Hi everyone! As promised, this week I’m going to take a closer look at how I made some different parts of the Embroidered Notions Case I showed you last week. I made the notions case from cotton and polycotton, which was hand sewn together, with an 8 inch zip which was also placed by hand. The physical appearance of the case is based on a pencil case that I found in Lisa Lam’s Bag Making Bible (which I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in making handbags!). The rest of this post will focus on a few of the embellishments I added to give the case personality, so let’s begin!
The Lacy Butterfly
I thought the back of the case might look a little plain in comparison to the front, so I decided to have a go at making some lace. The technique I used is called needle lace, which I made by following this excellent tutorial on the site How Did You Make This? The basic technique is to glue a few sheets of paper together, punch holes using a needle to outline the design, then attach the outline which is made of all six strands of normal embroidery floss, held onto the paper by contrasting sewing thread. The design is then filled in with buttonhole stitches of various sizes worked in one strand of floss, before being secured to the outline. The resulting lace is remarkable strong, although I must admit that cutting the lace away from the paper was a tense moment! I didn’t manage to pull all of the tacking thread out, which is why there are little red tufts on the final piece, but I’m hoping these will fall off in time!
The Small Beads and The Heart Button
I knew from the start that this design should have bead embroidery. I was lucky to find these gorgeous dark rainbow seed beads in my local haberdashers, which I’m guessing are size 1. To attach them, I consulted The Beader’s Bible, by Dorothy Wood and settled on the back stitch technique. Briefly, this involves threading five beads on the needle, then placing them flat on the work, before pushing the needle through the fabric, then coming up between the second and third beads and sewing through them again. I had to buy bead embroidery needles for this as my existing needles were too big, but my goodness that needle was hard to thread! The button is one I happened across in the same shop and it’s secured with perle cotton. It’s a little big for the piece, but I loved it so decided to use it anyway!
The Larger Beads and the Tape Measure
I attached the larger beads, which represent needle toppers, using the same technique as the small beads. I’m not overly happy with the way they sit on the piece, but from afar they give the right impression. The tape measure was made by cutting a length of grosgrain ribbon, then sewing on lines to represent the measures using a single strand of embroidery floss and a quilting between. I was going to add numbers, but was having a hard time getting the ribbon to behave itself as I had to sew in the hand, so I decided to leave it. The top edge of the ribbon has also been folded over to imply a rolled up tape spilling over the basket. I wasn’t at all sure about it once I had finished the measuring marks, but on the finished piece it looks fine1
When I’m making a piece of embroidery, I always try to add little details. I think of it as a “Where’s Wally” type adventure! My plan is that every time the recipient looks at the piece, they’ll find something else that they didn’t know was there. This is one of those details, where I added the word “Yarn” to the ball band of this tiny ball. It may not look like much blown up like this, but the letters in that word are only 1mm high. I worked on this using a single strand of floss, a between and a lot of bad language!
The Stitch Markers
Last, but not least, we have these cute stitch markers! I found these wooden ladybird beads in my local bead shop and right next to them were the brightly coloured round beads. It was destiny! I’m not sure what the round beads are made of, but they’re cold to the touch so I’m guessing maybe glass or stone. The construction is pretty simple, I just placed a wooden bead followed by a round bead onto an eye pin, bent the eye pin to just over 90 degrees using a pair of flat nose pliers and a pair of round nose pliers, added a 10mm jump ring then trimmed the eye pin before finishing the bend to 180 degrees. It does take a little practise to get the bend so it meets the top of the bead, but eye pins are cheap so just keep trying!
The Notions Case: In Conclusion…
I hope I’ve managed to show that there is nothing especially clever about how I created the notions case. The hardest part was the needle lace, which just needed a little practise to get the technique right. I claim no special knowledge, I just decided what I wanted, then looked up how that could be done. I think that, if you are willing to be patient and persistent, anything you can image can become a reality, maybe a slightly modified form. Go get ’em!