Here's a sweet little V-Day gifty, incorporating a tiny bit of my current favorite craft, EPP. It's just six patches, so the piecing isn't time-consuming at all. In fact, once you're comfortable with the process, you should be able to make this entire project in about 90 minutes. My tutorial may look long because I'm a nerd for detail, but I promise, this is a quick project!


Here's what you'll need:

  • Three fabric scraps for the hearts
  • Two 6" squares of fabric
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pins (applique pins, if you have 'em)
  • Removable fabric marker (see below)
  • Hand-sewing needle and thread
  • A little six-strand embroidery floss
  • Jewel templates (see below)
  • Thread that coordinates with your fabrics
  • A handful of fiberfill
  • A few tablespoons of lavender buds, rose petals, or cedar shavings


The EPP Part

The English Paper Piecing template we're using here is called a "jewel." It's kind of like a hexagon and a diamond got married. You can get these templates by the pack from Paper Pieces (5/8" size), or you can download this PDF, print it to cardstock, and carefully cut out the templates. I like EPP for this part of the project because it makes such a nice, crisp applique motif.


Press your fabrics so there aren't any wrinkles. Then put a small amount of glue stick on the back of a jewel template, and press it to the wrong side of one of your fabrics. Cut the fabric around the jewel so there's a 3/8" margin on all sides. Do this with the other five jewels. You want to end up with two jewels in each of three fabrics.


Now, to baste the fabric to the template. Thread a needle with a single thickness of thread and tie a good knot in the end. Start basting the jewel at the blunt end, basting away from the long point. Fold the fabric over one short edge of the template and finger press it. Then fold the next edge over and finger press that.

Take a little stitch through the fabric at the point where the two edges meet. Don't pass your needle through the paper template at all - just skim it through the layers of fabric and back up. Then take a second, identical stitch.


Now, work your way around the rest of the patch, folding each new edge of fabric over, finger-pressing, and taking tack stitches at each corner. Do this even at the long point; just take a slightly bigger tack stitch there, since you're tacking over the raw edge. Your finished patch should be smoothly covered with fabric, with no basting stitches showing on its front.

Baste the other five patches in the same manner.



Now, we're going to sew these patches together into two strips, and then we'll sew the strips together to form a stack of three hearts, as shown above. Take a moment and decide what order you want your fabrics in. It's helpful to lay the patches out on your work surface in the configuration you want.


Start with the topmost two patches on one side of your heart-stack. The easiest way to see how to sew them together is to first hold them side by side as they're supposed to be configured, and then flip the upper one over the lower one so their right sides face and the edges you need to sew together are lined up.

We're using a whipstitch to sew the patches together. It's a very short seam that will only travel partway along one of the two patches. (Incidentally, your patches will all have little "flags" of fabric at their tips; just fold these out of your way when you're sewing near them.)

When you have these two patches sewn together, repeat the process to add the third one. Then make another, identical strip.



Now, place the two strips together with right sides facing. Whipstitch along the center seam line, taking care to match up the points of the hearts. When you've sewn the center seam, press the whole thing nice and flat. There will be little "flags" of fabric sticking out from the bottom heart. Just fold them to the inside and press them flat.


Now, you can take out those paper templates! Reach into a patch until you feel the edge of the paper. Pinch that in your fingers and peel it right out. Do the same with the rest of the paper templates. Then press your finished applique unit again. Good job!



The Sachet Part

OK, so here you are with this this cute EPP unit. Pin it to one of the 6" squares of fabric. You can line it up any way you like, but above you can see how I did mine. (I'm using little applique pins here - they're so much easier to sew around.)


Machine-stitch close to the edge of each heart to applique it to the fabric square. You might want to use a walking presser foot for this step.


I opted to do a little embroidery on my sachet, but you can skip this step if you like. I used a quilting ruler and a FriXion pen to draw two guide lines on the front of the sachet, 1/2" apart. (FriXion pens make lines that vanish when exposed to the heat of your iron. They are dandy. You could use a water-soluble marker instead, but do not iron over the lines! They'll become permanent.)

I drew my "XOXO" freehand between the guidelines with the FriXion, and then I stitched over the drawing with straight stitches for the X's and back stitch for the O's. Then I pressed the whole thing to remove the lines. Boom!


To finish up, then, pin the front and back of the sachet together, right sides facing. Sew around all four edges with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving about a 2 1/2" gap in the seam on one side for turning. Clip the excess fabric at all four corners.


Here's one of my favorite tricky-tricks: when I need to turn something right side out, I like to press the seam allowances open before I do it. There's no need to finagle the square around so the seams actually are open - just fold over each seam allowance as you see here and press it flat. Do that on both sides of the sachet. This little process gives you nice, crisp edges when you turn the sachet, and it also makes a beautifully neat edge along the opening.

So press those seam allowances and turn your sachet right side out. Poke the corners out with a chopstick so they're as sharp as they can be. Then, press the turned sachet flat once again.


Stuff your sachet somewhat loosely. I know that's a terribly vague instruction. The thing is, you don't want this thing stuffed firmly because in a moment you'll machine-stitch around the edges, and this will moosh the stuffing toward the center. For this size sachet, I use a ball of fiberfill about the size of a large orange. I like to put about half of that into the sachet, then pour in my scented stuff, and then stuff the rest of the fiberfill in on top of that.

When it's stuffed, sew the opening closed with a ladder stitch.


Now, make sure you have a standard presser foot on your sewing machine. Place the edge of your sachet under the presser foot, lining its edge up with the edge of the presser foot – just as you would for any 1/4" seam. Stitch 1/4" from all four edges of the sachet.

Take this step slowly, and be careful to keep the sachet flattened out with your fingers as you're sewing. It helps to gently stretch the edge toward you. Stitch around all four edges like this.


…And that's that! Happy V-Day to all!



So, as I mentioned in the last post, I've spent the last 30 days in the gnarly finishing stages of my book deadline. And as I ground my way to that finish line, it occurred to me: nobody really talks about this stage of book-writing. There are lots of how-to's out there for the glamorous part (getting a craft book contract), but nothing about what happens once you have it.

I thought, then, that I'd share a glimpse into perhaps the hardest part of the process – the final weeks before your publisher's deadline. I don't do this to grouse, but just to say, "Hey - here's the fuller picture."


It should be said, before we dive in, that it's really up to each individual author how easy or hard these last 30 days or so are. Every author's experience will be different, so all I can do is share my own. In an ideal world, I would always have all my projects made, photography done, and text written 30 days before deadline, leaving me a leisurely margin to deal with all the details I'm about to share.

…But as we all know, the creative process isn't always that orderly. I'm a very plan-ahead kind of girl, but there's always a book project or two that I just can't seem to get exactly right until the last moment. There are sections of writing that completely elude me until that deadline is staring me in the face. And also, as I said before, writing a book is a long chain of decisions. Many of these decisions need other decisions to happen first, so invariably there's a whole cluster of decisions that can only be made at the last moment.

So my last 30 days are usually pretty nuts.


Let's list some of the things you'll have to do in the last weeks of a book deadline, shall we?

• First, you'll have to get all your project samples finished and documented, so you can ship them off to your publisher. And unless you want to spend a bazillion dollars on overnight shipping, you'll need to have everything ready to ship about ten days before deadline. Make sure, too, that you have a good photograph of each item and a detailed record of all its measurements, supplies needed, processes, and anything else you might need to remember. (You won't be seeing your samples again for a year or more.) Make sure every item is labeled with your name, book's name, and project name – it helps prevent things getting lost.

• Your writing will need to be buttoned up too, of course. That means making sure everything is written as clearly and consistently as you can make it, but it also means making sure you're using the grammar and punctuation style your publisher prefers. It means checking your spelling and making sure you aren't using em dashes in every single sentence. (That last one might just be my problem.)


• …And then there's formatting! Your publisher will send you a multi-page document outlining all the ways they want your manuscript formatted; it's up to you to study it well and follow it to the letter. Different publishers have different ways they want you to insert placeholders for your images. They may have special ways to format headers, bulleted lists, numbered lists, captions, and on and on. It's really a huge task, formatting a manuscript. (Recommendation: learn all you can about efficiency tools like Find/Replace, file renaming utilities, etc.)

• If you've taken (or hired) photographs or illustrations for your book, then you need to have produced a whole lot of high-res image files (again, following your publisher's requirements). Often, a publisher will want these files named in a specific way. Some publishers even want your image files named with sequential numbers, in the order in which they appear in your book. And then you usually have to produce one or more "art log" lists, documenting all these file names and what's in each image. This one element can be surprisingly time-consuming.


• If you've used anyone else's images in your book, you'll need to get a signed Grant of Rights form from each and every photographer, so your publisher has express permission to use the images. In my experience, getting these forms signed (and making sure the photographers are sending you the kind of image files your publisher needs) takes a lot of follow-up.

• Speaking of photos, there's an all-important list of photo and illustration credits to pull together. There are also company names, phone numbers, and URLs to pull together for your Resources page.

• …And then when it's all done, you'll be following your publisher's instructions on how to submit the whole thing. Maybe you'll do it digitally, or maybe you'll need to ship a thumb drive or series of DVDs and CDs.


"I am always so cruelly neglected during a book deadline. It's just ridiculous."

If all of this sounds a bit tedious, well… it sure can be. All of it makes your publisher's work much easier, so it's absolutely worth your time and attention. But admittedly, it's nowhere near as fun as making the projects was.

This deadline-time is also kind of a perfect storm of important details and extreme fatigue. You're simultaneously dealing with 30,000-foot decisions (How do I best transmit these 200 image files to the publisher?) and tiny details (Did I spell her name right? What's her URL?). In my experience, every book deadline seems to have a tired-and-punchy phase, a crying phase, and a grim, resolute, "I'm just gonna get this dang thing done" phase. Also, coffee.

…And this is one of those things nobody really talks about, but book advances are often paid out in installments. It's possible that by this ending point, you may have already spent through the advance money you've been paid – so your endgame stress could be accompanied by some money stress. Mind you, this isn't a disparagement of publishers. They have every right to pay you in installments. (You wouldn't pay someone in advance to fix your roof, would you? No – you might pay a deposit up front, but then you'd want to make sure the work got done well before paying the rest.)


Now, in case you're thinking "Good God, I will never write a freaking craft book," let me also tell you this: The early days of book-writing are absolutely golden. The months where you have plenty of advance money on hand and you're spending days making and writing and dreaming – those months make this grindy ending totally worth it. Holding that finished book in your hands – or seeing it in a local store – makes these difficult weeks vanish altogether. This is just one phase in an ultimately-very-satisfying project.

For the record, I'm posting this five days after turning in my manuscript, and the stress has already faded away. Now all I need to do is back myself out of this three-pots-of-coffee-a-day habit.




I loves me some English Paper Piecing, so I couldn't resist the lure of this ornament. Technically speaking, it's not quite EPP, because we're going to leave all the papers in – and the basting. That's what gives this ornament its structure.

Is this a super quick kind of project? Well, not exactly - it's EPP. Think of this as a fun little diversion to keep on hand for when you're watching Christmas movies. It's a cozy kind of process that might take you several sessions to finish, but isn't the journey the best part?

Anyway. I made you a pattern for the little hexie templates - just click here to download. You'll also need:

  • Sheet of card stock, preferably white
  • Fabric scraps
  • Paper scissors and fabric scissors
  • Sewing needle (something fairly thin, like a sharp or quilting needle)
  • Thread that coordinates with your fabrics
  • Glue stick (the fabric kind, or the regular kind)
  • Scrap of chipboard (a box from your recycle bin is fine)
  • A bit of floss for a hanger


First, you'll need to print that pattern onto card stock, and then carefully cut all the hexies out. These babies are on the small side - just 1/2 inch per side. But they're easy to handle with the basting method we'll be using.

(If you'd rather not do the work of cutting, you can order premade hexies from the wonderful Paper Pieces website.)


Then it's time to decide what kind of design you'll use for your ornament. Here are three nice possibilities - a traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden flower, a snowflake, and a hybrid of the two. Below are the hexie counts you'll need to make each one…


…Or, feel free to play around and come up with something different!


To cover a template in fabric, lightly glue-stick it to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut the fabric around the template, about 1/4" larger on all sides. Then, we'll baste the edges of the fabric around the paper.


Actually, Haley has a fantastic tutorial on the basting method I like best for this project, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I'll point you over to her how-to. I'll wait here while you check it out.

There are actually more ways to baste EPP than this, so if you have a favorite way that doesn't sew through the papers, please feel free to use it. You just need to end up with hexie patches that look like these on their front sides.


Next, it's time to sew all these little hexies together. We do this with a whip stitch. Wendi has a great how-to for the stitch, and Haley has a great how-to about joining hexies. So again, I won't re-invent the wheel. Check these links out, and you'll have all the info you need to sew your hexies together.

(Also, you might mention to these ladies how awesome they are when you're over there.)



In case it's helpful, here's how I usually tackle the sewing-together. But EPP is very forgiving stuff, so you don't have to sew your hexies together in this order at all. Feel free to stitch in any mode that's comfortable for you.


In the process of sewing your hexies, you'll be bending and folding your work every which way, and this means that your finished piece will be a little, um, beat-up looking. Not to worry! Give it a good pressing with a hot iron and steam. Press the iron firmly down onto the piece, and be sure to let it cool completely before you pick it up.


See? Good as new! So, make two pieces like this – one for the front of your ornament, and one for the back. They can be identical or different - your choice. (A lot of the time, I make them the same pattern, but using different colors or different color placement.)


OK, so now you have two crisp, pressed ornament halves. We need to add just a little more stiffening.

Trace one of your ornament halves onto some chipboard with a pencil. Cut it out about 1/8" inside your traced lines. You want to end up with the chipboard being smaller on all sides than the ornament. See?


Now, sandwich the chipboard piece between the two ornament halves. Make sure the right sides of the ornaments are facing outward. And hold the whole thing together with some binder clips or Wonder Clips.


Use a whip stitch again to sew around the outer edge. This stitching will be visible, so use a little care here. Try to find a thread color that blends with all the fabrics that appear at the outer edges. If you're stumped, some shade of grey will usually do the trick.

The top two photos above show you a neat way to hide the knot in your thread. When you begin sewing, bring your needle out through the seam allowance of one patch. Then put the layers back together and begin whip stitching.

...And here's my best Pro Tip for this edge-sewing: it shouldn't be hard. There's no need to force your needle through any cardboard here. Take each stitch through the edges of the fabric only. If you're trying to put your needle through and feeling resistance, then you're hitting cardboard somewhere. Feel around for a new spot where there's no resistance on your needle at all - that's pure fabric!


To make a hanging loop, take about a 7" length of six-strand embroidery floss. Separate out two strands and thread them on a long sewing needle. Poke this needle carefully between the layers at the top of the ornament, as shown here. Then pull the thread through and tie the ends in a tight double knot, making the loop any size you like. Cut the ends of the floss close to the knot. (I like to put a tiny bit of glue on the knot to seal it.)


Give this baby one more good pressing, and it's ready to go! Happy Piecing, and Happy Holidays!



So, I love making these little guys – it's just the most relaxing, serendipitous process of creation. That said, I really struggled with how to best represent this process in a tutorial. I think it's way more fun if you follow your own path of discovery rather than follow my specific pattern.

So I've tried to give you a good framework for serendipity here – in other words, there's no pattern for these and you don't need one!


This project works best with 3" PC rounds, which are commonly available (cheap!) at big box craft stores or online.

Take a look at the grid of this thing. In the center, it's divided into eight parts. And those eight divisions continue out to the edges. There are some definite "rings" within this structure, where the alignment of the holes changes a bit. And all of that is the basis for creating an unlimited number of stitch designs, as you'll see.

(Incidentally, 5" PC rounds have a whole different structure. I like them less for this project, but feel free to give them a try.)


So, get yourself some dribs and drabs of worsted weight yarn – this is a great way to use up your scraps. I love using variegated yarns in this project because they create such pretty colorwash effects, but you don't have to. You'll also need these things:

  • A large-eyed blunt needle
  • Scissors
  • A scrap of felt (optional)
  • Some white craft glue (optional)
  • Some embroidery floss for a hanger
  • Some decorate-y things (more on those below)

OK, from here, my instructions are gonna get more minimal. I just want you to start stitching on your PC round and seeing what happens. But if you're not sure how to begin, take a look at the sample approaches below.


Since this circle is divided into eight parts, just remember to work with even numbers. If you're making a pattern of stitches, base it on an even number of stitches. If you're stitching across several holes in the canvas, be sure to stitch across an even number of them.

...And keep your eye on those eight division lines in the canvas – if you keep your design tied to those, you can't go wrong.


If you're really stumped on how to begin, just pick a ring and stitch a band of your first color. (Again, doing this with variegated yarn makes its own pretty design.)

If you haven't used plastic canvas before, you might want to take a look at my three main tricks for this medium in this post. And it also answers your unspoken question of "How the heck do I knot this yarn?!"


Then, switch colors and add another layer of stitches. Again, I've set up some samples above, but you don't need to follow them. What is your PC telling you it wants next?


Keep in mind that in addition to stitching, you can weave your yarn over and under previous stitches in your design. Here, I stitched along the original star design, but I wove the grey stitches under the white ones. It's easy - just slide your needle under there! And if you skip down a couple photos, you'll see even more weaving at work.


Just keep going, adding more colors and stitches until you're happy with the look of the thing. And anytime you're not happy, no sweat! Those stitches come right out. This is about creative exploration, my friends - enjoy the process!


None of these designs had any pre-planning whatsoever. I just added and subtracted stitches. It all works out, I promise.


If you have some metallic embroidery floss on hand and feel like it, you can also add some little bits of sparkle to your design. I basically took several tiny stitches at key points. I ran the end of the floss under the other stitches on the back of the work to "knot" it at the start and end.

You could also add sparkle with little dabs of glitter glue. Or you could sew some sequins or seed beads right to your ornament.


When your design is done, finish your ornament by covering the outer edge with an overcast stitch. You can do this one of two ways:

  • Stitch around a single ornament.
  • Put two ornaments back to back and stitch them together around the edges.

  • pc-ornament-back

    If you stitch around a single ornament, then cut a circle of felt to match it and glue that to the back to cover it up. If you want to add a hanging loop, just take a 5" length of embroidery floss and tie it into a loop. Insert one end of that between the ornament and felt.

    Place your glued ornaments under some heavy books to dry. Put a layer of waxed paper between your books and ornaments, because glue can ooze through plastic canvas sometimes.

    (If you want to make two-sided ornaments, just make that loop of floss and stitch it into your overcast stitches.)


    I think this is a great project to do with your family or a group of friends as part of a holiday gathering. It's so much fun seeing what everyone comes up with. You could even do a gathering where everyone brought and shared their yarn scraps.

    Now, go make some cocoa and have a splendid time!


When I heard Vickie Howell was coming out with a cotton and acrylic blend yarn, I was eager to check it out – not for knitting or crochet purposes, but for plastic canvas. Of course.

Turns out, Cotton-ish is dandy for 10 count plastic canvas. It creates perfect coverage with a single strand, whether you're using short stitches or long ones. It's also significantly cheaper than stitching with embroidery floss or pearl cotton. And the color range is really pretty.


I got so excited, Vickie sent me some samples and I immediately designed this little project. I figured I better come up with something knitter-and-crocheter friendly, as plastic canvas people make up about .000000001% of Vickie's actual market for this yarn.

So this handy case is to keep your stitch markers in, so they aren't scattered all over the bottom of your knitting/crochet bag. These little cases make up quickly, and they're a perfect way to use up the Cotton-ish you have left over from other projects.


First, you'll cut some 10-count canvas (that's smaller than the stuff you usually see at your local craft store - be sure to check the label). You'll want precise sizing here so the stitching pattern fits, so measure your canvas by counting the holes. Here are the pieces you'll need:

  • Case Back: 21 holes x 21 holes, cut 1
  • Left, Right, and Bottom Sides: 21 holes x 9 holes, cut 3
  • Top Side: 21 holes x 10 holes, cut 1
  • Case Front: 21 holes x 16 holes, with a little piece cut out of the top edge (Just eyeball that; it's an opening to help you reach in and grab your markers.)
  • Front Flap: 21 holes x 12 holes


Next, stitch all the pieces. Now, I know patterns are useful for some kinds of projects, but this is one where I think you can be much more casual about it.


Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 5.30.12 AM

To make a checkered pattern, here's all I did. I started at the bottom right corner of each piece. I stitched a square made of four stitches across and four up. Then, above that, I made another square where each row has two stitches, and they alternate position.

This unit is the building block for the whole pattern. I filled each piece with that, working in vertical rows from bottom to top, and then I filled in the empty areas with a second color.

(Needlepoint purists might grumble at this, but I also think you can make your stitches angle in either direction. See how the two shots above have them oriented differently? Just pick one way and try to keep it consistent across all the pieces.)


To make a fancier checker pattern, I did the same exact thing, but changed color each row. Then I filled in with the opposite color. (You can see this pattern in action on two of my finished samples at the top of the post.)

…But you can really use any stitch pattern you like here – my little checkered dealio is just one of endless options. Google for needlepoint stitches, or stitch a pattern of stripes, or a solid color. Don't make it too complicated, just have fun with it! (You can find lots of tips on stitching PC in this tutorial of mine and this one and this one.


…Now, I do want to make two quick points about stitching. First, notice that the top side of the case is one row of squares wider than the other three sides. This extra width allows the lid flap to fit properly over the front of the case. So if you're using my checkered pattern, you'll need to add one extra row of stitches to this piece, as you see here.


The second quick point (please excuse the repeat photo) is this: if you're using a checkered pattern, I recommend stitching the back piece first and then using that to dictate how you position the basic pattern unit on all the other pieces. But if you mess up a little, as I did with the top side of my case here, don't be too hard on yourself. The overall impression will be a checkered pattern, I promise!


OK, then. We'll assemble this bad-boy now! Sew the top, left, right, and bottom sides to the back of the case. It's best if you start with a pretty long strand of yarn, so you can do this in a single seam. I'm using a whip stitch here.

(Rmember, you can reference the tutorial links above for techniques.)


Next, you'll sew the remaining two pieces to the case. The Front Flap piece is attached to the Top Side. The Case Front piece is attached to the Bottom Side. (Remember, the way you tell them apart is that the Top Side has that extra row of stitches.)


…So, the whole thing looks like this when you're done.


If you want to, you can give your case a casual liner, like this. First, trace the flat case onto a piece of felt. Then, cut inside your tracing lines by a good 1/8". You need the felt to be smaller than the case on all sides as you see above, so keep trimming the felt until it fits.

Then lightly glue it to the back side of the case piece. Don't place any glue on the joints where you stitched two pieces together! (If you do, you end up making your case too stiff to use.)


Now, we'll begin sewing up the sides of the case, starting here at the front piece. Bring your needle up at the point you see above. Then fold the bottom side in to meet the case front, and whip stitch those edges together.

When you reach the corner, take an extra stitch in that last hole and then round the corner so you can start stitching the next edge. Take two stitches in the first hole and then continue stitching until you reach the end of the case front.


The best way to finish off these seams is to pass your needle through some stitches at the back of the case, under that felt liner, and then bring the needle out somewhere on the side of the case, as you see above. Then pull the yarn through and clip it flush with the side of the case.

Repeat this process to sew up the other side of the case.


Lastly, use overcast stitch to finish the entire remaining edge, which runs along the front of the case and around the top side and front flap. End this stitching the same way as I described above.


Now all you gotta do is make a little closure. Here's how I do that: first, I thread about a 6" strand of yarn onto a needle, and tie a big knot at the end. Then I pass the needle out through the front of the case, so the yarn comes through right below where the front flap overlaps it. Pull the thread through.

Then, sew a large and awesome button to that front flap. You can wrap the strand of yarn around the button several times to make a nice, secure closure. I usually trim away any excess yarn and tie a little knot in the other end so it can't slip back through the case wall.


…And you're done! Fill it with your stitch markers of choice and enjoy.



Most big-box craft stores carry these intriguing PC circles, and they're handy for lots of projects. I love this table runner for its free-formness. All you need to do is stitch up a bunch of circles, and then put them together in any configuration you like – you could make a more circular arrangement for a round table. You could make a longer and thinner one for a credenza. See my point?


These are the widely-available circles sizes: 6", 4.5", and 3". You may notice that my table runner seems to have lots more sizes than these in it – that's because I cut some of my circles down a bit to create more variety. (All you do is cut away the outer rows until you're happy with the size.) I used 21 circles in my table runner; you might need more or fewer than that.

If your local craft stores don't have circles, you can get them online.


Stitching the circles

I stitched my circles with good ol' tent stitch. And my PC tricky-tricks from the wall-hanging project totally apply here, so take a quick look back at that post.

You could really use any decorative needlepoint stitch here, as long as it'll conform to the circular pattern of the holes in the canvas.


There's one important stitch to know when you're tent-stitching PC circles. Depending on their size, these circles will have places where the holes don't line up perfectly, or where they're a bit larger than normal. That'll sometimes cause your stitches to get too long and too horizontal as your work your way around.

When that happens, simply take what I call a "corrective stitch." That's where you start your stitch in a new hole, but you end it in the same hole as the previous stitch. That corrects the angle, and your stitching will look more normal going forward. You'll need to make more corrective stitches in your rows as you get closer to the center of most circles.


I was pretty loosey-goosey about my color placement as I stitched my circles. I chose six colors of my favorite Sugar 'n Cream. I started at the outer row of each round and stitched toward the center, changing colors when I felt like it. (I do loves me some serendipitous crafting.)

After that, I edged all the circles with overcast stitch. Some circles need two stitches in each hole to get good coverage, and others need only one stitch per hole. That all depends on the size of the circle and where you might have trimmed it.


With all the circles stitched and edged, it's time to back them. I just traced each circle onto some felt with a fine-point marker, and then cut them out just inside my tracing line. I then glued the felt circles to the backs of the PC ones, and placed them under some heavy books to dry.

(Pro tip: PC has big openings that allow glue to ooze through. Put some wax paper on both sides of your circles to protect your books and your work surface. You'll thank me.)


Then I spread my finished circles out on a table and moved them around until I had a configuration I liked. I highly recommend taking a photo of that layout – you'll need that to refer back to again and again as you join these puppies together. (Seriously, don't skip this step. I always think I'll just remember how I had them placed, and I never, ever do.)


Joining the circles

The next step is to stitch those circles together. It's easiest to do this with your circles all laid out in front of you, and that photo you took earlier close at hand.

Before we get into process, I'll tell you that the whole secret to a nice, flat table runner is small points of contact. It's tempting, when you're stitching these things together, to stitch along a wide area so that the two circles are totally immobile against each other. That's a mistake! You need your joined circles to be able to "roll" a little to this side or that side - that way, as you keep adding new circles, you'll be able to gently adjust all their positions so they fit together neatly.

By the time you have all the circles joined, trust me – the whole thing will be good and stable.


I recommend using a strong, fairly thick thread for joining your circles. Upholstery thread or quilting thread are good choices. You can also work with a double strand of regular sewing thread, but with doubled thread, there's always a possibility that it'll get tangled as you stitch.

I'll demo the join using a contrasting color of thread, but you'll want to use one that matches your edging.


Start joining with one of your larger circles that's near the center of your layout. Thread up a sewing needle with about 12" of thread, and tie a nice big knot in the end. Pass your needle through some stitches at the back of your first circle – all we're doing here is catching that knot in the yarn to anchor it. Pull the needle and thread all the way through.

Set the circle down again, placing it in its location in your layout. Turn this circle so that the thread is coming out right where this circle will connect to the one next to it.

Next, pass your needle down through the edge of that adjacent circle as shown. (It's best to do this pass with the two circles laying flat on the table.)

Repeat this process one more time to get two stitches between the two circles. Now it's okay to pick them up and hold them in your hands. Stitch them together a few more times, pulling the thread fairly tight. Just make each join point is no more than 2-3 holes wide – you can make several stitches in each of those holes for strength, but keep that join point small!


When you're done with those stitches, it's time to make a good, strong knot at the back. Pass your needle under several stitches and pull the thread through until you have a small loop. Then, pass your needle through that loop two times. Pull the thread tight, and you have a knot. Cut your thread and move on to the next join point.

I recommend checking the alignment of all your assembled circles frequently against your photo as you work on this part of the project. Lay your runner back out flat on your table before you join each new circle.


When you've joined all your circles, you're done! You might pick up the finished runner in your hands and see if there are any points where the join between two circles feels a bit floppy. You might want to go back and do some more stitching at those points, just to be extra awesome about things.

I think this design would also be pretty rendered in neutral colors, or as neutrals with little pops of color in the centers, or even as a monochromatic kind of thing. What variations will you come up with?


pc-pincushion-needlebook-finished-1 (1)

This project came out of a bad habit of mine. I have a little felt needle book, and I'm always sticking my needles right into its front cover, rather than neatly putting them back in the book. So the poor thing is looking really beat-up with all that stabbing, and every time I need to get a needle out of it, I have to cope with the sharp points of all the needles I stuck through it.

So I decided to make a version with a built-in pincushion. And it occured to me that plastic canvas was a perfect medium! So here's how to make your own...


First, cut your PC into the pieces you'll need. Here, I'm using two 3 1/8" squares of the smaller (10 count) stuff. You can also use the more readily-available 7 count canvas; just cut it somewhere close to that size.

I also cut up a 3" round so I could get a nice ring. I removed the outermost row of squares and the inner section. (A little pair of scissors will let you manuver in there, or you can use an Xacto knife. If any little "nubbins" are left sticking out at the edges, cut 'em with toenail clippers.)


Next, stitch your PC any old way you like. For the front and back cover, I used cross stitch, alternating two colors, and using full strands of six-strand embroidery floss. You can really use any stitch pattern you like. Just leave a big opening in the center of the front - I'll explain in a moment.

For the ring, I just used regular old tent stitch all the way around. Since this piece is made from a larger grade of canvas, I used two strands of that six-strand floss to get good coverage.

...And I finished the edges of all three pieces with overcast stitch.


As you're stitching that front cover piece, keep placing the ring over it to make sure you're covering the canvas up to the edges of the ring. But leave the center as is.


With that done, we'll make a pin cushion. Here's what you need:

  • A circle of fabric that's twice the diameter of your PC ring
  • A circle of card stock that's about 1/4" bigger than the inner hole of the ring


We'll make a yo-yo from the fabric circle. Fold 1/4" over to the wrong side and make a running stitch with a needle and thread. If you'd like to go deeper into yo-yo-making, this is my favorite how-to ever, from Heather Bailey,


When you've folded and stitched all the way around the edge, pull the thread to start gathering the fabric. Adjust the gathers so they're fairly equal all the way around. Then pop in a wad of fiberfill about the size of a kiwi fruit. Or a small lime. Eat what you like.


Slip that card stock circle in on top of the fiberfill. Pull the thread a bit more so the yo-yo is lightly snug around the card stock. Don't knot or cut your thread just yet.


Pop the pin cushion into the ring now. From here, you may want to do a little adjusting. You may want to move the gathers in the fabric around to minimize any big creases. You may also decide to open the back of the yo-yo and slip in a little more fiberfill. Basically, just fuss with the thing until you like the look of it, and then go ahead and knot and cut your thread at the back of the pin cushion.


Now, sew around the edge of the pin cushion at the back, anchoring the fabric to the back of your PC stitching. This stitching will be 100% hidden, so don't worry about being too fancy – just catch a little fabric and a little floss in each stitch.


When that's done, the bottom of your pin cushion should be reasonably flat, like this. If it isn't, push your thumbs up into it to flatten it.


Pop that pin cushion onto the front of your needle book, and use a few Wonder Clips (handiest supply known to man) to keep it centered.



Attach the two pieces together using a back stitch that goes around the ring, just inside the outer edge. I used a single strand of pearl cotton for this part, but you can use a six-strand strand, too. It'll just be thicker.

You can stitch right through both layers of PC, but you may have to feel around a little for where the holes match up.


Now, I also back-stitched around the inner edge of the ring – but this row is considerably less fun, because you're also stitching through the edge of that card stock in there. Switching from a dull-pointed needlepoint needle to a sharp-pointed crewel needle helps, but even so - you can really consider this step more of an anal-retentive nicety, and totally skip it. :-)


OK, so let's make the inside pages of the needle book now. Cut two pieces of felt just slightly smaller than your two covers placed side-by-side. (So in this case, 3" x 6 1/2".) Sew them together up the center by either hand or machine. Fold the whole thing in half, with that seam on the spine.


Trim the outer edges of the pages a little if you need to. This is the alignment you want them to have with the covers.


We'll assemble the whole thing with craft glue. Put some around the edges of the back cover first. Place your folded felt over that, lining up the edges carefully.

(I glue only the edges so I can insert needles into the center of the glued part later, like this:)



Glue the top cover on in the same manner.


Now, you need to give the whole thing some even pressure while it's drying, so get a glass or jar with a mouth big enough to fit on the top cover. Invert it over your needle book and leave it there until the glue dries.

pc-pincushion-needlebook-finished-3 (1)

And voila! You're done! As you can see, you can vary the amount of stuffing you put into your pin cushion, making it very puffy or not so much. This shot also shows you a different style of cover stitchery.

In case you missed it, there's lots more PC goodness at these blogs: