As someone who really loves lurid colours, it probably comes as no surprise that, when it comes to fabrics, I really, really love batiks. There’s enough variety of prints, patterns and colours that I could probably be entertained forever. The ‘mottled’ effect you get from the resist dyeing process also means that one piece of fabric has a huge amount of variation within it, which for me all adds to the creative fun.
As my current sewing plans involve trialling lots of techniques on miniature projects, I thought buying a charm pack would give me a cost-effective way of getting a good variety of fabrics. It ended up being Robert Kaufman’s Totally Tropical by Lunn Studio’s Charm Squares pack that caught my eye, particularly as I have a strange love of anything sea or fish related.
There’s a lot in the range that is a little too similar for my liking – it’s very heavy on the deep blues and greens with not much in the way of contrast but some of the multi-coloured pieces are really eye-popping. A lot of the prints, especially the dolphin, are quite large so you might want to think carefully about how you incorporate those. Or in my case, just chop them up into small, unrecognisable pieces of colour.
Today’s coaster design was from Craft Snob’s lovely tutorial for Fair and Square patchwork coasters, which contains not just a cute coaster idea but a lot of the kind of advice that is really useful when you’re getting started. It’s a really simple project and perfect for any scraps you have but I think still manages to look really effective for the amount of effort it requires.
I decided to make two coasters at the same time as cutting the coloured strips for one or two wasn’t much more difficult and I could play a little with changing the height and ordering of the coloured blocks. More practice is also an essential part of mastering any set of skills and meant I could use what I’d learnt to rectify any mistakes on coaster two!
Cutting and excessive amounts of ironing for this coaster design was relatively straightforward, which is the huge advantage of all things square. I did do something a bit stupid with one of coasters where I nearly forgot to leave a gap in the seam so I could get the wadding in so ended up leaving one near the corner. This made the hand ladder stitching a lot harder than it needed to be as not only did I need the seam to stay folded for the side but I had to try and wrangle the corner into staying neat too. Also, I really hate trying to wiggle wadding inside these things and get it to sit flat – it’s almost enough to make me enjoy doing bindings instead.
I was somewhat heartened with my generally straight sewing lines so thought, given the simplicity of the design, it’d be a good time to have a go at a bit of decorative stitching, including ‘stitch in the ditch’ and just adding some topstitching on. I’ve been doing everything with just the standard ¼ inch foot so far, but it mostly went well apart from a few meanders when I was using a very tiny stitch length and a couple of not very well secured threads. What’s your favourite way for securing threads for topstitching?
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how these turned out and I absolutely love this pattern. It was genuinely easy to finish these all in one session without feeling like my concentration was dying at the end and there’s a lot of possibilities for small bits of customisation. My Bernina did come with a #50 foot (or for those who haven’t been brainwashed into the Bernina cult – a walking foot with so many seam guides and attachments it comes in its own giant box….) which I’m now curious to try to see if technology can make stitching in the ditch a little less nerve-wracking. I hate unpicking stitches anyway (which is partly why I’m quite happy to use such short stitch lengths on some of these mini-projects) but I like the excuse of having a ‘no unpicking’ rule too and just learning to deal with whatever mistakes happen.
I like projects that just leave you excited for the next one!