2012 February

Archive for February, 2012

27 Feb 2012

Dial ‘W’ for Wool

2 Comments In the Craft Room

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to sew a few decorative pillows for around the house.  Winter Wolle was the perfect time to sew a small-ish pillow from the same dark teal wool coating that I used for Nora’s Or-Kestral Coat in December.

The design is hand-embroidered by moi using a simple seed stitch in a random fashion. I employed two cool shades of blue cotton silk embroidery floss to give it a subtle, fading look.  (For the monogram, I pinned a cut out of the letter to the felt until I had completely outlined it with the darker shade of floss).

Melton wool like this doesn’t require finishing any of the cut edges–its fibers are essentially felted, so no unraveling or other horrors. I incorporated this fact into the final design of the pillow–by sewing the two halves of the case with wrong sides together (using a gold thread for contrast), I created a nice raw edge border to the finished pillow.  Though you don’t see it here, I sewed a zipper along the bottom edge, accessible between the two exposed seam allowances.

Far from being a home dec sewing expert, my only pillow-sewing advice for you is to sew the finished dimensions of the case to match those of the insert.  I always think you need to sew the case about 1/2″ bigger all around so that there is ease into which the pillow form can expand.  Au contraire, my friend, au contraire.  Sew it with exactly the same dimensions as your pillow form to ensure the form fills up the case fully. The pillow case here, in fact, was about 3/4″ shorter than the width of the form and it is still suffienctly roomy to allow the form to slip in easily and then fully ‘inflate’.

Looking to make some pillows of your own for a bedroom or living room? Here are a few additional wool-inspired pillow ideas discovered via Pinterest that I am mulling over for my next pillow.

Love Pillow by Honey Pie Designs  


Oxagon Tiles Pillow by PLYtextile 

Recycled Sweater Pillow by Brassy Apple 

Happy Crafting!


23 Feb 2012

The Go-Anywhere Case

13 Comments In the Craft Room, Inspiration, Tutorials

Sorry, friends, for the long delay in posting this week. It is true that I’ve fallen a little behind and I have no excuse for it!  But don’t you worry, I do have a few more wool-inspired posts to come for our Winter Wolle blog series, starting with today’s project, the “Go-Anywhere Case.”

This project started off simply enough:  a certain business partner and friend (who shall remain nameless for this post, lest she figure the suprise out) has taken an interest in embroidery.  I love embroidery–in part because it can make a nice portable project, unlike machine sewing.  So I thought I would make her an embroidery case out of felt to hold needles, scissors and a bit of embroidery floss.

First came the color inspiration.  I wanted something modern and fresh, not at all dowdy.  I kept coming back to this print, with its fun mix of grays, pinks, coral, and chartreuse-lemon, by Alyssa Nassner of SmallTalkStudio.

I sent off the picture to Janet of Felt on the Fly (remember her from last week?), who sprung into action building a color story to go with the print.  I was amazed by what she came up and she, in turn, was inspired to make her own embroidery kit from the same colorway! Her kit is up on her blog today, so be sure to visit her take on the same idea with the same colorboard!  Funny how things work out like that sometimes.

The colors decided upon, I turned to the internets for design inspiration.  For once, it yielded nothing.  Most embroidery cases I found were essentially a booklet of felt pages intended to hold a gazillion needles, which seemed less than ideal.  So, back to the drawing board.  Luckily, inspiration did strike when I was picking up around the house one day.  I came upon a tri-fold crayon roll, complete with a tiny pad of paper, which Nora had received from her dear aunt recently. A vision popped into my head and I knew this was the direction I should be heading.


The final case includes a small pocket to hold embroidery scissors, an envelope to hold floss and a single flap (attached only at the top) to hold needles–mind you, it won’t hold a gazillion needles, but I estimate you could easily fit 20 on there.

The last piece of the puzzle was how to embellish the overall design of the case.  Yes, I suppose the obvious choice would have been to hand embroider a design (duh, right?), but frankly I was running out of time. So not without a little irony, I turned to my sewing machine, complete with 300 embroidery designs, only 1 of which I have used in the 3 years I’ve owned my machine.  I spent a lot of  time playing around with the stitches (what fun!), and while the finished project is still a little rough around the edges, I pulled off my overall design, so I am pretty excited about that.

Here are the construction basics–


I used Janet’s 100% felt in 6 colors.  You will need at least 2 sheets of felt that can yield pieces that are 6.5″x12″”.  Here are the dimensions for my finished case, identified by color so you can visualize each piece better:

- Grays for inside and outside covers: 6.25″x 11.75″ (I shaved a 1/4″ off the length and width of the lighter, inside gray so it would not show past the darker gray on the oustide)

- Chartreuse yellow for envelope body: 5.75″ x 7.5″

- Darker green for the envelope flap: 5.75″x 4″

- Light pink for needle flap: 3″x 6.75″

- Light pink for scissors pocket: 3″x 6″ (this will get folded in half, then trimmed to the triangle shape)

- Light pink, coral and chartreuse strips for the scallops on the front of the case: 6″x 2″ (as explained below I left these pieces wider than 6″ and trimmed them down once it was sewn to the dark gray)

You will also need about 24″ of ribbon and matching (or contrasting) thread. 

The pieces on the inside of the case are sewn to the lighter gray, and the scallop pieces + ribbon are attached to the darker gray.  Once everything is sewn on the individual gray layers, you will sew them together around the perimeter with wrong sides facing.  This double layer nicely hides all of the behind-the-scenes stitching and provides extra sturdiness to the finished case.

Outside Layer

For the color strips on the outside of the case. I first overlapped the three colors with about an 1″ of each color showing:

Sew each strip to the layer below it using a matching or contrasting thread, to suit your taste.  For the third layer (the coral in my example), stitch it to directly to the dark gray outer layer. You can use a simple straight stitch or get crazy with your machine’s decorative stitching.  I found this blanket stitching in a scalloped shape that I really liked and decided to trim away the extra felt once the scallops were sewn using my embroidery scissors.  The scallops were kind of a pain to get lined up correctly on all three layers and you’ll see that mine are far from perfect.  There’s always next time!  PS I also used a slightly lighter tension on my machine and a walking foot to help manage the bulk of multiple layers of felt.

When you sew the third layer (the coral) to the dark gray, be sure to sandwich a 15″ length of ribbon between the coral and gray, centered on the width of the gray fabric (I tucked in about 1″ of the ribbon between the two layers).  When you sew the coral edge down, you will sew the ribbon in place at the same time.  [Note this picture was taken before I trimmed the excess pink and coral fabric around each scallop.)

Finally, with the fabric strips sewn to the gray fabric, now’s a good time to trim away any excess colored fabric strips so that they are the same dimensions as your gray fabric.

Inside Layer

Turning to the inside layer, it is a good idea to first mock up the inside of the case, thusly:

Note the needle flap has about 1.5″ folded under at the top. Sew the flap to the underlayer using 3 stitch lines in two different decorative patterns on top of this folded under part (this requires sewing through 3 layers of felt).  

For the envelop, first add the scallops to the darker green along one of the longer edges using the same method as described above for the front cover stripes.  Lap the chartreuse over the darker green by about 1″.  Use a close zig zag to “marry” the point at which the chartreuse overlaps the green.  

Fold the chartreuse up not quite in half (so it is about .75″ shy of the zigzagging). Place the envelope on the lighter gray fabric and sew up both open sides of the chartreuse piece in order to attach the envelope to the underlayer.  There should be about 1/4″ of gray showing on either side of the envelope.  Fold the green flap down and stitch along the folded edge about 1/8″ from the edge.  This will keep the flap down and hide the zig zag sitches underneath.  This also adheres the green flap to the underlayer.

For the scissors, I folded the pink strip in half and estimated the length based on my scissors (these are 3.25″ Ginghers).  

I freehanded the cut you see in the final case and used another decorative stitch pattern in a contrasting thread to sew it to the underlayer.  Though not in my original plan, I decided it would be safer to make the pocket big enough to accommodate the leather case that was provided with the scissors:

Final Assembly

Once you have the outside and insider layers finished, place them together with wrong sides together.  Cut a second piece of ribbon about 9″ in length and sandwich it between the first colored strip (the chartreuse) and the dark gray (again, I tucked in about 1″ between the two layers).  Sew around the entire perimater of the case, about 1/4″ fromt the edge.  Be sure to sew the shorter ribbon in place as you do so.  And that’s it!

I call this the Go-Anywhere Case because I think the basic concept of it could be adapted for any use. I already mentioned the crayon roll, but I think it could just as readily be made into a jewelry case, a camera case, and who knows what else?

Happy Crafting!


16 Feb 2012

Warm Up Your Wellies!

8 Comments In the Craft Room, Tutorials

I don’t think we could have a true Winter Wolle blog series without a knitting project, right?  Fortunately, I have a local crafty friend who not only knits and designs her own knitting patterns, but she has her own line of hand dyed wool yarn, Destination Yarn.  Jeanne and I had a lot of fun collaborating on today’s free downloadable project, the Warm Wellies Boot Liner, which comes together as the perfect intersection of sewing and knitting.

{By the way, be sure to visit Jeanne’s blog, Life in Cleveland, for a series of crafty giveaways throughout the month of February!}

With all the rain we’ve had in northern Ohio in the last year, my Wellington-style rain boots have been a real lifesaver.  I like to refer to them as my “muck-about boots” since there is no puddle too deep nor too muddy that my boots don’t permit me to wade full force ahead with reckless abandon, with nary a splash on my pants to show for it.

With these Warm Wellies Boot Liners, the useful life of my rain boots now extends into the colder months of the year with style & function. 

Our Warm Wellies Boot Liner pattern includes instructions for sewing the boot liner and knitting the decorative cable-knit cuff.  The liner itself is sewn in fleece, a very forgiving material to work with for all you non-sewers out there.  The cuff is sewn to the top of the liner and then folds over the top of the boot to keep the liner in place.   Note that the cuff can be knitted in the round (on double pointed needles) or flat (on straight needles).  

The cuff you see featured here is knitted in Destination Yarn’s Souvenir DK weight wool in the “Spring Break” colorway.  The pattern should work with most popular boot styles in women’s shoe sizes 5-10 {updated 11/9/12}. 5-7, and we’ll have the larger size pattern available soon!

To access the free pattern and complete instructions for sewing the fleece liner and knitting the cuff, please download a copy here.  Below is a picture tutorial and some pointers for sewing the main part of the liner.

Printing Out Your Pattern

The sewing pattern and instructions provide full scale print outs of the three pattern pieces you’ll need for your liners.  Make sure to check the scale of the print out to guard against the pieces printing smaller than actual size. You’ll also need to tape together the 2 pieces of the Shank using the match line provided.

{Note: To better ensure proper scale, make sure to select print to “actual size” and NOT “print to fit”}

Due to the extra bulk of most fleece fabrics, it is difficult to accurately cut out pattern pieces required to be placed on the fold.  As you can see in the picture below, the loft of the fleece can add as much 1/4″ to the fold of the fleece, which would make your cut pieces wider than called for.

For this reason, you may want to consider using the printouts to cut out new paper pattern pieces on folded paper.  As shown below, newspaper is ideal for this purpose.

Cut Your Fabric

Once you’ve cut out the Upper and Shank pieces on folded paper, open them up and lay flat on the wrong side of your fabric, making sure the pieces run in the same direction with the fabric’s nap. 

{Note: To determine the wrong side of your fleece fabric, pull gently on a raw edge of the fleece.  The edge will curl toward the wrong side of the fabric}

Cut out the Sole as well, again making sure to lay it in the same direction as the other pattern pieces.

Sew the Darts

The Shank piece has 2 darts on its bottom edge.  Traditional marking tools such as a tracing wheel/transfer paper and tailor’s chalk will not work well on the fleece fabric’s heavy nap.  Here’s one approach to transferring the dart lines:

First, clip a 1/4″ cut into the cut edge of the fabric at the points where the dart line intersects that raw bottom edge.  Take care to not clip too far or you may cut beyond the 1/2″ seam allowance.

To transfer the intersection point of the dart’s “V”, insert a straight pin through the paper pattern piece and the fabric perpendicular to the fabric.  

Carefully lift up the paper pattern piece and mark the pin point with a second straight pin on the wrong side of the fabric.

To sew the dart, fold the fabric with right sides together so that the two clipped lines meet and the straight pin is on the folded edge.  Sew a straight line from the clipped lines to the straight pin, allowing your sewing machine needle to run off the fabric’s folded edge at the pin.

{Note: When sewing fleece, use a longer stitch length, such as 3.0 – 3.5mm}

After sewing the two darts on the Shank piece, your piece should look like this from the right side:

Attach the Upper to the Shank

Now it’s time to sew the Upper to the bottom edge of the Shank (the edge with the two darts just sewn). In all likelihood, your fleece will have a enough “give” and stretch for the pieces to be pinned together flatly and smoothly. If not, clip the edge of the Upper every 1″ or so (being careful to not clip into the seam allowance), which will create additional stretch in that edge.

After sewing the two pieces together, we recommend sewing the seam allowances flat to reduce the seam’s bulk and reduce friction. You can do this by opening up the seam allowances and sewing 1/4″ on either side of the seam, being sure to catch the raw seam allowances underneath. Trim any excess allowances to 1/8″ of these additional sew lines.

Sew the Back of Liner

With right sides together, sew the back of the Shank/Upper piece together in one continuous seam. You may choose to secure the seam allowances in the same manner described above, though it will be trickier to do since your Liner is now a tube.

Sew the Sole

With your boot liner inside out, pin the right side of the Sole to the right side of the outside edge of the Upper piece, making sure to line up the toe of the Sole to the front of the Upper piece and the heel of the Sole with the back of the Upper.  Sew around the edge of the Sole.  The main part of the boot liner is now done.

Attach Your Knit Cuff

It is surprisingly simple to sew the knitted cuff to your fleece liner using your sewing machine.  With your liner right side out, insert the finished cuff into the liner so that the right side of the cuff is against the wrong side of the liner. Pin the cuff so that the cast off edge is flush with the top raw edge of your liner.

{Note: If you knitted your cuff flat and sewed it together at the side seams, line up that seam with the center back seam of the liner.}

{Note: I found it best to sew with the knitted cuff facing up and the fleece on the underside, next to the feed dogs of your machine.  Again, be sure to use a longer stitch setting on your machine.}

Wearing your Liners

The easiest way to wear your new boot liner is to insert your foot into the liner first, then slide your foot/liner into the boot.  Turn down the cuff over the top of the boot and you are ready to go!

We hope you enjoy this free pattern.  Happy Sewing and Knitting!


© 2012 Clever Charlotte LLC and Jeanne Stevenson, Destination Yarn  This pattern and items made from it are intended for personal use only.

15 Feb 2012

Pure Wool Felt on the Fly

10 Comments In the Craft Room, Inspiration

Last week we were smitten with Gail’s felt Valentines.  Today, we are happy to have Janet from Felt on the Fly to tell us about the beauty of 100% wool felt. It may not be something you’ve given much thought to, but handle a pure wool felt next to a wool blend product and you’ll understand the difference.   I think Janet will make converts of us all. 

Be sure to check out the incredible array of colors of felt in Janet’s Etsy shop and be sure to bookmark it for your next project. She also sells kits and other handmade items.  For some additional inspiration, we’ve included below some photos of projects made by others with Janet’s felt.

Greetings, Clever Charlotte Readers!

Way back in 2000, I had the pleasure and good fortune to meet some ladies from Europe who were stitching tiny little stuffed animals for their children from an amazing fabric the likes of which I’d never seen before. To this day I still recall, with great clarity, my ‘AHA!’ moment upon discovering the type and quality of the felt they were using. Pure merino wool felt – yes! 100% merino wool! Oh my goodness. It was simply….well…delicious! Eye candy for sure. The color. The texture. The weight and the hand.

The European ladies laughed as I exclaimed my enthusiasm and curiosity and peppered them with questions. I had to know where it came from. I wanted to know why I’d never seen such a fabulous felt. I wanted to know why it wasn’t being sold here in the USA. And I wanted that felt to be mine. Every last color of it!

That simple little discovery that day led to quite an interesting quest for me. I began researching wool felt. I researched the historical and cultural impact of wool felt. I collected and compared wool felt from all over the world. I made amazing connections with people in countries I’ll most likely never visit. It’s been an amazing journey with lots of humbling life lessons along the way.

Researching the history of wool felt led to a greater understanding of art and craft in other parts of the world. It led to an enlightening realization about just how young our USA really is in comparison to Europe and Asia and how our own culture is largely driven by manufacturing and ready-made. It is inspiring for me, personally, to make available this fabulous, pure wool felt that simply cries out to be touched and crafted into something wonderful. I often feel that selling this beautiful felt is similar to a performing a public service!

What is Felt?

“Felt” is one of the current buzzwords in the world of crafting, trending as one of the most popular mediums with crafters of all types. While it’s the oldest fabric known to man, here in the USA it’s certainly gained huge popularity in just the last few years. A quick search of the term ‘felt’ on popular crafting websites will reveal a staggering display of items crafted from felt.

Felt, by definition, is a non-woven fabric traditionally made from natural wool fiber. From a historical perspective, Asian people first discovered that the wooly coat of a sheep could be easily transformed into a fabric that was waterproof, insulating to both heat and cold and fire retardant. Throughout the centuries felt has had a major cultural impact and has been used for everything from basic survival from natural elements to manufacturing to fine art.

Read the Label!

Crafters today have many types of felt to choose from. Depending on your needs and preferences you’re sure to be able to find just the right felt to suit your project. Modern manufacturing techniques have produced inexpensive and easy-to-find synthetic, re-cycled and wool-blend felts. One of the more elusive types of felt is ‘wool felt’.

Here in the USA, the term ‘wool felt’ is often tossed about loosely. Reading the fine print on a label will often reveal that, while the name seems to imply that the felt is 100% wool, it’s actually just a blend – with the smaller percentage of blend being wool. Technically speaking, this type of felt should be called ‘wool-BLEND felt’. If it’s pure wool felt you’re looking for, be sure to read labels carefully or ask questions. Your crafting experience with wool-blend felt will be much different than with pure wool felt.

Not All Sheep Are Created Equal

Did you know there are hundreds of different breeds of sheep? While each breed produces a wool fiber (cuz that’s what sheep do!), the fiber can be thick, thin, long, short, wiry, curly, coarse, soft, etc. Depending on the type of fiber used, the way it’s processed into felt and the type of dye used, the end result can be very, very different.

The term ‘wool felt’ is a very generic term and does not imply ‘sameness’. For example, consider the term ‘ladies shoe’. Immediately, you ask yourself, what kind of shoe? Are we talking about sandal, sneaker, boot or pump? Open-toe? Wedge? Buckle, tie or slip-on? So many needs – so many choices. And the same applies to the subject of felt. Many uses, needs and choices.

While I could have offered many different types of felt in my shop, I chose my merino wool felt for several reasons. The quality is simply the best overall. It’s a luxury-class pure wool felt. Merino is a fine, soft, strong fiber; natural and renewable. From loose roving it felts easily requiring little energy and no toxic chemicals, making it an ethical environmental choice. From a crafting perspective, the fact that it cuts cleanly, holds stitches beautifully and comes in an amazing variety of colors makes it a fabulous choice for creative inspiration.

Project Sources: headband, brooch, baby shoes, Waldorf clothes, Easter Bunny


Happy Crafting!

~ Erin

13 Feb 2012

Vivacious Valentines Vesture

2 Comments In the Workroom

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

Everyone needs a new Valentines Day outfit, right?  Since my new year’s resolution was to make a few things for myself, I decided to put some effort into a new blouse and pants pattern and sew them up for our Winter Wolle series.

I’ve had this lacy wool fabric from Mood Fabrics in NYC that I have been afraid to use since the weave is so open and has considerable stretch.  See my hand beneath it in the picture below?

Lovely, yes, but a bit risque on its own.  So I paired it with a flesh-toned cotton blend to give it structure and stability.

After cutting the flesh-colored cotton blend and marking stitch lines, I layered the lace over it (adding extra seam allowance on the lace) and hand basted the two layers together.  The hand basting, which was time consuming, was nonetheless extremely easy to do while watching season 2 of Downton Abbey (are you as shocked as I am about Lavinia?).  After basting around the lacy pieces of the blouse pattern, I proceeded with assembling the rest of the blouse, using a duchess silk from a leftover bridal project on the side and peplum pieces.

I’m planning more iterations of this blouse since the side princess panels should be slimming when done in a darker fabric.

The pants are sewn in 100% wool from one of my own patterns.  It has four panels on each leg to ensure a good fit.

Pardon my grumpy face here–I was outside in freezing weather trying to get this shot.  I promise I was all smiles at the Valentines party this past weekend, at which I received several compliments on the blouse.

Happy Valentines Day and Happy Sewing!!!


10 Feb 2012

Stamped with Love, A Valentine’s Craft

12 Comments In the Craft Room, Tutorials

Today’s installment of our Winter Wolle blog series is an extra special one because we are thrilled to introduce our first guest contributor! You’ll surely enjoy all of Gail’s sewing creations, but I think her felt creations are simply perfect!  Be sure to check out the links below to her previous fun felt projects.  My favorite are those cute farfalle! 

Hello Clever Charlotte readers!

I’m Gail from probably actually, and I’m happy to be here to share a wool creation for the Winter Wolle series! I love to make things for my daughter, and a few of my favorite past projects have been made from wool or wool felt. There’s something so satisfying about working with wool, and I especially love felt – it has such a nice texture, and cutting and sewing with it is always such a pleasure. For me, felt and Valentines go hand in hand (I cut out loads of felt hearts for a garland last year), so I made tiny felt Valentine envelopes to house some mini Valentines.

My mom, sisters and I have a tradition of exchanging valentines, so these are for them (and one for Lila, of course).

The envelopes were cut using a Paper Source “baby” envelope template – the finished size is 2 1/8 by 3 1/2 inches (the size of a business card). Before sewing them together I added a little felt heart in the stamp corner and an “address label” that I rubber stamped on twill tape. If you crease the envelope flaps with a hot iron, it leaves you with a nice rectangle on the front, making it easy to get these additions in the right place before the whole thing is assembled.

I secured everything with a running stitch using embroidery floss. Whenever I can get away with it I sew stuff by machine, but working with felt is the one time I actually prefer hand-stitching, and the embroidery floss can add a nice pop of color.

The envelopes close with two little buttons. After sewing the button to the top flap, I pulled the thread (I used embroidery floss here, too) to the inside and left it about six inches long – that remaining length of thread is used to secure the envelope shut with the bottom button, manila envelope style.

Tucked inside are little Valentines – just a felt heart stitched on by hand and a stamped message.

There you have it. Thanks so much for having me, and happy Valentine’s Day everyone!