Sunday 15 April 2012
Miss Susu the soot sprite, now almost 8 months old, still lives up to the mischief in her name. I’ve long kept my most-used sewing essentials in a handmade fabric box on a roll-out shelf beneath my sewing machine. Kanoko never thought to get into it, but once Susu noticed how the shelf pulled out and the top came off the box, well, she taught herself how to do the same. After coming home to pins and needles strewn about my living room, I put them into a tin, but still kept my small scissors and some thread cases in the fabric box. Susu kept getting into it and tossing everything around the apartment, so over the Easter weekend I decided I’d better find a kitten-proof solution.
Cheap plastic microwave containers are great for threads, so I found a set of those. But I use my scissors, thread cutter, needle threader and seam ripper often enough that it’s better when they’re easy to get at – a microwave container can be a little fussier than needed.
Thus this sewing “book” I designed and sewed by hand. Here’s the how-to:
1. Pick the tools you use most and measure them. Be sure to take your tools’ thicknesses into account. I used grid paper to make this step easier.
2. Play with layouts using the tool sizes. I decided on a “book” to be folded in thirds. Add enough spacing between tools for folds.
3. Add seam allowances to the drafted pieces that will hold each tool. I added a half-centimeter (about 1/4″) allowance since I knew I would be hemming the pieces by hand. Then cut out the pieces on your fabric. I chose a fun pink print with birds and birdhouses, and placed the pieces so that birdhouses would hold my longer tools, and birds for the wider ones. I also added a rectangular piece of black chirimen (silk) as a needle holder.
4. Add seam allowances to the main “book” pieces as well, then cut out the lining fabric and outer fabric. Here I used a Provençal print for the lining, and an upholstery-weight bird print on a brown background for the outside.
5. Hem pieces and attach them to your lining. For thick tools, remember to sew in some pleats on their fabric pieces so that the tools will slide in easily, rather than tugging on the lining. You can see two pleats for my seam ripper and smaller gathers for my needle threader in this finished photo. Handsewing is great for this sort of project, as you can hem first and then attach the pieces using appliqué techniques.
6. Attach the outer piece and lining as you prefer. I hemmed them first by hand for attractive stitching, then attached them with an invisible stitch. You could also put right sides together and stitch around the edges while leaving an opening to be able to turn the pieces right sides out. Once turned right sides out, you then make sure the edges are straight (ironing is usually needed) and close up the hole with an invisible hand-stitch.
7. Enjoy! Mine folds up small enough that I can hide it on my sewing machine, out of sight thanks to the machine cover when not in use. Kitten-safe!