The great elastic shortage

So… first it was toilet paper and now it’s elastic.

Hat elastic, 3mm and 6mm elastic is in short supply at the moment because everyone who can sew seems to be mass making masks to deal with Covid-19.

So I am here to say this…

YOU DON’T NEED ELASTIC.

There are plenty of other methods to make masks. Yes, elastic is easy to use and attach but if the shortage continues on there won’t be any for you to use.

So I’ve compiled a few options below so you can use other methods if you have no more elastic, can’t get anymore and whatever other obstacles may be thrown your way.

My favourite mask pattern
Patrick Lose is one of my favourite fabric designers. His mask pattern is super easy, comes in a few sizes and you can make the tie using a strip of fabric. This style of mask means that the ties are not rubbing your ears. You also don’t need to measure fabric out – just print off the size mask and cut around it to make your template. Simples!

https://www.patricklose.com/face-mask-tutorial.htm

Options for ties
Ribbon, bias binding, cut up an old t-shirt (Jersey) and make strips: all suitable for the above style of mask.

Hair ties: however the best tip I’ve heard is to make the mask fabric reach your ear so that the hair tie isn’t ver stretched.

If you have elastic and its a wide one, consider making the bands go around your head more like a pair of goggles would sit.

If you don’t sew
If you don’t sew and don’t know anyone who can help you make your own please head to https://www.facebook.com/OzzieMasks/ and place an order with Cleary.

There are dozens of patterns and hacks out there for masks. Find the one that suits you.

Please stay safe and well.

Happy sewing!

Marni x

How to….. basting your quilt

I’ve been making quilts for about 18 years now and during that time there has been a lot of trial and error.

One of the things that seems to be the biggest issue/annoyance/hated job etc is basting your quilt for quilting.

So today I’m going to take you through a few of the options and the pros and cons of each. Best advice though is to try a few and find the one that suits you.

Side note: If you are quilting your own projects please follow the methods laid out below. If you are sending your quilt to a long-arm quilter (like me) please DO NOT baste your quilt. It unnecessary as we load the three layers of your quilt onto our frames separately. When in doubt ask your long-armer.

Spray Baste

This is the quick and dirty option. I LOVE spray baste because it is so quick and easy to do. However, its biggest downside is that it’s harder to baste really big projects unless you have a lot of room and a lot of spray. It’s also better to do this method with a friend, as the more hands the easier it is to handle the quilt top into position.

Spray baste is my go to for small projects – placemats and table runners. I even use it a bit for my machine embroidery projects. As it is a temporary hold its perfect for small jobs where pinning would take more time than is practical. The biggest quilt I have spray basted is probably a double bed size quilt. It wasn’t a quilt of mine – I was helping a customer and we did end up pinning around the outside edge.

The tips with spray baste are:

  • buy the best quality one you can as it reduces build up on your needle while quilting
  • once you’ve basted your quilt, run an iron over it as will stick better
  • don’t overspray – you don’t need a lot – spray a bit and then let it become tacky – the tackiness will guide you to how much you need
  • use in a well ventilated area/outside and if you have breathing issues a mask will help
  • don’t spray the fabric – spray the wadding, both sides

My favourite brand of spray baste is 505. I have tried others and I always come back to 505.

How to spray baste:

1. Lay your backing on a flat surface. Tape the edges down with masking tape so its taut but not tight.

2. Spray your wadding on one side, allow it to dry a bit and then lay the tacky side down on your backing fabric. Run your hands from the centre out, smoothing as you go. If you get wrinkles you can lift it back up and smooth it out again.

3. Spray the topside of the wadding. Wait for it to go a little tacky and then with your quilt top folded in half, place one side of the quilt top down, then unfold and lay the other half in place. Folding the quilt top up will allow you to position the quilt without too much hassle. Run your hands from the centre out, smoothing as you go. If you get wrinkles you can lift it back up and smooth it out again.

4. Once you are happy with the position of everything, remove the masking tape from your backing fabric. Then run your iron over both sides of the quilt, checking for lumps, wrinkles and any spot that might need more spray.

5. If your quilt is large, place some pins around the outside edge to stop it lifting as you handle the quilt during the quilting process.

The spray baste is temporary and will wash out when you wash your quilts. If you have any further queries regarding 505 spray baste please head here for the safety data PDF.

 

Pinning

Pinning is the original place I started basting my quilts. It was…let’s just say not fun. More injury than anything else. But it did get better with appropriate tools so I would recommend if you do go down the pin path to make sure you have a pin tool. It will save you time and stabbing yourself a bajillion times.

The best and most often method of pinning is to use curved safety pins and pin approximately 4in apart. The reasoning for this is because most wadding is advised to quilt no further apart than 4in so it’s keeping you in a working space that matches and is manageable under your needle. I use my hand as a guide because from my thumb to my pinky across the middle of my hand is pretty close to 4in. And if your hands are smaller that’s fine – pinning closer together isn’t a bad thing, it just means you will use more time and pins.

Thread basting
Honestly this is the original basting from when quilting was a baby and it is still used today – in a variety of uses. I personally do not use this method. Mainly because I loathe hand-sewing. Just not my thing. I do thread baste my EPP projects depending on the shape, most are glue basted with my Sewline glue pen. Thread basting can be done in two ways – needle and thread by hand or if its a big project you can have it machine basted by your long-armer (me!). Doing this by hand is great on small projects and is often the preferred method for those who like to hand-quilt.

Tips:

  • Use a good needle with a large eye, or a long needle (like a doll needle) – that way you can do the stitch faster, but make sure its a nice sharp needle
  • Use a high contrast thread so you can see it while you are basting and more importantly when you are trying to remove it
  • Use the length of the needle as your stitch guide if you are using a regular length needle and have trouble with eyeballing stitch placement

How to thread baste:

1. Lay your backing on a flat surface. Tape the edges down with masking tape so its taut but not tight. Place your wadding on top of the backing fabric and smooth it out. Then do the same with your quilt top. Smooth from the centre and make sure you have sufficient allowance on all sides.

2. Thread your needle with a long length of thread – not too long that you get tangled but a decent length.

3. Starting on one side in the middle of the quilt, stitch down into the quilt sandwich, com back up and go down again making a small loop. You can knot the end if you like but I find it easier to have no knots when removing threads at the end.

4. Work your way across the quilt in a 4in grid pattern.

Summary

Basting is a skill that will take practice and patience to master. Try all the techniques out there and find the one that works for you. It is achievable and you can do it. Start small and practice before you dive into larger projects.  If you have questions please ask – there are no silly questions when you’re learning a new skill.

If you decide basting is not for you, you can always get in touch with me for a quote to baste your quilt for you or to machine quilt it with a design/custom quilting. My contact details can be found here.

Double-sided tissue box cover pattern

Quarantine has done some strange things to us all but one of the good things that has come from it is that people have gone back to sewing more and it’s exciting to see what people are creating.

Whether it be a creative project, mending or making practical items for use around the home, it’s been nice to see my favourite past time becoming more front and centre.

I’ve designed a double-sided tissue box cover pattern, so that you can make themed covers for all of your tissue boxes and if you want to make them extra useful make one side one holiday and the inside another. Or if you’re like me just make them all your favourite theme.

Materials

1 – 15.5″ x 10″ rectangle of your outside fabric
1 – 15.5″ x 10″ rectangle of your inside fabric
2 – 4.5″ x 5.5″ squares of your outside fabric
2 – 4.5″ x 5.5″ squares of your outside fabric
1m approx of piping cord size 2
2in strip of fabric for piping

Interfacing is optional – if you do decide to use interfacing cut one rectangle and two squares. Iron onto the wrong side of your outer fabric. I used a very lightweight fusible vilene (one suitable for stitcheries).

Assembly
Cut out the pieces as listed above. Iron on interfacing if you chose this option.

Place the two 15.5″ x 10″ rectangles right sides together.

Fold in half and press, find the centre (5″) and then draw a 1″ rectangle around it that measures 2.5″ either side of the centre mark. 5″ x 1″ box.

Stitch on the line, reversing at the start and stop points. Trim your threads.

Cut the centre of the box along the centre line and then angle out into each corner, careful not to cut your stitching.

Turn the fabric through to the right side.

Roll the seams out so they are flat and press.

Top-stitch around the edge with a co-ordinating thread. Seam allowance is up to you to choose – mine was 1/8″.

Trim the edges.

Find the centre of the edge of the fabric and finger press. Then find the centre of the side panels and line them up. Pin in position. Do the same for both the outer and inner fabrics.

Stitch a 1/4″ seam leaving the seam open at the start and stop 1/4″. See pencil mark. Make sure you keep the inner and outer fabrics apart.
 

Pin the 4.5″ x 5.5″ side sections to the main panel and finish the seams. You will have an overhang of approx 1″ of the main panel. Don’t worry about this yet. Pin all four sides of the inner fabric and finish the seams with a 1/4″ seam.

 
Repeat for the outer fabric.

Then trim the overhang of the main panel to match the side panels of both fabrics.

Fold up a small seam and press. Do this for both inner and outer fabrics.

Make piping – fold your 2in strip of fabric in half, lay the piping cord in the centre. Set your machine up with its piping foot and move the needle to the furthest right-hand position. Make the full length of the strip and don’t reverse at the start and stop as we will need to open it a bit to finish it off at the end.

Pin piping into position all the way around the edge, leaving a tail to finish the ends. Pin so that both the inner and outer fabrics butt up against the round edge of the piping.

Stitch the piping on, this time moving the needle to the left and removing pins as you go. If you need to ease any of the inner fabric aim it for the corners or where your piping joins. I had some slight movement due to my interfacing stretching.

When you get to the end, pull the piping cord out of the piping casing and trim away the excess cord. You want the piping cord to curve into the seam and flatten out a bit so you can fold the ends over each other and down into the seam. Line up the piping so the two ends overlap. Trim away the excess of the piping cord fabric. Finishing stitching and do a little reverse stitch. Trim your threads.

 

One reversible tissue box cover. Enjoy!

I’d love to see if you make any of these. Please feel free to share on Instagram with the hashtag #Frankiestissueboxes

Happy sewing!

Marni x

 

 

 

Pin Keeper Pattern

There’s so much going on in the world right now that I though I might pop up a quick freebie project.

This is my Pin Keeper. It is a flag/banner style hanging that I made to keep my collection of enamel pins and brooches on.

Materials
10in x width of fabric strip
10in of Parlan (thin cotton fusible wadding)
6in of binding fabric
Spray baste or safety pins
Rotary cutter, ruler and mat
Sewing machine with walking foot
Thread
General sewing supplies

Cutting
Two, 3in binding strips
Three, 3in x 6.5in tab strips

Assembly
Trim off the selvedges and cut along the fold to separate the fabric.
Fold one piece in half lengthways (long length) and cut a 45degree angle across one end, approx 4.5in from the edge.

Fuse Parlan to the wrong side of the backing fabric piece. Baste the angled fabric piece to the backing and Parlan piece. You can use spray baste like 505 for a quick baste or just a handful of pins.

Quilt as desired. I simply straight line quilted across the short side a few times. Stitch 1/8in around the edge to secure and then trim back to the fabric line.

Tabs
Take the 3in x 6.5in strips for your tabs and fold them in half lengthwise. Press the fold. Open the fold and then fold the sides into the centre line and press again. Topstitch if desired. Then, fold the tabs in half to make a loop. Place the 3 tabs across the squared end of your flag with the raw edges matching the edge of the flag, spacing them evenly. Then pin and baste in place.

NOTE: Depending on how you want to hang your pin flag check the method that they will go onto your hanging rod. If they can slide onto a dowel make the tabs as above. If you have to insert your hanger into the tabs, do so before pinning and basting in place, and remember to be careful with the hanger and your machine while binding.

Binding
Join your main binding strips end-to-end using a 45degree seam, as you would normally prepare your binding. Trim and press all the seams open. Press the binding strip in half lengthways with the wrong sides facing.

Starting about one-third of the way along one side of the flag and leaving a tail for joining, sew the binding to the backside of the flag, mitring the corners as you go. You will need to do angled joins for the flag point that are 120 and 60degrees. Click here for my full post regarding this type of mitre. Stop about 6in from where you started, join the ends using your favourite method and finish attaching the binding.

Fold the binding around to the front side of the flag and stitch it down. Follow the other post regarding mitring the corners again.

Finish
Hang your pin flag up and add all of your pins!

2019 wash up

Here we are less than a month away from Christmas and boy what a year it has been.

Just wanted to leave this post up to say thank you for being here another year, for all of your support and patience with my health and the chaos that it caused.

Also – closing dates for this holiday season:

I will be working up till 4:30pm on Friday the 20th of December. Mail orders/pick up are most welcome until then.
As of the 21st I will be taking a small break so I can regroup. There will be no machine quilting happening. Mail orders can be placed but will not be shipped until the 3rd of January.

Machine quilting closes on the 9th of December with final collection by the 20th December so everyone has quilts in time for the big day. You can still book quilting spots – just send through a message 0416 023 637 or email frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com with your quilt dimensions, style of quilting (custom, edge-to-edge or stipple), due date and if you need backing and/or wadding. I’ll get a quote back to you.

I will be back at work on the 3rd of January and will respond to all messages then.

I’ll still be posting to IG and FB so if you feel like popping by and saying “Hi” or posting photos of your holiday sewing please feel free. I plan on doing a LOT of sewing over the break.

Classes for next year are currently listed under the “Events” tab on my Facebook page – you can book and pay via the website so you don’t miss out. Semester 1 dates only at this stage.

I hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas and New Year.

Happy quilting!

Marni x

Spring Sale!

Hello lovely people!

Just a quick note to say there’s a SALE on in the webstore. Click the store button and shop till your hearts content. All fabric is reduced and pretty much everything else as well. I decided a big spring clean was in order to make the most of the end of the year and streamline things as well as give you all some excellent bargains.

Any queries please don’t hesitate to ask.

Machine quilting is available from October until the 9th of December (last drop off date). Please contact me for a quote, lay-by options and to book.

I’ll be adding a few other things to the webstore in coming months – patterns, pre-made quilts and vouchers for both machine quilting and regular gift vouchers. These are mainly digital items so will need more work to get them uploaded.

In the meantime, happy shopping!

Marni x

Change of direction

So…

Let’s start with the general news.

Last week I made the decision to remove all of my stock and quilts that have been on display at Gosford Sewing Centre for the last 4 years. Things have changed at the shop, its moving in one direction and Frankenstein’s Fabrics needed to move in another.

It’s a change that I needed to make because it has removed a level of stress off my shoulders that I didn’t realise was there until I moved the last piece home. I literally sat on the lounge room floor looking at all my bits and pieces, took a deep breath and released a burden that I hadn’t been aware of. It was a very strange feeling and those of you who know me well know I don’t poke around in my feelings too much, so the whole acknowledgment of this feeling was vaguely unsettling. Emotions are now packed back up in their boxes and on we go.

Now, some have asked if I’m leaving and the answer is no. I’m still working and teaching at the shop it’s just time for a change for FF HQ. This year started with a sneaking suspicion that things were on the move and now is that time. Change can be good and bad. I know this is a good change for me so its easy to embrace it and move forward. Bad changes are not always obvious in the moment and often seen with hindsight. You can only trust your instincts at the time and be aware that whatever the outcome you are prepared for the results.

I’ve spent the last two years in pain, dealing with my endometriosis and last months surgery has put me in a better condition but still with some issues. Incurable diseases are like that, but you just have to pick yourself up and keep moving. I hate being idle, I hate being kept from doing what I love so my fight with this illness is only going to keep going. There are things that I will be doing shortly that are part of that fight – if you would like to help please sign up here to my mailing list to stay in the loop. The more we talk about this shitty disease, the more fundraising and research will go towards it and the sooner we get an answer.

The only real diagnostic tool for endometriosis is surgery. Let that sink in for a moment.

The only way a doctor can say “yes, you have endometriosis” is to cut you open and check. That’s some epic level of screwed up right there. Especially when you think about how many other diseases are diagnosed – blood tests, x-rays and scans. Non-invasive and just mildly uncomfortable. And let’s not get into talking about the costs.

So my plans are to fight – because I’m mad that this disease has taken a lot from me this past two years, I’ve put off things because I physically just couldn’t handle it, my sleep patterns are screwed up and I’m on a bizarre cocktail of drugs to deal with it all. So I’m doing something about it in the only way  know how. Quilting.

The online shop will be back up and running soon. Quilting is as normal – current customer quilts are in a nice queue and bookings from mid-September onwards are being taken as we speak. Last drop-off date will be the 9th of December, with pick-up by the 20th. I’ll have a break over New Years and be back after the 12th of January.

Donations are still very much welcome for BlanketLovez – please get in touch via the Facebook page if you’d like to volunteer to make quilt tops or if you have fabric, backing or wadding donations.

My classes are back in September at Gosford Sewing. Class list is here. Bookings can be made directly with me, so we can discuss what you would like to achieve. Email me frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com or ring me on 0416 023 637. Class dates for other things I teach are pending (machine embroidery) and will be dependent on time constraints.

In the meantime, things are just chugging along. Many of the things I’ve been working on I can’t share – gifts and secret squirrel projects – but there will be some new stuff happening soon. I’m almost back to my normal brain capacity after the surgery so I’m definitely itching to get back to my regular levels of designing and sewing. Being forced to be idle has driven me up the wall. I NEED to make something… but I’m sure you all know how that feels. 🙂

Thank you for everyone’s understanding and patience during this time. It’s been a big relief to know I didn’t have to worry about quilting and teaching while I was off recovering.

Onwards and upwards!

Marni x 

The great ironing debate

Steam or no steam?

Iron and push or press and lift?

Ironing really shouldn’t be that hard but when it comes to patchwork the technique does matter.

I personally like to use a bit of steam. I don’t press the steam button on my iron but just use the steam as it happens. I really dislike the finish that ironing without steam looks like. Especially because we use 100% cotton for quilts it needs a bit of steam assistance to get the wrinkles out. But this is a choice – personal preference plays a huge role in many of the things we do in this hobby so try both options and see which you prefer.

Ironing clothes to me is a bit easier because you can just push the iron allover your shirt (mind the buttons!) and its in a lot better shape than when you pulled it out of the clean clothes basket. However, your shirt does not require accuracy because you aren’t going to join it up to another shirt. This is where the push v press and lift comes into play.

Pushing the iron can drag the fabric and warp the seam. Meaning your nice straight seam is now a nice curve and won’t match up to his buddy in the quilt. Fine for shirts not fine for patchwork pieces.

Pressing and lifting the ironing gives you far more control. It means you are heating the area that needs to be pressed and lifting the iron away without distorting the seam.

My general rules are:

  • Press the seam open or to the darker of the fabrics
  • Press the seam and then turn the pieces over and check the front of the fabric to ensure that the seam hasn’t rolled (see photos)
  • Press seams in opposite directions to make joining pieces easier. e.g. Quilt with 9 rows of blocks in it, press all even numbered rows to the right and odd numbered rows to the left
  • You can always re-iron something
  • Sometimes a fabric will tell you which way it wants to be pressed – don’t fight it unless you absolutely have to
  • Make friends with your iron, you will be using it a lot. I iron more patchwork fabric than I’ve ever ironed clothes in my lifetime
  • Starch is your friend too, use it on tricky to manage fabrics, any time you plan on cutting triangles and anytime you feel a fabric is misbehaving

If you have any questions about ironing please let me know in the comments.

Happy quilting,

Marni x

 

Welcome to 2019

Welcome to 2019 at Frankenstein’s Fabrics HQ!

This year has a lot already going on. Things that have been in the pipeline for a while and are finally coming together.

Classes:
I’m teaching a few different things this year including machine embroidery. It’s a specific project based on learning techniques and I will have more info on dates, prices etc towards the end of the month. To sign up for the mailing list click here.

Patterns:
Those of you who follow news in the crafting world may have seen the shake up that was announced by Craftsy a couple of weeks ago. Basically they decided to streamline their pattern platform and culled a lot of designers. I was one of them. To be honest it didn’t bother me because I had other avenues in place for selling and I was planning on moving away from Craftsy anyway. Many designers didn’t and they short notice has left many adrift.

So new to the website is a pattern only store. It’s a dropdown from the store button, under the header and will include free and paid for patterns. I am slowly transferring my designs there. They are all digital downloads. If you would like to purchase a hardcopy pattern please email me frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com with your address and what pattern you would like. Payment and post will be arranged. 

Website:
I will be tweaking the website throughout January, not only doing the pattern store but also getting rid of, changing and adding new things. I will be trying to blog more this year as well as now that some things have settled down I can focus again. The product store will change too, details to be advised.

Machine Quilting:
Machine quilting in 2018 was hectic. So in order for things to not get so crazy in 2019 I cannot stress enough that you book in your quilts with at least 6 weeks notice before you need it finished. Deposits are $50 – no exceptions. Bookings are welcome at any time of the year. Spaces do fill up so even if you haven’t finished the quilt yet please get in touch and secure a slot. Any questions please email me frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com or ring 0416 023 637.

My other job:
I am still working with the team at the Gosford Sewing Machine Centre. I am there Tuesday 10-3, Wednesday and Friday 10-4:30 and Saturday 9:30-12:30. If you need to see me in person this is the best way to do so. Please ring if you’re not sure I’ll be there. Frankenstein’s Fabrics stock is located in the shop as well.

Special Events:
This year there are a few special events that will be happening. Shows, charity days, one-off teaching days etc. If you would like to be kept in the loop for these notifications please sign up to the newsletter here.

Magazines:
As many of you know Express Publications shut down its remaining magazines in June last year. I had been a project contributor since 2007. It was sad to see it go this way after so many years, but things change and we must move forward. At this point in time I have no plans to contribute to magazines again. Mainly because when Express stopped publishing I was in the middle of some health issues and had decided to slow things down a little for myself. I am still working on my health and don’t necessarily wish to add that type of deadline stress back into my schedule just yet. I would consider it if asked and it would depend on the project.

January Special:
January is my birthday month so I decided that I shouldn’t be the only one getting a present! Stay tuned for a surprise a little later in the month.

That’s about all for now, so I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and that 2019 brings us all the things we wish for, especially some sewing time!

Marni x

Happy birthday to Frankenstein’s Fabrics!

Today is the 7th birthday of Frankenstein’s Fabrics. Although the store has been through many ups and downs, I’m still here and still doing my favourite thing.

To celebrate, one lucky winner will receive a machine quilting voucher valued at $120AUD (machine quilting costs only, doesn’t include thread, wadding, backing or postage costs), for quilting in 2019. Photos must be in by 5pm Friday the 19th October.

To enter simply post a photo of the quilt you would like me to quilt in the comments on the pinned post on my Facebook page.  I will then use a random number generator to decide on a winner. Comments will be numbered as they are posted, sequential order. Two entries per person. Australia only to reduce postage costs.

This competition is in no way endorsed by Facebook.