The Easy Friday List, August 3

The (Mostly) Beauty Edition.

Friday should be easy. Maybe something on this list can make your life a little easier.

Makeup Brush Folder: I have a confession. I love makeup brushes.

Seriously. That’s the confession. What were you expecting? And do I really want to know? If you tell me, remember that this site is rated G. Yes?

As confessions go, I guess it’s not as salacious or as interesting or even as unusual as  it could be. Still. It’s not something that I readily admit.

I don’t know why. I guess that says more about me than my confession.

Anyway. Goodbye Therapist. Hello Topic: I own lots of makeup brushes. And with organization being a particular, well, issue of mine I feel extremely particular about, you know that I have to have some serious makeup brush organization methodology happening in the bathroom.

My Makeup Brush Folder by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

The outside.

There’s a reveal…

My Makeup Brush Folder by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

Wait for it…

My Makeup Brush Folder by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

And… the Beauty Shot!

I made it. The exterior black and white fabric is a light weight cotton (washable!) upholstery fabric I picked up somewhere. The interior is black cotton and scarlet red batik cotton. There is 100% cotton batting in between the layers of fabric. I’m stressing the cotton part here because it’s all completely hand-washable. I am a goofy klutz and makeup stains fabric if you can’t give it a good scrub; wash-ability is important.

There are three levels of pockets. There are so many little dividers that I don’t have enough brushes to fill them all. This is good. I’m fairly certain that the thing wouldn’t close if it were full. Still, there’s plenty of room to move things around, organizing, until I’m happy.

The InStyler Case: I made this case for the trip that didn’t happen due to the most untimely death of my old computer. I dearly love my InStyler and I wanted to make sure it was safe and protected. The case that came with it just didn’t seem sufficient for the job. Enter the fabric hoard!

I dithered about what part of my fabric stash I should use and finally settled on the three lovely fat quarters from Moda’s Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket. I love the collection and I’d been saving it for something special. So into the washer it went!

Out of the dryer it came… with runny red spots all over it. Argh. The red bled. I’ve never had this problem with a Moda fabric before and was a bit steamed. (Read “steamed” as “madder than I’ve been a good long while”. My Etchings Argyle Nine Patch is made of a good bit of red Moda fabric… and I didn’t pre-wash it. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen after I wash it the first time.)

I decided that I’d bravely use it anyway. So I did. It was garbage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t blame the red splotchy fabric for it.

I didn’t use a pattern; I complicated everything unnecessarily; and I was making it up as I went. It showed. I started over using a simple, drawstring bag idea with a pocket on the outside for the cord. Here’s the result.

My InStyler Case by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

I love this fabric. I wish it didn’t make me worry.

My InStyler Case by Janet Millsapps at fig+fence.

At least you can’t see the spots in the picture.

I’m really happy with the results, red spots and all. Now, let’s all pray that the quilt top I just finished using Moda red fabric doesn’t bleed, too. I’m lighting a candle.

InStyler: The older I get, the more apparent it becomes that I am cursed blessed with my maternal grandmother’s hair. She was lovely, but her hair was problematic: thin and wiry.

The InStyler saves me from hair nightmares. It smooths out all the kinks and waves.

The InStyler

Love this so much…

Mugs: Not just for coffee! Mugs are wonderful little cups of organization that can fit practically anywhere.

My Les Mis Mug organizes a corner of my desk at fig+fence HQ.

My Les Mis Mug organizes a corner of my desk at fig+fence HQ.

Also, it helps me keep track of all the pens that somehow mysteriously wander off when I’m not around. Must be more house elf action: pens and pin cushions. Ahem. They must love homophones.

College Writing References: I never threw my grammar textbooks/reference books away when I graduated from college. I have the Harbrace College Handbook (11th Edition) and A Writer’s Reference (2nd Edition) by Diana Hacker. I love them both, and I usually reach for the red Harbrace first out of habit (it’s on top) when I get grammatically stuck. Alas, it failed me. Only the Hacker book explained: two words that sound the same but have different spellings are called homophones (like pin and pen).

My tendency to write like Bulwer-Lytton is not the fault of either book.

The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial

Because what the world needs most is one more pin cushion tutorial.

Previously: I made a giant, enormous, humongous, monster pin cushion because the house elves like to steal my store-bought tiny-tomato-looking one. Also, I have a ton of scraps, a bunch of polyfil, and a need to store my glass-head silk pins in something other than a glass jar. Oh, glass jars are wonderful (I have previously confessed to having an abundance of them), but when I reach in a glass jar to get a pin, most often I get blood instead when I stick myself with a pin. Occasionally the blood is accompanied by a pin stuck in my finger (or more notably, under my fingernail).

Clearly, the amazing usefulness of a glass jar is limited.

So I made a honker of a pin cushion. I’m making another one for my mother because she was mightily jealous of the utter usefulness, the awesome size, and even the amazing aesthetics of my big ol’ pin cushion.

In short, she had a severe case of pin cushion envy.

What’s a good daughter to do? Make her mama a giant pin cushion! Here’s how I did it. If you do it, let me know. I’d love to hear from you and see pictures of your creation.

Before I tell you how to make it, I should tell you some other things about the pin cushion:

I created the pin cushion so that you can make the entire thing from a single fat quarter (assuming that the fat quarter was cut properly and is a true 18” x 21”).

Instead of using a single fat quarter, I used four different fabric swatches from my Painted Flowers collection: I used the Large Flowers on Blue and White for the top; the Large Flowers on Blue for the bottom; the Flowers on Blue and White  for two sides; and the Flowers on Blue for the other two sides.

This would be a good project to use up some jelly roll scraps. Three jelly roll scraps sewn together will give you a 6.5” wide top and bottom. And the sides are already 2.5”. So with a few leftovers, you’re set. You would need ten 6.5″ long strips to make the whole thing: three for the top, three for the bottom, and one for each side.

All seam allowances are 1/4 inch.

I like to press each seam with right sides together just after sewing because I think it produces a better seam once it’s turned and stuffed. (I’ve heard this called “setting the seam”.) But YMMV, so you don’t have to do this.

I didn’t prewash this fabric. For most sewing projects, I prewash fabric. I don’t prewash when I’m sewing something to be stuffed. Stuffing fabric stretches it slightly; when you prewash, it stretches it slightly more. Again, YMMV, so you can prewash if you want.

I don’t clip corners when I stuff something unless I’m stuffing something really, really small with an acute, tight corner. Stuffing fabric stretches it; when you clip corners you can pop through the seams when you’re in a corner if you’ve clipped them too close to the seam.

I fray checked the edges. I like to do that when I’m making something that could get a lot of wear and/or is going to be stuffed tight. Relax; that smell will go away in a week or so.

Finally, here’s how you make it.


A fat quarter of fabric
A bunch of polyfil
Button thread
Two enormous buttons (mine are 1 3/8” (34mm))
A tag (optional)


1. Cut out your fabric:
6.5” x 6.5” for the top
6.5” x 6.5” for the bottom
Four 6.5” x 2.5” for the sides

Step 1: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

I love the fabric I used for this.

2. Right sides together, sew one side to the top without sewing the beginning and end 1/4” of the side strip. I marked the top and bottom corners 1/4 inch away from the edges, but you can eyeball it if you’re good and/or daring.

Step 2: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

I marked the corners with a permanent pen, a Sakura Pigma Micron 05 brown (0.45mm).

Step 2: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

One side is sewn to the top.

3. Repeat step 2 for the remaining three sides. For these last three sides, you have to bend back the previous sewn side so that you don’t sew over it again. In the pic below, you can see how I bent back the adjacent two sides so that I could sew the last side to the top. The fray check actually helps with this because it makes the edges a little stiff and able to hold a bend.

Step 3: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

The four sides are sewn to the top, but the sides are not sewn together.

Side Note: If I were reading these instructions, it’s at about this time that I would wonder why the instructions didn’t have me connect the four sides to each other and then connect them in a loop to the top. You might have wondered the same. So I’ll tell you.

The big red monster pin cushion at the top is my second attempt to make a giant pin cushion. In the first attempt, I attached the sides (in one long strip) to the top and bottom. After stuffing the cushion, I didn’t have a block with rectangles for sides; I had a block with parallelograms for sides. I don’t know what happened. I suspect that I didn’t sew the bottom fabric in the same place I sewed the top fabric. So I ended up with the top and bottom planes parallel without matching the corners. Also, I suspect house elf sabotage. I have no other excuses.

Anyway. On my second attempt, using the method I’m describing here, I got it right.

4. Right sides together, sew the bottom and one side together. (Don’t sew the sides together!)

Step 4: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

The top is sewn to four sides and the bottom is sewn to one side.

5. Repeat step 4 for the other 3 sides. (Still haven’t connected the sides to each other…)

Step 5: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

It's inside-out at this point and the tag is beside it. The sides have been sewn to the top and bottom, but no side has been sewn to another side.

6. If you’re adding a tag, now’s the time to insert it on one of the open sides. (If not, skip this step.) Make sure it’s inside the whole fabric bundle where the right sides are all together. I glued mine in place on the edge.

7. Now sew three of the sides together, making sure that one of the sides you’re sewing has a tag if you’re using one. Sew from and to the ends of the seams you sewed when you attached the sides to the top and bottom. You should have an inside-out block with one side open, one tag on the inside, and three sides sewn.

8. Turn it so the right sides are outside and stuff it tightly. Make sure that you turn the corners tightly so you can get a nice square block. Also, it helps to have a poker to poke the stuffing in the corners. My poker came with a bag of polyfil; it’s just a long wood rod with one pointy end.

Step 8: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

I've partially stuffed the pin cushion. The poker is sticking out of the polyfil. Also, hydration is very important when sewing as shown by the red adult-sized sippy cup in the picture.

Step 8: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

I've stuffed the pin cushion very tightly. You can see the poker on the right side. I love that thing, and not just because of what I call it. (Poker... hee. Because you poke with it... no?)

9. Close the opening by hand. I used a hidden stitch. Here’s a good tutorial for it at Taffy Talk called an invisible closing seam.

10. With a big honkin’ needle and button thread, attach the buttons to the center of the top and bottom. You want to go through the entire pin cushion with the thread so that the two buttons are connected

Step 10: The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

The button thread should be very tight. This is the hardest part for me because pulling the thread and pushing the needle through kills my fingers.

Pull the thread tightly to make the pin cushion appear tufted. Hide the knot under a button and hide the tail of the thread inside the cushion as explained in the invisible closing seam tutorial I linked to above.

11. Embellish if desired. I’m considering embroidering a fly stitch along the top seams. If I do, I’ll post update pics later on. I don’t know; I love it as is.

The Monster Pin Cushion Tutorial at fig+fence

The beauty shot on nice furniture...

Finished measurements: 6” x 6” x 2”.

I hope you like the tutorial and I hope you use it. Really, it’ll take you longer to read this monster tutorial than it will to make the monster pin cushion.

The Easy Friday List, May 18

It’s Friday! Aren’t you happy? I’d be happier if I were at Quilt Market right now. But otherwise, I have no complaints. The weekend is practically here, the weather is gorgeous, there’s a sale this weekend at my favorite local quilt shop, and I’m starting a new feature here at the blog. Plenty of reason to celebrate.

It’s called the Easy Friday List: This is my weekly list (posted every Friday) of items that have made my life easier in some measurable way these last seven days. Maybe they can make your life easier too.

My monster pin cushion: I made it from scraps left over from a lap quilt I made my mother a few years ago for Christmas. It’s useful. It’s colorful. It’s enormous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pin cushion this big before. Take a look.


The Really Big Pin Cushion

It's big. It's really, really, big.

It’s 6” x 6” x 2”. Before I made this honker, I was constantly losing my pin cushion. I have no idea why, but it usually ended up under the table. Perhaps the house elves moved it during the night. It’s the only reasonable explanation I can think of for the mysterious moving of my little pin cushion.

Or, you know, I probably knocked it off the table and then kicked it under there accidentally while I was sewing.

I prefer the house elf explanation. I think that the monster pin cushion is too heavy for our house elves – it stays where I put it.

My back pillow: If you aren’t comfortable when you sew, you’re not going to sew. It’s that simple. I’m sewing more (and saving my back!) because of this thing. And it’s cute!

Stickies: Oh, really.

Some people call them Post-It Notes.

My desk, where I keep organized with the little yellow square stickies. I stick them everywhere I can find space.

[Pay no attention to the red plastic cup by my monitor. Yes, I am part redneck; how did you know? Sigh.]

Hello topic: Sticky notes are powerful tools of organization. I’d be lost without them.