Recyling project for April

I have known for ages what I wanted to do for my April project, a pinwheel pin holder.   But could I find a pattern?  No.  I spent days searching the web, but to no avail.  I did find lots of images of antique pinwheel pin holders mostly from sale houses.


Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 11.25.36 amI like this silk one.

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And this one as well,

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and I even found a butterfly shape.

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But no instructions anywhere.  Result, I made my own.  I'm not sure if this is how others make this but this is my version.  (you will find a downloadable PDF at the bottom of this post.)

So what do you need?

  • An old piece of embroidery to cut up.
  • A backing fabric for the reverse side.
  • Soft, light weight wadding
  • Waste card  packaging (post card from book packaging is great)
  • Tacky glue.
  • Needle and thread.

I cut my cardboard into a 1 X 4" circle, cutting on the outer side of the line  as a template to cut the embroidery and reverse side fabric.  I added an iron on interfacing to stablise the embroidery.

  2 X 3.5" circle cutting on the inner side of the tracing line for the mounting shape.

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I glued the wadding to one side of each of the mounting shapes using a tacky glue.

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Using a fine needle and a length of poly-cotton thread I ran a line of small gathering stitching around the edge of the embroidery and the reverse side fabric, starting with a firm knot.  (A small stitch gives a much more even gathering line.)

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I found it helped to slightly gather this before inserting the mounting shape.

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I then inserted the mounding shape, pulled up the gathering thread and secured the fabric in place.

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Placing the inner sides of the circles together  I stitched the two shapes together.  I used a double poly-cotton thread, this is stronger and will not break under pressure.  I also used a fine needle that had a slight flex so that I could sew, using a ladder stitch to pull the two sides together.

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I sewed 3 or 4 stitches loosely, just below the edge of the cardboard  and then pulled the thread tight.  When I came back to the beginning of the circle I secured that thread.

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Next I decorated the edge of the pinwheel with pins.  These are great for berry pins or any long pin that has a fancy top.

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These are a great way to use embroidery from damaged pieces.  My piece was full of holes and parts of the design had come undone.  Now it will have another life as a sale item at the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild sale table.  Also, there is now a set of written instructions.

Download Pinwheel pin holder

Deb's Food Throw - 4  Adding the corners, attaching the long sides, outer bindings.

To begin, lay your patchwork sandwich along the side and trim the length so that it will match at the corners.


Take the corner pieces that you have already prepared and add one to each end of the quilt sandwich.

You do this by inserting the end of the trimmed quilt sandwich between the front and the back binding,

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and then sewing through all the layers on the edge of the folded binding. This should line up with the bindings on the shorter edge .


Add this longer quilt sandwich to the edge of the netting the same way you did for the shorter edge.  (see Tutorial 3)

One thing to note is that there a multiple layers of fabric at those corner joins.  Lengthen you stitch at these points so that they sit flat.


This is done the same as binding the edge of a quilt. ( I use the same method as Sharon but do not use  the glue and adjust the width of the binding.)

Take your joined 2.5" strips and iron in half.  I allow and extra 8"  in length for the final join.

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Attach these to the BACK of the quilt sandwich with a .5" seam allowance, folding the corners as you would for a quilt.

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I stop sewing .5" before the corner, fold and turn, start sewing again .5" at the beginning of the next edge. The distance from the needle to the edge of the foot is .5".

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Join the binding on the final edge.

Turn to the front. Turn you hem to cover your stitching (.5") and then machine stitch on the front, pivoting at the corners.

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No hand sewing necessary.

With the left over scraps I made a draw string bag to store the throw in the outside cupboard along with the other outdoor crockery and cutlery.  This will keep it clean and the net will not flow all over the place.

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That is one long tutorial but you get a great result at the end.

Deb's Food Throw 3 - Joining the patchwork sandwich to the netting.

 Joining the patchwork sandwich and the binding

  There are 4 pieces of fabric to join here:

1x netting, 2 x binding and 1 x patchwork sandwich

To do this place you 2.25" strip, which you have ironed in half, on the netting edge.

  Then layer the patchwork  sandwich on top of this.

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On top of these, lay your 1.75" strip, right side down.  Pin and sew.

  Because there is a tendency for this number of layers to move I sew just inside the .25" mark to make sure I catch all layers. This is where you walking foot is invaluable.

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Turn your work with the netting and binding strips to the left and your patch work strip to the right. Top stitch through all the layers just inside the seam.  I make my stitch length longer (2.9)  to allow for all the layers.

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Because the netting is so see through it is quite easy to turn a hem on the back binding that matches the edge of the folded binding.  Pin and sew the edges together. 

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The other thing you will notice is that I haven't said iron.  That netting will just melt under the iron.  If you have to iron keep to the cotton fabric only.

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Repeat this process for the other side.  Your work should look like this.

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Next:  Adding the corners, attaching the long sides.

Deb’s Food Throw. - 2. Cutting out and sewing patchwork sandwich

It took me some time to get all these layers straight in my mind but I will list each one here before we begin as a reference.

Quilt Sandwich

Backing strip - goes of the back of the wadding.

Wadding - goes between the backing strip and the patchwork.

Patchwork pieces - fabric to sew on top of the backing strip and wadding.

Binding to attach quilt sandwich to net

2.25' strip folded in half  and ironed (goes on top of netting and below quilt sandwich.)

1.75' strip  (goes on top of the netting, folded strip and quilt sandwich )

Outer Binding

2.5" strip, folded in half and ironed to bind the outer edge.




Make sure that you have a sharp blade in your rotary cutter  before you begin.


backing strip, wadding and patchwork fabric

Backing strip and Wadding  -  4" x 55" x 4"  of each (or the length of the side of the netting + allowance and 4" wide)

4"x 4" x 4 of each for the corners.

Patchwork edges  -  various scraps to cover the wadding.  They need to be 4” wide but can be various lengths.

The wadding is usually fairly wide and you will have no joins but if you are using scraps you may have numerous joins.  The backing strips will have to be joined to achieve the length you want.  Cutting those long strips could mean that the end of your ruler will move. To stop this I put a full bottle of water as a weight on the end of the ruler.  Also, l  use a cut and move up motion as I don’t have a lot of strength in my arms.

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Binding fabrics

Before you start to cut your binding fabric you have to decide if you are going to cut on the straight of grain, that is parallel  to the selvedge edge, where there is little stretch to the fabric, or, across the width of the fabric, where there is considerable stretch.   Because these are long lengths I cut across the fabric.   A bit of extra stretch can come in handy here.


 2 x 55” x 2.25” iron in half lengthwise for front ( short sides - no patch work strip)

                        2 x 60” x 2.25” iron in half lengthwise for front ( long sides- patchwork strip attached)

4”x 4” x 2.25” iron in half for front ( corners)

2 x 55’’ x 1.75” for back ( short sides)

2 x 60” x 1.75” for back ( long sides)

4 x 1.75” for back (corners)

Outer binding - 2.5" wide strips joined to measure circumference (plus 1" for joining) of throw then ironed in half along length.


Sewing Patchwork Sandwich

I use my walking foot for all the machine sewing

Put down your 4” wide backing strip wrong side to the wadding then begin a stitch and flip of the patchwork pieces until the wadding is covered.

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Trim back the long edges to 3.5” width and iron flat.

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Prepare your corners to make your long edges.

Sew these 3 pieces together.

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Flip the folded  and back binding outwards from the sandwich and top-stitch

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Make a hem on the back binding to match the front binding edge and iron flat.

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NEXT:   Joining the patchwork strips to the netting.




Deb's food throw - 1. materials.

It is time for those flies to hover over the holiday ham and one needs a food throw to protect the food.

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I ended up making 3 different versions of Deb's instructions so for Version No 4 I have come up with my own version.  It isn't a lot different but with this one there is no hand sewing at all.  Everything is sewn on the machine.  Also you can adjust the measurements to suit the materials you have at hand.

I bought a piece of nylon netting that was 137cm wide.  It is a bugger to cut evenly so I bought 140cm length and then trimmed it so that I had 137cm on all sides.

This is quite a large throw, I have a large table

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and it looks small on it.

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You can adjust the measurements to suit your needs.

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This is not a quick project.  It will take 4 or 5 days to complete.

This diagram shows the dimensions of the parts but doesn't include the bindings or the seam allowances.   You can make the throw smaller by adjusting these measurements.   (Being able to see a diagram makes thing easier to understand.  There is also a pdf Download Food throw )

Screen Shot 2019-12-23 at 3.46.21 pmOne thing to consider is that although fabric is bought by the metre most cutting mats etc are in inches.  I have tried to put both measurements. 

Think of it in 2 stages.

  1. Buying the materials  (metres)
  2. Cutting and sewing  ( feet and inches)

So what do you need in the way of materials?

Netting                        1.40m  (Approx 4" 8")

Wadding                     4 x 9cm x 1.40m strips  for sides

                                     ( 9cm = approx 4") 

                                     4 x 9cm x 9cm squares for corners.

Backing and binding    2.8m of fabric for the backing and binding strips.

Patchwork edges        Enough scraps to cover the wadding. 

                                    All 9cm (4") wide but length can vary.

Cotton thread             fill 3 bobbins before you start.


There is enough allowance on the fabric so that you can trim back the edges after sewing.


Next :   Cutting and sewing the patchwork strips.





The slow stitch alternative, for kids, or those that enjoy hand sewing.

I remember as an 9 or 10 year old looking at some darning samples my grandmother had stitched as a 7 year old.  They were stitched with Silko cotton and were just perfect.  My stitching was so erratic and she was so much younger than I and her stitching was wonderful!   It took a long time to realise that it wasn't lack of talent but lack of practice that was the difference. 

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Little children were TAUGHT  to sew and knit from about 5 or 6 years of age back then.  There was no TV or radio and to keep little ones occupied they were taught these skills plus it helped Mum keep up with household chores.

Fast forward to when I was 8 years old.  At Primary school where classes were all girls and boys were kept separate.  We had sewing classes and were taught some embroidery and we all had to make a gathered skirt, BY HAND.  There were no sewing machines.  Some of our Mothers had electric sewing machines but it was usually our grandmothers who taught us and their machines were treadle.

Screen Shot 2019-11-09 at 1.12.25 pmThe thing about the old treadle machine was that it sewed at a far slower speed than the electric ones that raced away.  (Put those electric ones next today's machines and they were positively slow.)  So, calling on those old skills I learnt back in the late 1950s, which we call slow stitch today, here is how to hand stitch yesterdays decoration.


I made my 2 circles of fabric 7 inches  but I think it would work quite well down to 5 inches.  Any measurement less than this is fiddly.  For beginners I would draw a line 1/4" inside the outside edge.  This will keep the line of stitching even and acts as a guide, when you turn the piece through you will not see it.  You could start with a knot and then take 3 running stitches.  (That is about the number most children can manage on their needle.)  Notice I used a sharp needle with a big eye.  They have to learn to thread that needle at some point so make it do-able.

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Then one back stitch.  This just adds a little more strength to the stitching and stops it being pulled undone.    Continue on around the edge leaving an opening of about 2".  (This took the girls about 40 mins from start to finish and was their first attempt at this kind of stitching.)

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Before we turned the fabric to the right side we finger pressed the seam allowance for the opening.

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The piece was then turned to the right side of the fabric using a chop stick which had a rounded end.  This was used to 'gently' push the seam open.  Remember that hand sewing is not as secure as machine stitching so go gently.

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To close the opening one girl used a whip stitch the other ladder stitch.  Both looked good.  Then, a line of running stitch was worked around the edge as a top stitch.  We found that 2 stitches at a time was what they could best handle because they were sewing through 4 layers of fabric.

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When this was finished I pressed it for them as they are not too good with a hot iron as yet.

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The next step was to fold in half and iron.

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Then half this again.  This gave the perfect guide to sewing the pieces together.

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We doubled the thread for strength then joined it at the centre point.  Folded it again and over sewed this.

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When it came to the second fold we did half and then joined it again as it was quite thick for them to get their needle through.

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To get the final shape we sat it on a flat surface holding it at that centre point.  It automatically went to a square base which we then finger pressed into shape.

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Folding the leaves open is just "like folding back a collar on your school shirt" I was told.  A bit of pulling and pushing but with that square base in place it just went into place.

Then we had to sew our button on.  Quite a bit of time was spent in the button box.

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We couldn't find any cord to hang it by so just made a loop with the doubled sewing thread which we attached to the corner.  It was then ironed very flat. ( I don't think it needed to be this flat.)

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"Can we make something different next time?"  Back to searching You Tube.

Time to think about Xmas

We are moving quickly into November so it is time to think about Xmas.  I have been looking on You Tube for ideas I can use with my grand daughters and I think this tutorial will do the trick.


I now get a chance to try out my circular cutter,  (that's me not the girls.) And as with all new tools there are a few little tricks that they don't tell you.  You have to put the folded fabric on the registration lines.

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Good idea to iron your fabric first then put it on the registration lines.

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If you look at the cutter itself you can see it is a small rotary blade with a plastic lug on each side.

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It really helps to put this in position in the line that corresponds to the size you want to cut before you position the frame.

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Then you can position the frame and just cut.

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This makes accurate cutting a breeze and does away with all the measuring and then cutting with scissors.


This is very achievable with kids who are 7 or 8 years old "with adult supervision".   But not everyone has a sewing machine and a line of kids waiting to use the machine can be problematic.  I have come up with a slow stitch alternative that I will post tomorrow.

Now I have to find some fancy buttons to finish these ones off.


I think I now have all the place-mats I need, I just have to finish sewing them.  One of the criteria I had set myself for these mats was that I wasn't to buy any fabric.  I could only use what was in the stash.  The last set saw me rummaging around and I found some old fabric that I had bought from Ikea.  It was a linen type fabric that was pre-sewn as a runner.  You just had to cut off the length you wanted and then hem the ends.

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It has meant that I have had to un-pic the edges and the fabric is a bit light but I have come up with a way to use it.  Looking through the scrap bin I found a cat fabric that I thought would be good for an applique.  So, using the design on the fabric, I drew up a cat template, which I have included as a free download.  Download Cats I printed this out onto light card so that I could use it as is and in reverse, then ironed some Visofix onto the back of the fabric and traced the design onto the paper side and cut out the shape using small scissors.

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As I have 8 mats I determined the position of the applique and marked this with pins.  (Just to make sure everyone would look the same.

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I removed the paper on the back of the shape by scoring it with a pin.  My supplies are rather old and the adhesive sometimes lifts.  Removing it this way means that I can keep it mostly in tact.

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The Ikea linen doesn't have a lot of body to it and I would normally stabilize the fabric first but this time I just machine buttonholed it straight onto the batting using a 50 weight cotton in the top thread. When I added the backing fabric I then stitched around the shape again in straight stitch.   (You could of course just buttonhole around the edge by hand but if you wanted to use needle turn you would have to include an allowance all the way around.)  Because of the lack of body in the fabric I choose a backing fabric that had a little more weight.

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I sewed in the details using a straight stitch but found that I had to add a bit of felt for the eyes as they were hard to see.  I was going to cross hatch the quilting but quite liked this look.

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Only 7 more to go and I am going to play around with different coloured threads and play things for the cat.  This one has a flower, I have fish, balls, and other cat playthings in mind.  The end of this project is in sight.  Now I'm thinking about my challenge for 2020.



Once I started I couldn't stop

At first I couldn't think of any really easy straight sewing on the machine projects.  Now I can't stop thinking of them!  So, here is a very easy one, some serviettes.  I used cotton quilting fabric, which is a good weight and comes in lots of different designs and colours. 

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Traditionally  the most common sizes for serviettes are;

12" x 12" morning or afternoon tea
16"x 16” Informal Luncheon
20” x 20 “ and 21” x 21” Dinner and for more formal occasions such as Banquet Dinning.

But, my designs is driven by the fabrics I have to hand so I have made mine 12" square finished.  This is  for using for morning tea or lunch.  But I don't think I would make them any smaller than this.  You should find that 1 m of each fabric should make a set of 6.  (I would look out for cheaper sale fabrics.)

I press my fabric on the diagonals to make sure it lines up properly.

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Stitch a 1/4" seam around the edge, needle down to pivot at the corners.

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Leave a 3" opening to turn through and then press down the seam allowance before I do this.

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Snip the corners before turning through.

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Top stitch around the edge using the inside of my 1/4" presser foot as a guide.


Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 5.13.37 pmAnd that is it.  You could use the same fabric top and bottom or have a different back or even make every serviette different.  I think these will make great Xmas gifts.