25 June, 2011

It's a Plus

I've started working on another cushion cover, using a pattern adapted from the Lap Quilt in 'I Heart Patchwork' by Rashida Coleman-Hale, one of my favourite books. Though having said that, this is my first actual project from it! I love looking through it and dreaming :) And you know what? Dream projects always turn out perfectly in my mind, and enhance my life and make me much cooler and happier. Is it any wonder I have a bit of a thing for craft books?

So, here is the cushion cover so far:

It's A Plus cushion cover

The quilt pattern was adapted from a doll's quilt over at Soto Softies, and since that's about the size I was after I thought it would make an excellent cover.  I didn't have a huge number of suitable blues in my stash so was constrained by that but I think they go together quite well on the whole. I figured the basic block size should be 1.75" (sorry about the imperial and metric together, my metric brain can't help but think of inches like this!) to yield a piece of about 20" square, sorted out which fabrics would be which squares (nearly blew my mind on that alone) and got cutting. That was fine and I had beautiful little stacks of squares and rectangles and I started sewing them into strips and then put the first 10 strips together and they matched and looked really good! And that's when things started to go wrong...

Suddenly the squares weren't matching up, things were up to 5mm short in places and I couldn't figure out why! Then I realised that, gasp!, I'd managed to include some poly/cotton fabrics in my assortment and they'd shrunk with the hot iron! They were both fabrics from ages ago and I had no idea what they were made of - well to be honest it never crossed my mind to wonder! I thought I'd ironed everything on hot before I cut, but obviously not hot enough. So I ironed and steamed those fabrics really hard and recut the pieces. But I think they were still shrinking or something, because by the end things were so out of whack that I was having to restitch seams narrower and fiddle around to get most of the squares to match but not all of them. If you look at the closest rows you can see things not matching up, and when I look at the piece as a whole, I can see it gradually expanding in width as I went.

I really REALLY should have stopped when I first had a mismatch and figured out what was going on - or started sewing in from the other side and worked it out in the middle - but no, I had to press on. And what I really really REALLY should have done is stopped and removed the polycottons (the navy blue with white spots and the dark navy plain) and found replacements. But that would have meant going out and buying something and I was proud this was all from my stash and I was lazy and feeling cheap, and I wanted to do this NOW, so I didn't. Lesson learned. This isn't the first time I've had issues with cheap polycottons and jeez you'd think I'd learn wouldn't you? But no, every time a sucker! I need to purge my stash of any remaining substandard fabrics because I obviously can't be trusted to not use them. Anyways, after much swearing, unripping, resewing, unripping, and swearing, things mostly match up and won't be too noticeable when it's squared up with a border around the outside. I hope! I'm not redoing it at anyrate :P

And lest anyone feel that I'm being too hard on myself, I honestly do consider self-criticism an essential part of my crafting process. If I can't reflect on how I could have done it better then how can I hope to improve? It's the same in academia - if you can't take criticism on your work and use it constructively, no matter how crap it makes you feel at the time, then you won't improve. So please don't tell me not to be critical of my work or think that I don't like what I've done - I do! I wouldn't show you anything I wasn't at least moderately proud of :)


  1. oh, those mixes are dastardly! I had a similar experience when I made a bag last month.  But if you hadn't mentioned your problems, I would have just commented about your lovely colours and pattern :) I love that book too, but actually couldn't find anything I desperately wanted to make out of it, apart from the quilt which looks completely out of my league!

  2. duh, I just realised I'm confusing it it with the book 'Natural Patchwork'! 

  3. I won't notice the non-matching when it's all sewn up, and really it's just the last three strips - if I'd photographed it from the other side no-one would have known! It was great using up those scraps though, even the horrible polycotton.

    I actually think that doing this pattern as a quilt (lap quilt actually) as per the book would be easier than doing it small like this, though using linen on large expanses could be tricky. I keep meaning to try spraying it with starch as was suggested to me awhile ago, and see if that helps. I love the colours that were used in the original doll quilt though, they're great.

  4. Ah - yeah I had the same reaction to that book. I Heart Patchwork on the other hand...

  5. Tracy ProsestitchJune 26, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Can I tell you that I liked this cover as soon as I saw it and that I didn't immediately notice the things you know are wrong about it? I'm sure they are there if you say so and that you will always see them, but the overall effect is great. I like what you say about self-criticism too. For me that is part of the point of blogging about a project. Anything I have to say about a project is always going to include the negative/critical as well as the positive.

  6. Rashida Coleman-HaleJune 28, 2011 at 5:56 AM

    Jacqui, this looks great!  I didn't even notice the seams until you pointed it out.  I think your color choices (which are fantastic btw!) really help mask it.  Really, truly lovely work! Isn't the doll quilt by Maritza amazing as well?  Can't wait to see the finished cover! ^_^

  7. Thanks! And thank you also for writing such a nice pattern and a lovely lovely book!

  8. The penny drops .... didn't realise polycotton would shrink under a hot iron, this explains a few things. 



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