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Now that summer’s almost halfway over, I’m sure some of you are running out of ideas for entertainment for your kids. Why not help them commemorate all of the fun and amazing things they’ve done this summer with these cute felt badges? These are a great project for kids and it would be so fun for them to make felt badges to celebrate their achievements of the summer. Did they go away to camp for the first time? Did they learn archery? Did they do all of their summer reading for school (haha, yeah, right)? Did they learn how to start a fire? Anything! Heck, I didn’t do anything special this summer, but I’m thinking that I need some of these just to celebrate me!
The other thing that’s really cool about these felt badges is that you can use a variety of techniques on them. The directions here are all designed for hand embroidery, but you could also use fusible applique or even fabric paint! If you want to do fusible applique, you could have children (or adults!) cut out all the shapes they want, and then just fuse them yourself.
Basic Felt Badge Tutorial
Wool felt – I preferred darker colors, but you can use any color!
Embroidery Floss – I used our solid Presencia floss in an assortment of colors
Safety pins or pin backs
Permanent pen and tissue or tracing paper – I stole a piece of regular tissue paper from our wrapping supplies
Sewing supplies – pins, scissors, etc.
Embroidery designs – I used an assortment of designs that I designed myself or that you can find in two of my favorite embroidery books: Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection and Teeny Tiny Menagerie.
I’ve created a PDF that contains 3 basic badge shapes and a variety of designs to get you started. You can download it here. Make sure when you print it that you do not click fit to page. The small square should measure 1 1/2″ square.
Step 1 – Choose a shape for your felt badge. I did all of mine in geometric shapes – squares, circles, rectangles, ovals, triangles. Try not to pick a shape that’s bigger than 2″ on any side. Trace the shape onto your tissue paper with a permanent pen or fine-tipped marker.
Step 2 – Choose the design you wish to use for your badge. Trace this into the tissue paper as well, this time centered in your shape. Pin your tissue paper over the top of the felt, leaving a little bit extra all the way around the shape.
Step 3 – Embroider your design using your favorite stitches! Stitch right through the tissue paper, trying to avoid tearing it. I used 2 strands of embroidery floss on all of my designs.
Step 4 – Once your design is complete, cut the shape out on the solid line around the outside edge.
Step 5 – Remove the tissue paper. Tear it out carefully so you don’t distort your stitches. If you have any little pieces stuck under the stitches, use tweezers to remove them.
Step 6 – For the back of the felt badge, cut a second piece of felt the same shape and size as your front.
Step 7 – Take one safety pin and center it against the right side of your backing piece. Make sure that when the safety pin opens the pointed end comes out, and is not the side that is getting attached to your felt. Whip stitch the safety pin down with matching embroidery floss.
Step 8 – Place the two pieces of felt wrong sides together and stitch around the edges to hold your the pieces together. I would use a whip stitch, a blanket stitch, or a running stitch. Feel free to use either matching or contrasting thread. If you want to do this step on the sewing machine, you can, just make sure that you don’t accidentally sew into the safety pin attached to the back.
I cannot tell you how much fun these are – they may be my favorite of all the tutorials I’ve written! I’m addicted. Maybe I’ll show off all of my achievements… Or just make felt badges of all of the cute designs that I’ve been wanting to stitch.
One of the frequent questions I get in my classes is about knots – specifically hand sewing knots. There are a variety of hand sewing knots out there, and everyone has their favorite, but unless you can get someone to sit down and teach them to you, it’s hard to build up a working knowledge of knots. I have my own arsenal of knots, learned here and there, each of which I use for a different technique or project. So today I’m happy to show you one of the most basics of the basics – the knot.
This knot and the double knot could be used interchangeably. These knots are useful for hand applique, hand quilting, hand embroidery, and general hand sewing (although not hand piecing or English paper piecing). When you are done sewing, both the quilter’s knot and the double knot need to be completed with a double knot against the fabric (see the double knot section, below) – in other words, a quilter’s knot is only useful for starting, but not tying off.
Thread your needle and leave a tail. Hold your needle in your dominant hand and place the long tail of thread behind it in a X shape.
Pinch the needle and thread together between your thumb and forefinger (note that I did not do so so that you could see what’s happening!). Grab the loop of thread with your other hand close to where it crosses the needle. Wrap it around the needle 3 times, making sure that the wraps are flush against the needle.
Pinch the wraps with the fingers that are holding the needle so that you’ve essentially squished the wraps up against the needle. Grab the point of the needle with your other hand, and pull it through slowly. Continue pulling until the large loop of thread disappears and the loops pinched between your fingers start to tighten into a knot.
See note above on Quilters’ Knots for the best uses for double knots.
As a beginning
Begin by threading your needle. You can use this knot when you are knotting just one end, or when you are tying both ends together. Decide whether you are knotting one end or two.
Grab the needle and place it over top of the end of the thread creating a loop.
Wrap the tail end through the loop and pull it tight, creating your first knot.
Repeat the same process as above, this time attempting to get the knot in the same place on the thread as the last knot (hence the “double knot”). To get the knot in the same place as the previous one, before completely tightening the knot, move it up and down the thread as follows: When your loop is still at least the size of a quarter, shift it up or down the thread by pulling on either side of the loop.
Once the loop is centered over the previous knot, tighten it.
As an ending
When you have completed all of your stitching, it’s time to knot your threads! It’s best to leave a tail that’s at least 6″ long, as doing this knot with any less is no fun.
Hold the needle in your dominant hand and the thread coming out of the back of your finished piece with your other hand. Cross your needle behind the thread attached to your fabric, thus creating a loop.
Pull the needle up through the loop, but do not pull it tight yet! At this point if you were to tighten that loop, your knot might end up in the wrong place. To make sure your knot is right up against the fabric, you need to adjust the loop. Look in the loop for the thread that is coming out of the back of your fabric. Hold this taut with your non-dominant hand. Using your other hand and/or the needle, slide the loop down so that it is flush against the fabric and right where the thread comes out of the back of the fabric.
Continue tightening. If you find it easier, place your finger on top to keep the knot in place (as if you are wrapping a gift). Repeat for the second knot.
Hand Piecing Knots
When hand piecing it’s really important that the knot becomes part of the fabric itself, so you never have to worry about a regular knot popping through the fabric. This is most important when you are hand piecing or English paper piecing.
Thread your needle and make no knots. Take a stitch at the beginning of your seam and leave a 1-1.5″ tail of thread.
Take a second stitch in the same place as the last stitch, this time leaving a loop of thread about the size of a silver dollar.
Take your needle through the loop 3 times.
Pull the loop tight. If you have trouble getting your knot tight, pull on the 1″ tail of thread from the beginning.
Continue stitching. Finish the same way.
This knot is good for tying quilts. It’s also useful when making stuffed animals or dolls that require joining pieces. It’s a modification of a regular square knot.
Take the right-hand piece of thread and place it over the left-hand thread forming an X.
Push the right-hand tail through the loop and pull tight.
Take the left-hand piece of thread and place it over the right-hand thread and form an X.
Push left-hand tail through the loop twice and pull tight.
Was your favorite knot on the list? Is there anything else in the super-basics category you’d like for me to cover?
I love making my own clothes – I love being able to make them totally my style with different prints, colors, and embellishments. But what I don’t like about making clothes is trying to do bust adjustments, hip adjustments, etc. So let me introduce you to the Painted Portrait Blouse pattern by Anna Maria Horner. It’s one of the few patterns out there that I’ve found that fits me well with minimal adjustments (and I think that many body types would have similar successes with this pattern!). In fact, I’ve made four Painted Portrait Blouses, which is unheard of for me with a sewing pattern.
The Painted Portrait Blouse is made up of 6 basic pieces, and the pattern gives you options to make the blouse into a dress (with or without pockets) and to add 3/4 length sleeves. It flatters several figures, but for those of who are in the busty category (like me), it seems to fit and flatter well. The Painted Portrait Blouse patterns also has suggestions for a variety of embellishments as well as options to do a contrast yoke or pieced yoke. Of course, mine are all boring – maybe the next one will be a fun print!
The first Painted Portrait Blouse I made, I followed the pattern exactly for a size large with sleeves. I used a fun blue solid from Michael Miller fabrics. I tend to run warm, so after the first blouse I made all of them sleeveless and figured I could always add a cardigan on top if I got cold. The grey top is made from our Brussels Washer which is a linen/rayon blend. The blue and magenta sleeveless ones are both made from some of our shot cottons – they have a nice sheen and iridescent quality to them without being too flashy. Quilting cottons are always the perfect weight for clothing – heavy enough to not be sheer, but still light enough to breathe.
Once I’d made the first shirt, I found it very easy to make modifications to fit me a bit better. Now I’ve changed it so I make the side and yoke panels from a size large, the front panel from a size medium and the back panel from a size small (I think – I have a lot of notes). When you make clothes for yourself it’s best to trace out the pattern pieces rather than cutting them out, that way you can make these types of modifications and resizing later. Also, it does help to make a “muslin” version first – make the blouse or dress out of cheap or ugly fabric you don’t mind throwing away – that way you can make any notes and adaptations before you use your pretty fabric!
I can’t wait to make more shirts from the Painted Portrait Blouse pattern – next time I might even make the dress!
One of my favorite trends right now is the trend of mason jars being used for EVERYTHING. They’re great for storage, drinking glasses, vases, decorations, lunch containers, and votive holders. I use mine as a drinking glass all the time.
Since I’m never without my mason jar handy, I thought it might be fun to make a mason jar cozy. A mason jar cozy would serve two purposes for me – A) I really love cold drinks in my mason jar, so a cozy would help keep my hands from getting wet from all the condensation, and B) it would be a fun way to show off some of my sewing skills or some of my favorite fabrics. The cool thing about this design is that you can adapt it many different ways – use it as a showcase for small quilt blocks, use scraps, use mini charms (this would be perfect for the Mini Charm Nine Challenge!), use it as a showcase for embroidery, add some gorgeous quilting, or if you’re looking for something quick, use a cute seasonal fabric as I’ve done here. These would make cute gifts or favors for a party – you could use them as place settings by adding a monogram to the cozy, or centerpieces for a table. Purchase a cute drinking straw to add to the mix and they could be perfect favors for a wedding or birthday party. The best part? Mason jars usually only cost about $1.
Mason Jar Cozy Tutorial
This tutorial is for a basic mason jar cozy. There are two closure variations and a few different layout suggestions at the bottom.
Fabric – 1/8 yard or fat quarter (I used Glow-in-the-Dark Ghosts, the sea print from Swim Team, and an assortment of charms from one of our Mini Charm Nine Challenge packs)
Batting – scraps or a fat quarter sized piece will work best. I used the Quilters Dream Cotton, which is a thin, lightweight batting.
1/4″ wide elastic
2 buttons at least 1/2″ around with a shank – only 1 of the closure options uses buttons, so make sure to read through the directions below!
Thread to match
Basic sewing supplies
Step 1 – Measure the jar. Measure both around the jar and the height of the jar. On my jar I made sure to measure just the area that is flat in the center, avoiding the places where the jar slopes in towards the top and the bottom.
Step 2 – Decide on the size of your cozy. My jar measured 10 1/4″ around and the center area is 2 3/4″ high. You want to leave space between the two ends of the cozy for the closures, so I’m going to subtract 1/2 – 1″ from my “around” measurement. Because I didn’t want to deal with odd measurements I decided to make my cozy 9 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.
Step 3 – Add seam allowance to the measurements found above. I decided to use a 1/4″ seam allowance. So 9 1/2″ + 1/4″ + 1/4″ = 10″ and 2 1/2″ + 1/4″ + 1/4″ = 3″.
Step 4 – Cut 1 piece of outer fabric, 1 piece of batting, and 1 piece of lining fabric to measurement found in step 3 (10″ x 3″). Layer the three as follows:
Outer fabric, right side up
Lining fabric, right side down
Pin through all three layers.
Step 5 – Choose 1 of the two closure methods below and cut the appropriate length of 1/4″ elastic. Pin the elastic between the outer and lining fabrics with the end of the elastic aligned with the raw edge of the fabric.
Step 6 – Sew all the way around the cozy, leaving a small opening along the bottom edge for turning.
Step 7 – Trim the corners. Turn right side out. Press the whole thing, making sure to not melt the elastic.
Step 8 – Fold in the raw edges of the opening along the bottom 1/4″ and pin in place. Top stitch 1/8″ from the edge all the way around the mason jar cozy.
Step 9 – If you are doing a button closure: Wrap your mason jar cozy around your favorite jar and mark the best placement for your buttons. The elastic should stretch just a little bit to reach the buttons so that the loops don’t slide off. Attach the buttons with matching thread.
Step 10 – Put your mason jar cozy around your mason jar and you’re done! Add flowers if you’re using as a vase or your favorite drink if you’re using the mason jar as a drinking glass!
Choosing and adding closures
Cut 2 pieces of elastic approximately 5″ long. Fold them in half and baste the ends together. To mark the placement of the elastic, measure 1/4 of the way from the top and the bottom edges and make a mark. My height measurement was 2 1/2″, so I measured 5/8″ from the top and bottom edges. When pinning in step 5, place the loops between the outer and lining fabrics with the ends of the elastic loops aligned with the raw edges of the fabric and the marks you made above.
Cut 1 piece of elastic to approximately the same length as your measurement around the jar. My measurement was 10 1/4″ around, so that’s about what I cut my elastic, Make a mark halfway down from the top on both ends. Place the elastic between your outer and lining fabrics in step 5, with the ends of the elastic aligned with the raw edges of the fabric at the marks you’ve made.
Arrange your mini charms in a pleasing manner. Sew together to make the outer piece of your mason jar cozy. Construct using directions above.
English Paper Piecing
Using mini charms and 1″ hexagons and 1″ half-hexagon English paper pieces, construct an outer piece for your mason jar cozy. You can trim your English paper piecing shapes to square off the ends of your cozy or you can leave them irregularly shaped. I squared off one end and left the other end irregularly shaped:
Press the completed outer panel well with no steam. Remove all the English paper piecing templates and the basting along the outer edges:
Construct the piece as above with a few exceptions. In step 4, place the piecing in order as follows- batting, lining right side up, and the English paper pieced panel right side down. Unfold the edges and pin them down. Sew along the fold line. If you have trouble seeing the fold line, mark it with a marking pencil:
In step 6, instead off sewing 1/4″ from the edge, sew along the fold line:
Trim the excess batting and backing to 1/4″ away from the seam. In step 7, in addition to trimming the corners, clip the Vs as well.
Finish as above!
I hope you enjoy making these mason jar cozies!
This year we celebrated our 9th anniversary – yesterday, in fact. We’re so happy to have been a part of the Richmond sewing and quilting community for those years. In honor of our 9th anniversary we’re doing a contest this summer – The Mini Charm Nine Challenge! Here’s how it works:
- Purchase one of our 9th Anniversary Mini Charm packs online here, or in the store
- Make something with this pack of mini-charms before September 30, 2014
- You must use at least half of the mini charms in the pack, and you can add as much or as little other fabric as you choose!
- You can enter three different ways:
- email a photo of your project to firstname.lastname@example.org
- post a photo of your project to our flickr pool (www.flickr.com/groups/quiltrva) and tag it #theminicharmnine
- post a photo of your project to instagram, tag us (@quiltrva) and use the hashtag #theminincharmnine
We will choose two winners of the Mini Charm Nine challenge – one will be chosen randomly from all entries and the other will be our staff favorite! We will be giving away two $50 QA gift cards!
Not sure what to make? Here are some ideas:
- Mini Charms are perfect for English paper piecing – try 1″ hexies or half-hexies.
- Have you seen the cute mug rugs? A mug rug is a little mini-quilt on which you can set your morning cup of coffee. Kind of like a cross between coasters and mini-quilts.
- Do you need a pouch to hold your sewing supplies? Mini charms are perfect for all sorts of different pouches.
- Adapt a pattern you already have. One of our employees, Beverly, took the awesome Zippy Strippy pattern by Atkinson Designs and traded mini charms for the strips used along the sides.
- Check out patterns and books that use scraps – mini charms are perfect for use in scrap quilts!
- Several weeks ago I did a review off the awesome new book Great Granny Squared by Lori Holt. Now the book doesn’t actually give you a pattern for using 2.5″ squares, but I think that once you’ve made one or two, it would be very easy to adapt to use the mini charms!
- Carolyn Friedlander has a new book out called Savor Each Stitch – it’s filled with wonderful new paper piecing and appliqued projects. There are two quilts in the book that can use 2.5″ squares - Aerial Grove and Arcs (the one on the cover). I’ve already started my own version of the Aerial Grove quilt. Make sure to stop by the shop and flip through a copy to see both of these amazing quilts.
Still not inspired? Check out our Pinterest board on using mini charms:
I’ll keep updating it throughout the summer, so hopefully something will inspire you!
I’ll also be posting tutorials here on our blog that use mini charms. The first one will be posted next week. We can’t wait to see your entry to the Mini Charm Nine Challenge!