Patchwork Laptop Cosy Project – For Newbies or Relaxation

I don’t relax, I almost relax and find something to stress about.  That means it is time for a project.  Simple projects are my form of mindfulness.  This is a good beginner’s patchwork project and for me means that I can keep my mind occupied but still relaxed.

When I discovered the Petit Fleur Alphabet Cot Quilt Panel (see below) at my favourite fabric store The Eternal Maker I fell in love with it.  The snag? I don’t have young children and my nieces and nephews all have their nurseries sorted

Image of the Petit Fleur Patchwork Quilt Panel and Four Coordinating Fabrics

No inspiration struck until we were packing to go on holiday this year.  I wanted to pack my laptop but not in the large (and if I’m honest ugly) case that we had.  However I couldn’t leave it unprotected whilst travelling through France. There are plenty of simple laptop sleeve or cosy sewing patterns out there on the internet but it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t need to spend money on fabric. I simply needed to make the fabric from the patchwork panel I already had.

The final laptop cosy is waterproof & padded. I think it ticks all the boxes for a cute and very… Click To Tweet

As with most patchwork projects, this project has three phases; Phase one is piecing the fabric together to a size and shape to suit the project, phase two is quilting it to provide padding for the computer and phase three is making the actual sleeve. This first post covers Phase One only as it it pretty detailed.

The Patchwork is very straightforward and suitable for a first project.  The quilting is also straightforward.  Putting the cosy together is a bit more awkward as it is dealing with vinyl and thick quilting but I managed it all on a normal domestic sewing machine with a standard general purpose needle.

Phase One – Patchwork:

Grid showing all the equipment needed for this project

 

Collage picture showing all the materials necessary for this project

  • 1 Cot Panel or other Patchwork cotton fabric to cover approx. 50cm x 80cm (for a 17″ Laptop) – I used the Petit Fleur.
  • Coordinating fabrics to make patches for spots where the colours do not quite match up.
  • Quilt Batting (I used this Polyester Wadding but decided to use it double thickness)
  • General purpose sewing thread
  • Backing Fabric of your choice – I used a coordinating fabric from the same range. 50cm x 80cm.
  • Coordinating Bias Binding – 3metres
  • Iron On Vinyl ( I used Thermoweb Gloss Heat ‘n’ Bond).
  • 2 x 5cm squares of interfacing in three weights – I used iron on standard medium vilene, peltex 71f fusible one side heavyweight interfacing and a fusible cotton interfacing. Basically any scraps I had left over!

Step One:

Pre wash the fabric you intend to use in a net or pillow case to stop it fraying too badly.  If it is patchwork fabric then put it on a cotton wash with no fabric softener.

Step Two:

Iron the panel flat. It is important to get all creases out of the fabric before the next stage.

Step Three:

Using paper scissors cut a length of iron on vinyl that will fit part of the panel (it isn’t wide enough to do the whole panel in one go!) Peel the backing paper off and put the sticky side onto the front (picture side) of the panel. Smooth it into place with your hands.

Image showing lengths of iron on vinyl placed across the panel in the most efficient manner

Step Four:

Put the backing paper shiny side down on top of the vinyl and use the iron (on a medium heat setting, with NO steam) to put pressure on each area in turn for eight seconds (You should have seen my husbands face at me standing there counting “one – Mississippi – two – Mississippi” over and over!)  Make sure all areas have been heated and DON’T put the iron on any uncovered areas of vinyl or you will end up with a messy iron sole plate to clean (ugh).

Step Five:

Flip the fabric over and press all areas on the back of the fabric for around four seconds for each part.  This should finish adhering the vinyl to the patchwork panel.

Step Six:

Using a cutting mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter cut up the patches of the panel with a half inch seam allowance all the way around.

Patchwork usually works with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. That makes me nervous so I make it wider when I can! Click To Tweet

This short clip shows you how to use a rotary cutter to cut a straight line on Cotton fabric. There is no sound, therefore no language barriers.

Standing up to do the cutting gives you the most reliable pressure and be sure to roll the rotary cutter away from your body.  The picture below shows you how to line up the quilting ruler to get the correct seam allowance.

Image showing how to line up a quilting ruler to obtain a half inch seam allowance on the patchwork block

Step Seven:

Layout your cut pieces to decide what order you want to patchwork them together in (I wanted alphabetical order for this panel but it might be as simple as what looks pretty!)

Step Eight:

If there are any “gaps” in the layout (for example where you don’t want two patches of the same colour next to each other) cut panels to fill the gaps. I used plain coloured quilting cotton in coordinating colours and laminated each piece as before.

In order to make the envelope type flap you will need to add four extra “patches” that are cut diagonally to create the shape

I used one of the printed panels as a template to cut the rectangles.

Three image collage showing the steps of cutting the diagonal patches

I then lined the quilting ruler up so that the line half an inch in from the edge rested on the exact diagonal.  When you cut with the rotary cutter you then have a panel the correct size with a seam allowance.

Step Nine:

At this point I usually take a photo with my phone so that I can remember what the order was that I liked.

Pay Attention - if your pattern only makes sense in one direction lay out your patches to accommodate this. Click To Tweet

Image of patchwork squares being photographed with a mobile phone

Step Ten:

Using the sewing machine (set to a medium length straight stitch) sew together rows of patches (you will sew the columns together later)

Step Eleven:

From the back of the fabric press the seam allowances left on one row and and to the right on the next (why, will become clear!) Use a pressing movement, rather than a normal ironing one.  If the iron moves around too much it curls the edges of the fabric/vinyl mix and that is really annoying!

Photo of iron pressing seam allowances of patchwork blocks in one direction

Close up image showing seam allowances pressed in opposite directions on next door rows

Step Twelve:

Trim all the ends of thread off of your sewn rows so that they don’t get in the way and tangle up in the next stage of the patchwork.

Image showing scissors trimming ends of threads from patchwork rows

Step Thirteen:

“Nest” the patches of the rows together (this was why you pressed the seam allowances in opposite directions) and then use clips to hold the two rows together whilst you stitch.

Close up shot showing the seams of the patches being nested into accurate positions.

Using clips (pins will make holes in the vinyl) clip the row into position and sew. (If you need to, use an air vanishing maker to mark your stitching line across plain panels). Use the photo for reference to make sure that you get the rows in the right order and the right way up!

Collage showing preparing the rows for sewing together

That is it! Phase One is complete!

Photograph of the completed patchwork section

Next week  Phase Two – Quilting and Assembly.

Exciting News!…The Handmade Fair

My week went a little off course in the most amazing way this week when Boffin drew my attention to an appeal by Kirstie Allsopp via Facebook for volunteers to help with her project “The Handmade Fair” at Hampton Court Palace.

I applied on Thursday Evening and by Friday teatime I had a place to help on all three days!

handmade_fair-e1396459017363_0

Excited does not even begin to cover it!

The motto of the event is:

EVERYONE HAS A CRAFT THEY CAN DO!

Join us for a day of making beautiful things
Indulge yourself in our craft banquet workshops
Learn from Britain’s best artisans
Shop from hand-picked craft sellers

This is a credo I can get behind and not only is the UK’s favourite celebrity crafter Kirstie Allsopp going to be there but there are workshops and talks by people like Annie Sloane, Cath Kidston and Kaffe Fassett, to name a few!

I get my assignment on Monday (where I will being working, what workshops I will be helping with) and I can’t wait! (And I get to wear a PINK Hi Vis vest!).

 

Embroidery Hoop Art – Phase 2 (“Oh we do like to be beside the Seaside!”)

Back in November I joined my sister-in-law C for a day out drooling over the loveliness of everything at the “Country Living Christmas Fair”. Whilst there I discovered the wonderful work of Poppy Treffy.  She specialises in free machine applique to produce pictures and to decorate everyday things with a wonderfully whimsical, summery feel mainly inspired by her Cornwall home.  I could have bought the whole shop had funds permitted but I contented myself with buying her book (which I will NOT lend anyone because she signed it for me!)

“Free and Easy Stitch Style” by Poppy Treffy

I loved her style and was torn with indecision between itching to have a go at free machine work and being terrified that I would muck it up.  I find that “free and easy” are not two words that usually apply to my work, much to my sorrow!

Boffin (long suffering husband) and I love a seaside town called Southwold, near where his family home is in Suffolk.  It is a wonderful place, very like somewhere out of a Miss Marple mystery with a pier, promenade of beach huts for hire and Lighthouse right in the middle of town.  We have spent many happy days there wandering around and playing with the children on the beach, (I have even been in swimming there, Brrrrr!).  So I decided that an idealised version of the  sea front would make a perfect image to go in our gallery of hoop art and that the free machine applique would be the perfect style to do it in.  That was the easy bit!

I spent ages with my notebook drawing circles and trying to sketch a suitably emblematic scene of Southwold to put in my picture but I wasn’t happy with any of them, they were too “tight” and rigid.  Then, at the end of the day, at work I picked up a ball point pen and scribbled on a bit of scrap paper in five minutes.  Unbelievably (and typically!) I had my image!

I used the hoop I wanted it to go in as a template and then drew out the design more heavily onto tracing paper in pencil.

I then invested in a transfer pencil and traced the design on the back of the drawing.  That bit was a pain in the posterior I can tell you.  The pencil I bought crumbled as soon as I put it to paper and kept crumbling every time.  I got a sharpener and I stuck with it but it took over half of my brand new pencil to even get some semblance of lines on the page, and they weren’t that clear.  I stuck with it and then set up the iron to iron it onto the linen background I’d chosen to use.  That bit was easy enough but the results weren’t great.  I got just barely visible lines that involved a lot of guess work.  I think I would definitely look for another way if I was to do it again.

 

Rather than  use the transfer pencil again I scanned my original picture and cut out sections of it to use as patterns whilst cutting the scraps of fabric for applique.  This was a bit fiddly but I wasn’t sure what else I could do!

I chose and cut the scraps from my basket to size and then used “Heat and Bond: Lite” to bond each piece to the backing so that I could attempt free machining for the first time without have to worry about the fabric moving around.

The I took the foot off of my machine, dropped the feed dogs, threaded up a navy blue top thread (I thought black would be too harsh but I wanted a dark outline that would show up) and a yellow bottom thread (a la Poppy’s advice for a unique look).  I took a deep breath and took the plunge in outlining stuff.

The outlining didn’t go too badly so I tried a little bit of shading on the windows,

Then I tried a adding a few embellishments like the light beams and a seagull or two;

Finally, to finish off I edged the edge of the fabric to stop it fraying and put it in the hoop to test it out (yes, I know I still need to paint the hoop but it was raining hard all day today and I didn’t fancy getting soaked whilst trying to find the right colour paint in out detached garage!)

I have to say that I really love it.  It’s not perfect, the stitch tension is dodgy and the back is far from neat (hence no photos of that!) but I may just be addicted to free machining! Watch this space.

Russian Dolls and fallow spots

The last couple of weeks have been a bit….fallow really.  I have had loads of projects started but none at the point of being finished and no “aha!” moments for new ones. In short I haven’t had a lot to talk about!

This left me feeling a bit dissatisfied with my lot and desperate for something to move in the right direction.

Finally this week something clicked and things started moving forward again.  Funnily enough it was all down to me being a bit of a miser!

Over the last eighteen months I have collected loads of business cards, postcards and contact details from suppliers of various art and craft supplies that I want to keep for future reference (like when I make my first million maybe?)  Too lazy to write or type the details into something I wanted to glue the cards straight into a book.  So I looked around for a book and all the cute ones were £10.00 or more which I wasn’t prepared to pay.  Hunting around at home for something to substitute I found a project book that I had bought to house my endless “To Do” lists whilst still teaching and never used.  It had dividers, it had a spiral binding and it was REALLY ugly!

So out came the felt and the cotton perle thread and off I went.   I measured around the outside of the cover with it shut so that I got the longest distance of felt that I would need with the book closed.  I then used fabric glue to glue a strip of felt inside the area where the spiral bound spine would go so that it wouldn’t poke through the stretched felt.

I glued the edges of the inner sleeves into place and then stitched around in blanket stitch (which I really love) with cotton perle.  I think than cotton perle stands out more than stranded cotton and I find it easier to stitch with when using the full thickness of the thread.

During this time I had a bit of inspiration.  I know that Russian dolls are currently very trendy but I have always loved them and collect them so I figured why not put one on the front of my contact book?  I added a little stitched embellishment (I learnt those stitches in Primary School and was honestly amazed that I could still remember how to do them!)  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Anyway, that seems to have restored some of my mojo (laughs sarcastically) because I have come up with a template for something new, original and exciting (well, at least to me) for my ongoing embroidery hoop gallery.  Here’s a sneak peek…

Byeee…

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic

My niece loves to have tea parties with her “baby” Max and her other toys.  She is a very girly girl and has firm opinions about the colour pink and who should (and more importantly should not!) wear it.

For Christmas I decided to make her a picnic blanket so that she and her friends could really dine in style!

I bought a remanant of pink fleece that gave me a square one metre in size and splurged on some Tinkerbell blanket binding and webbing that was such a cute mauve colour that I couldn’t resist.

I read a load of tutorials on putting blanket binding on but I have to say that I found it surprisingly difficult.  No matter how I pinned or tacked it it seemed to ruckle up as I sewed. After I had finished swearing, huffing and puffing I unpicked it and tried again.  After about three repeats of this with the air turning progressively more blue with each one I finally got the best results I could (but definitely not perfect) by using basting glue.

I really wanted the blanket to fold up into a sweet carry case so I cut another piece of fleece from my remenant and edged it with oridnary double fold bias binding, which was a LOT easier than the blanket binding.

I attached the webbing in two carry handles and some at the sides to fasten with Velcro.  I ironed on some transfer letters to spell her name and stitched that to the front.  Then I stitched the rectangle to the blanket. Voila, the Teddy bears were ready for their picnic…



And we’re ready for the off…



Stage One of the unfolding process.
Stage Two.

Stage Two from the underside.

Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic!

I hasten to add that all props used in these photos are mine, not hers (Yes I know it’s sad that I have Teddy Bears but at least it’s my best china!).
She loved the blanket and I am told that she has been going on many “days out” in her play Camper Van with toys and a picnic!  That makes me very happy!

Un Petit Cadeau

We have some wonderful friends in the village who are never failing in their support and care during difficult times. They are a remarkable family. Mum is the most staggerly organised person I know running husband, three children and a large dog and making it look effortless! Dad is in the armed forces and travels a lot. They have basically gutted their house and redone it completely and it looks gorgeous. Anyway, before you are physically sick at these paragons (and I spoil it by telling you how much I get teased by Dad!)I wanted to show you the Christmas present that I made them. I wanted to make them something personal but useful. I settled on a cushion because:

a) It was within my sewing capabilities!
b) I could personalise it with iron on transfers

Mum of the family is of French descent (her Mum was in the French Resistance, how cool is that!) and we have shared many excellent times on French family holidays over the year. Therefore I decided to use a vintage french label found on the excellent “The Graphics Fairy” blog and use put my own message inside.

They moved to the village at the same time we did so I changed the “Maison Fondee” date on Publisher. I put their family name at the top and decided that I wanted my main message to be “Home is where the heart is…” In their case they really love their home and work so hard at getting it just perfect for their family. I have to confess that my French is school girl so I used Babelfish to make sure that I got the phrasing right. I printed the Publisher document onto transefer paper and ironed it onto some calico. I appliqued the Calico panel onto the cushion front and then put the rest of it together.

They LOVED it. I was so pleased, both with the cushion and their reaction. The only problem is topping it next year!

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