Friday, January 30, 2009

Fabric Bowl Tutorial

My quilt guild had a woman come and demonstrate how to make fabric bowls and I felt inspired. However, the way I made this bowl, and the way that was demonstrated have very little in common. I found a description of how to make your own bowl pattern from here. This was posted in 2004 so obviously it isn’t new.

You have to use a bit of math—but if you put your measurements in where I tell you to, and use a calculator you will be able to make your own bowls too.

I also found the site of Hilde Morin and that’s what inspired me finish the bowl the way I did—so here’s a tutorial so you can make your own if you want.

You will need:

a bowl the size and shape you like
measuring tape
paper and pencil
a compass / divider (that’s the thing you can draw circles with that has a point on one end and a pencil on the other)
heavy duty interfacing (mine doesn’t iron on)
sewing machine
craft glue stick
scraps of fabric
lots of thread

First, find a bowl about the size and shape you like and would like to make. I wanted to make a smaller bowl to put odds and ends in, so I found a glass bowl in my cupboard. Once you’ve found the bowl, turn it upside down and measure from rim to rim across the middle as shown here.

Write that measurement down and label it “diameter”. Mine was 8 1/4"

Next use a tape measure and measure around the rim of the bowl—all the way around. You might need some help, or you can use tape. If you turn the bowl upside down (I just figured that out!) it might be easier to measure.

Write that measurement down and label it “my circumference”. Mine was 19”. I know some of you are having chest pains and your eyesight is blurring. Math anxiety strikes again!! I know you’re thinking—“But I can’t do Geometry!”. You don’t have to—yay!

Now is the time to get out your calculator. You have one on your computer if you don’t have one in your junk drawer. (Does everyone have a junk drawer, or was that unique to my growing up? I still have one, by the way.)

Take the number you wrote down and labeled “diameter” and multiply it by 3.1416. My diameter was 8 1/4 inches, so I multiplied 3.1416 x 8.25 and got 25.9 inches. This is the circumference of the circle with a diameter of 8 1/4 inches.

When I measured around the rim of my bowl, I got 19 inches (more or less). You don’t have to be very exact here, so don’t worry.

Now, subtract “my circumference” from the circumference you got when you multiplied earlier (mine was 25.9 inches so I take 25.9-19 = 6.9 or almost 7). Write down this number and label it “dart total”. This tells you how much of the circle has to be removed (in darts) to make a bowl instead of a flat plate. So I will have to have darts that take away about 7 inches of the circle at the rim.

Now, to make a bowl, you make darts in the large circle you will cut, and then sew them back together. That’s how you get something flat to become rounded. That’s why we have darts in our blouses, because we’re not flat, we’re rounded. The size and shape of the dart will determine how the bowl will be rounded. If the darts have flat sides, the bowl will have straighter sides, if the darts are curved, the walls of the bowl will be curved.

Next, draw a circle on paper for a pattern. You’ll use that pattern later and pin it to the interfacing. Use the compass/dividers and measure half the measurement of the “diameter” of your model bowl. Mine was 8 1/4" so the measurement I used was 4 1/8”. You only need half the measurement because you are drawing from the middle and going around.

Next, measure the bottom of your bowl. Mine was 3”. Use the compass again and open half the diameter of the bottom. Mine opened to 1 1/2”. Put the pin end of the compass into the same hole that was formed when you drew the large circle and draw a small circle.

Now you have two circles, one inside the other. You should be able to see the pin hole. Draw a line through the pin hole from one side of the circle to the other. It doesn’t matter where you draw the first line. You’ve just drawn a diameter of a circle—yeah geometry!

Take one of your quilting rulers and draw another line from edge to edge. This one should also go through the pin hole in the center and make a 90 degree angle. That’s the angle you see in the corner of a piece of paper. If you use a quilting ruler, you will be able to see the line you drew first through the ruler. Put one of the lines on your ruler on that line and draw a + with the center being in the middle of the circle.

Now, using a quilting ruler again, draw lines exactly between those two lines. You’ll use the 45 degree lines on your ruler this time, and then one more time. You’ll end up with 4 lines going from edge to edge across the circle, all going through the middle of the circle where you first made the pin hole to draw the circle.

Now you get to decide what shape the darts will be, and so, what shape the bowl will be. My darts were a little curved, so my bowl has curved sides. If I wanted the sides more straight like my model bowl, I would have used straight sided darts.

To decide how big to make each dart, you have to see what the difference is between “my circumference” and the circumference of the circle. When I subtracted I got 7”. Because the bowl has 8 darts, divide (get the calculator out) “dart total”—mine was 7” divided by 8 equals .875 or 7/8”. I didn’t want to have to be that exact, so I just made it 1” per dart, or 8” total. Remember, no one is going to wear the bowl, so it doesn’t have to fit the measurements you took—be a little relaxed and it will stay fun.

To make a dart, you have to take out some of the circle on BOTH sides of the line you drew. So take your dart measurement (mine was 1”) and divide it by 2 (because the dart has two halves). So on each side of the lines I drew earlier through the center of the circles I will measure 1/2" and make a dot on the outer edge of the large circle. This is how big my dart will be.

Now, draw a line from the dot almost to the bottom of the bowl (that small circle you drew earlier inside the big one). I drew mine about 1/4 inch from the bottom. Remember, this isn’t rocket science so there isn’t an exact place—just a little. Do this on all 8 lines. You just drew the darts.

If you drew this pattern on paper, pin it to the interfacing and cut it out. I used a rotary cutter, but you could certainly use scissors. Cut around the outside of the large circle, then cut out the darts. Because the interfacing is thick, you don’t want more than one layer, so cut the darts out—trust me.

Transfer the circle that is the bottom onto the interfacing so you can see the circle. I used the compass and drew the circle in pencil. You need this so the bottom will be sort of flat.

Now using a zig-zag stitch, sew around the bottom circle. I used grey thread so you could see it, but I think on the next one I’ll use white so there’s no chance it will show through the fabric I decorate the bowl with.

Now comes the fun part. You are going to sew the darts together and make a bowl. Start at the circle you just sewed for the bottom. Even though the darts don’t go all the way to that line, start there anyway. Make your zig-zag stitch wide enough to catch the interfacing on both sides of the dart and hold them together. I set mine on 4, that’s as wide as mine goes. I didn’t worry about having a perfect satin stitch—I just did a close zig-zag. Pull the sides of the dart together as you sew, so they meet, and sew over them It’s not hard at all. Do this for every dart. When you’ve sewn all the darts together you have a bowl!

Now—decorate it. I used bits of fabric I had laying around and a craft glue stick. I only used the glue on the outside because I was in a hurry, but next time I’ll use it on both sides. I put fabric all over the outside first, (including the bottom) then using variegated thread and a straight stitch, I started at the rim and sewed round and round and round and round and …well you get the idea until all the outside fabric was held down. You don’t have to sew a whole lot, because the outside will get stitched down more when you sew the insides down.

Put fabric all over the inside (I will use glue next time) and when none of the interfacing is showing, sew round and round and round and…from the rim to the center, then back out, then back in (it’s like the hokey pokey—that’s what it’s all about) until you feel like you’re done.

Next I used the same variegated thread and this time I did sew a satin stitch around the rim—I did it twice to cover really well—to finish it off!

Tah Dah!! A bowl.

Wow, it took longer to write this than it did to make the bowl. This is the first tutorial I’ve written, so please let me know if something isn’t clear.

Here is another one I made this morning--this one is a little small so was a bit difficult to sew inside, but it still worked.

Hope you enjoy it



Marilyn said...

Cool tutorial, Mary! You did a really good job explaining it.The baskets are really pretty. Did you like making the round ones better than the rectangular one? Would you mind if I post a link to your tutorial from my blog under tutorials in my sidebar? I have made a fabric basket where you use the cotton clothesline and wrap with fabric then zig-zag shaping as you go.

Sadie said...

what a cool idea, I saw this on pinterest, very unusual
thanks for sharing

Sadie said...

what a cool idea, I saw this on pinterest, very unusual
thanks for sharing

ellen stone said...

Mary, Thank you!! I have been wanting to try this. I found Hilde Moran too. Great Minds, Huh. Watch at and see what I come up with. Love it!!!


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