Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vintage Strawberry Pincushion Ebay Treasure!

This gorgeous bunch of white strawberries is up on ebay and I dearly wish I could afford them! I'm not sure if they're intended as decoration or as a functioning pincushion, but either way, wouldn't they look great on your sewing table? Here's the link to the listing, which is almost over, so go quick!

Now, since I really can't buy them right now, but of course I just have to have them anyway, I came up with my own version.

Turns out a strawberry is a pretty easy thing to make. Just a half circle of fabric sewn up the side and gathered at the top. The original used white velvet, but naturally I don't have any on hand so I used this cotton print.

First thing to do is cut out 2 circles 3 1/2" in diameter. Fold one in half and cut along the fold. Take one of those halves and trim it down to about a 2 1/2"
diameter. Take the other circle and trim it down to a 3" diameter, then fold it in half and cut it along the fold too. Okay, I cut mine wrong. Creative license! Each half circle makes one berry, and you want 1 large one, 2 medium ones and a small one.

Next you'll fold each piece in half again (right sides together) and sew along the straight open edge with a 1/4" seam. (I used black thread so you could see). If you want rounded tips on your berries instead of the pointy ones shown, round off the end of your seam. You want to use a fairly small stitch length on your machine, or a small backstitch if you're doing this by hand.

Turn them all right sides out and run a small gathering stitch around the open tops. Use a fairly long length of thread. Stuff VERY firmly. You can always get a little more in! Draw up the gathering stitches and shape your berry as you go. When each one is stuffed, sew the top closed and knot the thread, but don't cut it.

Now, take the tail of thread and a bunch of seed beads and sew seeds all over your berries. I always seem to sew things in straight lines, but you want to make them as random as possible. Sew on as many or few as you want. When you're happy with it, run the thread to the top of the berry, knot it off and cut it. Do this with all of your berries.

The calyx on the original is just a square of velvet ribbon. Another thing I don't have on hand, so I used felt. You need a 1/2" square for the smallest berry, 3/4" for the largest berry and 5/8" for the medium berry. Cut 4 12" lengths of embroidery floss and tie a big knot in one end of each one. Using a needle, run the other end through the center of each calyx, then sew the calyx on the berry. When they're all done, hang the berries from one hand and adjust the lengths of the embroidery floss until you're happy with how they hang. Tie a knot on the other end to keep them in place while you make a bow.

Still no velvet ribbon so I used some 7/8" satin ribbon in a really pretty shade of apple green. Cut 2 pieces each about 9" long. Take one piece of ribbon, overlap the ends about 1/2" and sew together. Bring the center of the loop to the sewn join and wrap the thread around it several times. Knot the thread but don't cut it. Take the other piece of ribbon and, with the same thread, do a running stitch up the center going across the short width. Push this up to the loops, draw up and wrap the thread around the whole thing a few time. Then knot securely and cut the thread.

Being really sure not to lose your spacing, carefully untie the knot in the embroidery floss on the strawberries. Keeping the strands of floss parallel, lay the bunch of strawberries on top of your ribbon bow and wrap the floss over the thread wrappings. I went once on each side of the bunch, then once between the outer most berry and the next in, again, on both sides. This seems to keep them from tangling with each other quite so much. Carefully lay the whole thing down, back side up.

With an embroidery needle, knot off each strand of embroidery floss. Trim the ends of the ribbon and treat with fray check or something to prevent fraying. Right about now I suddenly realized that this would make an awesome pin for quilting or embroidery get togethers. Sure enough, no pinbacks in the stash, so I'm using a safety pin for now.

This and other great vintage patterns can be found at PatternsAlaCarte on Etsy, click on one of the little samples at the bottom of the page.

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