A failure and two successes

My husband tells me I am a wimp. I’m afraid he has a point.

Yesterday I was definitely and finally going to tackle the sewing machine to make up Isobel’s door hanger. But somehow I kept finding other things that urgently needed to be done first – and exactly the same thing had happened the week before. It’s remarkable how many urgent things you can find to do when you really want to.

Halfway through the afternoon I gave in and admitted openly that I felt terribly nervous about the sewing machine and didn’t really want to do it at all. This is where the wimp comment came in. In the end we decided that it would be a marvellous idea to take all the materials with me when we go to see his parents in a few weeks, and ask my mother-in-law, who is an extremely good seamstress, to hold my hand while making up the door hanger. I breathed a sigh of relief and carried on working on my other two planned finishes, the biscornu made from the two versions of Shades, and the pen holder. I won’t say too much about the biscornu, as instructions for making one can be found all over the internet. The only change I made to the usual pattern is that I didn’t indent the centre with beads or buttons; I thought it had plenty of beads already, and rather liked its plump shape (you can see larger pictures in the Gallery).

Shades made into a biscornu Shades made into a biscornu

The pen holder is, as far as I know, my own idea, and just in case you think it’s the perfect thing to do with all those smallish pieces of stitching you’ve got lying around, here’s how to do it.

First of all, decide how large you want your pen holder to be. I based mine on a section of kitchen roll tube, and looking back I think I would have preferred something slightly wider, but if you don’t need to keep too many pens and pencils in it, it’ll do just fine. Measuring my present pen holder, I decided on 12cm for its height. I cut the cardboard tube to about 13.5cm, then made 1.5cm cuts at one end, about 1cm apart, and folded those in. I put double sided tape on them, and then stuck a cardboard circle to them to make the bottom. That’s the basic framework of your pen holder done!

At which point do you decide which piece of stitching to use? Well, it all sort of happens at the same time; if you are absolutely sure of the piece you want to use, then that will dictate the size of the pen holder. On the other hand, if you want the pen holder to be a particular size, you’ll have to find a piece of stitching to match. Fortunately there is some leeway, as you will see. I decided to use Douglas.

Douglas

I had chosen to make my pen holder 12cm high, and its circumference was 16.5cm. Now, because I picked a piece of Hardanger it meant that the cardboard would show through the cut areas, so it would have to be painted or covered. I thought felt would look best, and because Douglas looks rather nice against a black background, I applied black felt to the tube using double-sided tape. This made its circumference 17cm.

To hem my stitching I used four-sided edging, which is stitched over 4, and as my favourite 25ct has 10 threads per centimeter is was easy to work out that the long side would need to be 43 stitches (172 threads). The short side I made 31 stitches (124 threads) so that the tube would not stick out. After all that I had one black felt tube, and one hemmed rectangle of fabric. (The next pictures are all clickable).

Making a pen holder

I’d originally intended to whipstitch the short sides of the fabric together first, and then slide it over the tube, but it was going to be quite a tight fit, and I didn’t think it would slide well over the felt, so I stitched it together (whipping twice in each stitch) directly on the tube; a bit fiddly but not too bad. It ended up looking rather like a laced corset!

Making a pen holder Making a pen holder

And here it is put to its proper use:

Douglas made into a pen holder Douglas made into a pen holder

If you decide to make one yourself, I’d love to see pictures of it and show it off in the Stitchers’ part of the gallery!

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