I get questions in my shop about emery. Its a lovely little black sand that sharpens and cleans your pins and needles every time you use your pincushion. Emery also gives your pincushion a nice weighty feel, so your pincushion doesn't scoot away from you when you poke into it. I love it.
Emery comes Naxos- A beautiful Greek Island. Its the only place where pure emery can be found.
Acording to Greek mythology, Naxos was a hot place back in the day. It turns out that 2 giant brothers, Otus and Ephialtes were at war with the gods, so the beautiful Artemis married Otus in order to bring peace to the island. I tell ya, if women ran the world....
Well back to Emery.
If you use a lot of emery, like I do, you'll find it gets everywhere. I found a little trick to keep it in my pincushions and off of the floor.
Here is what you need.
You'll also need a frosting bag, a straw, cellophane tape, a scissors and a clip or barrette.
1. Cut the tip off of the frosting bag, just big enough to accommodate the straw. You want it to be a tight fit, but not pinched.
2. Cut a piece of straw about 1 inch long and put it into frosting bag. Push it through so it extends about 1/4" inch past the bag.
3. Using tape, secure the straw onto the bag.
4. Fill the bag with emery.
5. Fold over the end of the bag and secure with a piece of tape. Don't go nuts here, you'll need to open and close the bag to refill it from time to time.
I don't fill my entire pincushion with emery. I like the look of a softer filling, like polyester fiberfill. It makes them look plump and soft. But I do like to access that emery when my needles get dull. I have also heard that using emery all of the time may wear off the steel plating on some types of pins.
So I create a little emery pocket that sits inside the pincushion. It is almost as wide as the pincushion I'm making and about 1/2" thick. I then stuff the remaining cavity with polyester fiberfill so it is jammed packed and very plump.
When I'm finished filling my pincushion pocket, I just use a barrette to close off the tip of the bag. I like the barrette because it doesn't squash the straw and is easy to open and close with one hand.
So get some emery. Use it in your next pincushion!
Design Made Easy
I created a muslin blank! So easy and so effective. Wish I would have done it ages ago. Here is how it works.
You will need pins, a pattern, scissors, muslin, fiberfill and a sewing machine, (or sew by hand if you are so inclined).
Next, pin your pattern onto muslin and cut out.
Sew all of your seams together. Turn right side out and stuff.
Gather the top and bottom openings and sew closed.
Once finished, I draw my design directly onto the muslin using a water erasable marker. How easy!
When I am finished I simply use water to erase my embroidery design and let it dry.
No more ripping out designs that just don't work. I can start working confidently and creatively on my favorite pinsushoin.
The "Classic" Pincushion is one of my favorites.
The design is simply "classic".
They are so easy to embellish it and make the design yours.
You can create as many sections as you need.
They never tip over and are small enough to add to your travel bag.
You can use just about any fabric.
Because they take so little fabric, you can make use of your larger scraps.
They make ideal gifts!
Here are a few variations of the Classic...
Here are the materials you will need...
You will need a scissors, a compass or some type of circle template such as a cereal bowl or small plate.
You will need paper to create a pattern, sewing thread and a thick, strong thread for creating the sections. I use embroidery perle cotton size 5.
You will need a sharps needle and a needle with an eye big enough to accommodate your thicker thread. You will also need some fiberfill to stuff your cushion. You can also use emery to make a heavy cushion that sharpens your pins and needles. Last but not least, 2 buttons and fabric to create your pincushion. Some great choices are linen, wool, (I used recycled wool from blazers), felted wool, velvet, (to make a gift cushion) or any heavy cotton, such as cotton canvas or cotton duck. You can make the top and bottom coordinating or use one fabric for the top and bottom. Your choice.
Begin by creating your pattern. Your finished cushion will be about 30% smaller than your pattern. My pattern is 5 5/8 inches across and my finished pincushion is 3 1/2 inches across.
Lay your fabrics out, pin on the pattern and cut.
Before you put things together, I recommend that you stay stitch around the edges of your fabrics. I do this with all my pincushions to give them stability and to keep the edges from fraying. The stay stitches make great guides when you close up the opening later. Sew as close to the edges as you can.
Pin the front to the back, right sides together. You will need to leave about 2 inches open so you can turn the cushion right sides out. I like to mark the opening with 2 pins so I don't get carried away and sew it closed.
Turn your piece right sides out. Finger press the seams open. Then stuff.
Use a lot of small bits to stuff your cushion. Push the stuffing up against the inner seams. You want the stuffing to be very full but not too firm.
Sew the opening closed. To create a smooth seam use a classic whip stitch. Pick up just a few threads of fabric from each side and gently pull the seam closed. Repeat until your opening is closed. Create a small, inconspicuous knot and hide the end of your thread inside the pincushion.
TIP: If you find your hand sewed edges to be flat or uneven, try basting each edge over before stitching closed. I used a black, contrasting thread for this tutorial. First fold the edge over about 1/4". Be sure to follow the stay stitched line. This will give you a nice, rounded seam. It only takes a few minutes and you will find the time well spent when you see how perfect your seams come out. It only took me 30 years to figure out this simple fix.
Now its time to create the sections.
First, cut a long length of perle cotton. I like to audition the correct length of thread. Wrap the thread around your cushion 4-8 times (each full wrap is determined by how many sections you will be making). Add another 7 inches for sewing on the buttons and knotting. Once you have the right length, double it and cut. This gives you the perfect amount of thread every time.
Thread your cotton onto a large eye needle. Long, millinery needles work really well. You want your thread to be doubled. Knot the ends together.
Find the exact center of your pincushion on each side and mark with a pencil or pen.
If you are off center, your finished pincushion will have uneven sized sections, so take your time.
I like to use the compass or fold your pattern in half 2 times. The intersecting fold lines will give you a half-way point to use as a guide.
Sew a few stitches with your thread to create a firm anchor.
Create each section by bringing the thread up from the middle, around the outer edge and then inserting the needle back into the center. Give the thread a firm tug to create the pillow effect. It may be difficult to work the needle through the center. I use a small pliers to grab onto the needle. That sure saves me from an aching wrist later.
Repeat for each section. I created 6 sections for this pincushion. I have used 4 sections on the peach sherbert cashmere version and 8 sections for the linen pincushion with leather buttons.
Once you have your sections complete, tie off your thread. To keep the knots hidden, simply wrap your thread around one of the section threads once, then pull the wrap towards the center of the pincushion. Then poke the needle down through the center and back up again. Repeat. This will give your threads a nice tight hold so your sections will not come apart later. Don't cut the extra off just yet. You'll need the extra thread to sew your buttons on.
Now its time to decorate your pincushion with coordinating buttons. This a wonderful way to show off your vintage button collection. Actually, my button collection is nearly as ridiculous as my fabric stash! Yet, when designing a new pincushion, I can't resist a trip to the fabric or antique shop to find a new gem. Life is just too short to deny yourself a new button now and again.
I usually audition a few choices before deciding on the perfect button for each cushion.
Attaching the buttons onto your pincushion is a bit awkward. Just run the thread through the top button shank or holes and bring the thread to the back. Run your needle through the back button and bring the thread to the front. Repeat if you have enough thread or until all your button holes are filled.
Tie off your thread using the same method you used to tie off the sections.
Your pincushion is complete!
Now think of how you can create a "Classic" that speaks to your muse!
Make a few. You'll find them to be the perfect pincushion for all your projects!
The Fabulous Fringe Fabric Flower
This flower is so elegant and beautiful.
It has a rough around the edges elegance, which makes it so unique.
This project is for the fiber artist who has a nice little stash of beads and rhinestones, sewing notions and fabrics on hand.
This flower requires just a bit of problem solving, but hopefully, I've worked out most of the frustrations for you.
Materials Include: Scissors, pinking sheers (optional), needle, coordinating threads, glass beads (assortment), home dec fringe", scraps of fabric, (I used linen, netting and organza), bits of yarn. You will also need little bits of felt or felted wool in a contrasting and/or coordinating fabric. You may also want to add some disassembled silk flower petals.
1. Cut a length of fringe 3-4 inches long. 2. Begin by gathering the inner part of the fringe into a loop and sewing the ends together. 3. Take a scissors and chop at the outer edge of the fringe. This will make it a bit smaller and give the edge an irregular quality.
2. I used a pinking shears on the outer edges. Then I snipped petals into each circle and added a fringed edge to those petals.
3. I like to coordinate different fabrics by tea staining or by dipping them into a dish of pale, acrylic stained water. To manipulate fabric to give it qualities that coordinate with other materials in my project. (Shown in step 3 & 4). Dip linen into an acrylic stain. Then squish it, roll it, wrinkle it, flatten it and allow it to dry. I love how this abuse gives fabric a new life. (A tutorial on that process is coming soon)
Tip; I also took a brush loaded with the stain, added a bit of fabric stiffener and lightly brushed that solution onto the fringe trim. It gives it body and just a little stiffness. I didn't want the fringe to flop over when it was being worn. (not shown)
Next, I created the yarn accents. 1. Gather coordinating yarns. 2. Cut lengths of yarn at about 4" and 3. join them at the center.
Then, create the beaded center. Use one layer for flower shown at the top of this tutorial or add a layer of embroidery (pictured below).
1. Cut one or two circles of felt or felted wool. I use them in combination. Cut a circle the size of your desired center size. Cut only one circle and add 1/8 inch if you do not want to add embroidery. 2. Begin sewing the beads onto the felt circle. Place them very close together. You may need to purchase a beading needle for this step. Use the larger sized beads toward the middle and use small beads to fill in bare areas. I like to pour a nice selection into a small lid so I can see how they relate to each other. Be creative.
3. You may find that the felt no longer lays flat. Use that to your advantage! I gather the edges and begin turning them under using a coordinating thread. I then stuff the center with a little polyester fiberfill.
Join all of your layers together.
Center your layers together and stitch through all layers to join. Add a layer of netting as one of the last layers and add a small linen layer to finish the back of the pin. Originally, I planned on using a few layers of silk flower petals but found that they added too much bulk to my finished flower. Experiment with the layers. The transparency of the organza allows the yarn layers to show through in a soft subtle way. I also may trim the fringe further if I find it is too big or too heavy.
Use plenty of stitches and be sure to tack down the outside edges of your beaded center.
Add a pin back and you are finished!
I love these domed pin backs. They have a little tab that bends over into the bottom layer so I am sure it will stay put. I use hot glue as well so the pin back can be handled without falling off. The last layer of netting and linen is the difference between making a flower and creating a professional product. Things should look clean and polished on the front and back.
Don't have the time to make one of these beauties. Go to my Etsy shop. This and other fabulous fabric fringy flowers are available there!
Dye your fabrics and stretch your fabric stash to fit any project!
Manipulating fibers, fabrics, thread and yarn is like waving a magic wand. Abra cadabra! Your stash is quatrupeled
With a little paint , dye and perhaps alcohol ink or a stamp pad ink you can coordinate any fabric to be exactly what you need.
Now don't you wish you could do that with your honey?
Here is what you will need to start:
A variety of fabrics and fibers to manipulate
A spray fabric paint or diluted acrylic paint.
A disposable work surface. I use plastic plates.
Spray bottle filled with water.
Drying Surface (a layer of plastic is fine)
Iron to set colors (optional)
This project is for beginners or experienced fiber artists. I use a spray fabric paint called s.e.i. tumble dry. I picked it up at Hobby Lobby. I often use acrylic paints as well. If you use fabric dyes, be sure that they are compatible with the type of fiber you are coloring. Most any fabric or fiber can be manipulated. I often change the color of silk flower petals. The flower above was made from a number of yellow and white disassembled silk flowers. I added yellow to them all and a bit of pink here and there to create a pretty glow. The depth and tone of the final result may vary by fiber. I really love coloring yarns and embroidery cotton. I can create the perfect accent for my stitching projects. Its all good!
In this demonstration I am manipulating cotton batting in white and unbleached, mohair blend synthetic yarn, crochet cotton and silk flower petals
1. Lay your fibers out on a plastic plate. Don't worry about over loading it. Everything will get squished together eventually.
2. Spray everything with water. Soak some, and dampen others for different effects.
3. Spray your fabrics and fibers with the color of your choice. Don't worry about saturating each piece. Just give it a few squirts to start.
4. Spray again with water. This spreads the color and adds a mottled look to each piece of fabric.
5. Mash it all together so the color is covering most fibers. Gloves are essential, unless you also like your fingers and nails to be colorful!
6. Add more color to refresh the intensity or add a second color! Repeat the spraying, watering and squishing until you reach your desired colors. When adding new colors, try not to blend completely. Allow variations to happen. Be wary of allowing white to show around the edges. While they look great on your fabric piece, white can be distracting when you are actually cutting and sewing into your project.
7. Allow to dry. Colors will become lighter once dry.
Here are a number of colorways I created with this method.
I've included some of these fabrics in my new Needle Case Embroidery Journal Kit found in my Etsy shop.
Here are some fibers I dyed and the fabric flower I used them in. Beautiful and unique.
Its so worth it to add a part of you to the things you create.
Meet Petunia- My Softies Tutorial
Here's how to create your own, amazing Plush!
Petunia- My Little Plush Tutorial
Sketch out a pattern.
Be sure to add enough width and height to allow for dimension. I usually add 1/2 to 1 inch around the perimeter. You can also add your seam allowances, but I prefer to add them when I cut my pattern out.
Use colored pencil to audition your fabric choices if you like.
This particular pattern fit on a 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of scrap paper. For larger patterns I do my sketching on news or kraft paper.
If this is your first pattern and you want to see how it will work, create a muslin body from your pattern to work out any design changes you may need to make. Its worth the extra time to create a good, workable shape. It took me a few awkward monsters before I learned what shapes work and what shapes don't.
Once your pattern is complete, trace each individual piece onto another piece of paper. Add seam allowances to out edges. (See image above.)
Choose your fabrics.
Go through your stash and choose some interesting fabric combinations. The sky is the limit! Cottons with raw edges have a great organic feel.Knits can be soft and cuddly. I've used pleather, lame, decorator fabrics, silk, taffeta, etc... Each has it's own personality. Colors can also have a big impact on your final creation. Blues are soothing, red is passionate, pink is girly, black can be spooky...play! Most creatures take less than a fat quarter. The trims can come out of your scrap basket.
Cut your pattern pieces.
Once you have decided on your sketch and your fabric, its time to cut the pattern pieces from fabric. Cut the main piece first, then the face and other shapes. If you have one shape on top of another, you will need to create those in layers. Each layer needs it's own pattern piece.
Lay them onto your fabric, pin and cut.
Sew each piece onto the main body.
Place pieces onto fabric to audition. I often make changes at this point. I may add or subtract colors, add more layers or remove pieces that aren't working. Keep an open mind. Working with scraps allows you to be playful.
Pin pieces and sew all pieces to front and back. Be sure to choose the right side of the main fabric pieces. Sew each layer separately, then sew layers onto main pieces.
When sewing each piece on, I like to add a decorative effect. I simply sew around each shape at least 3 times. I use wavy and wobbly stitch lines. This step anchors each piece down completely. If you would like to turn edges under, that is up to you, but I like the frayed look of raw edges. You could also use fusable web to attach each piece before you sew them down. Its totally up to you.
Put it all together.
Pin front and back pieces together, right sides together. Sew. Be cure to leave a 2-3 inch opening to allow for turning right side out. When using fragile fabrics, I may stitch a second seam just inside the first seam.
Clip curves and trim.
Clip curves (especially inside curves on legs and then trim seams if desired. Take care not to clip into the seam. I like using a pinking shears to keep fraying down to a minimum.
Turn right side out and stuff.
Be sure to stuff small parts with little pieces of stuffing, and larger pieces with bigger pieces. This keeps your limbs and body firmly packed without lumps or gaps. If your limbs are small, use a long nose pliers, tweezers or hemistat to get enough stuffing into each part. I use polyester fiberfill, but you can use any type of stuffing you have on hand.
Squish each part to be sure you are not leaving any gaps. Take care to add enough stuffing, especially around the joints and the head.
Sometimes I may add some dried beans to the bottom parts to weigh them down. This is optional. Note: if you want your plush to be washable, only use washable filling.
Whip stitch opening closed with matching thread. Use tiny stitches. Catch just a few threads from one side. Cross to the other side and pick up a few threads and pull tightly closed.
Now for the fun part!
Choose buttons and for eyes. Try out other trims. Experiment with a few different looks out before you choose the idea combination. This is where a great stash of buttons and trim pay off. Once you have decided on a final design, stitch your buttons and trims on. If you are making plush for children, especially those under the age of 3, it is better to use safety eyes or to embroider the eyes and other decorative touches. That way they won't come off and become a choking hazard. Safety first!
Add a few final touches.
I added the trim using embroidery thread. I added some decorative stitches as well.
Give your plush a name and you are finished!
Check out my Etsy Shop Fiberluscious and see my other plush characters!
Muriel Liwet Plush Angel