Friday, 28 September 2012

Feeding the fabric habit

Unfortunately I am buying a heck of a lot of fabric.  I just can't seem to stop myself.  It is as if I am addicted to poring over fabric, picking and choosing, and then carrying home my haul, - and as if this buying malarkey is the beginning and end of all things sewing related for me.  I just can't understand why I buy so much fabric while I don't get round to anything that even leads up to actual sewing - whether that's dressmaking, patchwork, quilting or making other kinds of fabric item where you would, you guessed it, actually use up some of that confounding fabric!

Here's the latest culprit:

But then again (and that's where the whole problem arises) I am not mad at myself for buying two meters of this specific fabric - because I just couldn't leave it behind!

Here's a close-up of the details, already cut up into squares:

The colours on my monitor are a bit off, what looks like a grey background on some squares is a much more browny/creamy colour (not really my thing) and the background of the other squares is a lot closer to the real colour of a greeny blue.  A mid to dark colour that might be called petrol or teal.

The nice thing is that I've got quite a few bits of fabrics, some fat quarters, some with more mileage in it, that go very nicely with this blueish colour. 

I'm planning on putting framing stripes around these squares, in two rings. One a little lighter and the second a dark colour, probably alternating on half the squares.

I am not sure if I will use the beige coloured squares as well or only the green/blue ones.

I also love the borders between the squares but these stripes aren't very wide.  If I have lots of fabric left then I might be able to use this part of the fabric as well (possibly for another project, not sure yet).  My plan for the squares patchwork does mean that these stripes disappear in the seam allowance.  Shame that.

I was so inspired by the fabric itself that I just had to buy it.  Yes, I'm feeding my habit but...

Picking through my fabric haul at home, putting together combinations of colours and patterned fabrics - it does make me very happy.  I think it's the wonderful potential and lovely promise of it all: with these many different fabrics to hand I can really indulge in all sorts of ideas and plans.

It would be kind of nice to come through with the occasional project (so I can stop feeling quite so guilty and self-indulgent. That more than anything else) but I fully expect to one day decide that I'm completely fed up and in a funk, and therefore need to radically reduce the vastness of my stash.  I'm sure I will make other people very happy by donating the lot (just talking about the excess, not the whole lot of it!) to those friends who are not in the same boat and would like some free fabric, or otherwise the local charity shop.  One day...

Not any day soon though.  For now I'm keeping it all to myself to play around with and indulge.  Sorry.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Coarsewoven patchwork - how to put it together

This turned into a bit of a tutorial - based on all the drawings I came up with.  I thought that I could easily demonstrate how to sew this coarse woven block together with the help of a couple of pictures but that would have fallen short.

So here goes.

Chose three fabrics, cut them into a few strips of equal width. Pick the fabric to use for the vertical strips and cut these into lengths of four times their width.

You may want to cut a couple of squares off the other two strips (one of one colour and two of the other if you're making one block to try this out).  Sew these three squares to a vertical strip each, like so:

Always make sure to press seams open before sewing over them (if you never tried patchwork before: pressing seams open makes a huge difference. You'll be glad you bothered. Honestly)

Put the two strips aside and work with the single strip and square unit.

Attach two vertical strips to either side - but not for the entire length. This is where the partial seams come in - and it's these partial seams that makes this block come together so smoothly.

Start at the top and sew down about three quarters. You want to leave the stepped end open with enough room so you can easily sew another fabric against the end of what are, for now, the outer strips. That's for later though. For now just sew down about three quarters. Or two thirds if you prefer, it doesn't make much of a difference.

I drew in a light grey line where my partial seams end. The broken lines mean seams.

The graphics show the outer strips bent outwards, that's meant to show those ends being loose and not sewn against the inner, central strip yet. Not sure if this makes sense.

Next, sew the strip of the upper colour (bolded in the graphics) against the top of the three strips. I didn't bother cutting the horizontal strips to the right lengths but daisy-chained all my four motifs onto the continuous horizontal strip and then rotary cut them on the mat after that.

Then sew another two vertical strips against the outer sides, again with a partial seam.

Continue in this way (alternating vertical strips and horizontal strips working with the first two colour fabrics only) until you added four horizontal strips.

The next step gets a bit more interesting. This time attach one of the two strips with the square of the third fabric already attached. You no longer have to do a partial seam, you finally get to sew an entire seam in one go!

If you would like to make more than one block/motif at the same time you will want to attach the second block to the side of the first.  The broken line on the right is meant to show that this is a horizontal strip that is really longer than the square I drew.

Now flip the whole thing over so your first horizontal (bolded) strips are at the bottom and the side with your third fabric horizontals are at the top (the ones in purple/blue). You want to sew the third colour strip against the top of the three vertical strips.  I am showing one of the three vertical strips with a round edge, that's just meant to show that this side has not yet been sewn to the neighbouring vertical strip.

The next bit you get to do, finally!, is to close the partial seam where I drew the red rectangle in. I should have really done another graphic but I'm sure you get the idea. You need to close the first partial seam all the way down once you attached the second purple strip. Once that partial is fully closed you can attach the next purple/blue strip*, close the next partial seam and so on until you are done.

*: I am saying purple/blue strip because the colour looks purple on one monitor, but blue on another. Go figure.

Please let me know if the drawings and my description makes sense.

I loved sewing this. It was so much fun.

When I make enough progress with this project I will post about what it is going to be. Fingers crossed it pans out the way I imagine and hope.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Coarsewoven patchwork - the photos

I already posted these pictures to Google+. This block is so much fun to put together, it's like a jigsaw puzzle! I just love this.

Originally I found this block layout at Quilters Cache.  Googling it just now found another example that I love for the use of different fabrics in the vertical stripes and the same fabric in the horizontals, top and bottom. This is from the 1900s! Link to the University of Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art.

I am not yet going to say what I will use these for, but I did make two of them:

Here is another photo showing a close-up: 

The colours are not true to reality (well, except for the black). The patterned purple of the vertical strips is pretty much the same purple as of the unicoloured horizontal strips. They are both less grey-blue and more 'proper' purple.

The secret to putting these together lies in partial seams. At least this is my solution.

I found this block at Quilters Cache. There the bottom "steps" have to be sewn in in one go, in a zig-zag. I haven't tried it but it strikes me as really fiddly and utterly frustrating. I'm not terribly accurate so this would be all kinds of wonky!

I couldn't be bothered to even try.

But partial seams, on almost all the vertical strips, worked like a charm!

Click through to the tutorial I drew up because it's easier shown than explained.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Craftsy online class

Look what I just found on that clever thing called the Internet!

Craftsy do online classes, more specifically sewing classes!  And I enrolled myself in a particularly clever one called 'Jean-ius' or how to reverse engineer your favourite jeans!

Woohoo!  I'm so excited. This is brilliant! I've wanted to do a trousers sewing class for ages but found that they're pretty expensive, or even that the one I could have done didn't have enough people interested and therefore got cancelled.  Such a disappointment.

But here we go: can't do it physically?  Do an online class!

Those good folk at Craftsy deserve a mention:

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Those projects

Okay, I just updated my Ravelry page.  Lots more photos.

And here is my newest Work in Progress, started just yesterday:

Summer break

I've been away for a while, close to five weeks, and I missed my life.  I'm really glad to get back to it.

While away and providing support before and after my parent's hospital stay as well as flat-hunting, I did have lots of time to knit.  Which is nice.  I am surprised that I managed to not just start four projects - but also finish them!  Plus another two that were already works in progress.  I'm really chuffed with myself!

Now I just need to photograph the results so I can post those to Ravelry as well as blog about them all.  Looking forward to that.

And I managed to find a new handbag last week (first week back) that I actually like better and better the more I look at it.  I just hope it works well in its purpose.  The straps are a touch slippery and I sure hope that this is not going to be a problem.  I also can't submerge huge amounts of stuff in it, let alone my crafts projects so I will have to carry a separate project bag.  That's not a bad thing in itself.

Here is the bag:

And just to show scale, with a sock (I have small-ish feet):

Yes, this is one of the new socks

It is a cream colour with glossy black and silver metal bits.  I'm not actually fond of cream, though I love the other colours, but here the effect is slightly vintage or retro, and I love it!

The other thing I'm happy about is that I managed to iron three linen/linen mix blouses last night. This includes my last two sewing projects: the silver grey top and the black and white tunic.  Both hold up well to wearing and washing - and even ironing!  I am delighted.  It wasn't even that bad to have to iron them - but only because I am looking forward to wearing both again and can't wait to give them another outing.

As long as I sew things that I actually like it will motivate me to keep going.  Nothing worse than getting stuck with unsatisfactory progress on your latest projects.  Fingers crossed.