FanU Gets Festive – Gift Card Holder

Make a new template, a sample with Christmas fabrics and take photos.

One of the thing I love about the techniques I shared in Fanciful Utility is that they can be used for so many projects. This time of year, FanU is great for fun, festive projects. For the next few weeks, I am going to share some of the ways FanU gets Festive.

IMG_7794A basic, single pocket work pocket makes an excellent gift card holder. These are also a great way to gift a museum or site membership.

Make a simple pocket up with holiday fabrics or your giftee’s favorite colors to be reused throughout the year.

Here is a simple set of directions for making your own:

Gift Card Holder Template

Need a copy of Fanciful Utility ? for yourself or to give as a gift? Visit to order today.

Don’t miss previous FanU Gets Festive projects:

Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 4:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Modern Utility – Fanciful Utility for the Modern World – Part 1

There are a few ways I find Fanciful Utility projects useful in the modern world that I would like to share with you.

Let me start by saying I had this whole plan to do  a bunch of videos talking about how useful FanU projects can be in the modern world. But, it seems my webcam hates me and loves audio feedback. When I do get it all figured out, I’ll do some videos. Until then, photos…

IMG_7789 With school starting back up, this is a good time to IMG_7792show you the roll of pockets I have for my desk. You will notice I used 19th century fabrics. Well, that is what I have a bunch of in my stash. Go figure. When making a FanU project for modern use, you can use just about any fabric, sky’s the limit. (Just keep in mind you want a durable weave.) I would love to make one up with some of the Doctor Who fabrics. I could see one made with spring or fall nature prints looking really cute. There are so many options.  This rolled pocket of pockets is a longer version of the basic rolled/folded work pocket, just without the needle pages.

When you become one of the building ‘go-to’ people for little ‘uh-oh’s, it is good to have a mini-stash. My pocket of pockets for my desk holds those little things you don’t want to dig around in a desk drawer for but often need. Right now, it has nail clippers and nail files (I cut a regular file in half rounding the corners so they would fit nice), a hair tie and pins (I’ll add a bunch of hair ties), and a small thing of lotion (in a Lush sample jar. Reuse.) I’ll be adding a small sewing roll too with basic thread, needles and safety pins as well as some emergency sanitary products.

This style pocket of pockets can also be very useful in the purse. Just think about those times when you’ve had to dig through your purse or bag for your chapstick. Or later, when you are switching bags and find a half dozen buried in the bottom. There are so many options…  when traveling either for you or for a child’s activity roll, the diaper bag or a child’s play bag, for a bridal party’s dressing rooms… the list is endless.

To be continued…. 

Published in: on September 8, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  

Fanciful Utility Anniversary – Pin Cushions

aWomen of the nineteenth century made pin cushions out of a seemingly endless assortment of items. We can find them made of scrap fabrics, ribbon, shells, dolls, baskets, metal rings, walnut shells, and so many other endless bits.

Children’s and girls’ books are specked with directions on how to pin cushions from found items. This seashell pin cushion is one example.


We also find pin cushions in lady’s magazines. (be sure not to confuse toilet pin cushions with sewing pin cushions.) This emery cushion in a walnut shell is one example. Emery was used to remove the build up on needles.  w1IMG_7508 Every sewing case needs a pin cushion, at least one pin cushion, that suits the sewers needs. Finding the right pin cushion takes some self analysis and potentially some trial and error.

Depending on my project, I am ‘pluck and plopper’. I am also a pin sorter who is particular on which pins I want for what. When I am ‘plucking and plopping’, I need a pin cushion that is not going to move and lots of surface space I don’t need to look at. A heavy bottom helps as well since I am not always working on a flat surface or able to pay much attention to my pin cushion as my work needs my attention. A large, weighted cushion is very helpful in these situations. When I am working on something that I want particular pins for, be it fine, sharp pins or silk or color pins for marking, I like pin cushions with sorting areas or segments. This could be color sections of the fabric or sides of a cushion. The metal pin cushion to the right in the photo is good for this for me. In the modern world, it is my tomato stuck inside a small piece of pottery. When I am on the go, I want a little pin cushion I can deeply sink my pins into so they don’t go astray. The two ribbon pin cushions in the left of the photo are good for this.

*** For the upcoming Domestic Skill Conference at Genesee Country Village, I will be offering a pin cushion sampler class. ***

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

Victorian “Balloon Bag” Ornament

Here is a fun Fanciful Utility project that can be done for 19th century use of for a modern, holiday use.

This delightful little creation has been called by a few different names, a Balloon Bag, a Button Keep and a Thimble Holder to name a few. I’ve seen them in various sizes from about 3″ tall to just over 4″ tall. Each one made with silk covering pasteboard or a slightly more flexible version.

The following set of directions from A Girl’s Own Book, 1833, suggests the bag contain a ball of thread. As the piece closes nicely, it does well for holding buttons and thimbles, as the above names suggest. As a sewing accessory, I see it holding beads and trims as well.

A Girls Own Book 1833Directions for another version from Peterson’s Magazine, 1869:


If you make this piece up as an ornament, all you need to do is add a hanging loop from one end. I highly suggest doing this before attaching the sides to each other. When making this green case, I snapped a rather strong needle into three pieces trying to work through the top tip. You could hang the piece as is or fill it with a gift. I picture these filled with candies, jewelry, smaller ornaments, or gift certificates. (You’ll need to make a larger version for gift cards.) Make 12 of them and celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. You could number them to use for Advent as well.

Here is the piece you have been waiting for… the template and directions. This pdf file is used with the directions in Fanciful Utility. If you need to order a copy, please visit ESC Publishing.

Click for the PDF Template

Click for the PDF Template

Here are originals to give you some ideas:


If you missed the previous templates, there is a Sea-Shell Template and a Tri-Lobed Needle-book available to accompany Fanciful Utility as well.

Published in: on November 2, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Fanciful Utility – Free Spring Template – A New Seashell

In celebration of Spring, I have a new, Free, template for is post is for all my Fanciful Utility readers out there.  Seashells were a very popular shape for needle-books and pin cushions through the nineteenth century. This sweet, silk seashell is based on a beautiful original needle-book done in blues. The original shell was constructed in a now faded dark blue silk, trimmed in a deep blue embriodery and similarly colored ribbon.

My interpretation uses a soft, pale green that remindes me of the seaside and a spring-like gold for the embroidery. I opted for a chain stitch at the top to tie it together until I find the perfect color silk ribbon.  

With your copy of Fanciful Utility  in hand, you can make this lovely needle-book using this Free Template (in PDF). image


Don’t own Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases and Needle-Books yet? Order yours by visiting  ESC Publishing.

Published in: on March 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment