almost absolutely random

11 Oct
A tiny part of what I've been doing, but I love the colour combination in these lavender bags :)

A tiny part of what I’ve been doing, but I love the colour combination in these lavender bags 🙂

Hellooo, here I am again. Did you miss me?! I’ve been to the cinema a couple of times and one night I made those lavender bags to be a raffle prize (nine bags, a bit over 2 hours of work; nobody would be prepared to pay what that would cost). I used stash fabric and some truly venerable ribbon, which came from Great Aunt’s stash and is possibly older than I am. I squashed all nine into a fancy, little presentation box with a handwritten label that read, “Lavender bags: stick ’em in your drawers :)”. I hope whoever picked that particular prize thoroughly enjoys it.

Mostly, however, I’ve been sewing a lot of metres of wedding-decoration bunting: approximately 270, to be precise 🙂 Without further ado, let me deconstruct the process somewhat.

Because we weren’t sure about what would work in the space, we rough-calculated we’d need 15-metre strips and I made 18 of them, to ensure adequate coverage. Mission accomplished. There were enough leftovers to decorate one of the outdoor areas as well, plus hang a little strip across the front of the bar.

Another guest asked if there’d been a pattern to the way I sewed the bunting? I responded that it had been almost absolutely random; and before the purists beat me up and insist it’s either random or it’s not, let me explain.

There were plain and striped triangles cut from the large amount of hessian that Eldest Niece provided; two different sorts of lace triangles, cut from some leftover curtaining that was lurking in my stash; and a lot of lace strips cut from the continuous rolls provided by Eldest Niece. I cut and counted every bit of bunting, and divided each total by 18. That gave me a count per item, per tape. Unsurprisingly, there were leftovers, so they were totted up and that total divided by 18, then all of those put into an “add a couple of these to each tape” container, meaning from the outset that no two tapes were likely to be the same.

Dr B helped me square up my sheeting so I could cut it into tapes and purchased an A0-sized self-healing cutting mat for me (at my request; also some new pinking shears). YoungB helped with picking piles prior to sewing and accompanied Dr B to pick up the cutting mat whose delivery they’d missed. They put up with my eating and running – that is, I’d get home from work, have tea with them and vanish into the sewing room till bedtime – and didn’t complain too much about my moving their cycles from the hallway so I could set up my cutting station on the only large, solid bit of floor in the house. Finding an adequate space for cutting was probably the biggest challenge, although I’ve since had some brainwaves around old doors and sawhorses; but with a template made from a plastic chopping sheet, my new metre ruler and the large cutting mat, I managed to get the job done.

Once all the tapes were sewn – five three-metre x 2.5 cm strips joined to form a tape just under 15 metres in length – and all the shapes were cut out, counted and sorted into piles, I’d pick the required number and prepare a stack for sewing. This is where the random element truly came to the fore. As I stacked the pile, I’d sometimes turn it pile over before adding the next piece and every now and then that meant a long run of – usually, because there was much more of it – hessian and one lonely piece of lace before an alternating pattern, or a run of two hessians and one lace, but it wasn’t predictable except that I only had a certain amount of pieces to work with for each tape.

I’d then put the pile by the sewing machine and, using the needle plate as a rough measure of distance between pieces, away I’d sew on the sheeting tape. Ideally, the tape would have been folded in half along its length and the pieces of bunting slipped into the resulting crease, but I quickly realised that, while that provided the neatest finish, it would require far more time than I had available to me. I ended up using a wide zigzag stitch and machining the pieces directly onto the tape, leaving about 40 cm either end for tying purposes. Because I used both my Singer and my Janome, the distance between pieces wasn’t precise but it would be fair to say, I think, that the gap was rarely more than 7 cm. I threw in a handful of lavender bags, packed it all into one of those large, striped shopping totes that would probably hold a couple of small children, and Middle Niece collected it the day before the hall was to be decorated. I’m told that unpacking it was akin to a magician’s trick: the bunting just kept coming out of the bag 🙂

So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And now? YoungB wants me to magic up some pockets inside his motorcycling jeans, so that he can add in extra protective armour for a forthcoming long trip. I’m scratching my head about that, because I don’t see how I can do it without unpicking a serious amount of heavy-duty seaming. Should I run now?

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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Sewing


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