Free motion sewing tutorial: how to make a bowl

Yesterday I had the opportunity to gate crash a meeting of the Embroiderer’s Guild in Paignton with my Mum.

Armed with sewing machines, threads and embroidery hoops, about 20 of us came along for a sewing tutorial given this week by my Auntie Liz (aka LimeGreenLizzie). It was a free motion sewing tutorial to make one of these delicate little bowls.

free motion sewing

I’ve put together a tutorial below if you’d like to make one yourself. They’re extremely simple so a perfect sewing project for beginners.

Free motion sewing: bowl

#1 – Prepare the embroidery hoop

Fit a piece of water soluble plastic into your embroidery hoop. You can buy soluble plastic laundry bags which are perfect for this. They dissolve in warm water, leaving behind the stitching.

Draw around a bowl or another circular object with a pen onto the soluble plastic.

#2 – Attach the free motion foot

Fit the free motion quilting foot to your sewing machine and select the threads you would like to use. I went for plain cotton to practise with, but sparkly threads give a beautiful shimmery effect. I’ve used cream cotton for the bobbin and navy for the top colour.

#3 – Stitch a foundation

Slide the embroidery hoop under the foot of your sewing machine and begin to sew. To give your bowl integrity when the soluble plastic is dissolved, the stitching needs to overlap, but you can do this in any pattern you choose.

I started this one by stitching from the centre to the outside line all around the circle.

I’ve been experimenting with videos so here’s one which shows the stitching in progress.

You should end up with something like this.

It’s a good idea to sew around the edge of your circle to stop it all falling apart.

#4 – Stitch into your circle

You can decorate your circle however you like. Think about colour and what you want to see on the outside and inside of your bowl.

I turned my circle over when I stitched into it again so that the thread colours were inversed. This video shows how to stitch little circles all over it.

I then added a few more spirals in cream in the centre of some of the circles. This is what I ended up with.

#5 – Cut the circle out

Once you’re happy with the design of your bowl, cut the circle out of the soluble plastic. You can save the offcuts for another project as they can be wet slightly at the edges and stuck back together to form a larger sheet.

#6 – Dissolve the plastic

Wash the soluble plastic away in warm water. Don’t be too thorough because, when dissolved, the plastic becomes gluey and will give your bowl a bit of structure when it’s dry.

#7 – Mould your bowl

Gently mould the circle over a bowl or other rounded shape. If you’d like it to have a flat bottom, make sure the thing you’re moulding it around also has a flat base!

Leave it to dry in a warm place. If you’re impatient (like me) a hairdryer works a treat!

#8 – Admire your wonderful creation

Gently prise your bowl off the mould. It should be stiff enough to remain bowl shaped.

Here’s a little video to show how mine turned out. I got a bit carried away with the music feature of the video editing software here, so I apologise in advance!

There are many, many different techniques you can use to make your bowl individual. Stitch different patterns, use two layers of soluble plastic with fabric in between to trap between stitches, add embellishments when you’ve finished – the possibilities are endless!

I’m sharing this tutorial on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Be different Act normal, Tatertots and Jello, Sunny Simple Life and Lamb Around.

16 thoughts on “Free motion sewing tutorial: how to make a bowl

  1. Brilliant as ever Clare. I would recommend pulling up the bottom thread, doing a few stitches then cutting off ends. You can then continue without getting tangled in the ends. I just love the little trinket bowl. Look forward to the next blog xxx

  2. Thank you for your lovely comments! As for where to buy the soluble plastic, I found this link (http://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/68585058/solvy-water-soluble-plastic-topping-5?utm_source=google&utm_medium=product_listing_promoted_en_gb&utm_campaign=supplies_low) on Etsy and if you search ‘soluble plastic’ in Google there appear to be several other suppliers (I’ve never actually bought it myself!).

    Liz, do you have any tips on where to get hold of it?

  3. Gosh !! – this is just brilliant Clare 🙂 Tell me though, how do you stop the ‘dogs’ from moving when you do free style sewing ?? Do you have to have a special machine. ?

    Hugz
    IKE xxx

    1. Sorry, I missed your question! The feed dogs on my machine can be lowered so they don’t keep pulling the fabric through. Mum’s is the same and hers is really old so I presume it’s a common feature? Ciao! x

  4. Clare, you can get the soluble film from craft/ Quilting shows from some vendors and some quilt shops may sell it. On line there should be no problem if you put in soluble film. I have ordered online and bought extra wide by the metre or you can just buy the packs.

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