Monday, May 26, 2014

Provençal Sachets

Last week's project--a pretty fabric tote bag--celebrated springtime in Paris. For this week's craft, I visited France again (in my dreams, anyway) for creative inspiration. This time, I ventured beyond Paris to Provence, where fields of lavender color the countryside and perfume the air. Even though my Pennsylvania backyard is far from France, I brought the fragrance of Provence into my home with these lavender sachets.

Made from leftover fabrics from another project, these sachets are about as easy as it gets. (Très facile, as they say in France.) For each sachet, cut two rectangular pieces from Provençal-style fabrics (mine are about 8" by 5"), then fold one short edge of each piece over about 2" to the wrong side and press it in place. (This step keeps the wrong side of the fabric from showing at the top of the finished sachet.) To assemble the sachet, pin the pieces together, right sides facing, and stitch along the raw short and long edges. Clip the seams, turn the bag inside out, and voilà--your sachet is ready to be filled.

Dried lavender buds are available at craft stores and herb shops. A little lavender goes a long way, so you'll only need a few scoops for each sachet. You can spoon the lavender directly into the sachet, but if you want to keep the tiny buds from spilling out, put them in an organza or muslin bag first. Tie the inner bag closed tightly and tuck it inside the sachet bag.

To create the decorative ties for my sachets, I crocheted chain-stitch cords from blue and yellow embroidery floss that matched my fabrics. Ribbon, raffia, and twine would work well too. I made simple tags for my sachets from card stock and stamped them with the word "lavande," which is French for "lavender."  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Springtime in Paris Tote

I found the fabric used in this project while I was browsing online for something else. (That's how most of my online shopping adventures seem to go.) When I stumbled upon "Springtime in Paris" and "Paris Ville" on the Michael Miller Fabrics website, I just had to order a few yards of each. Then came the hard part: deciding what to make with my serendipitous purchase. I think this chic little tote was the perfect choice.

To make the bag, cut two 10" squares from the "Springtime in Paris" fabric and two 5" by 10" pieces from the "Paris Ville" fabric. For the bag front, place the rectangle piece facedown and upside down over the top edge of the square piece. Stitch the pieces together along the long edge and then flip the top piece up. You should have a band of "Parish Ville" fabric above a square of "Springtime in Parish" fabric--and both designs should be right side up. Create the tote's back the same way. Pin the finished pieces together, right sides facing, and stitch around the side and bottom edges. Turn the tote to the right side.

For the handles, cut two 2½" by 7" pieces from one of the fabrics. Fold them in half lengthwise, right sides facing, and stitch along the long edge of each. Turn the handles to the right side and iron them flat. To make a lining for the tote, cut two 10" by 12½" pieces from one of the fabrics, pin them together with right sides facing, and stitch them together along the side and bottom edges. Leave the lining inside out.

Fold the top edge of the tote over ½" to the inside and press it in place. Fold the top edge of the lining over ½" to the wrong side and press. Place the lining inside the tote and pin the top edges of the tote and lining together. You may have to adjust the edges a bit to get them to match up evenly. Slip the raw edges of the handles in place between the tote and lining and stitch along the top edge of the tote.

When I made this bag, I had some pink-and-white polka-dotted ribbon that matched the fabrics perfectly. I sewed a band of ribbon around the tote to conceal the seam between the two fabrics. For a finishing touch, I made a charm from beads and broken jewelry. The silver bow is part of an old pin; the Eiffel Tower charm had been waiting in my bead box for the right project.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Flowery Felt Pillows

When I learn a new craft technique, I sometimes get carried away. Case in point: I recently became slightly addicted to making felt flowers and ended up with dozens of them. I came up with these pillows as a pretty way to show them off. My pillows are just 8" square--perfect for an accent pillow on a bed--but you can make yours any size you like. 

To make each flower, cut a circle from felt and then cut a spiral into it, working from the outside edge to the center. 

Leave a small circle of felt at the center; cut off the pointy starting end and the bump on the outside edge.

Roll the spiral strip of felt toward the center, working from the outside in. 

Position the rolled felt on the center circle and stitch the base to the bottom of the flower. 

Make an assortment of flowers in different sizes. A 6½" circle gave me a 2½"-diameter flower; a 4" circle made a 1½"-diameter flower. Cut a pillow front and back from felt and sew felt leaves and roses to the front. Sew the front and back pieces together using blanket stitch. Stuff the pillow with polyester fiberfill and finishing sewing it closed.

Tip: When I need to make a circle pattern, and it doesn't have to be an exact size, I use items from around the house as templates. Instead of fiddling with a compass, I just trace a plate, glass, or mug that's the size I need.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Summer Stripes Cross-Stitch Pin

Mother's Day is right around the corner, and this pretty little pin stitches up quickly. I combined two palettes in this design--cool gray-greens and fun fruit colors. The alternating striped pattern reminds me of a summery woven rug.

The finished pin is just 1¾" square, so you'll only need a small amount of DMC embroidery floss and a  3" by 3" piece of 18-count Aida for this project. Follow the chart and color key below, or click here to download and print a copy of the chart. Use two strands of floss and work from the center of the fabric outward.

I framed the finished embroidery in a gold-tone pin setting from the Etsy shop Kailea. You can also mount the embroidery in a different style of setting, or simply sew it onto a felt backing and add a small pin back.