For my machine, these were the desired finished measurements:
For the cut size of my panels, I added half-inch seam allowances only where the central panel is seamed to the side panels. No seam allowances are needed for the cut-out or for the bottom edge.
I pieced my panels out of half-square triangles to be oversize compared to my cut measurements. I sandwiched them up with thin batting/wadding and the backing fabric, and quilted 1/4" on either side of the vertical and horizontal seams. After lightly pressing the quilted fabric, I cut my panels - first centering them against the design so that I have partial columns on either side of each piece. The central panel is continuous from front to back, and I rounded off the top corners of the end panels by tracing around a mug.
Then I seamed the centre panel WST to the two end panels, so that the seam allowances are on the outside of the cover. The half-inch seam allowance is to allow wriggle room. After I had tried it on the machine to ensure it fit the way I wanted, I trimmed back the seam allowance to about 3/8". To apply the binding to hide the seam allowance, I placed the binding RST with the end panel but stitched with the centre panel facing upwards so that I could stitch along the previous seam line.
I did try turning the bias seam allowance in, pinning it down, and sewing it on the machine as before. But I found that I couldn't get a smooth result without puckers when I sewed the round corners. So I ripped out that stitching on the end panel I had experimented on, and sewed both binding strips down to the centre panel by hand for a neat result the same way I would normally do on a quilt.
The bottom edge can be bound fully on the machine as per the cut-out, the only difference being that I started and finished with the cut edge of the binding folded back on itself, to give a finished edge where it starts and stops at the cut-out. For a really neat finish, I caught the front and back folded edges of the ends of the bias together with a few hand stitches in matching thread. The finished result has cheered up my sewing room and certainly looks a lot better than the towel it replaced.
This week I also finished the Janet Martin square for my Great American Aran Afghan, a cute square which features a fish swimming amongst the waves.
While out and about I've added several inches to my Haapsalu UFO shawl, and I'm almost finished the eighth of eleven repeats of the chart. One advantage of leaving it hibernating for three years is that I'm much more practiced at knitting lace now. The yarn I ordered from Garn in Denmark for knitting the border showed up. It came quickly and didn't get stopped for Customs and it is the same yarn and the same colourway. Unfortunately it is NOT the same colour, it's a very violet-toned pink whereas my shawl is a dawn blush pink. I don't even think the two colours go together very well. So I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the border. I will wait to see how much Blush Pink colour I have left after knitting the centre.
Otherwise it's been a fairly quiet week. Work has been as boring as ever - much as I love love love working part-time, I think perhaps I may have to look for something else once we aren't having to pay a big chunk of rent every month. I had my annual review last week and my manager was sketching out his ideas for what I will be doing during 2014. Don't you just hate it when someone is telling you all about something they want you to do, with the obvious expectation that you will be really pleased at being given this opportunity, when inside your heart is just sinking because you really really don't want it? But for professional survival you have to paste a smile on your face and look keen and willing? I always thought that I would be willing to put up with a lot for the opportunity to work part-time but this job is really testing my resolve with its strange mixture of mind-numbingly boring menial tasks and frustrating insufficiently-thought-through-and-frequently-pointless real work. I'm beginning to wonder if the older I get, the more unemployable I am becoming, because I'm just not as willing to put up with the cr*p. And the cr*p people who make open-plan office working unpleasant with their disruptive phone alerts, smelly hot food, loud complaints about temperature and of course the perennial favourite of dialling into to conference calls on speakerphone. Grrrrr.
Maybe I'm grumpy because this month I am trying to lose some weight. I gained so much weight during the stressful house move months that I now weigh more than I did just before delivering an 8-lb 6-oz baby. So from 1 February I am trying to dial back the eating to more sensible levels. I've invested in the Hairy Biker diet cookbooks, they are two British television presenters who lost a whole lot of weight and were filmed while doing it, for a television series. I'm not that keen on them as presenters but was impressed to see their substantial weight loss while they ate what looked like pretty good food. So far we've tried two recipes and they were both really good. In the first week of February I have lost two pounds, which doesn't sound like much until I picked up a kilo bag of sugar at the supermarket and hefted it. I've got a long way to go before I get back into all my clothes, ideally I will get back to 11 stone (154 pounds) at least, because that is the upper boundary of the 'normal' range for my BMI. We'll see. I am definitely going to stick to it for the month of February and see how much I weigh at the end of it, and if it's working then I will hopefully keep going. Wish me luck!