosaic. Stating my likes and dislikes - this also wasn't done without a lot of thinking. This time about how to describe accurately what I do and don't like, but at the same time not putting my partner into a spin with (perceived) critical demands... Oof!!

Anyway, of course it all came right in the end. I did receive a basket for myself. And it was PERFECT for me! Thank you again, Beatrice @frogsandsprogs!!

I love the colours, the prints, the structure. And the cards and scraps were just brilliant!
I have it in constant use, too, with a new project:

But I have to tell you about that another time. She (another "her") definitely deserves her own post...
 of course!


Friday 16 September 2016

Tartan panel for pouches or baskets - a tutorial

A full list of my tutorials can be found on the Tutorials page.

Recently, I have made my own version of the 1 hour basket.
A (free) tutorial for the 1 hour basket used to be available on Craftsy, and as the title says it is a fast make. The basic basket uses just two fabrics, one for the outside, one for the lining, and construction is straightforward. I would think most (somewhat) experienced sewists would indeed make such a basket quickly, if maybe not quite in one hour.

For the recent Summer Swap organised by the Modern Quilters Ireland it was decided that we were making a 1 hour basket for each other. Of course (!) I am not one to make a simple basket, though.
My partner indicated a few of her likes, but I found it very hard to decide what to do to make the basket interesting.

The Design

In the end I went and got out my design pad and pencils, and started drafting some ideas. Putting anything on paper seems to get the ideas flowing, isn't it odd how the mind works?! I went from curves and circles, to squiggles and improv, and on to checks and tartans! I started to like the ideas better and better... Then I decided to put a twist on it, and put the tartan at an angle. A firm idea settled in my head:

I played around with the details some more. I wanted to include a larger repeat while the pattern needed to be large enough to still sew, so I drafted the tartan a few times to different sizes on a scale image of the visible part of the basket panel (not including the part that would form the base) to get the proportions right:

I then worked out how to go about sewing it. Strip piecing was the obvious solution since I didn't fancy sewing each individual little piece for fear of losing it (down the throat of the machine even!), or losing track of where each piece was to go. Unpicking such tiny pieces would result in having to throw them away and cutting anew, too.

Constructing the Tartan Panels

Two strip sets were made:

In this case the left strip set was with 1" grey strips and 2" yellow strips (cut sizes), and the right strip set was made with 1" yellow and 2" red strips, using alternately a dark and a lighter red.
Then the sets were cross-cut, and sewn together again into a large panel. The yellow/grey set was cross-cut 1" wide, and the yellow/reds set was cross-cut 2" wide.

I had worked out what size my panel needed to be, and I stitched the panel to be larger than needed. After a while I did cut some of the angle at one side to make sure I made the panel long enough at the edge, and then continued until I had enough tartan made for my basket:

Pressing in between the construction steps was absolutely essential. At first I thought that opening the seam allowances would be best, since it would reduce bulk. But after sewing only one cross seam I had to conclude that it was near impossible to match the cross seams that way (that was the only time that the seam ripper came out). So I went back and pressed my seams alternately left and right for one strip set, and alternately right and left for the other strip set. This made my seams nest perfectly, just what I wanted!
After sewing the cross seams I went back and alternated the direction of the seam allowances in each cross patch, making sure that the seam allowances at each corner were lying in a circular direction. A lot of fiddling, and precision pressing, but perfect results!

From the large panel I cut two strips to the size needed for the basket, one for each side:

After joining them with a top and bottom panel of the background fabric, I ironed on interfacing to the back for some firmness, and layered it up with wadding. The layers were secured in place by a line of "in the ditch" stitching along the panel seams:

Hand quilting a few lines with perle cotton finished the parts for the basket:

The pieces for the basket were only cut to size after the stitching was finished, though I left the last hand stitches at the very edges of the pieces until after they were trimmed to avoid cutting through the thread!

Constructing the Basket

Putting the basket together after all this was a very quick job in comparison!
Saying that, I DID add some small improvements to the construction:
- I shortened the handles from 9" to 8" since I found the longer size gave quite long, floppy handles
- I had the fabric for the handles interfaced (I used some offcuts of the main fabric panels, so that was quite by accident) and I was glad I did
- I "back stitched" the lining to the top seam allowance (I'll have to do a technique post for that, it's great!) which made it much easier to turn the top over neatly - see upper stitching line at the top of the lining only in image below
- I top stitched the edge of the basket a bit lower than the instructions suggested, it meant that the top stitching was hidden in the seam between the panels - see lower stitching line in the lining in image below - neither of these construction lines of stitching distract from the clean lines of the outside

So there you have it:

I was so happy with the result that I found it hard to send it on its way, but I can tell you that my partner was very happy to receive it, and that's what it's all about isn't it?!

Though I may have to make another one to keep!

Happy sewing (of course)!


Monday 5 September 2016

The end of summer and Happy New Year

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

"WHAT??!!!" Well, I find the start of September more like the start of a new year than the first day of January! Let me explain.

While our calendars all change with January, every year without fail, in most other aspects it does not feel like the start of something new. The schools have days off from a few days before Christmas right through to several days into January. And then they all go back to where they were before Christmas! Same class, same school, same books, same dark, cold days! The only difference is that number that designates the year - and even that seems to catch on only after a week or more - or am I the only one writing it wrong for at least three weeks after it is supposed to have changed?!

On the other hand, September brings change right from the start (and often a few days early, too):
New school or at least a new school year,
New school uniform, not yet baggy and worn,
New school books, all crisp and newly covered in undamaged plastic,
New copies (notebooks), all those new starts on blank pages!
New routines, especially after being used to no routines for those long summer months,
And even, it seems, a change in the weather with spider webs and mushrooms popping up everywhere!
And, for me at least, a new start after the unstructured days of summer. Being on my own much of the day after waving them all out the door early in the morning. Free to make my own plans...

So this September sees me making resolutions. And writing on the blog again. And sewing, so I'll have something to write about, too!
It is early days yet, and I am still adjusting to the changes to my days. But there are blog posts being planned, and patterns, and sewing, and tutorials...

All in all a NEW START.

And to show that I have not been completely idle over the summer:

This interpretation of the 1 hour basket - a free pattern that used to be on Craftsy - will be winging its way to my secret #mqisummerswap swap partner in the coming days... It will be hard to let go!

Happy sewing,