Happy Birthday to me! Yes, today is my birthday – one of my favorite days of the year (besides Halloween and Fourth of July) and I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a Cupcake Pincushion.
Awhile back during one of my thrift store runs, I bought a bunch of plastic ramekins with the idea of making something with them. Inspiration struck me when I was trying to come up a fun gift for a sewing friend and this cute little cupcake pincushion was born. In honor of my birthday, I put together this tutorial for you.
3 oz plastic fluted ramekin
6″ Sq. Fabric
Size 5 Perle Cotton
Saucer (for template)
Glue (I used Allene’s Quick Dry glue)
3/16″ glue dots
1. Trace around the saucer on the square of fabric. The circle should be roughly 5 1/2″ in diameter.
2. Thread an embroidery needle with a 36″ piece of perle cotton. Make a running stitch around the outside of the circle with about a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Figure 1)
3. Gather the circle and stuff tightly with Poly-fil. Gather tightly and tie off, but leave about 28″ of thread for the long tail – do not cut. (Figure 2)
4. Poke the needle through the top center of the pincushion and come out at the bottom center. Wrap perle cotton around edge of pincushion and come down through the top center again. Pull on thread to make tight (cushion will dimple on the side). Wrap cotton on the opposite side and come down through top center again and pull tight. Proceed in this manner until you have done this a total of 8 times. The cushion will now be segmented into 8 parts. (Figure 3)
5. Bring thread up through center one more time so that it is coming out through the top center. Take red button and place in top center of pincushion. Thread the perle cotton through button holes and then down through bottom to secure button. Repeat 2 – 3 times. (Figure 4)
6. Apply glue to inside of ramekin. (Figure 5). Place cushion inside ramekin and let dry for a few hours.
7. Cut 18″ of ribbon. Use glue dots to secure ribbon to outside of ramekin (place glue dots about every inch around top). Tie into a bow. Put a dot of glue to secure bow. Add some pins. Enjoy! (Figure 6).
Sewing gadgets can make life easier, and if they are the right price, I am happy to try them out. Some of these things include a bobbin winder (used twice), a 1/4″ rule for marking seams (used a lot!), and the Dritz EZ Hem (used once for this dress). As you can see, even when you have the right tool for the job, you may not find that it is a must-have (just a fun to have). However, there are 5 sewing tools I can’t live without.
1. Seam Ripper
This gets used all the time! I used to get frustrated whenever I had to rip out a seam, but now I find it kind of therapeutic. Seam ripping is a nice break during a marathon sewing session. Also, once I learned the correct way to rip out a seam, the job was much faster and easier. There are two seam rippers I recommend (having used both quite a bit): the ergonomic once by Clover and the Dritz one that folds (which is nice for travel). The main thing is to pick a seam ripper you can easily hold in your hand without it cramping up.
An iron is on this list, even though it is probably not considered a sewing notion, but it is a necessity. There are wide variety of opinions on which one is best. Many people swear by their $20 iron, while others say that the more expensive irons are worth the money. I’ve had experience with both types and I find the more expensive irons (like a Rowenta) really do work better for quilting and sewing. This is because of several reasons — and if you can find a cheaper iron that has the following features, get it:
The first thing to consider is the weight of the iron, a big heavy iron is going to work better since the natural weight of the iron makes it easier for you to press down and get a nice flat seam. Some people find that an iron can be too heavy and thus tire out their arms, so keep this in mind. The temperature is another factor in how well your iron works – you want a iron that can get nice and hot, especially when working with cotton – the hotter the iron, the flatter the seam. The final thing to consider is steam – more expensive irons have more holes for the steam to escape, which makes better use of the steam. One caveat is that if you store your iron with water inside, it is more likely to leak. I have heard that keeping water in the iron is the biggest reason why irons start leaking and break down. Each time I finish with my iron, I empty out the water, and I also run the self cleaning function a few times a month.
Again, this is an area where you can spend a little or lot of money. After comparing scissors, I splurged and bought Ginghers (made in the USA!) –8″ dressmakers shears for cutting fabric, 7″ craft scissors for ribbon, wool, and foundation piecing, and a 4″ utility pair for embroidery and applique (also good for travel). There are several reasons that Ginghers are worth the money. First, they accurately cut all the way to the very tip of the blade. This is especially important for detail cutting, where you don’t want to risk a slip of the scissors. They are really sharp and can through cut several layers of fabric at once. They are LIFETIME scissors, meaning they will never wear out and I can send them to Gingher at anytime to get them sharpened (for a nominal fee) and they will be like new again.
One interesting thing to note is the difference between scissors and shears. The word “scissors” is used interchangeably between the two, but there is a difference Scissors are usually smaller, and feature two similar sized round holes for your fingers. The handles are separate and made of plastic while the blade part is metal.
Shears feature a round hole for the thumb and a larger oval hole for the rest of your fingers. This makes the shears easier to control when you are cutting fabric. The handle and blade are made out of one piece of metal. , which means that shears are two metal “scissors” held together by a bolt.
4. Chalk Wheel Marker
Oftentimes while sewing, there is a need to mark the fabric. For example, you may need to draw lines for quilting, divided pockets, o r a hemline. The chalk wheel marker makes a nice sharp line and wipes off very easily. For a few dollars you can purchase a bag of chalk dust for refills and it last a loooong time.
Pincushions are something I can’t live without. They are pretty, functional, and fun to make. I have three that get used on a regular basis, and several others for decorative purposes. They are great scrap busters and you can make them in variety of shapes and sizes.
From a functional standpoint, pincushions are much easier to use — you don’t have to worry your pins falling on the ground as you add and remove pins to your project. If you want to get fancy with your pins and needles organization you can section off the pincushion by type – needles in one section, applique pins in another, and quilting pins in a third.
Finally, the tomato pincushion is pretty much the universal sewing symbol. Why the tomato you ask? According to some, people used to place a ripe tomato on the mantle of a new home to guarantee future prosperity. However, in those days, tomatoes were not available year-round (or would rot easily), so a round ball stuffed with sawdust or sand was used instead. These balls were the perfect place for storing pins, thus the tomato pincushion was born. The strawberry that is attached to most pincushions is filled with emery which is useful for sharpening pins. I wasn’t able to find an explanation for how the strawberry got added to the pincushion…if anyone knows, please enlighten us!
Since everyone needs a pincushion and a place to store all their odds and ends – a Shaker Pincushion is the perfect solution. Click here for my free pattern. Enjoy!
Looking for a quick gift or a fun home dec idea? Here’s a set of Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets that can be sewn together in about an hour. This tutorial includes directions for making both versions!
Make a bunch of these and place in a pretty basket or bowl. Use clothespins to attach them to ribbon and create a fun garland or window swag!
You can use scraps for this and make them in a variety of colors – red and white for Valentine’s Day, green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, red/white/blue for Fourth of July, orange and black for Halloween, or red and green for Christmas!
The back features a small pocket. Tuck in a gift card or some dried flowers.
From Fabric A cut:
Three 4.5″ squares
One 5.5″ Square
One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
From Fabric B cut:
Three 4.5″ squares
One 5.5″ Square
One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
Take one Fabric A 4.5″ square and one Fabric B 4.5″ square. Pin the squares right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam on the right and left sides. Make two sets (Figure 1).
Cut these units into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″. Make sure you are cutting parallel to the seams you just made (Figure 2). Do this for both sets.
Press the seams towards the darkest fabric to create two pieced units (Figure 3).
Take the center rectangles and sew them to the appropriate side of the pieced units (Figure 4). Press the seams to the darks. You now have two units of alternating fabrics (A-B-A and B-A-B). Make two sets.
Take one of each type of square (A-B-A and B-A-B), make sure stripes are going the same direction, and pin them right sides together. Sew along the shorter sides with a 1/4″ seam. Do this for both sets. Cut each set into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″. You will be cutting perpendicularly to the stripes (Figure 5). Press the seams.
Sew the center strip to the appropriate pieced unit to make TWO nine-patch blocks (Figure 6). Do not sew the other strips to make blocks. You will now two nine-patch blocks and two sets of partial blocks.
To make Version 1, sew the partial blocks onto one nine patch block (Figure 7).
Take make Version 2, sew the 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles onto one nine patch block (Figure 8).
Set these two heart fronts aside and make the pocket. Take the remaining two of the 4.5″ squares, and press it on the diagonal right sides OUT (Figure 9).
Take one of the 5.5″ squares, place it right side up, and then pin one of the folded triangles on this to make the pocket. For best results, use contrasting pocket on the backing fabric (Figure 10).
Pin one heart front and one heart back right sides together (Figure 11).
Download Heart Template here. Trace onto piece of cardboard and cut out template. In order to create sewing line, place template on pinned hearts and trace around it (Figure 12). DO NOT CUT. Sew around the line you just drew – leave a 3″ opening in one side for stuffing.
Cut off excess fabric and leave about 1/4″ seam. Clip corner, curves, and heart center. Turn inside out (Figure 13). Stuff lightly and hand-stitch opening closed.
Only 17 more craft days until Christmas! Not much time left to get those handmade gifts completed for your friends and loved ones. This year I also need to think about Teacher Gifts – I need 11 of them! I was planning to make each teacher one of these little stockings and put a gift card and some candy inside, but it’s time for me to admit that I need to go to plan B. Right now I have 4 stockings and I won’t have time to make the other 7 before my son starts vacation.
No worries though, I do have a back up plan, but it involves buying it from the store (gasp!). However, I did want to share this stocking with you as I think they make very cute gifts and can also be hung on the tree. These stockings are great stash-busters and best of all, the pattern is free.
If you need a larger stocking, you can download this free pattern from the McCall’s website (but you have to join their mailing list first). I made a few of these last year and they are also cute. This pattern is nice because it is simple and you can get creative with the embellishments.
I am already thinking about Keep It Thimble’s plans for next year and hope to have some new features to roll out next year. More on this in a few weeks.
My son wants to be a mad scientist when he grows up (see Exhibit A):
Today, he took a big step towards this lofty goal – starting Kindergarten! He wanted to bring an apple to his new teacher (where do kids get these ideas – TV?), so I figured a stuffed one is the way to go.
Basically (for sewing purposes), an apple looks like a tomato expect that it is taller. I made up a template that looked like an oval that came to a point at each end. The size was about 2″ x 5″. I cut out five (5) of these ovals from quilter’s cotton (although you could also use wool), sewed them together, and left one side open for turning.
Turn the piece inside out, stuff, and then hand sew opening closed. Get a small button for the bottom of the apple. Next, take an upholstery needle and thread with strong twine (I used linen thread). Poke the needle down into the center of top and come out through one of the button holes on the bottom. Poke the needle back into another button hole, come out through the top, and then pull tight. Do this 2 more time so that you can create a nice dimple in the top and bottom of the apple. Don’t cut the thread.
Next, cut out two leaves from felt and sew to the top of the apple. You can use the same thread you used for making the dimples. Tie off thread and cut off excess. Get a black pipe cleaner and cut it about 3″ long. Near the base of the leaves, poke a very small hole with scissors and insert the stem. You can use a dab of glue to hold into place. Voila – an apple for the teacher that will never spoil.
Happy Easter everyone! This tutorial might be a bit late, since you can’t make these for an Easter Basket, but I really wanted to post this cute little rabbit I made from some socks bought at Target for a dollar! My plan was to make up my own directions, but I figured someone had already done something like this and a quick Google search turned up a free sock rabbit pattern at Clubhouseb.com. Download the pattern and cut out the sock pieces per the directions listed. This tutorial assumes you have the pattern handy for reference.
As you can imagine, you start with a plain sock. Turn the sock inside out and arrange the heel so that it is facing you. Following the directions on the downloaded pattern, draw lines on the socks for the ears and legs. Stitch around the lines (per the pattern) and cut the ears and legs apart.
Turn the whole thing inside out (there will be a opening in the crotch for this). Use a point turner to poke out the tips of the ears and the corners of the feet.
Stuff with fiberfill. The socks I used were children’s size, so the rabbit will be about 7″ high (the ears add about 4″ more height). Be careful when stuffing – you don’t want to overstuff and you don’t want the sock to run near the raw edges between the legs. Whipstitch the opening shut with matching thread.
Next, make a running stitch around the base of each ear, pull to gather, and tie off (the pattern indicates doing the running stitch across the ear, but I did it around in order to make it easier to gather and tie off). Figure out where the neck is going to be and make a running stitch around the neck, pull to gather, and tie off.
For the face, take two buttons with shanks and sew on according to the directions. If you try to use buttons with holes you will find that the eye indentations will not look correct. Rabbit eyes are positioned more to the side instead of the front, so using the shank buttons makes the indentations appear on the sides of the face, instead of the front. Create the mouth and nose per the directions. I didn’t statin stitch a nose since the pink diamond from the argyle pattern is positions perfectly for a nose – what a happy accident!
Take the other sock and create two arms. For my arms, I cut off the toe of the sock and stitched down the middle (like I did with the ears) so that the arms would be pointed on the end like paws.
Stuff the arms lightly and whipstitch them into place at the neck. Tie a bow around the neck to complete the look and you have an Easter Bunny! If you have the inclination, you can also embellish him (or her) further by adding a hat, shirt, dress, basket, etc. If you want to get really fancy you can sew a running stitch at the wrists and ankles to make the paws more defined.
My son is at that age where he gets invited to lots of birthday parties, so I am always on the look-out for fun little things to make for party favors and little gifts.
This first favor is one I made for my son’s Pirate themed party. The pattern is the Child’s Coloring Bag from Clothesline Quilts. What’s great about these bags is they don’t take up a lot of fabric and you can easily make 8 in about 90 minutes (which includes the time to quilt the fabric). Next, go to the Dollar Tree and pick out some crayons and other little things to go inside!
The next favor is a Zipper Critter by Indygo Junction. The pattern comes with three different sizes and three different types of of animals (dog, cat, pig). It’s great for using up scraps and any old zippers you have laying aroud. What’s nice is that you can personalize the fabric choice for each child, or do it all based around a theme. These critters also make nice package decorations – especially the smaller one that is attached to a lanyard. One of these takes about 30 minutes to make (although you can speed things up if you want to make several by cutting them all out at once and sewing them assembly line style).
Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas! Now that the gifts are all given, I can reveal what I made for gifts this year – Snuggies!! Each person received a handmade Snuggie (aka Slanket aka Blanket with Sleeves (the boring name)) in a fabric of my choice, with each fabric print specially selected to complement the recipient’s tastes.
Everyone graciously agreed to have this picture taken and posted on my blog. Thanks everyone – this will be my most popular post yet!
My friend wanted to make some little peace doves to give as gifts this year, and asked me to help her since she knows I love to sew! She emailed me a few pictures of some stuff birds she liked, and I was able to find a great FREE pattern at Spool Sewing for these birds (the free pattern is available for download in the right hand sidebar).
I stitched together a quick prototype on my sewing machine so we had a better idea of the finished product. It took no time at all and you could easily create a dozen of these in an evening. You can embroider little eyes using french knots, or you can attach a beads (be sure to do all these embellishments before stitching and stuffing it). Another idea is to embroider designs on the body, or create little wings in a contrasting color and sewing them on.
I don’t have a picture of my friend’s, but she used white felt for all her pieces, and then hand sewed them together with a blanket stitch (in white). It would have also been cute to sew around in contrasting color like red or blue. I plan to make some of these as well, but wanted to get this posted in so you can get the pattern and start making some yourself.
We used the pattern as is, and then used copper jewelry wire to make little feet. I pocked a hole in the bird body with a little awl, stuck in a dab of hot glue, then pushed the feet inside. Since the birds are pretty light, they stand up pretty well on the feet. You can adjust the feet after you get them glued in.
First, a big thank you to Sharon of Liberty Rose for hosting the first annual Fall Porch sale at her house. I can’t even tell you how much work Sharon and Evette did to get everything arranged and set-up for Saturday. Everything was perfect, down to the last detail!! I am very honored that Sharon asked me to be a part of this show and I look forward to doing it again next year (yes, we are already planning another one!).
This is what Sharon’s back porch looked like before the sale. All the tables are loaded down with goodies and the tree is full of ornaments. By the end of the day, everything was bare (I wish I had some after pictures).
Ladies started lining up well before 10am, eager to look at all the beautiful items that were for sale. This display features a wool Hootie owl I made and some pot holders and candle mats made by Laura.
Here is the main corner where my wares were displayed. The stand is my grandmother’s spool tree – it’s perfect for hanging purses and other small things. The doll was made by Jennifer :).
Here is the Halloween corner. You can see Bartleby the Pumpkin with his sly grin, hanging out with the other witches and ghosts. Evette had some beautiful wool Halloween ornaments, Jennifer made some witches boots, and Sharon had a cute little embroidered witch.
Thank you to all the ladies (and gentlemen – I saw at least two) who came to the sale. It was wonderful meeting everyone and I look forward to seeing you all again next year!