Retro Pincushion Tutorial

 

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Sometimes you just need a cute little project to revive your spirit after hours of soul-crushing prototyping on another project, one that seemed so innocent and simple at the

time. Anyways maybe that’s just me. This little boxy pincushion, made from scraps of quilting cotton, took me about 30 minutes to make, and makes me happy every time I see it next to the sewing machine. It’s retro-ey in both spirit and fabric (the floral is a 1930s reproduction feedsack print) and something you’ll actually use. Try it as a beginner sewing project– the corners and button offer just enough complexity, and the quick nature of the project means almost instant gratification. Little girls might find it the perfect size for a doll chair cushion or pillow.

I just managed to write over 100 words about a pincushion. I have no idea what that says about me as a person.

Materials

-Two 5″ by 5″ squares cotton fabric

-One 20″ by 2″ strip cotton fabric

-Thread to match

-Small amount polyester fiberfill

-2 buttons, any size really, though tiny ones may be more difficult to sew on

3/8″ seam allowance

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1. With one square right side up and the band upside down, line up top edges together and pin. Sew along the top edge, corner to corner.

2. To turn the corner, fold the fabric up against the edge you just sewed. Pin the top edges of the next side together. Sew carefully around the corner, trying not to stitch any folds.

3. Repeat on the next 2 sides. Be sure to leave the one vertical corner with the binding edges open.

4. Pin the second square to the top binding edge and sew, carefully easing around corners.

5. Repeat on the other 3 sides.

6. Turn the whole thing inside-out through corner opening.

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7 & 8. Stuff cushion with polyester fiberfill. Use the eraser end of a pencil to get it in the corners (the gap is rather small.) Stuff firmly as you can.

9. Use a hand sewing needle and thread to stitch up the corner gap. Turn raw edges inside and use mattress stitch for the cleanest finish.

10, 11. Use a ruler to find the center of both the top and bottom of the pincushion; draw a dot with a pencil or fabric pen. Place one button on the bottom and one on the top; sew through both together. Tie thread firmly around both buttons to draw cushion in.Continue to sew on buttons together, pulling tightly through each round (the buttons equalize each other’s pressure and allow for a nice snug center.) Tie off and clip thread.

12. The finished cushion!

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“Bigger on the Inside” Zip Pouch Tutorial

DSCN2790So maybe the title isn’t perfectly accurate and I pushed it a little to get a Doctor Who reference. This tote is the same dimensions on the inside as the outside. Sue me. BUT it there is something about this tote that separates it from the last zip pouch tutorial I posted that could be argued as making it “bigger on the inside.” DSCN2787 The little pulley tab on the side allows the bag to open to 100% capacity. Most zippers lose space where the pull stops, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you try to fit an essential in but it just barely won’t fit. The squared off corners allow the bag to sit up, sealing the deal to make this the most useful little project. A gift for my Whovian cousin’s 16th birthday, I filled it with EOS products, nail polish, St. Ives scrub, Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Spray, and other little goodies just in case you’re looking for gift ideas. The fabric I found at JoAnn’s, a single bolt I grabbed like a greedy kid in a candy store. If you can’t find any in your local store, Spoonflower.com boasts a huge selection of nerdy prints (including BBC Sherlock, which I lust over until the day I can afford $17 per yard for basic cotton print.) The polka dot lining lends a girly touch. If you really wanted to be an overachiever, a reversible zipper would make the bag totally reversible and maximize your print fabric enjoyment. This bag is really just like my Simple Zip Pouch, with a few variations, mostly being the zipper tab and the squared-off base. It’s a little bigger, at 10″ by 11″, better for storing more stuff. I should have used a shorter zipper (the overhang is only supposed to be about 1″.) Just in case you were wondering, Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor. Materials -2 rectangles outer fabric, 11″ by 10″ -2 rectangles lining fabric, 11″ by 10″ -1 12″ zipper step1drwhozip 1. Lay 1 outer fabric face up on the table (note: if it’s a directional print like mine, make sure the print is oriented in the right direction before sewing.) Lay zipper face down on top of it, aligning top edges. Lay 1 lining fabric face down on top of the outer/zipper pile, aligning top edge, and stitch, but for the last 1″ or so, push the zipper out of the way so you’re only sewing on fabric. 2. fold fabric over and use iron to press. Note how the zipper is unattached to the last 1″ of fabric, but the fabrics are sewed to each other. 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 on other side of zipper. 4. Unzip zipper halfway. Fold lining half together and outer halves together as shown with zipper in the middle. 5. Push zipper tail inside the outer layer and pin to hold it out of the way. The goal is to not sew on the zipper at all on one side of the bag. 6. Sew all the way around the bag, leaving a 3″ gap in the middle bottom of the lining. Press seams open as best you can; it will make the next step much easier. step2drwho 7. Take one corner of outer fabric layer. Pull the sides apart and form a triangle, side seam and bottom seam aligned on top of each other. Lay it flat on the table. Use a ruler and fabric pencil to mark off 3.5″ across corner. 8. Sew straight along the drawn line. 9. Use fabric scissors and trim off corner, leaving about 3/8″ for seam allowance. 10. Repeat process on other outer corner and on both lining corners. Press corner seams open as best you can so they will stack neatly when bag is done. 11. Turn bag inside-out through lining gap. 12. Use hand stitches to close gap in lining. step3drwhotabPull Tab 1. Cut a 2″ by 3″ rectangle of fabric. Have fun centering the print (I wanted to ensure the “Police Box” part was right on top.) 2. Fold tab in 1/2″ on each long side and use hot iron to press in place. Turn each end on short side under 1/2″ and press. 3. Fold entire piece in half, wrong sides together, and press. 4. Place folded tab onto the zipper end that’s hanging off the bag (opposite the pulley), sandwiching the zipper end in between the fold. Sew all the way around. DSCN2781 Optional steps: photograph in front of chalkboard 2 minutes before class starts. Make sure nail polish is chipped before photographing hands-on steps. Apologize to your readers for posting 2 zip pouch tutorials in a row. Even though you’re not sorry because it’s so dang cute.    

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Simple Zip Pouch Tutorial

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Somewhere between sewing fancy dresses and quilts, small, compact and practical projects became my favorite things to sew. Little pouches and bags have seemingly endless uses, but mostly they’re (almost) instant gratification made  up in pretty printed cottons. The fabric is inexpensive, any size is possible, and did I mention the fabric is fun to pick out? you get to pick TWO prints (as this bag is lined) or a print and a solid, or two solids, whatever you want. I was feeling inspired by Downton Abbey when I picked these two fabrics from my local quilt shop. I loved the charming, old-fashioned floral against the intricate mint damask.

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This variation on a basic lined pouch is the simplest of all, just a rectangle with a zipper. I’m not going to lie– the technique I used here is a bit tricky to get the hang of, but once you do it’s the only way to conveniently create a lined zip-up bag. Just keep calm and follow each step–I promise once you “get” how it goes together, you’ll never want to use any other method. Make one for yourself, make one for a friend and fill with little gifts for a sweet present.

I apologize for the rapidly lower-and-lower quality photos– sun was going down, folks!

Note on sizing: I wanted a roughly 7″ by 6″ bag, but you can make any size you wish; just be sure your width is always 1″ longer than your zipper (for example, buy a 10″ zipper and cut 11″ wide rectangles out of fabric.)

Materials

-2 rectangles 8″ by 7″ outside fabric

-2 rectangles 8″ by 7″ lining fabric

-1 coordinating colored 7″ zipper

Seam allowance: roughly 3/8″, though 1/2″ could be used to no great harm

step1

1. Lie one rectangle of outside fabric face up on table; lay zipper upside down on top of it, aligning zipper’s upper edge with top edge of fabric.

2. Lay one rectangle of lining fabric face down on top of outside fabric, aligning top edge of lining fabric with the top edge of the zipper. You now have 3 layers, outside fabric/zipper/lining fabric, all 3 aligned at the top. Pin and sew along the top edge, using a zipper foot and unzipping the zipper if needed to avoid the pull disorienting the seam.

3. Unfold fabric; you now have an outside piece and a lining piece wrong sides together (shown here unfolded just so you can see the orientation) and zipper sandwiched in the middle on one side. Use an iron to press right up against the zipper’s edge, pressing the two halves together to make a nice flat seam.

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4. Repeat step 3 on the opposite side of the zipper. After this step, you’ll have 2 layers of fabric on each half of the zipper.

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5. Unfold both halves and orient as so: outside layer to outside layer, lining layer to lining layer, right sides together and zipper in the center. Use your fingers to push zipper so the pull is between the outside layers; pinch the lining layers below it together and pin along the length of the zipper to keep that pull in between the outside layers. Unzip the zipper halfway.

6. Sew around the entire perimeter of the piece, leaving a 3″ gap in the middle of the bottom of the lining, and making sure zipper is pinched between the outside layers as you sew over it. NOTE: I left my gap in the corner of the piece, which is ok, but leaving a gap the center is much easier I’ve since discovered.

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7. Turn the piece inside-out through the gap and halfway undone zipper (if you didn’t unzip it, like I didn’t the first time I made this project, may the odds ever be in your favor.)

8. Use a hand sewing needle and thread to stitch up the gap, turning the edges in and making tiny mattress stitches. Tuck the lining back inside and press the whole thing. Fill with stuff and never lose another lip balm again. Who am I kidding? it’s a zip pouch, not a miracle worker.

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