One Perfect Rose

Lynn Schoeffler 2012

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Rissa's timely reminder that October is traditionally devoted to small gifts at CQMagOnline set me to thinking of the vintage trinket boxes and trays that I've been collecting with the idea of framing perfect little crazy quilts in them.

One of the beautiful things that happens when you crazy quilt is the meeting of friends who share your love of fabrics, found objects, vintage bits and pieces. And one of the many talented and generous people I've met in my journey is Caroline Phillips, who turned up practically in my own back yard a few years ago. If you've ever had the good fortune to receive one of Caroline's exquisite little fabric paintings, you'd understand why even the tiniest flower sets your creative juices flowing; I knew her little Wild Rose would make my trinket box very special.

Initially, I brought out all my best fabric pieces in those gorgeous shades of sunset pink that have become my favorites. For variety I added a few lovely greens, with a little purple for contrast and interest; soon I had a tremendous pile of colors. I realized I was going to have to pare the selections down drastically--the reality of the piece as seen through the box lid template I made was that more than five pieces of fabric were not a good fit!

After all that, the addition of a single piece of hand painted lace sent my choices in a completely new direction. My intention had always been to highlight and showcase my perfect little rose; and I decided a more neutral color palette appealed to me even more than the sunset colors.

So I started pulling out lace; the challenge was to find textures and patterns that complimented the painted rose; much of my lace stash had roses of about the same size, and they competed for attention. My final choices were more textural in nature, and I hand painted a piece of vintage machine lace to balance the smaller piece of gold lace. For paint I used Lumiere acrylic ; it has the added bonus of sealing the lace edges so they don't ravel, enabling you to cut along the pattern edge if desired. (For more on hand painted lace, see: CQMagOnline, October 2007).

A collage of tiny buttons and rhinestones again seemed too much; one interesting shape would do, I felt.

Here are some things you'll need to make your own trays and trinket boxes:

A small metal "dresser" or trinket box; little mirrored or glass trays. You can find them reasonably priced in vintage or antique shops, the ones I have are not that old. When purchasing them, you need to make sure you can get the glass top out of the metal frame. Here you can see that I was able to carefully pry up the little decorative prongs that held the glass in place, and slip it out. I used the tiny screwdriver that came with my sewing machine for this.

For this little tray, I simply pried up the metal ring that held the glass in place.

Another example: this box, unfortunately, has so far evaded my attempts to de-construct it. One way to judge if the glass can be removed is to gently tug it between your thumb and forefinger. If the glass moves, there is a good chance you can pry up the prongs; I bought this particular box before I learned that! My finisher, Dave, assures me that just breaking the glass is not a good option. Oh well, you win some........

Other things you'll need for the trinket box:

  • Crazy quilted piece; try to use light weight fabric and thin lace. Remember, you will have to wrap your piece around a cardboard cut out.
  • Tiny screwdrivers
  • Thin, strong piece of archival matte board
  • Acid free glue
  • Thin cotton batting
  • Fine point Marks B Gone pen
  • Sequin pins
  • Light weight fabric to match your crazy quilted piece
  • Modge Podge sealer


After you take the glass top out of your box, use it to make a paper template of the lid opening size and shape, as in Photo 3. This can be used to check the positioning of your embellished piece as you work.

Cut two pieces of matte board slightly smaller than your template, so they will fit under the prongs on the box lid.

To give my embellished fabric a slight rise, I used three layers of thin batting cut in descending sizes; glue to your matte board cut out.

Cut the embellished fabric in the shape of the template, leaving a two or three inch border--you might need room to adjust the position of the embellished fabric. With the Marks B Gone pen, make four tiny marks on your embellished piece: one each, top and bottom center, and then one each, center sides. Use sequin pins to pin the embellished fabric to the matte board at these four positions first. Continue to add pins until the embellished fabric lays smoothly over the board.

If your fabric is positioned how you want it, trim excess fabric away, leaving a 1/2" to 1" wide border.

Lay your embellished piece face down on a folded piece of toweling. Carefully glue the remaining border to the back of the matte board, making tiny pleats as you go to accommodate excess fabric; if necessary, cut wedges of fabric out to make the border lay as flat as possible. I chose to use glue here, rather than crossing the back with long stitches because the silk used for the foundation was very thin and would not stand the stress of the tight stitches necessary. Let the glue dry over night.

Glue another piece of thin batting to the other piece of matte board. Check to see if this piece will fit into the box frame; trim as necessary. In the same manner as above, glue a matching piece of silk to the matte board over the batting. Let the glue dry. This will be the inside lining of the lid.

When both pieces are dry, put the lining piece into the frame. Add the embellished piece on top to check the fit. Hopefully, both pieces will fit snugly into the frame. If they don't, try finger pressing the edges of the embellished piece firmly. You might also have to remove the batting from the lining piece--you can either leave the board as is, or try gluing matching silk to the very outside edge of the matte board cut out. You could also paint a thin piece of cardboard, cut it to shape and use that as the lining piece.

When you see that both pieces fit correctly into the lid, glue them together and maneuver them in under the little prongs. Gently bend the prongs over the edges of the embellished piece. It is not lost on me that in time, the metal prongs may corrode the silk. I brushed a double layer of Modge Podge acid free sealer on the inside and outside of the metal rim frame to inhibit any corrosion.

You might also like the Shabby Chic look below for a matching set; the trinket box and tray are painted with a lovely chalky paint made by my friend Chris. She mixes a small amount of regular house paint with Plaster of Paris! Add the Plaster of Paris to the paint by heaping teaspoons until you get a consistency of heavy pancake batter. Add a little water to smooth just a bit. This gives the paint a very vintage look, at a fraction of the cost of real chalk paint. Thanks Chris!

And, in farewell, I'd like to express my thanks to Rissa (and Nora) for allowing me to be a part of CQMagOnline for these eight years. I laugh to remember that I barely knew what email was, let alone all the computer-y and photograph-y things I had to learn to get my articles to Rissa, who was everlastingly patient.

Knowing that I'd never keep up with a blog like so many of you great stitchers out there, I hoped to do my part for our Crazy Quilt world by sharing what I knew, what I learned, and who I met every four months.  My very best wishes go to Rissa and my fellow staff members, and to all of the wonderful crazy quilters who keep us inspired with their phenomenal work.

Image courtesy of Vintage Feedsacks.

Thanks and love must always go to my support team here at home - my son Devin for the gargantuan job of teaching me all things computer; darling daughter Hailey for collecting beads, fabric and what nots from all her friends, and most of all to my go-to guy of forty years, Dave.

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