Next skill in the list to learn, bindings. I was somewhat encouraged by my success with my first two attempts at coasters and also wanted to try some patterns a little more reminiscent of a quilt block. The added advantage of this also being that I got to play with more colours all at the same time.
I came across this adorable tutorial at Auntie Em’s Crafts for some Mini Granny Square Coasters that combined my two requirements just perfectly. I had always thought of granny squares as a crochet thing, but it turns out a granny square quilt block also exists and is even a little bit more stylish. The tutorial for the project (and separate one for the binding) are easy to follow and she has some other great tutorials on the site too.
This ended up being the project that convinced me to finally convert to working entirely in centimetres. What am I doing working on patchwork projects not in inches you may ask. Well, I have a little bit of a units crisis in my cutting equipment. My cutting mat is in inches, but my main quilting ruler, square and some of my triangles are in centimetres. Of course, some other templates are in inches.
What I have been doing is converting projects from inches to centimetres so I can actually cut them but as 1 inch is 2.54 cm, this leads to some very awkward conversions that don’t always align nicely with the markings on my quilting tools. Now while the scientists at NASA might disagree with me, I much prefer working in metric units wherever possible. I have an intuitive feel of how long a particular length is, if I’m in most countries, I buy my fabric in metric lengths and I don’t really feel like replacing all my tools for inches. Funnily enough, it was actually a unit confusion between metric and imperial units that caused one of NASA’s Mars probes to crash…
As ‘shabby chic’ and ‘handmade-looking’ are probably not phrases I’d like to hear about my work, and woe betide the day when someone describes my embroidery designs as ‘contemporary’, being accurate, getting seams and points lined up well is a skill I need to master. However, this isn’t really a compatible goal while trying to cut pieces in very odd increments…
It’s pretty obvious from a few parts on this piece that things just haven’t gone quite according to plan and there are pieces that just don’t match up in size. That and I forgot to add one or two of the last black squares so I’m not quite sure if I actually did all the machine piercing in the correct order or not.
Cutting pierced pieces up always feels a little sacrilegious to me. You’ve done all this work, then out comes the rotary cutter and if you’ve got it wrong, back to sewing square one and two together again. However, it’s amazing how effective simply cutting a block at an angle to rotate it is and definitely gives this design a lot of its charm.
The next challenge was binding it… and this is very much where things went from bad to worse. The binding tutorial is in no way at fault for the monstrosity that I created by generally ignoring all her good advice and getting too fed up to figure out how to fold the corners with a nice mitre. Things I did wrong included 1) measuring by eye 2) not using anything to temporarily hold the design in place while doing the folding and 3) not cutting the right amount of fabric, so when I did get it folded the binding ended up being a little floppy. Whoops.
One day I will learn to be a little more patient sometimes and not push on when I’m a little fed up and tired with what I’m doing. Still, I am sure I will get plenty more practice and, despite the fact that it’s definitely a bit lumpy and ugly, I do love the colours on this coaster. More things need bright green binding.
When it comes to doing bindings, has anyone found the special binding feet for sewing machines very helpful at all?