Hawiian Quilt Inspired Temari

With a Hawaiian name and being a quilter, I thought for many years it would be fitting if I made a quilt in the Hawaiian applique style. Never got around to it.

temari 89 view 1

Traditional Hawaiian quilts are usually a radially symmetric design created by folding the fabric (or paper template) into eighths and then cut along the edges, like making paper snowflakes.

temari 89 view 2

For this temari, a paper template was made to fit the size of the ball. Next, two pieces of hand dyed rayon/wool felt were cut from the template. The felt pieces were appliqued to the ball and then outlined using stem stitch. The thread is a hand dyed 5/2 perle cotton. Little bullion stitches were used in the cut slits for accents in the leaves and seed head.

temari 89 view 3

This temari, #89, is an S8 division with no markings.

A Half Dozen New Temari

version #3 of temari tote In my eagerness to share pictures of the glass float temari in my last post, the half dozen temari that preceded it got passed over. Now they will have a chance to be seen too.

After photographing these temari, I noticed that there was a pattern of repeating an idea once before moving on to another idea. There were two pincushion temari, then two temari where points of interest were the intersections of shapes, and then two temari with offset pentagons.

Both of the pincushion temari are simple divisions with most of the stitching on the equator. This is because I prefer to have open space on  the tops and bottoms for pins. Each of the two pincushion temari were made to coordinate with a temari project tote.

For temari #82, some of the thread from version #3 of temari tote bag’s fabric was used as the accent in the center of the band. temari 82

And for temari #83, I experimented with layering the thread in the band a little differently than the previous one. This is the pincushion for temari tote bag version #4.

temari 83

The next two temari are C10 divisions.

The first one, temari #85,  is based on the rhombic tiacontahedron, with the surface divided into 30 diamonds. A little extra blue and dark pink thread is stitched at the intersection where the points of the diamonds meet, creating five pointed stars and triangles.  

temari 85


The second one, temari #84, is based on a dodecahedron with the pentagons outlined in blue green thread. Then the intersections where the points of three pentagons overlap are outlined in peach and orange, creating hexagons at the intersections and stars in the pentagons.

temari 84


The last two temari are also C10 divisions, but the designs are based on the snub dodecahedron. Both of these were time intensive to make.

This temari, # 86, features stars that are needle woven.

temari 86

The second one, temari # 88, is a bolder design that features bands created with stem stitching and chain stitching.

temari 88

All of six of these temari use hand dyed perle cotton threads, except the first pincushion temari.

Glass Float Temari

This S9 temari was inspired by glass floats, which used to be used to keep fishing nets afloat. Many are found with barnacles attached. This one also has a starfish (or sea star) adorning it.

glass float temari 87 side 2

Side view


In reading about the history of glass fishing floats, they were first produced in Norway around 1840 and other countries followed, with Japan starting around 1910. Even though glass floats have been replaced by materials such as plastic and Styrofoam, many of the Japanese floats are still being found washed up on the Pacific coast.

glass float temari 87 bottom 4

Bottom view


Glass floats are netted then secured to fishing nets. Looking on internet, one can see several different styles of float nets. Some are simple and others more complex. There are even tutorials on how to tie a glass float net. That is how I learned to make one for this temari. The netting just happens to be a simple division, with a north and south pole.

glass float temari 87 top 3

Top view


The starfish was made after the ball was netted. It is made of some of my hand dyed rayon/wool felt and loosely stuffed with scraps of yarn. The surface is stitched with matt glass seed beads in a pattern that was inspired by pictures of real starfish. The red color for the starfish was also inspired real starfish.

glass float temari 87 6

Each barnacle on this temari was machine embroidered on little pieces of stabilizer.  The ends were hand stitched together to create a tube, some stitching over the join was added to disguise the seam and the bottom circles were stitched to the tube to finish the barnacle forms.

glass float temari 87 in progress 1

Next, the barnacles were pinned to the netted ball along with the starfish. After they were arranged, then each one was stitched into place. A curved needle was a necessity in order to stitch the barnacles to the ball.

glass float temari 87 5

I discovered that taking a group off the ball and pinning them to my work surface in the same order helped me to keep them in order and out of the way while stitching each one on. I left all the other barnacle clusters pinned to the ball while working on a group.

This was a good project to finish up on a snow bound day.

bird in snow

Thread, Felt and Fabric Dyed and a Couple Lessons Learned

A couple cones of thread, a couple yards of felt and a couple yards of flannel sat in a pile waiting for days for a time of transformation, which was yesterday. Dyeing day.

dyeing 9

Winding all that thread (3,00 to 4,000 yards) into hanks (or skeins) took a couple days. My sweet canine companion kept me company for much of the laborious process of thread winding. One of her favorite places to nap is in a box half filled with fabric which she can fluff and rearrange to make the perfect bed. The box gets moved around the house so she can be with me in comfort.

Fortunately, all that was needed to prepare the fabric was to cut it into smaller pieces, so that took minutes instead of days.

The first half of dye day was preparation time with presoaking the threads and fabrics and mixing dye concentrate colors. The second half of the day was actual dyeing of fibers.

dyeing 1

The fibers that were dyed are cotton perle thread in sizes 8/2 and 5/2, cotton flannel and 35% wool/65% rayon felt. They were all dyed with procion MX dyes, a fiber reactive dye for cellulose fibers. Although the felt contains wool, a protein fiber, the rayon takes the dye very well.

Since there were many dye baths of different colors, a low water immersion method using plastic zip lock bags is an efficient use of small space. I do think that after experiencing two of the bags springing a leak, that I will switch over to using small plastic reusable containers for dyeing thread in the future. Fortunately, the leaky bags were on a plastic tray, so the escaped dye did not get very far, making clean up easy. And none dripped on the floor or on my furry buddy tucked in her box under the table.dyeing 10

Another lesson learned from this round of dyeing was in making hanks. After each hank is wound, then they are tied at intervals all around with yarn that weaves through the threads and is tied to keep all the threads from tangling while being dyed and subsequently washed. For this, I prefer to use a synthetic yarn for a couple reasons: it does not hold dye so does not leave a dark stripe of color on the thread or yarn being dyed and it does not bleed color and effect the color of the thread or yarn.

dyeing 6

Well, at least that was what was supposed to be used, but somehow I accidentally used a wool yarn on some of the hanks and found a third reason to use a synthetic yarn for tyeing the hanks- the wool shrinks and acts as a resist leaving little white marks on the thread where the dye could not reach the thread. In the picture above, you can see I have pulled the top few threads to the right to show how the thread remained white where yarn acted as a resist.

dyeing 3

Today was wash and cleanup day. All those lovely dyed goods had to be washed and dried, and either folded or wound into twisted hanks.

So, after all these years of dyeing different fibers, I still had something to learn and from that, a couple tips to share: zip lock bags spring leaks and can make a mess so consider a more durable container for dyeing and check the yarn used to tie off the hanks to make sure it is a good choice.

dyeing 5

The two pieces of fabric above are flannel that will be used for making pillowcases.  The picture below shows the folded edges of the felt pieces.

dyeing 2

Dyeing mottled fabrics always yields interesting and unpredictable results. In the pictures below, the one on the left is a full view of one piece and the picture on the right is a close up of a small area about 2″ x 3″.

dyeing 7

And in the next picture, a black dye applied to wadded up felt causes the dye colors to separate, creating areas of interest. This is a close up of a small area. Notice how the felt has a heathered appearance where the rayon took the dye well and the wool did not.

dyeing 8

As inspiring as white thread or fabric is for dyeing, the resulting dyed goods with all their luscious colors are even more inspiring for possible creative endeavors.

dyeing 4


Temari Tote Bag #4- final version

temari tote version 4 pic 1Version 4 of the temari project tote bag was made to improve a couple design details.

The  eyelets for thread guides and buttonholes to close the pockets were good design ideas that had problems.

In the first two versions, the eyelets were too small to be easy to pass the thread through. The third version solved this problem by using larger eyelets.  And in all three of the previous versions, the eyelets were below the buttonholes. This meant reaching into pocket to get to eyelet hole, making it more difficult to  thread the thread through the holes. Although, not much of an issue with the larger eyelets in third version.

Then there were all those buttonholes. They are time consuming to make tricky to have come out looking nice on course fabric that has a loose weave like the linen.

So, the solutions to both problems was to eliminate them: no eyelets and no buttonholes.  The eyelet thread guide were replaced with V notch at the top of each pocket. The buttons were kept, as a means of securing the thread, but not for closing the pocket.

temari tote version 4 pic 2

The previous version used a heavy weight fabric which made sewing seams challenging, especially when sewing the sides to the bottom. Trying to sew the sides and base together with a heavy weight fabric was a bit of a challenge.

To make construction a little easier, a lighter weight fabric was used in this version. Lighter weight means less bulky seams. The outer fabric in this bag looks like it would be a heavy weight, but it is actually not, so it was easier to sew.

The first two bags had a tendency to slouch since, which made it a little difficult see and access the inside. So the 3rd and 4th versions have a stabilizer to back the sides of the outer bag. With a lighter weight fabric, it was essential to have the stabilizer to give shape to the bag.

Adding stabilizer did not add bulk to the seams since the stabilizer was cut slightly smaller to avoid being added to the seams.

Also,  with a stabilizer backing the fabric, pulling the thread down against the V notch does not collapse the bag sides.

Without buttonholes, the buttons now serve only to secure the thread, not to close the pockets. The pockets do not really need to be closed. Besides, having the button closures meant that the depth of the pockets was limited by the placement of the closures.

To make the outer pockets a little more accommodating, the inner bag fabric was made with a stretch sportswear fabric and elastic was used instead of twill tape for reinforcement. The fabric stretches to hold more and it also helps hold things in the pocket. The fabric was a little challenging to work with, but the results were worth the effort.

temari tote version 4 pic 4

The inner pockets are made like in the 3rd version, but decided on three large pockets instead of two large and two small like in the 3rd version. The stretch sportswear fabric was used for the inner pockets too. The hems on the top of the inner pockets have elastic inside so that it will stretch and then return to its original shape.

Another change that was made was size. The first two bags have a hexagon with 3 1/2′ sides and the third has 4 1/2″ sides. The smaller size was just a tad too small and the overall size of the third bag was to big for most of my temari projects. The obvious solution was to compromise and try a 4″ sided hexagon base. It has turned out to be a nice size.

temari tote version 4 pic 3


temari tote version 4 pic 5

In summary, the “improvements” are:

1. no buttonholes- means less bag construction time,

2. no eyelets- means don’t have to buy or install them and no fussing with threading thread through hole,

3. V notch replaces eyelets- easy to make,

4. stretch fabric for inner bag- helps hold thread in pockets so don’t need to have button pocket closure and stretches to accommodate larger balls of thread,

5. hexagon base with 4″ sides- this is just a different size option from previous 3 1/2″ sides, not necessarily an improvement,

6. lighter weight outer fabric- less bulk to sew in seams,

7. stabilizer in outer bag- gives bag shape so does not slouch (also in version #3), and

8. inner pockets- the addition of inner pockets means somewhere to put tools and supplies such as scissors, paper strips,  needle book, thimble, graph paper, hand warmer, etc. (also in version #3),

Another change in this bag is the type of handle. It is not necessarily an improvement, just different. Paracord was used to make a 6 strand flat braid handle and to make the drawstrings.

Unfortunately, the coordinating temari pincushion was finished before I realized that the lobster claw intended to attach it to the bag was too small for the D-rings already sewn on the handle. So, a split ring was added to connect the two.

I have been using this tote bag version for a while now and really like its features. It was worth the time to make another version to address different design details.

The temari that is seen in the pictures is the current one in progress with the thread that is being used to stitch the pattern. The finished temari will be in an upcoming post, so come back soon.


Ring Thimble with Plate Tutorial

This tutorial is for a ring thimble with plate. This type of thimble is often used for sashiko stitching, but can also be used for stitching temari or when stitching through thick or difficult fabric. The thimble is worn as a ring, but the plate that rests on the palm at the base of the finger is what pushes the needle. This allows greater force to be used than just the strength of fingers, making stitching easier.

temari thimble 1

You might wonder why anyone would want to make a ring thimble with plate when an adjustable metal or leather ones can be purchased inexpensively? Well, if you are like me, and allergic to various metals, then a metal one is not a good option. The leather ones are usually colored with dyes that often contain metal, so that is not a good option either for the same reason. Also, I find the soft plate of the leather still allows my palm to get sore.

I find my handmade thimbles to be much more comfortable than either the metal or the leather ones, which I did try. I even wrapped the metal one in fabric, to make it usable. But the time spent make that one useable could have been spent making a better one. These also have a slightly larger plate than the metal one, which I find easier to use.

Making your own thimble also allows you to have one with a custom fit size.


temari thimble 2

The tools, materials and supplies you will need are in the picture above. They include:

  • Scissors – for cutting thread and for cutting plastic and fabric
  • Thread, general purpose – one to match felt color and one matching ribbon color
  • Small needle– for stitching with the general purpose thread
  • Large needle – for stitching with the perle cotton  or embroidery thead
  • Perle cotton thread (or embroidery thread)- color that coordinates with felt color
  • Template plastic – or equivalent cut to 1/4″ wide by the circumference of your finger (where you would wear a ring) plus 1/2″
  • 3/8″ grosgrain ribbon – one at 2 1/2″ long
  • 3/8″ grosgrain ribbon – one at 2 times the length of the strip of template plastic plus 1/2″
  • A pull ring seal from a milk or other carton – this one is from an almond milk or coconut milk container
  •  Felt – a small piece that is slightly longer than the plastic strip and a little wider than the width of plastic strip plus the width of the pull seal. A polyester felt was used for this project due to an allergy to wool.


temari thimble 3

L to R: seal with ring, seal with ring cut off, and seal with an edge cut off

Cut the ring off the pull seal. Next, cut a sliver off the edge of the circle so that it includes the little nub where the ring was attached.

temari thimble 4

Align the long piece of ribbon just inside the long straight edge of the piece of felt and place the seal with the cut edge near (with a small gap between) the ribbon. With a pen, trace along ribbon and around pull seal. Next, cut just outside the marked line, being more generous around the seal.

temari thimble 5


With the leftover piece of felt, lay the pull seal on the fabric with a gap (about 3/16″ to 1/4″) between the cut edge of the circle and the edge of the felt. Trace the curved edge with a pen and then connect the line up to the edge of the felt. See picture above. Cut outside the marked line.

temari thimble 6

From the remaining felt piece, cut a small circle that just fits inside the concave side of pull seal. Baste in place with a couple stitches.

temari thimble 7

Place the pull seal convex side up on top of back of felt so it fits inside circular area. Stitch pull seal to felt so that the stitches are small random stitches on the concave felt side. See pictures above.

temari thimble 8

Trim felt around the pull seal so that it is even with edge of plastic.

temari thimble 15

Take the longer piece of ribbon and fold it in half so that a 1/2″ of one end extends beyond the other end. Starting at the fold end, whip stitch down one side, insert the strip of plastic and then stitch down the other side to enclose the plastic. Don’t cut the thread yet.

If the ribbon is stiff like the metallic grosgrain that is used here, then the plastic probably is not necessary, but is recommended for a softer ribbon such as a satin or non-metallic ribbon. The metallic was used for this project as it was what was on hand at the time.

temari thimble 16

Wrap the ribbon around the finger you would use it on. I find the ring finger, next to smallest, one works best for me. Wrap so that the folded end is underneath and the cut end on top. Mark the ribbon where the overlap starts. The thread tale shows where the folded end is under the other end. Don’t make the fit snug. You want to be able to slide it on and off easily.

I had to pin the ribbon in order to take a picture.

temari thimble 17


Stitch the ring closed along both sides of the overlap. When you get to the cut end, fold it under and continue sewing across the fold, then down the other side.


temari thimble 9

Take the short piece of ribbon, fold it in half and slide over the overlapped section of the ribbon ring. Stitch it to the top of the seal. In the picture on the right, you can see where the felt has been flipped down to show stitches that go through the pull seal. Trim the ribbon.

This ribbon connector provides more support so the felt between the ring and the plate does not get stretched and worn.

There are little holes in the edge of the plastic because I forgot this step and had to unstitch the felt backing from the pull seal, attach the ring and restitch backing.


temari thimble 10

Baste backing in place.


temari thimble 11

Wrap felt strip ends around ribbon ring and trim so the ends just meet. Stitch ends together with thread that matches felt.

temari thimble 12

Using a buttonhole stitch, stitch around the plate, around the bottom edge of ring and the top edge of the ring.

temari thimble 13Using a stab stitch, stitch across the space between the plate and bottom of the ring, then go back the other direction and with stab stitches, fill in the spaces. This stitches the plate backing to the felt and the ribbon connector.

temari thimble 14

Your custom made ring thimble with plate is ready to use.

Library Temari Display

Beautiful things should be shared, not hoarded or stored where they can’t be appreciated. Temari by their nature are things of beauty: an art form based on geometry. They are artistic interpretations of spherical polyhedron structures, using line and color of thread to redefine the surface of a sphere.

Many of my temari creations have been temporarily freed from hiding in storage, to be displayed at our local library, for others to enjoy.

library temari display 1

Three display cases at our local library are filled with many of my temari creation and will be on display for the whole month of December. It took a little longer to set up the display than anticipated since about a dozen people stopped by to ask questions and make comments. They all thought they were beautiful, but only one knew what they were and had made one before.

library temari display 2

The display case in the picture above is the one on the left in the first picture. The top shelf has simple division temari, including a temari that measures only 3/8″ in diameter.

The middle shelf also has simple division temari. The three black temari with white thread are marked with simple, combination 8 (C8) and combination 10 (C10) markings with an explanation of markings to go with them.

On the bottom shelf in the front are the stages of producing a ball with written explanation to go with them. The temari behind them are some of my more adventuresome temari which experiment with different materials such as felt, lace, thread scraps as well as altered temari form such as a pumpkin form and a pollen grain form.

library temari display 3

The tall middle cabinet houses C10 temari on all the shelves and on the bottom are three kimekomi balls that have temari stitching added to them.

A temari the size of a basketball sits alone on the next to bottom shelf.

The C10s on the top two shelves range in size from a 7″ diameter ball (on center of middle shelf) to a 1/2″ diameter ball (center front of top shelf).

The 7″ temari has a black background on which seven different knot patterns worked in the  pentagons and triangles. This temari is actually a scaled down version of a temari that is three times the size in diameter. The larger version was about 1/2″ too large to squeeze into the case.

library temari display 4

The last display case contains C8 temari. The one on the top shelf, left hand side in purple, white and gold was the first temari I made.

Also on the top shelf, in the center, is one of my favorites because of the challenge presented by using several different types of embroidery stitches to create the flowers. Many stitches are difficult when stitching on a ball because it is three dimensional. Stitches that are easy on fabric do not necessarily translate to easy on a ball. In fact, they are usually more challenging. The French knot was a real pain to work on the surface, but worth it for the effect.

With each new temari, there is always something new to explore: a different marking of the ball, different color combinations, different kind of thread, different stitches, new materials, different arrangement of design elements,etc. The possibilities seem endless, so my explorations in temari continues. Who knows, maybe I will have a whole new set of temari for display in a year or two.


Attention to Details: temari project tote bag version #3

temari tote v3 1

In the third version of my Temari Project Tote Bag, there were some details that needed attending to that the first and second ones did not address.

In the first version, I considered the bag to be attractive and served its functions well except that the mesh inner bag would snag pins on the ball and pull them out. Not good when it takes quite a bit of time to measure and mark for accurate pin placement. This was fixed in version #2.

In the second version, I made the bag a little larger, but it shared a feature with the first one that needed to be improved. The eyelet holes needed to be a little larger to make threading the thread through the hole easier. Also, both #1 and #2 had soft sides so the bag would slouch when the pockets were not full. The pockets in both versions were intended for thread and there was no accommodations made for needles, scissors, and paper, unless the thread pockets were used.

So, bag #3 has larger eyelet holes, stabilizer in the sides and a second set of pockets.

This version stands up on its own with the stabilizer in the sides. Unfortunatley, I discovered that the combination of stabilizer, heavy weight fabric,the inner bag fabric, inner pockets fabric and two layers of fabric for the hexagon base, made considerable thickness in the seam for sewing the base to the sides. Sewing the seam was a bit challenging. Of course, this got me to thinking of using a lighter weight fabric combined with stabilizer would be a better choice for ease of sewing. That is being dealt with in version #4 which will be in an upcoming post, if it turns out well.

Version three has two small and two large inner pockets for tools and accessories. The two larger pockets have a button and loop closure so that the pockets don’t gape open.

temari tote v3 2

The larger eyelet holes for thread dispensing is much easier for poking the thread end through. A definite plus since there is no sense in making things more difficult than necessary. It is tempting to cut out the eyelets on the first two bags and replace them with larger ones. But that would take courage as I might end up doing more damage than good.

temari tote v3 3eyelet thread hole v1

These were all details that relate to the function of the bag.

In the third version, a lovely piece of upholstery fabric was used for the outside of the bag. When cut, the fabric has a tendency to unravel on the cut edge. This fabric choice led to considering some of the aesthetic details in designing the bag.

temari tote v3 4

Not looking farther than what was on hand, I found a piece of rope that could be reused for the bag strap. Although the color of the rope could be found in the fabric, it still looked like it was a make-do choice. By taking a piece of the fabric and pulling some of the warp thread away, these could be used to weave into the braided rope to bring the fabric colors into the rope handle.

temari tote v3 5

In the picture on the left, the braided rope is on the right and the strands of warp from the fabric are on the left. On the left hand end of the rope, you can see where I experimented with weaving the warp strands into the braid using a tapestry needle.

To finish the handle, more of the same warp threads were used for whipping the rope together to form the handle. This also serves to hide where the rope ends join, making for a clean finish.

The same warp thread was used again to create braided cords for the drawstring closure on the inner bag.

temari tote v3 6By using the same material from the fabric in the handle, in the pull strings, and on the temari pincushion, it creates unity in the design.

It is attention to design details that helps create good function and pleasing aesthetics.

Two New Temari: stars and flowers

Using the same division of the surface of a sphere, very different designs can be achieved. For both, the C10 temari division was used. Comparing this to a geometric solid, the division lines would be the same as the vertices of a Disdyakis triacontahedron (aka: hexakis icosahedron or kisrhombic triacontahedron).

temari 80

In temari #80, pictured above, there are two layers of stitching. The stitching on the lower layer has pointed ovals that follow the edges of the twelve pentagon faces. The upper layer has stitched lines that zigzag around the ball, that together create stars within each pentagon and hexagons between three adjoining stars.

This design appears to have much potential in changing its appearance simply by changing colors, so it is probably one I will come back to in the future to try out variations.

temari 81

In temari #81, pictured above, there is only one layer since the two different stitched elements do not overlap. The idea for this temari grew from working on the previous temari. Seeing how the pointed ovals in the other one left interesting negative spaces, I decided to use that idea in this one. The pointed oval were replaced with diamonds to give the negative spaces a flower shape. Stitching was added to the negative shapes to suggest the centers of flowers.

The variegated threads used for the diamonds gave an otherwise static design more visual interest. Unfortunately, the dynamics of the color relationships do not translate well to photographs sometime.

Both took much longer to finish than I anticipated, but both were fun to make.

Three New Temari: different sizes and different purposes

Three new temari finished, each with a different function and size.

temari 77Temari #77, a very small temari (about 3/4″ in diameter) was made to be a book marker and given to another book lover as a thank you gift. The threads used for stitching this temari and for the braided cord are embroidery floss.

temari 78Temari #78, a medium sized temari ( 2″ in diameter) serves as a pincushion on one of my temari project tote bags. The decorative stitching is around the equator and on the bottom, leaving the top blank, except some small seed stitches to make sure the thread wrappings don’t move. Perle cotton threads in #5 and #8 were used for stitching. All are hand dyed except the off-white thread. When it is loaded with colorful pins, it looks like the top of a cupcake with sprinkles.

temari 79Temari #79, a large ball (about 7″ in diameter) was made just for looking at and the joy of making it. Three different sizes of thread were used to stitch this ball. A fine #8 perle cotton for the pentagons and triangles. #8 perle cotton was used for the blue diamonds. The thicker black thread and variegated threads are actually a silk/bamboo yarn. Except the black, all the decorative stitching threads are ones I have hand dyed.