Week 19 Creative Challenge : Strawberries – A Soft Sculpture and Crochet Hot Pad

Hello! I hope you’ve had a good week. Here’s my check-in for the 2023 Weekly  Creative Challenge.

This week I had strawberries on my mind. Our season for local berries doesn’t begin for another month here in Ontario, so these handmade ones will do until the real ones get here. Well, of course, they’ll only do for the eyes, not the taste-buds!

These beaded soft-sculptures are larger than life size strawberries but you can make them whatever size you’d like. I’ve used pieces from an old cotton t-shirt which has some stretch but any red fabric would work.

You begin with a half circle of fabric (you can make a whole circle and then cut it in half to make two, if you’d like). You also need a bit of green felt, stuffing, red thread, a sewing needle and some beads that will act as seeds on the berries.

↑ Fold in half, with good side facing inward, and stitch up the side. Tip : To make nice tight stitches when hand-sewing a running stitch, you can go down once and then turn around and stitch back up again, this time placing your stitches between the first ones. That’s faster and easier than taking tiny stitches with only one pass. Knot and cut thread. Leaving long tails makes it easier to hide them within the work. ↑

↑ Turn right side out and make a running stitch around the opening. You will be gathering with this, so keep it loose. ↑

↑ Make a stem that is longer than you want because part of it will be buried within the sculpture. I cut my felt double wide and then folded and stitched down, to make it more sturdy than just a piece of felt would be. Gather the fabric along your row of stitches and push the raw edges down so they’ll be enclosed within the sculpture. Stuff the strawberry, stick your stem in the hole, pull the thread tight to close the hole. Stitch across and through the base of the stem to secure it and make sure the hole stays shut. Tie a good knot and pass the ends through the sculpture before cutting, to hide them within. ↑

↑ Add your beads in a random pattern, stitching them by pushing the needle right through the stuffing to the next spot for a bead. Keep going until you feel you’ve got enough beads. Knot and pass needle through the sculpture before cutting the thread, so the end of it will be hidden within. ↑

↑ Cut some felt to make the leaves on the strawberry. Attach it by making the smallest hole possible and sliding the piece down the stem. The friction of the felt will keep it in place, but you can glue it or stitch it if you think it needs it. ↑

The second thing I wanted to try was to crochet a textured stitch that looks like repeating strawberries. I’ve seen images of this stitch before but had never tried it. It is “Tunisian” crochet, which is done with a long handled hook, and is sort of a cross between regular crocheting and knitting.

I followed this tutorial on Youtube.

If you try this, I highly recommend you use a stretchy synthetic yarn, rather than cotton like I did because it is really quite difficult to do if there’s no stretch. I really like how the cotton one looks and feels, but I’m going to be honest here, I very nearly gave up after a couple of rows because it was so hard to manipulate the hook the way you need to if there is no stretch to the stitches. I ended up with a blister on my finger and I can say with certainty, that this was the first time I ever did that by crocheting!

But, all in all, this was a fun stitch to try and I like the hot pad I made with my swatch. If you’d like to try to make something with a very similar look but with a regular crochet hook, I’ve seen tutorials online, however, I believe it must be done in the round, so you can’t make a flat piece like you can with the tunisian hook. I might be wrong about that, though.

↑ The strawberries pop out like on the children’s pop-it toy. There are divots on the backside, where each strawberry is. ↑

Thank you very much for checking out what I’ve been up to on my creative journey. If you’re taking one yourself, I hope you’ve been making things that make you happy!

xo loulou