Posts tagged ‘sewing’

October 6, 2015

I, Cushion

I cushion on sofa

First A, then P, now I – only 24 more to go before the entire cushion alphabet is complete! And at this rate, it’ll be done by the time I’m 70.

This one is now owned by my new baby friend Ilithyia. About 80% of my friends seem to be dropping babies this year, so I’m miles behind with the gifts – Ilithyia’s came first because her initial has no tricky curves or diagonals.

(BTW parents, tell me if I’m off the mark giving cushions as baby gifts: I figure they’re ok, as baby gifts go, because everyone seems to receive a million quilts and onesies and toys. The babies can puke on them without the stains being too obvious, and if the babies/the parents really hate them but don’t want to hurt my feelings, they can pretend the cushions were destroyed in a poster paint accident/house fire/misbegotten fondue-dunk.)

Here comes the science bit: the front is some 16 inches square, made of hand-sewn one-inch cotton patches; I machine-sewed the border and back. I was trying to restrain my usual motley palette to blue and green, but of course strayed a little.

A few details:

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April 6, 2015

krappy krafting: kimono

Today, I had the ridiculous joy of appearing on Woman’s Hour‘s craft special. They asked me to teach Jane Garvey how to sew something on air; as the shops are presently full of diaphanous kimono-style bed-jackety garments, I decided we’d make our own, using three vintage square scarves from my ever-expanding collection (a few months ago I did try to count them, but stopped at 70).

I worship Jane Garvey, but ‘interest in craft’ is not one of her strong points. Watching her wield huge scissors and adopt the unconventional ‘Look, no hands!’ approach to machine sewing, I felt like a novice lion tamer on my first job.

Click here to hear the programme, and click the photo below to zoom in on the tutorial for making one of these very simple garments. I promise they are a lot more straightforward than we made them sound.

kimono tutorial Woman's Hour

Here’s one I made earlier, flapping about in a high wind. There are French horns on the front, medieval men on horseback on the sleeves, and a massive striped Z on the back.

IMG_0787

March 15, 2015

cricket dolls

My brother Andy is over in Australia and New Zealand at the moment, covering the Cricket World Cup for CricInfo.

You may notice that in some of his videos he is playing with dolls. Not Barbies – dolls of historic cricketers W.G. Grace and Fred Spofforth. Where does one obtain dolls of historic cricketers W.G. Grace and Fred Spofforth?

The same place one obtains dolls of Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Plant and Tony Benn.

As soon as I’d finished making them, they were stuffed in a suitcase and flown to Australia, so I don’t have very good photos showing the details, but the materials were felt, white bedsheet, and yarn – WG’s beard is knitted in garter stitch. Here’s one man and his dolls:

cricket dolls Andy

And here are the LADS enjoying themselves at a match:

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May 10, 2014

Doing Something

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Here I am in today’s Do Something supplement of the Guardian!

Click here for more of my patchwork; and here’s how I began it.

March 17, 2014

entry-level patchwork

Here’s why I started doing patchwork.

It was almost exactly three years ago. My wedding was a month away, and I was going nuts – from the venue going bankrupt; from the fact that nobody had had a wedding-free conversation with me for nearly a year, aside from the brief respite when I served on a deadlocked jury; from the general hatred of wedding planning I’ve mentioned before.

Crafts are soothing. Crafts are mood-transforming. Crafts are a good way to avoid doing the tasks you’re supposed to be doing. Thus, having not done any patchwork before aside from one single small log cabin block, I began to sew a flurry of tablecloths, scaling up traditional designs for some, going off-piste for others.

Afterwards, I gave them all away to friends and family; but recently I had to borrow back a few for something. It was nice to see them again, although I can’t look at them without thinking about what I’d do differently now, which is why I give away all the things I make.

That said, I’m feeling reluctant to return this crabby tablecloth to my shellfish-loving sister-in-law with whom it now lives, because I WANT IT:

tablecloth crab

It’s a massively simplified variation on a Log Cabin: just a central crabby square surrounded by strips of other fabric.

A brick pattern is very easy for a beginner because it’s all straight lines and you don’t even have to match any corners. It’s even easier at this size: the whole thing is about six feet square, so the bricks are about 12×16″:

tablecloth bricks
tablecloth hangers detail

Next: some random stripes, trying to make pastel chintz peacefully coexist with bright African wax prints, old pyjamas and Ikea cotton:

tablecloth stripes

Zigzags! Made up of 10″-square two-colour pieces, which are a cinch to make: lay two squares face to face, sew around the edges, then cut diagonally across from corner to corner, thus begetting four two-coloured squares. This is much simpler than matching up triangles and trying to get the fabric grains to cooperate. I vividly remember watching Babette’s Feast and Infamous whilst making this. (Also, once you get the impression that the maroon and pink print is a bunch of dicks, you can’t unsee that.)

tablecloth zigzags

This one barely counts, as it’s just three teatowels and a vintage tablecloth joined with yellow and blue herringbone stitch. But I like it.

tea

tea stitch detail

There were around a dozen tablecloths in the end. Here they are in action on Wedding Eve. The amazing marquee was from Hector’s Haus.

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October 15, 2012

A is for…

…a three-months-late birthday present for my friend Amy.

A quilt

This quilt is about six feet square and is composed of four-inch strip patchwork. ‘Strip patchwork’ sounds like a racy game that crafters play. It isn’t.

The ‘A’ material is a sheet that used to cover our toy snooker table in the 1980s. The rest of the fabrics include pyjama legs, my husband’s shirt, tablecloths, African wax print and a New Look dress (ie a dress from New Look; I didn’t cut up a piece of Dior’s New Look). This little lobster – cotton print from Ikea – is my favourite:

I intended to stick to a limited palette of red and blue shades, but failed by the third patch. As the front was so busy, I opted for all solid colours for the back:
A quilt back

Well, almost all.

This is a variant on the traditional ‘Chinese Coins’ pattern, which I could pretend I chose because Amy spent her formative years in Hong Kong rather than because it’s easy and nice.

The main thing is, Amy seems happy. And warm!

January 5, 2012

Keep your laptop warm all winter

This isn’t the most exciting or original thing I’ve made, but it turned out quite pleasingly so here it is. It is my friend Miranda’s birthday this week, and I received word she wanted a laptop sleeve. Mine not to reason why, mine but to do and…do. Here it is:

Miranda is an academic, so the exterior is corduroy, the second most academic of fabrics (the first being, of course, tweed).

But inside…

…hot pink silk shantung!

It was extremely simple to make, but if you’re too time-poor to expend 3 seconds thinking how to do it, here’s a ‘tutorial’:

1. Make a paper template approximating the following shape. Miranda has a small laptop, so I cut mine 27″ long plus seam allowance, but for a bigger computer, 30+ inches would be necessary. Approximately, the template needs to be thrice the length of your laptop and a couple of inches wider than its width, plus half an inch of seam allowance all round. Use the template to cut three pieces of the same size: one of each of your outer fabric, lining fabric and thin batting.

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2. Sandwich the right sides of your outer and lining fabrics together, place the batting on top, and sew around all but one of the edges, as marked in the photo above.

3. Turn the right way out; tuck in the raw edges, then sew the open edge closed.

4. Fold up the bottom edge to a height appropriate to your laptop’s comfort, and sew up each side. I oversewed them by hand, as my sewing machine refused to penetrate the combined six layers of corduroy, batting and shantung.

5. Attach a little loop of thin elastic to the underside of the top flap (if I make another one, I’ll remember to sandwich this between the layers of fabric before embarking upon stage 2) and firmly sew a nice button towards the bottom of the sleeve.

I don’t know about you, but I tend feel that the objects I make are a little redolent of whatever film or TV programme I was watching whilst making them. For instance, the oversized patchwork on my sofa = Babette’s Feast and Infamous. So, sorry, Miranda; your laptop sleeve is imbued with the essence of Revolutionary Road and the Marilyn Monroe episode of Quantum Leap. Happy birthday!

Laptop not included; for demonstration purposes only.

October 6, 2011

shut it you staaaaaag

This week’s lesson is that necessity is the mother of invention.

It is my brother Andy’s birthday today, and being thoroughly broke at the moment, I needed to come up with a present for him that cost £0. Luckily, he likes homemade presents* and weird shit for his house. So, using a few items I’d consigned to scrap plus some craft supplies from the stash, this is what I made him:

I’m pretty sure my brother hasn’t got one already.

A lady called Nichole tweeted me to ask if I had a tutorial for the DIY stag’s head. I don’t, because I was making it up as I went along; but here’s roughly how I did it:

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