10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

This is a little random, in the middle of a million embroidery and knitting posts, and since I barely ever post about sewing, but I wanted to share a little 10-minute-use-up-scraps project that I love. These little fabric bookmarks can be made in any size, to suit any book, and are a perfect use for scraps of those really precious fabrics that you can’t bear to throw away. This blue floral print by Tanya Whelan is one of favorite fabrics ever, I just can’t stand the thought of ever running out of it. So I saved even these tiny strips to make something I can use and admire every day.

Here’s what you need (my apologies that some of these photos are a little icky, the weather’s been all over the place and I figured these show what you need to see well enough):

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

– 2 fabric scraps about bookmark size. Any size you like, and of course it depends on the book you want it to go with. As a guide, the red one shown here is 2″ x 8″, the blue floral above is 1.25″ x 7.5″, the gray Echino bookmarks are 1.75″ x 5.5″ and 2″ x 7″. I’ve even made a tiny one from charm pack scraps (shown way below) that’s less than 1″ x 5″. None of these were measured out to be that size, they were all made from scraps I already had. Basically, the exact size is totally up to you and your scraps.

– 2 pieces of interfacing (I save those interfacing scraps for this too) to match the size of your bookmark. I don’t suppose it matters too much what kind of interfacing, it will just determine how floppy or stiff your bookmark turns out – both will hold your page just fine.

– Coordinating thread

– Ruler, rotary cutter, etc.

– Embroidery floss (optional)

This project is so simple, I’m sure you barely need me to explain it, but here goes anyhow.

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

First, apply your interfacing to your fabric backs, then trim both to be perfect rectangles in whatever size you’ve decided on. I usually just square (um, rectangle) it up and that’s the size it’ll be. Of course you can also trim first, then iron, that’s totally up to you.

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

If you’d like to embroider a little something on one side, this is the time. Do it after you’ve applied the interfacing to keep it all smooth, and keep in mind not to use too heavy a thread or else your book won’t shut all nice and flat. I’ve done a wee heart with 2 strands of ordinary DMC floss.

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

You probably don’t want to tie a knot on either end of your embroidery, also to keep it as flat as possible. I’ll assume you don’t need instructions on knotless embroidering for now, but of course just shout if you’d like some!

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

Ok, embroidery or not, next you’ll thread your machine and also set it for a slightly longer stitch, like topstitching. Mine is at a-little-over-3; I have no good reason for this length, it just works well for me.

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

Then sew! All around, about 1/8″ inch from the edge. Or whatever you like, just try to keep it consistent. I usually line it up with a mark on my foot and that’s about 1/8″-ish from the edge. (By the way, I pinned this one just to see if it made a difference, but it really didn’t for me.) And don’t forget to turn corners with the needle down for nice sharp angles!

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

If your fabric edges get a little misaligned like so:

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

don’t worry, you can just trim those right off. Line up the stitching with a mark on your ruler and trim that little tiny edge off like it never happened.

10-minute Fabric Bookmark Tutorial

And, huzzah! Fabric bookmarks galore! Oh, and I know you’re thinking that these will fray and get messy with any real use. Well, yes, they kind of do, but not nearly as much as you’d imagine. The interfacing keeps them from getting too frayed, and they actually look equally cute once they’ve softened up and the edges get a little loose (like the two on the right above, which have been in use for several years now). Please stop by and show off if you ever make some for yourself!

Tutorial: Last-minute scrappy wreath ornament!

Scrappy Wreath Tutorial

When we put up the Christmas tree this year, I noticed that one of my favorite ornaments could easily be reproduced and would be a great project for tiny scraps of cute fabric. Just a disclaimer: this is not really my original idea or anything, but no one knows where or when that ornament came from, only that it’s been on the tree for pretty much my whole life, as far as I remember. Credit for this idea goes to those unknown ornament makers out there somewhere who have charmed me for years with their adorable design.

I know I’m cutting it awfully close with a Christmas-themed tutorial, but luckily this project is so simple, it’s perfect for a last-minute gift or just a festive project to help keep you busy in the countdown to the big day. So let’s hurry up and get started! Here’s what you’ll need, and it should all be stuff a crafter will have around the house:

Scrappy Wreath Tutorial - 1

– 12 fabric scraps, cut into circles 3-ish” in diameter (size is not hugely important here, I used a juice glass as a template)*
– fabric marking pen (I used the disappearing kind – this is only for drawing circles onto fabric for easier cutting)
– sewing thread and needle
– thicker / stronger string (such as crochet cotton or embroidery floss) and larger needle
– a goodly amount of polyfill stuffing
– decorative trimming of your choice (I used ribbon and a button), if you like

*(NOTE: I just made a few of these as gifts, a year later, and accidentally used 11 little plops in one of the wreaths. I thought that one smooshed nicely, creating a tight and plump wreath. You might want to make 12 circles, then try your wreath with and without the 12th to see which you like better.)

If you’ve ever made a fabric yo-yo, you’ll be able to skip a whole lot of this already simple tutorial. You’re basically going to make a bunch of yo-yos and fill them with polyfill stuffing before you close them up, making 12 puffy fabric balls. But I’ll go ahead and assume you think I’m talkin’ crazy right now and just start from the beginning.

Scrappy Wreath Tutorial - 2

With your regular sewing thread and needle, sew a running stitch along the outside of one of your fabric circles. Make sure you have a hefty knot at the end of your thread or it could pull right through later, and make it easier on yourself by ending with your needle dangling from the right side of the fabric. Pull the thread a bit to make your circle into a little bowl shape.

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Grab a small handful of stuffing.

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Stick the stuffing inside the tiny bowl and pull the thread to close up the hole. (ANOTHER NOTE: Take care not to stuff them too-too full, you want them to be able to smoosh a bit when you wreath-ify it later. Fill them so they look plump, but still are squishable.)

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Close it up as tight as you can and knot the thread. I do it by making a small stitch near the original knot and running my thread through the loop as I pull the thread through. (I’m sure there is a sewing term for this knot, but I don’t know it and I can’t find it. Help a sister out if you know, ok?) This is sort of a pain, because you have to hold the thread taut to keep the ball closed and knot it at the same time. I kept pressure on the hole and sides with my left hand while knotting with my right.

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Run your thread through the center of the ball and back through the top and snip as close to the surface as you can. This will hide the thread end inside the ball.

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Do that 11 more times.

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Lay out your 12 little balls in a pleasing arrangement and grab a 18-ish” length of stronger string and needle.

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Going right through the center of each ball, thread them all onto your string – no knot needed, just leave a nice tail at the end – in the order you laid them out.

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Center them along your thread.

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As tightly as you can possibly manage, so the balls squish in together tightly, tie the two string ends in a strong knot, making a circle of fabric balls. I tried to do it alone and couldn’t no matter what I tried. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – sometimes two hands just aren’t enough.

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Run each end back through the wreath to give it some extra strength and hide the ends.

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Affix the decoration of your choice, add a loop of string for hanging, and Huzzah! A scrappy wreath ornament! I actually left mine right where it is in the very first photo, looking adorable against the many inches of snow we got over the weekend. Happy last-minute crafting!

Pretty little potholders


Here’s a quick little something I whipped up in bits over the last week, basically using this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew! and a pile of scraps. There’s not so much to share with this small project other than that I’m very pleased with how they came out, but I did have a little trouble with the binding at first. I thought the tutorial was a little unclear about the corner loop bit. It took ages but I finally figured it out – in case you’re stuck too, here’s what I did:


First of all, because these are a gift and are most likely to be used decoratively, I made the binding and hand-sewed it (from Amy Butler’s Love) around the back as if it was a normal quilt. (I’m much too lazy to bother for normal-use potholders.) Starting in one corner, as the tutorial says, I sewed around the first three sides and about halfway through the fourth as normal. There I stopped for a second, returned to the first corner and folded the start of the binding back over the stitching but not all the way around the edge yet. Maybe I’m just a big dummy, but I could not get that part for the longest time. (It seems obvious now though, looking at the tutorial again. D’oh.) Then I continued along the fourth side, stopping at the last edge with the remainder of the binding sticking straight out. To sew around the back, I just did as you would normally do for any quilt, but started right at the first corner. When I got back to that corner, I whipstitched the folded over loop fabric together, twisted it into a loop and sewed the (folded under) edge down.

Of course, you probably won’t have any problem with the loop at all and you’ll just wonder what my problem was. Me too really, but there it is just in case you didn’t get it either!