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WoCaR 2023 – Week 2

This post in a series keeping track of my Winter of Care and Repair 2023 Project. If you want to see all the posts in the series click here.

Here’s a reminder of my pledge

Now on to my progress. Apologies if I switch tenses between days or in the middle of a day, some of them I wrote same day, others I picked up a day or two later.

30th December

Having finished off last week debating quilt patterns…I was still debating quilt patterns. This is my very first quilt, and would be only my second go at patchwork (my first was a door stop – which can be found at the bottom of this post, but I’m not sure counts as it’s very rough and ready). I’d never even made a Half Square Triangle (HST), though I have an interesting book about them.

So I decided to take some of the accidental extra blocks, and pretend they were intentional extras to practice HSTs.

A little gallery of my progress – apologies for the lighting, the weather’s been awful.

As you can see they’re not perfect, but I was happy with them. They needed to be 4 1/2″, and bigger is better than too small.

For fun I decided to make them into more complicated blocks. These weren’t anything I was going to do in this quilt, but I could see how matching seams went…albeit tougher than I’ll have to face in this quilt as the seams met in the middle of the blocks as sewn the second time.

And just to make sure all that wasn’t I fluke, I made another set of them, this time with more overtly christmassy fabric.

The original idea I had was to just turn them into coasters at their current size, but I might stitch the sets of four together. It would be good practice before I sewed the rows together on the quilt. Maybe they’ll be trivets or pot holders? I do have heat resistant batting…

31st December

After yesterday’s practice I went ahead with the HSTs for the quilt. As yesterday everything was marked with Frixon pens or my trick marker for black fabric and pinned before sewing, cutting, and pressing.

I got on a bit of a roll and ended up sewing and trimming all the HSTs. I used white thread for anything with white, black thread for the tan/black HSTs and grey thread for the grey/tan HSTs.

I was keen to start piecing everything together, but also debating making EVERYTHING on the quilt into a HST to blend the colours a bit more. But then I remembered my test blocks, so I practiced sewing them together.

I really struggled to get the points to match up. My machine doesn’t play well with changing layers, and I had to redo some of the joins several times – especially the central point. I probably should’ve gone with what I had first, because the fabric around that central point is now a bit warped without the points being that much better. Maybe it’ll look better once it’s quilted and washed?

The second go was much better:

I took the tails of thread cut off from other seams, and basted where the points met to keep them more in line. It’ll be a bit annoying with so many joins on the main quilt but better than having to redo them several times and warping the fabric.

After making this it occurred to me that my vintage New Home 696 deals with changing layers of fabric better than my newer Brother machine. So I found a few more extra blocks and tested construction there. This one might be my favourite yet!

I did the rather unscientific thing and changed an additional variable, pressing as many seams as possible to opposite sides instead of open flat. I’ve heard that that helps to line things up, and it did seem to help here. But I’m not sure if it was because of my additional practice, or the use of the other machine, or even that my Brother wasn’t as happy with the first fabric combination – it did to the second one well.

As it is I think I’ll sew the patchwork on my New Home, though switch to the Brother for the quilting as my walking foot works better on that machine.

1st January

Busy day, though I’m sure real life will start creeping in soon to stop me from doing quite so much.

I started off the day cutting all the remaining blocks down to 4 1/2″ to match my HSTs. This generated a small amount of scraps that could have in theory been avoided. But leaving everything at 5″ gave me the option to swap blocks around. I’ve put them in a bag to stuff something with later.

I played around with layout options, trying to make sure I didn’t put the same fabric next to each other and the whole thing looked relatively balanced. TBH I like it better in the photo than IRL. Close up the prints are all a bit too much. I’m sure it’ll grow on me, and it’s a good lesson for future quilts.

Then I went on a walk, to take advantage of the sunny weather and give my eyes a little rest so I could look on it fresh later. It’s been so dull and rainy, as you can tell by the state of the footpath.

I then went a bit mad and labelled every single square with a bit of masking tape. I had to move them into another room to sew and was paranoid they’d get muddled. Despite this I still managed to muck one up (as I had to re-press a few seams and moved the masking tape. C5 is upside down.

Everything was sewn on my old New Home 696, which I remembered has an extension table!

I sewed 6 of the 8 rows completely (checking as I went to make sure points were matching – I didn’t go as far as to measure if they were 1/4″ from the edge though I’m honestly tempted!), and then the last two rows got sewn into pairs so I could clear the floor in the bedroom.

Everything was pinned, but where the seams joined I basted as I was worried pins would knock things out of shape.

None of the new seams were pressed, as I want to be strategic. I want to press things towards the darker fabrics, but I also make sure as many seams as possible butt up against one another (as opposed to being pressed to the same side).

2nd January

I finished up the rows, and worked out a pressing plan on Canva which I put into action.

I also started sewing the rows together, but only got halfway before it got too late and I thought it best to give it a rest. In future I’ll probably press open any seams that don’t nest when seams are pressed to the darker sides, some areas were bumpy and I had to do a lot of basting to make sure it lined up while stitching.

On the whole I was really happy working on my old machine.

3th January

Quilt top complete!

I was really nervous putting the rows together, but thankfully nothing was too badly out. And on all but a few occasions I’m happy to live with, things turned out fine on the first go or were correctable on the second try with additional basting.

Next up was sorting out the backing. In my head I had loads on extra fabric, and while that was the case, nothing was quite big enough to fit. I’d decided on a black binding and a mostly white backing, and while eventually I worked out a strategy for piecing the back I ran out of time before completing it.

I’m binding it with the black fabric with dark grey dots, which you can see next to the outer points of the tan squares/diamonds. It was very cheap at Abakhan, probably because it looks like that design was overprinted on to some kind of nativity book.

Can you see Bethlehem, Mary, and page 2 in the text above? I think it reads:

“Some how they got to Bethlehem, And it was none too soon, Though Mary knew the time had come, They could not find a room”

Thankfully not noticeable on the binding. Hopefully the quilt isn’t blasphemous and/or cursed for cutting that up. It is a Christmas themed quilt at least!

4th January

Backing finished early in the morning (I started before breakfast but my husband made me come downstairs and eat before I got hangry).

My goal was to have it balanced without any serious attempt at being centred with anything. This piece was a little longer but I trimmed it off and managed to get the seam on the right near the centre. Oh well, it left me with bigger offcuts that will be more useful on other things.

First on the list of other things is the backing pieces for my test blocks, which I was happy with.

I’m going to work from the bottom of the photo up, and hopefully try a few techniques to see which I like best.

Here’s my progress on the first (lowest) one.

I went with spray basting over pinning as I picked up some spray baste in a sale ages ago. I don’t have good safety pins for pin basting, and I also get a soreness in my thumb sometimes that might be aggravated by opening and closing a bunch of pins.

As it turned out I quite liked how the spray baste worked, though I’ll probably have to wash my tests before deciding whether to go with it on the quilt.

I sewed the binding on the front with the machine, and managed decent mitred corners.

I finished the hand stitching as well, with some episodes of Wellington Paranormal on in the background. Here’s a picture on Tilly for scale.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it (or the other ones for that matter!). I’m tempted to use thermal wadding on the next ones so I can use them as trivets, but then they won’t be a proper test of the final quilt conditions. I’ve been googling ideas and my favourite was putting command adhesive strips on clothes pegs, hanging those on the wall and using those to display the quilts.

5th January

In my head my outing to Shrewsbury today was going to be a quick in and out job. But I ended up doing a park and ride as my usual car park was flooded. That and a late start meant I got home much later than I intended.

So today I decided to tackle a shirt that I managed to spray oil all over. It was a lot of little dots of oil, splash back from some cooking a few days ago. In the gallery below, the first picture is the before, the second is in-progress.

Oil stains like this probably won’t come out in the wash, but they’re really easy to deal with: put some dish soap on, rub it in until it’s sudsy, and let it sit for a while. Then wash it out with warm/hot water, ideally letting the hot water run just through the effected layer. I’ve done this on old oil stains as well with good results, so I’m not too worried if I didn’t manage to get them all with this enthusiastic (as opposed to precise and accurate) attempt at applying the soap.

I also picked up a dress at a charity shop today that needed some treatment. When I told my husband about it, and he was frankly confused.

  • It’s not really my style – not a puffy sleeve person.
  • I’m not a huge pink fan (though I do love the print)
  • It had loads of stains on it

I’m honestly a little surprised the charity shop had it for sale given its condition, and that it was £7. But I’m not someone who haggles at charity shops. This money is going towards hospice care, I’m not going to get huffy about the price.

But I bought it…because of the stains. Bear with me here, people. If I didn’t buy it, who would? It would just end up getting pulped once the staff noticed. I love the fabric, and there’s a lot of it in this oversized dress.

It’s a prime contender for reuse: worst case scenario I can cut around the stains and use the fabric for other things. For something more complicated but my preferred option, I might just remove/rework the sleeves and use the offcuts as fodder for pattern-match patches over the stains I can’t remove.

This dress is also tricky because when hand-washing out the soap, the water got surprisingly pink. Red is a notoriously runny colour in my experience, but maybe it’s never been washed? I’d normally just let it soak overnight in a oxygen bleach mix, but I may have to try spot-treating stains before washing in the machine instead to avoid the red running everywhere.

I’ll share the results of these in next week’s post, as well as hopefully more progress on the quilt! I’ve got an evening away and a bunch of other things planned so it’ll be a test of my ability to make time to work on this project.

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