Handmade holiday: luscious lavender strawberriesPosted: December 3, 2013 | |
Now’s the time to make little vintage things for gifts! These yummy little strawberries, meant for tucking in your drawers to scent everything with the heavenly aroma of lavender, are super quick and fun to make.
You’ll need woven cotton fabric for the strawberries, wool felt for leaves, small mother-of-pearl buttons, and dried lavender buds.
Oh, and some paper and a protractor to quickly draft some berry patterns. Don’t worry, this is easy.
First, cut a paper circle with a diameter of about 7″. The quickest way to do this is to trace around a bowl or plate. (Yes, that is a Lu-Ray saucer in Windor green.) Presto—instant circle!
Fold the paper circle in half and crease it, then cut along the crease so you have two half circles.
Now for the easy geometry! To give your strawberry a realistic shape, you want your pattern to be an arc that’s somewhere between 110 degrees and 170 degrees of the half circle.
Take one half circle and fold it in half to crease it, so you know where 90 degrees is. Now lay your protractor on the half circle and mark the angle you want. Here I’ve marked 120 degrees. No, I don’t own a vintage protractor. Yet.
You can make berries in different shapes and sizes by varying the diameter of the paper circle you start with, and by varying the angle.
Pin the pattern to a scrap of woven cotton and cut it out. Vintage prints and reproductions are nice if you have them. I think that dark burgundy print here is a nineteenth century document print, but I’m not sure. I didn’t have any vintage cottons on hand with my sewing students last week so we used contemporary fabrics. The girls loved the pink gingham with embroidered strawberries. Berries on berries!
And that packet of vintage yellow bias tape is photobombing. You don’t need bias tape for this project!
Fold the berry arc right sides together, and sew the side seam. You can machine-sew or stitch it by hand. Make the seam allowance very narrow—1/8″ to 1/4″ at the most. Here I’m stitching it with my machine’s “little foot.” If you handsew, make sure your stitches are small so the lavender buds can’t sneak out!
Press the seam and turn the berry right side out. You now have a little fabric cone!
Run a row of hand or machine basting stitches along the top edge of the berry.
Now fill the cone with lavender buds, making sure the first few buds go all the way to the pointy bottom tip of the berry. Fill nearly up to the line of basting stitches.
If you are making a bunch of these with kids, you can substitute hard plastic pellets for some of the lavender. The pellets are sold for stuffing small toys, and they’re cheap. The farmstand down the road from me sells a bag of about 2 cups of their own lavender tips for $5. Not cheap.
When you think the berry is full enough, start pulling up the basting stitches from both ends, to gather the top of the strawberry. Add or remove lavender buds as necessary. When the berry is as full as you want, tie off the basting threads tightly.
Now for the leaves! Mine are made from pure wool felt. It’s thick, soft, smooth, lovely to work with, and comes in a rainbow of colors. In other words, it’s nothing at all like cheap polyester felt. I can’t find wool felt locally, though, so my favorite online source is here.
Cut two starburst shapes for the leaves, one larger and one smaller. You don’t need a pattern, just eyeball it. Non-symmetrical is good!
Stack the smaller leaf on top of the larger, and top with a mother-of-pearl button. Sew the button to the leaves with a stitch or two, but don’t tie your thread off. Just let your needle and thread dangle for a bit.
Here’s why: I added one stitch of 6-strand embroidery floss through the button to show it off a little. Tie off the floss on the underside of the leaves.
Then pick up your dangling needle and thread and slipstitch the underside of the bottom leaf to the top of the berry. Slipstitch all the way around the berry top so the leaves are held securely.
A handful of these strawberries would be a wonderful present tucked into a pretty vintage dish, wouldn’t they?