Embellished Travel-Size Tissue Holder
A quick, easy and practical project!
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by Suzanne Surfass

The 10 Easy Steps I Use:

As a compulsive artisan, I am always looking for new ways to utilize the current passion I am spending my money and time on. This project was the result while I was contemplating unique but functional uses for embellishment.

Years ago, back in 1982, I made a cross-stitched tissue holder. This current project is my adaptation of that long-ago first model, which I necessarily revamped to suit my particular method of construction.

My first embellished tissue holder took me two days to complete. It fulfills my need to finish something occasionally.

You probably won't even have to shop for any of the materials. You're sure to have enough scraps on hand to piece this small project together, and whatever threads and fibers you have on hand will suffice satisfactorily.

This is a quick, easy ~ and practical ~ gift idea. Once you've made one of these handy and charming pieces, you'll start thinking of other people you can give one to just so you can make them again and again.

You might want to send off your gift with travel tissues intact ... just in case the recipient is so overcome with emotion when she receives this gift of your hands. tinyheartpatch.gif (939 bytes)

You will need:

Foundation Fabric (muslin or other suitable fabric of choice), 6.5" x 9"

Lining Fabric of choice, 6.5" x 9"

Small pieces of scrap fabric for patchwork

Embroidery threads on hand (floss, perle cotton, silk twist, rayon, wool, silk ribbon, etc.)

Embellishments and adornments of your choice. (Trims, beads, buttons, charms, motifs ~ the flatter, the better.)

Travel-size tissue packs (approx. 2.25" x 4.25")

Optional: lightweight cardboard, approx. 3.25" by 4.5"


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1) Begin with a piece of foundation fabric [FF] ~ which can be muslin or other suitable material. Cut the FF into a rectangle, 6.5" x 9".

2) I then "baste" along the four sides of the FF to provide a margin guide for how far I can embellish before being lost in the seam. Because I am too lazy to mark and stitch this by hand, I do this by setting my machine's stitch length to its longest/lowest setting (mine is 6, but you might have a lower setting), and stitching 3/4" along the short sides of the FF using my machine's plate guide. Then I "baste" 5/8" on the long sides of the FF.

3) Now you can start laying down and stitching your fabrics. I recommend starting from a corner (any corner) and using the stitch-and-flip method of construction.

4) Once I have all my fabrics on the FF, I then turn the piece over so that the wrong side is facing upward, and I once again stitch next to the margin guides I made in Step 2, stitching one thread-width OUTside the original stitching (on the seam allowance side). This step does two things: It bastes down the raw edges of the patchwork fabric, and also provides a readily visible margin on the right side for when I start embellishing. [NOTE: To reduce bulk at seams, I trim the fabrics to 1/4-inch from the margin guides.]

5) You are now ready to embroider and embellish as light or heavy as you like, including meaningful buttons, charms or motifs for your recipient. [NOTE: "Flatter is better" for this project. I do not stitch loopy flowers or other 3D-ish adornments as these could get caught on pens, keys, hairbrushes, etc., if kept in a handbag.]

6) When you are finished with your ornamentation, cut a piece of fabric 6.5" wide x 9" long to line the inside. Since this piece of fabric will line the tissue holder and cover the backside of your stitching, you can use anything you like. I've even used muslin, which I dated and signed with the recipient's and my name, using a Pigma™ pen.

7) Using the marking utensil of your choice, on the right side, lightly mark the vertical center of the lining fabric at the 4.5-inch mark. This center mark is the line-up guide for what will be the opening.

8) With right sides of lining and FF facing together, sew the 3/4" seam ends. Turn right side out and press each end. [NOTE: Now is a good time to sign and date your gift.]

9) With the embellished side facing down, fold the short ends (6.5-inch-sides) to the center mark of the lining. Stitching one thread-width INside the original stitching, pin and stitch the 5/8" seams, reinforcing the opening area by backstitching 2 or 3 stitches on each side of the opening. Clip corners and trim seams. [NOTE: If you have a serger, you may want to serge these ends for a neater edge.] Turn right side out.

10) I like to insert a small piece of lightweight cardboard (approx. 3.25" x 4.5", depending on your seam accuracy) into the bottom before I add the tissue pack. It gives the piece some body and displays the stitching better. (The cardboard is easier to insert if you first curve it.)

Two blocks ready for transformation:

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Some examples of tissue holders I've made as gifts:

Front and back of gift to Barb Kelsey/MadWoman.
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Front and back of gift to Natalie Ostin:
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    Suzanne Surfass, also known as suzanneMI, lives on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She has been dubbed "Renaissance Woman" by understanding friends. She also runs the CQembellishers list at YahooGroups and the Crazy Quilt Web-Ring.
    You can see some additional work of her hands ~ including several embellished-image motifs  ~ at her Picture Trails gallery.

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