A while ago, I started a random embroidery project on a piece of felt. My original plan was to use it as some kind of book cover, or needle book, or … something. But the truth is, initially, it was a spontaneous project that I grabbed just to have something to work on while on a short road trip. The piece developed, and then sat neglected for a long time. I’ve finally done something with it.
I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with this bit of embroidery. Really, I couldn’t picture it as any certain thing! When I wrote about the piece a few weeks ago, I got a lot of excellent suggestions for how it could be used. I ended up going with a large-ish needle case / tool holder.
The reason I dug the piece out recently to finish is that I had some threads and needles to test. If you read my posts on the Spiral Eye Needles and on Soy Luster thread, you saw parts of the finish work for the piece.
The first thing I did was determine how I wanted to make a cover. Fortunately, when I cut the felt, I left long sides that would turn in to back the two finished panels. This worked out well. After trimming, I folded the felt to the back of the embroidered panels and fused them closed.
And yes, the back is MESSY!!!!
I trimmed a little more, then buttonholed the edge of the cover all the way around.
Then, I had to think out how I would finish the inside. I cut out a piece of left-over blue wool felt to cover the inside, and then started laying tools on the piece to find out how I could arrange things.
I noticed that, with scissor or tool slots, I would have to either put a loop or a flap on them to hold the tools in, should the book be turned upside-down. So instead, I decided to face the tool openings towards the inside fold of the book.
I made two tool holders – one for scissors and the other for either another pair of scissors, or tweezers and a laying tool (I haven’t really decided what, exactly). I figured I could put three flaps for needles on the other side, using some other scraps of felt. The whole inside of the book, in fact, is done in felt scraps. I had to rummage a bit to find pieces that would work.
There was still a bit of room between the needle flaps and the center fold, so I decided to attach a large thread ring there. The mother-of-pearl thread ring doesn’t really match the “rustic” look of the book, but it’ll do.
I cut out the shapes of the tool holders – a V-ish shape for scissor (in the sheath) and a rectangle for tweezers and laying tool. Incidentally, the rectangle was a scrap from this past summer’s bookmark project in my kids’ embroidery classes, and it worked out just fine.
Then, I began embellishing the tool holders.
I stitched free-hand, whatever occurred to me as I went.
I used a combination of threads – perle cottons, DMC stranded, Soy Luster, floche, and silk. Most were taken straight from a tub of stashed threads that are somewhat disorganized, with the exception of the Soy Luster and Baroque Silk, which were both new and which I was trying for the first time.
I had fun embroidering these little things. Because they are small, I wasn’t stuck doing any one thing for very long, and because they were completely free-handed, I could do whatever came to mind.
I liked working with the variety of stitches and threads.
After finishing the tool holders, I attached them to the blue felt using buttonhole stitch all around, facing the openings (as previously mentioned) towards the inside fold to keep the tools from falling out.
Then I embroidered on the needle flaps, using a few different stitches to secure the flaps – herringbone stitch is on the top flap, chain stitch on the middle flap….
And fly stitch is used to attach the last flap.
I attached the thread ring using a tiny scrap of ribbon I just happened upon in my floss box.
Once I had everything attached to the blue felt that would serve as the background to the inside of the needlecase, I attached the blue felt to the book cover using buttonhole stitch all the way around. I found that the blue felt needed to be attached to the cover in the middle of the case as well, to help it fold better, so I ran two lines of running stitch down the center. I worked these through all the layers of wool felt (three, total), so that they are visible on the outside cover as well, just at the border of the embroidered panels.
Unfortunately, I didn’t draw the lines and measure things out before I started stitching, so the lines are actually not quite parallel. They run away from each other towards the bottom! After working the running stitches, I whipped them to give the line a more finished look. Anyway, with the stitched lines in the middle and the and the top and bottom edges secured with the buttonhole stitching, I was left with an unstitched edge on the outside of the blue felt, which created the perfect opening for pockets that can hold extra thread or other flattish things:
In fact, it’s nice having these two pockets on both sides of the case.
Then, once all was done, I had to have a way to close the case. I was
out of ribbon, so using two strands of a coordinating perle cotton #5, I twisted the threads until they were suitable for a cord, and then made little ties out of them, which I attached at the edge of each cover.
In retrospect, if I were doing something like this again, I would not make a needlebook or tool case that closes in this manner – I’d make a flap that can button over the whole thing. The one thread in the middle seems somewhat chintzy, but, still, it ties the thing closed, and for this project, that will do.
Overally, I had a lot of fun working on this little project, though after a while, my fingers were killing me from working through multiple layers of wool felt and a layer of fusible interfacing.
I actually don’t know if I’ll ever USE the case. I’m thinking about giving it to one of my embroidering nieces for Christmas.
It was a fun project, so I’m not opposed to making another modified version with a different closure and a different layout on the inside. We shall see, we shall see! What think you about it? Any suggestions for a better way to close the thing up? I’m all for pointers, so point away!