For Christmas and many other holidays or no occasion at all:
Yes, they are festive pincushion constructions! Both require sewing leftovers, including empty spools, bits of embroidery floss, and fabric scraps. Plus plastic lids, ranging from 1" wide to 6" or more.
First, for Chanukah:
Each pin serves as a candle. Too cute, right? You will need:
- 10 empty thread spools - they don't have to be exactly alike - mixing adds charm
- 9 1" diameter caps from bottles, milk, juice cartons, etc., in blue and white
- A couple of yards of embroidery thread in blues and white
- Small amounts of polka-dot fabric - about 4" square per pincushion
- Small amounts of silver lamé - also about 4" square per pincushion
- A yellow measuring tape (or any color you like, but yellow does look great against blue). Use a piece, or the whole tape (depending on the length of your table)
- 9 yellow flower-headed pins
- Glue that works on plastic. I used Liquid Fusion. Ultra-strong double-sided tape works, and I suspect a glue gun would work, too.
Make a test arrangement of your spools. Stack two or more spools to be the "shammes," the head candle. Glue them together.
Using strong thread, do a running stitch around the circumference of the circle, about a quarter of an inch in. No need to fold raw edges in. Here's the wrong side. End with the two thread ends on the RIGHT side of the fabric (unlike this picture).
Pull the threads from the outside until your circle is half closed.
Mash a wad of polyester stuffing inside:
Pull tight to make sure you have the right amount of stuffing. Trial and error will show you much you need. Once it's good, pull the threads tight for the last time, tie off, and clip threads.
Put some glue inside a 1" cap, and stuff the cushion down into it.
represent candles. Arrange everything thusly:
Glue the lids to the top of the spools.
When Chanukah comes, light and unlight the candles by removing and replacing pins.
I think you could really go to town with this idea if you stacked each candle holder even higher. For added stability, you may want to permanently glue the spools onto the measuring tape - or not! I didn't, I stored the pieces in a plastic bag, and the measuring tape returns to my sewing table when the holiday's over.
Christmas/All Occasion Spool Tree/Thimble Display Tower
For the past year, this has served as decor and thimble storage in my studio. You can make it Christmassy with color choice and accessories.
(What are those little dolls with pins sticking out of their heads above you may be asking? They were flea market finds gifted to me by my friend Noelle - they're tiny vintage pinholders! I tried googling this - where they came from, possible age - but I couldn't find a thing. Can someone help me out?)
The basic principal of this project is to use large jar lids - 4" - 6" - to hold smaller 1" caps in position. Some of the small caps will become pincushions, and some will hold thimbles (or other tiny stuff).
Decide how many levels you want. Warning: The higher it goes, the less stable it is. I wouldn't go any higher than 5 levels, and shorter is better.
Wrap colorful embroidery thread around the number of spools you need. Important: For the base, use at least three same-height spools. The picture below makes it look like two are under the base, but there's a third one hiding down there. Four is even better.
Choose large lids. as many as you need. The large red lid below came from an organic raisin box. Flip a large lid wrong side up. Arrange and glue small 1" caps in any formation you like. The photo shows 7, but you can use fewer. Balance the weight, and leave room in the middle for the spool. Not every large lid needs small caps.
In the photo below, the blue ridged lid, from a peanut butter jar, is only about 3" across. So it didn't have room to hold any smaller lids. The blue lid is also useful because it has a high rim. That gives extra room to glue smaller lids (the orange and green ones) to its exterior.
Build your tower, gluing each spool and each lid in place as you go, and balancing the weight. This is tricky, and kids will need help with it.
Make little pincushion puffs as described in the menorah directions above. I didn't glue the thimbles in place, just rested them, so they can be swapped out.
Since finishing it, I've put a few more little things in it, including some jacks, a dollhouse miniature sewing machine, and this tiny fake Amy Vanderbilt book of etiquette.
I think it would look really awesome with tinsel artistically draped over it - or maybe wrapped around the spools.
And if these ideas seem vaguely familiar, and you're a longtime reader of this blog, you might remember the grandmother of this idea, a tower-o-stuff that I entered into a two person craft challenge in 2013 and lost! (But I had a gas!)
(More about constructing this tower on my blog post here.)
Yesterday afternoon my friend Linda unexpectedly came over with two half-finished dreidel bags, asking for help from my handy glue gun. These are not what you're thinking, small bags to hold dreidels and chocolate coins. Rather, they are large (about 18" high, 13" wide) felt bags that are the functional equivalent of Christmas stockings.
Linda explains that her aunt invented them, and Linda adapted the custom. She made them at the request of her college-age son, for him and his roomate. For the lining, she selected fabrics adjusted to their interests. Below, her son's bag has race cars and Jerusalem fabric inside:
And her son's roomate, who hails from Texas, got cows and tractors inside. Linda stuffed them with candy, Hot Wheels, and other treats.
What holiday decor have you created?