Thursday, September 22, 2011

Concentric Circles

While I was quilting the concentric circles pattern on my genome quilt I had a few people ask me how I marked the circles, so I thought I would put together a post explaining the method that I used.

As I wanted my circles to be perfectly concentric, evenly spaced and for all the circles in the quilt to be the same sizes, I made myself a cardboard template. The card I used was some medium thickness card that I got from an art supplies store. The store I went to was actually very generous - I went in and explained what I needed the card for and the guy said he knew exactly what to suggest and showed me the card I ended up getting, which was just right. I asked him how much it was and he said free! Apparently the card is actually the packaging that the fancy paper that they get comes in and they throw it away anyway! Score!

Anyway, since I wanted my circles to get quite big I needed to fashion some kind of compass - for which I used a blob of bluetac and a map-pin to be my central pivot point, and then I taped some stay tape to a pencil, which I would use to measure the radius of the circle. I did however find that the stay tape stuck to the bluetac, so I put a bit of paper between the tape and the bluetac and it worked perfectly. In the picture below you can see me marking the circles on the card, I made my lines 2 inches apart. To maximise the size of the circles I could draw, I just made a template for half the circle.

I then needed to cut along the lines to make it into a template - I cut out every other half circle arch, as shown in the photo below. To make sure that the centres of my circles stayed in the same place I kept a thin strip along the edge to hold all the arches in the same places. I also marked the centre of my circles so that I could place the template over it when I moved it to draw the other half.

I then drew around the circles with my washable pencil

I chose pink lead because it would show on the white, blue and green fabrics in the quilt

And then lastly I stitched along my traced lines.

I didn't mark the whole quilt at once, I did a couple of patches of circles at a time, starting in the middle and working my way out in each direction until I'd filled all the spaces.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today's lesson...

Today's lesson is not to sew when you are tired and distracted, because things go wrong! (although you probably knew that)

Can you spot the odd one out?!

Does anyone have any tips for unpicking a whip stitch?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coffee Sorbetto

After finishing my Genome quilt I decided that I needed to take a break from big complex projects and do something nice and simple. Conveniently The Fabric Store had just gotten in their new spring fabrics, which include some gorgeous cotton voile/lawn.

Above are the fabrics I bought. From left to right: Black merino wool jersey, navy cotton/lycra jersey, blue organic cotton jersey, beige and brown spotted cotton, plain brown cotton, brown silk suiting.

I bought the beige and brown fabric and the brown fabric to make a sorbetto. After seeing so many gorgeous variations around the internet I decided to have a go at making one of my own to see if the style suits me. (I was a little concerned because of the lack of shaping that it wouldn't work with my boobs).

Overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. The pattern was very well drafted, however the instructions were a little confusing for the binding. I thought I had followed the pattern instructions but after discussion with Mindy we now think I did it differently (not that it really matters). Also, the continuous binding tutorial linked in the pattern completely eluded me - I COULD NOT get the stripes to line up and after three tries I gave up and didn't bother trying to make it continuous.

One other, slightly more serious gripe however, is the inaccuracy of the fabric requirements stated in the pattern. I bought the amount of fabric suggested in the pattern: 1.5yards (ie approx 1.5m). However this ended up being easily twice as much as I needed (ie I have more than enough fabric left over to make another top if I wanted to!) I was a little disappointed by this, and wanted to point out to anyone considering making this pattern that you do not need 1.5m, if the fabric is over about 120cm wide (size dependent) you need about 75cm as you can fit the two pattern pieces side by side and fold the selveges to the centre (a little more if you want to lengthen the top).

Other than that I followed the pattern faithfully, making no the size 6 pattern. However if/when I make another one I think I will lengthen it just a tiny bit, and also pinch out the gaping at the armhole and transfer it to the bust dart.

I say if because although I really like the pattern i'm not sure how practical it is. It looks fine tucked into a skirt but left untucked it's a bit sack like, and thus it's a bit of a smarter item. However, smarter items tend to be worn in places like offices and such, which are generally FREEZING cold due to over-air-conditioning and I have to wear at least one jumper (even in summer). This top can be worn with a jumper (see below, that's how it was worn the one time I've worn it so far), but it seems a shame to cover it up, and with the cotton it crumples a bit.

However, having said that, I think it would be a FANTASTIC summer pyjama top, and since some of my summer PJ bottoms are starting to fall apart I expect I will be making some as the weather warms up and I may make some matching Sorbettos to wear with them. We'll see.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I realised the other day that I had forgotten to post my big news - on the 31st of August I submitted my thesis! And, as is custom with Melbourne University, I got my balloon:

Now to wait up to 4 months to see what the examiners say.

This does however mean that I am thoroughly enjoying having nothing I should be doing when I get home from work in the evenings! Thus sewing no longer has any accompanied guilt.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cathedral Windows Practice

I have been a bit absent lately - that's because I submitted my thesis last week! Hooray! Now to wait about 4 months for the examiners to read it and find out if I pass.

I've been wanting to post about the practice Cathedral windows blocks I made for a while, however I managed to loose one of them before I'd taken a photo. I had a proper look this evening though and found it, so now I can share them.

After posting my Cathedral Windows Inspiration I decided to do a small practice block to see if I liked the technique before making the decision to commit to a full quilt of them. So I had a rummage through my fabric and made a practice block:

The practice block turned out pretty well but it was a bit of a pain to sew together - it was very stiff to get the needle through the fabric. However the fabric I'd chosen was some poly-cotton left over from making a skirt so I thought that maybe it was the fabric rather than the technique, so I made another one, this time with proper quilting cotton:

This one was much easier to sew together, and i tried out a few techniques to (in my opinion) improve the finish of the block. As you can see, I also had a go at adding an extra fabric in the background.

Even after my two sample blocks i'm still in two minds about whether or not to make a full cathedral windows quilt. I love how they look, I'm just still not sure how functional they are as quilts.
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