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.



Fanciful Utility Bird Ornament

_20171128_060800This year’s ornament is this pretty white wool bird made with Fanciful Utility techniques.

I have a good bit of extra white wool cuttings left from doing winter hoods. I thought this would make nice birds, being that I find birds to be pretty and natural in trees. Go figure.

The first two I made using the wool as is with a layer of natural cotton batting. While pretty, I found the wool to be difficult to work with as it wanted to fray easily.

So, into the washer and dryer went the next. The fulled wool is soft, fluffy, and much easier to work with. I opted not to use the layer of batting on the following birds because the wool was much thicker.


Here are the directions and template for this year’s ornament:



Gift Card Holder (Blog Cross-over)

Make a new template, a sample with Christmas fabrics and take photos.

One of the thing I love about the techniques I shared in Fanciful Utility is that they can be used for so many projects. This time of year, FanU is great for fun, festive projects. For the next few weeks, I am going to share some of the ways FanU gets Festive.

IMG_7794A basic, single pocket work pocket makes an excellent gift card holder. These are also a great way to gift a museum or site membership.

Make a simple pocket up with holiday fabrics or your giftee’s favorite colors to be reused throughout the year.

Here is a simple set of directions for making your own:

Gift Card Holder Template

Need a copy of Fanciful Utility ? for yourself or to give as a gift? Visit www.thesewingacademy.com to order today.