Mini-tutorial: Make Liberty print covered cotton reels

A mini tutorial on covering vintage wooden cotton reels with Liberty print by Very Berry Handmade

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!

Handmade Liberty cotton reels in wooden display case
I just have a few more gaps to fill in my display case! One of my Instagram acquaintances had the great idea of displaying the spools in a large vintage Kilner or Mason jar too – how great would that look?

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!).

Measuring Liberty lawn to cover a wooden cotton reel

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.

Cutting Liberty lawn to cover a vintage wooden cotton reel

Step 3: Trim the strip so it’s about a 1/2 inch longer than where you marked.

Folding Liberty lawn fabric to cover a wooden cotton reel part 1

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!

Folding Liberty lawn to cover a vintage wooden cotton reel part 2

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!

Using Hi-Tack glue to stick Liberty lawn to a wooden cotton reel

Step 6: Use a great quality craft glue, like this one, to stick down the folds you have made.

Covering a vintage wooden spool with Liberty print cotton

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.

Mini-tutorial covering a vintage wooden cotton reel with Liberty print

Step 8: Put lots of little dabs of glue on the cotton reel, and wrap the fabric strip round, starting with the raw edge.

Tutorial describing how to cover a cotton reel with Liberty print

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.

Wooden cotton reels and spools covered in Liberty tana lawn prints

 

100 Days of Curated Colour – Week 3

One hundred days of curated colour header

Well it’s the end of week 3 of my colourful contribution to #the100dayproject over on Instagram. As most of you regular readers will know by now, my project is #100daysofcuratedcolour – I am taking a palette from Design Seeds every day, and curating a collection of fabrics and haberdashery, gathered up from home/studio, using the colours from the palette I’ve chosen. Here are the 7 I’ve created this week:

100 days of curated colour - blue moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

15/100: Design Seeds – Wanderlust: Mental Vacation

100 days of curated colour - green moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

16/100: Design Seeds – Succulents: Succulent Hues

100 days of curated colour - pinks moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

17/100: Design Seeds – Color Collage: Color Love

100 days of curated colour - green red peach pink moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

18/100: Design Seeds – Maker Hues: Paper Strawberries

100 days of curated colour - blue brown teal moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

19/100: Design Seeds – Nature Made: Nested Hues

100 days of curated colour - blue purple moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

20/100: Design Seeds – Color Collage: Color Create

100 days of curated colour - brown grey moodboard by Very Berry Handmade

21/100: Design Seeds – Winter: Color Chirp

Over on Instagram on my #100daysofcuratedcolour feed, 15/100 is the favourite this week. Personally I have a sneaking fondness for 16/100 because I thought I would hate it – green is not a colour that does much for me! But I think my favourite 19/100 – I absolutely cannot resist that combination of teal and brown. Often when I run swaps, loads of people will put ‘I hate brown’ in their ‘likes and dislikes’ information, which I think is such a shame, I think brown can be so beautiful, especially when combined with blue and grey shades – and what about with that lovely pop of rusty brown/orange in the last pic! I am imagining a grey dress with an orange belt and brown jacket. Speaking of dresses, that brown polka dot fabric always reminds me of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

As I’m putting the palettes together I am so struck by how hard it is to find the ‘right’ shade or tone of each colour, and how important it is sometimes to get it just right. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but other times, it looks pretty dreadful. I’m also realising what a difference it can make where I put different elements in the palette and am trying to spend more time arranging them in alternate ways, just to see what works best. And, as I mentioned last week, I continue to gain more insight into the fact that a balanced colour palette doesn’t have to have similar amounts of each colour, shade or tone. So, for example, in the last picture, the browns and greys predominate, with just a couple of blasts of the lovely orange/rust colour. I’m hoping to find time, in the week ahead, to do some reading about colour theory.. something I’ve rather put off in the past.

Enough waffle – do you have a favourite this week?

Mini-Tutorial: Finishing top-stitching and machine quilting invisibly

So, you’ve spent time sewing, stitching and pressing and your lovingly handmade bag or fabric basket is nearly finished. Now you are top-stitching the completed seam, spending time ensuring that the stitching is neat and even, perhaps even using different spool and bobbin threads so that the you coordinate exactly with lining and outer fabrics. So no way do you want to back stitch or reverse stitch at the beginning of your row of top-stitching – if you are anything like me, you will want it to look absolutely perfect. Or maybe you are doing some beautiful machine quilting and your bobbin has run out, or your design means that you can’t hide the end of your stitching in the binding – this method will work for you too!

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Firstly you need nice long tails of threads to work with – 5 or 6 inches is ideal. If you are machine quilting and you’ve run out of bobbin thread – just unpick a few stitches to create some tail to work with. If you are top-stitching, this is not the time to use the automatic thread cutter on your sewing machine!

The picture below shows the beginning and end of my row of top-stitching. You need to work on the wrong side of your project, so the first step is to pull the threads on the right side through to the wrong side. Pull on the bobbin threads on the wrong side, and the loops of the spool threads will appear – use a needle or pin to hook the loops and pull the threads through.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Here’s how it should look when you have everything through to the wrong side:

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Knot the threads together in two pairs, like this. Obviously, if you’re quilting, you’ll only have one set of threads to worry about – yay, you’ll be done in half the time!

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Thread up one pair of the thread tails onto a needle with a reasonably large eye. This is a slightly cheaty short cut. If you are working with very fine fabrics or you are quilting and don’t want to make great big needle holes on the back of your quilt, you can use a smaller needle and deal with the thread tails one at a time.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Insert the needle really close to the knot that you made in this pair of threads, and make a long stitch back along the seam line:

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Pull the threads through and keep gently pulling until the knot disappears beneath the fabric.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

The stitchy jargon phrase for this is burying the knot. Only one lonely knot left to go now – and if you are quilting you are all done. Snip off the excess thread tails before you deal with the other knot.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Now you can repeat for the other set of thread tails, if you need to.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

And that’s that! Hope you find this a useful – old hat to many I am sure, but now I am teaching beginners I’m realising it’s definitely worth sharing these tips.