Thursday, 2 August 2012

"Bye, baby bunting..."

It's been a while, for which I apologise. I have two excuses. First, I've mostly been making the same thing. I'm in a bunting stage. First it was some Special Leaving Bunting (see below). Then it was name bunting for a friend's new baby and new baby's big sister, and then it was my favourite bunting of all (again, see below). So, not much to report. I've already shared my bunting making instructions, and these are really variations on a theme.

The second excuse is better. My sewing machine broke. It started to skip the odd stitch in the middle of making Special Leaving Bunting, and when I went to make the name bunting it became totally unusable. Into the shop it went, for what was meant to be 3 days and ended up being nearly two weeks. I missed it. A lot.

However, it is back and I finally managed to finish off a few projects, clear the desk a bit, and realise I need something new. And so, I found this site which offers PDF patterns WITH TUTORIALS at quite bargainous prices. This is big for me, because up to now my inability to follow pattern instructions has meant that most the things I make are designed through trial and error. I've just bought the very cute hoodie pattern, and I'm hoping to whip a few up this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

But back to the bunting. This Special Leaving Bunting was a collaborative effort, made for a friend who at short notice told us she was moving to the other end of Britain. No time to make a quilt or something more elaborate, but there was time enough to rally the troops to make a triangle of fabric which was then strung together to make bunting. Of course, they all outdid themselves. I'd been expecting plain bits of cotton but they crocheted, appliqued, painted, embroidered, and adorned with style. In the end, we had a massive string of bunting with lovely messages written on the backs of the flags, and I think she did like it. If you are after a group project, this is a good one - how nice would it be for a wedding/christening/birthday/anything?

That finished, it was time to tackle my Favourite Bunting of All Time, aka Alphabet Bunting. It is, really, as it sounds. It involved a lot of applique and some dictionary searching (J and N were very tricky!) but in the end, I'm really pleased with it.

If you want to make something similar, here are my tips and lessons learned.

1. I made rectangles rather than triangles just so I could fit everything in. If you wanted triangles, I'm sure it could be done if you used just upper or lower case letters.

2. I bought the cheapest white cotton I could find - 2 metres of it - for making the flags. It ended up being curtain lining and £4/metre for 100% cotton - not bad. However, if I made this again I would buy a slightly higher quality. This stuff ravelled like mad.

3. I used black felt for the letters. Felt is very forgiving when you applique, and it meant if my stitches weren't exactly on the edge it didn't show up, and if I missed a bit I didn't have to worry about it fraying.

4. Use an assembly line approach to the applique. Do all the pinks/reds/yellows/blues at once so that you don't have to thread and rethread your machine more than needed.

5. Cheat. In the end, I used fabric pens for a lot of small details. It saved me from going completely crazy.

6. Think about your images. As well as being easy to applique, it helps to have things that are relevant to your kids. I struggled most with the letter N, thinking nappies, nose, and finally Nessie which I thought would be great - but then the kids might see it as a snake, monster, serpent... We were just back from New York so in the end that won. I also wanted things that made the sound of the letter, so as much as I wanted Owl for O, Octopus won.

Once the bunting started to come together, I realised it really would have made a fabulous quilt. Only the low quality cotton and felt letters kept it from becoming a blanket, but I may well make this again as a present. For someone I really, really like. It was a really fun project, though - one I was almost sorry to finish.