Sunday, 15 June 2014

Summer patchwork

Lately I've had the urge to have a gentle project on the go which I can pick up and put down, and which meanders along very nicely. Life's been very busy at times, and I want to enjoy the slowness of a project which isn't going anywhere in a hurry.

I've made many cushions, bunting, bags and square patchworks on my sewing machine, and ended up rushing to get them finished, so that I can admire and use the finished item. Here's a striped patchwork cushion cover which I made last summer.

That's always fun, and I get a sense of achievement from having made something. However, this time I felt like making something which you can't rush, something hand-stitched, and I remembered patchwork. When I was at junior school I was taught to make hexagonal patchwork out of crazy 1970s brown and orange swirly fabric, a mix of man-made and natural fabrics. Sadly that lovely item is no longer with us, but I do have a piece of hand-sewn patchwork which I made in the '90s from a Laura Ashley kit. The pieces were already cut out and colour co-ordinated, and I sewed them together in my chosen design.

I love the soft hues of lavender blue and pale yellow, so spring-like and fresh. I've always been a big fan of Laura Ashley, and have a small collection of fabrics which are now called 'vintage'. Once I'd used up most of the pieces, I wasn't sure what to make it into, and so I backed it with white cotton and use it as a cover for one of my baskets.

I've amassed quite a stash of pretty floral sprigged cotton over the years, and so I chose a combination of pink, red, pale blue, pale yellow, soft green and purple for my design. I included fabric from a top and some pyjamas which both of my daughters wore when they were younger, a personal touch which increases my fondness for this patchwork.

 I drew a hexagon onto card by using a pair of compasses to make a circle. I then used a protractor to measure out the circumference of the circle into 60 degree sections, and joined these together with a ruler to make a hexagon. I drew around this template to make lots of paper hexagons, and cut out my fabric hexagons with a 8mm hem allowance (this was a rough measurement). Then, using a contrasting thread, I tacked the fabric hexagons onto the paper hexagons, folding the hems over as I went.

You can see the piles of each colour gradually growing.

After a while I had a a little stack of fabric hexagons, ready to go. 

I carefully over-stitched them together in a random design, trying to even their repeat out as much as possible. It quickly started to grow.

And grow.

And grow. 

I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. It's inspired by Kaffe Fassett's designs, full of colour, and very higgledy-piggeldy. But what I like the best is that I have no idea of what I'm making with it! I'm just going to let it grow, and when I'm ready to stop, I'll decide what it is by its size - maybe a table cloth, or a throw, or even a bedspread. I'm just loving sitting quietly every now and then, carefully hand-stitching a bit of summer into each piece.

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