Wednesday, 26 June 2013

It was twenty years ago today ...

 .. . that I was wearing a me-made dress.  

Looking back, I wasn’t apprehensive at the prospect of making my wedding dress as to me it was just following a pattern (or three or four). Even though I’ve more experience of sewing and there is so much more information available, I don’t know if I’ve the confidence to make a wedding dress now.  Today’s wedding dresses seem no longer to be a dress, but to be a feat of engineering. Back in my day (!) my main concern was the outer appearance – there was no need for a complicated internal foundation as bridal lingerie could take care of any “holding in” and “pushing up” needed.

I enjoyed making my “analogue era” wedding dress (hence the photo of a photo – no digital versions then) and I think there was an element of “ignorance is bliss” when it came to construction and sewing techniques. I’m sure the wealth of  information that is now easily accessible on the internet has helped many to make the dress of their dreams, but I just find modern styles and expectations rather daunting.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Fat Quarterly Retreat - name tag reveal

My name tag has arrived safely and seeing at it is no longer a secret, I can reveal the front of the tag (more about the name tag can be found in this earlier post).

Joanne blogs as Rose & Dahlia and I took her blog name as inspiration for the porthole contents. Finding a rose was not too difficult, but I struggled to find a dahlia. It would have been so much easier had her blog been called Rose & Daisy!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Fat Quarterly Retreat - one swap done, more to do

Well, my nervous anxiety about the Fat Quarterly Retreat is starting to change into nervous excitement, partly I think because I have managed to finish my name tag for the name tag swap.  This is supposed to be a secret swap, but I’m rubbish at keeping secrets and have already posted a photo of the completed tag on the FQR Flickr group, so I might as well share the name tag here as well. I’ll still keep the identity of my swap partner secret as I’ve yet to send the tag.

It took me a while to come up with an idea for the design of the tag, but in a moment of fleeting inspiration, I decided to do teeny, tiny portholes depicting her social media ID. The portholes are about the size of a UK five pence piece, with the inserts (conveniently for photographs) being the size of a one cent coin. To reduce the bulk on the tag, I used lightweight iron-on interfacing rather than fabric when making the “hole” part of the portholes. I read that my swap partner had ordered some sparkly fabric for one of her projects (it was research, not stalking!) and so I hand embroidered her name and social media ID using a sparkly metallic thread. I used machine applique to decorate the back of the tag, being very thankful that the tag was for FQR2013 and not Sewing Summit or Quilt Market!  


I wanted the tag to be useful after the event so rather than bind the front and back together, I lined the inside (using the lining as a binding on the outside) and added a piece of felt so it could be used as needle case. My swap partner had requested a lanyard and I was lucky in that I had lots of old conference lanyards to use as a guide for size and which I deconstructed for the clip, bead and safety breakaway clasp. A length of floral ribbon from my stash was in keeping with the colour theme of the tag and my partner’s blog and I used this to make a lightweight strap.

That’s the first thing ticked off my FQR to do list – now I need to work on my sample swaps, putting together my fabric swaps, and getting the supplies for my workshops and tabletop sessions.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A pressing matter - making a baking tray ironing board

I sew on the kitchen table and now I’ve been doing more patchwork often I can’t be bothered to set up the ironing board. This has led to the bad habit of pressing my blocks on a tea towel on the table (not good for the table) or on my cutting mat (better for the table, but not good for my cutting mat). I did get an Ikea table top ironing board, but even that can be too big when the table is especially cluttered. I decided that I needed an ironing board that was a similar size to my small cutting mat and that would be slightly raised off the table so as to protect the table from direct heat.

When putting a tea towel to its proper use and drying a baking tray, it struck me that a baking tray would be the ideal size for pressing blocks. Taking this a stage further, I realised that a baking tray with holes in the base (such as used for cooking oven chips or pizza) would allow heat and steam to dissipate when ironing.  I looked online for a suitable baking tray, but many were a bit too posh – I needed something squarer and more basic and I found it in BM Bargains for less than £2. I’d already got some ironing board underlay from Aldi several months ago (originally to pad out the Ikea ironing board) - all I needed to add was a FQ of fabric, some elastic and about an hour of sewing time.

So, yesterday afternoon’s slightly mysterious sewing project of a baking tray, ironing board underlay, a FQ of fabric and some elastic was transformed into a baking tray ironing board. The pressing surface is just over 30 cm square which is ideal for most of my blocks and makes it handy to use on the table. It is also small enough to take to Liverpool Sewing Club or the Fat QuarterlyRetreat in July.

If you want to make one of your own, then try to find a square or rectangular baking tray that has a flatish bottom – don’t worry about a few ridges as they can be padded out. I was able to use a FQ of cotton fabric, but obviously this will depend on the size of the tray. Don’t be tempted to use a poly-cotton fabric for the cover as you need something that will withstand a hot iron. The photos below show the stages of making the ironing board, but I've written a tutorial which can be found in the project section of this blog.