This was a little project I happened across last month which I decided to make for my Mum to go with the books I’d got her for Christmas. It’s a really straightforward make; if you can sew a straight line, this will be no problem.
Start with three 4” squares of fabric, two for the square and one for the corner, together with one square and a half square of interfacing.
I used iron-on interfacing which I applied to the back of one of the pair of squares and the triangle of interfacing to the front corner square. The front piece was folded in half and pressed.
The pieces were layered, square – triangle – square, pinned and sewn around with a ¼” seam allowance, leaving a gap for turning. I clipped the corners to give a neater finish once turned.
Once turned the right way out, the bookmark was pressed, turning in the seam allowance of the turning gap, and top stitched all the way around.
The finished bookmark sits neatly on the corner of the book – no more folded page corners!
A major contributing factor to my recent arm problems have been using a computer mouse at work. Admittedly, my mouse technique may have some room for improvement but a quick Google search for “computer elbow pain” reveals that ‘computer elbow’ is a thing. Symptoms are the same as tennis or golfer’s elbow, or if you’re really unfortunate, both simultaneously. I’m really unfortunate! I had heard of these two conditions but had no idea how painful they are – until now. The problem is typically caused by the repeated small, gripping movements needed when holding the mouse coupled with holding the arm in a fixed position for extended periods, often quite unconsciously. Adding to the problem is that using a conventional mouse twists the arm 90° from its natural resting position which puts further strain on the muscles and tendons in the forearm.
I am in no way a medical professional but I have read a lot recently in an attempt to help myself to a) understand what’s going on inside my arm, b) recover and c) prevent a repeat of the problem. I’ve also started using my left hand for ‘mousing’ so I’m keen not to replicate the problems of my right arm in my left. An ergonomic vertical mouse seems to be the recommendation to alleviate this problem as but this isn’t a possibility at work as our mice and software in the Ops Room are not straightforward to change. This prompted me to get my thinking cap on for how to make my own portable ergonomic mouse station. More on that project next week.
My other problem was flexing my wrist to use the mouse. Many mouse mats come with an elevated wrist support so I thought I’d make a support to see if it helps. There seems to be mixed opinions regarding whether they cause more harm than good but I thought I’d try one out anyway. The main advantage I could see was that my hand would be naturally positioned over the top of the mouse and keep my wrist straight.
I started with a rectangle of fabric, folded it in half and sewed around the cut edges, leaving a gap on the long edge for stuffing.
The wrist home-made wrist supports I saw online were more of a flat cushion but as I wanted some height, I boxed the corners.
I filled it with polystyrene beads rather than rice to make it less hard as that appeared to be one of the main negative points relating to wrist supports.
If you’ve ever used polystyrene beads, you’ll know the challenge they present. They are massively affected by static so stick to EVERYTHING!!!
Once I’d wrestled enough beads into the cushion, I pinned the gap and closed with a ladder stitch.
The finished cushion elevates my wrist by about one inch and I’ve found it to be the perfect height for me. It keeps my wrist straight and it’s very comfortable.
Unfortunately, this week I have found myself needing a sling. I’ve had pain in my wrist for some time but now have pain in my elbow and muscle soreness in my upper arm too. The arm in question is my right which my dominant side so it’s quite a challenge to rest it. Whilst I await further medical treatment, I figured the best way to stop me using the arm and causing more pain was to put it in a sling. I tried the basic triangle sling out of the first aid kit but it was very uncomfortable so I decided to make my own. Fingers crossed you won’t need this but should you ever be in need of a sling, here’s how I made mine.
Disclaimer: I have no medical training – use at your own discretion!
First, I measured from the outside of my bent elbow to the middle of my little finger and added 4” onto this measurement. I don’t think there’s any rule about how high to have the sling so I went for about 6½” and added on 1½” for seam allowance and boxing the elbow area.
I cut out 2 rectangles of the correct size, one for the outer fabric and one for the lining. I also used some fusible fleece to give my sling a bit more strength but still be soft – I cut it out about ½” smaller all round than the outer fabric. The rectangles were folded in half along the long side before cutting a curve through both sides at the top corner (I used a Pyrex bowl to trace my curve) on one short side. On the other short side, mark 1” in from the edge along the fold and cut from there to the corner. My pieces looked like this.
The fleece was adhered to the back of the outer fabric as per manufacturer’s instructions. Both the outer and lining fabrics were then folded in half along the long side, right sides together and stitched down the short straight side (without the curve) using a ½” seam allowance.
To make some elbow room (!), I decided to ‘box’ the seam. To do this, fold the seam back so that it lays on top of the centre crease. Mark a line at 90˚ to the seam/crease that is 2” long.
Sew along this line and trim off the excess.
The boxed corner should look like this.
I had a broken luggage strap that I was planning to use for my support strap but I didn’t have any strap sliders 2” wide. To overcome this slight problem, I stitched some 25mm wide webbing strap onto one end as I had 25mm plastic D-rings that would support the front of the sling. I sewed some fluffy Velcro onto the wide section on the strap and the hooky Velcro onto the same side of the thin end of the strap. It’s not easy to see as it’s black Velcro on black strapping!
Cut two 4” lengths of 25mm webbing and fold in half. Place a D-ring onto each piece and position one on each side of the top edge of the sling, just as the curve begins, and pin in place. Match the edges of the webbing to the edge of the fabric. Pin the long strap to the back of the sling, roughly about 2” from the seam. Test for a good fit before sewing in place using a ¼” seam allowance.
Next, with right sides together, pin the outer to the lining, ensuring that all the straps are between the layers and away from the edges. Sew all around the edge using a ½” seam allowance but leaving a 3”opening on the back edge for turning. This method is called “Bagging out” in case you’re interested!
Clip the curved corners so that they will lie flat when turned out.
Turn the sling right side out through the hole in the back seam. It probably won’t look very sling-like at this stage!
Press the seams flat, turning in the seam allowance at the opening. Close the opening with a slip stitch or ladder stitch.
Top stitch all the way around approximately ¼” from the edge. This will keep the outer and lining fabrics in place and provide additional support across the straps.
Lastly, I found that the strap dug into my neck a little so I made a padded cover for the strap. This involved 2 pieces of fabric, one with fleece attached, sewn all the way around minus the hole for turning.
Once turned and pressed, the piece was folded in half and sewn close to the edge, securing the ends well. This formed a tube that the strap could be fed though.
And here’s the finished article! This is my Mark 2 version. The first one wasn’t quite long enough and finished half way down my hand. I felt that with my hand dangling, there wasn’t enough support for my arm to completely relax. The Mk2 version is much better but I’m hoping I won’t be needing it for very much longer.
You may recall my post back in February when I had started my set of the 12 Days of Christmas felt ornaments stating that I had started early in the hope that I might get them all finished in time for Christmas? Well, I’ve finished them already – shock, horror!! I’m completely amazed myself to be honest. I think the main reason for this success is because the pattern is so well written it makes it easy and the ornaments are sooooo cute that as soon as one was finished, I immediately wanted to move on to making the next! Whilst it’s the 12 days, there are actually 15 ornaments as the partridge has a pear, the goose has an egg and Mr. Leaping has a heart, bless him! Well, the song is about true love after all. In case you’re thinking I’ve gone completely doolally and numbered the last 4 wrongly, there are several variations of the carol; these ornaments are based on the original carol from 1780.
Firstly, and unusually for me, I did what the pattern said and purchased wool blend felt. I have a stash of acrylic felt but the pattern specifically said that you wouldn’t get good results without using wool or wool blend felt. I can see now how that might happen as the edges are whip stitched with a tiny seam so the acrylic felt probably wouldn’t have held. The absolute most important step was to preshrink the felt which was done by soaking each sheet in cold water for a few minutes then placing on a towel, lightly pressing to remove excess water then leaving to dry naturally. Each 12” piece shrunk by at least an inch so the pieces would have been all sorts of shapes had I skipped this step.
The designer recommends using the catchily titled Sulky™ Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy, now renamed to Sulky™ Printable Stick ‘n’ Stitch. I got mine from Amazon from a US craft shop but there are craft shops in the UK selling it now. This stuff is absolute GENIUS! After printing out the pattern on normal paper and checking that the print was scaled properly by using the handy measure guide on the pattern, you just put in the sheet of Sulky™ and print. All of the pieces required are printed and it’s simply a case of rough cutting around them and removing the backing to adhere them to the felt colour of your choice.
The embroidery is designed to be the star of the show so the pattern encourages you to choose contrasting floss that really stands out. I found choosing the felt and floss colours to be one of the hardest jobs. My threads were a bit of a mess, all bundled up together in an old wash bag so I treated myself to a floss organiser, complete with thread bobbins. This made my floss selection process a lot easier I can tell you.
Next job was to sew the embroidery. It’s mainly back stitch, a bit of running stitch and lots of French knots. I used to hate French knots and did substitute some with seed beads for the first few but I guess I became better at them with all that practice and I don’t mind them at all now. Once the embroidery was complete, the pieces were carefully cut out…
…then soaked for 15-20 minutes in cold water to dissolve the stabiliser and then left to dry face up on a dry towel.
One day, when I was feeling particularly brave and artistic(!) I decided to try my hand at making the heads for days 8-12. The pattern offers great tips for eye and mouth placement. After lightly drawing the features with a pencil, I then coloured them in with fabric marker pens. These were great as they didn’t bleed into the wooden beads at all so the images are really crisp.
The construction is largely the same in that all pieces are sewn with wrong sides together using a whip stitch and matching floss. Depending on the ornament, interfacing, cardboard, pipe cleaners, wooden beads, fabric markers and cocktail sticks may be needed in addition to fibre stuffing and fabric glue. The instructions for constructing the ornaments are really clear and easy to follow.
So, a mere 2½ months after I began, the whole gang is finished. Woohoo! And here they are…
A closer look at Days 1-4…
Even the backs look great too!
I’m now working on a storage box for the ornaments as they are too precious to be thrown in with the rest of the Christmas decs. Watch this space for that post!
These ornaments are a bit fiddly to make at times but not so much so that it put me off finishing. In fact, I’ve enjoyed making them so much, I’m going to make another set in a more limited colour palette.
If you like the look of these you can find out more on Larissa’s website, where there are links to her shop to buy the patterns together with lots of tips, techniques and colour scheme ideas. There are also lots of inspiring colour palettes on Instagram at #twelvedaysornaments and #mmmcrafts.
My dear friend, Lorie, established a charity called Project 71 which supports war veterans who, for the most part, live in our local area. She works tirelessly to raise funds and raise awareness of the charity so that, at no cost to themselves, the veterans can enjoy lunches together, trips abroad, for example to Normandy and Arnhem, for the veterans to pay their respects to those who didn’t return home. Project 71 also provides assistance to the veterans in the form of lifts to places, providing mobility scooters, doing the shopping or just visiting at home or in hospital to have a cup of tea and a chat. Lorie has a group of volunteers from all walks of life that help her to provide these things for the veterans. The work they do is humbling and amazing in equal measures. Please visit their site via the link below to see the wonderful things they do.
Just over a year ago, Lorie sent a request out to crafty types via Facebook, to see who would be interested in producing some fabric artwork to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden. The artwork is based on the plate produced by the Market Garden Veterans Association for the 50th anniversary.
The only rules were that the finished badge should be 6” tall and as wide as necessary to keep the proportions right. Any crafting media or technique using fabric or wool could be used providing they could be joined together as the finished badges would be sewn together and mounted onto a background of parachutes and aircraft. The finished article will be donated to the National Liberation Museum (Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum 1944-1945) in Groesbeek, Netherlands in September 2019 as part of the 75th anniversary weekend.
I chose to make the 50th Infantry Division
and 101st Airborne Division.
The 50th Infantry Division was a division of the British Army whose insignia features two Ts which apparently represent the three main rivers, the Tyne, Tees and Humber, from the recruitment area of the Territorial Army, of which the division was a part before the Second World War. I immediately saw this design as a crocheted piece and set about creating a stitch grid onto which I could transfer the design. Then it was simply a case of single crocheting the stitches in the appropriate colour.
The 101st Airborne Division (“Screaming Eagles”) is a light infantry division of the US Army who were engaged in numerous operations during World War II. This insignia cried out for appliqué so I got out my felt and Bondaweb and got to work. First I scaled the insignia on the computer so that the image was just under 6” tall. I then traced this onto tracing paper as the reverse image is needed to trace onto the Bondaweb due to it being attached on the back of the fabric by ironing.
The next step was to carefully cut out the images and adhere them by removing the backing and ironing them in position.
I hit a slight snag when I started to appliqué the letters as the felt was not holding its shape and the resulting mess was not acceptable! I experimented with various styles of attachment and found that stitching over the entire letter produced the best result, but not using felt as the fibres stuck up through the gaps between the thread. I remade the letters using yellow fabric, coloured the centres of the letters with black sharpie (cheat!) and sewed over the whole letter using a closely spaced zig-zag stitch.
Now it was time to assemble the piece. I used a piece of khaki linen fabric and quilted it in a diamond pattern and then simply attached the badge pieces on top.
The edges of the piece were finished using the overlocker to get the piece to the correct size.
These are some of the other pieces of work that other crafters have made.
I’m looking forward to seeing the finished piece once Lorie has finished the construction.
Project 71 is a small charity where 100% of the money donated goes to supporting the veterans. If you would like to donate and help out this very worthy cause, please click on the link below. Any donation will be much appreciated.