Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Haptic Lab New York Quilt and Grand Central Station Ceiling Cushion

It seems very late in the day to be showing you guys some gifts I made for Christmas but I'm so proud of them I can't skip sharing! Despite deciding that trying to make too many gifts each year wasn't worth the panic during the run up to Christmas, I expected to have a fair bit of time in December and knew my family deserved some treats so went all out with the sewing this year. Of course I then ended up working some fairly crazy hours and with much less time to sew than I hoped it all became quite the rush! Some late nights were involved but it was worth it to see the looks on their faces on Christmas Day. I've sworn I'll cut down this year but I doubt that will happen again...partly because it's too difficult to resist the opportunity to sew some things which I'd never make myself! First up are my Mum's and Sister's which have a New York theme as both of them love the Big Apple. If you follow me on Instagram you may have spotted that I've just got back from a trip there with my Dad and Sister so expect a post with all my garment district adventures in soon!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab New York City DIY Quilt

My Sister's was definitely the most time intensive of the lot and I decided on what I was going to make her way back in April of last year. I thought at that point that it would give me plenty of time but of course I didn't actually get round to starting it for a good few months and a project like tis sure eats up the hours. Luckily I love a bit of hand sewing in front of the tv so I enjoyed every minute of this project and am even contemplating making another for myself now I've had a bit of a break from looking at it!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab New York City DIY Quilt

Some of you have probably recognised it as one of Haptic Lab's quilt kits. I spotted one on Instagram and hopped over to the website in a flash. They are absolutely gorgeous. You can buy them ready made (prices are steep but now I know how many hours are put into hand sewing each one I'm inclined to see them as a total bargain!) but of course the maker in me wasn't having any of that when I spotted the DIY kits. They are a template of the design printed on tear-away stabiliser, so you sew through the template and all the layers of your quilt then tear away the paper when you are done (which takes FOREVER FYI as there are so many little bits between the stitches and you have to be really careful not to tug your stitches loose). They come with a brief set of sewing instructions but there is more detailed help available on the website. The one I've used here is the New York City Quilt, but I almost went with the Central Park design!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab New York City DIY Quilt

I've never done any quilting before so buying batting was a whole new experience for me. I didn't want anything too thick or dense as it would make it harder to sew through by hand but I wanted a nice spongey finish at the same time. I looked at a lot of reviews and went with Hobbs Heirloom Premium Cotton Quilt Batting which I wound sold by the metre on Minerva Crafts. I was really pleased with this choice and would definitely use it again. The two colours of cotton I bought from A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road and I made my own binding with it. Excluding the extra fabric for binding you only need a metre of each fabric as the quilts are 42" by 36" so supplies wise they are fairly inexpensive.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab New York City DIY Quilt

I made sure to carefully follow the preparation instructions; laying out everything flat on the floor then using safety pins to catch the layers together at regular intervals. This is really important as otherwise things will shift around as you sew and the quilt will twist out of shape. I found a really long fine needle was best to glide easily through the batting. I took to rolling up the ends and clipping them in place to get to the centre so I wasn't wrestling with a big bit of quilt every time I took a stitch.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab New York City DIY Quilt

It took me a while to figure out how tight to pull my stitches etc but once I'd got into the rhythm of it I thoroughly enjoyed the process. The only thing I struggled with was trying to keep the back looking neat and everything knotted off securely. If it was just for me I think it would have been fine but I wasn't happy with it as a gift so I covered it with another bit of cotton when it was done; securing it at at a few points to keep it nice and flat . I couldn't find any tips for making the back look nice and tidy...has anyone else made one and can offer me some advice?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab New York City DIY Quilt

There is so much room for creativity with these quilts. I actually kept mine pretty simple, just picking a colour way which I knew my sister would love and using different stitches to highlight different lines on the map as recommended but if you take a look at the DIY quilt listing page you can see amazing things that can be done by appliquéing patches of printed fabrics or marking your favourite locations with embroidery and lettering. I followed the instructions to use embroidery floss to mark coastal boundaries in a solid bold line, then hand quilting thread for the rest. I used backstitch for a solid line to mark primary streets, a running stitch for secondary streets and then tiny running stitch for the construction lines which keep the quilt together across empty bodies of water.

These quilts are genuinely amazing and in writing this and remembering the process I can't wait to get stuck into another one. I'd really like to look into some different embroidery stitches to use and would love to try the constellation quilt that Jenny from Cashmerette made.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grand Central Station Ceiling Cushion

My Mum's gift started again with a spot on Instagram. I don't think it was actually this specific fabric but another along the New York theme that led me to the City Quilter website. They're based in the Chelsea District but have a lot of fabric available online and once I saw the prints I caved and splashed out on the international postage. I did have a few issues with the delivery going walkabouts that I found a little difficult to resolve but I got my hands on a piece in the end! The fabrics in the 'City Collection' are designed by the store and since I bought this last year a whole heap of amazing new prints have been added. I particularly like 'All the Buildings in NYC' and 'Subway Tiles'. For my Mum's gift I settled on 'Grand Central Constellations' as it stood out to me as a design that would look nice on display at home as the theme is a little more subtle. Funnily enough when I gave it to my Mum she knew all about City Quilter's NYC collection as she'd made a special visit to the shop during a trip a few year's back to get me a few yards of the unique designs!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grand Central Station Ceiling Cushion

I settled on a very simple cushion cover design as I wanted to get this project spot on and also showcase the stunning fabric. The scale of this print is also a little larger than most and I wanted to keep as many constellations whole as possible so the size of a cushion was perfect. I was also trying to pick a project which I could use these amazing metal buttons for and I only had two! These are a real find that I spotted when shopping for work one day. I've totally forgotten where they came from as they've been in my stash for soooo long, deliberately saved for the perfect project for her as the Art Deco style structure of the top of the Chrysler building is her favourite and this is what they reminded me of.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grand Central Station Ceiling Cushion

I did consider using metallic gold thread for the buttonholes but kept it simple and chic so the fabric could speak for itself. I think this would be an amazing fabric for a quilt if you quilted the main features of the constellation design in a gold thread. Perhaps I should use a turquoise cotton and gold thread for my haptic lab constellation quilt and make it grand central station inspired?!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grand Central Station Ceiling Cushion

17 comments:

  1. These are both amazing, especially the quilt - you could hang it on a wall like a piece of art!

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    1. I think if I made one I would!! I'd be too scared of marking it or pulling out the stitches to actually use it or sit on it!! Thanks love

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  2. Both beautiful! I am headed over to check out that fabric right now.

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    1. I hope you found something you liked! There's so many great prints I'd find it hard to choose for myself! Thank you

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  3. Wonderful gifts! You are sooo talented. Thanks again for the detailed post.

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    1. Ah thanks! Not really...just very patient! You're welcome

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  4. I'm making the constellation quilt in navy with silver thread, I'm just embroidering the top of the quilt and then I'll machine quilt all the layers together as I don't want the back to be messy!

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    1. O that's a good idea! I'm not sure what the best way to get a neat back is...I'd love to see one of their made up ones to see how they do it! I'd love to see how yours turns out, that's exactly how I'd like to make one!

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  5. Fabulous! What beautiful gifts! Your family are lucky:). I particularly love the buttons - they really finish off the cushion.

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    1. The buttons were one of those things that you see and just HAVE to buy! Aren't they gorgeous? I'm glad I saved them up for the perfect project for my mum. Thank you

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  6. Wow!! The quilt is absolutely amazing. I hope your sister loves it. Haptic Lab have one that is all the star constellations. I'd love it, but no!!

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    1. I think she's pretty pleased with it! :) The star constellation one actually looks like it would slightly speedier than the maps...less lines. But maybe I'm being overly optimistic because I'd love to make one for myself!

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  7. Wow, usually I'm not really interested in quilts, but this one is fabulous! I love the design. Hard to imagine how long this took, even with the template. Great job!

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    1. Thanks Olga! I daren't even think about the hours that went into it but it was very enjoyable...as long as you start with a good amount of time before your deadline! I'm not usually into quilts either but these designs really caught my eye. There's something about the handgun quality of them that I really love

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    1. Haha! Thanks Sonja, I'm pretty delighted with it!

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  9. Hi Fiona - I ran across your blog while working on my second haptic lab quilt. I first made a map of the world as a baby blanket - and like you, my back ended up a nightmare. I did keep track of my hours just for fun and I clocked 160 hours. I added French knots as markers for where the new parents had traveled to, it was about 150 places! It did turn our beautifully despite the ugly back. I'm now taking a stab at the large constellation pattern for a birthday gift. I originally thought I would just pin the front to the batting and do the Milky Way in French knots and then add the back, so the back would look a little cleaner. I'm about 100 knots in and it's just not possible, so I pinned the back as well. This thing is huge and I'm overwhelmed, but I have a year to complete it! Wish me luck!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!