Doing something (else) with my tatting

Bag close up
(side note – clicking any of these photos will make ’em bigger.)

Last year, when I decided I was producing a lot of tatting and it was about time to do something with it, I made some lavender bags. A complete sewing novice I thought they’d be a good place to start. Actually, they were… Tiny practice pieces, all a bit wonky, none of them with the motif actually in the middle. Luckily lavender smells lovely and if you squint a bit the wonkiness fades, so they do the job quite nicely.

After my quilting adventures, and an earlier attempt at a drawstring bag, I decided it was time to try something new with my tatting. Still all straight lines of course, but, you know – no point rushing in to curves!

Drawstring bag

I’m quite pleased with this. Made a few mistakes but learnt a bit too. I did have to unpick the sewing that holds in the drawstring about 5 times – it’s actually very tricky at that size on the machine. Next time I might do it by hand. I’ll also plan to sew on the tatting in advance rather than in the middle of everything, because I got so impatient with it!

I mentioned in my previous post that I finally sewed in the ends of a few pieces of tatting I’d had sitting about, including the Mary Konior pattern made in Valdini thread . I must admit, I really wasn’t that keen on the colours of it at all, but after blocking and sewing, I’ve changed my mind.

valdini bag

In the end, I just wanted to use it for something – anything really, and so I bashed out another lavender bag. I think I overstuff them usually, but this time I was a bit more sparing, and it makes it look a lot more professional! I think the linen knocks a bit of the garishness out of the colours – generally mutes it a bit. Now I’ve actually gone from not liking it much at all, to loving it!

So, all good. Room for improvement, but ok for a Sunday afternoon.

Back to the tatting chat

Finished

What with all the quilt euphoria, you might think I’ve not been tatting, but I’m still clicking along in the background. When I can get a seat on the train I always tat – it’s a bit like meditation for me. Stops me getting angry that the trains are always late, and gives me time to mull over the day ahead or just gone. Sadly, the above Storm Trooper refused to sew in the ends, and so I had to finish this off alone. The pattern is from here, and I must admit, does benefit from some beads or other embellishment. It’s a bit plain as it is. (The Storm Trooper helps.) I’m tempted to make it in green though, with red beads, as it does make a nice little holly wreath. Perhaps nearer Christmas.

pile

While we’re talking sewing in ends, this is the pile I’ve forced myself to deal with this week. The beaded one on the right I only made a week or so ago, but the others have been lurking about for ages. In the end, I left them on the kitchen table, and forced myself to do a tiny bit of sewing when I was waiting for a kettle to boil or something to cook. Bit by bit it wasn’t too bad. As a person who crochets, I’m always reading about the chore of sewing in crochet threads – but seriously! Wait till you have to deal with size 100 tatting thread!

half done

This is 4/5’s of a Susanne Schwenke snowflake. I love this pattern when it’s complete – while it’s a single section on repeat, theres something about it that feels a bit erratic, reminds me of sparks flying off a sparkler.To be honest there’s absolutely no way you’d see that from the above, but trust me, it’s nice. Anyway, This was the first attempt, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. It’s a tricksy pattern, and there’s the tiniest bit of bloc tatting in there, which I’ve never done before.

block tatting

That’s me learning block tatting. It’s almost like you tat a chain on one side of the thread, and the next chain on the opposite side. Also, I finally learnt how to make a lock join – tatters, isn’t it hard *not* to flip the thread? Seriously, it felt like I was defying the laws of physics. All that time you spend learning to flip it correctly, and suddenly you have to unlearn it. Anyway…

doneish

This is the second attempt, and I remain unimpressed. The block tatting in it is only three passes, and in size 80 thread, it just looks like a bit of a mistake. Also, I’m thinking that the 4 rings at the end of each ‘arm’ would be much better as SCMRs. As it is, they’re standard chains, attached with a normal join, and it does look a bit messy. So I’m going to tackle it again, with a few alterations… Has anyone out there made this – and if so, any thoughts?

big pig

And finally, I’m making a bigger version of the Little Piglet! I love this pattern, the shape of the head is so cute. I hope I manage to make his body live up to it.

And that’s all for now.

Except, one last thing – look at this brilliant woven bookmark made by a friend of mine! Such a great idea, and I love the thought of a bookmark created for a specific book.

First quilt: finished!

Quilt on the sofa

I’ve been itching to write this post for THREE WEEKS. Three weeks ago I finished this, but I’ve only had the chance to take a few photos today.

So the thing is, this quilt is far from perfect, but I honestly couldn’t be more pleased with it. It’s a bit wonky, the stitches aren’t always straight, but I really had a lot of fun (and frustration) making it, and I learnt a lot. Also, it’s got a lot of happy memories associated with it, dating back to a beautiful weekend last August when I bought the fabric.

Anyone with the interest in reading this (if there is anyone!) will probably know how enticing bundles of fabric are in quilt shops. I finally succumbed in Quiltessential, where the owner was so helpful and encouraging that before I knew it, I’d bought myself a bundle of fabric and a rotary cutter. She seemed pretty sure I could make something, and I thought ‘you know what? You’ll never know till you try’. Up until that point all I’d made were lavender bags, I hasten to add, and I’d never heard of a ‘fat quarter’.

Anyway, I took from last September until 3 weeks ago to cut the pieces, patchwork them, buy the backing fabric, baste it, quilt it and bind it, but I’ve done it! And really, I did the whole thing by reading tutorials and watching some videos on the internet. (Thank you internet!) I should also add, that I wasn’t working on the quilt continuously, I doesn’t take *that* long!

back strip

I’ve looked at a lot of quilts online, and noticed people adding nice details to the back, so this is the back of mine – or a bit of it. It’s got a strip of patchworked offcuts and a strip of solid fabric, which runs across the shortest length. I really like it actually, and so when I make my next one, I’ll make more of an effort with it. And yes, I’m already planning my next one.

In the end I machined the front of the binding (this is my machine), and hand stitched the back, which really didn’t take as long as I thought it would. It’s not 100% easy quilting on the Singer (I still don’t have / really know what a ‘walking foot’ is) but it’s manageable. I might not win any prizes for the evenness of my stitches, but that’s not really a problem as I wasn’t planning on entering anything!

It’s the perfect size for wrapping yourself up in on the sofa – or just staring at for a bit 🙂

quilt

So here’s the thing. If you’d like to make a quilt and you’re a bit worried about it, don’t be. It’s just sewing, and if you get it wrong, you can unpick it. Unpicking might be annoying and take some time, but nobody dies. And at the end of it, you’ve got a *thing*, you’ve learnt something, and you’ve had some fun along the way. If you don’t know anyone that quilts, and you can’t get to, or afford any lessons, make the most of what you have – the internet. People are very kind with their time, and the online tutorials I’ve found have all been brilliant.

Useful links:
For inspiration, check out some of the Flickr quilting groups, it’s how I settled on a Pinwheel quilt.

If you’re beginning with biggish squares of fabric, this video shows how to make ‘fast and easy pinwheels’ (Please note, you don’t have to be fast, I certainly wasn’t!)

And if you’re using smaller squares, then the second method here is the method I used.

I used a variety of tutorials for basting and quilting – but I’m not sure that there was any specific tutorial I would recommend over any others you might find. I used the ‘stitch in the ditch’ method of quilting, as it was the best chance I had at getting straight lines!

For the binding I used this tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts, and next time I think I might machine bind, using this tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts.

…Phew.