I have a lot of fabric scraps. (Okay, that’s an understatement.) If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for ways to use them. And if you’re like me, you also know to never, ever throw textiles away!! (If you didn’t know that, I’m telling you now.) 😉 So what to do with those tiny pieces? These are a few suggestions, but the list could go on and on! 1. Piece strips into a striped fabric that can be used for small projects like zipper pouches. 2. Use tiny scraps and bits of lace for textile jewelry. 3. Make a crazy quilt. 4. Embellish accessories, like wrist cuffs. 5. Very tiny pieces of textile (like the trimmings that result from using a serger) can be saved for stuffing toys or art dolls. 6. Cotton scraps are great for English paper piecing. (EPP tutorial here.) 7. Use small bits of beautiful fabric to create buttons with the Dritz Craft Cover Button Kit or a similar kit. 8. Small pieces can be bonded to an adhesive (like Heat n Bond) to create appliques. Using the iron-on adhesive makes it easy to cut out small or intricate pieces, too. 9. Just tired of looking at the same old fabric? Organize a scrap swap with fellow crafters who might feel the same! 10. If the idea of acquiring even more fabric doesn’t sound like a good idea, gift your scraps instead of swapping them. 11. If you absolutely cannot think of what you’d like to do with your extra fabric, donate it to Goodwill. If it’s too small to sell, they will still send the fabric off to be recycled. What are some of your ideas for using scrap fabric? I’d love to hear!
Lately, I’ve been finding my ol’ regular tomato pincushion to be a bit inconvenient. Don’t get me wrong–it’s useful and has its place, but I’ve been doing a lot of work where I need my pins to move with me. So, I made a pincushion I can wear on my wrist! Here’s how…
Gather your materials:
- Fabric: I used two kinds of linen (the Alice in Wonderland print was bought at Charlotte’s Sew Natural a few years back), but you can use just about any woven (non-stretch) material. And some stretch material might work too! The rectangle for your strap should be three inches wide, and the length should be that of your wrist circumference plus two and a half inches. The circle for the cushion should measure approximately three times the diameter of your plastic lid. The “topper” on the cushion should be the same size as your lid.
- Plastic lid: I wanted to put something hard at the bottom of the cushion, just in case I ever get too vigorous in the poking of my pins, hehe. A juice or milk cap works great.
- Velcro: about one inch of it.
- Thread and embroidery floss
- Stuffing: (Not shown below) polyester fiberfill, natural cotton, or bamboo stuffing works well.
First, fold your strap in half lengthwise with right sides together, and stitch along the edge with seam allowance of about 3/8″. Turn, then press.
Turn each end in about 1/2″, and press again.
Stitch your velcro to each end, catching the turned in end as you do so. You may want to try it on as you do this to get the perfect fit.
Place the large fabric circle in the center, and stitch down securely.
Using your embroidery floss, hand baste close to the edge of the circle, gathering it up as you go. Once you’ve made it all the way around, insert your lid, with the lip facing up like a cup.
Drawing the gathers up, stuff your cushion as tightly as you can, securing it with a knot.
Begin stitching on the topper, using any invisible or decorative stitch of your choice.
And there you have it! Insert pins and enjoy!
Do you listen to podcasts? I do. And I always like to hear what other people are listening to…which is why I’m surprised I haven’t shared my list with you!
Here’s a little info on some of my favorites as of right now:
The Alternative Kitchen Garden
Host Emma talks about her “alternative kitchen garden” in the UK. Great information on growing herbs, vegetables, and living green. (Also, her accent is lovely to hear!)
Knitter, spinner, and pattern designer Brenda talks about yarncraft, shares essays, music, and more. (The podcast used to run about an hour or so and was published less frequently–Brenda has recently announced that changes are going to be made, so ‘casts will be shorter and more frequent, and possibly a little different in format.)
Cool Things Podcast
This is a podcast by the Kansas Historical Society, and is described as “An insider’s perspective on interesting objects selected by Curators at the Kansas Museum of History.” Very educational, interesting, and fun to listen to, especially if you like history.
It used to be known as “A Podcast for Crafters Who Love Books,” but is now simply “A Podcast for Anyone Who Loves Books.” Either way, it is a great listen. The very sweet Heather Ordover is a crafter and literature teacher. She shares a little bit of craft talk, a bit of lit talk, and then a chapter or two are read from whichever novel is currently being discussed.
I’ve only just discovered this one and have listened to 2 or 3 episodes, but I am really liking it so far. This witty UK knitter, “Hoxton Handmade,” is very entertaining and usually shares an essay, or a story about “the Sheep.” I particularly like her reviews.
The Knitmore Girls
A mother-daughter podcast team, Jasmin and Gigi talk about…yes, knitting! And spinning, and a few other crafty things. A very enjoyable show.
This is a brand new podcast with only a couple episodes out so far, so I’ve only been able to listen to a couple! But I am loving it already, and Isabelle is a fantastic host. She is French and teaches English literature, so she has a wonderful English accent with a touch of French (yes, the accent again!) But the show content is good, too. Sewing, a bit of knitting, and more literature!
…What do you like to listen to?
Aside from meeting some very lovely, talented people and seeing what they do, I learned–courtesy of Sheri–how to English paper piece.
I had seen it before, and always thought it looked like something I’d like to try, but I never did until a few days ago. Now, after having actually tried it, I am in love!!
It is very easy and really relaxing. It is done completely by hand, so if you’re looking to get a project done fast, this probably isn’t what you’ll want. However, even with all the teeny, tiny whipstitches, (I think I’m averaging about 16 stitches per inch!) it moves along faster than you might think–mostly because it is so enjoyable! Another thing that I love so much about this is that it’s perfect for using up tiny scraps. I have TONS of pieces of fabric that I don’t want to throw away, but they are so small and irregularly-shaped, it would be a pain to line each one up and cut it with the rotary cutter. With EPP, the cutting part really doesn’t need to be terribly accurate (you’ll see why in a bit).
I thought I would provide a quick and dirty tutorial. If you want to learn more about it, there are tons of resources in books and online.
English Paper Piecing: A Basic Guide
1. Gather your supplies. You will need fabric, of course, and your paper templates! You can find templates to print online, they can be purchased online or in quilt shops, your you can make your own. If you are printing/cutting your own, be sure that you are very accurate with the shape of your paper. An uneven edge or the wrong angle could cause your patches top to not match up. (Common shapes are diamonds, hexagons, octagons, rectangles–I decided to go with hexagons!)
2. Cut your fabric pieces. And this is where you don’t have to worry about being accurate! There should be about 1/4″ overhang on all sides, but if there are a few crooked places, that’s okay. Since it’s so small, I do not pin the paper to the fabric, but simply hold it as I cut around.
3. Baste the fabric to paper. Again, I do not use a pin here. Hold the paper and fabric together, while folding down each edge and basting through paper and fabric. Don’t worry about making it too secure; this is just to keep everything in place until you get around to stitching them together.
4. Stitch pieces together. Take two basted pieces and hold them together, making sure that their edges line up. Then, whipstitch them together at the edge. Ideally your stitches should be very tiny and just catch the edge of the fabric. Be sure to go all the way to the corners! (The first piece I made at the MQG meeting was a little bit wonky because I didn’t go all the way to the corners.)
When you are ready to take out your paper pieces, simply clip the basting stitches and pull them out. Then you can open the fabric edges and remove the paper, so that it can be used again.
In the next few weeks (or possibly longer) I plan on showcasing artists from Kansas, particularly the Wichita area. This week’s interview is with Sweet Treats Shop, a truly sweet little line featuring crocheted, sewn, and upcycled goods, including lovely glass cake stands. She not only sells online, but you can also check out her wares in person at The Onion Tree!
Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a married stay at home mom of 5. I am Buddhist, my husband is Muslim and I was raised as a Christian. I enjoy most being with my husband and children. I do not like the cold weather. I wish it would be early summer, when it’s not super hot, all year long! We do not have any animals, but my favorite pet was our duck, Doodle, (who passed away when a ravenous possum attacked her!)
How did you become involved with craft?
things as a child with my grandmother, so I decided to go get some books from the library to relearn. From there, my creative juices just started going! I also really like the Earth, therefore, I like to re-use and re-purpose items. I love to crochet, sew and also making new things out of old, like the cake plates I make.
How would you describe your style?
Hmmm, my style, I guess I would say things that I find beautiful. I love classic styles and lines. I like minimal and romantic. Is that possible? Not sure what you would call that. I guess I’m the stereo typical, eclectic. Haha. It is nearly impossible for me to follow directions. I can’t follow a recipe or a pattern without making alterations for it. Therefore, my designs are for the most part, free-hand. I may use a pattern as a guide but I never follow anything completely.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by nature, whether it be an animal that I want to create a hat after or beautiful flowers and the Ocean. I love water. All of my children inspire me, their personalities are all so different and each has so much to offer. My oldest daughter is so artistic and talented already, I ask her for opinions often.
What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
I love bamboo yarn. That is probably my favorite. I also love cotton yarn and cotton fabrics.
How do you feel about being an artist in Wichita/Kansas in general?
I was born in Seattle, but have been here since I was 4. As a kid, I tended to say it’s so boring here, I think cause everyone else did, but as an adult, I truly enjoy it here. I think the arts are the best kept secret in Wichita. There is such a community here and I wish there was more of a following for local artists. I am learning so much just through creating and seeing how many others create here, it is very inspirational and humbling to see such amazing talent.
Where can we find you online? (twitter, blog, flickr, etc)
I’ve just started working on getting my stuff together so I can begin to offer custom orders for certain items, namely bloomers, skirts, and other clothing pieces. Some of the other designs that I plan to have available–hopefully by the end of January, maybe?–still need a few tweaks. Some haven’t even been tested yet. But these “Saloon Bloomers” may be ready to go! I love them.
My Friday night entertainment –> this 1948 sewing film, in two parts, is just awesome. It’s a little corny (okay, a lot,) but I consider that part of the fun. And I am loving their authentic vintage styles…
One of the things I really like/find interesting about this is how much time and care is put into the entire process. When sewing myself something from a pattern like this, I often find that I am rushing through it. I need to remember that faster isn’t always better.
I’m currently sewing a suit for myself from one of the vintage-style Vogue patterns. This time, I am taking it slow, following every step of the pattern whether I think it necessary or not, and not cutting corners…umm, unless the directions tell me otherwise. (I learned long ago how hard lumpy an unclipped corner can be once you turn it. Sheesh!)
Lest ye think this is merely a knitting blog–not that that would be a bad thing–I thought I’d share something fiber-but-not-yarn-related.
This is a piece I began in the summer, and I sort of forgot about it as it happened to get lost in the chaos of my stitchin’ area. It was pretty much done, except I still needed to finish the back.
Materials: Acrylic paint on linen, embroidery floss, lace, glass seed beads.