Monday, January 06, 2014

Christmas Catch-Up: Simple Needle Book tutorial

Simple Needle Books
Shhh, don’t tell the Mother! I made a version of this for her for Christmas, but shipping and travel plans got miscoordinated and she hasn’t got it yet. It’s just a quicky project I threw in with some other stuff for her, so the surprise shouldn’t be totally ruined.

Simple Needle Books
It’s not a fussy project—just a little something functional that can be prettied up as much as you like by choosing fun fabrics or embellishments. A sewist can never have enough pincushions, and spare needle cases don’t seem amiss to me either—inevitably I end up sticking needles in one of said pincushions and then losing them inside, so the more proper places for needles the better! (There’s a pocket for needle packets inside, so you can also keep fresh needles separate from their gently used brethren.)

Simple Needle Book

Finished Size

2½" × 4" (folded closed)


This project is great for scraps of fabrics and interfacing—I don’t know exactly what interfacings I used, ’cause I pulled bits from the scrap bin. You just want a combo of fabric and interfacing that’s slightly stiffer than floppy quilting cotton alone.


  1. Fuse the medium-weight interfacing centered on the wrong side of the exterior fabric, following manufacturer’s instructions. Fuse the lightweight interfacing centered on the wrong side of the interior fabric.

    interfaced fabrics

  2. Fold the interior piece right sides together 5¼" from the right-hand short end.

    first fold to 5¼" wide
    Then fold the upper section back to form the pocket so the folded piece measures 4½" × 5½". Press to hold the folds.

    fold pocket back on itself

  3. With right sides up, place the felt on the unfolded section of the interior piece about ½" from the raw edges. Stitch the felt to the interior along the felt’s top edge; you can use a decorative stitch like I did here, but a straight stitch will work too—just be sure to secure the ends. I also trimmed the bottom edge of the felt with a scalloped rotary blade.

    felt needle pad attached with decorative stitch

  4. If desired, embellish the exterior. The interfacing is a handy stabilizer for decorative stitching—see my stitch guide for the combination of built-in stitches I used on the linen needle book shown at the top of the post.

  5. Put the interior and exterior pieces right sides together, making sure the pocket is still folded so all raw edges match. Sew around the perimeter with a ¼" seam allowance, leaving a gap for turning on the bottom edge, avoiding the pocket section.

    opening left in bottom edge to side of pocket

  6. Clip the corners and turn the needle case right side out through the opening. (If you’re paying attention, you’ll see that I wasn’t…)

    oops, I left my opening at the top rather than the big deal
    Push out the corners gently and press flat, folding in the seam allowances at the opening.

    edges pressed

  7. With the needle case open (i.e., unfolded), topstitch along all outer edges, closing the gap in the bottom.

    topstitching keeps edges nice and flat

  8. Fold the needle case in half and press to set the crease in the center.

    finished needle book, closed

    finished needle book, open
That’s it! Stay tuned for a tute on ribbon appliqué, which I used on another of these needle books as well as kitchen towels.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Alligator giveaway winners

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for the Penguin & Fish Alligator pattern and Clothworks fabric! I’ve just drawn the numbers for the winners….image

For the blog giveaway (no. 1, the Mother, wasn’t included ’cause her alligator recipient would be the same as mine), comment no. 5 belongs to KatieQ of Katie’s Salt Marsh Path!


I randomly assigned numbers to the Facebook likes and comments (one per person), and person no. 4 is Deborah Soares!

The winners have been notified—if either of you somehow didn’t get the e-mail, make sure to get in touch so I know where to ship to.

Thanks again to everyone who entered—it was lovely to hear from some old friends as well as new ones!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Christmas Catch-Up: Pork Cuts free applique pattern

I don’t generally consider the slaughter of a pig cause for celebration, but apparently parts of Germany do. The Other and I were introduced to the idea of Schlachtfest several years ago through an East German children’s game of the same name (or rather, the similar “Schlacterfest”), in which players compete to assemble various cuts of pig into a full swine. (Though in true communist fashion, players eventually learn that to win the game, they have to cooperate rather than competing like capitalists.)

Schlachtfest apron
The Other is also the main cook in our household, and frequently comments that he’s never sure what defines particular cuts of meat. So what better Christmas gift than an apron with a pig appliqué handily labeled with pork cuts? OK, maybe it’s not so handy, but it’s gruesomely amusing. To our twisted senses of humor, at least.

pork cuts appliqué
I used a store-bought apron as the base to save sewing time. The pig and Schlachtfest label were stuck on with fusible web (my favorite is HeatnBond Lite). To avoid having to use a separate stabilizer, I sewed the detail lines on the pig and the letters and numbers before peeling off the backing paper of the fusible, gently tearing it away from the stitches. A zigzag round the outer edge, and the sow’s ready for the kitchen.

Download my free Pork Cuts appliqué pattern (in PDF or as an EQ7 project file) if you want to embellish your own apron—or whatever else! Of course, you could just use the pig shape without the cut lines if you’re not feeling so morbid.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Christmas Catch-Up: Giveaway!

The problem with craft blogging during the holidays is that if we want to show our handmade presents, we run the risk of giving away the surprise—at least, that’s what I tell myself when I’m sewing up to the Christmas deadline and don’t have a chance to post.
So this year, I thought I’d turn the first week of the New Year into belated gift-giving for you, my dear readers, based on what I made for my family. Later in the week I’ll post some tutorials and patterns, but I thought I’d kick things off with a giveaway!
an alligator plush for my nephew
Middle Brother has a peculiar terror of alligators, so naturally an alligator stuffed toy was in order for his son. Alligators somehow came up at Spring Quilt Market when I was talking with a rep from Clothworks, who was kind enough to send me this pattern by Penguin & Fish as well as fabric from the A Closer Look line—perfect for scaly gator flesh. The pattern was put together very well, which I always admire as both a pattern designer and technical editor.
beware alligators on mantles
No, I’m not giving away the plush I just made for my nephew—that’d just be cruel. Susie from Clothworks actually sent me three copies of the pattern, so I’m giving one away here and one on my Facebook page, each along with fabric for the main pieces.
alligator pattern and fabric for blog giveaway
Just leave a comment here between now and the end of Saturday (1/4/2014, 11:59 pm Pacific time) to enter. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Sunday. You can also enter the giveaway (with a slightly different set of fabrics) on Facebook by commenting or liking the post there; the winner there will also be random, but I’ll make sure the same person doesn’t win both. Good luck! The giveaway has ended and winners have been posted. Thanks for entering!