I’ve not been sewing much this past few weeks. I’ve had a really bad back since Christmas and I’ve just not been up to much, to tell the truth. But it’s slowly getting better, and I’ve been able to use the time profitably by re-acquainting myself with my projects and my stash, and deciding what I want to work on over the next few months.
First thing to admit is that I have a lot of fabric. Actually, let’s make that a s**tload of fabric! I’ve been doing a bit of an audit since Christmas, and the quantities I have shocked even me. As did the number of projects I have in progress, the number waiting to be quilted, not to mention the number I have bought all the fabric for but not quite got round to starting yet. Hmmm…
My Stash and Project Cupboard
Inside the cupboard, all so neatly organised
Auditing and re-organising stashed yardage
Suffice to say it was all becoming a bit overwhelming. And this is one of the main reasons why I decided to join in the Fabriholics Anonymous Fabric Fast, hosted by Rebecca Lynne at Making Rebecca Lynne and Jess from The Elven Garden.
When I first heard about their plan to completely stop buying fabric for 6 months, I was utterly intrigued. Over the past year or so, I have slowly been coming to terms with the fact that I might have a bit of a fabric buying habit. And that it may possibly be starting to get slightly out of control. Two years ago, when I last reorganised my sewing room, everything pretty much fit into the lovely glass-doored cupboard I bought to house my stash and my various projects. Now it is spilling over into piles of boxes everywhere, the bottoms of the drawers in my cutting table are falling out due to fabric overload, and I have started to invade other cupboards in the apartment to store my ever-increasing stash.
Extra projects in boxes that won’t fit in the cupboard anymore
More projects and scrap bin hidden under sewing table…
Cutting table drawer 1 – Assorted fat quarter and half yard bundles
Cutting table drawer 2 – Precuts: Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes and Charm Packs
Spilling over into the spare room wardrobe…
So the Fabric Fast idea really started to get me thinking. Could I do it? I was sure I could. More importantly, did I want to do it? And yes, I was equally sure I did. The decision was finally made when I read a fantastic blog post by Jodi of Tickle and Hide, describing her own 2013 fabric fast. She wrote about how she managed, and how, as the year progressed, she started realising her own style and tastes a lot more. This really struck a chord with me, as I seem to make a bit of this and a bit of that – some of my projects are very traditional and some are über-modern, some use a muted colour scheme and some are in-your-face loud. And in general, I love them all. But I really hope that not getting distracted by the lure of new fabric lines and of new projects means I’ll be able to focus more on defining my own style. And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll surely have fun trying 🙂
And so I joined up. And I feel pretty darned good about it, too!
So here is my master plan:
- First step – re-organise my fabric and sewing room, to get me motivated to start.
- Next step – create a list of projects I’d like to work on for the first half of the year. I have plenty, so narrowing it down will be tricky, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. I’m also planning on joining in with the 2014 Q1 Finish-Along with the lovely Katy from The Littlest Thistle, so I should have plenty of motivation to keep me going.
- Final step – get cracking on the sewing!
I have the feeling it’s going to be challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding, so wish me luck, and here goes…
This Christmas, RR decided he needed a new iPad. One of those new, shiny iPad Airs. To be fair, his old iPad was past its best. It was 4 years old and getting very creaky, creaky as in every time you turned it sideways it crashed. And it couldn’t run the latest version of the Apple software. And anyway, he just wanted one. So that was settled.
Of course we had to go to buy the iPad together, otherwise I would surely have bought the wrong thing – not enough GB or too many or the wrong colour or whatever. I also wanted to buy it before we went to New York so I didn’t have to stress about present-shopping once we got back. And so it came to pass that for a month before Christmas, a shiny new iPad was sitting in my cupboard, waiting to be unwrapped by my hunnybunny on the Big Day…
Now, I’ve been wanting to make a present for my lovely RR for ages, but he’s not really a quilt kind of chap. He appreciates their beauty and all the work that goes into them, he loves having them on the bed, and is wonderful at helping pick out the fabric and working on layouts. He just doesn’t like to snuggle up underneath them in front of the tv like I do. So what to make? Well, every time I opened my cupboard, I saw his iPad staring back at me. And, I figured, who could possibly resist a hand-made iPad cover to protect their shiny new toy? Especially if I made it Really Cool and Not At All Girly. And how more cool and ungirly could it get than a Darth Vader themed case??!
So, after searching online, I found this amazing Darth Vader fabric at Spoonflower…
And I combined them with an iPad cover tutorial which I adapted from the latest PatCHquilt newsletter
To create this…
For the front I used lots of little scraps from my scrap bin in various shades of grey and black, and bordered it with a skinny piece of appropriately Sith-red fabric. The zipper had, of course, to be black 🙂 I added fusible fleece to both the outside and inside of the case to give the iPad more padding and protection.
To finish it off, I quilted Lord Vader in the ditch between all the twiddly little pieces, to give his mask definition, then I stitched some straight lines on the background, spaced about 1/2″ apart. The back and the inside of the case were quilted with wavy lines between the columns of Vader heads. I finished it off with a black Lego brick keychain on the zip, a little extra for my favourite Lego fan…
It was great fun to make, and what do you know? Although he loves the iPad, the case was actually his favourite present!
Success all round, methinks 🙂
Back in the summer, I went into my local quilt shop and saw a sample for a class they were running this autumn. I was fascinated by the different sized blocks and how they all fitted together so neatly.
The class was already full, so I asked to be put on the waiting list. And promptly forgot all about it, figuring that there was next to no chance of getting onto the course this time around, and that I’d have to wait for it to be re-run in the spring.
Then last Wednesday afternoon I had a call to say they had a last-minute drop-out, and was I interested in filling the spot. First session – Friday, 2 days away. Wow! Well, yes, I certainly was interested, and after a little diary re-jigging I was happily able to make it. Cue frantic stash raiding on Thursday to try and find the necessary fabrics – a selection of 10-15 different fabrics from the same colour family, but with a range of different values. Ok.
Eschewing my favourite pinks and purples for a change, I decided to work with the blue/green spectrum – from pale aqua, through turquoise and teal to dark blue. I never thought I had much in the way of this colour family – until I went looking through my stash and scrap bin. Hmmm. It seems I have plenty (and this is just the scraps and fat quarters….)
The couse itself was excellent.The teacher, the lovely Judy, is a quilty friend of mine, and once she’d explained the principle behind constructing the quilt top, I got stuck right in. A new departure for me, this course uses centimentres rather than inches – now, while I can spot a scant 1/4″ seam at 10 paces, and can estimate the remaining yardage on a bolt with a reasonable degree of accuracy, I have no idea when it comes to metric measurements. Although, upon reflection, this could easily be made using inches, I bought myself a 31.5 cm square ruler (12 1/2″), and got measuring, cutting and sewing. And here are the blocks I’ve made so far, although I’ll need a fair few more to make a decent lap sized quilt
The next class is at the start of November, so I’m going to be kept busy over the next few weeks constructing these pretty blocks. Their extreme squareness appeals to my quilter’s OCD, and the fabrics I’ve chosen remind me of the ocean. This is one of the few things I miss about England, living here in land-locked Switzerland. The lakes are undeniably beautiful, but we Brits are an island race, and I really do miss the smell, taste and sound of the sea…
Linking on up to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.
Well, what a wonderful weekend I had at my quilt retreat! I caught up with old friends, made new friends, sewed like crazy, ate M&Ms like they were going out of fashion, chilled out in the hot tub in the rain, had two massages, sewed some more, talked the hind legs off a donkey and generally immersed myself in all things quilty. Fantastic!
We arrived on Thursday afternoon, car jam-packed full of all our quilting paraphenalia. Despite initial fears to the contary, it did all eventually fit. In fact, there must have been room to spare because my sewing machine extension table made a bid for freedom at one point, almost decapitating poor Libbi! Needless to say, it was firmly wedged in place on the way back…
After squeals and hugs all round, we found ourselves a sewing spot and set up our machines. And before long the room was a hive of activity with sewing machines a-whirring, accompanied by much chattering and laughter. Despite the glorious view just a few metres from our sewing tables, we only had eyes for our fabric!
As always, the Thursday was ‘free time’ for us to work on our own projects, so I got to work piecing my Chain Saw quilt. The plan was to finish the top this weekend, but unfortunately I hit a little snag when I realised I’d pieced together all my directional prints back to front… Grrrrrrr…..
So in the end I sewed 32 out of my 36 blocks. They came together really quickly, and once I’d given them a little trim and a press, they looked lovely.
Well, the more I sew, the more I learn, so hopefully I’ll be more careful next time and remember directional fabrics are called directional because they have a direction to them! Anyway, at least most of the blocks for the top are finished now…
Friday was designated Bag Day. Now I’ve made a few bags over the years, but my last foray into bag-making (the Weekender bag by Amy Butler) had traumatised me to such an extent that I vowed Never Again. Well, never say never, as they say. My resolve lasted until I saw the picture of this one! Billed as an optional workshop, the Aeroplane Bag pattern by Sara at Sew Sweetness ended up tempting every single one of us ladies 🙂 And with bag-making expert Katy Cameron on hand to help and encourage us, we all finished them too!
As I mentioned here, I chose Echino fabric for the outside of the bag, and a plain Bella royal purple for the lining. And it worked really well together. Here’s my completed bag – I’m so proud of it!!!
I fussy-cut the fabric so that I had the zebra bang in the middle of one side and the giraffe in the middle of the other, then I stole Heather’s idea and added piping between the top and bottom sections of the bag, which I think adds a really nice touch. Finally, I embellished it with a beautiful folded fabric flower, taught by Quilt Fairy Gina as part of her Mystery Scrap Attack project.
I was the last to finish, but thanks to the extremely lovely and patient Katy, we all got there in the end. And how beautiful they look, all lined up in a row, with Teacher behind them!
On the Saturday, it was time to tackle the Texas Teardrop pattern. I’d brought 2 possible choices of fabric with me, but when I saw Elita’s examples, and she talked about what worked well in terms of fabric, I realised that this wasn’t the right pattern for either of them. Never fear, they will go back into my stash for future use – in fact, I may well already have projects lined up for them! We were given free access to Elita’s extensive collection of scraps to make practice blocks, and I ended up making 2 – one using fusible interfacing, which I’ve tried before, and one using Lucie Summers’ Porthole technique, which was totally new to me.
I’ve not done any appliqué for a while, so I was pleased to refresh my memory on how to apply fusible interfacing and secure the raw edges. And it’s a good thing I was using scraps, because I totally stuffed up my first attempt. The fusible moved whilst I was ironing and didn’t meet up at one of the points, then half of it wouldn’t stick and it just ended up in an icky gooey yucky mess all over the fabric…
Cue Elita to the rescue! She helped me rectify my boo-boo, and I got on with fusing the other pieces, more carefully this time! I then decided to use some of my machine’s decorative stitches to appliqué down the edges. Pretty pretty pretty!
The porthole technique was interesting, but a bit too fiddly for me to be honest. I do have problems with my hands and fine motor skills, and I just don’t have the manual dexterity needed to do this well. But I persevered and made this second block – just don’t look at it too closely!
And here are some of our finished blocks up on the portable design wall….
In the meantime, Miss Speedy Quilter JJ (possibly the most prolific quilter I have ever met!) managed to get a whole top of these blocks done – take a look on her blog to see how pretty her pink and green batik version looks when it’s all done.
And now I’m back home, relaxed and happy. All my things are unpacked and put away and although I was sad that it was over for another 6 months, I left feeling totally inspired with loads of ideas for kickstarting old projects and designs for new ones too. I think I’ll be spending some time in my sewing room this week 🙂
I arrived home to a clean apartment, a rapturous welcome from Mr. Boy and Mimi Bubba, and yummy smells emanating from the kitchen. The ever-lovely RR (who, incidentally, is a fabulous cook) had prepared dinner for me. Two delicious curries – a vegetable jalfrezi and a muttar paneer – with naan bread. He had made the paneer from scratch, too…
OMG it was so good! And all I had to do was roll out the defrosted naan dough and grill it. Oh, and eat it too!
All in all, a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend!