I love making these fabric boxes. It’s great having a project where you get a nice big square area to do some free motion quilting over and they’re a relatively simple pattern overall. This is the third of these boxes I’ve made – you can see my first and second attempts here and for this one I really wanted to focus on the free motion quilting for it.
I had intended this to be more similar proportions to my first box, i.e. more short and squat, as it makes them more practical as desk tidies for random bits and pieces. The interfacing I used was Vielene S320, which is almost like thin leather, and the wadding is H630. This is the same as for the tall box which is impressively sturdy for something made of fabric – if I find the time I’d definitely like to explore making some custom ‘home organisers’ from even heavier interfacing.
I used a square of 36 cm of this absolutely sumptuous batik. While I usually end up professing my love for these fabrics whenever I use them, I was feeling incredibly partial to the vibrancy of the greens in this one that I wondered if it was going to be sacrilegious to start free motion quilting over it. I’d had some awful problems with breakages of the metallic thread while I was embroidering on my previous box and, as I wanted to have another go at a paisley style design which is still quite challenging in terms of the motions for me, I had to admit I wasn’t that optimistic about how this step would go.
I did some diligent research on the Internet for any hints and tips I could find to make my life easier, coming across all sorts of things, from the downright bizarre (do any of you actually put your thread in the freezer?) to the more useful. I didn’t even bother trying to use a smaller needle, I went straight to the Schmetz 100/16 heavy duty needles. This was probably wise for two reasons – with the wadding and interfacing the fabric is relatively hard work to get through and the heavier needles typically have larger eyes. Given that metallics are prone to causing too much friction for them to handle, this helps reduce shredding and snapping. I loosened the stitch tension a very small amount but either this was the critical factor I was missing before or the stars were lined up the right way because I didn’t have a repeat of nearly half of the problems I’d had previously with thread breakages.
There are a few imperfections here and there and I had one or two hiccups with the machine but I only broke the thread two or three times over the whole area. The challenge turned out to be the stamina required to cover the whole area! There are parts I’m not so happy with but it was such a relief to be able to focus on the quilting rather than stripping thread out the machine every five sections that I am not going to complain too much, especially as overall, I think it has the right visual effect and I am not sure I will ever get sick of looking at lovely metallics on black and batiks. Worth the battle to learn to use them!
I kept the corners about 5 cm for this as I wanted a relatively squat box, then had the usual dilemma of which sides to sew together – the worst part is a tried to leave myself a hint in my previous blog post, where the quilting ruler shows where the corner will be drawn, and by extension, which sides will be cut.
Apart from one or two slightly skimmed seams, the box went together fairly painlessly and the flaps that you stitch down were even approaching symmetric. I can see there are some inconsistencies somewhere either in seam allowances or cutting as the box isn’t quite totally symmetric (I don’t know if it’s the stitching the extra lines to avoid the corners showing where I just venture into ‘no man’s land’ with nothing measured that’s the source of the issue) but it’s a cute little box with good structural integrity. Practice makes perfect.