Lap Top Work Station For Temari Making

portable temari workstation

portable temari workstation

Wishing for something better than a pillow to place in my lap as a work surface for temari, I came up with a solution that used materials found around my house. At first, it was just a lap top work surface, and then I added a removable utility belt to keep tools and supplies for current project at hand.  Originally, the ideas was to have a surface that a ball would not roll around on (or roll off onto the floor).

The temari really does not roll off until you tilt it rather dramatically. Here, one end is jacked up 6″. The secret is the fact that the pillow side of the desks are filled with little foam pellets that conform to the shape of the ball.

temari lap desk 1

The work surface is two lap desks with one turned upside down on top of the other and both inserted into a zippered bag. I tried a pillow case but it was a little big, so I made a case with a zipper. This keeps the two desks together, but to prevent them from sliding back and forth (even in the tight case I made) I had to add a couple scraps of the nonskid mat (the kind used under area rugs and can also be purchased as place mats too).

temari lap desk 2

Also, the cover means you can keep you work surface clean by removing the cover and laundering it occasionally. Personally, I prefer the white cover over the busy print so I can see what I see my temari without a distracting print.

temari lap desk 3

I did leave the pillow case on under the zippered cover so that i can keep the lap desks together while the zippered cover is being washed and to have one more layer between the old (probably not very clean) fabric and my temari.

You could just as easily use a zippered pillow case that has been cut down to size by shortening the non-zippered end and the side that does not have the zipper pull on it when the zipper is closed. I did not have one, so I made one.

The lap desks I used are very old ones that were buried and forgotten in the back of a closet. There are a couple reasons to use the lap desks instead of a pillow. Because the pillow is soft: 1.  it will fold when you pick it up and 2. it is not rigid enough to attach a cool temari utility belt to it.

When looking for a lap desk to purchase (if you don’t have a couple of them hiding in your home to repurpose), I found a search on internet was more productive if I used the term “lap desk” or “lap desk pillow” and not “lap top desk”. The rectangular, inexpensive ones work just fine. The ergonomic shaped one that are curved to fit the body would make it difficult for the tool belt to stay on.

The tool belt was a brain storm I had one night that just had to be made the next morning, so I only used what materials were on hand. I am sure it could be improved or personalized to suit your own needs, but this design at least gives you a starting point.

temari lap desk 4

Work station utility belt assembled on left and disassembled into separate parts on right.

There is quite a bit of hook and loop fastener (Velcro) used in this project. It made it easy to assemble and to adjust without having to resew anything, plus it is easy to take apart if necessary. Please note there are two kinds of Velco used: two sided called “One Wrap” and the standard kind with hook on one tape and loop on other tape. Also, reference in this post to loop side means the soft side and hook side means the rougher side.

NOTE: Remember, you might have to adjust some of the measurements to fit either your lap desk size or scissors size. The lap desks that are used in this project are 13 1/2″ x 19″ and only about 1 3/4″ deep.


For Strap-

1 piece of 1 1/4″ wide stiff belt webbing at 16″ long (1 1/2′ wide will work fine too)

1 piece of 1″ wide stiff elastic (the no roll ribbed kind) at 16″ long

1 piece of 1″ wide of hook (rough) side of Velcro at 1 1/2″  long

1 piece of 1″ wide of loop (soft) side of Velcro at 4″  long

For Scissors Pocket-

1 piece of 1 1/2″ wide belt webbing at 7″ long

1 piece of 1 1/2″ wide of hook (rough) side of Velcro at 1 1/2″  long

For Pincushion-

1 piece of felt at 5 1/2″ x 6 1/2″

yarn scraps for stuffing

2 pieces of 3/4″ wide Velcro at 4 1/2″ long each

For Thread Pouch-

1 piece light weight canvas at 7″ wide x 20″ long (light weight denim, etc.)

1 piece medium weight canvas (denim, etc.- something with a bit of body to help pocket keep its shape)

3 pieces of 3/4″ wide of two sided Velcro at 3 1/2″ long each

1 pieces of 3/4″ wide two sided Velcro (or piece of loop side) at 9″ long

 temari lap desk 5



temari lap desk 8

temari lap desk 6

  1. Stitch the 16″ piece of webbing to the 16″ piece of elastic with a 1 1/4″ overlap.
  2. Stitch the 1″ x 1 1/2″ piece of Velcro (hook side) to end of webbing.
  3. Stitch the 1″ x 4″ piece of Velcro (loop side) to end of elastic.

Scissors Pocket-

temari lap desk 7

  1. Stitch the 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ piece of Velcro (hook side) to one end of the 7″ long belt webbing.
  2. Lay on table with velcro side down, then fold up 2 1/2″ of other end and stitch along both sides to form a pocket.


temari lap desk 9

  1. fold the felt in half along the short side so that the two 6 1/2″ sides are together, and pin together.
  2. Zigzag stitch along the pinned edge but stitch so that one side of the stitching goes over the edge.
  3. Flatten the felt tube so that the seam is in the center of the back. Tuck in the corners on one end so that the end is about 1 1/4″ wide (width of strap that it will attach to later) and zigzag stitch end closed.
  4. Stuff felt tube with yarn scraps, but not too tightly or it is difficult to push pins and needles in.

NOTE: I recommend trying out the pincushion first before sewing second end closed to see if it needs more or less stuffing or a different kind.

  1. Stitch other end closed.
  2. Center a piece of two sided Velcro that is 3/4″ wide by 4 1/2″ long on an end of felt tube so that the loop side is up and stitch in place- one on each end.

Thread Pouch-

temari lap desk 10

The velcro extension part (the top half):

  1. Fold the 7″ x 20″ lt. weight canvas in half (with right sides together) along the long side so that the two 7″ sides are together and pin them together.
  2. Stitch along pinned side using a 1/2″ seam allowance making a tube. Press seam open. Turn down edge of one end of tube 1″ and press with iron.
  3. Turn right side out. On the side that has edge turned under (now it should be turned in), tuck in the three pieces of 3/4″ wide velcro that are 3 1/2″ long- one on each end and one in the center, with 1/2″ tucked in and 3″ sticking out. Pin in place.
  4. Stitch close to edge and again about 1/2″ from edge to close edge and secure Velcro strips.
  5. Stitch the 3/4″ x 9″ wide Velcro (loop side) at 1 1/2 below top edge (edge with Velcro strips).
  6. Finish other edge with an over edge zigzag stitch.

Now for the pouch part (the bottom half)-

  1. On the 9″ by 12″ canvas, fold down 3/4″ on both edges to form hems (fold toward wrong side of fabric or side that will be inside) and pin each folded edge. Stitch hems with an over edge zigzag.
  2. Fold in half (with right sides or side that will be out together) on the 9″ side so that the two hemmed 1/2″ sides are together. Pin along the folded 9″ sides and then stitch with 3/8″ or 1/2″ seam allowance. Over edge stitch the stitched seam to finish edges. Turn pouch right side out.
  3. Pin the 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ two sided Velcro to the center of one of the long sides of the pouch with a  1 ” overlap, with the loop side facing out and stitch in place.

The purpose of this piece of Velcro is to prevent the pouch from sagging open so far that things fall out.

  1. Pin pouch to the extension piece so that the back of pouch is 4″ from top edge of the extension. Stitch along top of pouch and again about an 1″ – 1 1/2″ down from top edge.

Now to assemble the parts:

temari lap desk 11

Wrap strap around lap desks and secure and stick Velcro ends to together. Slide three Velcro strips under strap and wrap around and stick each to themselves.

temari lap desk 12

Wrap the Velcro tabs of each end of the pincushion around the strap and stick each to themselves. Then stick the Velcro tab on back of the scissors pocket to any part of exposed loop tape. Ta da! Your temari workstation is done.

Hope you enjoy your temari work station. I regret not taking pictures while I made this, but I was thinking about making it and it had not occurred to me at the time that it might be something other temari makers would enjoy making for themselves. But I think if you study the pictures that go along with the text, you should be able to figure it out. If you still have a question, then just ask.

Temari 49

Temari 49 is another experiment. I had been wanting to try an embroidered tulle fabric on a temari and found two very nice pieces at the fabric store a couple days ago.

temari 49

temari 49

After marking the ball, the fabric was appliqued to the surface. The purple bands were stitched with a dark purple bamboo/silk yarn, covering the edges of the tulle fabric. Next, French knots were added to the center of each of the flowers using a salmon pink perle cotton thread.  Then, each square was outlined with a chain stitch and a triangle within each triangle were stitched using a salmon pink bamboo/silk yarn.

There is always something new to learn when experimenting. The lesson I learned from using tulle on temari is that the edges of the tulle needs to be carefully sewn stitches close together so that edge is tight against the ball so it won’t poke up through any threads laid over it.

I am looking forward to trying the other tulle fabric that has a ribbon yarn stitched to the surface. With what I learned on this one, hopefully the next one with tulle will be a little easier.

Temari: 47 & 48

Both temari 47 and 48 were wrapped with serger threads that I recently bought.

The pale green used for 48 is similar but not the same as another color I already have, but a better match to one of my hand dyed perle cotton thread, so I was happy to add it to my collection of serger threads.

temari 47 view 1

temari #47

Temari 47 is a C8 division using 5 perle cotton threads that I hand dyed. It is approximately 3 7/8″  in diameter.

For this temari,  I was playing with spindles, the shape that is thick in the middle and tapers at both ends. It is a type of embroidery stitch that does not work on a flat surface as it is the curvature of the ball that allows the threads between stitches to lay next to each other rather than stacking up along the line that they are stitched on. I have a feeling that spindles will be something that I continue to explore the possibilities of for a while.

The both spindles forming an X were stitched alternately so that the intersection would form concentric squares unlike the spindle Xs in 40, 42 and 35 for which one spindle weaves through the other spindle. So in this one, the threads weave separately whereas in the 40, 42, and 35, the threads on each side of a spindle weave together. You might want to go look at the pictures of the others to see what I mean.

temari 47 view 2

temari #47

The  white thread that outlines the purple bands and the spindles is an important design element that gives the shapes more definition, otherwise the lavender (it really is lavender but near the green and with my camera it reads more like pink) and the green spindles tend not to show up well against the background color since they are close in value. It also brightens up the design which would tend to dull down without the white outlining.

temari 48 view 1

temari #48


Temari #48 is also a C8 division that is approximately 4 3/4″ in diameter. The ball is wrapped with a wonderful teal colored serger thread that was very difficult to work with. It is a bit slippery so it would slide off the ball or the ball would shoot out of my hands and there would go a lot of work that had to be redone. But it was worth it for the color is wonderful.

This temari was made with #5 perle cotton threads that I had dyed plus a creamy white silk/bamboo yarn and a teal crochet thread. The yarn was is too thick, so I split the four ply in half to use stitching on temari. The crochet thread is a three ply that is also thicker than I wanted, but the right color. So, I removed one ply to get the right size to use for both marking threads and for outlining the stitched shapes.

Like the spindle Xs in 47, the four point purple and pale teal shapes were stitched alternately so that the shapes would merger rather than be one shape on top of another.

temari 48 view 2

temari #48

 The four point shapes are the same as used in temari 38, but here I have used two together to form an eight pointed star like in temari 36. The difference between the eight pointed star on this temari and temari 36 is that the star on temari 36 is spread out over a hemisphere with the points of the two stars interlocking at the equator. Same star design but very different look.

One of the things I enjoy most about the design process, taking an element such as a shape, technique, color, etc. and exploring its potential by finding different way of using it by changing how it is used. Everything in design can be considered a variable and the question becomes “how can it be varied?”


Blue Plaid and Denim Tote

blue plaid and denim tote

This bag was going to be a plain plaid bag. But the addition of the denim, to reinforce the bottom and to make a pocket, along with the braided trim gave the blue tote bag more character.

I really like the blue plaid fabric and will be sad when it is all used up as I have no source for more of it. The weight of the fabric is similar to a lightweight canvas. It is the same fabric used for the crutches bag. The denim is left over from a pair jeans that I used to make a small project tote bag. And the wonderful braided trim is from my grandmother’s stash of trims that my mother gave me many years ago.

It would have been a rather plain bag without the denim and trim.

Two More Bags

Both of these shoulder bags are made from fabrics found at a thrift store. They are very similar in design. They both have adjustable shoulder straps, magnetic snap closures, fully lined and have an inner pocket. They are also lined with a stabilizer fabric to give the bag a little stiffness to help it retain it’s shape.

horizontal strip bag

The striped fabric used for this bag was an upholstery sample that still had it tag on it when I purchased it. The whole piece was used. I let the size and shape of the piece dictate what the size and shape of the bag would be. The bag is lined with the same fabric that the strap is made of, which was also a thrift store find.

flowering tree bag

This bag is roughly the same dimensions as the other bag. Since there was plenty of fabric, it was easier to copy the one I had already made. There was enough of this lovely upholstery weight flowering tree fabric to have left overs for a couple more bags, so I imagine there will be a couple more in the works soon. I think the fabric would  make a nice tote bag.

None of the bags I make are from patterns. I just make up the design as I go.


Quilted Mini Tote with Braided Cord Button Tie

This bag was inspired by the wonderful bronze colored fabric that is quilted with a turquoise thread.

mini tote with tourquoise button, view 1

It is fully lined complete with little pocket on back side of lining.

mini tote with tourquoise button, view 2

A fabric covered button that is padded with batting and covered with the same turquoise fabric as the lining is used for the closure. The tie closure is made of a four strand braid that is weighted and finished with a bead. Making the braid took a little longer than anticipated.

mini tote with tourquoise button, view 3

Two Upcyle Tote Bags

Carolyn, a friend I met years ago through our quilt guild, was debriding collected stuff since she is moving. So, she gave me a bunch of fabric and other things. Among the fabrics were some scraps that were just seemed to want to become a tote bag.

carolyn's scraps bag

I made the one above then gave it to her when I saw her at our quilt guild meeting as a going away gift. I will miss seeing her at the meetings, but there is always internet to stay in touch.

placemat tote

Among other things she brought over was a couple of matching placemats. One got transformed into a box and the other became this small tote. The tan fabric on the top was a scrap from a thrift store and the ribbon used on the handles was a scrap from my box of ribbons.

The box bag is almost done, but not quite, so maybe it will show up in a later post after it is completed and my frustration with it has worn off.

Even though both totes were made from fabrics from my friend’s scraps (mostly), they ended up with very different personalities.

Temari 45

temari 45 view 1

The design for this temari is the result of several ideas coming together.

I had made a ball wrapped in black thread that just refused to be a nice sphere. It was stubbornly a slight pumpkin shape, so it was not good for the intended C10 division. But, I saved it thinking it would be good for a simple division.

After making a smaller version of a large temari (number 26 not yet shown on this blog), I got to thinking that some of the designs that filled pentagon areas would make interesting designs on there own. Okay, this does not make much sense yet, but it will make more sense when the rest of temari #26 is shown in a future post. But for now, I will show the pentagon design that this one is from.

I wondered what the design would look like with on a simple division with one at each pole and the points of the arrowhead knots just touching each other at the obi, or equator.

five arrowhead knots

I had some threads that I hand dyed and was eager to stitch a temari with. Using a red rayon embroidery thread that matched the red hand dyed thread that I was going to use for an accent, I wrapped it sparsely on the ball to give the black background some interest. Then followed with a little more black to tone down the red a little.

The ball was marked for a simple 10 division with an obi, or equator. The two designs spread open on the ball, creating large open spaces at the center of each at the two poles and between the points at the equator. This allowed for a five pointed star at each pole and for nested diamonds at the equator that also interlock with the larger design where there used to be little triangles.

temari 45 view 2

The finished ball has about a 7″ diameter and is stitched with hand dyed size 5 perle cotton thread.


A Half Dozen More Temari and Hand Dyed Threads

All of these temari feature hand dyed perle cotton thread, all of which I have hand dyed except in one of the temari.

temari 39

temari 39

For temari 39, the “solid” color threads are not really solid, but slightly mottled. I can buy or dye solid colors, but slightly mottled colors have a certain appeal to me because of their unevenness of color.

temari 40 view 3

temari 40

In Temari 40, both a mottled green and a dark variegated thread are used to create a bold design. The color variation in the dark thread gives added interest to the simple shapes while the bright mottled green ties the design together and gives definition to the crossed spindles.

temari 41 view 2

temari 41

For temari 41, the color scheme was reversed in that the large squares are stitched with the mottled thread and the variegated thread is used for the outlining and the marking threads.

temari 42

temari 42

This temari, number 42, was stitch with interlocking triangles and set aside with the feeling that it was not finished. Later, the crossed spindles that interlock with the triangles were added. Here a true solid color, the rose pink in the crosses, was used to show off the single strand of variegated thread in the center of the spindle bands.

temari 43

temari 43

Temari 43 is a wee little temari at 3/4 inch in diameter. The marking thread is a cotton machine quilting thread and the stitching thread is a size #10 perle cotton.

temari 44

temari 44

Although temari 44 sports a couple variegated threads, I did not dye them, only the yellow. They were a couple of skeins I picked up an embroidery shop.

This temari was a project that I brought with me to a convention to work on during lectures when I was not taking notes and during the break between lectures. Since this one would be finished before the convention was over on the second day, I brought #42 and finished that one too. It was a good convention that I left with much new information crammed in my head and two finished temari in my littlest of project tote bags.


Two Repurposed Sewing Projects

Wishing for an ottoman and not being able to find one that I liked, led me to repurpose a milk crate.


What I was looking for was a foot rest with storage space under the cushion. We had an old wood milk crate that was hidden away in a closet that was just the right height with a cushion on top.

The wonderful tapestry fabric was left over from recovering a set of dining room chairs and some scrap lumber in the attic made the base of the cushion. So the only purchase was the 2″ thick foam. The inside is yet to be lined. It will get a lining like the one made for the picnic basket shown below.

picknick basket 1

This sturdy picnic basket was given to me by a friend. It has found a new purpose by being a project basket that I can tote around the house and keep my current sewing project materials tidily within reach of where ever I am parked.

To give the inside a smooth interior that won’t snag threads like the wood does, I made a removable liner. Fabric was stitched to a very stiff stabilizer (Peltex) to make a liner that fits snuggly inside the basket. The liner is stiff enough that it stands on its own so does not need to be attached to the picnic basket.

picknick basket 2

A peek inside the basket shows the liner and my latest temari that I am working on.