Sometimes, it’s nice to mix things up a bit. Keep ’em fresh, y’know?
I love sewing clothing (espesh when it turns out really well), but it’s often quite an intensive process – there’s tracing the pattern (maybe 🤪), cutting the fabrics, prepping any interfacing and whatnot, and then the whole sewing process where there could be zips, buttons, or other fiddly bits. For me, I don’t get a lot of sewing done on weekday evenings – because work – so it’s only at the weekends that I can grab a few hours in one go. That means a project will more than likely take several weeks from start to finish. Life has been busy lately – I changed jobs towards the end of last year, and I’m studying for exams again – which means that free time to sew has been in decline, and sometimes I just feel like sitting and doing nothing (which pains me when I think about all the nice things I could be sewing but just can’t be bothered!). The knitting has helped to get me through though – I can sit on the sofa and get a few rows done with minimal effort, no sewing machine, or ironing board, or tools needed. What has also helped to keep me going is quick-win projects that fill a need but are quick or simple to complete – and therefore feel satisfying and like I’ve achieved something.
What makes me happy? The doggos do (well, the husbeast too, and all three of ’em have grey whiskers 😆), as does sewing – so I combined the two and sewed a little somethin’ somethin’ for the four-legged members of the family.
What makes the doggos happy? Food. Food makes them happy. Food time is the best time (as is bedtime, and cuddle time) and in all honesty, their food station was looking a little tired.
(Yes, their food bowls are in my ‘sewing area’ – also known as the living room 😂 I’m sure they’ve probably eaten fabric slithers more than once 🙈)
We had one of those rectangular plastic mats on the floor, to put their food bowls on. A placemat – is that what you’d call it? I dunno. You know what I mean though – those horrible floor mats. They’re always too big – in order to clean them, you have to wield them into the sink and then they inevitable spray water everywhere as they flap around like a fish. Plus they’re too plasticky. They’re just ick. The current state of their particular dog mat was an oversized, not particularly attractive one which got promoted after the older, slightly smaller one had been washed too many times and the pattern had been scrubbed off.
It was time for a new, non-plastic one – but it wasn’t my immediate idea to make one, I wanted to buy one.
I started looking around on Etsy for dog food mats -because I figured that if there was anywhere I’d get a nice one, it’d be Etsy. Sure, you can get a nice one, but not in England – they’re all in the States, which means that you’re gonna get stung with a particularly hefty delivery fee. Hmm. I started to rethink, as it looked like I wouldn’t find what I wanted.
Then, in the search results, I spy a ‘quilt as you go’ kit, and my interest was sparked. What exactly was it? Well, having never used one of these kits, I wasn’t *totally* sure, so I figured there was only one way to find out. I found a UK seller that stocked the kit (Cotton Patch, I think it was) and bought it. Decision made.
For my £8.75, what I got was a piece of fusible wadding/batting, with the bone shape of the mat marked out and different sections marked as well:
There were some minimal instructions on sizes to cut pieces and which order to attach them in. I probably could have got some fusible fleece and marked this out myself, it seemed, but whatever – I was kinda excited to try something new and see how it went.
Now that I (sort of) knew how this was going to go down, I spent some time browsing fabrics – I wanted something dog-themed, but not the traditional (boring) paw prints – which seemed to be the majority of ‘dog fabrics’. My dogs have some larger than life personalities, and I needed a fabric which reflected that. I ended up on Fabric.com, even though they charge a fair bit for delivery (they are US-based) as they had the biggest range to choose from. Seriously, those guys must have an absolutely EPIC sized warehouse, as you can’t beat them on the number of fabrics they carry. Among the boring paw prints and ‘woof’ fabrics (also a common theme, it seemed), I saw the one I wanted – Pupparazzi 🤩 Dogs in sunglasses? Yes. Diva? Yes. GET IN MY BASKET. There weren’t enough coordinating fabrics in that particular range that I liked, so I supplemented with a yellow star print and a brown paw print – yes, I went with the paw print in the end (and in BROWN!) but in all fairness, both dogs are brown in varying quantities so it kinda went 🤷🏻♀️
The fabric arrived pretty speedily – I’ll give them their credit, they may charge a fair bit for delivery but you get your stuff incredibly fast. Like, it reaches me in the UK in just a couple of days or so. The designs were good, and they all coordinated well – something that you always take a bit of a risk with when buying fabric online, as you’re never 100% sure of the true colour. I was ready to start and get going- I opened the instructions to see what was first and was faced with their warning: ‘we advise you prewash your fabrics so that when the finished mat is washed, it doesn’t shrink and go all squiffy’ (or words to that effect). I toyed with the idea of not prewashing because I was ready to get started NOW, dammit, but my dogs are messy eaters and drinkers and I knew at some point (likely within 24 hours of the mat going down) that it was gonna end up with food all over it and require washing. So I washed all the fabrics (on a quick wash 😂) and threw them in the dryer for the bare minimum of time it would take to get them reasonably dry.
I laid out all the (moderately dry 😂) fabrics and played around with different placements – I knew for sure that I wanted the diva dogs in the middle, but the other sections were fair game. The decision was made in under ten minutes (maybe even under five, I can’t remember) and the cutting knife wielded at a slightly scary rate to cut the pieces. We were ON 💪🏻
You start off with attaching the backing to the reverse of the mat – the batting is fusible, so all you need to do is get your fabric and the iron, and turn up the heat (maybe not *too* much though 😂).
The first piece in the middle section was easy, because you just place it down and pin it. It was then that I had to read the instructions carefully because I realised I wasn’t exactly sure what the lines on the batting represented. Turns out that they are placement lines, so the raw edge of your pieces go against the line, and then all seams are sewn at half an inch. They use uni-directional fabrics in their sample, but of course, I had to complicate matters by using directional prints so I had to think about which piece went on which section – thankfully I didn’t hash it up, but it was defo something to keep you on your toes.
It was really fun to watch the mat come to life piece by piece 👀
One thing I didn’t realise until the very end, is that while you’re merrily piecing all those bits of fabric, the seams are showing on the back of the mat. My backing fabric just happened to be black – as was the thread I was using – so you could hardly see it, but it had potential to go very wrong. So just something to think about, if you’re giving something like this a try.
At the end of the piecing rainbow, it’s time for the binding. I love me a bit of binding 🤪 Where there’s binding, there’s pins. And a lot of ’em.
(Well, in my world binding = pins. You may be a little more reckless and hold it in place with your fingers as you go, but for me the risk of not getting my finger out of the needle’s path as it comes charging downwards is just too great 😨 So pins it is. You do you, though)
For the seam on the front of the mat, I used the machine – but then I pinned the reverse side and hand-stitched it down.
I’m proper chuffed with the finished mat – sure, it cost me way more than a replacement plast-ick mat would have cost me, but it’s WAY cooler. And it can be washed in the machine rather than me wrestling it into the sink only to soak myself with water and week-old dog food 🤢
It’s nice to have that little break and sew something completely different, using different techniques and different fabrics. It’s really sad but it actually gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to make something nice for the doggos – even though I know they couldn’t care less what their food bowls sit on, so long as they’ve got food in ’em that’s all that matters to them 😂
If you’re in England, you’ll know that we’ve been graced with some pretty hairy weather lately – I struggled my way to work cycling through a 20mph headwind, which was fun. It did however blow me home in the opposite direction though, and allowed me to get a new record on a couple of Strava segments 🚴🏻♀️💨 I’ll draw the line at winds of about 30mph, after I got blown into the barrier going over Tower Bridge one night a few years ago and I hit it with enough force that it made a hole in the arm of my cycling jersey 🤬 Since then, 30mph is the cut-off for cycling. I’ve now changed my piercing ring out of my septum as well, and changed it for a pretty little clicker with some turquoise-ish opal-type stones. It’s still sore though – anyone that’s had a piercing will know the dramas of healing something with a curved bar (or ring) and then swapping it for a straight bar. The soreness wasn’t helped when the dog smacked me in the face with his very excited waggy tail, or when I got it caught on one of the loops on the bathroom towel while drying my face 😫
And yes, I’ve grown out my fringe 👀 This is a centimetre or so longer than it should be, I’d prefer it to be at eyebrow level because as you can see it gets a bit wavy at the ends at this length! It’s due a trim this weekend to return it to normal service though 💁🏻♀️ (which I’ll be doing myself, as always ✂️)
So yeah, I’ve been in a bit of a sewing rut lately, and one of the reasons I can think of is because I’m being adventurous and trying new things. I don’t ‘toile’ as such, as in like with bedsheets or anything, because I like to wear the test run out in the real world to see how it wears, how it moves, and how it looks with my other clothing. Sure, sewing a toile purely for fit would help flag the major fit issues like if I couldn’t get my bingo wings into a sleeve, but then I’d have to toile AND THEN make the test run AND THEN then sew the real deal – and I ain’t got time for that. I’d rather just go straight in with an ‘alright’ fabrics (so if it doesn’t work out, there are no tears), but that means that if I’m testing the waters with a few new patterns at once, I end up with a batch of ‘alright’ garments which may or may not have fit issues. Which I think is where I’m at right now, and it feels a bit meh.
To help get over the slump I’ve abandoned the ‘test-run’ projects that I’m currently working on in the not-as-nice fabrics, and have cut out a shirt in the uber-pretty silk that I’ve had for about three years for this very purpose. I’m using the Montana Shirt from Itch to Stich, which I just completed in some Liberty fabric (that was the test run). I’ve made a couple of adjustments to address the fit issues I had with that first one and just gone for it and cut the silk. Rash? Maybe, because I’ve finally cut into THAT silk, but it’s not doing anything sitting on my fabric shelf, and there will always be more nice fabric in the world. Life is too short to just hoard the good fabric rather than wear it. Plus, it made me happy to pull it off the shelf and use it 🙃
So let’s hope the finished shirt fits me amazingly 😂🤞🏻😳
What’s your view on special fabrics – hoard ’em or use ’em? 🤔
Happy Sunday guys ✌🏻
On the blog next week – some knitting! Two hats made with possibly the nicest yarn I’ve ever had in my hands 🧶 Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻