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Saturday, December 14, 2013

With A Little Help From My Friends...

...I can get a remarkable amount done!  Don't know what I'd do without them.  Look what came in the post today... all the way from South Africa

My friend Jenny, known as Button Mad on Facebook,button maker extraordinaire,  read the post where I said I might use a button as a closure on my bag.  Go look on my site, she said, and choose a button for your bag, and I'll send it to you.  Wasn't that kind?  And the big one is the one I chose; she has sent me a couple I might have to make a jacket to go with them... Check out her blog for some great tutorials using buttons in ways you might not have thought of before.  And of course, their website, for remarkable buttons.

And this is what my chosen button looks like on the fabric;

Now, all I have to do is make the second part of the closure, and the handle.  Jenny's gift makes this bag even more special.

I thought I'd make a bag to go with the waistcoat I showed you in this post, the one for my Mother in Law.  I wanted an unusual handle, and this time, used braid that my friend Clare Hedges had made for a different bag.  Because I wanted something a bit firmer than a single braid, I have stitched two lots  together using a plum coloured thread.  That has proved to be very effective, and goes quite nicely with the unusual colours of the African fabric. I'm now contemplating getting her to make me a tassel or two for the sides of my bag...check out what she does here

Thanks, guys.  I couldn't have done it without you. 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Quilting Continues...

...on my (now overdue) grand daughter's quilt.   I can't show you any images...but I have four different quilting patterns in each of the four main panels on the quilt, have left the sashing untouched, as yet, and am in the process of quilting the borders...three down, one to go.  So, instead of talking about it, I thought I'd show you a Haiku.  I've already written about the idea of Haiku, here, and said in the comments that I was thinking more about it.  This particular piece is an experiment, a sketch.  I had made the little quiltlet several months ago, using my own hand dyes, and it has been lying around, waiting to be quilted.  It reminds me of Highland fields and hills in autumn, and  I thought that I would quilt leaf shapes into it.  Then, I thought it might be interesting to draw them, I did.  (Remember this is very much work in progress; it will have a lot more done to it than this.).

Looking at it, I started thinking haiku...and wrote one, inspired by the colours and the leaves; here it is.

It is written in gold marker pen, and as such is quite difficult to photograph, but this gives you an idea.  It says;

Green turns brown and gold
Dances with the cold, wild wind
Lies in moulded piles.

There's a lot still to be done.  The drawing is a combination of that gold marker plus a brown Inktense pencil.  I'm trying to decide what to do...whether to work more in pencil, or in stitch.  I do think it needs More Leaves, but that will have to wait for now.  I also think that it needs some foiling at some point.  And hand stitch, not machine.  Fortunately, it's not a large piece at all (if I could reach it without dislodging the sleeping cat on my legs, I would measure it... .    If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave a comment.  I hope to get this finished before Christmas; it will be my pick up and put down when I feel like it piece of work for the moment.  A nice change from machine stitching my soon to arrive grand daughter's quilt.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Easy Does It?

Apparently not... I seem to want to make life difficult for myself.  When I saw the words 'make a bag in an hour', I thought...why not?   And here's the original post, on a Really Useful blog.  I read it through and thought...mmm... and proceeded to play with the idea.  Silly me... the project grew arms and legs, and took rather longer than an hour.  In fact, it's still not finished... but there's just the handle to add to it, and a closure.  I decided to use some more of the African fabric I have in my stash (Maggie Relph is such a bad influence...) and chose some of my hand dye for the lining.

I decided that I would make the bag a bit broader at the bottom, and altered the pattern accordingly.  I decided I wanted to quilt my bag, and decided to do so in fairly large circles, in a variegated thread that, in some places, contrasted with the fabric, but not in others, thinking that that would be an interesting effect.  I felt that without quilting, the bag would be much softer than I wanted it to be, despite the cotton batting I was using.  However, the decision to quilt it, without a loose lining, had major consequences for its construction.  I had to do something about all the raw seams.  So, I put it right sides together and stitched round the bag, then turned it right side out and stitched round the seams again, so that the raw edges around the body of the bag were encased, and the bag had very stiff, but very strong edges.

Then, I had to bind the top edges.  In an ideal world, I would have bound them in the African fabric...but I didn't have enough to make bias binding with.  So, I ended up with some commercial binding.  That made my life Rather Difficult, and resulted in a lot of jiggery pokery around those thicker side seams...a bit of judicious clipping, plus some stre-e-e-tching of that bias binding, and I got it all covered.  Phew.  Life would have been a lot easier with slightly broader binding... but hey.

I'm not entirely sure what kind of handles to add to this bag.  The original has fabric handles; I'm tempted towards cord.  And probably a magnetic closure.  Or a strap, across, and a button.  Decisions, decisions.  This has taught me a lot, however.  Might, for instance, have been better to stitch the fabric onto heavyweight lutradur, and then created a loose lining, which would have solved all the construction problems.   That said, from a design point of view, I rather like it as it is.  But it definitely pays to think things through from the start on a practical project like this... a bit more fabric would have been ideal.  Hindsight is always perfect...

At the end of the day, this is far from perfect, but it's not bad for a first attempt.  As I said earlier, I like the way it has turned out, though the finish could be a lot smoother... hopefully, practice will sort that out.  I have enough fabric left over from the waistcoat I showed you yesterday, to make a similar bag to this... I'll let you know how I get on!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Nearly There...

just the bias binding to do.  I've got that on the kiddy waistcoat, but I'm not showing that one, as my daughter in law has a tendency to sneak a peek at my blog, and I want it to be a surprise...

this one is for my mother in law, who isn't quite as keen on computers, and who presumably won't peek... and if she does, hopefully won't admit to it!

I'd forgotten the time consuming fiddly bits involved in this... not as much binding as on a quilt, but curved edges.  And then, of course, the inside seams.  I like my waistcoats to be reversible, in theory at least.  I do the quilted clothing equivalent of a flat fell seam, cutting back the gubbins inside the seam, along with one side of the front fabric, before stretching the remaining piece over the whole seam, and stitching it down by hand, thus completely covering it.

It's still a bit bulky, but I prefer doing it that way, to binding the seams with yet another piece of fabric, which makes it bulkier still.  Flat fell seams are usually top stitched; I don't do that to these just because of the bulkiness.  Hand stitching is quicker and easier, and looks better, too.

Now, all I have to do is add the binding, and we'll be done. One gift down, lots to go...