I have heard a lot of people comment on how expensive the RSN courses are, but in all honesty I feel they are well worth the money and in line with lots of other workshops that I have taken part in. The tutors are very knowledgeable and available to help out throughout the day. What I do find expensive however, are the sundries that are needed to complete the work.
To start with, on the first day of the RSN certificate course, you are supplied with a slate frame (of good quality), Appleton wools, Linen twill, needles and webbing – at a cost. But this is only the start. A trestle is advisable as it is much easier to sew at home using one and these are not cheap! Luckily – if you live with a handyman, a similar one can be made for a fraction of the cost (maybe I should set him up in business!). I have also found that a large carrying bag is of use – as you are only supplied with a plastic bag and the slate frame is very unwieldy. The RSN have some lovely hand made, water-proof bags, but – as I need to save money – I decided to make my own.
Fortuitously, I was recently introduced to a lady from a local embroidery guild and she was able to provide instructions for what she called, ‘The simplest bag that you could possibly make!’ So how hard could it be? I rummaged around at the bottom of the wardrobe and found just enough material and wadding to complete the task, an old bed sheet will be used for the lining – it won’t be pretty or waterproof – but I hope it will be functional!
My first job was to measure the slate frame (a metre rule from school came in very handy) – and it was fairly large! I then had to sew two pieces of co-ordinating fabric together to make one piece large enough to cut up.
I planned to make a bag approximately 90cm by 90cm ( there is no gusset in this bag – so I needed to allow for the width of the slate frame) – so I needed two squares of the main material, two squares of lining material and two squares of wadding – all the same size. Once I had these I then needed to sew the wadding to the outside material – as I have never quilted before I decided to keep it very simple and sew in straight lines.
Because the bag is so large it took a long time to get to this stage – and it wasn’t the simple morning job that I had anticipated. Next – the handles. I measured the drop of the handles from the top of my shoulders to where I wanted the top of the bag to sit and then added a couple of centimetres for seam allowances. I wanted my straps to be 6cm wide so I cut my material 24cm wide by 79cm long. I then cut wadding slightly less than 6cm wide and the same length. The padding was placed on the wrong side of the material, lined up with the centre crease. The bottom quarter of fabric was then folded up over the padding.
The top edge of the fabric was folded into the centre so that both the raw edges were together – press. I then folded the whole strap in half again lengthways and pressed. Finally, I pinned it all in place and topstitched along both long edges. Make 2 straps of equal length.
And that was how far I managed to get today – I only hope that I can get the whole thing finished tomorrow as I want to get back to some more varied stitch work.