12.28.2013

Quilted sewing kits | Hand-made Christmas

This was one of my sewing projects this past fall, but since they were destined for Christmas gifts, I couldn't post anything about them until now.

The concept: a small book to hold needles and embroidery scissors, to tuck inside a larger sewing tote for quilting classes, or to take along with a project on a weekend trip to the lake. I'd make several of them: for my mending basket (sharps), for my quilting tote (betweens), for hand work (embroidery, crewel). Each would have a place for a needle packet, small scissors, and a needle threader.

The design: This is a pretty simple thing to make. Just choose an outside fabric, a contrasting lining, and a third fabric for the pocket. Then figure out what size you want the case to be, and add a seam allowance. I wanted the finished book to be tall enough to hold my embroidery scissors, so used those to measure the fabric pieces.

The fabrics: This is the perfect project to use up fabric scraps, which were over-flowing their small drawers, and learn how to do foundation piecing at the same time. I played with a lot of ideas for color, starting with my favorite pink & green. Then I made one that paired yellow and lavender, opposites on the color wheel. Then bright red, then all shades of blue. One of my favorites is from yellow reproduction prints, all yellow, bright and easy to find in the pocket of a tote bag.

The design details:
Each needle book has a pocket band on the inside to tuck in a needle packet, a seam ripper, a little ziplok bag of buttons, and maybe even a Guterman-style spool of thread.

A folded piece of felt in the middle holds needles and pins, and there's a felt sleeve to hold a needle threader.


I added a length of ribbon sewn in with a button to tie around the handle of scissors (I also made scissor protectors from clear plastic). Just tuck the scissors into the pocket, and tie in place with the ribbons.


To hold the book closed, I chose to use a long piece of embroidery floss wrapped around the book a couple of times, then wrapped around a button, finished with a few beads. Like the fabric, it was a great way to use up some favorite lone buttons. I love to stack buttons for some extra color.


The first sample was my first attempt at foundation piecing, and I immediately learned that this is harder than it looks! But I persevered, and found a really good online tutorial for how to start (which seems to be the key). So my first one ended up being strips of fabrics, each one top stitched., with the edges bound with a favorite narrow striped fabric. All the other books were made by stitching lining and covers, turning them right side out and pressing them, then topstitching about 1/8-in. from the edge. In all, I made three different sizes, depending on the size of scissors I bought to include with them.

The books are perfect for some hand embroidery embellishments. I kept it simple, just a running stitch to attach the felt pieces, with a different color threaded through, and a line of stitching along the top of the folded pocket pieces, which helped to stiffen up the top edge.

These little sewing cases are quick to made, and a lot of fun. You don't have to foundation piece the cover; you could add just a pieced strip, or just use a solid piece of fabric. If you do choose to piece the cover, it's a great way to use up even very small scraps.

I don't have a tutorial, because it was so easy to design a sewing kit that was perfect for me. But I do hope to write up a tutorial for foundation piecing for those who struggled with it like I did.

If you have questions, I'd be happy to help. There are some tips and tricks I learned through experience that I'd be happy to share with you.

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