Friday, January 20, 2012

How To: Mushroom Pin Cushion

This simple project will probably take you less then an hour to complete.  I made it because I have been wanting a large pin cushion with a weighted bottom for my sewing room.

1. Sturdy woven fabric of your choice, something cute and not stretchy
2. A sharp pair of scizzors
3. A plastic lid from something... salsa, hummus, sour cream, you get the idea.
4. A cylindrical container for the base.  Almost anything will work here.  I used a ceramic one made by my talented sister.  I like it because its lovely and it has some weight.  You could go for a cute rustic look with a tin can with some gravel inside.  Or a little wooden log.  Use your imagination.  As Chef John would say... you're the boss of your sauce.
5. Some yarn, I ended up using two colors but this is optional
6. A Needle and Thread
7. Some Poly fill
8. A Compas


Using A compass, approximate a circle with a radius about two and a half times that of the plastic lid.

 Now draft a circle on the wrong side of your fabric.
 Snip snip.
Put some poly fill on the bottom side of the plastic lid.  IMPORTANT! Use about 2 or 3 times as much as I did.  I had to go back and do this again because the stuffing wasn't dense enough and the pins didn't stay put.

Stretch the fabric around the lid and secure in back with a few stitches.  The fabric should feel tight.

Now fold over the other side of the fabric and secure with a few more stitches.
At this point I shoved a little bit more stuffing into the corners, just for good measure.  Pull catty-corners together at the back and secure with a few more stitches.
Do this again.
Now keep stitching the back, stretching the edges toward each other with the thread until you have all the ends tightened and stitched to the middle and it looks like this:
 Next you'll get your yarn and the base.
Wrap the top part of the base with yarn 10-12 times with yarn,  The more haphazard the better here.
 Tie a little knot and tuck in the ends.  Best to tie the knot toward the top, like it didn't do here.
Next you're going to stitch the mushroom top onto the base using the first few strands of yarn as an anchor.  Do it like this:

 All the way around now.
For this last step I used another color yarn but you could use the same one if you want. 
Wrap the top rim of the base with more yarn to cover the stitches. blend it down into the existing yarn.
Tie a knot and hide the ends.  Guess what? You're done!

Try it out, if you do, send pics to and I'll share them here! Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Know Your Thrift, Volume I: Assistance League Thrift Shop

Assistance League of Tucson Thrift Shop
1307 N. Alvernon Way
(520) 326-1585

Winter Hours (Spet. 6- May 27)
10-4 Tuesday-Friday
10-2 Saturday
Summer Hours (June 21-Sept. 1)
10-2 Tuesdays and Thursdays

So I want to kick this off with what is, hands down, my favorite thrift store in town.  This place is a gem.  One of the volunteers who rang me out on my last visit aptly called the place the “Neiman Marcus” of thrift stores.  And so It is.  It's a wonderful place to find art, furniture, clothing, kitchenware, and lots of lovely odds and ends.

Assistance League is a charitable organization which organizes “goods and services to improve the lives of disadvantaged men, women, and children in the greater Tucson area.”  They provide brand new clothing and supplies to school children in need through Operation School Bell (This year alone they dressed 3,674 children!) supplies and necessities to families in crisis, and toiletry kits for use in hospitals and trauma centers for victims of assault and rape.  These are just a few of the good causes you support when you spend your money at Assistance League Thrift Shop.  If you need more convincing, you can find out more about the services AL provides here.

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this place.  I have found so many treasures here.  It’s one of those places you really just have to wander around and let something magical find you.  While I have scored some amazing and versatile accessories and clothes here in the past, I’ve had especially good luck with furniture, art, and other random treasures.  The prices are extremely reasonable, and often get reduced if things hang around for a little while, especially in the case of furniture.  I’ll show you around.

The enterance and view from the front door. Today is rodeo themed!

There are two clothing departments. The Boutique is higher end clothing and tends to be a bit more expensive but it regularly goes on sale.  Speaking of sales...

 Happy Valentines day

 I spy a Jackalope!

 Books, Books, Books.

 Children's dolls and toys.

Here is a little visual diary of things I’ve acquired over the years from AL.  They also happen to be some of my favorite and most used possessions.

Original floral painting.  It currently lives in my studio.  Makes my heart happy and full of sunshine. $25.00.
Sailing ship print. $10.00.

Hand embroidered wall hanging with hardwood frame. It’s perfect in my newly re-decorated room.  A ganga at $20.00.  Even ties in to the cute little felted mushrooms Jesse got me from the UN Center for my birthday.

Small Couroc owl plate. $2.00.  Sturdy wooden studio chair, I have two of these. $6.00 each.

This is the best place in my house to sit.  That’s an understatement.  This is the most comfortable chair in existence.  It is now piled high with colorful and lovable friends.  Snagged this baby for 20 bucks during a half off furniture sale! Score.

Mushroom cup.  Enough Said. $0.50?

Kelly green vintage handbag. Tiny and perfect for a night out, just the essentials fit in here.  I think this was about three or four dollars.

Retro leather fanny pack. $3.00.

Bass oxford style leather shoes. $2.00

 Pendant necklaces.  I wear these constantly.  I can't remember how much I paid but I think it was around $4.00.

Some knit tops and a skirt I altered.  $3-5.00 each.

Framed bird  embroidery, $6 each
 Boots, $6

 Rad little mug set, $1 each

 Original Painting, $26

Brooks Brothers Blazer, $20

But alas! I am on a budget and I could only buy one! So what did I choose?

 That's right, I decided my new room needed more love then my wardrobe today.  And with the 30% discount on framed art this week they came out to just $12.50 for the set.  The blazer was pretty beautiful though.  I already miss it.

On a final note I want to plug an AL Fundraiser even called Whatz it Worth? on February 12, 2012.  The funds raised go to benefit Operation School Bell and AL's other philanthropic programs. One $60 ticket gets you two admissions to appraise the value of your "family heirlooms, thrift shop treasures and yard sale bargains."  For tickets click here or call 520-443-0675.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope you had fun shopping with me.  If you have a favorite shop, treasure or thrifting story leave it in the comments below!