{ Happy Sewing } … Fabric Trays

Coming up with original teachers’ gifts is far from easy. While some years I leave things too late and jump in with the class group gift certificate, I usually try my best to make something as a show of appreciation for all the hard work my kids’ teachers do on a daily basis. In years past, I have made hand warmers, zippered pouches and fabric buckets. For this Christmas, I found a great tutorial for fabric trays by Noodlehead and my search was done.

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This was the perfect project to try machine embroidering some letters from my Nature Walk alphabet that has recently been digitized by OESD. I am very new to machine embroidery, so am learning as I go. Janome Canada generously loaned me a Memory Craft 450E to try my hand at it and, while I will tell you I love hand embroidery, watching this being done by machine is quite magical and the result is far more refined, interesting and textured than I had imagined. I love it! And, for those of you who haven’t tried one of these machines before, let me tell you the best part: the only work you have to do is change the spool of thread and press the start button! So excellent!

Here are a few progress shots of one of the letters being stitched. I really like that the “P” presser foot directs your eye to exactly what is being stitched while not hiding any of the action:

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I could have just use the suggested colours that come with the embroidery files, but I had fun tailoring each letter to the recipient… trying to remember the colours she tends to use or wear most. Knowing the total number of colours needed to complete the design and where each colour would be used (the file gives you all this information), I created my own palette for each letter and thus ended up wth some truly personalized gifts.

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Wanting a neutral exterior to the trays that would wear well, I opted to use “Pollen Burst” and “Hop, Skip & Jump” and the binding is either “Stepping Stones” or “Little World”, all from my Nature Walk collection.

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I could see these being used to contain some jewellery on a dresser, keys and phone on a console in an entryway or if it were for me, some yarns and threads from my latest hand sewing project on a side table in the living room.

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If you would like to make a few yourself, the tray pattern can be found here and the alphabet files here.

A few technical notes:

– To properly fit a letter in the bottom of the basket without possibly cutting off some details with the corner darts, I adjusted the size of the cut fabric for both the interior and exterior to 9″ x 12″ (starting with a larger piece all around to create the embroidered letter first, and then trimmed to the correct size).

– I switched the thick interfacing to the exterior fabric and the thinner one to the embroidered fabric (opposite to what Anna suggests in the pattern). This avoids too much bubbling on the interior.

Happiest of Holidays to you all!
xo Tamara