Our new home is ready for occupation!! Focus on Finishing is moving to Blogger…

Hi everyone – it’s been a while since I announced the idea of moving the Focus on Finishing blog to the more popular Blogger platform. That idea has finally come to fruition, and the new site is ready to have all the posts copied over. Here is a preview of the new look:

screenshot of FOF blogger blog

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy the new home … I, for one, am quite thrilled with the clean, fresh new look of the blog (it’s been fun spending a few hours tweaking the HTML codes!). The new link is:


It would be wonderful if you would be willing to post photos of any items you have finished using our tutor’s classes, or any other finishing methods you would like to share. If there is enough interest, I would also be happy to reopen the idea of having a weekend set aside each month to focus on finishing our projects languishing in the finishing pile.

Please update your bookmarks so you don’t miss any new posts – these existing pages, however, will still be kept open as I will continue to maintain the classes schedule etc via WordPress as I find that easier.

Unfortunately each WP post has to be copied over individually into Blogger, so it is going to be a long and arduous task to copy over the old posts and classes, but they will gradually be added over time.

Thanks for your continued support of this blog 🙂

Kind regards,


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.

Stawberry fob finishing

Summer Quaker Strawberry for Amy in SC
Hello all,

I’m running a bit late this month but have finally cobbled together some photos and text for Strawberry fob finishing.

First gather your equipment…

first gather your equipment
For this project you will need:

  • Stitched project – some suggestions: Prairie Schooler chart 100 – American Strawberries & chart 101- Prairie Strawberries (used for this tutorial), Anita’s little Stitches designs, Blackbird Designs – there is a strawberry fob in the Secret Garden pattern (OOP) from the Loose Feathers series of 2006 and a Blackbird Designs also designed a fabulous quaker strawberry for the 2006 Annual Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments issue (I’m sure this one is still available).
  • Interfacing
  • Ribbon, felt
  • Stuffing
  • Scissors, needle, thread, pins.
  • Iron

And you can see in this photo, I also made sure I had a cup of tea to work with.
Iron on the interfacing on the reverse side of your stitching
Take your stitched piece and iron a piece of interfacing to the reverse of the stitching.
pin the template on and cut around
Make a semi-circle template, pin to the stitching and cut around. You can see I have mucked up centering this up with the “quiltish” strawberry above – this is not really a problem for this finishing technique.
fold and finger press the straight seam
Next, finger-press a small seam along the straight edge. Make this seam as close to the stitching as possible.
use a ladder stitch to join the straight seams
Fold the semi-circle to form a cone (see above). Stitch the straight seams together. I like to use a ladder stitch to do this, but you can use a sewing machine if you wish (I find it is easier to do this by hand).

you might be able to make out the ladder stitch from this photo
I kinda hoped you’d be able to see the ladder stitch in this photo. If you pull it nice and tight it disappears into the seam. I’m pretty pleased with the join for this strawberry.

run a gathering stitch around the edge of the cone shape
If you used the ladder stitch to join the seam, secure the thread and then run a gathering stitch around the top of the cone around 1/2 an inch from the top.

add stuffing and pull the running stitch gather.
Draw the gathers together a little and stuff your strawberry – I’ve used hobbyfill.

gathering the top of the strawberry
Draw the gathers tighter and run a few stitches across the “opening” and pull these tight to secure your thread. You can insert a hanger at this point if you wish, stitch through it as you secure your thread.

Top of the strawberry with felt cap in place, tacked down.

For my first strawberry, I’ve attached a felt cap. I cut the felt out using the template in the pattern (Prairie Schooler pattern 101: Prairie Strawberries) and tacked it to the strawberry.

sewind down the felt cap

Next, I stitched around the felt using a buttonhole stitch – making sure I caught the linen beneath. Then I attached the second felt star (template from the prairie schooler pattern) using buttonhole stitch.

felt wool cap all complete

Attach a hanger to the top. I made a loop of ribbon and secured with tiny tacking stitches and slipped a bead over the ribbon to hide the stitches.

Another pretty way to finish the strawberry is to tie ribbons around the hanger – I learned this technique from Janie Hubble from The Cat’s Whiskers Design Studio at a class last year.

attaching hanger and first ribbon bow for a ribbon capped strawberry
Here’s the other design I stitched from Prairie Strawberries by Prairie Schooler. You can see in the photo I have gathered the top and inserted the hanger. I’ve cut a length of ribbon and tied it in a bow around the hanger. Just keep tying bows around the hanger – pushing them down towards the strawberry. Have them facing in different directions.

ribbon cap all done

When you are satisfied with the ribbons, trim the ends and you are done.

The completed strawberries out in my little garden

Here are the two finished strawberries. I love them! – So cute!
I hope you will enjoy making your own strawberries too and will find this tutorial useful.

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).

Blog announcement

This is just a quick post to let everyone know that I have decided to move this blog over to the Blogger platform shortly.  While my own personal preference is for WordPress, most tutors are more comfortable with the Blogger platform for posting, as well as most users so it is the logical step to allow further interaction and ease of posting for the majority of bloggers.

It will take me a while to fix up the new home (it’s a bit of a ‘doer-upper’ at the moment), and transfer all the previous posts over, but once that is done I will make a final announcement here along with links to the ‘new’ site.  Unfortunately Blogger don’t have “page tabs”, which I particularly love, so I intend to keep the WP pages active in this blog with links to those pages from the new Blogger blog.  As I am the only person to update these pages, this will be much simpler and less time consuming for me.

Thanks in advance for your patience during this transition phase.  I look forward to breathing some new life into the blog and making a few more regular posts soon!

Kind regards,
Anne S

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!

Tuck Pillow Tutorial

Next weekend will be our tutorial on making tuck pillows.  Tuck pillows are very versatile. They can be stuffed like a pillow or left flat. They can be used for Christmas ornaments and hung on a tree, or used as a door hanger. This tuck pillow tutorial will be for a flat door hanger about 7″ square. Instructions to calculate other sizes will be included in the tutorial.

You will need:

  • Your stitched piece (duh!)
  • Fabric for your pillow – a fat quarter should be plenty unless you’re making something bigger than 9″
  • Scrap of neutral fabric for the back of the opening – calico, muslin, homespun
  • Fusible fleece wadding – same size as your pillow. You can use a non-fusible batting if you prefer. Something not too thick is best.
  • Cord for hanging
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread/scissors etc

I’ll be back next weekend with the tutorial!