In a few short weeks, school will be breaking up for the summer and I for one, cannot wait! But in the lead up to the end of the school year, there is still so much to get finished. The kids have their Christmas cards to write and I’ve been busily working on the teacher gifts.
Teacher gifts are one of the major talking points amongst the mums in the playground right now. Some people like to give small tokens of their appreciation, others prefer to pitch in together and gift vouchers for day-spas or dinners.
For me personally, I like to take the time to make a handmade gift. I started this when my son was in Kindergarten, so will continue while both of my kids are in primary school. The teachers have been a huge part of my children’s lives all year, teaching, guiding and caring for them, so this is my way of saying ‘thank you’.
I saw this little verse on Pinterest, so decided to manipulate it a little and turn it into a stitchery. I then used the stitchery as the centre of a Dresden Plate, which I appliqued onto a pillow. Hopefully both of my children’s teachers will like it and find a place of it in their homes.
So for anyone who commented on social media and sent emails and messages, here is the tutorial for the Stitched Teacher Appreciation Gift. This pattern is for a 14” finished pillow.
Trace the writing onto your background fabric. I used some Kona Cotton in white for my background. I like to press some thin pellon to the back of my stitcheries. I like the finished result when I use pellon, but use your preferred stabiliser on the back of the stitchery.
I used 2 strands of DMC cotton floss in a charcoal colour – I used charcoal because I wasn’t sure what outer colours I would be using and I figured charcoal would work with most things. I’ve used a basic back-stitch for the words. There are lots of tutorials online for basic embroidery stitches, but I can always write up a quick tutorial if anyone is interested.
Once the stitching is complete, cut out the circle on the pattern sheet and use this as the template to cut out the stitchery.
Sew ric rac on the edge of the front of the stitchery circle (as per the image below).
Once the ric rac is sewn all around the circle, turn it out and press the circle. As most ric rac is made from polyester, use another piece of fabric over the ric rac when pressing.
Now you can put your stitched centre aside and it’s time to make the Dresden Plate blades (or petals). I’ve included the wedge shape, which I used on the bottom of the pattern sheet. One day, I will figure out how to generate these patterns on my computer, but for now it’s just paper, pencil and a scanner :)
This Dresden plate is made up of 16 blades, so you can use 1 colour or 2 colours (like I did) or raid your scrap tub and use a rainbow of colours. Dresden Plate blocks are my all time favourite and I could make them everyday of the week.
Create the template by tracing onto some template plastic, or cut it out and stick onto a piece of cardboard. Cut the fabric blades and it’s time to sew them together.
Fold the blade in half (right sides together) longways. Sew along the tops using the 1/4” foot. Chain piece all of the blades to make it a little quicker and save thread.
Once all of the blade tops are sewn, turn them out to create a point in the top centre. I use the back of a paintbrush to push out the points and make them as sharp as I can.
Press the blades so they lay nice and flat.
Now it’s time to assemble the plate. I’m alternating my colours, so I always sew them in the same order. For example, in this plate, I always sewed along the edge with the blue on the bottom and the red on the top.
Keeping the blades in the same order when sewing them into pairs means that you won’t end up with 2 of the same colour together, when assembling the plate. Makes sense?
So, sew he blades into pairs and then sew the pairs into pairs again (4’s) which will be the quarter dresden plate. Sew these 4 blade sections into pairs again to form 2 half dresden plates and finally, sew the 2 halves together to complete the dresden plate. Simple, no?
I like to turn mine over and press from the back. Then flip it over, spray some starch and press on the top.
Place the stitched centre and line it up. Pin it in place and it’s time to attach the centre of the plate.
We’re almost there… I hope it’s all making sense so far :)
Match the thread in your machine to the ric rac and sew the ric rac down onto the blades – right where the edge of the stitchery meets. I found that using a zipper foot was great for the step.
And here is the back of the dresden plate all stitched and ready to be appliqued onto the backing.
Hmmmm…. a little bit messy, but it won’t be visible, so it’s good to go.
Okay, now to place this pretty stitched dresden plate onto the backing fabric (front of the cushion).
I cut my backing fabric 14” square. It’s the same size of the insert which I’ll be using but by cutting it the same size as the insert, the pillow will end up looking nice and plump rather than empty and floppy. Hmmm… empty and floppy… yes those are technical pillow making terms ;-)
I decided to add some light weight pellon to the back the pillow front. A piece of batting would work too. This will just give the pillow some added support (structure) when it’s sitting on the couch or armchair, looking pretty.
Centre the Dresden Plate onto the background (you could measure, but I just eye ball it) and pin it in place. Applique the Dresden onto the background. You could use some little invisible stitches or a blanket stitch… or machine sew it with some white cotton, just like I did.
Once the top is appliqued and finished, make the pillow back. I cut my back fabric at 15” and then cut about 3/4 of the way from top.
I fold and press one of these piece (about 1/2”) and sew from one side – leave a gap of at least 6”-8” and then sew on to the end. The image below explains it a little better.
Place the top and back right sides facing, and sew all the way around.
Clip the corners and turn out the pillow through the back opening.
Again, use the back of the paint brush to push out the corners so that they’re lovely and sharp.
Pin the back of the pillow and slip stitch it closed with some co-ordinating thread. I quite like this method of closing up the back of the pillow. I find it easier to finish it this way, than closing it on the seam with the thicker front (from the batting).
And there you have a lovely finished gift for the teacher. The stitching can be completed in an evening and the rest of the top goes together in a couple of hours. Why not make a Stitched Teacher Appreciation Gift this weekend?
Hopefully, your child’s teacher will love it and if you can bring a tear to her (or his) eye, you will know that you’ve truly succeeded.
And if you want to be a little more fancy, here is another one I made, with an extra circle of applique and a larger Dresden Plate.