This project is inspired by memories of sewing kits that I used to work on when I was a kid. I remember one kit in particular was a calendar printed on burlap with certain areas of the design accented with sequins attached by running thread through seed beads. Here is an original design of mine that reminds me of all that fun!
Tools and Materials
Ball point pen
Wide burlap ribbon with metallic threads in it – about 9 inches wide
Harvest gold color wired burlap-look ribbon – 1 1/2 inches wide
Felt in a assorted fall leaf colors
Washable fabric marking pen
Gold metallic embroidery thread – six strand
Embroidery thread in off white, rust and dark brown
Assorted size sequins in fall and earthy colors such as ochre, brown, bronze, copper and gold
Copper or bronze colored seed beads – select ones with holes big enough for a threaded needle to pass through twice
Scrap fabric in a rustic color for the ends
Needles – tapestry and embroidery
Walk around your neighborhood and collect leaves to use as templates. Choose leaves more for their shape than their color – you want ones that will flatten easily and are roughly the size of your hand and smaller.
Place your leaves on a hard surface like a table between pieces of scrap paper. Stack books or other flat heavy objects on top and allow to sit for several hours to press leaves for easier handling.
Place leaves on scrap chipboard and trace around with marker. Loosely draw where the leaf veins are on the cardboard for future reference. Discard leaves in the compost if you don’t want them for another project. Cut out the chipboard leaves.
Cut a piece of wide burap ribbon the length that you want for your table runner, plus about 4 extra inches for hemming. Before cutting, tape a piece of masking tape just inside where you plan to cut. The tape will help keep the ends of the ribbon from unraveling.
Pin down the hems on the ends but don’t sew yet.
Fold wired burlap ribbon lengthwise and pin along the long sides of the ribbon.
Use tapestry needle and full thickness of the gold embroidery thread to sew the ribbon in place with a running stitch just inside the wired edge.
Trace around the chipboard leaf shapes with a ball point pen on the backs of various colors of felt. Cut out leaf shapes.
Place felt leaves on your runner in an arrangement that you like. Pin in place.
Split lengths of the six-strand gold embroidery thread lengthwise into pieces with three strands each. Use the three-strand pieces to sew a running stitch along the edges of the felt leaves, attaching them to the wide burlap ribbon.
Stitch leaf vein marks using a running stitch with the various embroidery thread colors. For example try rust color thread for the veins on the light brown felt, off-white thread for the ochre felt and dark brown for the gold and orange felt. If it helps to figure out where to sew the leaf veins, refer back to your chipboard leaves and draw the veins on the felt with the washable fabric marker. After you’re done sewing on the leaf viens, dab any washable marker marks that show with a damp cloth to get rid of them.
Accent the leaves with a few scattered sequins on each nestled among the embroidered leaf veins in a manner that suggests the spots and color variations that you find on natural fallen leaves. Hold the sequins on by bringing a thread from the back through a bead, around the side of the bead then back down through the sequin. Go back through each bead at least twice for durability. Sew a few beads by themselves among the sequins.
Pin and fold strips of fabric to the ends to cover up the raw edge of the ribbon. Sew in place with the metallic embroidery thread.
When the fall season is over, store your table runner rolled up so that the wire in the ribbon does not kink.
Over the years I’ve collected a lot of recycled fabric, trim, beads and buttons. Some of it comes from thrift stores or places that specialize in teaching the reuse of materials. Two such places where you can score fabric and related items at a low price are Leftovers, Etc. and Perennial. I teach classes at Perennial so be sure to check my schedule to see what I’m doing there in the near future!
I also get scrap fabric and sewing items from people who know that I collect it. In addition I made a big score a few years ago when a local interior design studio allowed me to salvage some samples and scraps that were being discarded. I’ve thought of a lot of ways to use these pieces over the years. Pictured below is a fanny pack that I’ve been using for over 20 years. The zipper went out on it recently but the rest of it was still in good shape. I decided to purchase a replacement zipper from JoAnn Fabrics and crafts (where I also teach classes) and repair the bag while adding a pocket to the front made of upcycled upholstery fabric and trim. I added some snaps to keep the new front pocket closed and some buttons given to me by fellow teacher Kate. My old fanny pack is better than new now!
I also recently took three plain solid color tank tops and made them more interesting by sewing strips of fabric and trim to the fronts. Much of the trim was salvaged and I also purchased a couple of new rolls from JoAnn. To the coral colored tank top I also added some buttons and beads.
My wardrobe is a little more colorful and interesting now thanks to my stash of upcycled materials!
I started seeing poop emoji pillows for sale in mall kiosks last fall. Ever since then I’ve been tempted to buy one – why? They make me laugh, that’s why, and I like to laugh! But I have been too embarrassed to buy one. It’s kind of hard to justify at my age! At JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts, where I teach classes, they have started selling emoji merchandise. You can buy patches, pillows, pillow kits, suncatcher kits and more. The poop designs seem to sell out a lot faster than the other emojis, so I guess I don’t need to be embarrassed. Still, I feel better about making a poop patch and poop pillow rather than buying one. I can always justify it as sewing practice, right?
When I was in seventh grade, my Mom made a duffel bag for me out of an old pair of my jeans. I used to use it for Girl Scout camping trips. It’s a good size for transporting a sleeping bag, pillow, air mattress and sheets. When I was older, for nostalgia reasons I got it out again and I decided it would be a good place to display my growing collection of patches. Over the last several years I’ve been sewing on old patches and collecting new ones and adding them to the duffel bag. It’s a great conversation starter on trips and reminds me of fun times!
To make the poop patch, I downloaded a pattern and used Photoshop to size it for a patch. I printed out the design and traced it onto tracing paper. I made extra tracings to use for cutting and lining up.
To make a poop patch like mine, transfer a tracing of the outline of the poop, the white smile and the white part of the eyeballs onto scrap chipboard. Cut out the chipboard.
Place the poop outline chipboard template onto a piece of medium brown felt. Trace around the chipboard with a ball-point pen and cut out the brown poop piece. Trace around the smile and eyeball pieces on white felt and cut out.
Take a tracing on tracing paper of the whole poop design, with the brown lines and facial features indicated and pin it to the front of the brown felt piece. Use it as a guide for where to pin the white smile and eyeball pieces. Using white thread, sew around the edges of the white pieces to hold them in place.
Using dark brown embroidery thread, sew the brown diagonal lines using a running stitch. Don’t sew the outline yet – you’ll sew the outline when you sew your patch where it’s going to go. Carefully tear the paper away. A pair of tweezers is helpful for removing tiny bits of paper that might stick in small crevices.
Make a tracing on tracing paper of only the eyes, including the pupils and cut out, leaving some space around the eyes for pinning in place. Pin your tracing over the eyes so you can see exactly where to sew the pupils. With black embroidery thread, outline the pupils then fill them in solid with a satin stitch. Tear away the paper.
When you sew on your patch, use brown embroidery thread around the edge. You’re done!
Pictured above is the small pillow I made from the same pattern at a larger size. Because of the larger size I sewed on black felt ovals for the pupils instead of using stitching only to fill them in. I used two pieces of dark brown felt as the pillow body. Cut a little larger, they made a nice outline. I sewed the medium brown felt portion with all the details onto the front.
A therapist recently suggested the use of a talking globe for family discussions. This reminded me of the family intervention scene with the talking pillow in the TV show Breaking Bad. In my immediate family we are all fans of the show and I thought it would be funny to make a talking pillow and have a portrait of the main character Walter White aka Heisenberg on it. That should create a more convivial atmosphere for us. I feel a little silly making fan art at my age but if I call it Pop Art it’s more legit, right?
I traced a drawing of the character at the size I wanted onto translucent tracing paper. I decided to applique felt onto the dark hat and sunglasses areas so I used my tracing to make additional outlines for the hat and glasses on scrap paper. I pinned the scrap paper to the felt and cut the shapes out. Another method for transferring a shape design to felt is to make a chipboard template and trace around it with a ball point pen or graphite pencil for light colors or a light colored chalk pencil for dark felt colors.
Next I cut out two square pieces for the front and back of the pillow from scrap knit white fabric with a texture to it that was suggestive of cross stitch backing fabric. I ironed fusible webbing onto the backs of each piece because stretchy fabric like this knit is sometimes hard to keep square.
I pinned my tracing to the front of the pillow and fastened my felt pieces in place over the sunglasses and hat areas. I stitched the felt pieces around the edges with black embroidery thread to hold the applied pieces in place. I then stitched the rest of the design with two different weights of embroidery thread through the tracing paper. When I was finished stitching I carefully tore the tracing paper away. In places where the stitching was close together I used a pair of tweezers to tear out some small remaining tracing paper bits.
I pinned the pillow halves together with the good sides facing out since I was not planning to turn the pillow inside out. I stitched the halves together with more of the black embroidery thread leaving a gap at the bottom edge for stuffing. I stuffed he pillow with fiberfill then sewed the gap shut. The last step to finish the pillow was to trim the raw fabric edges with pinking shears.
A friend of mine gave me two unused canvas tool belts that advertise a hardware store that I don’t work for. I decided to cover up the advertisement and create a more robust belt loop by sewing on some recycled upholstery material. I used recycled trim, a recycled belt and some thread to make something that turned out really comfortable to wear. I’ll test the functionality today when I wear it to hold my hand tools while I work on the garden at a client’s house. Going to work is a lot more fun when you can express your personality with your tools!