September 19, 2013

Armchair needlework organizer - tutorial

In the evenings I like to sit in my chair and do a bit of sewing in front of the TV, a nice, calming occupation after a long day's work. What I don't like is to get up from that chair everytime something is missing.

What I clearly need is an armchair needlework organizer. It has to have enough pockets for everything I need, as well as a pincushion, a thread holder and - very important - scissors that are fastened to the organizer. I don't know about you, but everytime I put something down it seems to disapperar into outer space, never to be seen again. Quite annoying! I want to be able to take this organizer with me everywhere I go.

I couldn't find anything like this to buy, so I came up with this tutorial. I've posted a tutorial before and this one is almost the same, but I've made some improvements.


The tutorial is divided into three parts; a pincushion, a thread holder and the organizer with the pockets. For the organizer you need two fat quarters. I used three fat quarters because I wanted to use three different fabrics from the gorgeous Comma line. Just love this line! You can get it at Cindy's place, the Fluffy Sheep Quilting Shop.

What you need

2 or 3 Fat Quarters
1 key ring or a lanyard
5" Velcro (if you can get the wide kind, I'd recommend it)
Fusible interfacing (14" x 9 1/2")

Cutting instructions

Fabric # A - 2 x (14" x 9 1/2") organizer - mainbody, outside and inside
                   - 1 x 1" - 1 1/2" from the whole lenght of the fabric, for the strings

Fabric # B - 2 x (5 3/4" x 9 1/2") organizer pockets
                   - 4 x (2" x 5") thread holder
                   - 1 x (4 1/2" x 4 1/2") pin cushion
                   - 2 x (1 1/2" x 4 1/2") pin cushion                  

Fabric # C - 1 x (3" x 4 1/2") pin cushion
                   - 4 x (2" x 5") thread holder


Instructions for the pin cushion

We'll begin with the easiest item; the pin cushion.

1. Sew the Velcro in the middle to the 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" piece of fabric B on the right side. I chose the soft side of the Velcro, in case I later want to use the pin cushion somewhere else. The scratchy side tends to pick up everything you don't need.


2. Nect sew the upper side of the pin cushion. For this sew the 1 1/2 " x 4 1/2" fabric B strips on both sides of the 3" x 4 1/2" piece of fabric, right sides together and iron it.

3. Now make the pin cushion in the usual manner. Put the right sides together and sew almost all around, leaving a gap to turn the pin cushion inside out.

4. Fill the pin cushion with whatever you use for filling and sew the gap together by hand with some stitches.

Instructions for the thread holder

1. Place your fabrics like on the picture above.

2. Sew the short sides together starting 1/4" from the edge. You will need this space soon.

3. Now sew the Velcro on the right side of the fabric in the middle like in the picture.

4. Sew the long sides, one after another, A to B, B to C, C to D and D to A.
It might be a good ides to mark the pieces in some way, because it's difficult to keep track of which one is which. Leave the first 1/4" open.

5. Make the second one like the first one, but without the Velcro and leaving a gap to be able to turn the threadholder inside out.

6. Put the thread holder inside each other, right sides together. Pin the edges and sew the upper seam.

 7. Turn the thread holder through the gap inside out and close the gap with some invisible stitches. Your thread holder is ready.

Instructions for the organizer

1. First of all I made the upper seam on the pockets, fabric B. I folded the upper part of the long side of the fabric twice for this.

   2. Next I made a long ribbon out of one of the fabrics. I cut a 1 - 1 1/2" piece out of the whole width of my pocket fabric, fabric # B, ironed it through the middle and then once again on both side of the middle (just like for binding). Then I sewed the whole lenght and cut the pieces for the strings as I needed them.

2 pieces for the fastening of the organizer
1 piece for the key ring or lanyard

You had better decide for yourself how long you need your strings. I chose a long one for the scissors, because I don't want to bend everytime I'm using the scissors.

3. Attach the key ring or lanyard to the string and fasten your scissors. They will never again get lost!

4. Place the pockets right side up on one of the fabric  # A  14" x 9 1/2" pieces.

Next sew a seam in the middle of the pocket fabric, or you can choose different sizes for your pockets, depending on what you plan to put into them. I sewed a couple of times forwards and back to strenghten the seam at the beginning. Make only the middle seams, the rest will be taken care of later.

5. Place the Velcro where you want to place your pin cushion and the thread holder and fasten it well. If you can get hold of wide Velcro I would recommend to use it; it gives a better hold. Before fastening I put one end of the scissors string under the Velcro and fastened it at the same time.

6. Next iron some stabilizer to the background fabric # A and attach one string where you see it fit.

7. Now place your two main body pieces right sides together, taking care that your strings don't get in the way. Place the second one in the middle of one of the short sides. Sew almost all around the outer edges, leaving only a space open to turn the organizer inside out.

8. Turn the right side out and cut the corners. 


Push the corners out with whatever you use for it. At last make a seam all around the outer edges on the right side to make a nice finish. Don't forget to tuck the fabric from the gap properly in. Attach you pin cushion and the thread holder.

Your organizer is ready to go! Have fun with it!

September 15, 2013

Encore une fois

When Jen from Quilter in the Closet showed a picture of her newest quilt I was intrigued by the design. Luckily she'd posted about it as well and is actually starting a QAL end of September. The idea is to make caleidoscope blocks out of a fabric with large patterns. 

Picture borrowed from Jen; Quilter in the Closet
I was a bit dubious if this was something for me, but I did a deep dive into my closet, looking for some fabric with a large pattern I wouldn't need for anything else. And there it was, two pieces of fabric I'd chosen for curtains in my workroom. The kids quickly stopped me in my tracks at the time; the fabric was simply too hideous, so it had a very long nap in my closet. 

Perfect! No one would be missing this and I had some material to play with.

For the QAL I needed a book as well, but Amazon was very forthcoming and I soon held it in my hands. I got One-Block Wonder Encore out of a choise of three books. Frankly; this book put me off for a bit. The quilts didn't appeal to me at all. But Jen's quilt is lovely, so there must be more to this and I have nothing to loose.

Of course I'm much to impatient just to wait for the QAL to begin, so I started with the cutting. You cut the fabric on the report and stack 6 reports on each other before cutting smaller pieces with the help of a rotary cutter with a fresh blad, a long ruler and a 60° ruler.

Last night I had my fun with some Stack and Whack. It was too dark to see the colours of the fabrics I needed for another project and I'd just finished some 280 blocks for another Scrappy floating Stars quilt, so why not give this a go?

This morning I woke up, all eager to see what I'd produced last night and immediately began with one small block. One block wouldn't hurt, would it? Just a peek at what the quilt might look like. And then another one, and another one...I had to see what the blocks would look like, because everyone is different. After 14 blocks I made a short breakfast break and uploaded some pictures. Now I'm off again; I want to see where this one is going.

Excited? Why not join us?

September 12, 2013

Wallpapering and a crocheted basket

Some time ago I introduced these friends of mine here. Did I mention how much work they are putting into transforming a rather normal house into jem? No? 

Well some fifteen years ago they bought an estate in the middle of nowhere. An old lady used to live there with her 20-30 cats. That is until she died. The cats and the lady disappeared, but not without leaving some hints of eau de chat behind them. Ok, ok, so you couldn’t enter the house without a proper gasmask. Of course everyone tried to keep up their smiles while gagging and telling them they had bought a good place and everything was going to be just fine. Honestly I expected them to tear down the place und built something new from scratch and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Not these guys. They worked like slaves every free minute renovating everything that they could think of and because they are both smart it was a lot. I’m not so sure anything from the original house still remains.

One of the projects was new wallpaper. But not the usual kind. No! Did you know you can use fabrics as wallpaper? And I’m not talking about fabric wallpaper, I mean real fabric, the kind you can sew with. The technique is different from papering the walls. No glueing of walls here. You fasten the fabric on laths, then turn the lath around so you cannot see where you’ve fastened the fabric. After that you fasten the lath on the wall. Then you tighten the fabric up. I cannot explain the procedure properly, I was only watching every now and then while they were working. Some sewing with hand was involved as well. 

What I did see very clearly were these piles of leftover fabrics they discarded in the trash. Of course I couldn’t let that happen and ran away with as much as I could grab.

This is what I made out of the scraps. I cut the fabric in 1” ribbons like you do for weaving carpets and crocheted a basket. Sadly I ran out of fabric before the basket was quite finished, but they reassured me there was more. I left the needle in the basket and will take it with me on my next trip and hopefully finish the basket. Perhaps with a glass of Lillet beside me?