Thursday, April 04, 2013

Biscornu Gears {a pincushion tutorial}

The first die I bought for my Sizzix Big Shot was Gadget Gears. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but I knew I wanted to do something. Since I made a biscornu pincushion for my mom a few years back, I've been fascinated by the shape. I'd heard that it's a French word which translates to "oddly shaped." When I Googled it myself, I came up with "quirky," "tortuous," "crooked," and "odd-looking." Hopefully "quirky" is the only one of those that applies to this project!

 I absolutely drool over all of the wonderful depth and texture that the scrapbookers achieve with their die cuts and I wanted to see what I could do with fabric. That meant a pieced background and lots of dense quilting.

I love the results I got --

(The treadle isn't mine. Grandma, the miracle worker who found me most of my scrap bags and found my my own accidental treadle, found  it at a garage sale a couple of years ago. I've got more pictures and the rest of the machine's story coming in a vintage Thursday post next week.)
Want to make your own Gadget Gears Biscornu?

In addition to the Time Holtz Gadget Gears die from Sizzix, you'll need 5" charms in eight different neutral prints and a dark brown or black print (or prints -- I used two) for the gears.

Cut each charm into four 1 1/4" strips.

Sew four different print strips along the long edges to form a rectangle, then press and trim into squares. Make eight pieced squares.

Sew four squares as shown to form two larger squares. If you don't love playing with little pieces as much as I do, you could make these squares, which measure approximately 5 3/4", from four solid pieces, or from one solid piece. 

Layer the squares on slightly larger squares of cotton batting and quilt. I used the tightest stipple I could manage, but you could use a looser meander, or stitch in the ditch along the pieced lines, or skip the quilting altogether.

Iron fusible web to the wrong side of your dark prints before cutting the gears. To keep the shapes from sticking to the die, I prefer to leave the paper on until after the cutting is done.
I cut two of the largest gear shape, three of the middle-size gear, and four of the smallest shape.

Arrange the gears on both squares, making sure that none of the little spokes extend into what will be your quarter inch seam allowance. Fuse into place and then secure by quilting with dark thread. I sewed around each gear and down each spoke.

Trim away the excess batting and square up your pieces, making sure that they both measure the same size.  Place a pin in the middle of each side, where the pieced blocks that make up the larger block come together.

Here's the tricky bit that gives the biscornu its shape. Align the corner of one square with the center of the second square as shown. Using a quarter inch seam allowance, sew from the corner to the pin that marks the center of the top square. Now shift the pieces so that you're sewing to the next corner of the top square and the pin that marks the center of the bottom square. Then twice again and sew along the next two edge, and so on... You'll sew around almost the entire shape, leaving an opening along the last pair of edges to turn the biscornu right side out. (If this isn't clear, you might want to practice on two squares of scrap fabric to see how it all fits together.)

The resulting odd shape won't lie flat. Turn it right side out, stuff tightly with polyester fiberfill, or your pincushion filling of choice, and whip stitch closed.

If you do decide to make one, I'd love to see pictures!

This post is linked to to Finish it Up Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?Link a Finish Friday, and Freedom Fridays, Mop it Up Monday, Homework, Not Just a Housewife,


CitricSugar said...

Cute! It has a bit of a steampunk feel to it, too, which is cool.

Kymberly said...

Super fun. I love how it looks with the old sewing machine.

Crispy said...

I've always meant to make a biscornu, mostly because I love to say the name :0) One of these days....

Love yours btw..


Anonymous said...

Love the gears. What a great pattern.

Jo said...

Cute, cute Michelle!! Can't wait to hear more about the treadle.

Anonymous said...

Very cool!

Kathy S. said...

LOVE those gears!!! Great job.

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

How neat! I have looked at that die your work! Thanks for sharing.
Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

Shannon Barefoot said...

I love the gears - very cute! Thanks for sharing at The Weekly Creative.

Shannon @ Sewing Barefoot

Richard Healey said...

Thank you for Linking Up to LAFF.

Richard and Tanya Quilts
Richard and Tanya Quilts on Etsy

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Such a creative idea!


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