Finished Projects


I’m just going to warn you, straight up, that this is a loooong post with a lot of pictures.  But it covers something that I wanted to know how to do, and I couldn’t find a good enough tutorial on the Web so I figured it out myself by trial and error.

One thing I knew about my wedding dress — before I even sat down to draw, before I looked at fabric — was that it was going to have a row of tiny little buttons with loops.  They’re so romantic and dreamy — and even though I wasn’t going the white wedding dress, romantic was definitely on the cards.  It’s like wearing a veil: sure, I could do without it, but when else am I going to wear a dress that can legitimately require assistance just to get it done up?

The buttons needed to be about 11mm wide — that’s 7/16 of an inch to those of you over the ocean.  And every time I went to cover one in the silk dupioni, said silk unraveled and puckered and was just generally dispiriting.  I asked around and had a play  — here is a better way.

Draw your motif on a clean sheet of paper, in black pen that can be seen through your fabric. The motif should be at least 2mm (technical term — a smidge) smaller than your button.

Cut a piece of silk three or four times the button’s size — this is not the time to be stingy with fabric.

Trace the motif ever-so-lightly with a pencil (you may need to use a lightbox or a window) and thread your needle with one strand of embroidery floss.

Of course you can use any stitch to embroider your button, but I used ol’ reliable, chain stitch.  For this one, you bring your needle up, wrap the floss around the needle at the front, pull tight, and repeat (it’s easier to understand from the pictures.)

Huzzah, done!  Sorry about the weird colours.  My camera, it seems, cannot deal with tiny macro shots of shiny silk.

Self-cover buttons will almost always come with a cutting guide on the packet.  Cut out the appropriate size and push a pin through dead centre — find it by folding the circle twice.  Now rest the pin on the dead centre of your motif and push the cutting guide down.

Trace around, leaving a smidge of room because you’ll be cutting well inside the line.

Take a scrap of lightweight, iron-on interfacing and iron to the reverse side.  It’s best to put a light cloth between the iron and the silk/embroidery.  You don’t want to burn the silk or squash your stitching.

Now cut around your circle, inside the guide line.  Thread your needle with regular cotton and make small running stitches all around it.  Leave a considerable tail at either end (I could have used more in this example — at least 10cm or 4″.)

Pull tight, making sure that your motif remains centred.  You may need to wrap the thread around the shank to get it tight enough.  This is fiddly work.  Be patient.

Place the backing on the button. Use a fingernail to make sure all the edges are sitting underneath the backing, then push down firmly all around the sides.

Congratulate yourself and take a photo!

Now go find some other places to take photos.  Admire how pretty and how tiny it is.

Ahhhh.

Now you can get married!

I spent a day last week playing with two new patterns.

One was free, one cost money. Guess which one worked?  I won’t name the free pattern here or show photos (suffice to say: if a pleat requires five turns of the needle and has external stitching, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.)  But I will give full props to Nicole Mallalieu, a pattern maker of extreme awesomeness.

After I made one of her coin purses, I was hooked.  I even had to make one with hexies.  Why?  Because, that’s why.

Fun!

They’re in my Etsy store now.

The design is from andwabisabi: a most adorable 2-movie cross stitch!  I don’t do a lot of embroidery and I’m not great at it, but in small doses it’s a lot of fun.

Vintage sheet cushions, how do I love thee?  Let me string together some photographs of the ways.

You’re a ray of sunshine on a white couch.  But you’re also happy stacked up on a duster, ready to go to a new home.

You’re pretty even from far away.

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And you just don’t have a bad side!

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You even have a great back side 😀

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I can’t stop sewing cushions.  Squeeeeee…. more, more more!   I’ve put some in the Etsy shop hoping that someone will love them as much as I do.  So that I can make more!!!!

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A few more of Jessie’s photographs to show you…

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This one is a purse for Moleskine notebook addicts.

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I can’t be without a pen, or a notebook.  And I hate fishing around in my handbag for either of them.

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Be a responsible to-do-lister: keep your notebooks safe.

Well, I’m a little nervous to be saying this, but the pinsandthimbles Etsy shop is now up and running.  In it you’ll find wrist wallets (pictured here) and some nifty purses (I’m saving those pictures for another post, because there are so many good ones). 

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Some things have come in handy, like a gorgeous Swedish friend (thanks, Carro!) who doesn’t mind standing around looking nonchalant for the camera when she could be finishing off her neurology coursework.  It also helps to have an amazing and generous photographer like Jessie from jstudios.  Jessie will be photographing our wedding, by the by, and her blog is stunning.

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Hang on, I recognise that Schnauzer. 

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Happy days.

Please have a look at the Etsy shop,  because I know some of you are experienced sellers and others are experienced buyers 🙂 .  The shop is only in its early days and I’d love your feedback.  Just to tempt you in to have a look, I’m offering a 20% discount to blog readers until the end of May.  Check out at Etsy, but don’t pay: enter the code ‘pinsandthimbles blog’ and I’ll send you an adjusted invoice.

Edited 24 September to add:  if you like this tutorial, check out my new pattern for matching cushions!  It’s available as PDF or printed pattern, is in my Etsy store now and uses a new interfacing method which is not only quicker than most patchwork, but also super-good for supporting precious but aged scraps of fabric.

As promised, a post that is not about my garden. Nor is it about my wedding, a fact that will surely astound any friends and family who are reading this!

I made a custom order about two months ago from vintage sheets.  Much like my Grandma’s Vintage Sheet Quilt, these matching twin quilts are made from sheets and pillowcases from the 60s and 70s: the kinds of sheets we had in our house when I was growing up, as well as the kinds of sheets I wish we had.  I took pictures along the way and thought that others might be interested in a tutorial.

This is the simplest kind of quilt I’ve ever made and it can be constructed with nothing more than a sewing machine, a flat space, and an iron.  It breathes new life, beauty and strength into sheets that have worn in some places: worn and faded patches can be discarded, and the good fabric kept.  Experienced patchworkers might feel a little impatient to get past the details in these instructions.  I’ve deliberately tried to make it simple, because a vintage sheet quilt is the perfect low-cost, high-reward first quilt for a newbie.

First, cut out your pieces and arrange in a pleasing pattern.  I used a large square cut from an A4 piece of paper as my template, drawing around it with a soft pencil.  Those who have fast cutting equipment will doubtless prefer to use that at this stage.

Then sew some strips together and iron seams flat. In these single bed quilts, I went for eight squares across, so I built in fours. If placement is important, place a pin in the bottom right hand patch.  Then you’ll always know which way is up when you go to replace the strip in your arrangement.

Then sew fours together into eights, and so on…

…until you have one half sewn together! Again, use a pin in the bottom right hand corner.

Then pin and sew the two halves together. At this stage you can lay it over some batting and backing.  When putting your three layers together, tack them together in an all over criss- cross pattern, or use a series of safety pins (this last option is better for everyday use quilts than those you’d like to be *perfect*.  Now quilt it.

Alternatively you can lay it over a second full sheet and tie it together.  A lovely example of a simple, tied coverlet can be found here. I used soft flanelette for these quilts.  With any other style of quilt, I’d use cotton backing because flannelette doesn’t last forever.  But let’s face it: vintage sheet quilts aren’t going to last into your grandkids’ lifetimes.  They’re soft and they’re for enjoying now.

Bind the quilt with commercially purchased bias binding, or cheat by folding and sewing a pretty ribbon around the raw edges 🙂

That’s a whole quilt — or in this case, two quilts — made with no more equipment than a sewing machine and an iron.

Then find yourself a picturesque cat.

And you’re done.

Flickr set is here.

This is the first tutorial I’ve done at pinsandthimbles.  Did it make sense?  I’d be grateful for any suggestions you might have!

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