My sewing machine has been busily humming away the last few days. That is, it would be humming if it could hum, but mostly it just makes a loud noise akin to a food processor grinding rocks (is that normal? It’s been doing that as long as I’ve had it). Anyways, I have been doing a few sewing projects that I want to get done during my last week of convalescence, since I think I’ll be returning to my editing role next week.
These fabric baskets/boxes have been on my to-make list for a while. I don’t have many containers for anything that isn’t made of cardboard with “Office Max” or “Huggies/Pampers/Luvs” on the side of them, unless you count a couple of plastic ice cream buckets. One of my goals this year has been to beautify my home, and I decided to start with this little project that would hopefully help me get organized as well.
I wanted to make bigger boxes, so I decided to go with this tutorial from Oh, Fransson!, sort of (I’m still planning on trying some smaller boxes using the other tutorial, as well). I didn’t use the interfacing layering techniques that she did, I just used one layer of cotton batting and one layer of cotton buckram. Also, I alternated the boxes so that the quilting is on the inside of the middle one. And I made them bigger, of course.
The dimensions are roughly 10 1/4 by 8 1/4, 9 1/4 by 7 1/4, and 8 1/4 by 6 1/4. They took a while to do, with all the quilting and everything, but I think they would have gone faster if my sewing machine hadn’t given me so much grief. It kept jamming and breaking threads, and the tension kept randomly changing. So frustrating! I’m starting to think it may be nearing its death throes. Hopefully not, but maybe I should start saving for a new machine.
So, about the pieced box, it was totally unplanned. I was going to do it like the small one, with quilted pink on the outside so the three boxes would alternate. Here’s how things went: I cut out all the pieces I would need for the middle size box and started working on the box. Then I decided that I wanted to make 2 more boxes, so I first cut out all the pieces for two more boxes in the pink and had just a little rectangle left over, but when I went to cut the brown, I realized that I didn’t have enough. I had gotten a half yard of both colors, both were approximately the same width, so I couldn’t figure it out. The brown half yard had been cut rather wonky and was 2 inches short of half a yard, so that might have been the problem. Regardless, I had three options: order more brown (no way!), use a different color, or try to piece together enough pink and brown to make it work.
In retrospect, I should have just ordered more brown, I would have saved me hours of frustration trying my hand at “improvisational piecing,” which I think is best left to more skilled quilters than myself. The linen was hard enough working with in large pieces, so when it got down to the small pieces, forget about straight lines. By the end I was scrounging every last little piece I could find to make the pieces big enough. I didn’t like it until I sewed the box together, and then it all seemed to come together, almost miraculously. What do you think? Any tips for sewing with linen.
Finally, I quilted the boxes with some organic lines (my first time machine quilting, too). I like the way this turned out, and the quilting was easier than I thought it would be, until the thread started breaking every five stitches.
I learned that there I had to compromise with my project because I wanted to use a natural interfacing (buckram); the boxes weren’t quite as stiff as I wanted them to be, but it wasn’t too big of a problem for me.
All in all, a fun project that helped me practice a bunch of different skills. It turned out to be a small victory in several ways. I got over my hesitation of cutting into my beautiful linen, I learned a little bit about piecing and machine quilting, and I saw firsthand the importance of accurate sewing and cutting (I definitely could use some more practice with this). And most of all, I didn’t smash my sewing machine to pieces for all the grief it was giving to me, which was a major victory for my self-control.
Now to put these baskets to work!