Dr. Why


Paper Pieced Tardis Pattern

Do people sometimes ask you why you make your own clothes?  Or why you knit your own jumpers/socks/blankets?   Or why you make quilts or greetings cards or paint pictures.  Does there always have to be a logical answer to questions about why we want to create certain things?

Mr. Tialys cannot see the point in buying perfectly good fabric and then cutting it up into smaller pieces and joining it up again – this is a very common ‘man’ question I believe.  If I were smashing plates and making mosaics, I don’t believe he would ask the same thing.  Although he might look askance come dinner time.

Another question he often asks is why I have so much fabric that I would have a job using it all up in my lifetime (no matter how long that might be) yet still, occasionally, well quite often actually, buy more.  This, I don’t really have an answer to except that it makes me happy and keeps me out of the casinos, pubs, betting shops and places of ill-repute that I might otherwise frequent and spend my money in.  Unlikely scenarios but you get my drift.

Sometimes I make things ‘just because’ – although I do usually have some sort of vague idea why I want to make something even if it’s to try out a new skill or method to see whether I want to continue down that road or never touch it again – needle felting anyone?

Needle Felting Equipment

NeedleFelted Chick

(This is not to denigrate the craft of needle felting in any way because there are some awesome needle felting artists out there – just my own lack of proficiency at it. Just saying..)

Anyway, I recently got the foundation paper piecing bug which, for anybody who doesn’t know what that is, involves laying small pieces of fabric on to the reverse side of a printed paper pattern, then flipping it over and sewing each, sometimes teeny piece, onto the piece adjoining it in the order stipulated by the pattern, until you have a completed patchwork block or image.  Then you have to tear all that paper off which has hopefully been thoroughly perforated by your sewing machine needle and, voila, a finished work that should be very accurately pieced.  You may well ask ‘why?’.  Well, I like it because I sometimes find accuracy fairly hard to achieve using other piecing methods and this appears to be my best shot.

Here is how a piece looks from the reverse side with some of the papers removed.

Tardis Paper Piecing Pattern

So, inspired by a recent project by a blogging friend Avis of OhSewTempting,  and because my Dr. Who loving daughter has just moved into her post-university flat and needs a few soft furnishings in her life, I decided to make a paper pieced Tardis and then incorporate it into a cushion.

So far so good.  I had a project with a purpose and could use some stash fabric to make it.

I found some ‘constellation’ fabric that had come in a ‘stash building’ bundle of ‘blues’ I’d ordered online and didn’t even realise I had.  (Slight pause while we all stop laughing at the very idea I need any ‘stash building’ ).   This would made a perfect background for the Doctor’s tardis hurtling through space and time.

DSC_0004 (5)

Then, I remembered I had some ‘Police Box’ ribbon I’d bought for making quirky dog collars.

Dr. Who Ribbon

It was meant to be.  My life was complete.

The first mistake I made was not checking my printer settings so the pattern printed out to finish at 9.5 inches instead of 10 inches which I didn’t realise until I’d already started piecing and, as it didn’t really need to be a specific size as it’s not going into a quilt, I let it be.  This, despite the fact that, two posts ago, I wrote about this self-same thing.

PDF file instructions

The second mistake I made was believing the designer had made an error  and put the outside written notice on the wrong side of the tardis – something my daughter would have immediately picked up on.  So, I reversed the pieces, forgetting that because you sew the fabric on the reverse, the reverse eventually becomes the front.  I expect your brain hurts now.  I know mine did.  Anyway, trying to be clever made joining those window and door pieces more difficult than they needed to be but I got there in the end.

It was all coming together so well.  All the individual sections looked good.

Detail Paper Piecing

Then I started to join them together.

This was the first result.  I had noticed the slight overhang on the right side of the tardis wasn’t overhanging slightly or in any way at all on my version but thought it wouldn’t matter too much as the rest wasn’t bad.  Then, what wasn’t that obvious in ‘real life’ became glaringly obvious in the photo – the right hand side of the tardis was in its own time warp and waving about all over the place and there was bagging in the background fabric.

Paper Pieced Tardis

It was around about that time I found myself  asking the question ‘why?’ and also cursing quite a lot in a very unladylike manner.

I had to unpick many many teeny stitches and, after a couple of attempts at re-doing it through the papers, eventually  took the seams apart up the sides,  separated the mid section, redid the ‘police box’ line, took the papers off and then joined it all up again with 1/4 inch seams of my own devising.

Well, I am older and wiser yet again and have now tackled teeny pieces in a pattern and have ended up with a vaguely acceptable tardis.

I’m going to put a border round it to make a bigger cushion and do an envelope back edged with more ‘Public Telephone’ ribbon.  Any ideas for the border colour? I’m thinking of the navy I used on the box itself  or maybe some navy with little white stars but other suggestions welcome.

Dr. Who's Tardis in fabric

O.K., there are still a few areas I could improve on and, if I made it again, I would stitch those little window frames as Avis did as it looks a lot neater (as does her whole project but I have aspirations), and the good thing is that the pattern – printed free from Craftsy here – says ‘intermediate level’ so perhaps I can now feel I’ve graduated from ‘beginner’.


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  1. #1 by katechiconi on July 14, 2016 - 12:24

    What a stressful time you’ve had! It looks fine now, and if you hadn’t said anything we’d never have known… Personally, I’d use either the navy or even a blue-black border…
    I make a point of writing on my paper piecing sheets: ‘Sew this side’ and ‘sew other side’, and actually tape the sheet to my light box when cutting the fabrics so I can’t accidentally turn it over and cut the piece the wrong way round. I’d say I was intermediate at this point, but I still stuff up on a regular basis. It’s counter-intuitive to sew on the back of an image, and mistakes are easy to make.
    As for M. Tialys’ inability to understand your stash; tell him to think of it like a shed full of car bits. Lots of men collect those, with no hope or likelihood of ever using them. Same same…

    • #2 by tialys on July 15, 2016 - 10:36

      ‘Counter-intuitive’ – I like that and it sounds as if you’ve messed something up in a slightly ‘intellectual’ way.
      Mr. T recently bought an industrial sewing machine and is quickly amassing his own ‘stash’ of leather working tools, pieces of leather, waxed threads and hardware in all shapes and sizes so he can say nothing!!

  2. #3 by sew2pro on July 14, 2016 - 14:23

    Why, that’s a very cute little needle-felted slug you’ve got there!

    And both versions of the Tardis look perfectly acceptable and charming though I guess the second one will work better as the surface of a cushion (on permanent display). You need to keep this up and make a complementary dalek cushion, maybe even a tapestry one woven with the favourite Dr Why’s face. Who, I meant Who!

    • #4 by tialys on July 15, 2016 - 10:42

      A purple-eyed, pink-nosed slug – Exactly! and if I told you how long it took me to fashion those fluffy pieces of roving into any shape at all you would know why I decided not to continue with that particular craft.
      As for Dr. Who themed cushions – a dalek would probably be fairly achievable but what about an Ood?

  3. #5 by nanacathy2 on July 14, 2016 - 14:44

    Love that Tardis. I am an amateur beginner so it will be ages before I could tackle such a great project.

    • #6 by tialys on July 15, 2016 - 10:46

      Sometimes you just have to go for it and maybe surprise yourself. It did take me two goes at it though and there’s still room for improvement but I suppose that’s how we learn.

  4. #7 by PendleStitches on July 14, 2016 - 16:31

    I find the ‘perceived imperfections’ of this piece to be actually a huge part of it’s charm. They add to it’s individuality, which is a Very Good Thing in my book! And I too would go with a dark border to make the panel ‘pop’.

    • #8 by tialys on July 15, 2016 - 10:46

      What a lovely way of putting it 🙂

  5. #9 by Magpie Sue on July 15, 2016 - 02:05

    You are a braver soul than I! I did my turn at paper piecing and very quickly determined it wasn’t for me in any way or at any time. I sew for fun and relaxation, not trial and vexation. I’m sure your daughter will love her TARDIS cushion. (I would go with the dark blue border too.) By the way, that roving also makes great doll hair… ;- )

    Oh, and the F2F block with the arrows? It’s labeled ‘London Roads’ in my pattern book. That’s partly why I chose to make it for you and your hubby. 🙂

    • #10 by tialys on July 15, 2016 - 10:59

      I quite like a bit of trial and vexation from time to time as it really makes me feel as if I’m exercising my brain although I can quite understand why a lot of people don’t like it. I’ve just embarked upon some ‘stitch and flip’ and I really enjoyed that (post to follow) but, as with paper piecing, quite a lot of fabric gets wasted, or turned into yet more small scraps, which offends a mean streak in me that only seems to materialise where fabric is concerned.
      Ah, yes, I remember you saying one of the blocks was called London Roads in your note. I really hadn’t noticed the arrows until I looked at the photograph – a bit like I hadn’t noticed so many errors in my tardis until I saw them magnified on the screen 😦

  6. #11 by claire93 on July 15, 2016 - 11:02

    your tardis block is brilliant !!!
    as to why we have such huge fabric stashes . . . because we’re addicts, that’s why!
    I usually manage to sneak parcels of new fabrics upstairs without hubbie seeing . . . if he knew how much I already have, he too would be wanting to know why I need more lol. My excuse: I don’t spend money of jewellry, make-up, hairdressers or fashion . . . crafting is my only serious hobby and it makes me happy. And if I’m happy, then hubbie is happy.

    • #12 by tialys on July 15, 2016 - 11:16

      Hmmm! Well, I don’t spend money on jewellery 😉
      Mr. T. has his own expanding stash now as he has taken up making leather bags and other goods and it will take quite a lot of spending on fabric on my part to catch up with what he spent on his new industrial sewing machine!!

  7. #13 by themateriallady on July 15, 2016 - 18:55

    That’s a fabulous tardis, and if your daughter doesn’t appreciate it then it would have a very happy home Chez Hood. However I suspect I need to get on and learn quilting/patchwork so that I can do this myself.
    Well done.
    P.S. My husband doesn’t understand the stash either. I’ve told him it has insulating qualities.

    • #14 by tialys on July 17, 2016 - 10:47

      Thanks Kim. I like your ‘fabric as insulation’ excuse idea and will try that out on the Management here.

  8. #15 by Dartmoor Yarns on July 15, 2016 - 19:00

    What a fabulous fun make! I do have to agree, buying fabric only to chop it up and sewing it up again does sound a little crazy, but then that’s art!

  9. #18 by dezertsuz on July 15, 2016 - 20:44

    It’s beautiful as it is, your daughter will be thrilled, and the navy will be perfect on the outside. The why was summed up nicely in the idea “It makes me happy”. My husband used to remind me of that. He would even FIND quilt shops for me to spend our money in. He made a quilt or two himself, and he used my longarm. In the end, the why doesn’t really matter. The happy does.

    • #19 by tialys on July 17, 2016 - 10:49

      Beautifully put Susan, thank you.

  10. #20 by Mary S Rickles on July 17, 2016 - 02:32

    Love your wonderful journeys trying new things. The very idea of paper piecing terrifies me. I have tried in a few times with absolutely dreadful results. Therefore, it is a method on my NO WAY ever again list. A side note: once when shopping in a fabric shop in Aix-en-Provence, the proprietor voiced the same thing to me that puzzles your hubby ~ why cut up perfectly beautiful fabric and sew it back together. She was horrified that I was buying fabric for patchwork and wondered why Americans didn’t just do whole cloth quilts as did the French. Love your blog and your writing style!

    • #21 by tialys on July 17, 2016 - 10:59

      Thanks Mary. I can definitely understand why people would shy away from paper piecing – there’s no denying it’s a bit of a faff. However, there’s something about the process that fascinates me and, once mastered (I’ll let you know if and when that happens 😉 ), the finish is so accurate, neat and tidy it’s hard to beat. Out of interest, what did you reply to the proprietor of the shop?

  11. #22 by sewchet on July 17, 2016 - 12:36

    Oh my goodness, perhaps that’s what my husband is thinking when I cut up ‘perfectly good’ lengths of fabric into small ones and then put them back together in a different order! Love your Dr Who design – very original:)

    • #23 by tialys on July 17, 2016 - 19:51

      Well, he’s not backward in coming forward when it comes to wearing the results of your cutting up process so I wouldn’t worry. I’ve yet to see Mr. T adorned in a piece of patchwork though 😉

  12. #24 by jendavismiller on July 18, 2016 - 17:31

    How industrious you (both) are! I’ve heard of paper piecing, but now I understand it, and I think it could easily become addictive. So for my husband question confession – he never asks about fabric purchases, but I’m certain he does wonder why I seem to finish so few of my projects. And I love your tardis block!!

    • #25 by tialys on July 18, 2016 - 18:17

      Thanks Jen. I expect your husband just likes to see you happy and fulfilling your creative side (which just happens to involve multiple fabric purchases).

  13. #27 by Mary S Rickles on July 20, 2016 - 15:30

    Re: the proprietor of the shop in Aix-en-Provence. I tried explaining to her how quilts in the US were often made from old clothing scraps long ago. And that there were many mail order kits common here in the 1930s during the depression which used small amounts of fabrics that ladies could buy each month.. But as she sternly reminded me, those days are long gone. I just did a French shrug and paid for my things. Still have a tiny piece of one of the lovely fabrics I purchased from her.

    • #28 by tialys on July 20, 2016 - 19:19

      Sometimes only a French shrug will do 😉

  14. #29 by poshbirdy on July 26, 2016 - 11:38

    It’s lovely. Def the dark navy for the surround. Anyone would love this cushion cover

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