Monday, 18 March 2013

Easy peasy patchwork workshop at Made Cafe, Whitley Bay

Last weekend I spent  Saturday morning at Made Cafe Whitley Bay on their Easy Peasy Patchwork workshop, a craft I've fancied learning how to do for ages.

When I arrived I had no idea where to start with creating a patchwork object. Choosing fabrics
and in only 3hrs I'd created a patchwork cushion. 
Easy Peasy Patchwork - DONE


Couldn't I just teach myself?

Yes I've got craft books with instructions, but I learn better by watching and applying, under the close supervision of an expert, so if I do make a mistake I'm made aware of it when I've done it, not right at the end and realise that I need to undo the last 20 steps to correct it.  And when that happens I lose heart and give it up as a bad job.


Class size

There were 5 of us on the course, all of us arrived as complete beginners. It's nice with a small class, we get to ask Jeannie anything, she can dedicate her time to us all, equally and you get to bond with the other attendees too.

The workshop

The pattern was already designed so all I had to do was choose materials, cut pin, sew, iron, cut, sew, pin, iron, cut pin, sew and iron until it was all done.  Jeannie explained the technique, joining short sides together and building up in size.

The hardest task was choosing the fabric, Jeannie had so many lovely patterned fabrics to choose from, I settled on a handful of muted aqua/turquoise colours and started...after joining 4 squares together it started to resemble patchwork, and as it grew it gave me more pleasure.

When I'd done the first 6 pieces I reassessed my fabrics, and decided that my muted tones needed a lift so swapped in a couple of pieces, their patterns contained a few pops of red and really lifted the piece.

If you read my previous post about Embroidery done cool you'll know that I find freeform difficult to grasp, preferring to stick to a plan otherwise chaos could ensue (of course it won't but try telling the perfectionist in me), yet with patchwork I could easily see what was needed to lift my cushion and it felt natural making changes to my original fabric selection to make it work. Quite liberating, and not difficult at all.

Jeannie shared a few shortcuts with us, like joining two fabrics together before cutting them to size, I say cut, most of the time we snipped and ripped - easy peasy. And using a rotary cutter and mat to cut fabric - it was just so easy, how have I never had a go with one before? It was the first thing on my "must order from Amazon when I get home" list. There were scissors and card templates for those who wanted them, and magic pen - it writes on fabrics like felt pen but fades in air (also on my 'must buy' list).

As always there was a lovely cuppa coffee and slice of cake (lemon drizzle) to help keep the creative juices flowing.

By 1pm we'd finished the front of the cushion, the easy peasy patchwork bit, just needed to find a piece for the back of our cushion, stitch it on, stuff the cushion in and stitch the top up.
As I stuffed the cushion I felt a real sense of achievement and by the end of the workshop I was beaming with pride.

I used to say, I wish I could do that now I can say, I CAN do that!

Made cafe takes you from novice to not-so-novice in 3 hours. You get to make something from start to finish, Jeannie is always there to help, whether it's giving advice on fabrics, guiding you around the pattern and which pieces go where, sharing her knowledge of where to buy equipment or filling the spool on the sewing machine.

What I learnt:

  • Try to have a colour palette in mind before starting, aqua and red was mine (which I'd seen combined recently on Blueberry Park blog)
  • Don't get too hung up about fabrics choices too soon - keep an open mind to the possibility of change, normally I find this quite difficult, but in this workshop it felt easy and necessary.
  • Patchwork isn't always about cutting hundreds of regimented shapes,
  • Having a basic pattern helps you stay on track (especially for beginners)
  • Don't let the cutting out be a chore, use as many shortcuts (snip & rip, rotary cutters) as you need.
  • Iron your seams as you go
It is possible to create something simple but beautiful in a few hours.

I've seen how to make a basic cushion in a few hours and can see how the basic pattern could be repeated as blocks and joined together to make a quilt, a blanket or even a bigger cushion...

Since finishing the workshop I've give my mum my cushion as a mother's day gift (& both her and my sister were suitably impressed, as were my facebook and Twitter friends), I've also ordered a rotary cutter, a cutting mat and cutting template and eyed up a range of fat quarters on Elephant in my handbag and My Fabric House.

Learn how to do it yourself...

The next easy peasy patchwork is on Saturday 29th June, visit the website & book your place and whilst your there, take a look at the cushion on the website - look familiar? :)
places are limited so book yours today - recognise that cushion?

Choosing fabrics The pattern My favourite new toy
The first pieces - joined together Adding another piece Re-thinking the fabrics...
Nearly there The back of the patchwork block Easy Peasy Patchwork - DONE
Visit my flickr page for the set: Easy Peasy Patchwork workshop at Made Cafe
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