Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Unveiling R's block

R received her block this morning. I'm very impress with Australia Post ... they took less than 24 hours to deliver the letter.

I did have a lot of trouble with the centre point. I couldn't get all of the points to meet. One side is out be a few millimetres. I don't think it will be noticeable once the block is pieced together with all of the other blocks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Glimpse of R's block

Last night I completed R's block for the Virtually BeQuilted quilting bee. R hasn't seen them yet, and I can't spoil her surprise, so you'll have to wait for a little bit longer. I can, however, give you a little glimpse. Just a teeny tiny one.

I made the block using the technique of Foundation (Paper) Piecing. For those of you who don't know, it involves sewing your fabric to a piece of paper.

Part of the pattern for R's block. This element forms about 1/16th of the block.

When you use foundation piecing, your fabric is placed on the unprinted side of the paper (with the wrong side of the fabric touching the paper). You then 'flip' the pattern over, and sew from the printed side of the paper. The lines on the paper are your sewing line.

Two pieces of fabric pinned (right sides together) onto the foundation pattern.

There is a bit of an art to getting your fabric pieces in the correct position. I did have to do some unpicking before I got into the swing of things.

Sewing the first two pieces of fabric together. You can just see them peeking out from under the paper.

After sewing the seam from the printed side of the paper, you turn the paper so that unprinted side is up, trim the seam allowance, and press. Then the next piece of fabric is pinned onto the unprinted side of the pattern.

View from the unprinted side, after pressing.

Completed component, which still requires trimming.
Yes, there is some paper peeking out on the corners. In this case, it is OK as my paper pattern hadn't (yet) been trimmed to the correct seam allowance on the corners.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Virtual Quilting Bee

Sewing with kids about requires lots of distractions! Mine (like most, I'm sure) are addicted to buttons. Generally they just sort them and look for their treasures. Sometimes the boy gets out his dump truck and digger and 'moves buttons'. Recently I purchased some craft buttons (ie seconds) from Spotlight. Since then the girls have been gluing up a storm.
Fe over at Genial Hearth has recently organised a bunch of us into a virtual quilting bee. My first quilting bee. There are 13 of us involved, and each month one of us will post fabric to everyone else, along with instructions on what we are to do. For the month of September we have all received Christmas fabric, which we are to make into a design of our own choice. The completed block must be 32cm square (including a 1cm seam allowance). I believe that all of the blocks will be sewn together to construct a Christmas tablecloth.
The design I have chosen is complicated ... I now wish I had chosen something a bit easier! I feel like I've been working solidly on the block for a month. (In reality it has probably been 3 weeks). Next month I'll definitely go with something simpler. Never mind though as my September block will be stunning. You'll have to wait for pictures until the block is complete and has been received by R.
I must confess ... I have had a mishap along the way ... the chosen design has required every scrap of red and green fabric that I received. Unfortunately I botched one of my cuts and all of a sudden I didn't have enough fabric! Thankfully I've been able to find an exact match to the fabric so the disaster has been rectified.Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wet Felting - kind of a tutorial

A few weeks ago, my wonderful and creative Aunt showed me how to felt. I am amazed at how simple the process is. Most of the equipment you would have on hand, or could improvise. You need:
- bubble wrap (or some bamboo blinds/beach mat)
- 100% natural backing fabric (optional)
- carded wool
- synthetic mesh/net
- hot soapy water- PVC pipe
- elastic bands (optional)

Note: During the felting process, your item will shrink by about 30%.

My first attempt at felting is documented below...

Step 1 - Cut a piece of bubble wrap so that it is larger than the item you want to felt. Place the bubble wrap on a flat surface. (I used the kitchen bench). If you are using some backing fabric, place that on the bubble wrap. The backing fabric must be made from natural fibres. (I used some yellow cheesecloth). This will allow the wool to felt and adhere to the fabric. Create your design on the backing fabric by teasing out your wool and placing it on the fabric with the wool fibres running in the same direction. You can leave some backing fabric exposed, or cover all of it with wool ... it is up to you!

If you aren't using backing fabric, the wool fibres are placed directly onto the bubble wrap. With this method you need two layers of wool fibres. The fibres in the first layer must run in one direction (eg north-south) while the fibres in the second layer must run in the other direction (eg east-west).

Step 2 - Place some synthetic mesh/net onto your finished design. This will help to keep things from moving about too much.

Step 3 - In a bowl, add some very hot water and create a lather with some soap. Using a sponge or cloth, carefully wet your design. You want to get all of your wool fibres and the backing fabric wet without water logging your bench. Using your fingers and your hand, press the water into the fibres. When it feels wet enough, use your hands and carefully rub your design in multiple directions. This starts the fibres meshing together and will help prevent your design from shifting during the next few steps.

Step 4 - Carefully remove the synthetic mesh. Tweak your design if you need to ... this is the last chance you'll have! Now get your PVC pipe and roll the bubble wrap and your felting around the pipe. Once everything is rolled up, secure it to the pipe using string or rubber bands. A towel wrapped around the exterior will soak up any excess water.

Step 5 - Roll the PVC pipe backwards and forwards ... around 100 times. Then carefully unroll your project, turn it a quarter turn and roll it back up again. Once again roll the pipe backwards and forwards around 100 times. You should do this process four times, so that your project has been rolled from all directions.

This is how my project looked after being unrolled the first time.

Step 6 - Unroll your project. Check to ensure the fibres have felted. They should be nicely matted together. If the fibres have matted together, remove your project from the bubble wrap. Now scrunch your project into a ball and throw it onto your bench. (You may need to moisten it a bit more with your soapy water). Continue picking up and throwing your project for about 50 throws. You'll feel the texture of your project change during this process.

Step 7 - You are finished! Rinse out your project and hang it out somewhere to dry.

On the back of my completed (wet) project, you can see how the wool fibres have penetrated the backing fabric and have firmly adhered.

The wool shrinks by about 30% and results in the backing fabric becoming rouched.

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