February (Mini) Project

This mini-project is all about timing. I saw this antique pin cushion ball the same day Clara started tummy issues. So, this sewing ball became a cat toy for sick Clara.

I love the looks of the original. I estimate it is a late nineteenth to early twentieth century creation. It captivated my thoughts, wondering how the maker got such beautiful lines and smooth ball.

To get the nice smoothness, I suspect there is a lining layer under the silk, something much firmer than the silk itself. This is what is making the silk smooth. I would like to see if the two silk pieces are sewn together from the inside with a running stitch or a whip stitch on a folded edge, or on the outside using a small herringbone stitch.

Here is how I made Clara’s ball:

The pieces are basically a pair of circles connected like a dog bone. This tutorial helped with the patterning. (You may be asking why I didn’t just make one from the felt. Well, that would be too easy.)


I wanted a fuller body than what the silk can provide. So, I decided to make a felt base. I  cut two felt bases without a seam allowance and two silk pieces with a seam allowance.


I basted the silk over the felt, sorta like paper piecing. What I learned here is while this is okay for a cat toy, this does not give a sleek line like the original. The lining needs to be much thinner, firmer, and smoother. The edges also need to be pressed. There was no pressing in this quick project mode. IMG_20180213_192523

I found it a huge help to start by tacking each circle center to each “bone” center. This made sewing much easier.  This is the stage where I stuffed the inside with batting and catnip. It needed to be stuffed firm enough to have the batting pushing the edges out. _20180214_054942

For Clara’s ball, I found the herringbone stitch was essential. Drawing the thread between the pieces kept the pieces from overlapping each other. _20180214_054922

After the whole thing was sewn together, the basteing stitches came out. Knowing how Clara can play, this does not get decorative stitches.

The ball is not only Clara approved, it is sick Clara approved. For a while we rolled it back and forth on the floor while she laid stretched out.



Fallen Snow on a Starry Night

or, Starry Night over Fallen Snow. 

I am so excited to share with you my three year spanning project. Finally! 

Fallen Snow on a Starry Night uses early nineteenth century sewn rug techniques with a play on Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. 

Each area of the rug is created with folded strips or gathered “chenille” wool, sewn to a linen base. This rug has three whites, six blues, and two greens. To my delight after finishing it, I found the rug changes in different light. 

Here are some of the progress photos. 

Btw, this project is Clara approved. 

Rescue Cat Warmers

imageI follow one of our local cat rescues, Keller’s Kats,  on FB. Last winter, they rescued so many cats and kittens who were nearly frozen. They did a fabulous job bringing each baby back to health.

I thought it would be nice, and hopefully helpful, to have kitty warmers; a way of gently bringing the cats’ body temperatures back up to where they need to be. After some pondering over my favorite rice bags, I came up with a pillow bed that heated rice bags could go inside.

I did two different versions. The darker green one with the raw edges hidden that took 2 machine seams and 3 hand seams. The lighter green is a quicker, mostly machine, method that has the raw edges tucked inside the pocket where the rice goes.

Each heatable pillow bed is made of a width of 100% cotton fabric cut 10″ to 14″ wide. I do want to make some slightly larger ones too.

For the quicker method, with the right side down, fold the ends in lengthwise.


The selvages need to overlap. (I leave the selvages on.)


Fold the folded ends back so the selvage ends are on the outside.


This creates an M in the fabric, with layers that look like this:

imageI sewed along the raw edges with a straight stitch and zig-zagged the raw edges. This created  two pockets on each side. Each pocket was filled with batting. I played with the fullness trying to get the right loft I thought would be good for a cat that didn’t feel well.

Then, I closed the opening with a whip stitch. (this is where that selvage edge is neater.)

For the darker green ones, that I actually did first, I folded the long ends in right sides together. I machine stitched along the sides. Then turned them right side out for the pockets. Like above, I filled the pockets and whip stitched along the opening.

imageThis pillow bed was then folded in half. I whip stitched along the sewn sides to make the pillow. I did do a button-less button stitch in the middle to give the kitty a comfier place to sleep. I’ll see if this helps.

imageRobo Kitty shows how a cat can sit on top. You can see the pocket where the rice bags slide inside. I suppose, you could fit a cat inside in case of an emergency as well.


The pillow beds are washable. This was a must so they could be cleaned and used. I debated about the batting. At first, I was thinking wool, my go-to. Quilt batting wool would give the advantage of being able to be sewn into the pillow bed all at once. (poly quilt batting could too. But, I didn’t have any.) Then I realized wool could have two issues – fleas might like it and it could lump during multiple washings.

Rice Bags
The rice bags are not washable. These are simply rice in a muslin bag. Each one is 4″x4″ or 4″x5″. The fabric and thread must be 100% cotton. I filled them so they would lay flat inside the pillow bed. Each has shy of a half pound of rice.
They are microwaved for a minute or two for use.

I’ll share any feedback I get from the rescue about how they work or could be better.