Monday, September 9, 2013

Playing with an idea

I may have mentioned that the women up in Tohoku have asked me to return for another quilting class. It has also been suggested that I come up with something that they could make and offer for sale. I have a few reservations about trying to raise money through quilting, especially if it is done by hand.

A few years back, I noticed lovely hand-quilted bed covers on consignment is an American quilt shop and the asking price would not have covered the price of materials, let alone time spent in the process.

When visiting quilt/fabric shops, though I refrain from buying more fabric, I often check out kits and patterns offered for sale. This summer I did take notes and am trying to come up with ideas that might be easy enough for a beginner quilter with small work space and might make a nice gift or item to sell.

Aside from glasses cases and tissue holders/box covers, mug rugs or place mats, I decided to test a new version of an item that is handy to Japanese residents.

If you have never been to Japan, this item might look a bit strange to you, but the holders for toilet paper all have covers. Don't ask me why. We use up these rolls too fast for them to gather much dust. Depending on the maker, the lid flap might be metal or plastic. Since the purpose is to hold a single roll, the size is standard no matter who makes it.

Japanese lavatories being small and lacking in storage space ... often having a small sink at in the tank itself, a spare roll of paper may have to reside on the floor or in another room, resulting in becoming stranded on the throne from time to time.

Since my own throne room has a collection of owls ... perhaps watching out for wasteful use of products ... a number of years ago, I made a paper holder that I have posted before.

This little holder is made up of two and a half inch by five inch blocks, sewed into a strip about 33 inches long. It has a pocket at one end to fit over the flap and ties to join the loop underneath.

I drafted a pattern for the segments and made a test piece using some color-coordinated scraps.

Well, the diagram is a bit hard to see but the pattern pieces are just two triangles.

Each block takes three small triangles  of fabric A and one of fabric B, plus two large triangles of B.

By cutting four small triangles and two large triangles of each fabric, you could put together an interesting strip from assorted scraps.

I used just plain muslin for backing and the thinnest batting would work well enough. I just quilted in the ditch, added thin binding that included a pocket at one end, and, instead of ties, added loops and buttons to the inside.

I suppose the fastener could even be a strip of velcro ...
though I am not a big fan of that product.

This pattern is just made of the blocks but the top lid cover could have flowers or butterflies either pieced or in applique. I think "designer paper holders" might be something people might go for, either as a gift or to buy. I'll bet cute animal faces on the lid area might go over well for a children's bathroom.

So, here is the first design.

What do you think?
It could be made even easier with other block designs. Five inches is a standard measure to work with.

I think I will try a few more patterns.

I am also toying with some kind of item to wear around the neck like a scarf, but with a pocket for glasses or scissors, a pin cushion, measuring tape, or sewing kit ... and maybe a pocket at the neck for a little hot pad on winter or a cool pacl in summer.

Have you ever seen such a thing? Even if it might not sell, it would be a useful thing for hand crafters.

I am always open to ideas and I am happy the women have found pleasure in something I also enjoy.


  1. I think you have come up with some great ideas for Tohoku.
    Firstly loo paper covers add a homely touch to a room that can look rather bare and cold, they are easy to do, either with your stylish block design, an appliqué pattern or even a fuzzy cut piece for the lid.
    Secondly, the 'scarf with a pocket' is great for carrying round one's glasses, a packet of tissues, a key or one of these hot or cold pads.
    When are you off to the north?

  2. I think you area very innovative creative quilter. Love the idea and the pattern!

  3. This is a wonderful idea. Very creative on your part.

  4. That is a really nice idea, the best always come from something we wish we had to make things nicer in our homes.


  5. one of the interesting things of reading blogs from other countries is learning facts like this! never knew about these covers! yours is very original and I bet no one else has one like it

  6. Great ideas - I like the idea of a tissue cover. I'm sure the ladies will be happy with your projects.

  7. That is awesome!! Not something I ever would have thought to make or use, but that is a really cute idea.

  8. What a WONDERFUL idea!! And so PERFECT for your Japanese customer base - ;))

    I really like your pattern with the small and large triangles - and the fact that you can make two sections with four small and two large triangles of two different fabrics - how clever!! What size triangles are you using? I could do the math - but it's easier to just ask you - haha - ;))

  9. great idea .. practical and pretty at the same time x ..perfect x

  10. I also love your project, and I hope your group will find it as interesting as I do.
    Last summer I purchased a quilted eyeglass case that holds 2 pairs of glasses. I've found it really handy to have, I could take photos for you if you were interested---I think it would be simple for you to make.

  11. I also think it's a good idea! Who are they intending to sell items to - each other or people further afield. Helps to consider the market when designing a product…?

  12. I love your idea! Everyone can use one to brighten their life, fill a need, and save space, plus it is your own design. Those made with Japanese fabrics would be marketable as souvenirs. I thought of something that's been done before: a pocket to go over the arm of a chair. Your owl paper sling is precious!

  13. I think you are on to something ....

  14. Great idea! I have made something similar with scraps though not at all as cute as yours! It did take a lot of work to get the loops and velcro and sturdy back (I don't know why but I thought it needed a heavy back) all put together. I'd like to do the piecing and let someone else do that assembling!

    I've needed some crafty items to make too. Something for a hospital bazaar... I am not great at creating. Just making.

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