Thursday, August 22, 2013

Embroidered Metal Mesh Pencil Cups

When we were at Ikea buying a pencil cup for my office desk, my husband mentioned he needed a pencil holder for school. He's an elementary school media specialist, and teaches some classes in the library.

I mentioned that all the teachers were posting "sharp" and "dull" pencil cups to Pinterest. He immediately grasped the classroom management principles, so I offered to make a pair for him. He liked the price of Ikea's Dokument pencil cups ($2.99 for 2), so I told him about the embroidered metal mesh pencil cups I had seen on Ikea Hackers.

A week later, he had a pair of pencil cups in the school colors, and I had a new pencil cup for my desk.

At the bottom of the cup, I embroidered a line of heavy chain stitch. At the top, I made two lines of back stitch three rows apart, working over two openings. In between, I worked a row of herringbone stitch, which I planned out to follow the lines of the mesh.

If you're going to work with the Ikea Dokument cups, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It's a diamond mesh, so ditch any pattern that relies on a rectangular grid. These cups flare out. The spacing between the rows is a bit irregular. It may not be absolutely straight, either. Also, there are a pair of big raised dots or bumps on each side. (If you look closely at the center of the photo, between the two cups, you can see it a bit on the sides.) And finally, there's an overlap on one side; this is the seam. I was able to work around all of this, but some embroidery designs may not work as well.

When using metal mesh for embroidery, keep in mind that it's very open. Knots may show through if you're using floss instead of thicker yarn, especially if you're using a very open stitch (like the herringbone stitch). I put up with the inconvenience of very long threads just so I could avoid knots, on the herringbone. Instead, I tied the starting end to the finishing end once I completed the round.

The cardstock label is sewn to the mesh at the corners, carrying the thread behind the label so it's invisible from the front.

By the way, my husband is very happy with his new pencil cups, and claims they'll be the coolest in the school. And I realized metallic embroidery floss is evil.