Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Covid Creations

This is the sewing I was trying to finish last month – a quilt but not like any other I’ve made. After months of camera-off Zoom meetings for work, I had some meetings that had to be camera-on and I needed something that would hide my home (and occupants!) from view and could be put away when not in use. So, I bought a photography background stand and made a simple quilt with minimal piecing and minimal quilting to act as a background for these meetings.


The four coloured blocks are the logos and colours of the four research groups of my work and have been positioned to one side of the quilt allowing me to sit on the other side. The white shapes were fused to the coloured squares and then machine appliqued using zigzag. The horizontal quilting to the top and bottom of each block is in the same colour as each block (though this does not show clearly on the photos) and the rest of the quilting is in a neutral colour matching the main fabric of the quilt.


Below the blocks I quilted words associated with these times which explain why the quilt was made, (these will be out of camera shot during meetings).


The binding and hanging sleeve were made out of the same fabric as the backing so I can use the back of the quilt if I need an “unbranded” background. Hanging the quilt was a bit of a challenge as it needed more clips than supplied and the design of the supporting bar meant a single hanging sleeve would not be suitable. However, splitting the hanging sleeve into two and leaving a gap in the middle allows the quilt to be hung from the T-bar.



My other sewing this month has also been Covid-related – more masks. These are made using the pattern from Japanese Sewing Books and I like them because they don’t collapse onto my mouth when I am wearing them.


They also fold away very neatly and are just the right size to fit into my Grandfather’s cigarette case for storage when temporarily removing them in caf├ęs and restaurants.


As you can see, I have decided to use some of my Liberty stash for these – I thought seeing as they have to be worn, I might as well make them out of something I will enjoy wearing.

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Monday, 31 August 2020

August - a mask-free month?

I thought I was going to manage a month without having to make any masks, but it was not to be - four more masks to be sent off to family.

There has been some quilt sewing, but unfortunately this was delayed by cat, so finishing will have to wait until next month.

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Friday, 31 July 2020

Remakes and Repeats

July’s makes have a sense of familiarity about them. First up are yet more masks – four for ourselves and four for friends.

There has also been another tunic from the McCall 7800 pattern – this time in a Liberty jersey I got from eBay. As I knew this would be v neck from the start, I decided to learn a new technique and used an overlap v neckband by following instructions from alinadesignco.com. This went well and I can see myself using this technique on other patterns. As is becoming the norm, I also made a matching facemask from the offcuts.

In a move back to days of normality, a few bargains have been found this month. I went to the silk sale at Adamley Textiles a few weeks ago and came back with a bag of silk remnants which will be useful for mask making. There has also been the chance to look round charity shops again and I found four part-used cones of overlocker thread in colours that I needed at £1 for the four.

Finally, because this month’s sewing was done without the aid of Now-our-cat, here’s a photo of him contemplating what to do about a hedgehog.

He decided to ignore it.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Take Two Patterns

I’ve been spurred into clothes making action. Although the shops have opened in England, it seems that trying on clothes is not possible or is discouraged, so I decided it would be easier to make a few additions to my working from home wardrobe.

First on the list were some cropped trousers in navy, stone, and grey stretch bengaline using the legging pattern from Simplicity 8097. I shortened the pattern to mid-calf and raised the centre back by 1” but no other alterations were needed. These are quick to make and I’ve enough fabric left to make full length versions in navy and grey for winter.

Next on the list was a wearable toile from McCall’s 7800 which I hope to make in Liberty jersey once I’ve tweaked the pattern. I started with view D (the main picture), but unlike with the trousers, a few alterations were required for this pattern. I shortened it to tunic length and used only the upper part of the sleeve pattern, but lengthened it to just past the elbow (all with some feline “help”).

I made the neckline as on the pattern, but after wearing the tunic for a day, I decided that a V neck would be more suitable and so took the “corners” off the neck and closed the split with a few buttons as it was a little too low cut for Zoom calls with work colleagues.

Seeing as the toile is wearable and mask wearing is likely to be required for the foreseeable future, I’ve decided masks might as well be part of my wardrobe too and made a matching one to go with the tunic.

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Sunday, 31 May 2020

May's multitude of masks

Like so many other people, this month I’ve been sewing masks for myself, friends and family. There’s lots of different advice as to what type of mask and what type of fabric should be used, but the main thing seems to me is to have something comfortable so that you are not continually touching your face and the mask to adjust it. 

I’ve gone for a simple two-layer mask without a filter pocket but with a casing for a removable nose wire. I started using the Craft Passion pattern, but modified it to remove the centre seam and this worked fairly well. I then tried the Dhurata Davies pattern which has a chin tuck for an improved fit, but I found this was too high under my eyes. Currently I am using a combination of the two – the top of the modified Craft Passion pattern and the bottom of the Dhuarta Davies pattern. My favourite fabric combination is two layers of tana lawn as it has a close weave but is very light and is cool to wear and I have plenty in my stash from the days of the factory shop in Lancaster, though the combination of silk pocket square remnants from Adamley sales lined with lawn comes a close second.

As I am not including a pocket for a filter, I’ve been able to simplify the construction method and reduce the trips to the iron to just one. l start by sewing the nose and chin darts; I don’t press the chin seam open, but I stitch it to one side when making the chin tuck. I then pin the outer and lining together, making sure the darts at the nose and chin seams are “nesting” (as with patchwork seams) to reduce bulk, and add in a folded strip of fabric to make the nose wire casing (~1”x10” in size, cut from the selvedge and the short edges are joined to make a double layer). The raw edges of the casing are aligned with the top of the mask so they are enclosed in the seam allowance and I put the joining seam off-centre so as to reduce bulk.
Once everything is pinned, I stitch around the edge, leaving a ~2” gap in the lower edge for turning (shown by the stars in the photo below).

After turning through the mask, I press the edges and fold in the sides to make the casing for elastic or ties. I then topstitch around the edge which closes the turning gap and forms the casings in one go and finally stitch the lower edge of the nose casing After trying some different types of elastic, I found that cutting “rings” from the legs of a pair of tights to be much more comfortable and easier to get hold of than elastic! I found a very large needle in my sewing tin and this is ideal for threading the “elastic” through the casings. For the nose wire, I am using heavy duty garden wire cut to ~4” and with the ends folded in.

I’m sure the research as to the most effective combination of fabrics will be ongoing and advice may change, but I hope that you might find something useful from what I have found works for me when making the masks.

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Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Queasy Quilt

Well, another month spent in this weird time of not going out, working from home, and only being able to get the sewing machine out at weekends. However, I think having limited sewing time does help me plan how best to use it. I’ve been wanting to make a smaller version of the “Scrap Vomit” quilt for a while and so it made an ideal project for this month.


The first weekend was spent going though my stash and cutting enough squares from enough fabrics to get a fairly scrappy effect (with some “help” from Now-our-Cat). I decided I couldn’t do the fully scrappy effect and so mine is one colour scrappy.

The second weekend was spend sewing and I managed to get the quilt top finished and was delighted to find a piece of fleece in my stash that was the ideal colour and size for the backing.

The third weekend was very productive. I basted the quilt on the Friday evening so it was ready to quilt during our virtual Leeds MQG meeting. For basting quilts, I have a large piece of MDF that I put on the top of the kitchen table and this time I used furniture risers to increase the height of the table which meant no aching back.

I finished the quilting during Saturday’s meeting and the binding was added on Sunday. Quilting was a diagonal cross hatch with some straight-line quilting in the contrast diamonds. I used one of the scrappy fabrics for the binding which resulted in an unintentional perfect piece of pattern matching!

The fourth weekend was bright and sunny and was ideal for taking the quilt into the garden and artistically draping it over the bench for some photos.

The quilt finishes at 54” square and will be destined for Project Linus when collections resumed. If you’re wondering about the name of the quilt – this was suggested during the guild meeting seeing as it is a smaller/lesser version of the Scrap Vomit quilt.

I’m not sure what May’s sewing will be – it might be a log cabin quilt or it might be making face masks.

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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

March Madness

What an odd month we’ve had and it looks like we are in for another few of the same. The coronavirus restrictions mean that my sewing stuff has had to be packed away from the kitchen table so my husband can use it to work from home (how much tech does one person need?) while I work from home in the other room on a Victorian style writing bureau where I feel I should be wearing a bonnet and crinoline and using pen and ink rather than a laptop. We are trying to put everything away on a Friday afternoon so that weekends are vaguely normal and the sewing machine can replace the screens and keyboards.

Back before coronavirus, I made a small zip up tote bag upcycling an old pair of jeans and using a very small amount of my Liberty stash. This was supposed to be a sew-a-long with Leeds MQG but that wasn’t to be.

Instead of using webbing for the handles, I used more of the jeans and added a Liberty trim. The lining was more Liberty – a misprint from the factory shop which I got a good few years ago.
The other bit of sewing that I managed to do was to finish a Mystery Quilt kit. This was the first mystery quilt run by Lisa from Modern Quilt Club and started in March last year with the last section being sent towards the end of last year. Right until the last month I had no idea how all the pieces were going to fit together and now it is completed it is probably something that is definitely outside my normal choices for quilts.
I found some fleece that was an ideal colour match for one of the accent colours so that was the backing sorted and I quilted it using a diagonal cross hatch.
The binding that was sent as part of the kit was patterned and I felt there was lot going on in the quilt already and so I had to hunt in my stash for something plainer (this was the first weekend of lockdown and I didn’t think fabric would count as essential shopping). I found a navy border print that was just the right shade and there was just enough once the border had been cut off.
Now this quilt is finished, it will be heading off to Project Linus when coronavirus allows. At least all the shopping restrictions means that the next few months might see me use up some of my stash for new projects.

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