Thursday, 16 October 2014

Project Zero - the result and a bit of celebrating

I did it! I actually finished a project in time to gift it. I have to say I am quite pleased with how it has turned out. The hand quilting took longer than I had imagined but it meant I could get all the special shapes I wanted and it will have the handmade look when you see the odd wonky stitch. I put it into a cushion cover using an envelope method from a great easy to follow tutorial from Crazy Mom quilts blog. Here's the quilt design before it became a cushion.

I added quilting detail to look like the magnetic field we will have.

Hopefully you can see what I was trying to get at!
Example of the magnetic field lines in the divertor of MAST-U (right) from a poster by D. Stork (CCFE)

I've delivered the gift today and it went down really well. Stuart tried to convince me to keep it because it turned out so well; I may have to make another at some point for our own lounge. It will look good with the picture he gave me last Christmas of the machine that is on the wall!
The final cushion compared to the photo of MAST in our living room
Since it isn't a birthday without cake I also made a tokamak themed cake and birthday card. I made a two level toffee cake from a sticky toffee recipe and made toffee butter icing by adding sticky toffee sauce into the buttercream. It made quite a sugary cake, but personally that is just what I need on a Wednesday afternoon at work along with a good cup of tea :)

The cake design is the upgrade machine again but I put a slight spin on it. The poor birthday guy has a bit of a reputation for breaking the machine because he set the fire alarm off this one time whilst operating it. Here you don't live things down, you get a good comical nickname, his is Flash. Instead of detailing the intricate field lines onto the cake plasma, as has been done on the cushion with quilting, I decided to go for cartoon sparks and explosions. Obviously I couldn't miss the fact that he is turning 30 today, I only have 2 years to find this funny before all the same jokes are turned back on me by the younger members of staff and students! The little yellow blob is Andy in his hard hat despairing at breaking the machine again ;) although in reality if he did this we would all be out in the cold because of the fire alarms! Let's hope it isn't a prediction for the new machine, my line manager liked the taste of the cake but is not wanting a reenactment of the design!

All in all it was a successful crafting experience from cushion to cake to card. I think I need a little break from fusion crafts now so I can make something pretty 'just because', although not this evening, tonight is about having good food and a few drinks with friends to celebrate the birthday in a less geeky way.

I didn't get any help this time.... instead my little friend has found a new hiding place.....

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Project zero - A bit of English Plasma Piecing

I find myself at the beginning of autumn with the weather having taken a dramatic change in the cold direction, in the middle of many quilting projects which I started in the summer, hoping they would be in use for this exact weather! As with many crafters I find that things seem to take longer than I anticipate, mainly due to the excitement of starting new projects and getting new fabric.... I mean, of course I need new pretty fabric, I am starting to use it already....

I have, however, decided for my own sanity that I should try to complete one of these many exciting projects in the near term. It is one of my dear friend and esteemed colleague's 30th birthday next week, therefore I am determined to get his present finished in time for the actual day... something that I have not achieved for any of my other craft gifts to date :-/

This project is quite a geeky one. I wanted to make a cushion cover with a picture our plasma machine, MAST, on the front. It has a good iconic shape to those in fusion research and the real diagnostic pictures of it show the plasma as purple which really appeals to me! We are currently in an upgrade phase so I thought I would make the picture on the cushion of the new machine and what I imagine to be the new plasma we may be able to make in our experiment.

My favourite 'pic' of the MAST plasma
The Upgrade!

I decided to use English Paper Piecing to make it because some of the shapes are quite odd and I wasn't sure how easy it would be to make. It's been quite exciting as it is the first time I have made my own template rather than making blocks I have seen. Making the templates actually took a while as it is hard to get the shapes to line up, and as you can imagine it has been really simplified from the real MAST/MAST Upgrade!

I chose fabrics in keeping with the style of MAST pictures and hoping to keep the cushion suitable for a bachelor pad at the same time; tricky when you have a lot of really cute fabrics! Then I set about piecing the front.

I had a little helper....

This is Sherlock, or Sherley to us most of the time so she doesn't forget she is a little girl. She is ever so keen to help....

Another useful thing I found whilst EPPing my way through the cushion was that when you get larger parts of fabric attached together and start to struggle to line up the seams nicely, without giving yourself claw hand, is to use hair grips. I found if I used hair grips to hold the seam together every inch or so it was a lot easier to sew and I could even keep one eye on the Bake Off.

The batting I am waiting for should have been delivered today, but alas, it is waiting at the post office so I will have to collect on Saturday morning. With any luck I should have it ready for the special day next Wednesday. I know it isn't the prettiest design for a cushion but, trust me, us fusion geeks love this sort of thing!