This year I would like to think that I might be able to post a newsletter more often, but make it shorter in length. A lot of time is involved in writing posts which have a lot of content, so I am going to try out “little and a little more often” and see how it goes!
In this one I am including:
- Slow stitching…hexagons for tunic trim.
- Travel cup and sandwich wrap ideas
For several weeks I have needed hand stitching projects on hand, that need little concentration! I have had to travel rather a lot. Indeed, I am “on the road” and away from home for two or three nights every week at the moment and I do find it difficult not to take some sewing away with me. Contemplative stitching rests the mind, body and soul. It is precious time, and extremely therapeutic requiring very little concentration for experienced fingers! When you are immersed in it, time just disappears. The action of the calm rhythmical stitching; the simple project, and beautifully soft prints, become almost mesmerising,
Two weeks ago when I was home and able to go to one of the quilting groups I belong to, two or three of us were having a conversation about stitching hexagons. Some time ago the group purchased three different sizes of hexagon punch, to cut the hexagon shapes for paper piecing. We went to find them, and “lo and behold” there was a half inch one. My mind sprung into action immediately!
I have a couple of different stretch denim tunics, and for several weeks I have been chewing over ideas for a tiny colourful trim around the bottom of one of them. As soon as I saw the 1/2″ hexagon cutter, I put my name in the book. paid my very modest fee of 30 p to borrow it for two weeks. I knew exactly what I wanted to do couldn’t wait to get started.
The punch I used was a “Fiskars squeeze hexagon punch”, specifically for cutting paper hexagons for English paper piecing. There are three different sizes for hexagons. It is easy to use, very accurate, and takes a fraction of the time that drawing around a template then cutting all the drawn shapes out takes. In a word; magical!
I have a lovely variety of Liberty lawn prints, which have increased over the years thanks particularly to one very generous good friend. I use them in small applique items such as brooches and cushions and they work particularly well in Kantha projects, with soft edge applique. I save all my tiny scraps, many of which came into play here.
This project was ideal to take away with me. With the papers cut very accurately, I just had to iron a selection of scraps before I left home, pack a hand sewing kit and threads and I was prepared for hand stitching when the opportunity arises.
I began by preparing about 30 tacked hexagons and laid them out in a straight line on the table. This enabled me to distribute fabric, colour and tones fairly evenly between the group. One or two of them I actually removed, as they didn’t seem to work with the others! I used a medium to dark tone navy thread to stitch them together, and the same colour thread to applique them onto the tunic. When a row was stitched together, I ironed them with the papers inside to give a sharp creased edge and then removed the tacking stitches and the papers, except for the two at either end of the row. This was so that it would be easy to carry on adding more hexagons in the next section of the row. With the paper still inserted (I was actually using very thin card) there remained a sharp edge to stitch the next hexagon to. A soft, floppy edge is not as easy to handle. This project was finished relatively quickly, and was just perfect.
A couple of years ago I made several sandwich wraps. They make great gifts. You could probably find a method of making them on Pinterest. Probably lots of choice and various methods of closure, too. You may even find instructions.
Rob and I had been given a commercial one each as presents, several years ago, so I also had a sample. However, I discovered how inaccurate it was when I came to measure it! It was not well made at all. It also had a cheap clear plastic lining and Velcro as a fastener and I have to say I am not a great fan of Velcro.
Having “found” Kam Snaps a couple of years ago, I decided to use these as fasteners and was delighted at the way they speeded up the process, as well as providing a professional finish to the project.
The photo above shows the sandwich wrap I made for myself on the left, and I also made a little wrap for a fruit knife. I am fond of apples, but cannot bite into an apple so I have to cut them up. I use both of these items very regularly.
N.B. I suggest that you read everything carefully if you are thinking of making one and make a sample out of two pieces of old fabric first. You will learn a lot, which will be invaluable. It also give you an opportunity to work out where to place your fasteners and what method you might choose to use.
- My method for preparing the main squares. Cut two 13″ squares of fabric for the sandwich wrap. One of the fabrics should be 100% cotton and the other a laminated cotton, thus “wipe-clean”. Turn the fabrics over to the wrong side. Make a mark either side of the corner exactly 1.75″ distance from the corner. Draw a line between these two points and cut on the line, removing the corner. Repeat at each corner, on both fabrics. Press carefully, mindful of the laminated fabric, with the heat of the iron.
- Preparing the poppa straps (my chosen method of closure) For the short strap cut a piece of fabric: 2″ wide x 3″ long. Fold in and press 1/4″ seam allowances on both long edges, and one short edge and press. The other short end can remain raw edge. Fold the strap in half, lengthwise. Press before machine stitching. Pin or use your favourite method of keeping folded edges in place. Then top stitch to finish the strap, as in 3, below.
- Start top stitching at the raw edge end, reinforcing the start and end of the stitching. stitching. Continue close to the folded edge along the long side of the strap, pivot with the needle down at the corner, and continue across the short end pivoting again at the corner, and continuing down the other long side. Press.
- for the long strap cut a piece of fabric: 2″ wide x 5.25″ long, and repeat the process as above. If you are using Kam Snaps, do not attach the poppas yet.
- Placing the straps in position. Scroll down to the last of the wrap photos and notice the the straps positions. They lie opposite each other centrally on two opposite sides of the wrap. The raw edges of the straps should be in line with the raw edge on the right side of the cotton wrap fabric. Tack the straps along their centre, so that they will stay free of the machine stitching., when the two layers of the wrap are being sewn together. Tack across the short raw end of both straps, matching the raw edge of the wrap fabric. This all helps to keep them in position.
- Now place the right sides of both main fabrics together, matching all the edges. Do not pin them, as this will leave holes in the laminated fabric, but if you have a means of holding them together, securely before stitching, (e,g, with hem clips please use them. Alternatively carefully stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance around three sides, checking that everything stays in position; side to side, corner to corner. Leave the last side open. Turn the wrap to the right side through this gap, and push out the corners carefully with “That Purple Thang” if you have one. (See Stitching News January 2020 to read all about it!) alternatively use another blunt pointed tool. Fold the seam allowance on the final open side and finger press to the inside. Iron press ; mindful again of the laminated fabric and the iron heat. Finally top stitch that final side, close to the folded edge.
The photo above, shows the wrap, with the last section to be folded across. Notice one poppa at the left hand side of the wrap. When the second half of the wrap is folded over, the right hand “short strap” which has a poppa (very difficult to see in the photo, apologies!) can be snapped into position on the receiving poppa. Another design choice I made was to give the left hand “strap” two choices for the Kam snap to “pop” into, thus allowing for a thick sandwich or a slimmer one! The two poppa options can be seen in the photo below.
The whole wrap should then be pressed firmly, creating the folds, that will be used when it is functioning.
Now is the time to work out the placement for the Kam Snaps.
Finally, I have had a passion for making zip bags for a very long time. They are so practical and come in useful time after time after time! They come in many sizes and styles and serve a multitude of purposes. I rarely make them for a specific purpose, but I am equally rarely in position of not having one to cater for a specific need!
Showing in this photograph is a soft zip bag, from my stash, which was perfect for my re-usable coffee cup! So this accompanies me now, on my road trips! I added the swivel hook and large kilt pin, (again from my stash), so I can attach it to my shoulder bag, when needed. I can equally remove them and keep them inside the zip bag, with the cup for use at any time!
Here is is in use. The cup looks far too big for it, but that is just the angle of the photo I have taken. I stood the cup up inside, for the purposes of the photograph. It lies easily lengthwise inside, with plenty of wriggle room.
Next time I will write a tutorial for these particular zipped bags, giving three different sizes. Until then…