I’m currently away on a dog-sitting mission in Dorset, so I couldn’t resist paying a visit to Hansons in Sturminster Newton. It’s quite the Aladdin’s Cave of crafts! I didn’t really have anything particular I was looking for (and when has that ever stopped anyone shopping anyway?), but in the back of my mind, I recalled the fund-raiser coffee morning for the Riding for the Disabled Association I’d been invited to by the local sewing group I joined last Monday. Part of it will involve a tombola with bags as prizes, and when I saw some really great novelty fruit and veg prints, I had a bit of a *ping!* moment.
How cool are these? Definitely the kind of thing to use as the feature fabric on shopping bags, I thought. A bit more rummaging and pondering and I came up with four toning solids and an earthy-looking brown blender (Makower’s Spraytime):
This, I felt, could become something. I added a metre of cotton batting to the pile for good measure and proudly carried my finds home (after getting hopelessly lost in Blandford while looking for the vets).
After playing around a little with the numbers, I cut each of the novelty prints into two 10.5 x 19″ rectangles (the FQs were really generous!), attached them to each end of a rectangle of brown Spraytime, lightly quilted the result with straight lines, sewed up the sides and boxed the corners to make my outer bag. The solids made very nice coordinating liners, and I finished the raw edges around the top with a binding of more brown and added brown handles. It didn’t occur to me until I was part-way through bag #2, but the brown really does look like the nicest kind of soil, especially after I quilted it with brown variegated thread! (No, I have no idea why I own brown variegated thread, but this weekend I was really glad that I did!).
For variety, I quilted the print area with perpendicular straight lines – happily again I discovered that I (mostly) had coordinating thread suitable for each colour. Yay for random purchases!
I think they look really neat as a set:
In total, 12 FQs, 1.5m of brown Spraytime and 1m of wadding was just enough to make all four bags (it almost wasn’t when I messed up cutting the brown a bit, but luckily I managed to gather enough off-cuts to make binding and handles for all of them in the end). My plan is to donate two of them (probably the lemons and carrots) to the RDA coffee morning and keep the other two. I’m really proud of how they came out. I think I will also write up a tutorial/pattern for them (with slight size adjustments so they’ll be more US FQ friendly). They’re pretty easy to make and I had a lot of fun with them.
And literally in the nick of time, too. I finished the binding mere minutes before I had to go out, but it’s done. There’s some bits I would change and some bits I’m not happy with (aren’t there always?) but on the whole I’m pretty damn proud of it.
The backing is a Marvel fabric I found in Birmingham, which I just couldn’t resist, and I used left-over yellows from the piecing to make a scrappy binding. It finishes at approximately 36 x 48”, which seems to have become my preferred size for baby quilts. Taken all together, it probably took me less than a week to make, but I was lucky I had the chance to really focus on it and keep the momentum going, or it would never have gone done in time.
Some of my favourite bits:
Gotham’s graffiti artists are an educated bunch! 😀 I found this equation fabric in a shop in Beaumaris on Anglesey and couldn’t resist scooping it up.
I’m pleased with how this tower came out, it was a bit that was really bothering me about how it would go together and it changed shape quite a bit during the design phase. It was paper-pieced and ended up working well, even with tiddly pieces.
Right in the middle there is probably the most awkward partial seam in the whole quilt. It definitely needs sorting if there’s ever a Gotham 2.0. (It’s not stained, that’s just drips from the iron.)
Perhaps designing several blocks of 1/4 x 1/2” finished bits was not the best idea. I know right?! Who knew?! It came close to working but isn’t right, so I’d do that differently next time.
For the quilting, I didn’t really have time to do anything terribly fancy (and I didn’t want to fight the busy buildings), so I ended up with organic straight lines for pretty much everything. I used different shades of grey Guetermann polyester on the buildings, working mostly vertically but also following the shapes of roofs as applicable, the bat signal light effect was done with variegated yellow cotton from YLI and the sky was horizontal lines in blue polyester. I used Superior’s Bottom Line in light grey for all of the back, so that it would hopefully not detract too much from Iron Man et al. Mostly everything was fine, although I did struggle with a bit of puckering and shifting when it came time to quilt the sky, especially towards the top, which was extremely annoying. I suspect an issue with my pinning, or perhaps it all got loosened up when I was shifting the quilt about during the building quilting (I used the walking foot almost exclusively). So, things to work on. Always things to work on! But this one definitely counts as a triumph for me, especially given how much I had to hurry to get it done.
Fabric architecture is where it’s at for me right now. I’m currently building a Gotham-ish cityscape, complete with bat signal, as a baby quilt. The design has been sitting on my laptop in Inkscape for a few weeks now, but I’ve only just in the last few days had a chance to implement it.
This is my approximate design. Lil bit on the busy side, eh! From a design point of view, the important features are the buildings. The HST background is kind of a placeholder – the intention was always to create a “night sky” look with midnight blue/purple/blue gradient, using randomly oriented HSTs to create more movement and texture. After I’d drawn this, I was rather intimidated and unsure where to start with it. Part of me wanted to start with the buildings – they’re in the foreground, after all! But because of all the partial HSTs between the buildings and the fact that several buildings required a degree of foundation piecing, sorting the HSTs out first made more sense. I had three midnight blue FQs (one solid, two with rather lovely star prints) earmarked for the night sky, and I needed to know how far down I needed bring them to create the look I wanted.
I used two different purples to bridge the gap between the midnight blue and the dark blue that’s mostly around the buildings. Once I had a good grasp of what colours each row of HSTs consisted of, I started assembling buildings and putting the top together.
A good start! There’s some serious fiddle in this quilt; quite a few bits finish at only 1/4” wide. Luckily, the Pfaff is fantastic for this stuff. I’ve equipped it with the straight-stitch plate to stop smaller pieces from being eaten by the needle hole, and everything is going together really well, barring instances of user error! More about that later, though.
I started off intending to just use the six grey FQs I bought in Birmingham, but I quickly realised that I wanted a greater variety of greys, so I dug out the left-over Shimmer 2 FQs I used for my sister’s Weekender bag, and picked out the ones I thought would work. The nice thing about using these is the fact that they add glitter and a sci-fi impression that I would not have got from the prints I started off using.
I’m glad it’s a decision I made early on, before I’d got too far across the quilt. I’m trying to keep the metallic prints more in the centre, though. You can see the sky gradation happening here; I’m quite pleased with it, although I think I could have done with one more FQ of midnight blue and nixxed the all-purple row. I’d say “maybe next time,” but that’s a big maybe!
The problems with making this have been a combination of a lack of time, leading me to rush at it a bit, and the fact that I didn’t really write a proper cutting/piecing guide for myself. I have a (occasionally hilariously wrong) cutting list and for piecing I have my laptop sat on my sewing table so that I can squint at the .svg in Inkscape and try to figure out what goes where. It’s not ideal! So there have been… issues. More haste less speed and all that. I’ve demonstrated that adage frequently in the last few days, given my habit of joining things the wrong way around or upside down. The tall building on the far right in the pic above is a good example; it somehow managed to cause me a lot of hassle because I hadn’t formulated a sensible plan for piecing it, and an extra-special “duh!” moment happened when I thought I’d got the whole thing all done, only to lay it out on the floor, step back and then groan loudly when I realised that I’d managed to join the very top layer on upside down without noticing. I did briefly consider leaving it, but then I sighed wearily, grabbed the unpicker, carefully excised it, flipped it over and put everything back again. Ufff.
However, I feel like I’m on the home straight with this now, barring too many more stupid mistakes. Two more buildings are nearly done and I hope the two remaining ones won’t cause any trouble. *crosses fingers* Joining everything together has been interesting too; there’s a lot of partial seams and the HSTs are no help in this regard, although they look so good that I wouldn’t want to lose them. I am in abject terror of someone asking me for the pattern because I’m not sure I can make sense of how I have gone about putting this together. Between the foundation piecing, HST craziness, partial seam nightmares and the fiddliness of some of the buildings, I wouldn’t know where to begin trying to explain it to someone else!
Oh, and my cutting table now looks like this:
This is what 50 Shades of Grey was all about, right? 😀
It seemed such a good idea at the time. I was in need of a decent-sized quick-ish quilt for a gift (…because when aren’t I, apparently?), and I saw a great pattern in the QuiltNow quilting magazine I’d picked up as lunch-break entertainment the other week. Generally I am not a follower of patterns, but I liked the look of one in particular – Loominous by Lynne Goldsworthy. Importantly, it looked straightforward and quick to assemble. (It was. It is a nice pattern! Lynne did a great job!) A note in the margin suggested using shot cottons instead of the prints used in the original. I read the requirements list. 25 FQs? Ah-ha! I have 25 FQs of shot cottons, I thought to myself. Perfect! 15 of them were a bundle bought a while ago, I think they’re by Rowan. The other 10 were the stripey ones I picked up more recently from Calico Kate. Since they were all end-of-bolt pieces, I have no idea who they’re by.
I started off feeling fairly positive about my plan. Having played around with the FQs as a collective, I knew that I could group them into fairly pleasing colour families, so I got out the rotary cutter and set to cutting. It wasn’t until I got to piecing that the doubt started to creep in. The pattern appeared to rely on having a good distribution of prints and colours, and with the extremely broad colour distribution – everything between (almost) white and (probably) black, that was going to be… interesting. Regardless, I ploughed on, hoping that I was wrong and that this would be one of those “hate it now, love it later” projects.
Oh dear. No. Very No. Too many colours. Far too many. Just… argh. The bright pastels (is that a Thing?) just can’t stop fighting against the murkier darks, and the whole thing is an eyewatering mess. Some individual colours might be fine, but some of them are really quite weird, especially en masse. I’m cross with myself because it’s a waste of fabric (the stripey ones, anyway; the possibly-Rowan solids were not actually very nice quality at all – we’re not talking Oakshott here by any stretch of the imagination!), it’s damaged my self-concept of being usually fairly good at colour use, and I *still* don’t have something ready as a present.
Shortly after I took this photo, the whole lot fell off the wall, possibly under the weight of all the Fail. (It has convinced me that I *NEED* a proper design wall, though. I am so over trying to arrange blocks and assess designs on the floor – it just doesn’t cut it.)
So, what now? Well, I don’t want to completely waste all the fabric and effort in this, so I’m going to try splitting the blocks into smaller, more coordinated groups, to see if that improves things. If it works out, I shall donate the resulting quilts to Project Linus; I know they’re always in need! If it doesn’t work…. back to the drawing board, I guess?
…Or give me some other patchwork fabric. That works too. Yeah, I wonder how many times that pun’s been used? Oh well! :p I seem to be failing hopelessly at not buying fabric right now, although at least a smidgen of it is for a commission. I’m not sure if that makes it better or not! A big contributor to my stash was the Sewing For Pleasure show at the Birmingham NEC a few weeks ago. 11 fat quarters for £15? Yes. HELL yes. Please. I may have gone a bit nuts at that stand! Then there have been some more local purchases as well, including some lovely stripey shot cottons and some completely unexpected Liberty prints.
Sewing For Pleasure Purchases
The first stand to really suck me in and get me reaching for my wallet was Japan Crafts. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m rather partial to Japanese-related fabrics and crafts, so their selection of shiny fabrics initially drew me in. However, it was the sashiko supplies that really hooked me. Sashiko is something I have wanted to try for a while, and here was a stand selling nice bundles of everything needed to have a go! And a flexible attitude to mixing and matching supplies helped, too. I ended up walking away with two small and one large panel of pre-preprinted sashiko designs, plus a generously sized skein of sashiko thread.
I have a feeling my bundle was supposed to include needles too, but either I dropped them somewhere at the show or they got forgotten in the purchase kerfuffle, so I had to order some more, which was a bit annoying. Still, I’m pleased with the designs and looking forward to maybe sitting in the sun and doing some hand-sewing!
As mentioned, I found a stand doing a very good (by UK standards, anyway!) offer on fat quarters. I did not hold back!
Many of these were bought with a quilt already in mind, so I don’t feel too bad about them finding their way into the house. And I picked up plenty of yellows after discovering that it’s a really under-represented colour in my stash.
I also bought a few fabrics from other stands as well:
The Marvel superhero fabric will hopefully be the backing for a quilt for my cousin’s first baby, due in May. Also, I clearly cannot stay away from Moda’s Modern Backgrounds – I couldn’t pass up getting a couple of half-meter chunks. I’m just a sucker for equations on quilting fabric! Then some random fat quarters – I really liked the leaves in two different colourways and I love a good blue.
That was about it for fabric purchases, the only(!) other things I bought were some thread and a(nother!) FMQ foot for the Pfaff – the dynamic 6D spring foot – after thoroughly quizzing the staff on the stand to make sure that it would work on the QE 4.2.
They agreed that it would be fine and indeed they were right; it’s the foot I used to quilt Poppy’s Flower Garden and it seemed to work well, even though I threw silly things like fleece at it. On the right are some #8 pearl cottons, which I’ve wanted to play with for a while, and which have already been pressed into service, a random grab-bag of shininess from Oliver Twists that I just couldn’t resist and that does potentially have a project to go with if I ever manage to start it, and some Aurifil that I picked out for my sister’s wedding quilt, which is finally basted and ready to go under the needle.
The solid is Moda Bella in Royal Blue, and the prints are from Artisan Spirit’s Shimmer range, which I adore. The brief was for a royal blue/emerald green bed quilt and the design will be diamonds, which will hopefully look like they’re floating against the solid royal blue. It was a bit tricky to sort out designs and fabric choices with the client because she doesn’t live near me and she has no internet access, so I had to take photos and send them to a family member to show to her! But these are the prints she particularly earmarked and they go beautifully together. I wanted to try and get more green into the top in the sashing between the diamonds or by adding another print, but unfortunately every green we tried fought hard against the other fabrics. However, the Artisan Spirit range also has extra-wide fabric in a really great emerald green that I’ll put on the back, and I may bind it with green, too.
While hunting down the above, these somehow fell into my basket and followed me home:
Shot cottons! I think these are from Rowan, although I’m not 100% sure. I have two FQs each of the red/green, blue/orange, pink/silver and blue/gold, and just one each of the blue/silver and light blue. I’d like to find a project that will really show off the stripey-ness and shimmer of these fabrics, they’re very lush. Fortunately, they also go really well with a bundle of “plain” shot cottons I bought a little while ago, so I’ll probably combine them to make a decent-sized quilt. I think shot cottons are becoming my answer to the fact that I like the concept of a quilt with solids but the range of solids actually available to me (without having to order online) is horribly limited.
Lastly, I mentioned Liberty, didn’t I? And I haven’t shown off any Liberty yet, have I? Well now! Look what I found hiding out at Wheeler Fabrics in Machynlleth!
They’re got a small collection of luvverly Liberty prints in at the moment for a great price, mostly on the bolt but some as fat quarters. I’m afraid I have no idea what any of the prints are called, I just picked out the ones that really “spoke” to me. I love the sketchy look of this print and when I realised I was cherry-picking FQs of it out of the box, I figured it would make much more sense to just buy a big bit, so this ready-cut bit is ~1.5m.
So is this bit. With so many colours, it goes with lots of other prints really well. I’m sure I’ve seen it before online somewhere and I loved it, I just didn’t expect to find any practically on my doorstep!
I thought this print was a batik at first, it’s got that kind of organic look that demands a second glance. It’s rather darker IRL, but at least this picture shows the print on it. I bought half a meter.
Same print, different colourways. Half a meter of each.
And likewise here! A half-meter each of these. I love the bright version of this print, but there wasn’t much else among the bolts that teamed up well with it, other than the pixelly effort above. Still, it demanded to come home with me!
And these are three random fat quarters that just caught my eye. (Well, that purple would catch anyone’s eye, lol!) No real plans for these yet. I know they don’t go together, or with the other prints. That’s fine, they’re not expected to.
Finally there’s this. I didn’t buy this bit! I found it loitering in a pile in my hopelessly chaotic craft room, so I suspect it’s from mum’s fabric stash. It looks sorta-kinda a bit like a Liberty print but there’s no way to tell. It has a similar feel and weight to the Liberty prints I just bought and I think I can persuade it to get along with that punchy floral print, so they may end up in a project together.
So, that’s my recent haul, give or take a bit. And now I really ought to get back to work so I can justify all this wicked spending I’ve been doing! *pulls self away from the Liberty Craft Blog*
Usually I try and spread things out a bit into dedicated posts, but recently there’s been a fair amount of busy creating and not a vast amount of posting, so things have kind of snowballed. But in a good “yay things are finished” way, so that’s ok.
Baby Round The World
This is the finished quilt I posted about here. Not much to add other than binding, it was an easy finish. The only bit of drama was this:
Yep, that feeling when you cut all possible strips from your binding fabric and it still came up too short! Uff! Luckily, I had ends left over from the top, so I added in just a small piece of bubbly circles to fill the gap – job done. No, no pictures of the fill-in bit – I completely forgot.
It was an absolute pig to get together – it nearly killed me *and* my poor sewing machine! I’m fairly happy with it, however, and I’m still in complete love with the RK Shimmer 2 line, so that’s good too! But I’m going to need some time to forget how frustrating it was before I try making another one for me.
Poppy’s Flower Garden
It’s good to finally get this one done and handed over, I’ve had it on the back burner for too long. It’s for a friend’s little girl; by chance, they happened to be visiting our area this weekend and little Poppy’s third birthday was just a few days ago, so the timing couldn’t be better. Unfortunately, I hadn’t made any progress on it since I last mentioned it way back in August! After a hasty purchase of wadding (I wonder when I’ll finally cave and just buy a bolt?) and some frantic riffling through the stash for a backing (hello fleece!), I quilted up the top sans flower shapes with a FMQ flowers ‘n’ leaves ‘n’ stippling motif:
My hot pink variegated YLI thread was perfect for this project! Quilting on the fleece was a challenge because it’s so stretchy – it was hard to stop the quilt from puckering or distorting, I probably needed some stabilising straight stitching first before I started on the FMQ, but once the whole thing was done it looked alright. It’s interesting how much more obvious the quilting looks on the fleece side! After the quilting was done, I arranged all my petal shapes (once I’d finished folding the last ones), pinned them approximately in position and then used machine blanket stitch to fix them in place.
The flower centres were cut from some off-cuts from a strip roll and appliqued on with a zig-zag stitch.
The binding is yet more left-overs from a strip roll – you might recognise the prints from the Round The World quilt above! It goes with the front and the back, which makes me really happy, and the recipient seemed really pleased with it, so job’s a good ‘un! It’s always nice to get something off the UFO pile.
Wow. People were not joking about this bag being a challenge to put together and I haven’t even got to the point of trying to attach zips (still waiting for them to arrive) or assemble the whole bag yet (because see above). Heck, just buying the materials has been a challenge – trying to figure out how many meters of 44″ wide fabric is equivalent to umpty yards of 54″ wide fabric on the fly is not easy! So I rather over-bought on canvas and lining fabric. Whoops. At least I can always find a use for lots of solid dark-blue quilting cotton.
As mentioned previously, I used a quilt-as-you-go method for the outer body of the bag and I’m really pleased with how that worked out.
The Shimmer 2 prints are so cool! I kept the lighter ones for the main and top panels and used the darker ones for the pocket panels:
I love the texture of them!
To save on “pretty” fabric on the main panels, I only used the Shimmer 2 prints down to about 1-1/2″ below the top of the where the pocket panel would start, then I covered the whole bottom area with my chosen lining/piping/handles fabric, which is a plain dark blue. For the same reason, I also chose to use the lining fabric on the bottom panel, and this is the only place that I decided to use the iron-on vinyl.
After some thought, I applied the vinyl to the unquilted fabric and then quilted it onto the canvas/wadding. I think it’s more likely to stay put this way and it’ll provide good protection where it’s most needed.
Now that everything’s starting to come together, I’m really happy with the colours:
Looks quite smart! However, I’m rather less pleased that my machine started skipping stitches when I attached the pocket and piping to the main panels.
That’s really bad! Not sure what it’s down to – most of the stitching is ok, but it struggles and skips most over areas of extra bulk, like seams and the handles. It could be because I was using a piping foot for this and thus couldn’t use the Pfaff IDT system (built-in walking foot). Or possibly I need to switch up a needle size. Might be a speed issue, but I don’t think so – it seems to happen whether I go super-slow or not. Anyway, it’s something I need to sort out or the whole bag might come unraveled at a crucial moment! Also, I don’t like piping. Not even with a piping foot! *grumble* (Except that it looks really good on a finished item, of course.)
This is about as far as I can get with the bag now until the zips and bag feet show up. All the lining is cut out and interfaced (because I’m using patchwork-weight fabric) and I’ve added one pocket to one of the inner panels already:
This was a bit of a “happy accident” – I accidentally cut out the pocket panel linings too short at first and didn’t realise until I was trying to interface it. There would have been swearing, but then I realised that the two miscuts were perfect for making an inner pocket instead. Yay! The other panel is waiting for a zip for a zipper pocket.
If I don’t completely lose my rag making this bag for my sister, I have all the canvas panels ready-cut to make a second one for myself. It all depends on how the final assembly goes! But for now, I get to have a bit of a break while I wait for the rest of the bits to show up, and I’m off to a sewing show at the NEC tomorrow with my friends from Quilt Club. I’ll try not to spend too much! 😉
Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK, so I made a couple of gifts for mum that I hoped she’d like.
First up is a purse. My first go at making a purse for mum didn’t go all that well. However, I thought I could see how to fix what had gone awry, so I took a seam ripper to the failed attempt and rescued the zipped pockets, card pockets and magnetic snaps (important because I didn’t have any more suitable zips and no time to get replacements!). The first thing I did was to trim down the card pockets so that the total depth was much less, making the purse a bit more elegant. I also took about 1/4” off each side (after checking the width with a card), since I wasn’t planning to turn through and therefore didn’t need to allow for the seam bulk.
I re-did the lining and the outer cover (fortunately, the new fabric I chose for the outer goes really well with the red lining fabric!):
I used some much firmer interfacing for the outer cover (maybe a little too firm, but it’s come out ok) and a medium-firm interfacing for the lining. The whole thing holds its shape really well now.
I was really pleased with the exterior zipped pocket I’d added to the previous version, but wasn’t fussed about the contrast strip, so I just added the outer pocket without any extra decoration:
Luckily again, the gold-coloured zips go well with the new fabric I bought! Because of the reduced depth of the purse, I made the outer pocket shallower as well, but it’s still pretty roomy.
The interior pockets are much the same as before, but they sit much better now that they’re not all twisted out of shape!
Still plenty of room, hopefully!
To finish it off, I made some bias binding from left-over lining fabric (not a wholly enjoyable task, I have to say) and, after basting the layers together, added the binding all the way around the purse. Machine binding is, alas, something I’m still not terribly good at. Something to work on, definitely.
The next thing I made wasn’t really planned at all, it just kind of… happened! I had a whole bunch of 1-1/2” squares in yellow, cream and purple left over from a couple of different projects and I had my postage stamp template out because I’d just been using it for something else, so I started to arrange the squares on it with the purple in one corner, the yellow in the opposite corner and the cream between:
It must have been fated to work, since I only needed to cut two extra squares to make a full 10×10 layout! Once I’d made the postage stamp patch, it told me it wanted to become a cushion, so I rootled out some more of the cream fabric from the scrap box, added borders to bring it up to a sensible size (16” square), and quilted it with simple diagonal lines. To add a bit of a twist, the quilting is partly yellow and partly purple, to match the respective corners:
This is an effect I’m really happy with. Some simple quilted lines around the border to frame it, and a nice envelope back from some more scrap-box fabric and my surprise cushion cover was finished!
Mum seemed pleased with her presents, so that was a relief! It is quite a challenge crafting for someone you share a house with and who doesn’t really understand the concept of privacy…
Linking up with Oh Scrap! and Monday Making (when it’s live).
Mother’s Day is looming on the horizon and I know mum could do with a new purse and phone case. After my recent experiments with iron-on vinyl, I thought this would be a good practical application of it. I apologise for a lack of progress shots here; I was mostly fumbling my way through this one and forgot about my camera in the general stew of trying to figure out what the crap I was doing at any given moment.
After some rummaging around on the interwebs, I found a couple of tutorials (well, one that referenced another) that looked as though they might result in something mum would like using. However, neither is particularly clearly written, and during the later stages I ran into some definite issues, which were almost certainly made worse by my modifications to the general design but I think they would have caused problems anyway.
The tutorials I loosely followed are here and here. The initial stages of creating the card pockets and adding interfacing and vinyl to the outer layer went pretty smoothly, once I’d made a decision to convert all measurements (mostly) to inches – don’t get me wrong, I love me an SI unit, but not when all my quilting rulers are in imperial! However, I could only get hold of some mid-weight woven iron-on interfacing at the local shop, and I don’t think it has the firmness I was looking for. It’s odd stuff, I think it could be good for some things but it doesn’t work well here, unfortunately. I reckon even fusible wadding might have been a better bet.
I liked the idea of adding a flap, but didn’t like the idea of using a hairband, so I decided to use a flap plus a magnetic snap (which I installed the wrong way around because I can be quite daft at times). Initially I wasn’t going to bother with the patchy strip on the outside, but then decided that the outside really needed another pocket and realised that it was also going to be too short for a decent flap if I didn’t, so I used an unpieced strip of a contrasting fabric and added in a small lined pocket. That’s a bit I’m pretty pleased with, actually. The zip isn’t quite a concealed zip (I think it’s the wrong kind for that), but I’m quite happy with how the whole thing worked in the end.
I also didn’t like that the original tutorial didn’t bother to line the interior zipped pocket, so I arranged for a proper lining for mine, to match the lining of the purse and the outer zipped pocket.
Again, I’m pretty pleased with how that came out as a general concept. You could stash a LOT of loose change in there! And I added in an extra separator flap behind the other set of card pockets to act as a divider between… whatever, really. Notes and receipts, perhaps?
So, what went wrong?
Well, part of the problem is the depth that I left the card pockets at. I used a WOF strip cut it in half to make the two card holder strips, and measured the pockets (in cm) from one end as described in the tutorial because for this it didn’t much matter whether I used inches or cm as long as the pocket width matched the purse width. There was only a slight excess of fabric after all the pockets had been marked and folded, which I trimmed back to meet the shorter end, but the overall depth of the card pocket sections still seemed pretty deep – too deep, really.
I could probably have trimmed them back about 1″ and they would have been fine. I guess the original tutorial didn’t do this because they added a magnetic snap in that excess fabric? Maybe?
Anyway, that depth makes this “purse” begin to look more like a mini handbag – it’s giant! And even with the extra strip added to the outer cover, the outer still came up looking a bit short. So, not awesome. And that’s before I tried to make a pointed flap which didn’t really come out as I wanted because there wasn’t really enough fabric. The whole thing also feels really floppy, even with the vinyl on the outer cover. It really, really needs a firmer interfacing.
Lastly, there’s the way the outer, lining and pockets are joined together. In the tutorial, the pockets are basted to the liner, then the liner+pockets and the outer are placed right sides together and a seam is sewn around the edges with a gap for turning through. The whole thing is then turned through, pressed and topstitched to close the gap and give that all-important finished look and feel (the original tutorial only topstitches the turn-through gap, but my feeling is that the whole purse needs it, really). Fine… but. The folds of the card-holder pockets generate a LOT of bulk even when there’s only one layer, with no outer/liner and no zip to contend with.
Sewing a seam and then turning through creates a double thickness of an already chunky thickness of fabric; even the Pfaff threw up its hands in despair and disgust when asked to topstitch through that lot, and I don’t blame it! And the topstitching failure has made a right mess of the vinyl, too.
Lastly, turning vinyl-covered fabric through a small gap creates some really ugly creasing that’s just not something you’d want to show off to anyone. Bleh. Also, yuck. Do not do this.
A much better method (and one I might have used if I’d bothered to engage brain) would be to place the outer and liner wrong sides together after basting the pockets to the lining and go around them with some bias binding in a complementary colour; you would avoid massive excesses of seam bulk and zips and the finish on the outer layer would not end up creased to hell and back. This would also avoid the distortion of the lining and interior pockets caused partly by the big fat chunky seams.
In short, I’ve wasted a good day’s sewing and some nice materials to discover that this is definitely not a good way to make a purse! But it has been educational, and learning something new is rarely a bad thing. Or so I’m telling myself! :p I think it may still be possible to salvage something from this mess (I would be sorry to lose all my efforts on the card holders and zipped pockets), and I still need a Mother’s Day gift for Sunday, so I will be unpicking some of this to reuse in a more effective item. More to come soon, I hope!
I love a good experiment! I’m planning to make some items that I might want to use iron-on vinyl for, so I decided to order some and have a play with it to see what it can (and can’t) do.
I wanted to test how it looks when applied to fabric with a metallic element, and I wanted to see if it could be successfully applied over already-quilted fabric. Enter my test subjects, four 4″ quarter-square triangle blocks (which were themselves a test to see if I could make big enough QST units from 5″ charm squares for a different project – the answer was no!).
I grabbed four more suitable charm squares for the backs and some scrap wadding, then quilted my four little quilt sandwiches with some simple straight-line quilting:
Next, the vinyl! It’s easy to cut – there are helpful guidelines on the paper backing. The “sticky side” I found to be not actually that sticky, though that’s probably a good thing. If it were really sticky, it would be more likely to stick irredeemably to itself or be harder to apply to the fabric without annoying bubbles. The instructions tell you to place the peeled-off protective paper onto the vinyl to protect it during pressing, although you might also need a couple of bits of ordinary printer paper to protect your iron and ironing board from little bits of plastic poking out from the edges, which you will get unless you’re some kind of ninja-genius with a pair of scissors and are only dealing with regular shapes.
It appears to work ok on quilted fabric, although a fair bit of pressure is needed to seal it really well into the quilted grooves. The metallic red fabric looks better than I feared it would, though it has lost a bit of the sparkle effect. I think that’s the effect of making the whole thing shiny – it “flattens” the shine that was already there. Claims of durability were somewhat undermined by me scoring the vinyl quite easily with my thumbnail, although it was warm from the iron at the time. When the vinyl had cooled, it did seem more resistant to scratches, though I don’t think I would choose to use it for anything that would experience serious abrasion. I’m also not sure how much flexing it would handle without coming unstuck.
Here are the four mug rugs all finished and bound, with vinyl on both sides of each mat. I am not quite sure that I am completely sold on how it looks over the top of quilting, but it worked a lot better than I feared it might. I am not completely sure whether I will use it for the project I’m planning, but I think I will definitely use it for other things, such as more coasters or place mats. I like the idea of them being more easily wipe-able. And at least now I have a set of unique coasters for my cups of tea in my craft room – I can almost hear my cutting mats breathing sighs of relief!
And what’s the project that may or may not see the use of iron-on vinyl, you might ask? Well…
Oh yes! I’ve seen a few examples of Amy Butler’s (in)famous Weekender bag around the place, I really like the look of it, and my sister needs a birthday present next month and her old overnight bag has died a death (heck, I don’t technically need one but I kind of want one for me, too). My plan is to get hold of the firmest, sturdiest canvas I can find and then borrow Elizabeth Hartman’s quilt-as-you-go method, and I have spent some time tracking down helpful blog and forum posts to help me piece this beastie. If my sister is very lucky, I may well use my RK Shimmer 2 bundle for her one! I’m considering using the iron-on vinyl over the top of the quilted outer pocket panels and the underside of the bag to add a bit of protection and waterproofing (the rest will be fine with a good coating of scotchgard, I think), though I’m a little wary of how it will perform over a larger quilted area. The pattern only arrived today, earlier than I feared it would, so I have a good amount of time to make it before my sister’s birthday in the middle of March. Yay!