Wednesday, January 6, 2021

New Year's Amulet

my New Year's Amulet 2021

NOTE - much of the art displayed in this post is NOT MY WORK. I have referenced it where I know the source. If you know sources I've missed, please let me know. The final pictures are of my work.

Fiber Art Fusion is a little group I sort of lead. Each month we have a program, typically taught by a member. Our topics range from weaving to painting to paper arts, though there is a bias to quilting arts. Now that we have to meet over zoom, there is no hands-on piece but it does lend itself to slide shows.

Hindu goddess amulet

Last night I presented a short program on amulets. My interest in this started with an article in Quilting Arts magazine a couple of years ago and so I volunteered to do a little research and present something.

I am unable to distinguish between amulets, talismans, and charms. I found several articles on the subject and came away with more questions than answers. I do think that the common theme is a spiritual exploration using a concrete object to guide the senses. 

One of the bloggers I follow - Che'usa Sienna Wend - posted in late December on her tradition of a New Year's bag. In her family tradition, she wraps a penny in cloth and stitches it together - seed money for the coming year. And then she enjoys having them in her studio where she can pick them up and just enjoy their simple beauty.

Susan Brubaker Knapp has a free downloadable pattern for her amulets. These are worn around the neck and use lots of little scraps of fabric, beads and other embellishments. They look like little bags but do not actually have an opening.

Of course there are many amulet style symbols found in most religions. My church, St Patrick's Episcopal Church, is rich in religious symbolism such as flying Jesus seen below. I have just finished a new priest's stole with related symbols. I'll post about that next.

Children's kimono often had amulets sewn to the back neck to ward off evil spirits. I enjoy adding a little piece of something to the back of my handmade garments though I don't tend to think much about evil spirits. I was probably influenced by my fascination with kimono though.

Naturally I wanted to make at least one sample after doing my research. While binge watching PBS's Grantchester, I made this one entirely by hand. Very satisfying work - I recommend it!

my work

I started with a scrap of natural colored linen and folded it with my fingers to about 6" x 4". Then I pieced three other scraps of fabric together and attached them to the linen surface. I do love linen - so lovely for hand work.

Linen base, silk on the right, kantha scrap upper left, red linen lower left

Next I folded it in half and stitched two sides together with a contrasting thread. I also added a little random sashiko stitching. My finished amulet is 4x3.

I fashioned a lining with a small piece of coral silk, making it just slightly smaller. This time I just used a running stitch to attach two sides, right sides together.

Then I dropped the lining in place, folding a hem for the amulet top, as well as the lining top. I stitched the two folded edges together with visible stitching.

In order to attach a cord for wearing, I used the blanket stitch to create a little thread bar on each side of the top of the amulet. 

I shopped the stash for leather cord to slide through the thread bars. I secured the cord with wrapped Pearl cotton thread. I found my hemostat quite handy for this.

I hope to wear it as a necklace. For now it is full of wishes and hopes for 2021. Maybe I'll go somewhere in 2021 and put some mad money in it. Or maybe just a penny.


  1. so interesting! I am also an Episcopalian and look forward to your post re. same.

  2. These tiny bits of hand-sewn beauty are fascinating.

  3. Very cool! Craft + witchcraft? Two great tastes that taste great together! :D