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

 

5 thoughts on “Mini-tutorial: Make Liberty print covered cotton reels

  1. Aren’t they lovely! Thank you for the tutorial, Ali – can’t wait to make some just for me – and as perfect little gifts for friends too. Best wishes from Down Under. 🐨

  2. Fabulous idea! I am always disappointed when I finish the thread on an old wooden reel. This makes them pretty again and they would make great props for photos. Teresa x

  3. These look very sweet. I love vintage sewing reels, so much so that I got my husband to make a peg rail using them for hanging things on in my sewing room.

  4. Ali these are perfectly beautiful and would make lovely little gifts for my sewing pals. A great tutorial Ali as always, thank you.
    Have a fabulous weekend Ali.
    Lots of love
    Dorothy xxxx

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