Fat Quarterly threw down the gauntlet for their 12 days of Ruby Star FQ Designer Challenge and I eagerly picked it up!

I’m Sarah and I blog over at Pings And Needles, and if you know me, you’ll know that I’m a big big Melody Miller fan.

So, the task was to make something easy and quick and possibly festive using Melody Miller‘s two latest lines, ruby star spring and ruby star shining.  I also added some linen and Melody’s first fabric line ruby star rising to the mix.

So, without further ado, I present to you:

… my “Load of Balls Lapkin” tutorial …

The red lightweight linen lapkin above measures 22″ x 17″ finished (there’s no hemming – yay!) Obviously you could just use a FQ of solid per lapkin (22″ x 18″)! but I lost an inch because this linen had a really thick selvedge on one end that I had to rip off to be able to fray …

I don’t think we love our napkins enough. I’m sorry, I can’t call them serviettes because (a) my mum said it was common – she was a terrible snob! and (b) these babies are too big to be anything-ette. They just sit on our laps or tucked into our chins taking everything we drop at em.  Not anymore …

These baubles are padded for extra lap stroky entertainment!

You will need:

fabricApplique: 2″, 3″ & 5″ circles – This is a great scrapbuster project because you could just as easily cut the smaller circles if your pieces are small. Lapkins: 1 FQ per lapkin of solid cotton or linen.

But, if you do use the 5″ circles you get to show off some of Melody’s lovely prints at their best – Don’t you just love the typewriter and clock from the new ruby star shining line?

batting/wadding offcuts - if you just want plain applique without the padding then just leave the batting out of the equation.  You will also need some solid in a grey or gold for the bauble tops.

thread – This was a great opportunity to use some of my old wooden spool cottons which I forage for like they’re truffles, in flea markets … I also used Gutermann topstitch thread, and Aurifil 12wt cotton (dreamy!) – Remember that you’ll need a topstitch needle!

applique fusible bonding – I used Heat’n'Bond lite … I find it stays in one piece better than others.

I really wanted to give my Go! Baby a bit of a workout with this project. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would never have thought this up if I hadn’t had something else doing the circle cutting for me. However, I know that there are enough of you out there who are perfectly capable (unlike me) of cutting things out with scissors, so I hope it appeals to both …

I used the machine to cut some old polyester wadding and my Heat n Bond into circles too … I can use the little strips that are left and I think you get a more lasting bond if you bond onto the circles and then onto your lapkin. But that’s just me.

If I were cutting out with scissors I’d probably just bond the fabric and then cut the circles…

I also like that you can still fussy cut with a machine!  It was one of the things I really worried about …

So, first of all you need to sew with your fancy topstitchy thread at least two and a half inches inside the edge all the way round … (see top picture)

Then you can start to fray your fabric!  This is such a great thing to do while watching a movie.  All you need is a pin and some patience!  Don’t get too carried away … stop at least 1″ before the stitching …

Then you are ready to start laying out your festive balls (you could turn these into hot air balloons or just leave them as circles if you want, this doesn’t have to be Christmassy …)

Now is the time to put your batting in under the 3″ and 5″ circles. I really wanted to use up my polyester wadding offcuts, (horrid stuff, you have to watch the iron heat when you applique or they it just turns into interfacing!)

I put a little bit of fusible onto the wadding and stuck that down onto the lapkin first … then I placed the circle on top and bonded the whole thing …

I also experimented by cutting concentric rough circles out of soft bamboo batting and building up more dimension.  This has a much more strokable curve to it.  But takes a little more time.

padded batting_800x457

You will need to cut some little bauble tops out of some pre-bonded fabric and iron them on too:

Then just stitch down, using any thread you like … I used a blanket stitch on my machine, but if this were a slow project I would have hand appliqued with perle cotton.

Next, setting my stitch length to 5.0,
I stitched up from the centre of the bauble top to just within the stitched top border for the hanging thread…

When you have appliqued all your baubles, take the time to pull all the ends through to the back, tie off and trim.

If you use a contrasting colour in your bobbin then you’ll have a double sided napkin!

I think these would be really nice as a quick embroidery project too, leaving out the fabric!

But in this case … using Melody’s fabrics just makes the experience all the lovelier ….

I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did … It’s always a joy to play with Melody’s fabrics … thank you FQ!

Thanks, Sarah!  We absolutely love your Load of Balls … errr, that didn’t sound right.  In any case, this is a great gift idea to whip up in no time!  (In fact, Sarah shared that it took her longer to type out the instructions than it did to make the items.)

You can learn more about Sarah and see her beautiful work on her blog, Pings & Needles.  Be sure to click over and say “hello”!