Hand-sewing techniques and embroidery are so much easier if you use the right tools. Sharp needles, tiny scissors, and exquisite threads are in every sewing kit, but the humble thimble is often overlooked.
|I used a combination of hand stitching, machine stitching,
and paper craft techniques for these vintage-looking
I think I was born with a thimble on my right middle finger. For years I would find thimbles all over the house, but never in my sewing basket. I’d be hand stitching in my studio and forget to put the thimble away when I was done. Eventually I would notice that it was still on my finger when I was doing the dishes, trying to shoot a quick email to a friend, or even grocery shopping. Usually I would stick it in my jeans pocket, only to find it a day or two later when investigating a strange metallic sound coming from the dryer. Needless to say, I went through my share of thimbles!
But the reason I had so many thimbles to choose from was because my grandmother always insisted that I use them whenever we worked on sewing projects. She had an array of thimbles and sewing tools that would rival the needlecraft display of any museum. Her collection ranged from plastic political thimbles (I Like Ike!) to jewelry quality gold and silver show stoppers.
Once I asked her if I could have one to use, and it took her more than an hour to choose just the right thimble from the collection. It couldn’t be too tight (that would be uncomfortable), to rounded (the needle wouldn’t catch in the grooves), too old (I could never part with that one!) or too new (I just bought that, choose another.) Now that I think about it, she probably prolonged the time we spent looking at her collection so she could spend more time sharing stories with me and admiring the beauty of those simple tools.
So gather your sewing kit―and thimbles―for some hand sewing and embellishment! This is one of my favorite easy sewing projects, a mixed-media Valentine card that incorporates vintage fabrics, needlework, and paper crafting.
Vintage Valentine Card
- Watercolor paper
- DistressTM inks, 2-3 colors
- Stencil brush
- Rotary cutter with pinking edge
- Antique quilt scraps (Use something from a cutter quilt-don’t cut up a perfect one!)
- Embroidery thread
- Small amount of pillow stuffing
- Sewing machine
|Some of my thimbles, including the silver one in the front that my grandmother
gave to me.
1. Trim the paper to 4″ x 6″ using a pinking blade.
2. Apply ink to the watercolor paper with a stencil brush. Rub the brush in a circular motion, alternating colors and amounts of ink. I usually use 3 colors in each card. Stamp the card with additional layers of ink if desired. Let the ink dry.
3. Cut the antique quilt scrap into a small heart shape. Embroider the heart with small stitches, flowers, or sentiments. Knot the embroidery thread tightly on the back of your work.
4. Place the heart on top of the paper. Push a small amount of pillow stuffing underneath the heart, and sew it by machine onto the paper. Tip: Leave a long tail of thread at the beginning and end of your stitches.
5. After you’ve sewn the heart to the paper you can thread the ends into a hand sewing needle and pull them to the back of your work. Tape them in place or knot them tightly.
There you have it! Hand-embellished Valentines from the heart!
For more tips and techniques that will improve your hand sewing ventures, be sure to take a look at the new book Handsewn: The Essential Techniques for Tailoring and Embellishment.