Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Felt Embroidered Needle Case – Inspired by my friend Anna

felt embroidered needle case opener Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Before I start, this needle case has a cool story. The inspiration for it came to my friend Anna by way of a relative whose name was Lady May and who lived in Carmel. Anna was named for Lady May’s sister Anna Jack. At the time it came to Anna she was living in New York but now Anna lives in Carmel so her needle case has done a full circle from Carmel to New York and back to Carmel. I think that’s totally cool so I set about to use Anna’s needle case as the inspiration for my own needle case project. This time I chose to mimic the functional design, another time I plan to mimic the embroidery.

I started with some circles of felt approximately 3.5 – 4 inches diameter. I don’t lose too much sleep over making circles – I just grab the nearest round container and use it to trace a circle onto paper. Then I pin the paper to the felt and cut.

In this case I cut circles of tan, blue and a sort of sand color felt – two blue, two tan and one sand. I selected some embroidery floss – I use DMC size 5 and I chose brown, an orangey tan and a sand color. I also dug into my stash to find a really nice abalone shell button.

felt embroidered needle case step1 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

The first step was to embroider the cover which is one of the blue pieces. I embroidered some flowers using a range of stitches including lazy daisy and straight stitch for the small flowers. There are French knots scattered throughout and some simple seed stitches as well. For the second largest flower I used lazy daisy and a woven wheel which is just long stitches and then weaving around them. For the large flower there is a combination of lazy daisy and some straight stitches in the middle, French knots and then a blanket stitch and the outside is a chain stitch.

felt embroidered needle case step2 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Once the embroidery was complete for the front I turned my attention to the back. Here all I did was create concentric circles of chain stitch in the colors that I’d used. I used tan and sand then tan, dark brown, tan, sand, tan, dark brown until I’d filled the shape.

To make sure that the chain stitch went pretty much in circles I created some hollowed out templates that I could pin to the fabric to give me a guideline as to where I would sew. The result was a better set of concentric circles than I’d been able to do so in the past as sometimes they get a bit more like ovals than circles.

felt embroidered needle case step3 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Once I’d done this I needed to trim the pieces to size. The covers had come down a little bit in size as a result of the stitching so I lined all the pieces up and trimmed them until everything was the same size.

I pinned the two pieces of brown felt together back to back and stitched around with blanket stitch – leaving just a piece about 1.5 inches not sewn at the very top where it will all be hinged later on.

I then pinned the blue pieces of felt together back to back and pinned it all to the back with the sand piece sandwiched between the back and front.

felt embroidered needle case step4 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

I then stitched around the blue pieces with blanket stitch and at the point where the back hadn’t been stitched, this time I stitched through all 5 pieces of felt. This not only joins the pieces but you also get the impression that the blanket stitch on the front is continuous as it runs all around the piece. This is the front:

felt embroidered needle case step5 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

And this is the back:

felt embroidered needle case step6 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

And this is the inside:

felt embroidered needle case step7 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

The result is a small needle case with the embroidery hidden by backing pieces and a piece of felt in the middle in which the needles will sit. I love the design and the colors and I’m planning to make another one really soon.

Update – more needlebook goodness awaits you

One of the people I follow on Twitter Johwey Redington has her own version needle book here – it’s way more detailed than mine and I just love it. Why not head over there and check out her detailed how to?

johwey redington needle book Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Sew your own felt elephant

Felt elephant 3d Sew your own felt elephant

This cute elephant is the first real 3D pattern I have made for an animal. I based it on a circle so its body is made from a circle with the base cut off and then I cut out the areas for under the trunk and between the legs. It is best at this point to trim just a little from the length of the trunk too so it doesn’t sit on its trunk later on. Cut pieces for the ears,  tail, belly and then five tiny small ovals  for the base of the feet and trunk. It is pretty easy to make the pattern yourself but I’ve  scanned mine so you can download and use it yourself.

I recommend you use wool felt not the stuff that is made from non natural fibres. The reason is that wool felt stands up to more of a beating and stitches close to the edges are less likely to pull out.  I used fibrefill and some eyes that I got for making amigurumi animals.

Start by sewing the legs and the underbody together, add the ovals for the bottom of the feet. Stuff as you go. Then sew up  the trunk and add an oval of felt to the bottom of the trunk and then sew all around the piece.

Add the tail which is rolled felt  with a fringe at the bottom. When you’re done stitch the ear pieces together and then stitch them to the sides of the elephant body.  The eyes go  into small holes made in the head – attach with a dot of fabric glue.

Link: Download free felt elephant pattern here.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Burlap Pencil Case

burlap pencil case pouch opener Burlap Pencil Case

If you’ve been following my blog you’re know that I’ve been embroidery burlap pencil cases that I picked up at Target in the one dollar bin. What concerned me was that as cute as those pencil cases you might be disappointed because you can’t find the pencil cases any longer at Target. I have to say I was bummed the other day when I checked my Target and realized they were all sold out.

So I set about determining how to make a pencil case that you could use for embroidery. Starting out you’ll need:

  • Burlap fabric (approx. 10 x 9)

- 8 inch black zipper – ideally an open ended one

- Fabric stabilizer –  I used blank Craft Fuse

- Black cotton thread (I also used some cotton that matched the fabric color)

- Sewing machine

- Pins, scissors etc..

- Iron

Start by ironing the fabric stabilizer to the back of a piece of burlap. My burlap was slightly smaller than the stabilizer which worked pretty well as it meant that it was completely covered.

Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step1 Burlap Pencil Case

Then cut a 9-3/4 by 8-3/4 inch piece out of the burlap. I was able to use an edge as part of my design but it doesn’t matter if you can’t.

Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step2 Burlap Pencil Case


Then on the short edge fold under a 1/2 inch seam and iron. Do this on both sides of the piece as this is where the zipper will go.

I found it useful to tack along that line with some matching thread which I’d intended to pull out but in actual fact as it was left in. Tacking this edge makes it easier for you to apply the zipper.

Pull the zipper apart into its two pieces and pin it so one piece is under each of the folded edges. (If you don’t have an open ended zipper – and yours won’t split in two, then see the tip below)

Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step3 Burlap Pencil Case

Machine sew in place.


Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step4 Burlap Pencil Case

Once you have the two pieces of the zipper in place you can reattach the zipper to itself. You’ll do this with the pencil pouch inside out. Just slot the base of the zipper into position and pull the zipper pull a couple of cogs forward, don’t fully zip it up because you’ll need to use this opening to turn it.

Pin the side seams together sew with machine stitching.


Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step5 Burlap Pencil Case


When you’re done turn the piece inside out pushing into the corners to make a good rectangular shape and iron to finish.


Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step6 Burlap Pencil Case


The result is a functional burlap pencil case that’s nice and stable with a good inside surface.

Now that you have your burlap pencil case you can go ahead and embroider it. While it’s not a one dollar project it still is a fairly inexpensive project and dead easy (and dare I say it?) fun to make.



If you don’t have an open ended zipper then you’ll need to cut the burlap into two pieces, attach the zip and sew an additional seam along the base of the piece. It’ll work just as well but it is an additional step.


Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Cover a Mead notebook

cover a mead notebook Cover a Mead notebook

I love the potential of a Mead notebook – they are simply awesome to work with. For this one I painted it black to begin with then painted the sky blue and wiped bits off so there were mixed bits of black and blue. Then I pasted some papers over the bottom of the book to make the hills and painted them green. I pained on some white clouds too.

I added some simple hand drawn style illustrations of the Eiffel Tower and other buildings. Over the top I added a white chipboard flower and leaf and marked around them with a Sharpie marker and drew the plant stem in with a Sharpie.

Finally I glued on a watch face – so it always tells the time and added a piece of elastic I had left over from some other project.

The project makes a great journal to take on a trip and the added bonus for me is that because I never carry a watch with me my journal always tells the time.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Cool Hand Drawn Frames for your Blog

photoshop frames1 Cool Hand Drawn Frames for your Blog

One cute idea that I’m seeing on the web right now is hand drawn frames used for blog posts. For example, design doyen Jenny Doh uses it over at her blog.

I just loved the idea so much that my trusty assistant and I got drawing and made a few sets of hand drawn doodle style frames for you. You’ll find them here at - the frames cost less than your morning cup of coffee – in fact if you drink coffee like I do then you could buy all the sets and still have change from your day’s Starbucks bill.

The frames include hand drawn scroll-like frames, some Zentangle inspired frames, some floral frames and lots of others to give your blog posts a lift.

photoshop frames2 Cool Hand Drawn Frames for your Blog

Also included in each of the packs – which by the way contain at least ten hand drawn frames in each .99 cent pack – are instructions for using the frames to frame your photos in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and the Gimp.

I know you’ll find there is something for everyone and now you  have no excuse for boring old blog posts anymore.

In fact you’ll see I have already grabbed one or two of those frames to use in my own blog posts.

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Burlap pencil cases – just demanding embroidery

embroider burlap pencil case fish2 Burlap pencil cases   just demanding embroidery

I love the $1 boxes inside the door at Target. There is seldom that a trip to Target doesn’t result in some crafting item jumping into my basket there. One day it might be ribbon, sometimes a felt basket and one day recently it was burlap pencil cases. I bought 7 of them – they were just too good to go past – the colors were awesome – burlap and black, or burlap and cream and I just knew I would find inspiration in them.

Turns out inspiration was just around the corner. I have been embroidering a lot lately so it seemed that embroidering the pencil cases was a gimme since burlap is a great surface to use. I started out by embroidering stitches around the zipper – if anything wasn’t going to hold out for the long term I thought it would be the zipper so I ran a row of stitches around and then got to work on the rest. On this case I embroidered fish. One fish on the front and then three top to tail on the back. I used black buttons for the eyes – the ones you get at Joanns for the small fish and just a standard black button for the large one.

The large fish is embroidered using backstitch to make the outline and then a ‘U’ shape stitch to fill it. For this, come out of the fabric and then go in about 1/4 in away and then out between these two stitches a bit below at the same time catching the thread with a tiny stitch. It is really a fly stitch and if you don’t pull it all too tight you get more of a ‘U’ shape rather than a ‘V’. Continue across the row making stitches side by side and then continue to fill the fish with it.


embroider burlap pencil case fish Burlap pencil cases   just demanding embroidery

On the back here, the fish are again backstitched. One is filled with cross stitch, one with Fly stitch and the other with a sort of woven stitch. Black button eyes finish off the fish.

I am working on one in brown now … will have that to show soon.

In the meantime I’ve found some others on the web who have done things with these burlap pencil cases. Check them out:

Here Leah, owner of BlueBird Chic LLC,  at her blog has painted the pencil case with a paint dabber and added some tags to the finished product.

Here, Kim, from Plumberry Pie has used Sharpie markers to personalise her pencil cases.

Here they are stenciled with a mustache, and here is another stenciled version and again here, Sarah at Sweet life creative used them as invitations having stenciled a letter using craft paint on them.

So, have you found anything super cool at Target lately and what did you make from it?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Embroidery stitches 101 – Cretan stitch

Embroidery cretan stitch step3 Embroidery stitches 101   Cretan stitch

Cretan stitch is kind of like a blanket stitch but it’s done up and down. Depending on how long the stems are  you can get angled bars between the up and down portions or straight ones. In the above example the stitch is almost entirely horizontal because the up and down stitches both end in the same position and it is used over the join between two pieces of felt.

Embroidery cretan stitch opener Embroidery stitches 101   Cretan stitch

The bars in the Cretan stitch above (the red thread) are very angled – this is a very traditional version of the stitch and it is done by making the up and down stitches  shortish so they don’t end up in the same place. The more the ends of the stitch are offset the more the stitch is angled.

In this example, again sewn in red the Cretan Stitch is straighter:

Embroidery cretan stitch secondexample1 Embroidery stitches 101   Cretan stitch


Here’s how to do the Cretan stitch with very straight bars – imagine three horizontal lines. The first stitch should be from under the fabric coming out at the middle line. Then make  a stitch down on the top line and up on the middle line keeping the thread under the needle as it comes out of the fabric.

Embroidery cretan stitch step1 Embroidery stitches 101   Cretan stitch


Then make a stitch going in at the bottom-most of the three lines and again out at the middle line – keep the thread under the needle as it comes out of the fabric. Continue going from top to middle and bottom to middle across the join or across the fabric if you are using it as a decorative stitch.


Embroidery cretan stitch step2 Embroidery stitches 101   Cretan stitch



Friday, October 12th, 2012

Felt circle embroidery #12 – The magic of Purple and Gold

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 12 Felt circle embroidery #12   The magic of Purple and Gold

There is a school in Melbourne – Wesley – which has as its school colors a sort of gold and purple so this is my tribute to those colors. Here I have three shades of purple wool felt and one of gold/sand color – the purples are the smaller areas of color and the gold is the largest – this circle worked out amazingly and along the way you will see I have experimented with some two color stitches.

The bead is sewed on with long stitches in pairs to make a different pattern to usual.

Row 1 – this is a Closed Blanket Stitch worked around the edge of the smallest dark crimson/purple piece. It ends up looking like a triangle stitch but it is from the blanket stitch family.

Row 2 This is part Herringbone Ladder Filling Stitch – the outside edge and the inside edge is a whipped or laced running stitch. Done in two colors the effect is a bit of a steampunk like edging stitch.

Row 3 – ZigZag Couching Stitch – done in two colors you have one thread you just lay in place and another one you use to tie it down. It is cute stitch and pretty easy to do.

Row 4 – On the outside edge is a row of running stitch.


Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Felt Circles #11 Warmth in dusky pink and green grey

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 11 Felt Circles #11 Warmth in dusky pink and green grey

The colors in this piece were selected for me. They are winter warm colors and the mix of dusky pink, blue and green and the dark crimson felt with one of the last of the green beads all work really well together.  Green beads are in short supply – I will miss them when they are gone. I love this piece and the seed stitch looks awesome on it.

Row 1: straight stitch on an angle – does that make it angle stitch, I wonder?

The bead is stitched on with long stitches and these are finished with a twisted loop stitch.

Row 2: Running stitch – it is simple but there is a lot to love about this stitch and it’s not easy to do evenly.

Row 3: this is a sort of modified fern stitch with only two stitches instead of three. I put one stitch over the edge between the two circles and the other one on the outside.

In between rows 2 and 3 is a seed stitch – since I worked out how to do this stitch I really love doing it.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Felt Embroidery #10 – filling with chains

20120915 111652 Felt Embroidery #10   filling with chains

This color scheme is one I love, a mix of pale blue, sand, blue grey and grey. I think I love grey because our school uniforms were grey when we were growing up and I learned to love its possibilities – it’s a soft and warm color for me and this wool felt is beautiful to sew – the dark grey color felt is very textured with light fibres in it – like the wool hasn’t taken the dye so it has more interest than just plain felt.

Here I sewed a wheel of stitches to fix the bead – each was finished with a french knot.

Row 1: This is (I think) blanket stitch done not on the edge but stretching over the edge and arranged so the ‘bar’ is n the middle. Well, I think it is this but I’ll have to try it again to see if I can duplicate it. If it is not that, then it is probably Open Cretan Stitch – need to sort this one…

Row 2: Blanket stitch – an old standby stitch which never loses its attraction – though I did read a post recently which suggests you use it on bigger pieces and not on small ones because it doesn’t do sharp corners very well – a plain straight stitch is actually better around corners – I think I agree, but here it works just fine.

From here I added some chain stitching as a filler. I think it’s nice and in future I will probably do one with more chain stitching still in varied colors and perhaps even lace it.

Row 3: This is feather stitch, arranged so most of the stitch is on the outside with only one of the stitches catching the inside piece. I haven’t used Feather stitch much as it isn’t technically a stitch you would use to join two pieces of fabric butI think it makes a nice edge stitch here.