School will be out in 15 days (!), and it’s time to think about end of the year teacher gifts. Teachers always appreciate a gift card, but it’s also nice to make them a little something just so the gift is more personal. I was trying to think of something fun and easy, since my son has lots of teachers, and then I remembered the good old travel tissue holder! You can tuck the gift card in the opening, tie a pretty bow around it, and it is the perfect teacher gift.
There are a lot of tutorials online on how to make these, so I figured it would be fun to share some of them with you and show you my finished results. For mine, I used a tutorial posted at Melinda’s Quilts, ETC (http://melinful.blogspot.com/2010/01/travel-tissue-cover-tutorial.html). The reason I liked this one is because it just uses two pieces of fabric (exterior and lining) and is sewn in a way that makes its own trim on the edges of the opening. It literally took me 10 minutes to cut out the fabric and sew it together.
After sewing the tube, I used my point presser and centered the seam on the top part so that the seam could be pressed open (see above).
In addition, the raw edges were cut with pinking shears to prevent them from raveling. This gives nice finished edge and you don’t have to mess with bias tape.
Lastly, on one of the covers I fussy cut the fabric so that the floral motif was centered on the back of the tissue holder. Also, these are great stashbusters – you only need 2 scraps of fabric less than 8″ square for each one (and a packet of travel tissues from Target).
Happy May Day! To celebrate, the Radiant Folded Patchwork Star and covered box pattern is on sale for $2.99.
You can use the Folded Star in a variety of ways – table toppers, covered boxes, clothing and accessory accents, and more!
This pattern includes full step by step directions for both a fabric covered box and a table topper. Photographs of key steps are also included.
These Folded Stars are fat quarter friendly, great stashbusters, and useful for scraps! Use Christmas fabrics to create a festive holiday table topper. Use pastels or batiks to create a striking storage box. Make a scrappy star to complement your latest quilt. The possibilities are endless! The pattern is easy to make and requires little sewing. This is a great project for kids and confident beginners.
Last week, my husband discovered a nest of baby rabbits in our back yard! They grow pretty quickly and recently were big enough to leave the nest. It was hard to get a good picture of them since we didn’t want to disturb them. The mama rabbit would come by in the evenings to check on and feed her two little bunnies. They are so cute and we were sad to see them go, but maybe they will come back to say “hello” on Easter.
Speaking of Easter, you probably have everything you need for your baskets, but if you are looking for a fun and quick project, click HERE for my tutorial on how to make a Sock Bunny! I made these last year was very pleased with the results. If you have time, you can also make a colorful vest, dress, or bonnet for your rabbit.
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.