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Felt Sewing Kit For Travel & Mending: A Hand Stitching Project

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Wardrobe malfunctions tend to happen at the most inconvenient times. Just before making an important presentation, a strategic button falls off or a seam opens up. We're not even going to discuss how many stapler-and-Scotch-Tape repairs have been made in desperation. Instead, be ready for any small sewing emergency with a travel-size sewing kit that contains just what you need for a quick disaster fix. Better yet, all the necessities are contained in a cute felt kit with a built-in pincushion kitty. Just because you're prepared doesn't mean you can't also be adorable. 

This project is completely handstitched. You could use a machine, but it would lose its handcrafted appeal. The chunky stitching in matching and contrasting colors is what makes the kit-ty such a sweet little treat. If you're new to hand stitching, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting: Hand Sewing Basics: Tips, Tools & Techniques.

We offer a full set of downloadable patterns so you can build all the organizational pockets and panels as well as the friendly puddy tat on the front cover.

Speaking of Mr. Sewing Kitty. He has another job besides just looking cute. You can use his lightly-stuffed kitty face as a pincushion.

Everything else you need is inside. There's a small pocket to contain buttons, safety pins, a needle threader, and a few hooks & eyes. Other panels and pockets hold needles and thread, pins, and a small pair of scissors. Button it up and it all stays safely in place.

The finished opened size is 7" x 4½" (exclusive of the button tab). Closed it's 3½" x 4½". Perfect to tuck inside a suitcase or even just a handbag.

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • FIVE 9" x 13" sheets of heavy felt in FIVE colors; we used peach, pea green, black, vanilla, and turquoise
  • Skeins of embroidery floss in three to four colors; we used vanilla, pea green, black, and peach
  • Embroidery hand needle
  • FIVE small two-hole buttons (about ⅜" or 12 cm); we used yellow
  • Small handful of polyester fiber fill for the kitty pincushion face
  • Card stock or an old file folder
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears (optional)

Getting Started & Pattern Download

  1. Download and print the Sewing Kitty Outside and Sewing Kitty Inside patterns, which have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier.
    IMPORTANT: Each of the two pages in the PDF download is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the pieces needed as shown below. It is best to print several copies of each page in order to cut all of the pieces you need to layer correctly. You can conserve paper by cutting down the pieces as you go.
  3. Cut all of your pieces from the appropriate colors of felt, using the above images as a guide or picking your own combination. We used our pinking shears to pink the inside vanilla backing panels, but that's optional.
  4. Position your pieces and pin. It's important to place your travel scissors in position rather than go by our pattern because the exact location of the Scissor Pocket and floss tie depend on your specific pair of scissors. The scissors in the sample are typical small embroidery scissors (2¾" wide x 3½" long).

Construction

We recommend a loose style running hand stitch to get a funky look. We also split our six-strand embroidery floss in half and sewed with only three strands. You can do the same or use a blanket stitch or even try an extra long stitch on a sewing machine.

Case Outside

  1. Sew Ear 1 and Ear 2 to the face along the nose line (not all the way around) using the black floss. 
    NOTE: All the color names are based on our sample color combo. 
  2. Sew Eye 1 and Eye 2 and attach the button eyes using the pea green floss.
  3. Sew Nose to face using the peach floss.
  4. Embroider a mouth as shown using black floss.
  5. Sew the Bow Tie to the outside of the case using the peach floss. Attach the Bow Tie button at the center knot, using the pea green floss.
  6. Sew the button backing circle to the outside of the case then attach button using the pea green floss (be sure to double check alignment with the button tab, allowing about ⅛" extra for the thickness of the interior pieces).
  7. Sew the kitty face to the outside of the case using vanilla floss (use the pattern as a placement guide), going all the way around the head. About an inch from completion, leave a gap as shown below below one ear. Lightly stuff the kitty face with polyester fiber fill to form a pin cushion. Once stuffed, finish sewing the face to the case.

Case Inside

  1. From card stock (we used an old file folder) cut 2 pieces about ⅜" smaller all around than the vanilla-colored inside backing pieces. This will add some body to the sewing kit so your scissors don't weight it down. It also keeps the needles and pins from poking through to the front. Set them aside for now.
  2. Remember, all your inside pieces should already be pinned in place on the backing panels. The photo above shows everything in place on the exterior so you can follow along with placement. Remember, you are just working with the backing panels and inside elements; you aren't stitching it to the exterior yet.*
  3. Unpin the Button Pocket and, using vanilla floss, sew on the button. Re-pin.
  4. Sew the Button Pocket to the backing.
  5. Make sure the Button Pocket Cover is still in position above the pocket, using the pattern as a guide. Sew along the top, like a flap as shown, to attach it to the backing.
  6. Feel where the button is and cut a small buttonhole. We used a seam ripper to start, then carefully opened the slit the rest of the way with embroidery scissors.
  7. Sew the Thread Card Pocket to the backing. Set aside.
  8. Using the pattern as a guide, position your scissors on the second backing panel with the card stock centered behind the backing. Thread your embroidery needle with 12" of floss. First poke through both your backing and the card stock (don't pull it all the way through – you need the inside tail for a tie) from the front to the back, then poke it back through from the back to the front. You are creating one loop with the ties on the inside. The card stock helps hold the floss taut. Leave the floss long enough to tie a bow around your scissors. This is the only time you are stitching through the card stock. Knot the ends of both ties.
  9. With your scissors in place, check the position of your Scissor Point Pocket. Pin and sew in place, lifting the card stock out of the way to sew felt-on-felt.
  10. Sew the Straight Pin & Needle Flap to the backing as shown on the pattern.
  11. * Now you layer them together. Place the case exterior wrong side up on your work surface.
  12. Position both backing pieces, right side up, against the back of the exterior case, sandwiching the card stock between the layers.
  13. Stitch the backing panels to the case. You are stitching felt-to-felt – do not sew through the card stock. We checked back and forth on both sides to maintain a reasonably nice stitch. Focus on the front of the case since that is where your stitching shows most prominently.

Finishing

  1. Cut the buttonhole in the button flap so the case closes comfortably over all the tools inside.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. We found one of the paper thread bobbins often included in the small sewing kits you get in hotels. It fit perfectly in the thread pocket. If you don't have one from a hotel sewing kit, you can make your own. Find a small rectangle of card stock and cut both sides with paper craft pinking shears to hold the thread. You could also simply cut tiny slits along the top and bottom. Hand wind thread in several colors onto your paper bobbin.
  3. Add an assortment of buttons, safety pins, and perhaps a needle threader to the pocket. You can insert a variety of needle sizes through the thread pocket. Put some straight pins in the pin flap, and you're done.
  4. While you're mending, you can place pins in the kitty pin cushion face. Replace them on the inside when you're done sewing.
  5. Don't forget to pop it your handbag or suitcase before you head out.

    Hints and Tips

    We had a lot of help from one of our kitties on this project. We kept stashing all the sharp stuff in a drawer, but still had to re-cut a couple pieces because after she sat on everything, we lost the nose and one eye. It's a little easier, not to mention safer, to shut the door during construction.

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    Comments (5)

    Salem said:
    Salem's picture

    What a cool project! When my little sister comes over, I'm going to do this with her. She's been begging me to teach her how to sew by hand since her birthday. We'll make it together so I can have one too. 

    Could you tell me where exactly the heavy felt is from and what sytle/model they are? I absolutely love love the colors, and want to make it look exactly like yours. Thank you so much!

    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

    @Salem - We don't have specific online links for this original felt. However, you should be able to find a good selection at most fabric or craft stores. You don't want the wimpy "kid's carft" felt that is as lightweight as paper. This felt should have some wool content. We found a selection at Fabric.com, but you have to buy quite a bit - so checking locally would be a better option. We're happy to hear you love the project - and that you're going to teach your sister!!

    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

    @DebS - Or three!! Thanks, let us know how yours turn out.