Thursday, 12 December 2013

Fabric Fast 2013 - Any Questions?

Only NINETEEN days left of my year long {new} fabric fast! Am I counting down? Absolutely!

I saw recently that my friends from The Elven Garden and Making Rebecca Lynne are both embarking on their own fast next year and invited other people to join them. If you're considering fasting from buying fabric next year, I recommend joining them! I thought I'd write this post about tips and things I learned for those who are interested. Then, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask them below. I'll write another post in a few days with other answers if needed.

I started the year with a shop in the main street of Newcastle, selling my clothes and quilts. A family tragedy had us bring my shop home to rest. I went from 3 days a week, my sewing machine in my shop, pumping out pinafores to keep up with demand, to making what I felt like, (which was mostly quilts) as I had time with little kids in tow. I have no idea what my fabric stash would have looked like if I'd stayed in my shop, but considering how much I still have left, I imagine I would have been fine. I just would have had to tweak my making habits a little.

The first thing I did was sort my six pillowcases of scraps, mostly leftovers from my clothes making. I used a cube bookshelf my neighbours were throwing away, and 10 buckets that I got from Bunnings for about $3 each.
Then I set about making all the specific projects I bought fabric for! It was so rewarding getting those done! And the time I wasn't spending online or planning new projects seemed to free up a whole lot more time for ticking boxes. About half way into the year, I found the list was no longer interesting me, and I scrapped it to enjoy more designing and improvisation.

So what did I learn? What would I do differently? What am I thankful for?

Scraps go a long way.
The quilt above was made entirely from my bucket of 'Too hard to sort' scraps. Scraps that were hard to use because of their big prints and many colours. It used about a quarter of that bucket. The quilt below was just from my light scraps. That bucket is still busting at the seams.
Yardage however does not. While my fabric shelves don't look like I've made anything this year, I've run out of significant yardage in order to make pinafores. If I'd still been set on making pinnies this year, I would have had to make scrappy ones.

I choose blue.
Or more accurately, aqua. Of all the colours I'm really struggling to make do, it's my unisex, basic, small print aqua. I use it all.the.time. Before I started my fast, I asked people what they thought I should buy. Everyone said white, grey, low volume. I wish I'd bought up on blue the same way I bought up on white. For some reason I've noticed that the blue based prints I bought had a lot of colourful, floral prints, making them beautiful for dresses, and not so helpful for quilts or binding. If you are considering a fabric fast next year, I'd recommend thinking about what your 'white' is. I rarely use white. I use blue.

Give yourself an out
When I was off on sick leave in March, my shop remained open (thanks to a very generous group of volunteer friends) for a month, with my stash there in town. I let myself buy a couple of jelly rolls to play with at home. I liked that the fabric choices were made for me, and the cutting done. I could just sit and sew. When I started my fast in my shop, I knew I might need a mid year restock. I didn't end up using it, but I did find that mid-year slump the hardest! Thankfully my birthday falls around then and my mum gave me a shopping voucher.
Sometimes an out isn't helpful, if you're not really motivated anyway, but sometimes it's just the thing to help you be brave enough to dive in. 

I think one of the most significant things I've learnt is that a lot of my ideas aren't necessarily to my taste. They're influenced by things I've seen in blogs and books. I'd start with an idea and a colour palette, but then as I was making, I didn't really like it. As I've moved into quilting from clothes making, it's taken about a year to discover that I love rich, clashy, bright. Actually, I always have, I came to quilting through Anna Maria Horner's work. But this year I felt the need to break away from her style to create my own. I thought that meant making things that were more subdued, more primary colours. After a year of trial and error, letting myself make things I don't love, I feel like I'm getting to know again what I do, and what makes me love to make. And I didn't need to spend any more on fabric to figure it out!

And the biggest stash-buster is...
You probably guessed it - backing and binding. The one thing I didn't think about much (because I was thinking about having enough for pinnies, and assumed I would just used scraps for quilts), was backing and binding. If I ever embark on this again, (I'm thinking every 7 years, like the Jews do Jubilee?) I'll be investing in some stripes, dots, basics in different colours for binding, and some great simple, big prints with lots of white for backing. That's my taste anyway. And that's only what I've discovered from having so little of it this year!

It doesn't have to be a year.
I had one friend ask what I recommend for being ready for Christmas next year. It was so forward thinking! And the reality is for me, I'm making less than I might usually (but trying to buy handmade). Scraps do take a lot more work, and wouldn't necessarily be loved by my 5 yr old nephew. I'm struggling with the right quilt back for one quilt, because it's not my style, it's my recipients. But as I started noticing all the sales turn up in my Facebook newsfeed after American Thanksgiving, I wondered if it would be much more doable for some, if you just went to Thanksgiving, or allowed yourself that 'out' - a little shopping spree just for gifts. 
And on another note, the big sales here in Australia are always after Christmas and into January. So last year I held off my last big shop till then, only to notice my favourite US quilt shops were awfully quiet! It was probably a good thing - I was much more sensible that I might have been if influenced by sale frenzy!

I have blogged over the year about much more I've learned, from more of a 'spiritual' nature, about living simply. It has been a deep experience for me, not just a practical one. If you search "Fabric Fast" in my search bar, those posts will come up. 

Anything Else?
Any other questions? I've found this whole experience to be less scary and risky than I imagined. I found it most difficult when I'd had a long day and just felt like sitting at my laptop with a cuppa and browsing through fabric. I have run out of things I loved, and I missed getting Hand Drawn Garden when it first came out. But I am terribly, terribly proud of myself. And I think now (remind me ok?!) I will be much better at buying what I need, and not for that ever growing 'to do one day' list!
Thank you so much to the dear friends I've gotten to know through here, that have shared the journey with me and cheared me on. 
Jodi. xx

Monday, 9 December 2013

Pocket Pillow Tutorial!

I got the idea for a pocket pillow a while ago, before Tully started pre-school. I thought it would make a great 'rest time' pack to take to kindy or daycare, with room to store a little sheet and teddy. Of course, The end of the school year has arrived for us, and I'm only just making what I had in mind for him! I just needed the perfect motivation like Ms Midge's Cushion for Christmas Blog Hop to get me into gear!

For my patchwork top, I cut 2.5" squares from some 5" squares I had leftover from a quilt. I wanted to make a 16" cushion cover. For this size you'll need 64 little squares sewn together in blocks as shown above. 3 rows of eight for the top, and 5 rows of eight for the bottom half. You can adjust the size depending on your insert.

Then create a quilt sandwich for each block. I did this by spray basting the top to some scrap wadding, then spray basting the back (I just used a solid yellow that I was given by a friend.)
Quilt the sandwiches (I just used straight lines) and trim them both to the size of the patchwork. 

Next, lay the bottom piece over some cotton that will become lining of the pocket and trim it about an inch around the quilted block. This step is just to get the right size (I'm afraid I'm appalling at pre-planning and measurements!)
You now need to sew that lining to the bottom of the top piece, right sides together.

Fold the lining down flat, away from the quilted block, and top-stitch.

Next, make some binding to bind the top of the pocket.
Cut a 2.25" strip x 18". Press the strip in half lengthways.
Sew the binding to the top of the bottom block, rough edge up.

Fold the folded edge over to the back of the block. Sew in the ditch, on the front of the block. Sewing this way keeps the front tidy, but should still affix the binding to the back.

Next prepare the back of the cushion.
(I had on hand a long strip of scrap fabric leftover from a quilt back. so I just made it by sight)
You'll need two pieces for the back, both around 18" x 16". They should overlap around 5".
Turn over the edges that sit in the middle of the pillow twice and top stitch.

Lay the bottom block over the lining of the pillow and line up to sit right up against the patchworked top piece.
Trim the lining to the size of the bottom block.Pin the two pieces together.
Now lay the cushion back facing down with the overlap, lay the cushion front over the back, facing up, and trim it to size also.

Pin the two sides together and stitch around the edge to hold it for the binding stage.
Make around 70" of binding with the above method. Starting in the middle of on side, and around 5" in from the edge of the binding, sew around the outside of the cushion, 1/4" from the edge.

When you come to a corner, stop sewing 1/4" from the end of the cushion.
Fold the binding up so that it's in line with the next edge.
Fold it down to create a square top, and so the binding is now in line with the next edge. Sew down that edge and repeat till you get near the begining of your stitching. Leave another few inches and mark the meeting place by folding the two binding edges away from each other and press.

Open out the binding and sew along the crease.
Complete the stitching down the last edge.
Fold the binding over to the back and sew on the front, in the ditch, as above. (Or you can use your prefered binding method.)

Miter the corners on the back before you near the edge and go around the corners. You can see my stitching is wiggly, moving away from the corner, even with a walking foot. Any tips for perfect binding corners?

Now you've completed you pocket pillow! The perfect Christmas gift for a little one starting pre-school or kindy this year. Or you can use it for travelling, to store a book and a snack. And of course, my 5 yr old has already discovered stretching the pocket over his head! :)

This is one of the stop overs for Ms Midge's Cushion for Christmas Blog Hop! Be sure to check out the other blogs for great tutorials you can whip up in an afternoon. There's also a linky party and prizes to be won!

Sunday 1st December - Ms Midge
Monday 2nd December - Gemma at Pretty Bobbins
Tuesday 3rd December - Kristy at Quiet Play
& Ms Midge
Wednesday 4th December - Joshua at Molli Sparkles
Thursday 5th December -Rachel at Little White Dove 
Friday 6th December - Fiona at Finding Fifth
Saturday 7th December - Abby at Things For Boys
Sunday 8th December - Lauren at Molly & Mama Makes
Monday 9th December - Jodi at Tickle & Hide
Tuesday 10th December - Adrianne at On The Windy Side 
& Ms Midge
Wednesday 11th December - Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts
Thursday 12th December - Gina at Party of Eight
Friday 13th December - Jane at Quilt Jane
Saturday 14th December - Round up of Blog Hop and link up YOUR projects!
Wednesday 18th December - Winners Announced! 

Ms Midge