Well, times are a'changing again. I wrote over at The Co-op of my desire to be a better stitcher. Being able to cut and sew 'waste' fabric together is one frugal and green skill that is worth its weight in gold. I think this might also be a case of pregnancy hormones affecting my brain again - I keep seeing pretty sundresses and hats everywhere and thinking (probably somewhat over-optimistically) 'I could make that...'.
Patchwork has always appealed to me precisely because it was traditionally all about creating useful items from meagre scraps at a time when fabric was expensive and waste wasn't seen as beneficial to the economy. In more recent years it has been turned into an art form - fabric being bought, cut and patched together to to fulfill a preconceived design. The results are usually beautiful, but it is the roots of the craft that appeal to me, rather than the potential for artistic greatness. So as not to ruin my chances of successfully completing something, I am starting out really simply with a stack of old jeans. Really simply:
1) Wash the jeans and cut along the seams so that you have nice flat long swathes of fabric to use - the legs. Iron said swathes.
2) Cut out a square template of the desired size from an empty cereal box and reinforce the edges with sellotape. Be happy that your Other-Half has taken to eating prepacked sugared-cardboard breakfast cereal again instead of nice wholesome-but-minimally-packaged oats.
3) Lay the template on to the fabric, lining up the edge of the square with the grain of the fabric as best as you can, avoiding the worst of the tears, paint and mud stains. Draw around the template using one of your child's (sharpened) colouring pencils in a nice contrasting visible colour.
4) Cut out the square leaving a 5mm seam allowance around the edge.
5) Place two squares, right (unmarked) sides facing each other, and pin together at the corners, ensuring that the pin passes through the marked corner points of both squares to align them. Add a pin in the middle of the line for good luck, again ensuring that it passes through both marked sewing lines. Sew together along the pencil line with a crude running stitch which will improve with each attempt.
6) Repeat with a third square along opposite edge to form strips of patches 3 squares in length.
7) Iron the strips so that the seam allowances lie flat all in the same direction. Stand back and be impressed they are even vaguely straight.
8) Pin the strips together in the same manner as for individual squares, ensuring the corners and marked lines match up. Sew the strips together into blocks and iron once again.
9) Stand back and be disproportionately proud of your slightly lumpy skewiff handiwork.
10) Work out what use you are going to put them to. I am thinking a rugged picnic blanket eventually, perhaps with some embroidered motifs, though I will need a lot more denim than the four pairs of jeans I have gathered. This could be a WIP for several years.
So far I have four blocks and have been too busy to cut any more patches this week. I think I will cut all of the fabric in one go so I have patches on hand in my spare moments. I have realized just how much I like denim - the faded, nubby surface of worn denim is quite beautiful, yet it doesn't appear anywhere in our house bar the wardrobe. It still has years of life left in it, albeit in a new form. The squares actually only take a few minutes to pin and sew each, much much quicker than I was expecting - and even when I made a mistake, each length is so short, it wasn't too much of a chore to unpick and resew. The strips can be stacked up and ironed in batches when the mood strikes. In short, a perfect pick up and put down project, which is good as my crafting time is about to get even shorter and fragmented.
So, what are you all working on at the moment? Feel free to leave a link if you have blogged about it - I enjoy
being nosy looking for inspiration : )