A Needle Case for your needle packets

Who doesn’t need a special something to hold their needle packets?  Since I use a lot of different types of needles in my embroidery, I like to keep them in their packets.  I’ve made a needle case to organize my packets that will help me find the needles I need easily.

To make the needle case, you’ll need:

  • your finished embroidery, 12 inches long by 6 inches wide
  • light weight cotton for the lining, 27 inches long by 6 inches wide
  • #12 perle cotton
  • a small length of ribbon
  • 2 pieces of skirtex or light weight cardboard, 5-1/2 inches by 5 inches each
  • a hot iron

I stitched a stumpwork design for my needle case but the finishing instructions will work for surface and counted embroidery, including cross stitch and crazy quilting. 

Click here for the needle case instructions (pdf)

I hope you will enjoy making your own needle case and will find this tutorial useful.  If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps, leave a comment here and I will try to answer in this section for everyone’s benefit.

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Treat Bag Tutorial

Here is the wonderful Treat Bag Tutorial put together by Celeste – I think you’ll all agree that it’s a real stunner, and the instructions put together are superb!

Due to the difficulties of learning to use the WordPress platform, and to allow us to get this published on time, this tutorial has been prepared in a .pdf format.  Hopefully I can work out myself how to get this file attached here so you can download it! 😉

As always, please feel free to leave any questions and/or feedback in the comments section of this post.

Enjoy! 🙂

Treat Bag Tutorial instructions are here (please click for .pdf).

Tuck Pillow Tutorial

Welcome to our tuck pillow tutorial. This tutorial will be for a 7″ flat door hanger tuck pillow but you can make yours any size you like. Smaller tuck pillows are good for Christmas ornaments. To recap, following is a list of what you need to make the pillow.

  • your stitched piece
  • main fabric for pillow – a fat quarter will be plenty
  • neutral fabric for back of opening – a scrap piece the size of your pillow. I use calico/quilters muslin/homespun or whatever it’s called in your country.
  • fusible fleece wadding – the width of your pillow. I use fusible fleece on my pillows as I prefer the finish it gives to the back of the pillow. You can, of course, use any batting you prefer. Something not too thick is best.
  • cord for hanging
  • sewing machine
  • thread

Cut 1 piece of main fabric 7½” by 7½” for the back

Cut 1 piece of neutral fabric the same size

Cut 1 piece of fusible fleece the same size

Cut 4 strips of main fabric 7½” by 2½”

Fuse the fleece onto the wrong side of the main fabric piece – this piece will form the back of the pillow. I always use a pressing cloth for this step. If you are using a non-fusible batting, pin the batting to the wrong side of the main fabric piece & sew using a ¼” seam. Now treat this piece as one.

Fold the 4 strips of main fabric lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press.

 

Place 2 of the strips onto the top and bottom of the right side of the back pillow piece, raw edges together (the folded edge will be in the middle) & pin.

Place the other 2 strips on the sides of the right side of the main piece & pin. Do not sew yet!

At this time, you will add your hanger. First of all you need to ascertain which edge is the top of your pillow (this is only crucial if your pillow is rectangular or the fabric strips/main fabric have a one way design). Pin your cording piece between the strips and the main fabric piece making sure the cording loop is in the middle of the pillow, NOT poking out through the seam – the ends WILL be poking out of the seam and will be trimmed later (see pic for clarification).

Now sew all these pieces together using a ¼” seam. To ensure the cording stays put, you can backstitch over this part or sew that part of the seam again to reinforce it.

Place the neutral fabric and main pillow piece right sides together with the strips sandwiched in the middle and pin.

Now sew these seams using a ¼” seam, leaving an opening for turning. Trim the seams, corners & cording.

Now turn the pillow right side out and VOILA, your very own tuck pillow!

You may, if you wish, whip stitch the opening (which will now be situated inside the pillow) closed. However, I usually just leave it as no one can see it. Give the pillow a good press to make it nice and flat.

Now you can add your finished cross-stitch piece which, hopefully, will fit into the opening. You can secure it with buttons at the corners or just leave it. I find that the stitched piece doesn’t move much unless the cat gets at it & gives it a bat!

Calculating other sizes of pillows

To calculate a different pillow size, all you need to do is measure your finished cross stitch piece and add 1½” to all sides. That measurement will be your main fabric and batting size and strip length. The width of the strips will be 2½”.

Keep in mind that the larger you make your pillow, the wider the strips should be. This, in turn, will also affect the size of the opening so double check that your stitched piece will fit!

Book Cover Tutorial

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve got the items ready. Here’s a recap:

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You will need the following items:

1. A stitched piece, size ½” to 1” allowance around the front of your book or a part of it if you prefer.
2. Some coordinating fabric for the side, back and inside flap of the book.
3. Muslin or calico for the backing
4. Book to cover 😉
5. Matching sewing threads
6. Ribbons to tie (optional)

Instructions for a particular step will be at the bottom of the picture (if any).

Step 1

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Determine the size of your stitched piece that will cover the book and pull one thread from each side of the stitched piece. This will help to ensure the lines that you machine sew are straight. The stitched piece can cover the front of the book or partially or cover the front and back of the book. It’s up to you. In my example the stitched piece covers the front of the book partially.

Step 2

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Measure and cut the length and width that you will need to cut from the co-coordinating fabric. Wrap from the left edge (where one thread was pulled) to the back of the book. Add necessary seam allowances on all sides. Machine sew the coordinating fabric and the stitched piece. Iron open the seam.

Step 3

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Cut 2 additional pieces of the coordinating fabric about ½ the width of your book, add necessary seam allowances. Machine sew one edge of both the flaps after measuring and ironing a double seam.

Step 4

Cut the backing fabric the same size as the cover piece.

Step 5

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Sewing them all together. Lay the cover piece right sides up. Place the flaps, wrong side up on the both sides of the cover piece with the stitched edge towards the middle. Pin accordingly.

Step 6

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Place the backing fabric wrong side up and again pin accordingly.

Step 7

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Machine sew from the top of the back portion of covered piece, about and inch before the flap starts. Backstitch a couple of stitches to fasten the beginning. Proceed to sew up all 4 sides but leave about a 3” opening for turning. Again backstitch when you end.

Step 8

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Trim all sides to 1/4″ and cut the corners to reduce bulk.

Step 9

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Turn the cover inside out. It’ll be a mess but nothing that cannot be ironed out 🙂

Step 10

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Stitch by hand to close the opening with matching thread.

Step 11

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Give it a good ironing. Insert the book covers into the flap and there you have it your very own book cover! 🙂

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Optional embellishments:

  • Add a piece each of rick-rack, lace or ribbon on the sewn edge of the book flaps
  • Add two long strips each of ribbon at mid point of the right and left edge of the book for a ribbon tie closure
  • Add a small loop of ribbon/cord on the front side edge of the book and a larger loop at the back. Slip the larger loop into the smaller loop creating a closure that you can wrap around your wrist
  • Add a ribbon/cord for bookmark where the opening was and stitch by hand or securely by machine.
  • And anything else you can think of!

Samples of book covers:

If you have any questions please feel free to comment here and I will answer them in the comment section itself so as to centralise the Q&A for everyone’s benefit.

Thank you all for joining our tutorial this weekend. Pictures are always welcomed 🙂

Meari’s Needlebook Tutorial

Making a needlebook really isn’t all that difficult.  Here are my step-by-step instructions for making a needlebook:

Materials Needed:
• Whatever you’ll be using for your stitched piece. You choose the design, fabric, embellishments, etc. Stitched pieces should be approximately 3-4″ square. If you want the back cover stitched, you’ll have to take that into consideration also.  Size is approximate. You can make it larger, smaller, rectangle, square, etc.  It’s up to you!

• Coordinating cotton fabric of your choice. I’ve found that the quilt fats (18×22″ fabric) are perfect. Or look in the odds and ends bin at the fabric stores to see if there’s anything that might work. If you want pockets on the inside of your needlebook, you’ll need two pieces of fabric. This is the fabric that will go on the inside of your needlebook, so the size depends on the size of your stitched piece, and whether or not you stitched a back cover.

• Matching 1/4″ ribbon. Shouldn’t need much more than 14″.

• Flat quilt batting – again, the amount depends on size of needlebook. 1/4 yd. should do it.

• Piece of coordinating felt. 5×8″ piece should work.

• Coordinating thread to sew it all together.

• Scissors to cut fabric, batting, and felt.

• Sewing Machine. You can sew it together by hand, but a machine makes it go faster and easier.

• Iron

Step One:
Decide on what to stitch for your needlebook cover.


Step Two:
Choose coordinating fabrics for the back cover and inside cover. Cut the back cover the same size as the front cover. Cut the inside cover the same height as the front/back cover, and twice as wide minus 1/2″. Cut the quilt batting the same size as the inside cover (Quilt batting not shown in pic). Press all the pieces with an iron, except for batting.


Step Three:
Take front cover and back cover and place right sides together. Stitch right hand side with 1/4″ seam allowance.


Step 4:
Press seam open.


Step Five:

Here’s where the fun part starts! Assemble your pieces. Front/Back Cover, Inside Cover, Batting, Ribbon.

Note: If you want to put pockets inside your needlebook, you will have to cut a piece of fabric the same width as the Inside Cover, and 2/3 the height PLUS 1/2″. Fold 1/2″ to the wrong side of the fabric, along the LONG edge. Press flat with iron. On the same long side of fabric, stitch a seam 1/4″ from folded over edge. Place Pocket with right side down on table. Place Inside Cover on top with right side down, matching bottom edges. Make 1/4″ seam on each short edge. The drawing shows what it should look like with the right side facing you. (There are no pics because I didn’t put pockets in this one).

Take your Inside Cover and place it right side down on table. Place batting on top. Set aside.


Place your Front/Back Cover right side up (stitching facing you). Cut two pieces of ribbon 6-8″ each. Place ribbon on right and left side of cover. You may want to (temporarily) pin the ribbon in place. There are no pics of this part because I forgot (!!!) to put my ribbon on and had to improvise. However, I have relied on my artistic talents to draw a diagram.


Place the Inside Cover/Batting on top of the Front/Back Cover and Ribbon. You may want to pin all three layers together to make sewing it together easier.


You will want to leave a 3″ opening at the bottom of your needlebook so that you can turn it inside out. Notice where I started my seam?


Stitch 1/4″ seam all the way around the edge of the needlebook, stopping about 3″ from where you started. Notice where I stopped?


Once the sewing is done, you can remove the pins. This is what your needlebook should look like once you’ve sewed the outside seams.


Trim the batting close to the seam. Be careful not to cut the fabric. Once you’ve trimmed the batting, cut the corners at an angle. This is what it should look like.


Step Six:
Carefully turn your project inside out. Your Front/Back Cover, Inside Cover, and Ribbons should be on the outside. The batting should be on the inside. To help get your corners “pointy”, use a slim object to push them out. I used a wood skewer. You can also use a knitting needle, crochet hook, pen with a cap on. Be careful not to poke the object through the fabric.



Using the iron, press the front and back of your needlebook. You will have to tuck in the fabric where the opening is at the bottom of your needlebook.


Step Seven:
Take needle and thread to sew the opening closed. Press both sides of your needlebook again.


Step Eight:
Cut felt 1/4″ smaller than the inside of your needlebook. One piece of felt will make 2 pages. If you wish to have 4 pages, cut 2 pieces of felt. I personally wouldn’t do more than 4 pages as it would make the needlebook pretty bulky. Optional: I used pinking shears to cut the edges of the felt.


Place felt in the center of the needlebook. Use pins to hold it in place.


Place needlebook on sewing machine with felt side down and Front/Back Cover facing up. Stitch a line where the front and back covers are seamed together.


This is what it should look like when the felt page(s) are stitched in.


I hand-sewed on the gold cording to match the closure. Tie the ribbon and viola, you have a finished needlebook!

Here are other needlebooks I’ve made:
Je Brode/I Embroider
Friendship Grows

Here are needlebooks created from my tutorial: More Needlebooks

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at mearitaira@yahoo.com.

bookmarks are not boring!

Bookmarks don’t get enough credit, IMHO. They’re a great way to show off and use a small design, they’re a quick and personal gift for a friend, and they’re a chance for even the most fumble-fingered finisher to express her (or his!) creativity. In this weekend’s tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make three kinds of bookmarks – but don’t let yourself be hemmed in by my suggestions! Your imagination is your only limitation. 🙂

All the pictures can be clicked for a larger, clearer image.

the standard band bookmark

We’ve all seen them, we probably even have one or two of our own – a bookmark stitched on linen or Aida banding. The pre-made banding makes it incredibly easy to whip off a bookmark in an afternoon. Using scraps of linen can not only put you on your way to a tiny work of art, but can also help you make the most frugal use of those expensive hand-dyed and over-dyed linens. All you need to know is the simple hemstitch, and I’ll provide some pictures that will show you what child’s play this is. For this tutorial, I’ve used ready-made banding with hem stitching on the ends.

Select a pattern, or portion of  a larger pattern, that fits on the fabric you’ll be using. If you need it, a handy stitches-to-inches converter can be found here. Stitch your design, exercising some care to center it on the long sides (where the band is closed) and to leave enough room to work comfortably on the short sides. Once you’ve stitched your pattern, it’s time to secure the fabric so the bookmark can be used without it unraveling. I’ll show you how to do this using a hemstitch. Some people prefer to sew a backing to their bookmark or iron on interfacing, which secures the fabric and also hides the backside of your stitching, but I think this is unnecessary and can make the bookmark too thick. Just keep the back of your stitching neat. 😉

the hemstitch, demystified

I have hemstitched two-over-two. I’ve railroaded my stitching to keep it tidy. To begin, bring your needle up two holes further away from where you want the solid line of the hemstitch to be, as shown int the first photo. (Note that the ‘teeth’ of the hemstitch point outwards from the stitched design, as shown in the seventh photo.) For example, if you’ve decided to leave five stitches empty between your design and the hemstitch, you’d count out ten holes plus an additional two. On the front side of the fabric, bring your needle down two holes, slip it under the fabric and slip it back out to the front side two holes further along, as shown in the second photo. Insert your needle where it is two holes under the spot you first came up through the fabric, slip the needle under the fabric and re-emerge two holes to the side of where you initially came up through the fabric, as shown in the third photo. And from here on, you simply repeat the same motions until you reach the end. Watch your thread tail on the back side, adjusting it as necessary so it is held down by your stitches. When you reach the end of your row, finish with the thread on the back side and weave it under and over the stitches to secure it before cutting it, as shown in the eighth photo. You can now cut your fabric, either cutting it at the ends of the hemstitch ‘teeth’ or leaving a few rows to unravel for a fringe.


















the cushion bookmark with tassel

For this design, you’ll need a small-ish, squarish design. I’ve used Hedwig’s Four Patch, a freebie from The Sampler Girl, which is 40 stitches square. I’m machine stitching mine, but you can obviously hand stitch instead. To keep everything straight, I’ve counted out and removed a thread along the stitch line (a handy tip I got from Isabelle) and counted out and removed another thread for where I needed to cut the fabric.




I have a backing fabric of a similar size. Because pins make the fabric lumpy for such a small project, I’ve basted the backing fabric and the cross stitched fabric together using a bright purple thread along the pulled thread. This basting thread can easily be pulled or cut out after the machine stitching.




After the machine stitching, clip the corners before you turn the fabric right side out. This will prevent excessive bulkiness. After the cushion is turned right side out, lightly stuff it. A chop stick is great for getting stuffing into the corners. 😉




Before you can close your bookmark, you need to make a tassel and attach that to a ribbon. I’ve used a large bead to disguise the join between ribbon and tassel. Making a tassel is easy, you just need a form to wind the floss around. For my tassel, I’ve cut a piece of cardboard about two inches wide (along the winding edge). I’m using two different flosses in my tassel – get creative and try different colors, different textures, etc.! Before you begin winding, make sure you have a loose piece of floss in place. This will be used to tie the top of the tassel and eventually to form the ‘neck’ and ‘head’ of your tassel. Begin winding with the tail of your floss at the edge of the form opposite from this loose thread.



When you’re finished winding floss over your form, end on the edge that’s opposite the loose thread and cut this tail even with the form. Use the loose thread to tie the top of the tassel tight. Cut the bottom edge loose from the form. You will have something that resembles the final photo.








Now bring that loose thread down over the top of the tassel and begin winding it in a sort of band to create the neck of the tassel. When your neck is tight and you like how it looks, tie this loose end securely and clip it. Now you have a tassel – congratulations!






Next, you need to attach the tassel to the ribbon. The ribbon will be the part of the bookmark inside the book, so choose a length that will fit comfortably inside the average size book you read. Paperbacks will only require a fairly short length, whereas special editions, coffee table books, etc. will require a longer piece. If you are using a bead, string the ribbon through the bead before you attach it to the tassel. Run a loose thread through the head of the tassel, run a separate piece of loose thread through the ribbon, and use these loose threads to sew the ribbon and tassel together. Slide the bead over the join to disguise it.






Now you can slip the other end of the ribbon into the cushion opening and hand stitch everything closed. Voila, a very lovely bookmark that really is a work of art. 🙂




 a magnetic bookmark using cardstock

And finally, a very practical bookmark that will keep your place even if you drop your book or if one of your kids ‘helps’ you by moving your book around. The magnets in this bookmark are more persistent than clumsy fingers or helpful kids. 😉

Here’s what you’ll need: two magnets, a length of ribbon, a small stitched design (mine’s been hemstitched around the edges and I have ironed interfacing on the backside), two equal-sized pieces of cardstock, and clear-drying craft glue.


Apply glue to the ribbon where you want to mount the cardstock. I suggest making light marks on the ribbon to get the glue in the right places. 😉 After the cardstock is glued to the ribbon, apply a generous layer of glue to the magnets and attach them to the ribbon, as shown. Make sure that you glue the magnets on so that the sides that ‘like’ each other are facing each other. Otherwise your bookmark will never close. LOL!





After the glue for the ribbon/cardstock/magnet arrangement has dried, apply a generous (though not thick) layer of glue to the backside of the stitched piece. This is why you need interfacing on the back side – otherwise, the glue will go right through to the stitching. I use a brush to keep the layer even and to get it right to the edges. Affix the stitched piece to the right side of the front piece of cardstock and let it dry.




Voila! A lovely, practical bookmark you can enjoy for years to come!




bookmark tutorial

Time is flying! The bookmark tutorial is only two weeks away: 8-9 March.

I’ll be discussing how to make the standard bookmark using a scrap of linen or piece of banding in addition to more unusual bookmark types. We’ll go into depth as to how to execute the perfect hemstitch to hold your single-sided bookmark together for years to come. We’ll also cover cording, braided and twisted varieties, and tassles.

For a standard bookmark, you’ll need a piece of linen or banding that’s approximately 8×2 inches (20×5 cm) and a design that fits the count/measurement of your chosen fabric. One of the joys of making bookmarks is that you can use a small section from a larger design if you so desire. A border design also works beautifully.

For a fancier bookmark, you’ll need a piece of fabric approximately 4×4 inches (10×10 cm), a coordinating finishing fabric of the same size, and a design that fits the count/measurement of your chosen linen. You will also need a skein of floss that coordinates with your chosen design; this will be used to create the cording and tassle. If you want to add embellishments, have coordinating beads, baubles or charms on hand as well.  I suggest that you also have interfacing available, to lend extra strength to the linen after the design has been stitched.

This will be conducted using my usual seat-of-the pants method 😉 so your imagination will be your most useful tool! 

The tutorial will only cover hand-finishing methods; no sewing machine is necessary.