By Kellie Wachter
There is something vaguely quantum about it; the way a love for sewing almost always comes entangled with a love for sewing notions. I have to constantly remind myself that I could actually do more sewing if I would spend less time ogling notions and fondling fabric and more time pushing the pedal, but I cannot help it, this love of notions. It really does come hand in glove with a love of sewing. All classes of needle workers seem to share it. We all shop for the latest sewing gadgets, we collect all manner of vintage sewing notions, but best of all is when we make them! It was my love of notions that led me down the cartonnage path, a French craft of covering cardboard forms in fabric to make useful and beautiful things for you home. I happened on to a cartonnage Vide Poche (roughly translated from French as Catch-All) sewing bowl, and I knew I had to have one of my very own, so out came the scissors and glue and I went to work. The beauty of this project is that it can be easily fashioned to fit any taste or style. By choosing different fabrics you can color co-ordinate it to any room, or make a true “one of a kind” by using vintage hankies or linens. Whatever you like, make it your own!
Trace the pattern and adjust the scale on your copier until the sides of the hexagon measure 2.75 inches. Trace the scaled pattern onto Bristol board or lightweight cardboard and cut the pattern out. You will need two.
Use a bone folder to score and fold the petals inward.
Brush thinned-down white glue on one of the hexagon shapes. Glue the hexagon shapes together, nesting one inside the other so that all six sides of the hexagon have a petal. Weigh the center down with something heavy and let the glue dry.
Glue the petals together to form the bowl by pasting strips of thin craft paper cut to fit along the seam lines of each petal both inside and out. I used pointing tape from the hardware store.
Using the original pattern, trace and cut out twelve petal shapes and two hexagons. Using the same thinned-down white glue, paste precut squares of your chosen fabric to each of the twelve petals and one of the hexagons. Set something heavy on them as they dry to help keep them from cupping.
Cut a piece of thin batting the same size as the remaining hexagon. Glue it on with the thinned-down white glue and then cover it with a piece of fabric cut an inch bigger all around. Glue the excess fabric to the back of the hexagon shape. This will be the padded bottom on the inside of your bowl. Cover the remaining hexagon with fabric, but omit the batting. This will be the outside bottom of your bowl.
Trim the fabric on the petal shapes to half and inch all around. Cut V notches along the curved top of each shape. Now brush thinned glue on the bowl form along one of the outer panels, being sure to brush glue ½ inch onto both neighboring sides, the bottom, and over the lip onto the inner edge of the bowl. Glue your prepared fabric-covered petal to the outer bowl, wrapping the notch points over the bowl form onto the inner side.
Wrap one side of the fabric on the next petal piece over to the backside of itself and glue down. Trim the excess fabric from the corners and then glue it to the outer side of the bowl next to the petal you just applied, using the folded edge of the new piece to form a clean border with the piece already applied. Continue around the bowl in this fashion with one edge folded under and one edge glued down onto the bowl to cover the seam for the next piece. With the last piece you will glue down both sides of fabric to the petal shape and then glue it to the bowl, gluing the bottom of the fabric to the bottom of the bowl as you did with all the other pieces. Finally, glue the unpadded hexagon to the outer bottom of the bowl. Put something heavy in the bowl and set it aside to dry.
To make the pocket for the interior of the bowl you will need to cut a rectangle of fabric 3.5×8.5 inches. Fold one long edge over ¼ inch and press. Then turn it again ½ inch and hem it, forming a pocket for the elastic. Cut a piece of elastic at least 5 inches long and thread it through the pocket. Pull the elastic through about ½ and inch and tack it to the edge of the hemmed pocket. Gather the fabric up along the elastic, check it for size on one of the petal pieces and when you are happy with the fit, tack it in place as you did the first side. Fold the excess elastic and fabric to the back and glue into place using clothespins as clamps if needed.
To create the panel with the seam binding strap you need to cut a length of seam binding and glue it into place on one of the fabric covered petals, make sure you check it for placement, then glue the seam binding to the seam allowances of the fabric glued to the petal. The raw edges of the band will be covered along with the raw edges of the petal.
To make the pincushion you need to cut two 3.5-inch squares of fabric and a length of seam binding. Pin the seam binding to the right side of one of the squares with a tail hanging past the seam allowance. Layer the other square on top and stitch all around catching the seam binding in the sewn seam. Leave a small opening for turning. Clip the corners, press your seams and then turn it right side out. Stuff it with wool or poly fill and sew shut. Add buttons to it if you like and a little bow tied of seam binding glued on at the seam-binding hanger.
Prepare the petals for the interior of the bowl by brushing thinned down glue along the backside of the curve and pulling the V notches over the top of the petal shape and gluing them to the back. Glue the first petal shape into place gluing the seam allowance down to each neighboring side and along the inside bottom.
Continue gluing the inside petals down as you did with the outside. Be sure to wrap the seam allowance along one side to the back and glue it into place to form a clean edge, covering up the seam allowance of the one glued before it. Also be sure to glue your pincushion in place by tucking the seam binding in between the bowl form and an inner petal. Check for length and trim if needed before the glue dries. Save the last space for your elastic pocket panel.
To fit your elastic pocket petal in place gather the pleats of the fabric and neatly distribute them along the bottom. Brush the inside of the bowl form with glue and place the pocket in position, be carful not to get glue on the pocket and take a few minutes to pleat and tuck the fabric until it pleases you. Clamp it with clothespins to dry. Next you want to cover the bottom of the bowl by gluing on the prepared hexagon. Brush glue along the inside bottom of the bowl paying attention to the edges, carefully brushing glue on the portion of the pocket that will be concealed under the padded bottom. Place your padded hexagon into the bowl taking care near the pleats of the elastic pocket. Put something heavy in the bowl and leave it to dry.
The last step is glue trim along the upper edge of the bowl. Carefully run a bead of tacky glue or fabric glue along the upper edge of the bowl and place the trim on the bead of glue. Use a darning needle or stiletto to help nestle the trim into the glue and let it to dry.
That’s it; your sewing bowl is ready just in case you get a notion to sew.