Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The heat of the summer is soon to be a thing of the past (I sure hope so!), the open windows admit a slight chill to the night air, the endless weeding in the garden will come to a stop, and the desire to bake things will start.  I like the change of seasons and the change of motivations it brings with it.

In the Fall, the magazines that arrive at the library begin showing pictures of soups, apples, pumpkins and all things "harvesty" (I'm sure that is...should be...a word).  When the October issue of Crafts 'n Things Magazine first arrived, its cover caught my eye and drew my attention to the fact that it was definitely time to start focusing on Fall crafting!

Isn't that inviting?  Just the word "harvest" conveys images of corn, pumpkins, apples...warm apple cider.  Of course I had to flip through it and as I did I was surprised by the variety of ideas and techniques inside - felting, painting, sewing, punch needle,  clay, Styrofoam, paper crafts, cross-stitch - each project by a different designer and each listed resources for further ideas. 

I found myself inspired and wanted to try a number of them.  But where to start?  Well, since September is National Sewing Month I opted to start with the Sewn Harvest Pumpkins.  Fashioned out of a printed tan cotton fabric with brown velvet stems and green leaves made from clay, the pair of them looked pretty in the photograph and the instructions seemed simple enough even for me (you may remember that I am not "one" with my sewing machine...).   Anyway, I thought a grouping of them in different sizes and fabrics might bring a little bit of the harvest season into my home.

Project One: Sewn Harvest Pumpkins 

I chose supplies that I already had: some upholstery, corduroy and quilting fabrics that went well together instead of the tan cotton fabric; raffia and hemp instead of the jute twine; and sticks instead of velvet  for some of the stems.  I also decided not to make the clay leaves shown in the pattern because I just wanted to focus on the sewing.

The instructions were pretty simple, although there did seem to be an error in Step 6 which reads "with wrong sides together...turn right side out".  I think they meant "with right sides together...".  Also, I was having some conceptual difficulty with the instruction for the pumpkin body which could have benefited from a diagram. 

Tip:  I learned that it is important to stuff the pumpkin firmly and pull the wrapping cord tight to best define the segments.  The smallest light colored pumpkin was my last one and the segments are less "puckery" than the others.

The following instructional tutorial was added at a later date
in response to a request by an anonymous reader:

1. Fold a rectangular piece of fabric in half, right sides together, to form a square.

2. Machine sew a seam along the edge that is opposite the folded edge (the edge to the right in the photo above).

3. With strong thread and leaving a 6" tail, hand stitch a running/basting stitch along one of the open edges.

4. Pull the ends of the basting thread to cinch the fabric ends together; tie off and whip stitch to secure. This will be the bottom of your pumpkin. 

5. Turn piece right side out.

6.  Stuff body firmly with polyfill and stitch another running/basting stitch along open edge.

7. Cinch that basting stitch, tie it off  (wow, the exposure in my photos change alot! Looks like a whole other pumpkin...) 

8. Whipstitch it to secure as you did the previous one.  This will be the top of the pumpkin and the ugliness will be hidden by your stem when you sew it on.

9.  Thread a large-eyed tapestry needle with a long piece of strong threading material (raffia, jute, embroidery floss, hemp...I found the hemp worked best).  Thread it through the top, straight down through the body/core leaving a 12" tail.  Move needle over slightly to avoid first hole and push straight back through the body to the top.  Tie ends together to secure the pumpkin shape.

10.  Continue by bringing needle around the outside of the body and pushing through the same area at the bottom of the pumpkin, up through the core and out the top.  Snug (I also tied it each time for security) to form segment.  Repeat to create more segments by wrapping around the outside, up from the bottom through the body, snugging (and tieing) as you go until you are satisfied with the number of segments you have created.  If you run out of threading material before your segments are complete simply tie on another piece and continue.

11.  Sew a stem shaped piece of fabric.

12. Turn the stem rightside out, stuff the stem, whipstitch the ends together.

13.  Hand sew it to the top of the body, concealing the pumpkin's closure as you stitch.

(The above photo example for step 13 is from one of the other pumpkins.  My pumpkin did not magically morph...I just didn't have a good picture from the rust colored pumpkin for this step of how to sew the stem on.  Actually for the tan corduroy pumpkin I left the bottom of the stem open which worked out just as well as whipstitching it closed.  And in a couple of the pumpkins I simply hot glued sticks in for stems.) 

I hope this photo tutorial is helpful.  I thank the reader who requested it since I had originally written the blog as a tutorial and agonized over the length the article was becoming.  Please let me know in email or comment whether this works for you.  I love hearing from my readers and respond to the comments and emails as quickly as I can!  Unfortunately, I was away from my computer when the comment was posted...

Project Two: Needle-felted Halloween Mouse and Pumpkin

Sewing done,  I could then move on to the project that really drew me - the needle-felted items.  Lured in by the warmth of the cover art and the very cute mouse inside, I got my needle-felting supplies out.  I had blissfully forgotten that the last time I tackled needle-felting I had found it somewhat tedious with my insufficient tool. I remembered that fact once I got underway however, and I stabbed myself any number of times which is not a good thing when you are using white roving!  Anyway, while I still am not completely enamoured with needle-felting (because I simply am not patient enough),  I do love the completed felted items.

I decided to nix my original plan to make the needle-felted Indian corn and larger pumpkins...for now

The magazine has a lot of projects that are Halloween-oriented but I was still wanting to make Fall decor that was not Halloween specific.  I decided to work up their napkin ring project.

Project Three:  Harvest Jute Napkin Rings with Clay Leaves

A couple of the projects in the magazine called for an adornment of leaves made out of Sculpey Polymer Clay.  I didn't make them for the Sewn Pumpkins but I decided to give them a shot now.  I used burlap glued to cardboard tubes as the base and then set to work on the clay leaves.   The full-sized leaf templates are provided by the magazine and the leaves were easy to cut out and bake (especially after all the stabbing in the last project).  The hard part was waiting for the various paint coats to dry before I could proceed to the next step.  Also, I found the instructions for the painting techniques to be a bit vague - but I played around with the colors I had and applied them in a way that pleased me.  I liked the end result.

When they were done, I glued them to the prepare tubes with some berry sprigs.

I grouped some of the items together in a display by my fireplace.  We will see how long the mouse lasts before my cat discovers it.

I would love to work on a number of other items in the magazine but I really need to get to work on the wreath for my door before Fall is over!  I have already found the inspiration for that and will show you soon.  Until then, browse through the magazines at your local library and you are bound to find some great inspirations!  Magazines are great sources of information, providing a variety of up-to-date ideas of whatever the current trends, materials and resources are and should not be overlooked when you are researching ideas for things to make.

Some other magazines that might be of interest:

 Country Living, October 2011 issue includes pumpkins that are decoupaged with all sorts of interesting patterns; crow silhouettes fashioned from static-cling window decal sheets (a very trendy Halloween craft this year); and a custom-stamped tablecloth for Halloween.  Decoupaged pumpkins, who would ever have thought?!

Martha Stewart Living, October 2011 issue includes clever paper bats to hang outside your front door; a number of very funky, clever, and simple ideas to dress up your pumpkins instead of carving them which are bound to impress your visitors; and a beautiful idea for an artful arrangement of Fall foliage and fruit.

 McCall's Quick Quilts, October/November 2011 issue includes a variety of project types including some adorable ideas for Halloween.  They also always feature some Quick and Easy ideas.  This magazine is beginning to make even me think about learning to quilt!


  1. Hi I am trying to figure out how to sew the One: Sewn Harvest Pumpkins but the instructions are not clear to me is there any way you could post a few pictures of the construction? Thanks

  2. Yes, I will be able to do that shortly as I am currently away from my photo source. The sewing process is easier than it seems and I was originally going to post it as a tutorial but the post was becoming unweildy. Thank you for your interest. If you would prefer it in an email you may email me at the address provided in my profile.

  3. The photos and article are now revised. Thank you for inquiring. Best wishes!