Log cabin my eye

Posted by caroline in Weaving on March 31st, 2010

No knitting to show today, next time I should have two pairs of socks to show and maybe some lace as well but today is all about finished objects of a different kind.

log2The last time we saw this photo was at the end of April last year. At the time I said “This one isn’t in the drawer at all, it’s waiting for me to get the scissors and make it into something, I keep putting it off in case I get it wrong and wreck my precious fabric. Hopefully the next time we see this it will have been transformed, either that or we will not speak of it again”. I certainly didn’t imagine that it would be eleven months for the transformation to take place. This is a pattern that weavers call log cabin. I spent a long while as a quilter and from that perspective log cabin is a totally different beast, this pattern in quilting is rail fence except that the colour placement is all wrong. We will not quibble over names, what it is is something that looks fiendishly difficult but isn’t. It’s the old impact to effort ratio in action again. The brown is Opal sock yarn and the green is blue faced leicester that I dyed with some leftover dye. The yellow wasn’t entirely dissolved and it made a slightly variegated green-yellow green roving.

This was planned from the start for a specific purpose. David bought himself a new laptop and asked for a slip cover to stop it from getting scratched while in his workbag. The critical thing was that the fabric finished up 10″ wide so I could join two pieces at the edges, any smaller and it wouldn’t fit, any bigger and it would be too floppy around the laptop.  I planned it very carefully and ended up with a fabric that was about one inch too narrow. That’s the real reason that it’s been sidelined for so long, there was no chance that the fabric would grow or the laptop shrink but I hoped that given enough time I’d come up with some sort of a solution.

baghandIn the time since I put this on one side I’ve cut up and sewn different bits of fabric that I’ve woven and although I’ve a lot to learn I am getting better at it.bagc2 I’ve got the answer to handles now – cotton fabric over scraps of batting gives a nice firm feel and although the inkle straps were pretty these are an easier solution.  I”m not frightened of cutting into the handwoven stuff any more, it doesn’t start unraveling as soon as you cut into it in the same way as a dropped stitch doesn’t run all by itself. Wool is naturally sticky, if you want it to move then you have to pull it. If you don’t pull it until you’ve got it stabilised then it doesn’t unravel.


What I didn’t realise was that my log cabin fabric had something else wrong with it as well as that missing inch. I’d not beat it evenly over the length of the piece so the squares at the start aren’t the same height as those at the end. If I’d realised this I could have minimised the effect by joining two lengths cut from the same end but because it never occurred to me I did the worst thing I could have done and cut a length from each end. This meant that I was doomed, I had a seam that would never join well. (Remember, I make these mistakes so you don’t have to) There wasn’t enough fabric to cut another length so the dodgy seam has had to stay.

insetRather than have an insert of one inch, I thought it would look better to make it wider and have it as more of a feature than an excuse. I made a 2″ (finished) insert for the front and had no inset at the back. This was a big mistake caused by me not wanting to waste the precious handwoven stuff. If it had been ordinary yardage I’d have made my 2″ insert front and back and cut off the excess at the sides. This would have made the sewing really straightforward. As it was I’d now made the front bigger than the back, left myself with a plain back that would wrap over into the flap and caused the non-matching centre back seam. You don’t notice that the fronts don’t match because of the inset whereas the back is rather obvious.

macinnerTo get the insert on the flap I had to make the flap separately to the back and join it, all work that I could have saved myself if I’d just chopped a bit off the sides. Clearly I still have some way still to travel towards my goal of approaching woven fabric with scissors and the thought of “It’s just yardage”. It does have some inbuilt wonkiness, I lined the pattern up on the flap because the only reason that I offset it in the body was to have the back line up properly. That was before I realised that it wouldn’t line up even with glue and nails. My novel and never to be repeated construction for the flap means that it’s not on quite straight, by then I was happy that I’d found a way to get it on at all and was past caring.

mascbagVerdict – it’s fit for purpose, it’s padded well, the Mac fits in it and it’s not going to fall apart. More importantly it’s finished (apart from the purchase of no snag Velcro for the underside of the flap). If I could turn back time I’d run the stripe all the way around and either cut the excess off at the sides or lay a 2″ stripe over a 1″ gap. I still think that the wider stripe was the right decision but I’d not predicted what a mess it would get me into. If I could turn the clock back even further I’d not use a pattern with all those unforgiving lines or even better weave something that was the right width to start with.

4 Responses to “Log cabin my eye”

  1. laura says:

    I love the little project bags! I’ve been drooling over them on Ravelry already.

  2. Cynthia says:

    So nice to see it finished! It’s funny how one decision leads to another and another — but the finished bag looks planned. I think the pointed flap & the matching inserts are very stylish.

  3. Carie says:

    Regardless of the hitches along the way it looks really good finished (or almost finished!)

  4. carolyn says:

    Alls well that ends well. It looks great and quite as if this is exactly what you planned from the outset ;0

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