Crafting for the Kitchen

Whovians, long time no see! I think it’s time to get back to sharing some of my adventures in crafting and cooking and of course our shared love of Doctor Who! Now this adventure is crafting related, but have no fear I’ve got a whole set of delicious recipes to share with you all in the months to come. So let’s get started!

Now before I begin, I have a confession to make. I can’t leave a craft store without buying something….and honestly I can’t leave a craft store without buying something extra. There’s just so many beautiful bolts of cloth or hanks of yarn that are full of potential! They could become anything and that in itself is exciting. But sometimes I succumb to the temptation to get something, just to come home and realize that I have no idea what I’m going to do with this. And today I’m here to tell you of just such a moment. It started back when I was buying fabric for my 1920’s Dalek. I had the crafting juices flowing, constantly thinking of Doctor Who related things, and if you’ve ever been to a popular fabric store you know that there’s always a little bit of waiting in line to get the fabric you want cut. And for people like me, this becomes an opportunity to grab more fabric. As I was getting some classic pin stripe fabric, I saw out of the corner of my eye some awesome Doctor Who fabric:

 

Often times prints like these don’t last for very long. They are only made while what they are representing is popular, and often times they can only be sold at specific stores with the right licensing and all that legal stuff. So really, can you really blame be for nabbing up this fabric without thinking? No. Of course you can’t! As I was in the middle of making my Dalek Cosplay, I didn’t give this fabric a second thought. I had bigger fish to fry at the time. But as time went on, I found the fabric in my closet and started wondering what to do with it. Which is the real crux of the matter. If I had gotten some standard blue fabric or even a normal flower print, the sky would have been the limit of what I can make. And to be fair, I can really make anything out of this fabric too, but it’s a bit bright and loud for my own style so that rules out all clothing. So what’s left? TONS OF THINGS! Just think outside the box. There’s a whole list of things you can do:

  • Reusable gift bags for your favorite Whovian
  • Little bags filled with catnip for your favorite furry Whovian
  • Chair cushions
  • Lamp shades (yes you heard me, my family did this all the time and they are beautiful)
  • Accents on more tame items, something like the edging of a skirt or pillow case
  • Quilts, large or small. I started one with lots of wild fabric and loved every fabric change
  • And so much more!

I even saw a few Christmas ornaments that were decorated with fabric at StarFest, there’s really no limit. Take a look at this example: a dear friend of mine (Hi Brittany!) used some equally bright fabric as the border for a pillow case, and it turned out wonderful!

         

 

I’m sure with the quantify of fabric (I *may* have bought too much) I will be making many of these items, but the one I chose from the start was a set of potholders. The perfect combination of my love of all things cooking and crafting! Let’s get started!

Step 1: Make a plan


Since I am making potholders (and fabric coasters) the plan is pretty simple. Cut various squares of fabric, sandwich some thick filler in between and sew them all up! As far as sewing goes this is pretty straight forward, so I grabbed myself a cup of coffee and got started. Yes, yes I can hear you all now, it should have been tea. And believe me the number of cups of tea I drink in a given day vastly outnumbers the cups of coffee I drink in a year. But this was fresh ground, perfectly brewed cup. What can I say, I was powerless.

The great simplicity of this project is that in the end I want a bunch of squares and rectangles, and hey would you look at that? My comic book panel fabric is a patchwork set of, you guessed it, squares and rectangles. Easy. Here’s where you spend some time thinking about the sizes you want to make. For potholders and thick table mats/runners, you want something a bit larger. Often in a large rectangle rather than a square. When thinking coasters, think the size of a tea cup (or tea mug in my case) and things get a little more square. I also took inspiration from the specific comic panels to create an array of sizes and colors.

 

Here is where you reach another creative junction, what do you do on the other side? Now you can easily cut more of the same fabric and make it double sided Who, for me though I grabbed some of my other stash fabric (which was bought for a purpose I might add, I just have extras) and did a plain bright colored backing to each pot holder. Make it nice and easy and lets me use a variety of fabric instead of just one.

Step 2: Pick your batting


 

This is an important step. Think, if you just take 2 thin pieces of cotton fabric and wrap them around a hot pan straight from the oven, a few things are going to happen. 1. You’re going to burn yourself, probably pretty badly. 2. You’re going to drop your delicious meal on the floor, possibly even breaking some dishes, and 3. You’re going to come back here and yell at me. So let me say this, I’m not responsible for you not being careful when dealing with hot things, and also, what you need to use is batting between those layers of thin fabric. There’s a variety of batting available at the different fabric stores. Some are used for between quilts and some are a bit thicker and more durable. What you’re looking for is something like InsulaBright, or a few layers of terry cloth towels. The more layers you add the thicker the pot holder will be, the harder it will be to bend, and the more protection your hand and table have against the scalding hot pan. I ended up using more layers for my “pot holders” and fewer layers for my coasters. I don’t take my tea scalding hot. I took the pre-cut fabric squares and laid them out on a layer (or several) of the batting.

 

 

Batting is pretty rough and therefore “sticky” to fabric, which makes things easier in a lot of ways. For one I only used 1 or 2 pins to attach my fabric to the batting to hold it in place while I was cutting. Don’t have to spend too much time being careful here, I like to trim things up later so this initial set of cuts is less stressful. Once you get the fabric cut, front and back, you can sit down and relax for a bit, possibly even a good point in time for a lunch break!

 

Step 3. Trimming and more secure pinning


Enjoy lunch? Was it tasty? I want to hear all about it. Oh wait….you’re here to see the next step aren’t you? Fine, but don’t leave me hanging about that delicious lunch.

Okay, now you have a bunch of rough rectangles for the three layers we’re working with. 1 layer of the front fabric, 1 layer of the middle batting layer, and 1 layer of the back fabric. Here’s where you need to take a little bit more time. Lay out the fabric as you want it to be in the end, pin all 3 layers together, and pull out any tools you have to making sure you can get a straight edge. Here’s where you trim the corners, square the edges, and get ready to sew!

Important note. Take your time at this stage. It’s like the phrase measure twice cut once. If you go too fast here you’ll end up having more avant garde squares, rather than nice orderly squares. Now that being said, don’t stress over this, it’s supposed to be fun. As a friend once told me, if it’s perfect it doesn’t look homemade and therefore loses some of it’s charm. So don’t worry too much if it doesn’t meet some textbook definition 😉

Step 4: Sewing!


This is another wonderful opportunity to get creative. The goal here is to “quilt” the 3 layers together. Now I know what some of you are thinking, you’re thinking that quilting is only applicable to when a series of triangles and rectangles come together to make shapes or houses on a big blanket. Nope. That’s more specifically referred to as a “patchwork” quilt. Quilting I believe is just defined as combining of cloth and batting. So that’s what we’re doing here, a little bit of quilting.

 

Where’s the creativity coming? Well it comes in how you want to combine the layers. Grid pattern? Diagonal lines? Loops, swirls, doodles? What about outlining some of the images or patterns seen on the fabric? It’s all up to you! And with the size of pot holders over something large like a blanket, you can experiment and try out different things without the fear of ruining one level. Each pattern makes a different look and feel for the finished product.

Step 5: Edging


Last step! Now that everything is quilted up together, the only thing left to do is add an edging/binding to the edges so that the fabric doesn’t fall apart and unravel.

Time for another confession. I’m not going to tell you how to do this step. Woah woah, calm down, I have a very good reason for it. I’m not good at it, mine are often clunky, or when they aren’t, it’s a complete mystery to me how this one managed to be okay. It’s all in the corners and corners are really tricky. So take my advice. Get some rest, stretch out your back, maybe make a snack, then hit google. There are some truly great videos out there, and instructions on how to do a quilt edging. I can’t say that all of them will be crazy helpful, but trust me on this, they are infinitely more helpful than anything I could attempt to write up. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll go to a proper sewing class and get them to show me this mystical aspect of finishing.

I will mention one thing though, this hasn’t been tried by me, but I’m liking the concept at least. I was lying in bed one morning, curled up with my kitty cat Lilu and I started inspecting the big comforter keeping us nice and warm. The edges it has was different. It wasn’t the inside out pillow case style a lot of blankets have, nor was it a binding edge like a lot of homemade quilts have. This one had the top layer of fabric hemmed, the bottom layer of fabric hemmed, and then the 2 layers sewn together. I can hem a lot better than I can turn corners with edging. Of course this requires some upfront planning as you need some extra fabric on that initial cut to do the hem, so I didn’t get the chance to try it out this time. But, you might want to give it a try sometime. Let me know if it works out better!

Now that everything is all done, here’s the finished product(s)!

So there you go! Something that you can do with that exotic fabric that doesn’t lend itself very well to some of the more typical sewing pursuits.

I’m off to go make a Shepherd’s Pie, now that I have something to keep my hands and counters are safe. Now get out there and sew up a storm and share your finished products! You know we’d love to see them!

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