confessions of a fabric obsessive

Category Archives: fabric

For me – one completed bathmat

As soon as I saw the Cathedral Window Playmat on Amy Gibson’s blog, Stichery Dickery Dock I knew that it was what I wanted as a bathmat for my tiny bathroom.

Although I’ve always admired quilt with circles in and Cathederal Windows blocks in particular, I’ve never done them in any quilt before because circles or curves of any type scare the *** out of me.

I’ve got to say the Amy is a fabulous tutorial writer, but then I should have know that because I’m following her Craftsy Block of the Month course (which I’m hopelessly behind on, but we won’t go there).

Viola, one Cathedral Windows Bathmat, started and finished within 24 hours and I slept for some of that!

I had to wash the print fabric because the cotton towelling I was using was upcycled from a spare bath sheet. I ironed it all properly, and used a dinner plate to cut out the circles. I cut too many circles, it turns out I cut 12 towelling circles when I only needed 9 and I still don’t know what to do with the 9 circles I cut from the stripe fabric.

After posting about this project yesterday, I decided to use the batik print that I love so much (please ignore the state of my bathroom tiles, this is a sewing blog not a diy blog after all!):

Note to self: get larger dinner plates, this would be fab with bigger circles! Also, sewing this with towelling as a backing is harder than I thought, that’s probably why it’s a little wonky. It also probably needs ironing, but is that going to happen?

I’m glad that I decided to do this. I love my new bathmat and I don’t care what anyone else thinks (although if you think it’s lovely too, I wouldn’t mind being told).

I love my new bathmat  🙂


For me – one bathmat

Ages ago I bought a lovely bathmat from Ikea (I love Ikea – just their fabric section can keep me happy for hours). Well it lasted for ages, looking lovely and blue (my favourite colour and obviously a good colour for my blue and white bathroom) and small and perfectly formed to fit in the minuscule space between the bath, the washbasin and the door. That is, it lasted well until a certain young lady of my family wasn’t as careful as she might have been when colouring her hair and got a big splodge of deep red hair dye on my lovely bathmat.

I put up with it for a bit and then decided that I could use an excess hand-towel for a bath mat instead. I have a whole set of duck egg blue (another favourite colour, which features in my living room) towels in the airing cupboard originally bought to deaden the sound of my son’s drums. When he went off to university the drum kit got packed away and the set of towels went to live in the airing cupboard with their new friends.

I’ve been looking for a replacement for the “dropped towel on the floor” look for a while now.  I’ve seen several I like,

this one:

this lovely one:

this one,

and this lovely one

But while they are all lovely, and importantly, do-able, nothing got me reaching for my clean used towels and quilting cotton stash. Until I saw this photo on Stichery Dickery Dock;

I’ve loved Cathedral Windows quilts since the first time I saw one, but how much work is in one? Too much.

So when I saw the link to Amy’s tutorial on her blog I clicked and then read through the tutorial.

Simple, maybe even easy. I know that this tutorial is for a playmat, but would this work with white towelling for the backing?

Well, I’ve spent all day waiting for the quilting cotton to wash and dry enough so I could iron it. I’ve even ironed all of my laundry while I was waiting for the quilting cotton to dry (desperate times…).  I’ve cut out the fabric circles (using a dinner plate as the template, because I don’t have Amy’s flash circle-drawing thingy) and now I’m stuck.

I have cut too many circles for a start (d’oh!). I think 3 by 3 will be a good size for my bathmat, so I cut out 9 towelling circles, and then 9 each of the two fabrics that I love and want to have in my bathroom. But I only need 4 of one and 5 of the other. Or I could have all the circles in the same fabric, but then I’d have to choose which fabric, and I can’t choose.

So I pinned some circles together to give myself an idea of what the finished mat might look like. I took some photos and I played with them on picmonkey to give myself all the options I could think of.  Now I need some help to decide which is best. Please bear in mind that my bathroom is white, with sky blue and white tiling and pale yellow painted walls above the tiles and pale yellow (non-slip vinyl flooring), and very small. Also the finished mat will be 3 by 3 but  the photos are only 2 by 2.

All batik

All stripe

Alternating batik and stripe


I really love the batik (it’s not real batik, it’s a print but I love it anyway and I don’t feel nervous about using it for something that’s going to get used a lot), but I want to use the stripe too. I suppose I could make two, one of each fabric and alternate them, but two bathmats? really?

I give up. What do you think?


I’ve been dyeing…

…but only a little bit.

Ages ago I rescued an old wooden clothes airer. I stripped off the disintegrating webbing “hinges” so that I could clean up the wooden frames, replace the webbing and have a new clothes airer. Simple job, you might think, but I wanted the new webbing hinges to be pink (I had to make it complicated!).

Can you buy pink cotton webbing? Not online, and not in the shops.

I already had white cotton webbing, so I thought, “Ah, I’ll get a pack of pink dye and dye some of the white webbing pink”. In theory it should have been easy, just follow the instructions and I’ll have some great colour webbing. While I’m at it, I could drop in a few other white cotton things and have them bright pink as well.

When I was a teenager I used to dye fabric  (mostly t- shirts and jeans) quite often. Mum wouldn’t let me dye them in the washing machine, so I got to be a dab hand at dyeing by hand.

Cotton absorbs dye really easily and takes the colour quite strongly: most synthetic fibres don’t.

This is the colour of the dye I bought, flamingo pink. (I don’t do things by halves. If I’m having pink, I’m having bright pink!)

According to the instructions, one pack would dye up to 250g of cotton to the full colour, so I worked through my stash, picking out cotton trimming and cotton fabric to make up to the 250g weight limit.

I followed the instructions, stirred and stirred for the first 15 minutes, and then every now and again for an hour.

This is what I got:

See that pale pink wide webbing at the back? I was sold that as 100% cotton. Needless to say, it isn’t. If it had been it would now be the same colour as the narrower stuff.

There’s another length of white tape (not in the photo) that is still white. I was sold that as 100% cotton too. It’s so white after the full time in the dye solution, it can’t possibly have any cotton in it at all. In fact it’s so incredibly day-glo white that I didn’t even put it in the photo.

Cross isn’t the word. Well actually cross is the word, along with very.

Having paid a premium for 100% cotton, I find out that it’s actually less than 50% (in the case of the wide) and  0% cotton (in the case of the un-photographed).

Then I panicked that the twill tape that I am selling on Ebay and Etsy at the moment might not be cotton after all, so I dropped some in the used dye solution just to check. It’s fine, it didn’t take up as much colour in the same time as the 100% cotton tape in the first batch, but it did colour up and I’m satisfied that what I’m selling as cotton is cotton. Phew!

I’m not going to go into dyeing as an extension of my sewing (with natural dyes or tie-dyeing), but it is nice to know that I can still do it fairly easily, and that if I really want a colour that I can’t buy anywhere dyeing it myself will be fairly simple (although I did google “hand-dyeing” for this post and found some really interesting blogs and started following Nancy Guchte’s hand-dyeing board on Pinterest and Wild Onion‘s blog).

Back to my clothes airer refurb. Almost finished but I need to hammer the tacks in and it’s too late (I’m writing this in the wee small hours of Thursday night, as usual for a Friday post) because my neighbours need their sleep.

I’m glad I took the time and effort to dye the webbing pink for the hinges. It looks exactly how I wanted it too. It will be displaying some of my quilts, eventually, as well as my laundry!

Happy Claire Bear

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