Making Liberty print covered cotton reels is a frivolous little project that’s just about enjoying fabric, colour and getting just a little bit sticky. No sewing allowed! The results are fabulous and they are so quick and enjoyable to make. It’s a chance to play with your favourite Liberty scraps and maybe some vintage cotton reels too. Spools or reels are pretty easy to get hold of with vintage sellers on Etsy, Ebay and Facebook, or you can pick them up in charity shops or thrift shops. Or if you can’t wait, my sponsors Cloud Craft have these sweet mini-spools which would look fabulous! Whilst you are there, I recommend getting some of this brilliant Hi-Tack glue, which is ideal for this project – and very useful craft glue indeed. You can get Liberty lawn at excellent low prices from my other lovely sponsors, Duck Egg Threads, so there’s really nothing stopping you… Here’s how my spools look in my lovely wooden display case, bought from my favourite Facebook vintage seller, Vintage Pixie Treasures, which is where I also got most of my wooden cotton reels – she has them right now!
So let’s going with my quick mini-tutorial for covering spools with beautiful Liberty lawn:
Step 1: Measure the central part of the cotton reel. This is quite a small reel and measures 7/8 inch, as you can see. I found that the standard-size old-fashioned cotton reels measured exactly an inch. Add half an inch to this measurement (to make 1 3/8 inch in this example), and cut a strip of fabric with this measurement and about 5 inches long (this will wrap round most reels, unless the one you have is very fat!).
Step 2: Wrap the strip around the reel (very roughly, don’t worry if it’s a bit haphazard) and mark where the fabric overlaps.
Step 3: Trim the strip so it’s about a 1/2 inch longer than where you marked.
Step 4: Make a fold at one end of your strip – between 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch is about right, and press with a hot iron. I was a bit generous here!
Step 5: Fold in the long edges a scant (i.e. just under) 1/4 inch and press with a hot iron. Mind your fingers!
Step 6: Use a great quality craft glue, like this one, to stick down the folds you have made.
Step 7: If you are using the Hi-Tack glue you can press it with a hot iron for a really strong hold and fast drying time.
Step 8: Put lots of little dabs of glue on the cotton reel, and wrap the fabric strip round, starting with the raw edge.
Step 9: When you get back to the start, put a fair amount of glue at the end, and press into place to stick the edges firmly. You can use the tip of your iron to dry the glue quickly and easily, and it makes a super-strong stick too, but remember to mind your fingers!
And that’s it! Now make another… and another…. Here are my finished reels in glorious close-up. You can (and I have) used plastic reels – but they are a little more tricky because the glue soaks through the fabric a lot more (because the plastic is non-porous). The solution, is to let the glue dry a little before you stick the fabric to the spool, and be fairly sparing with it too.