Thursday, December 29, 2011

more secret crafting

When this project started out I didn't know if it would all come together, but I knew exactly who I'd finish it for if it ever did. I was impressed by several map-inspired quilts that I'd come across online and in exhibitions including this stylized interpretation of the tokyo subway map and these much more literal (for lack of a better work) interpretations of maps as quilts showing terrain and landmarks.

I set out the challenge for myself to create a patchwork based on the London Underground. Using my trusty grid-paper notebook I drew out a scaled version of the map, and slowly built up a patchwork using nine-patches made up of 1-inch squares, which I then used as blocks to create nine-patches of 3-inch squares, and built the patchwork up so forth and so forth.

For a more varied effect (and perhaps to give my patience just a little bit of a break) I also worked in 2"x 1" rectangles and 2" by 2" squares into the map. I started out with a trial 'nine-patch of nine-patches' and by the time I finished my first one I was hooked and determined to continue.

In the end I had roughly 35 'nine-patches of nine-patches' plus more large scale ones to finish out the quilt. As I approached the outside and border of the map, I expanded the size of the pieces and blocks and faded into some purple and grey shades to frame it.

This was a very fun and rewarding project for me, and working with 9" blocks made up of smaller blocks, meant that it was a project I could work on at my leisure; putting it away and shelving it at times when I wanted a break, as well as pulling out small pieces to work on without ending up knee deep in fabrics and notions. To organise myself, I kept a "master box" with all the fabric scraps I was working from, as well as tray full of pre-cut 1 1/2" and 2 1/2" strips I was cutting from. I only needed the tray to prepare each nine-patch, and only needed to go back to the "master box" when it was time to replenish my tray.

It was really nice to make a gift for someone without the pressure of a specific birthday or special event in mind (although timing meant it worked well as a birthday/christmas gift).

Sometimes it's just really nice to make for the sake of making and give for the sake of giving, and as I worked on the project I became more and more pleased and inspired by the fact that I knew it would be a gift for a person who loves and appreciates London more than anyone else I know.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

big quiltin' - some helpful advice

After seeing the effect on a number of duvet covers and simple patchwork pieces in retail shops, I decided that when I was finishing a quilt for my new nephew - I would try out what I could best describe as "heavy quilting done with thick cotton".

The trouble with deciding that you are going to try a technique you don't know the name of, is that you don't know how to ask for advice or what to call it - and so began my hunt to find the name.

It seems that each time someone suggested a name to me, there was another person there to categorically say that it was definitely not that technique and imply that to suggest otherwise was not only incorrect, but an insult to that technique. Whoops! I guess that's the problem with internet forums - sometimes you get lots of advice that takes you further away from your goal.

Was it Shashiko? A very neat and orderly Japanese stitch. Certainly not and how dare anyone suggest that?

Was it perhaps Kantha ? A form of embroidery popular in India...? Heavens no!

The more I thought I was nearing my answer, the more I realised I was getting further away from it and closer to getting tangle up in an online debate over world stitching styles.

So I present - 'Shashiko and Kantha inspired big chunky running stitch' or as I now call it "Big Quiltin'"

For those wanting to try this and want some advice - here is the advice I came up with in my search/discovered myself.

1. Use Perle Cotton rather than embroidery floss for the thread - you don't want to fight with lots of fibers and want something that will thread together and stay together.

2. Get yourself some quilter's wax/thread conditioner which will help keep your threads together, prevent your long threads from tangling, and also protect them a bit in the first wash so that your thread colours don't run.

3. Time how long it takes you to do your first thread, before deciding how far apart you want do complete the rest of your threads.

4. For the first few threads draw your line on with a disappearing marker, so that you have a guide. Once you have a few lines completed it should be easier to follow with parallel lines, so you shouldn't need to draw out every line.

5. Play with colours, stitch sizes, and distance between threads - have fun with it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Photo Booth Wall - Tutorial

There is already an amazing tutorial and DIY project on the Ruffled Blog which has been inspiring many people to build their own photo walls for parties, weddings and other functions... but at the risk of looking like I'm reinventing the wheel - I thought I'd post an alternative option for how to put one together!

We wanted a photo wall for our special event, but due to the constraints of not having a car, not having a very big flat, and needing something lightweight, portable and collapsable (we walked this to our venue)... we had to come up with an alternative solution.

Our main criteria for the redesign were

a. all pieces we needed to build the frame had fit in a taxi/car from the DIY shop
b. the finished product needed to be lightweight portable enough that we could walk it to the venue, get it up the stairs, and assemble it easily there.

Rather than use plywood, we decided to build a frame out of 1x2 lumber (for those not in the know what is called 1" by 2" lumber, actually measures 3/4" by 1 1/2") and then use hardboard as as lighter, easier to work with and more flexible option, as the main surface of the wall.

We used;

For the walls
- 10 x "1 by 2" pieces measuring 72 inches (182cm) in length
- 4 x 3mm hardboard pieces measuring 60cm x 180 cm

For the stand
- 1 x 240cm long plank for bookshelves (white covered MDF)
- 1 x 240cm long piece of moulding/trim (any will do)
- 1 x "2 by 4" piece of lumber (length 240 cm)

Other things...
- Wall Paper, Frames, Clocks, Photos
- Wall Paper Paste
- Screws, Finishing Nails

- Hand Saw
- Jigsaw
- Craft Knife

Taking stock of our materials

Step 1. We drew out how we wanted our photo wall to look and actually used a large blank wall to layout the design and make all our measurements. Using our measurements we sketched out a basic frame so that the vertical 1 by 2's measured to the inner edges of the frames, and cut horizontal 1 by 2's to connect the pieces. Each of the two frames was built to fit the hardboard pieces we bought - 120 cm (two widths of the 60 cm hardboard panels)by 180 cm (the length of the hardboard panels)

Step 2.. Double checking all our measurements before cutting, we quickly assembled the frame - starting with the outer frame first, and then fitting all the inner pieces within the frame.

(above) One of the two panels which make up the wall.
(below) Connect the joints with two wood screws.

We assembled all the joints of the frame using short wood screws. The wood of the 1 by 2's is very soft, so we didn't need to drill... we simply used a screwdriver and a careful eye to assemble them closely.

Step 3. For each of the two frames, we laid down two hardboard panels side by side, and then laid the frames on top - marking where the frame holes would be cut.

Step 4. Using a jigsaw, we cut the holes for the frame (this could be done with a craft knife, if you don't have a jigsaw, but this will take some time and require much patience).

Step 5. Using a few screws for security, and then finishing nails every few 15 to 20 cm, we attached the hardboard panels to the tops of each frame.

(below) Without wallpaper the two frames look like this

After building the frames, it was just a matter of using some strong moulding and a 2 by 4 to make a stand. We attached the moulding to the front of a board measuring the length of the wall, and after measuring and marking the thickness of the wall screwed in a 2 by 4 to hold it behind.

This made a portable frame that we could slot the two wall panels in.

From there we just wallpapered and decorated away!

I don't think this method is any easier than the other methods I've seen out there. But it certainly made transportation and setting up and take down easier for us, because everything could lie flat and be carried through the doorways of our venue.

The photowall was a great success and we had a great time with it at the party... now its just a question of what we do with it now...

Friday, May 6, 2011

sometimes cake is for eating!

When you partake in making bath and body products at home, guests are often greeted with the welcoming smells of sweet essential oils, melting cocoa butter, coconut oil and honey, only to disappointingly discover that the treats they are smelling are not for eating!

Occasionally Lazy Crafternoons gives into the guilt of cake-teasing... and makes cakes which are actually for eating!

In honour of the warm weather and vintage themed fun of Manchester's Norther Quarter Street Party Lazy Crafternoons made and entered some delicious ice cream cone inspired chocolate cake pops into their cake competition!

... and Chris is very proud to say that they came in Second Place!

This is an adapted cake pop recipe, which I actually found easier because I didn't have to worry about the cake pops falling off sticks. They just sat nicely in the little cones, and because I chilled them in the cones, I had no trouble with them falling out or getting too soft.

I fashioned the stand out of some balsam wood pieces I picked up at a craft shop, and voila!

Here's a shot of Edge St. transformed into a street party.

What a fantastic result on a fantastic day!