We needed an easy, creative activity today. We had snow, but not enough to entertain anyone more than 5 minutes outside. Just finger nipping cold, nose chilling wet. I don’t wish to sound greedy, but can someone send us enough to make a snowman next time, please?
After a very short time, everyone retreated inside. Queue activity to head off the requests for screen time.
I love making patchwork bookmarks. It uses up teeny, tiny scraps of fabric, which I cannot bring myself to throw away. Also, there is no right or wrong with it. Perfect as a beginner project or one for children to do, or, to be honest, anyone who likes making fun, pretty things. So long as the scraps overlap each other and more than cover the piece of felt, practically anything goes. I like to quilt as I go and this is a brilliant way to practise the technique.
This is how we do it.
a bundle of little scraps of fabric
a strip of felt, cut 20cm x 5cm (8″ x 2″) approx
a piece of fabric 21cm x 6cm (8.5″ x 2.5″ ) for the back
small piece of ribbon
sewing equipment (scissors, sewing machine, pins, knitting needle, tape measure or ruler)
Each scrap of fabric needs to have straight edges to keep this project on the easy side. They also need to be at least 1cm wider then the narrow width of the felt piece.
Step 1: Arrange pieces of scrap fabric on top of the felt strip, making sure the edges of the scraps are overlapping each other by at least 0.5cm (1/4″).
Step 2: Take the first scrap of fabric. Right side up, position it overlapping the top of the felt by 0.5cm. Now this part is slightly tricky. Channel your inner school maths self and think rotations. Imagine a sewing line on the scrap (big, bold, arrowless lines in pictures above), 0.5cm from the edge. Now, flip the scrap on to the wrong side, along the imagined line. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Step 3: Sew along the sewing line. As shown, above left. Fold the fabric up, so the right side is now showing, and iron the fabric in the direction of the arrow in the picture, above right.
It’s plain sailing from now on.
Step 3: Putting right sides together, and lining up the edges, sew the next scrap to the first one. As shown above. You are sewing through the felt as well. Flip the second scrap down and iron it.
Repeat for all the other fabrics, until the felt is covered. Overlap the lower edge of the felt by at least 1cm (0.5″)
Step 4: Putting right sides together, line up the bookmark with the backing fabric. Sew around 3 edges, just catching the edge of the felt. Leave the bottom short edge open.
(Tip: at the start and the end of stitching, sew back over your stitches. This stops them pulling apart when you do step 6.)Step 5: Clip the excess fabric around the edge and clip the corners.
Step 6: Turn the bookmark the right way round, by pulling it through the open edge. Use the blunt end of a knitting needle, or a stick, to push the corners into a point. Take care not to push through the corners and make a hole.
Step 7: Iron the bookmark and tuck the unstitched ends back into the opening, as if to hide them. Push the ends of the ribbon in too. Pin in place.
Step 8: Topstitch along each of the four edges of the bookmark.
Step 9: Iron, and then slip bookmark into your current book.
All three children (9, 12 and 14) loved this activity. They really got into the selection stage, and the chance to use my old sewing machine. The one aspect of this activity you can guarantee is, that no two bookmarks will ever look quite the same. Colour, fabric and wonkiness just add to the charm.
These make great gifts, especially when giving a book. Often thought they would work well as a Father’s day present or teachers thank you gift. So easy that several can be made in one afternoon.
Hope you have fun making one. I’m off to check if it’s snowing again. Fingers crossed.
Did you feel the subtle shift this weekend? We did in our small part of the world. When one season seems to ease into another. Focus moves. In reality, it is shifting all the time, of course, but there are moments throughout the year, that just seem marginally more momentous than the rest. The inertia of hibernation being replaced with the yearning to see something grow, is one for me.
I’m talking seedlings breaking through the surface of the soil. Or at least the thought of seeing that process again, as we have none yet. The excitement of a tray of cucumber seeds erupting through a layer of compost. Like the slowest fireworks known to man. Leaving clumps of earth, like boulders, in its wake. Not to mention, looking forward to bringing homegrown food in from the garden for our meals, once again. Yum.
Some years, I am slower to remember and feel no urge to pull out my seed box and plan. Maybe it’s colder. Maybe it’s the thought of fighting my way through the shed to trowels and pots. Moving boxes and pots covered in cobwebs and evidence of other wildlife. Chewed cardboard where a mouse has procured nest material.
Not this year. My new recycled potting shed is still my favourite handmade project from last year. I looked in, at the weekend, and my potting bench was set up and ready for use. No shifting things out of the way to get to it, or searching for the equipment. It was all there. On shelves. Ready for use. And not a mouse in sight.
Soil? Check. Seeds? Check. Pots (of the right size)? Check. Job done.
I now have two pots of tomato seeds sitting on a windowsill. A small start you may think, but the first step nonetheless, and that is important. To help even more, I’ve written a list of seeds to buy, but otherwise, I am set up for the growing season. That was easy. I keep wondering what I have forgotten.
With the shift of seasons, it does mean that I’ll be outside increasingly. Sewing time replaced by exploring and gardening. It makes my latest sewing project seem more urgent to finish.
This weekend, I’ve been squeezing in every possible moment to churn out another patchwork star. My sewing room is away from the rest of the house and family, so I used the end of the kitchen table as my makeshift making area. It’s warmer too. My stars are pinned on an old quilt, which I’ve pegged to the back door curtain. Much easier to see how my scrappy quilt is developing.
I’ve been playing with the arrangement. Current thinking is that I’ll use a solid red inbetween and I need more stars. My original pincushion has grown beyond recognition.
I’m finding the process of this quilt interesting. Usually, I use the english paper piecing method. My first quilt took years to cut out and sew. Mainly due to it sitting in a bag for long periods, as there is only so long I can hand sew.
This time, it’s growing fast. I can see the progress and glimpses of the end product. I can imagine the quilt in use, in the near future. That notion alone keeps me going and looking for moments to create yet another crazy fabric star.
So the garden may be calling, but the quilt is yelling too. Even louder, but that will change. I can see that the balance will shift and I will find myself out more than in.
The race is now on. Will I finish the quilt before my finger nails are permanently clogged in earth again and wellies could be mistaken for my favourite footwear? We’ll see.
Hope you all had a good weekend. What did you get up to?
Linking up to Keep Calm Craft On link up