Making a New Cover for a Tailor’s Sleeve Press Tutorial

While cleaning up the sewing room today, I got side tracked by two projects. Both related to the cleaning up. In putting away spools of thread and bobbins, I realized that I could make another shelf for the bookcase where most of my thread is stored. After getting that done, and the shelf contents tidied up, I decided to tackle the top of the bookcase where ironing tools are stored.

tailor's sleeve board 1

I’m sure you see the connection to the tailor’s sleeve press, which resides on top of the bookcase. How I got sidetracked was seeing the pitiful condition of the cover on the old pressing tool. Every time I see it, I think that one day I should make a new cover for it, then forget. But when I do use it, I wish I had already made a new cover.

tailor's sleeve board 2

I rarely sew clothing, but it is a wonderful tool for pressing seams on things like a bag.

So, my cleaning was temporarily suspended for the lure of a new project. Now the tailor’s sleeve press has a new cover and you have a new tutorial.

Tucked away in a box of specialty fabrics under my work table is a large piece of ironing board fabric. This is a 100%-cotton fabric with an aluminized coating. I have used this for making ironing pads as well as quilting it for oven mitts. You can buy already quilted ironing board fabric, but for an ironing surface, I prefer a smooth surface with no quilting.

I took off the cover on one side, placed the uncovered wood on top of the fabric, which was placed wrong side up on my sewing table. The shape of the form was traced onto the fabric. Next, 1″ was added all around. Then this was cut out.

tailor's sleeve board 3

Note: If I had to do the project over again, I would have added about a 1/4″ more all around so that the fabric neatly covered the sides rather than just barely covered the sides.

Fold the fabric in half down the length and finger press a crease on the wide end. This is where the stitching starts and stops so the tie will be at the back.

tailor's sleeve board 4

Thread a cord or heavy crochet thread through a cording foot on your sewing machine. Then, using, zigzag stitch all the way around the piece of fabric, starting and stopping at the crease with a little bit of gap (about 1/4″) between start and stop. The zigzag stitch will create a casing for the cord. Leave several inches of cord at each end for tying off.

tailor's sleeve board 5

In the next picture, you can see that one side has been recovered. The original padding, which I kept, can be seen on the other side. Next to the press is the second cover ready to be slipped on and cinched into place by pulling on each cord end to gather up the excess in the curves and tying off the ends.

tailor's sleeve board 6

So that the sides of the cover does not slip back and forth and to create more tension on the fabric and thus a flatter work surface, the fabric is laced into place on the back side of the board.

tailor's sleeve board 7

The next time I use my tailor’s sleeve press, I will be glad it has been recovered. It was a short project, taking about an hour, so there is still plenty of time to finish cleaning up the sewing room. That is if there isn’t another project which draws me away from restoring order to the sewing room.

tailor's sleeve board 8



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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.


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Baste backing in place.


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

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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.

Temari Pillow

This temari pillow is an accessory that was made for the Temari Project Tote Bag. This pillow goes in the bottom of the tote bag and is removable. It can be places on flat surface to rest you temari on to prevent your ball from rolling away or getting dirty.


Top: cut one hexagon 10″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag of the tote bag. Here, a lightweight linen was used, but could be muslin, flannel, or any fabric of similar weight.

Bottom: cut one 9″ x 9″- same fabric (or same weight) as pillow top.

Stabilizer: for pillow bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 7″ across (point to point)

Button: 1 at 3/4″ diameter (for temari pillow) or whatever size you like.

Click on this link for a printable pattern for the hexagons.


temari pillow 9

1. Stack the two stabilizer hexagons with edges aligned and then stitch them together with an over-edge zigzag stitch. An over-edge zigzag was used, but even a few hand stitches would be enough.

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2. Lay the stabilizer hexagons on top of the back of the pillow bottom fabric. Stitch them together with a small over-edge zigzag stitch.

temari pillow 1

3. Trim fabric to 1/2″ seam allowance on all sides of hexagon. A half inch wide ruler makes this easy.

temari pillow 2

4. Place the 10″ pillow top hexagon down with right side up (this fabric is same on both sides) and then place the hexagon bottom centered on top with stabilizer facing up. Pin them together in the middle of the sides.

With the pillow top fabric(seen on bottom here) being larger than the bottom, there will be some fabric that extends to the front and back of each side seam. This is okay as it will be corner pleats.

Start the stitching at a corner and stitch to the next corner. I back stitch at both start and stop but do not go past the corners.

When starting next side seam, make sure that the excess at the corner is folded back out of the way.

temari pillow 3

5. On the last side, only stitch about an inch from each corner, leaving an opening in between. This is the gap to turn it right side out. Notice that the excess in the corner in the picture is folded away from the corner so that it does not get stitched.

temari pillow 4

6. Notice that the excess in the corner in the picture is folded away from the corner so that it does not get stitched.

temari pillow 4.5

7. Flip it over so that stabilizer side is down. Notice that the corners are not stitched. This is ironed flat then stitched down. I found that sticking a pencil in the opening made it easier to flatten it centered rather than to one side or the other.

temari pillow 5

8. Stitch the corners closed.

temari pillow 6

9. Turn right side out. Fill with bean bag filler, polystyrene beads.  With the beads, don’t over fill or it will be difficult to make a dip in the center for the temari to rest in. Polyfill stuffing could be used instead of the beads.

temari pillow 7

10. Hand stitch the opening shut.

temari pillow 8

11. Stitch a button in center with stitching going through all layers to pull the top layer down in the center to form a dip. You have just button tufted your pillow and finished it.

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12. Here it is in situ, in the tote bag it was made for.

Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial

This Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial is based on my second version of this tote bag. It is a handy tote for other sewing projects too.This project is not recommended for beginner sewers.

temari tote v.2 1

Although this bag could easily be used for other types of needlework projects, there are couple nice features incorporated into the bag that have the temari maker in mind.

The tote bag has a hexagon base, six outer pockets and an inner drawstring bag. The pockets accommodate both thread and small tools. The button pocket closure serves the additional function of securing the thread that is dispensed through the eyelet hole below the button hole. There is an additional D-ring below the bag handle to hang a temari pincushion. These instructions do not include the temari pincushion but the temari pillow will be in a separate future post.

The instructions that are given here are to make the bag as seen in the photo above which is slightly larger than the first version. You might wish to change things depending on what you have available such as: type of fabrics, size of D-rings, size of buttons, material used to  make strap, etc.

Just remember if you change the size of something, it might effect the dimensions of something else. For example a different size D-ring would need a different width strap to attach it to the bag.

There is little use of pins in this project, but feel free to use more pins if that is your desire.


Looking ahead: a link to a printable hexagon template is provided in the next section, Making Bag.


Outer bag– 1/3 yard  heavy weight fabric such as denim or upholstery fabric (I used denim)

  • Cut one at 7″ h. x 28″ w. (outer bag sides)
  • Cut one 11″ x 11″ (outer bag bottom)
  • Cut two at 1 1/2″ w. x 3″ l. (for D-rings)

Inner bag– lighter weight such as muslin (I used shirt weight linen)

  • Cut one at 10 1/4″ h. x 28″ w. (inner drawstring bag)
  • Cut  one at 11″ x 11 (lining for bag bottom)
  • Cut one at 7″ h. x 28″ w. (lining for outer bag)
  • Cut one at 5″ w. x 30″ w. (sleeve for drawstring)

Stabilizer for bag bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 8 3/4″ across (point to point)

6 buttons at 3/4″ diameter (for pocket closures)

6 eyelets at 1/4″ and eyelet tool (eyelets could be substituted with small buttonholes but there will be some friction on thread when thread is pulled through). NOTE: if I had larger eyelets, I would have used them as they would be easier to poke the thread through than these small ones.

3 D-rings at 3/4″

General purpose sewing thread– one to match inner fabric and one to match outer fabric

Twill tape at 1″ wide and 28″ long in a color to match inner fabric

Cording– #21 weight cotton cable cord (2mm craft cord is a comparable weight)

  • 4-6 yards (for braided handle)
  • 2 yards (for drawstrings)

Stencil material- a piece of heavy cardstock or stencil plastic that is at least 10″ x 10″.

Temari pillow– The temari pillow tutorial will be coming up soon but the following supply list is provided now so you can get your materials at the same time in case you wish to have the fabric match your bag.

for top: cut one hexagon 10″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag

for bottom: cut one hexagon 8″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag

Stabilizer for pillow bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 7″ across (point to point)

1 button at 3/4″ diameter (for temari pillow)


Hexagon template

This pattern template is a half of a hexagon, cut to 10″ from point to point with a 9″ half hexagon inside. Click on this link for a printable pattern.

If you don’t wish to or are unable to print the hexagon template, then you will need to make one. Click on this link for printable instructions on how to draw your own.

me center point, draw a 9″ diameter circle inside the first circle. Use the comp

Hexagon base

temari tote v.2 2

Rough cut the hexagon outer fabric to slightly larger than the template.

temari tote v.2 3

Cut out hexagon inner fabric to slightly larger than the outer fabric. Here they are stacked together so you can see that I did not waste time cutting out the inner fabric, just tore a square to that is a little oversized.

temari tote v.2 4

Trim the template to 1/8″ smaller than the stitching line. It is easier to see what is meant in the next picture.

temari tote v.2 5

Note: The hexagon template gets cut to just a tad inside the stitching line because the stabilizer for the base needs to be slightly smaller than the finished size of the base. The seam that joins the top to bottom gets stitched close to but not right at the edge of the stabilizer. This makes it easier to stitch the two parts together and the end result looks nicer.

Use the resulting hexagon template to mark and cut two pieces of stabilizer. When tracing the template onto the stabilizer, I find it easier and more accurate to mark the template half on the stabilizer, then rotate the template and mark the other half, rather than trying to mark a folded stabilizer since it is so stiff.

temari tote v.2 6

Stack the two stabilizer hexagons with edges aligned and then stitch them together with an over-edge zigzag stitch.

temari tote v.2 7

Lay the stabilizer hexagon on top of the back of the inner fabric. Stitch them together with a smaller zigzag stitch than in previous step.

temari tote v.2 8

Flip over the stabilizer and inner fabric so that inner fabric is up and place on top of outer fabric. Use a straight stitch to baste them together. Notice that the stitching is close to, but not right against, the stabilizer. When stitching the hexagon base to the sides, you will be stitching a tad closer so this should not show. The edge of the lining fabric is turned up so you can see the outer fabric it is being stitched to.

Trim seam allowance to 1/2″ from edge of stabilizer. This will give a 3/8″ seam allowance. The extra 1/8″ is to keep the stitching off the stabilizer so it is not adding bulk to the seam.

Outer Bag 

 temari tote v.2 9

Take the two pieces of fabric that are 7″ x 28″ and place right sides together. Stitch 1/2″ from edge along one long side.

note: I used the wrong side of the denim as the right side since I wanted a lighter colored denim bag.

temari tote v.2 10

Press the seam allowance towards the inner fabric side and then top stitch close to the seam. In the photo above, the edge is turned back so you can see the back too.

temari tote v.2 11

Fold the stitched together fabrics with right sides together and align seam and pin short side. Stitch 1/2″ from edge.

temari tote v.2 12

Press seam allowances open. Pressing the seam open rather than to one side, not only reduces bulk when stitching to base later, but looks nicer.

temari tote v.2 13

Fold along long seam so that wrong sides are together and pin along the folded side. Stitch 1/2″ from edge. This will be the top edge of outer bag.

Then pin together the other long edges and stitch about 1/4″ from edge. This will be the bottom edge of the bag. Stitching the two fabrics together makes it easier to manage them when pinning and stitching them to the bottom later.

temari tote v.2 14

Fold the resulting short tube in half so that the short seam is exactly at one of the two folds. Use a ruler and find center of the top edge of the bag and pin mark. Then pin mark edge at 2 1/4″ to each side of the center mark pin. This will give a space of 4 1/4″ between two pins.

temari tote v.2 15

Flip bag over and again pin mark edge at 2 1/4″ to each side of the center mark pin. Remove center pin.

temari tote v.2 16

Pin mark edge at each fold.

temari tote v.2 17Stitch buttonholes so that they are centered between pins and the top of the buttonhole is about 5/8″ from top edge. That way you don’t have to stitch a buttonhole through the bulky seam allowance along the top edge. The pink dots represent the pins that I forgot to leave in for the picture in my eagerness to move on to next step.

Inner Bag 

temari tote v.2 18

Measure up from bottom to center of button hole. Mine is 5 1/2″. This is the height at which to stitch the twill tape to the inner bag fabric.

Yours might be different if you placed the buttonholes down further or used a different size of button and therefore buttonhole.


temari tote v.2 19

Just line up the sides of outer bag with the short side of the inner bag fabric and use the distance from bottom of outer bag to center of button hole and mark both short sides of inner bag fabric. Lay the Twill tape so it is centered over marks, pin in place and then stitch it down to fabric along both sides of the tape. Put a small pencil mark in one of the corners at the bottom edge so you will know which is top and which is bottom in later step. See my little mark in lower right corner?

With the twill tape to the outside, line up the short sides of the outer bag and stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance, then stitch again with an over-edge stitch. Press seam to one side and then turn the tube of fabric right side (so that the twill tape is inside).

temari tote v.2 20

Along the length of the 5″ x 30″ piece, fold over 1/2″ seam allowance on one edge towards back and press. Repeat for other side. Stitch folded edges down with a triple stitch zigzag stitch.

Note: It is difficult to see the edge of seam allowance in this picture because it is on the other side and just showing through the fabric. I don’t like to use pins and find that sewing it from the top side works well without pins.

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Cut the strip into 2 1/2″ long pieces so there is 6 pieces at 2 1/2″ x 4″. Fold them in half along length and machine baste about 1/4″ from cut edges (not folded edge).

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Pin all six of the sleeves to the top edge of the inner bag evenly spaced apart. Arrange so that the seam on the inner bag is in one of the spaces between tabs.

Then stitch at 1/2″ from edge.

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Use an over edge zigzag stitch to finish the seam edge.

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Fold sleeves back and press. Stitch seam allowance down using a triple stitch zigzag stitch.

Note: Don’t let the fact that the outer bag and the drawstring cords are in this picture mislead you. Inserting the drawstrings is the last step. The tabs pictured here are a redo of this step. After the bag was “done” I discovered the original drawstring sleeves were too tight to allow the cords to cinch the bag closed.

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Assembling Parts 

Pin together the inner and outer bags so that the little sleeves are spaced between the button holes. Machine baste them together about 1/4″ from edge.

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Install an eyelet at about 3/8″ below each buttonhole.

temari tote v.2 27

In the next step, you are stitching the inner and outer bags together and creating pockets at the same time.

Use a narrow zigzag stitch and topstitch along outer bag seam up to the top stitching at top of bag, then switch zigzag settings to make a bar tack at top.

temari tote v.2 28

Lay bag flat and use a ruler to mark a vertical line that is centered between two button holes and stitch the same as the one on the seam in previous step. Repeat until all six are done.

temari tote v.2 29

Pin hexagon base to bag bottom. The vertical pocket seams that you just stitched will be lined up with the corners of the hexagon.

Using a zipper foot, stitch 3/8″ from edge. A zipper foot works well, allowing the seam to be about 1/8″ from stabilizer. When working with the bag bottom facing up, it is important to constantly be adjusting the bulk of the bag underneath so it does not get caught up in the seam. If it does, a seam ripper is a handy solution.

temari tote v.2 30

Using an over edge zigzag stitch to finish the seam edge.

For this step, the bag bottom was at the bottom to make it easier to stitch without worrying about fabric getting caught up in seam. Notice that each corner is clipped to make the seam allowance lie flat while stitching.

temari tote v.2 31

Fold the 1 1/2″ x 3″ strips down the length so that cut edges are to center and press. Next, stitch down center with triple zigzag stitch.

temari tote v.2 32

Slip one D-ring onto one band and slip two D-rings on the other band. With right side out, whip the two ends together to form a loop.

temari tote v.2 33

Before stitching the D-ring loops onto bag, make sure inner bag is folded down into bag, and pin it to outer bag to keep it out of the way when sewing on loop. That is what the pin in the picture below is for, not for pinning the loop in place.

For both loops, roll the seam to 1/2″ from the bottom fold and press.

For the loop with two D-rings, place loop on side seam with 1/4″ sticking above bag and both rings at the top fold. Remember to place the loop seam should be at bottom. Stitch loop in place at 1/2″ from bottom with a straight stitch to baste it in place and then secure it with a bar tack.

temari tote v.2 34

Slide one D-ring down and then stitch between the D-rings at 1/4″ from top of bag, first with straight stitch and then bar tack.

Attaching the loop with only one D-ring is the same, you just don’t have to deal with a second loop.

temari tote v.2 35

Sewing Buttons

To sew the buttons in place, it is easier to mark through the buttonhole to get proper button placement. Lay the bag flat on the table and insert a pencil in the middle of the buttonhole, give the pencil a twist to make a dot on the inner bag.

Stitch the buttons on the marks, which are on the outside of the inner bag. The twill tape that was sewn on the inside of the inner bag provides a backing for the buttons so that they don’t tear the fabric.

The buttons could have been sewn on before now, but they buttons are usually best saved for after machine stitching is done so that the buttons don’t get in the way or get snagged on something.

Drawstring Closure

Thread a length of cord through all six short sleeves so that two ends come out in space between two adjacent sleeves that lines up with one of the D-ring loops.

Thread the second length of cord so that it starts and ends at a space that is opposite the first one and lines up with the other D-ring loop. Tie ends and trim cords.

temari tote v.2 36

Now for the handle. The cording length was given as 4-6 feet since it depends on if you tend to braid tightly or loosely and if you use 3 or more strands to braid with. This handle is a four strand braid.

Cut the cord into two pieces and fold them both in half. Take the loop end of the cords and insert them into the top D-ring of the loop with two D-rings. Insert the cut ends through the cord loops and pull the cords through until the cords make a snug cow hitch (lanyard hitch) knot. Braid four strands together. There are plenty of tutorials on how to make a four strand braid on the internet. When the braid is long enough to wrap around one side of the bag to the other D-ring, split the braid end into two groups of two strands and insert on group through empty D-ring. continue to braid for a couple more inches and then tie off end and trim the cord ends about an inch from knot.

Note: you will want the handle to be long enough to wrap around one side of the bag so that it is out of the way when putting in or taking out the temari ball. See picture below.

Your temari project tote bag is done.

Here are a couple of accessories for your bag. A peek inside the bag shows a temari resting on a removable pillow. The pillow can be taken out and placed on a table to rest your temari on so it does not roll away. As mentioned before, the temari pillow tutorial will be in an upcoming tutorial.

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The next picture show the additional D-ring in use. A temari pincushion is made removable with the use of a lobster claw clasp.

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MotherOwl used this tutorial to make her own temari tote bag. She included nice details such as contrasting thread that matches the wooden buttons and cord handle and drawstrings that coordinate with the outer fabric. She was kind enough to share a picture, seen below. Thank you MotherOwl.

Temari with a Jingle not a Jangle

Finally, I figured out how to make a bell box for the core of a temari that had a nice bell sound to it without a rattle sound of the bell rolling around. Simple: don’t have a bell rolling around. But, if the bell has anything touching it, it muffles the sound. Hmm, had to think about that.

My first homemade bell box was a ping pong ball with a bell shoved inside through a cut in the side. Holes had to be made in the balls surface to allow the sound to come out, but more jangle than jingle was audible. I kept the basic idea, just tied the bells down to the inner surface of the ball.

The following are the steps I used to make my temari core bell box with a jingle instead of a jangle. You are welcome to use my idea.

You will need:

Ping pong

small bells

heavy thread (crochet thread works well)

large sharp needle

larger tapestry needle

electric tape

small piece of felt

craft knife

bell box 1

1.  Holes were made randomly in the surface of the ball using a sharp needle, then a larger blunt tapestry needle was used to enlarge the holes. More holes equal more sound escaping chamber.

bell box 2

2. Using a craft knife, a slit was carefully cut along the seam. It is thicker on the seam so when the ball is taped back together, it keeps its shape better than if cut off the seam where it is thinner and softer.

bell box 3

3. Insert the sharp needle thread with crochet thread through one of the hole and out the slit.

bell box 4

4. Cut a piece of felt to about the size of the bell. Stitch through the felt, through the loop on the back of the bell and back through the felt.

bell box 55. Bring the thread back through the slit and out a hole near the first hole that the thread came in. Shove the bell into the ball. For this ball, I added two more bells using the same method. I spaced them apart so that they would not touch each other.

bell box 8

6. Using the tapestry needle, the dented inside can be pushed back out.

bell box 6

7. Cut a piece of the electrical tape long enough to cover the slit. Cut the piece in half down the length to make it narrower.

bell box 7

8. The thread ends were pulled tight and then tied off. A dab of glue was placed on the knot just to make sure it did not come untied. It is ready to become the jingle in a temari.

Crutches Bag

crutches bag 1

Having torn a calf muscle, I have to wear an “Aircast” foot brace and use crutches for a while.  Trying to use a pocketbook or purse when using crutches is just too challenging, so I thought a crutch bag would be a good idea. Apparently not an original idea as I found some on internet, but by the time I ordered one and received it in the mail, I will hopefully be off crutches and just booting my way around. I decided to make one since I sew, have plenty of scrap fabric and have orders to stay off my foot for a while. It is not my  peddle driving foot so I can still use the machine with the injured foot propped up.

There are plenty of different designs on internet, but decided to make one to fit my needs. Here is how it is made,  if you like this one, you are welcome to use my design and instructions for your personal use. You might need to modify it to fit your crutch and your needs.

NOTES: 1. This design is for crutches with a 4″ space between the two support rods and those rods have holes for adjusting the hand grip location. 2. You might want to read all of the instructions before you start as I have made several notes as to how either the bag or the process of making it can be improved.

The fabric I used appears to be a cotton duck or light weight canvas, but I don’t know.


a heavy weight fabric such as cotton duck, light weight canvas, upholstery fabric or quilted fabric.

Body:  9″ w. x 20″ l.

Front pocket: 7″ w. x 7″ w.

Back pocket/rod pocket: 5″ w. x 9″ l.

Stabilizer: 6 1/2″ w. x 10″ l.

Inner fabric: 9″ w. x 11″ l.

Velcro Ties: This are two sided Velcro strips with the rough hooks one side and the soft loops on the other side. This is a little softer and easier to sew than regular Velcro and feels nicer to the hand as a closure strap. Cut in following lengths:

3 at 1″ long (two for front pocket and one for closing top strap)

1 at 4 1/4″ long (for top strap)

1 at 13″ – 14″ (for bottom strap)

1  Bolt: same length as the bolt that holds the hand grip in place (and will slide through the holes).

1 Nut: one that fits the bolt.

I don’t know the sizes for the hardware because it was easier to let my neighbor who works at the hardware store pick it out for me so I would not have to hobble up and down the parts isle.

Step-By-Step instructions

1. Over-edge zigzag stitch around all pieces of fabric except the inner fabric and stabilizer.

2. Fold and press a 1″ hem on both ends of body fabric. Stitch down about 1/8″ from edge.

hem both ends of body fabric

hem both ends of body fabric

3. Fold and press  1″ hem on one side of the front pocket. Stitch down about 1/8″ from edge. Press 1/2″ under  towards the back side on other three sides.

hem top of  front pocket and press seam allowances

hem top of front pocket and press seam allowances

4. Fold and press 1″ hem on one of the end of the back/rod pocket. Stitch down about 1/8″ from edge. On remaining three sides, press 1/2″ under  towards the back side.

5. Center a 1″ strip of Velcro (with rough side) up on the top hem and stitch in place by sewing around all four sides.

6. Center front pocket (with front side out) on the body fabric with the hemmed edge 1 1/2″ from one end. Pin in place and stitch along the two sides and bottom. Reinforce the top corners with a bar stitch (or satin stitch- a very close together zigzag stitch).

stitch front pocket to body fabric

stitch front pocket to body fabric

bar tack top corners of pocket

bar tack top corners of pocket

7. Center a 1″ piece of Velcro (with soft side up) under the pocket Velcro and stitch in place by sewing around all four sides.

stitch Velcro closure for pocket to bag

stitch Velcro closure for pocket to bag

8. Fold down and press a 1 1/2″ hem on the back/rod pocket. Stitch across top, 1/2″ from the folded edge.

9. Center back/rod pocket on body (opposite end from front pocket) with the hemmed edge even with the hemmed edge of the body. Pin in place and stitch along the two sides, starting at the just under the hem stitch on the back/rod pocket. Do not stitch through the hem as this is the rod pocket for attaching to the. Reinforce the top corners with a satin stitch.

NOTE: if I had to make one again, I would make an important change. For the back/rod pocket, I recommend stitching a strip of Velcro across one end. Fold the fabric at the 1 1/2″ hem and pin a strip of Velcro to the back piece so it lines up with the first piece of Velcro. To stitch the pocket in place, have 1 1/2″ of the Velcro end extend beyond the body  fabric. Start stitching 1/2″ from the hem of the body. This method makes for easy removal of bag if necessary.

10. Cut a strip of Velcro Ties to 13 -14″ long. Find center and pin so that it is centered on the width of the bottom edge of the back/rod pocket with the rough side up.  Also, center the Velcro so that the bottom edge is covered by the Velcro.

stitch 13"-14" long strip of Velcro to bottom of back pocket

stitch 13″-14″ long strip of Velcro to bottom of back pocket

11. Stitch across top of Velcro starting 1/4″ before the edge of the pocket and ending 1/4″ past end of pocket, stitch down to bottom edge of Velcro and back to starting side, then up to beginning point. Then stitch diagonally to opposite bottom corner, up that side and then diagonally down to opposite bottom corner, stitching an X through center.

This is what the stitching looks like on the inside:

view of stitching on inside

view of stitching on inside

12. Center the stabilizer along both the length and width of the back side of the inner fabric. Over-edge zigzag stitch along sides and one end of the stabilizer.

stitch stabilizer to back of inner fabric

stitch stabilizer to back of inner fabric

13. Fold the end seam allowance of inner fabric over ends  of stabilizer and pin in place. Pin this stabilizer lining on the inside of the back so the top edge of the stabilizer is just below the top hem of the back. Mark the location of the bottom edge of the stabilizer with pins. Flip the liner so that the stabilizer is facing up and the stabilizer is even with the pins. Unpin the folded over seam allowance end and pin edge in place. Using a zipper foot, stitch across the width of the fabric close to the stabilizer edge.

mark with pins

mark with pins

stitch inner fabric to bag close to stabilizer using zipper foot

stitch inner fabric to bag close to stabilizer using zipper foot

NOTE: Again, if I had this to do all over again, I would simplify this and make the stabilizer and inner fabric the same length as the body to make construction easier. Then the tedious step  eleven could be skipped.

14. Flip the stabilizer lining back to the back side, pin top edge to top of body(remember the lining should be just short of the top, but if it is even with it, then that is okay). Stitch the top hems together.

pin top hems of bag and inner fabric together

pin top hems of bag and inner fabric together

I recommend flipping the bag over to sew this seam so you can keep the back pocket and the Velcro out of the way while sewing.

stitching tops together while keeping the rod pocket and the Velcro out of the way

stitching tops together while keeping the rod pocket and the Velcro out of the way

15. Pin the 4 1/2″ long strip of the Velcro to the outside of the back of body piece centered on the top hem with a 1″ overlap with soft  side up. You will have to hold the back pocket out of the way when pinning and stitching.  Stitch in place by sewing around all four sides and an X in the middle. Fold 1″ of the remaining free end over so the rough sides are together and stitch together the same as you did the other end.

stitch 4 1/4" piece of Velcro to top of back side of bag

stitch 4 1/4″ piece of Velcro to top of back side of bag

16. Pin a 1″ long piece of Velcro to the outside of the  back of body piece centered on the top hem with rough side up. Stitch in place by sewing around all four sides.

NOTE: An improvement in order of steps would be to attach the Velcro to front and back before attaching the front and back pockets, but I did not know how all this was going to come together when I was designing as I was assembling.

17. Take the two ends of the Velcro strip at the  bottom of the bag and pull them together, overlapping them so they stick together. This will keep them out of the way when stitching the bag sides together.

overlap ends of Velcro and stick together

overlap ends of Velcro and stick together

18. Fold the bag body right sides together with top hems aligned. Pin along sides. Using a zipper foot, stitch sides together.  Trim seam allowances to 1/2″ then over-edge zigzag along each side (but not together).

stitch side seams together, trim to 1/2" and over-edge stitch each separately

stitch side seams together, trim to 1/2″ and over-edge stitch each separately

19. Stitch top of side seams with a bar stitch so that the stitches straddle the seam to prevent it from tearing with stress.

20. Stand bag up and squash a corner flat. Stitch across bottom where it is 2″ wide. This will form the box corner of bag. Repeat for other corner. Cut the tips of corners off, leaving 1/2″ seam allowance and then over-edge zigzag stitch cut edges.

squash corners and stitch across point where it is 2" across

squash corners and stitch across point where it is 2″ across

trim and over-edge stitch corners

trim and over-edge stitch corners

21.Turn bag right side out. Insert bolt in one side of crutch, slide bag rod pocket over bolt and then slide bolt through other side of crutch. Put nut on bolt end and then use screwdriver to snug it in place.

side view

side view

back view

back view


Four Square Fabric Gift Wrap

four square fabric gift wrap with matching reusable gift tag

four square fabric gift wrap with matching reusable gift tag

If you want a different look for a fabric gift wrap, try piecing the fabric rather than using a single piece. This lovely gift wrap was made using two different Christmas fabrics, creating a two tone gift wrap. Or if you don’t have enough of one fabric, then you can combine two or more to get a more interesting effect.

For this gift wrap, I cut out four squares measuring 14″x14″ each, two of each fabric. The squares were sewn together like a quilt block, except the piecing seams were finished with an over-edge stitch to prevent raveling of the fabric edges. The outside edges were also over-edge stitched, then turn under with about a 3/8″ seam allowance and straight stitched to give it a more finished look in keeping with the clean lines of the seams.

 illlustration of pieced four square fabric wrap

illlustration of pieced four square fabric wrap

The box the gift came in was placed in the center, so the edges of the box were diagonal compared to the edges of the finished square.

bottom of package wrapped in four square fabric gift wrap

bottom of package wrapped in four square fabric gift wrap

Two opposing corners were pulled up and tied and then the two remaining corners were pulled up to the top and tied. It is finished with one of my reusable gift tags. See earlier posts on reusable gifts for more on how to make them.

I hope you have fun making fabric gift wraps and experimenting with different piecing and wrapping methods.

Fabric Wrapped Gifts- reusable gift wrap

fabric wrapped gifts

fabric wrapped gifts

Here is another reusable gift wrapping idea, actually wrapping, not bagging.  It is simple and easy to do.

Starting with a square piece of fabric, either use an overedge zigzag stitch or surger to finish the raw edges. Then lay the fabric wrong side up on a table.

fabric laid wrong side up on table (corner flipped to show other side)

fabric laid wrong side up on table (corner flipped to show other side)

Place your item in the center, diagonally in relation to sides.

item placed diagonally in center of fabric

item placed diagonally in center of fabric

Bring fabric corners of two opposite sides to center, letting them overlap. Here, I picked the corners on the two long sides of the folded sweater so that the other corners would be long enough to tie together.

two opposite corners brought to center and overlapped

two opposite corners brought to center and overlapped

The folds on both sides are neatly tucked in, the same way you would when wrapping with paper.

folds on both ends tucked in neatly

folds on both ends tucked in neatly

Next, bring the remaining two corners to the center and tie. Unless you are using a slippery fabric, a half knot should be sufficient to hold it together until the bundle is tied with a ribbon.

remaining two corners brought together and tied

remaining two corners brought together and tied

For the finishing touch, a strip of contrasting fabric in the same pattern is used for a ribbon. The ribbon is a strip of fabric folded in half lengthwise and zigzag edge stitched on the raw edge side and ends.

fabric ribbon ties package together for finishing touch

fabric ribbon ties package together for finishing touch

I hope you will try this quick and easy reusable gift wrapping idea. This was quick, but I am thinking that some pieced fabric would make interesting wrapping, if not as quick. Come back to the blog in a day or two to see what variations are posted.

Making a Re-usable Fabric Gift Tag

blue themed re-usable fabric Christmas gift tags

blue themed re-usable fabric Christmas gift tags

These lovely gift tags are re-usable. The back of each has white fabric for writing on. At least, they are re-usable if you give it to the same person again. We have fabric gift bags we re-use, so why not gift tags?

These tags, along with several other sets and some quilted ornaments, were made as donations to a Christmas ornament sale for which the proceeds go to support a local food bank. It is nice to think that the tags and ornaments will serve double duty of bringing comfort and joy through their sale and their use. I certainly did enjoy making them and I hope you do too.

Re-usabel fabric gift tag

Re-usabel fabric gift tag

This tag was made from fabric left-over from making a red holiday vest for my son. At the top of the post is a set of blue tags in different fabrics.

The material needed:

fabric- white for back, aprox. 3″ x 4″ and decorative fabric for front, aprox. 3″ x 4″

Peltex stabilizer


1. Cut stabilizer to 2″ x 3″. The top two corner are nipped off diagonally 1/2″ in from top and side. See photo of stabilizer on cutting mat.

stabilizer cut to size

stabilizer cut to size

2. Sew stabilizer to white fabric that is about  using a straight stitch very close to edge of stabilizer. I use a zipper foot with the needle set to the right at a short stitch.

tag 4

stitching decorative fabric to stabilizer and back fabric

3. Trim the white fabric even with edge of stabilizer. (1505)

trim white backing fabric

trim white backing fabric

4. Place decorative front fabric wrong side up and then place the stabilizer with white fabric up on top of decorative fabric. Stitch around edge same as in step 2.

stitching decorative fabric to stabilizer

stitching decorative fabric to stabilizer

5. Trim the decorative fabric even with edge of stabilizer.

trim decorative fabric

trim decorative fabric

6. Over-edge stitch all the way around tag using a narrow zigzag stitch, with the stitching just barely going over the edge of the stabilizer. I use an over-edge stitch foot, but it probably not necessary as the stabilizer is stiff enough to prevent the stitching from drawing in the fabric.

edge stitching tag

edge stitching tag

7. After zigzag stitching all the way around, switch the stitch width to slightly wider and the length shorter, to a satin stitch length and then continue stitching around again.

tag 8

satin stitching edge of tag

8. Mark for button hole centered at top and between 1/4″ and 3/8″ in from top edge. This one is approximately 3/8″ wide. For light fabrics, a regular graphite pencil works well, but for dark fabrics, a white coloring pencil works best.

tag 9

marking button hole

9. Stitch button hole.

10. Cut buttonhole hole open. I find that a blade from a craft knife works well.

tag 10

cutting open button hole

Making a Quilt Label

charity quilt label sewn into corner of quilt back

Although there are different ways of making labels for a quilt, the method offered here is the method I use the most.

Labels can be computer printed directly on fabric that has been specially treated, but I prefer printing it on paper then tracing it onto fabric because it gives a personal, hand written look which is neater than my handwriting. By composing the label on the computer, it takes any guesswork out of getting everything to fit and look good. Plus there is the bonus of so many different font styles from which to choose.

For this method, there are basically three steps to making a label: composing it on the computer, printing it on paper and then tracing it onto fabric; after which you will need to either attach it to the quilt or incorporate it into the quilt.

That is it, but if you want to know more details on how to customize it, read on.


  • computer and printer
  • computer printer paper
  • permanent pigment marker suitable for fabric
  • light table
  • fabric for label- light colored and at least an inch bigger than the finished label in both height and width.
  • tape- painters blue masking tape has less tack and is easier to remove.


I  usually use Word, but any word processing program or graphics program with text will work. In Word, I insert a text box and stretch it to about the size the finished label is to be.

label design for charity quilt

The label for the above charity quilt was made in Word. I used center alignment of text and adjusted the font size of each line to make it fit a triangle. To see if it would fit a right angle triangle corner of a quilt, I held up a corner of a piece of printer paper to the computer monitor and adjusted fonts until it did. The flourish at the bottom was from Word’s clip art gallery. I printed the  label in black ink only as color was not necessary.

The margin between the text and the box is a little narrower that I usually prefer, so it gets widened. By right clicking with the mouse inside the text box , I can access a menu where I can select “paragraph” by left clicking on it. Increasing the margins is done by increasing the size of indentation on both right and left.

After typing the text for the label, I will adjust the font style and size to fit the box. Generally, anything smaller than the equivalent of 16pt. in Times New Roman will be too small to comfortably trace on fabric. A font without a serif is easier to trace. Fonts with serifs are the ones with the extra details at the beginning and end of a letter stroke.

If I want a shaped text box, then I use a graphics program. There I can either select a quick shape or a shape from the clipart gallery and open it on a blank page. Either way, I will adjust the size of the box or shape and the font so they work together. Text can be typed to fit a quick shape but not a gallery shape. Every option in any program has advantages and disadvantages, so sometimes I end up using more than one program to get what I want.

label design made in graphics program


I use black ink only as it is easier to see through the fabric when tracing on a light table.


Lay the paper printed copy of the label face up on light table. Tape the fabric face up to the paper copy with it centered on the label area. Place the whole thing on top of your light table, turn on light and trace the letters that show through the fabric. I usually trace the box outline too. If it is to be part of the design, I trace it with the pigment marker. If it is to be used to mark where to turn the fabric edge or cut the fabric edge, then I lightly trace it with a pencil.


Cut the label to size; finished size plus seam allowance. Press seam allowance to back of label. Pin label to quilt and then sew it in place.