Super Mom – No Cape!

One mother sharing her knowledge with others

Thimble Pip Tutorial

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 31st, 2014

Thimble pips are certainly not a new idea.  From my research, I discovered that they go back at least one hundred years if not more.  The original ones were made using cardboard or card stock as a base.  Many were very elaborately embroidered or embellished with beads and lace.  And they go by several different names: thimble buds, precious pods, precious buds, pipkins, pinch purse, clam shells and Kai No Kuchi.   But as I mentioned in this post, thimble pips is my favorite as it’s such fun to say.  Since the last time I posted about them, I’ve been busy making more pips!

Thimble Pip Tutorial photo

The following instructions can be used to make any size pip you want to make.

For this example we are making a 2.5” pip (pictured above in the very back) that will comfortably hold 3 thimbles with room for more.

To make the pattern for the pip:

Draw two perpendicular lines in the middle of a piece of paper (lines that intersect at a 90 degree angle like this:

draw two perpendicular lines

Divide 2.5 inches in half, giving you a 1.25. (To make a different sized pip… substitute the size you want to make for 2.5″ then divide that in half…. for example: 1.5″ divided by 2 equals 3/4″… 2″ divided by 2 equals 1″, etc)

On the horizontal line mark 1.25” on either side of the center point. Label these points as A and B.

Mark on either side of center line and label A and B

Set your compass for 2.5 inches. Place the needle of the compass on A. Trace an arc that overlaps the vertical line.

Draw first arc

Place the needle of the compass on B. Trace another arc.

Draw second arc

You now have the pattern for the outside of the thimble pip.

To make the pattern for the inside of the thimble pip, decrease the compass setting by 1/8”.  Once again place the needle on A and trace an arc.

Draw first inside arc

Place the needle on B, trace a second arc.

Draw second inside arc

That completes the pattern for the inside of the thimble pip.

If you are going to be making more than one thimble pip, you may want to make a plastic template that you can use over and over again.  To make the templates place the pattern under the plastic container you are repurposing and trace.

Trace larger pattern

Trace around the inside pattern

As this post is already very photo intensive, I have provided more info on the various types of plastic  containers that can be upcycled to make the pip forms here.

Cut out the plastic templates with a pair of scissors.  Label the templates as large and small.

Next trace around the templates to make the forms that will be used to make the thimble pips.

Trace around the template

You will need three of the outside and three of the inside.

Place one of the large plastic forms on the wrong side of the exterior fabric. Trace around it three times.  Make sure to leave at least 1″ between traced patterns.

Trave around plastic forms on wrong side of fabric

In the above example, I centered the form over the embroidered fabric.  You could also fussy cut fabric as I did on the floral pips pictured in the photo at the top of this post.

Cut out leaving a ½” seam allowance.

Repeat with the smaller form on the lining fabric.

Spread glue evenly over the forms.

spread glue on thimble pip form

Place them glue side down on a piece of batting. Do this for each of the 6 plastic forms.

Glue plastic forms to batting

This is a good opportunity to use up some of those batting scraps you’ve been saving.

Allow to dry.

Trim away the excess batting using the edge of the forms as a guide.

trim batting

Next, sew a running stitch approximately 1/8” in from the edge of the fabric that you cut out earlier.   Please note, it is important that you thread your needle with enough thread to go all the way around the fabric.

Gather the fabric using a running stitch

Make a straight stitch across the point as shown in the photo below.

make a long straight stitch at each corner

Place one of the large forms, batting side down on the wrong side of the fabric.

Place plastic form batting side down on wrong side of fabric

Pull the thread ends until the fabric fits snugly over the form. Tie off the ends. Snip the thread close to the knot leaving ¼” to ½” tail.

Gather snugly and secure with a knot

Thread your needle again with a generous amount of thread. Sew in a zig zag back and forth like you’re lacing up a corset.

Sew back and forth in a lacing motion

This will help hold everything neatly in place.   When you come to the points on each end, fold them neatly and secure in place with a couple of tiny stitches.

Fold and secure the corner neatly.

Repeat the above steps until you have all the larger and smaller forms covered.

When finished you will have three larger out and three smaller inner fabric covered forms.

Back of six fabric covered thimble pip forms

Place the outer and inner pieces together, wrong sides facing with the small pieces centered on the larger.

center the smaller thimble pip form over the larger one, wrong sides together

Stitch the small inner form to the larger outer using a ladder/blind stitch.

Sew smaller form to larger form using blind stitch

Next, hold two of these with the small forms facing each other and sew together along the edge of the large forms using a ladder/blind stitch from one point of the arc to the other point.

Stitch two sections together using ladder stitch

For the next step, holding that third oval in position while sewing it in place can be a little bit tricky. To make it easier  tack one corner in place like this:

temporarily know at one end

Then start sewing from the opposite end.

Stitch the third side of the thimble pip

Remove the knot and stitch the corners together securely.

Sew up the open side about ½”.  At that point bar tack it together.

Sew up the third side about half an inch

This will help ensure that the stress of opening and closing doesn’t wear the fabric and cause it to tear in the future.

Here is the completed 2.5 inch thimble pip:

Completed 2.5 inch thimble pip

And here’s close up of the thimble pips pictured at the top of this post:

Thimble Pip close up

As you can see, I fussy cut the fabric for several of them.  Five of them have been embellished with embroidery.

I’m going to turn the green with gold swirls and the poinsettia pips into Christmas ornaments by adding a pretty hanger and perhaps a tassel.

For the white thimble pip in the center of the photo, I embroidered ribbon roses, leaves and french knots on the white satin fabric.   Then I wrapped a plastic ring with satin ribbon, sewed a bow to the top of the ring and attached it to the thimble pip with the same 1/8″ satin ribbon I used to do the ribbon embroidery.    Wouldn’t this make a pretty little container to “wrap” a pair of earrings or a necklace.

I’m currently working on creating another fun project using thimble pips.  If it turns out as pretty as what I have pictured in my head, I’ll be sharing that in a future post.

In the meantime, if you make a pip using this tutorial, I’d loved to see a photo of it!


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Not All Plastic is Created Equal

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 31st, 2014

This post is a supplement to the Thimble Pip Tutuorial that will go live a few minutes after this one.

After I posted about the first three thimble pips I’d been making one of my readers e-mailed me asking me to share what kind of plastic I was upcycling to make the pip forms.  She gently reminded me that international readers such as herself might not have something similar in their part of the world to use as a reference.

I’ve been experimenting with different types of plastic containers.  Pictured below are the types of plastic that seem to work best for making the pip forms.

types of plastic to use to make thimble pip forms

These all have recycling numbers of 1 or 2.

I did make this 2″ redwork thimble pip…

2 inch redwork thimble pip

from an empty dishwasher detergent contain which has a recycling number of 5

cascade container

But that thimble pip takes a lot more pressure to squeeze open which over time might really wear on the fabrics I used.  I would not use that heavier kind of plastic container again.

I hope this helps all my readers get an idea of the kinds of plastics to look for in their own country that can be upcycled to make thimble pip forms.

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WIP Wednesday – Set of Matching Travel Bags

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 29th, 2014

Back in July, I showed you this beautiful fabric (scroll down to the last photo) that I’d purchased with the intent to make myself a new set of matching travel bags.   At the time, I hoped to have them finished to use when I traveled back to Canada to see our daughter and her partner while they were on holidays from their teaching jobs in Shanghai.  Well between one thing and another, they never got made.

There’s a possibility that I’ll be making another long trip soon so I decided that it was time to get this project on the go.

So far, I’ve finished a new large zippered bag to hold all my computer cables, cellphone and iPod charger and thumb drives.  It’s the bag in behind the other two finished bags.  Then’s there’s a boxy bag for holding shave cream, razor, deodorant, etc.  The triangle shaped bag contains all my steel crochet hooks, tapestry needles, rust proof pins and small scissors.  (Crochet projects are a great take along project.)

Set of Travel Bags in ProgressI have two panty shaped bags cut out ready to sew.  Those I use to hold feminine protection.

And I’ve purchased the pattern for the Bionic Gear Bag.   I think it will be great for holding the rest of my travel needs.   That one is going take some time.  After reading through the pattern, it’s going to take at least an afternoon to cut out the fabric and get all the pieces ready to sew together.

In total, by the time I’m finished, I’ll have installed 10 zippers.  I pretty much cleaned our local Joann Fabrics out of their Parakeet colored zippers!


This post has been added to the following link parties:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts


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Vintage Embroidery Monday – His and Hers

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 27th, 2014

If you’ve got a late fall or winter wedding to attend or perhaps for Christmas for a newly wed couple in need of a gift recognizing their new status the next two weeks of Vintage Workbasket patterns might be just the thing to embroider on a set of towels.

Vintage Workbasket Her and His pattern

A few years ago, our middle daughter had His and His embroidered on a set of bath towels for friends who were getting married.

Another option could be to embroidery His on the band of one pillowcase and Hers on the another (or His and His/Hers and Hers.)

If you make the pillowcases yourself, you could choose the same fabric for the band of the pillowcase but choose different fabrics for the main part of the case in fabrics to match their individual interests.  There are so many novelty fabrics out there it might even be fun to do this for several couples in your family as unique and personalized Christmas gifts.

Next week, I’ll post the pattern for “Ours.”

The above pattern is available to download as a pdf here.

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There Are No Words

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 23rd, 2014

There are no words to describe what Dave and I have been feeling since we heard the news yesterday about the shooting of a Canadian soldier as he stood guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Our hearts go out to his family and friends and also to the family and friends of the two soldiers who were victims of the hit and run terrorist attack a few days ago.  As well as to everyone across Canada affected by these terrible events.

Canadian Flag at half-mast

Some of you may remember that Dave was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years.  As an army wife, I always knew that when he deployed on UN peacemaking/peacekeeping missions that he may not return.  His specialized trade in the army was also one that was not without its dangers.  But never did I worry about something like this and I can only try to imagine what members of the military and their families are going through now and will go through in the days to come.

Our prayers and thoughts will be with them.



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Vintage Embroidery Monday – Halloween Witch and Cat

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 20th, 2014

There’s still lots of time to embroider this vintage Witch and Cat to make onto a treat bag or something else for Halloween on October 31st.

Vintage Workbasket pattern for a witch and cat from pattern page 80This pattern is available as a pdf to download here.

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Gifts from Asia

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 15th, 2014

I’ve been meaning to post about these for a while now but didn’t get them photographed until now. Our oldest daughter and her partner were back in Ontario for a short two week holiday in August so I drove from Nebraska to spend some time with them.

They’ve been teaching in Shanghai, China for the past few years and when they have a few days off, they travel to exotic locations most people only dream about visiting. We’ve received some pretty cool gifts for Christmas and Chinese New Year since they’ve been living there. When I arrived in London, it was like Christmas in August!

Gifts from Asia

They picked up this beautiful bag on their trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat.

Beautiful Bag with Elephants from Cambodia

We have a power point presentation that she created and e-mailed to us of the photos they took while at the temple.  They are breathtaking. I can only imagine what it was like to see it in person.

They bought this beautiful sarong/scarf on their trip to Thailand.

Sarong with Elephants from Thailand

Notice that both the bag and the sarong have elephants on them. In many cultures elephants are revered as symbols of wisdom, courage, stature and strength. To those of the Hindu religion, they represent good luck.

Coaster from Shanghai

Coasters featuring the Shanghai, China skyline.


And inside those boxes are minature replicas of the Emperor….

Miniature replica of Emperor from Xian

And Terracotta Warriors found at the famous archeological site in Xian.

Miniature replicas of Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian

I took them out of their boxes long enough to make this little tableaux.

Miniature replica of The Emperor and his Warriors

Then back into their boxes they were packed until I can find something to display them in.

She sent us another amazing power point presentation of their visit there as well.

And just this past weekend the two of them went to Beijing and the Great Wall of China with which they are both dually impressed. I can’t wait to see those photos!



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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 13th, 2014

To my readers in Canada, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Canadians have so much to be thankful for.  Even the least fortunate in Canada have access to health care and other resources that people in other parts of the world probably don’t even dream of because they cant imagine such abundance.

I grew up in rural Alberta.  We were poor or at least poor compared to most people.  One winter we lived with my maternal grandmother in town because the little house in the country we had been renting had no insulation and no heat.   It was that winter too that my father at the age of 32, attended his first year of technical school to train as a TV technician.  For a time after that we lived in a house with no running water.  My mom’s youngest sister was only a few years older than I was so I wore a lot of hand-me-downs.

Once Dad was employed as an apprentice things started to get better for us.  It was a big deal when Mom and Dad were finally able to replace the wringer washer with a used top loading modern washing machine.    Then it was an even bigger deal when we got a dryer!

I was 16 when we moved into a small single story three bedroom home.   I only had to share a bedroom with my sister because our brother finally got his own bedroom.

I never, ever look back on those days with nostalgia or any kind of a wish to return to that time.  We went without a lot of luxuries that are taken for granted now.   But I do look back with thankfulness.

I am thankful that I grew up in a country that was at peace.   I am thankful that while there were many times when there was a lack of money, there was never a lack of love.

Today, I am thankful for an amazing husband who is and has been my very best friend for almost 33 years.  I am thankful for our three incredible adult children.  I am thankful for our good health.

And I am thankful for the opportunity to share with all those who visit my blog.

Whether you are celebrating or not, I wish you all a wonderful day filled with the spirit of Aloha.

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Vintage Embroidery Monday – Zebra and Sunflower

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 13th, 2014

The sixth and final pattern for the baby or child’s quilt is this sweet baby zebra with sunflower.

Vintage Workbasket Pattern for Zebra and Sunflower from Page 81To make the quilt, square up the blocks and then alternate plain blocks with the embroidered blocks.  For the baby quilt using 9 1/2″ squares, arrange the blocks 4 rows of 3 blocks across.  For the larger child’s quilt using 12 1/2″ squares, arrange them 6 rows of 4 blocks.   To make either quilt larger, you could add sashing and borders.

This pattern is available as a pdf to download here.


This post has been added to the following link parties:

Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party


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Thimble Pips

Posted by Super Mom No Cape on October 10th, 2014

I think I’ve developed a bit of a thing for making these cute little thimble pips.  They are quite a bit smaller than the clam shell accessories cases I showed you in this post.

So far I’ve made three while working on the tutorial for how to make them and I’ve got the plastic forms cut out to make 5 more of the smallest one!

Three different size thimble pips

These go by so many different names:  thimble buds, precious pods, precious buds, pipkins, clam shells and Kai No Kuchi.  But of all the names I like thimble pip the best because it’s the most fun to say.

The largest is 2.5” and I’ve embroidered the two sides but left the bottom plain.

Front and back of 2.5 inch thimble pip

The pattern for the side with my initials came from this Vintage Embroidery Monday alphabet. The pattern for the back can be found amongst these. I added the ladybugs simply because I love ladybugs.

The stitches I used were backstitch, satin stitch and lazy daisy.  For the gold border I tried a new to me stitch called the coral stitch.  I found the how-to video for it on Mary Corbet’s Needle & Thread.

This large one holds my three thimbles with plenty of room left over.

2.5 inch thimble pip with 3 thimbles inside

The redwork thimble pip pictured below on the left is 2” and will hold the three thimbles if I nest them. The pattern for the flower can be found on the same pattern page as the lazy daisy flowers on the 2.5” pip. It can’t be seen in the photo but I embroidered along the joining seams with a herringbone stitch after they were first sewn together using a blind stitch with heavy weight hand quilting thread.

Two smaller pips with thimbles inside.

The tiniest of the thimble pips pictured above on the right at only 1.5” is just the right size to hold one thimble. It too had the herringbone stitch worked along the joining seams as well as along each side of the opening.

I hope you’ll come back for the complete tutorial which includes simple instructions for how to create a pattern to make any size of pip you’d like. Watch for that towards the end of next week. By then I should have even more thimble pips to show you.


This post has been added to the following link parties:

Finish it up Friday

Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party

Submarine Sunday #105

Show and Tell Tuesday

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