Friday, August 17, 2012

Pitcher Cover with Crochet Braid & Bead Trim

Here's the first use I've found for my new crochet braid (click here for braid tutorial):

A beaded cover for the glass water pitcher we keep on the kitchen counter. (Our former cover was a cloth napkin with clothespins clipped to the corners - extremely functional, but not extremely pretty. This is a vast improvement.)

How about a tutorial? I thought you'd never ask. : )

I decided to go with an octagonal cover (hemming a fabric circle is too laborious). So I started with a muslin square, about 13 1/2" to a side.

First obstacle: how do you turn a square into an octagon? One method invokes the mathematical gods Vertex, Sine, and Radius (which I found out by Googling "how to turn a square into an octagon"). To please these trigonometrical deities one must perform mystical acts of measuring, multiplication, division, and subtraction - followed by more measuring, and marking, and finally cutting.

To avoid the tedious arithmetic, I worked out a quick and easy method requiring only my iron and a pair of scissors. (Typing the instructions took longer than the actual job.)

I folded the square in half crossways and pressed the fold; opened it up and folded crossways in the other direction and pressed again; then folded it from corner to corner and pressed (in both directions). Now my square was neatly divided into eighths:

There are crease lines if you look hard enough : )

The next step was to fold in half crossways again, take two of the folded corners down to meet the diagonal crease marks, and press. (Upper left photo below.)

Then open up the whole piece, re-fold crossways, and do the same thing with the other two folded corners. (Upper right photo below.) Now my square was marked into sixteenths...

...and all I had to do was open it up and fold up each corner between two of the marks, being careful to keep the tip centered on the diagonal fold line, then press. (Lower left photo above.)

When each corner was opened after pressing, the cutting line was revealed. (Lower right photo above.)

A pair of scissors cut those corners off in a jiffy (a rotary cutter would also work well but remember we're going minimalist).

And here's my fabric octagon:

Now for a hem. Quick and dirty was my motto here (the truth is I'm too lazy to bother with mitered corners). I eyeballed a hem allowance and pressed the straight-grain edges first...

...then opened them up and pressed the bias-grain edges. Now for a bit of folding and pinning...

...where the Magic of Geometry sneaked up on me and I found that my corners were mitered after all, without any effort on my part. (I think this will only work if you fold the hem allowance precisely in half, then fold again at the press mark.)

Some quick stitching, pivoting at each corner, and the octagon has a hem:

Now for the trim - some Bumpy Single Crochet Braid from Wednesday's tutorial.

And a quick note about the Bumpy Braid: it curves more easily in one direction than in the other. For this project, I put the more-easily-curving edge towards the INSIDE of the octagon, to help my corner loops curve outward smoothly. (If you're using the Bumpy Braid as a plain trim with no loops, put the curviest edge to the outside of your project.)

I used a straight stitch to attach the braid (a zigzag also works). At each corner, I stitched almost to the fabric edge, then backstitched about 1/4"...

...then curved the braid around and over itself to form the corner loop. Then I stitched forward again until the needle was into the topmost layer of braid, pivoted, and started down the next edge.

Here I am at the last edge (photo below). I see I have a bit too much braid, so after pivoting and stitching a little way down the last side, I carefully unravelled the excess braid...

...leaving just enough for a little overlap. Then I cut the yarn and tied off.

Just before I reached the overlap, I switched to a zigzag stitch and zigzagged for about an inch - which gave me a nice enclosed place for hiding the yarn ends.

Tip: if you've left yourself too short of a yarn end for weaving in (as I did), first run just the needle through your project where you'd like the yarn end to go, leaving the needle's eye sticking out. Then thread the needle and pull the yarn end through.

Et voilà! Ze cover she is nearly complete.

All we need now are some beads to add weight to those corners.

You can sew your beads on if you like, or get funky and use earring findings or metal loops. I wanted a more organic feel and decided to make beaded yarn dangles (removable for laundry purposes).

Another tip: choose beads with large holes. I chose the largest-holed beads I could...

...but still had to separate my yarn into 2-ply strands to get it through the smaller beads' holes.

We interrupt this post for a Shameless Product Endorsement:

Have I mentioned that this is
Planet Penny Cotton Club Yarn?
Gorgeous stuff, and great fun to work with.

We now return to our scheduled programming.

Here's how I made the dangles. I cut several 6"-8" lengths of yarn, then separated them into 2-ply strands. To keep the loops consistently sized, I wrapped each strand around a bead tube (you could also use a large crochet or knitting hook or a wooden spoon handle). I pulled the ends up evenly, and tied a kind of double surgeon's knot against the tube (left strand over right twice, then right strand over left twice). Then I strung my beads on both strands, snugged them up against the first knot, and tied another knot to secure the beads.

The yarn was snipped about 1/4" away from the second knot.

Variety is the spice of life - a comforting thought when you don't have enough of any one bead to make eight matching dangles. I made two sets of four...

...and alternated them around the edge of the cover. (Dangles were attached by pulling the yarn loop through the braid loop, then pulling the beads through the yarn loop - the same way you would attach fringe to a scarf.)

And here's the pitcher cover in all its dangly, yarny, crochet-and-glass-bead glory:

A fun project, and a good use for the braided crochet trim. There's also a bonus: 40 beads have left my stash and are now embarked on a life of usefulness. (Only a few thousand beads to go.)

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  1. Well....look how pretty! I love it!

  2. You are so amazingly creative! You go!

  3. Great idea, and wonderful execution!!!

    1. Thanks Ana - I admire your work very much.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you, Regula - and I didn't buy anything new for this project. :)

  5. I love this!!!! Really beautiful, functional and did I say beautiful? You make me want to break out my sewing machine and give this a go, but instead I have to clean for my niece and her family who arrive tomorrow.
    have a wonderful day,

    1. Thanks Meredith - enjoy your family visit.

  6. I love it, will have to make. I have seen small one for jam jars, but I like the size of this better.

    1. Thank you, Janet. Be sure to post a photo if you make one. :)

  7. You will be mastering origami next! Thanks so much for the time and attention to detail in you tutorials - I always learn something. A beautiful finished product!

    1. Thank you, Sue! (Nice name.) :)

      That whole folding thing did look rather origami-like, didn't it? I should have looked up some origami directions to help me write mine more clearly.

  8. What a wonderful combination of your talents. I always wondered what may crawl in a take a sip and then quickly take-off, when I leave something like this unattended. With a creation like this I would no longer wonder. I think a smaller version on top of my drinking glass that sits on my nightstand could be very comforting. :-)

    This truly is so pretty. I love the attention to detail.

    1. Thanks so much, Astri. (I don't worry about bugs as much as I do flying splatters and other kitchen bits.) :)

  9. My Auntie Dolly - she was actually my great aunt - had something like this. Not as nice of course and shop bought, but very similar. I'm going back to my childhood here, so hardly recently. Seeing your clever pitcher cover has brought back happy memories Sue :D

    1. I'm glad to hear it Annie. Will we see a post about your Auntie Dolly? :)

  10. Tee hee hee! I can just hear the rest of those beads singing, "Pick me! Pick me!" Loved the commercial, too. If only all ads could be so pleasing!

    A really cute project! Fly-free water!!!

    1. Picking the beads took longer than anything. :) Thanks Deb!

  11. That's so pretty, and another great tutorial! I must have a go at the braid. Thank you for the mention too. Hope you are keeping well x

    1. Thanks, Penny! Always glad to promote the PPCC. :)


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