My last one hour basket took oh so much time. Two days. But, that was due to aggravation, and ripping out more than anything else. I’m not sure I would have made another one, but I was already signed up for the One Hour Basket Swap 2 on Instagram, and I was committed.
That didn’t stop me from waiting until the last minute, though. And, also at the last minute, on Sunday, when the swap had to be mailed by Friday, I decided to attempt my first serious embroidery hoop (I made one before, but it was all backstitch, with a few french knots thrown in for good measure, too simple to count). On Sunday, I was finally seduced by Bustle & Sew. a monthly e-magazine devoted to embroidery, patchwork, applique and other things of the stitchy sort. While I didn’t (yet) subscribe to their oh-so-cute magazine, I did get sucked in by their 50% Etsy sale, and I bought my first downloadable embroidery pattern.
Since I’ve been playing around with my stitch sampler, I have tried several methods of getting that downloadable pattern onto fabric, with mixed results. I’ve traced, I’ve used a transfer pen, and I’ve used a Frixion pen (it magically erases when you hit it with an iron), so I wasn’t totally befuddled about what to do once I downloaded. But, I did start with the transfer pen – lines were too thick – fail, and then I started over, and went with tracing with a Frixion pen. Serious embroiderers poo poo the Frixion pen, you can smoosh your stitches with the iron, it doesn’t erase all the way on certain fabrics, if you put your embroidery in the freezer, the lines will come back – it’s not a permanent erase, it’s more like Harry Potter. You hit it with heat, gone, freeze – back! Super cool, but I guess for a purest, not so much. I’m not a purest, and it worked for me. And, the pens are easily findable at your local Staples.
So, I managed to get the design on the fabric (doubled up, white quilting cotton), and then I went to work . . . slowly. I’ve said this before, there’s just no speeding up stitching, and it was a real crunch to get it done by Thursday, so I could get it in the mail on Friday. But, I succeeeded, and I was happy with my imperfect, but perfectly giftable results.
This was a great beginner piece:
Lots of different stitches – backstitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, bullion knots, french knots, detached lazy daisies, and what was called in the pattern, radiating straight stitch – although I’m not sure why it’s not satin stitch. Anyway, the pattern also called for some shading of the flowers – as you can see, mine’s a bit of guesswork, and a commendable first try – just because I did try. It’s really hard sometimes, learning things online, little nuances, things where you need an experienced eye to tell you it would look better this way or that way, or that you’re holding your hand wrong, or that you’re not using the right needle, or any number of things. There are just some things it’s nice to have a live teacher or mentor guiding you in the right direction so you’re not struggling to reinvent the wheel. In any event, I hope to get better with the shading thing with this class. It starts next week, so I’ll let you know. I got the kit in the mail last week, and I hope I don’t mess it up because it would be a shame to mess up something that’s potentially so pretty.
Oh, and the basket! Yep, it was a basket swap, after all, and that should have been my focus, but the basket came together pretty easily, and I really did spend most of the week cramming to get the hoop done, which was just a little gift to go with the real swap gift. To save myself aggravation, I sewed the lining and the exterior piece with the same seam allowance. The interior lining is supposed to be a tad smaller, but since that’s what gave me a headache last time, I just went with the bigger measurement, and the extra fabric ended up being a pseudo binding around the top, much like my Crafty Gemini tote. I had been planning to make another Cotton & Steel basket, like my last one, but my partner sent hers out first, and I received a Cotton & Steel basket – sweet! But, I had to redesign in my head. So, I went with this Anna Maria Horner fabric from her Dowry collection. To get one fabric to sit on the top 3/4’s and the other on the botton 1/4, it’s actually 2 pieces of fabric that are the same size sewn together, because most of the bottom fabric is the bottom of the bag. So, if you wanted to add maybe a patchwork stripe, or an embroidered motif, or a hexagons, or whatever, you can see where your working space would be, in that top 5.5 x 16.5 piece (5.25 after it’s sewn to the bottom piece).
Also, unlike the last basket, instead of fusible fleece for the stablizer, I used Crafty Gemini’s go to double sided fusible stablizer, In R Form Plus. This thick, squishy but firm stuff, really gives the basket a nice shape, and makes it, I think, more functional than the floppier fusible fleece. Although, once you fill the basket, it doesn’t really matter. This basket from cutting to finishing probably took 2-3 hours. I know I cut my pieces, made dinner, returned after eating, and finished long before bedtime. So, it was an evening.
I also made a little basket from a Crafty Gemini tutorial, the same night. By then, I was really tired, and the sewing isn’t the best, but it turned out well enough that I thought once she filled it with clips or something it would look A ok. I also threw in a quilting magazine, some wonder clips, and a small package of Heat N Bond, and in the mail it went. Whew! It was totally cutting it close, but it all worked out!
And now, I’m taking a bit of a break from swappage. The Crafty Gemini swap this month for Quilt Club is so fun – 1 yard of your ugliest fabric – but I decided to pass. Even if a swap is easy peasy, sometimes it’s still a pain in the neck to package it up and get it in the post. And, also with Crafty Gemini, the swaps are not anonymous, meaning you get your partner’s email, and exchange emails before addresses are exchanged. So, it’s a commitment to a short relationship as well, or a long one if that’s how it turns out. So, I think I’m out for the summer, but we’ll see. This swap was my first instagram swap, and the organzier (@heart_stitches) was really really on top of things. I was very impressed. So, I’m glad my first experience was a positive one, because we’ve all heard disappointing swap stories. I would definitely do another Instagram swap, but probably in the fall. Tonight I’ll photograph my goodies from the swap, and post them so you can see.