Travel Craft Case

Beginning a monthly (or perhaps twice-monthly) craft night at the Sew-op gave me the urge to sew up a travel craft case that was more of a hussif than a bag. This was the spur for making my host of little felt patches, since I wanted one instead of a cushion for needles and pins. After I finally set out to work on it, it didn’t take too long to get this:

photo of craft case interior laid flat

I chose the felt for it based on liking the color contrast and shape of the patch. After that, by coincidence, I found I had both bright green buttons (from my late grandmother’s stash) and bright green elastics (the cut off ends of no-tie shoelaces). The denim is the last remains of my wedding jeans, including the coin pocket.

photo of craft case rolled up It is messy and where the elastic ends are stitched down there are wads of top thread on the wrong side, but it works for me. The main body is three 6″ x 9″ pieces zigzagged individually, butted end to end and joined by zigzag, and then zigzagged around collectively in a sort of double figure 8. Everything else is stitched flat on top of that. The inside button that doesn’t hold the felt is mostly there for decoration; I don’t know that it accomplishes anything in terms of holding in the scissors. I may find a use for it later. The elastic that holds it all shut has two knots so it can be strapped around the roll at multiple sizes – tuck four full-size spools of thread into the innermost end and you’ll need a longer strap than with a few embroidery floss bobbins.

I always seem to have more than enough crochet to fill the evenings my husband and I spend hanging out and doing nothing, so with some exceptions embroidery and hand-sewing get postponed indefinitely. I’m hoping craft nights will help me get through more of my handwork.

Weavers: Relaxation, Invitation, Ornamentation

I’m in an art exhibit for the first time ever! [This is more a function of me getting in gear than anything else, but it’s exciting nonetheless.] A set of three mixed-media fiber art pieces, with sewing, embroidery, weaving, and gluing.

"relaxation" art embroidery "invitation" art embroidery "ornamentation" art embroidery

From left to right, these are Relaxation, Invitation, Ornamentation. Click to embiggen; the next larger size would have made them taller than my browser window, and I find that super annoying on other sites.

My hubby took some fantastic closeups of them that I’ll share two of:

"relaxation" embroidery detail "ornamentation" embroidery detail

These will be on display at the Upper Valley Food Co-op in White River Junction, VT, as part of their Earth Day art show. I believe they are up for three weeks starting today, and there’s a reception 4-6 PM today.

A bit on the making: The hoops are 12″, 10″, and 8″ wooden embroidery hoops painted with acrylics; two are over 12″ scrapbook paper. Each has a two-layer fabric “frame” perhaps with other fabric elements and a hanging ribbon that originated on a candy package. The webs are nylon filament sold for beading and the dewdrops are Mod Podge Dimensional Magic, a material I’d been looking for an excuse to buy and try.

The smaller spider is thread and wire (and a loop of filament leading to the hanging thread), held in place with friction and Fray-Check. The bigger one is wire and beads made rigid partially via Jewel-It embellishment glue. The wire lettering is also held in place by Jewel-It. I used steam (was going to say an iron, but that implies touching) to “block” the nylon, which shrinks it a bit but also helps it take the shape it’s pinned to when heated. That was especially important for the hanging spider, who doesn’t weigh enough to straighten the nylon itself!

Easy Circle Patterns

I generally find it (relatively) easy to construct patterns for sewing that are rectangular, trapezoidal, triangular, etc – anything consisting of not too many straight sides. For the longest time circular patterns (that couldn’t be traced from lids or bowls) were labor-intensive, though. Knowing that a circle is defined as the set of points equidistant from a given point (that is, a radius away from the circle’s center), I could use a ruler, draw an X to mark the center, and make a bunch of marks all the way around that I would then connect by hand to make as smooth a circle as I could.

However. There is a far easier way if you own a paper trimmer. Start with a sheet of paper (or taped-together sheets of paper) big enough to accommodate your circle, and fold into quarters. The picture below is a sheet of letter paper from which I will cut a circle 8″ across.

photo of paper folded in quarters lying on guillotine-style paper trimmer photo of folded paper about to be trimmed to 4" along edge

The second picture above shows the first cut. The corner where the two folds meet will be the center of the circle; I’ve placed it 4″ from the blade to cut my paper down into a 4″ square. After that I’ll start cutting off corners that show up between the two folded edges, as shown below.

photo of folded paper square about to be trimmed to 4" down center photo of eventual paper circle after six cuts at different angles

The second picture above is after six cuts, and it’s already looking pretty good. I didn’t keep count but I would estimate it took 20 or so cuts to make the finished circle, shown folded and unfolded below. Larger circles take more cuts.

photo of quartered paper circle after maybe 20 cuts - finished photo of unfolded paper circle - finished

You could obsess over the smoothness of your circle and even take scissors to it after the paper trimmer has reached its limit, but the one shown is plenty smooth for the purpose of a sewing pattern – the roundness of my seam would not be improved by additional trimming.

Limitations: with my paper trimmer I could make circles 1.5″ across (the metal strip is 3/4″ wide) or anything 2″ across or bigger (the markings start at 1″), but it’s not so easy until about 3″ across. However, for smaller circles there’s usually something I can trace, or at worst, the ruler method doesn’t take as long. Though circles up to 23″ across are possible, the early stages of large circles are difficult because your paper will likely be wider than the opening for the blade. I recommend folding your paper a third time, into a not-quite-triangle. That extra fold can lead to inaccurate cutting, so trim away excess paper as though you were making a slightly larger circle. Three cuts (two sides and the center) should be plenty to remove the paper that’s in your way, so you can unfold to quarters and proceed with the circle making.