12 Days of Christmas Ornaments

You may recall my post back in February when I had started my set of the 12 Days of Christmas felt ornaments stating that I had started early in the hope that I might get them all finished in time for Christmas?  Well, I’ve finished them already – shock, horror!!  I’m completely amazed myself to be honest.  I think the main reason for this success is because the pattern is so well written it makes it easy and the ornaments are sooooo cute that as soon as one was finished, I immediately wanted to move on to making the next!  Whilst it’s the 12 days, there are actually 15 ornaments as the partridge has a pear, the goose has an egg and Mr. Leaping has a heart, bless him!  Well, the song is about true love after all.  In case you’re thinking I’ve gone completely doolally and numbered the last 4 wrongly, there are several variations of the carol; these ornaments are based on the original carol from 1780.

Firstly, and unusually for me, I did what the pattern said and purchased wool blend felt.  I have a stash of acrylic felt but the pattern specifically said that you wouldn’t get good results without using wool or wool blend felt.  I can see now how that might happen as the edges are whip stitched with a tiny seam so the acrylic felt probably wouldn’t have held.  The absolute most important step was to preshrink the felt which was done by soaking each sheet in cold water for a few minutes then placing on a towel, lightly pressing to remove excess water then leaving to dry naturally.  Each 12” piece shrunk by at least an inch so the pieces would have been all sorts of shapes had I skipped this step.

My drying rainbow tree of felt

The designer recommends using the catchily titled Sulky™ Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy, now renamed to Sulky™ Printable Stick ‘n’ Stitch.  I got mine from Amazon from a US craft shop but there are craft shops in the UK selling it now.  This stuff is absolute GENIUS! After printing out the pattern on normal paper and checking that the print was scaled properly by using the handy measure guide on the pattern, you just put in the sheet of Sulky™ and print.  All of the pieces required are printed and it’s simply a case of rough cutting around them and removing the backing to adhere them to the felt colour of your choice.

The embroidery is designed to be the star of the show so the pattern encourages you to choose contrasting floss that really stands out.  I found choosing the felt and floss colours to be one of the hardest jobs.  My threads were a bit of a mess, all bundled up together in an old wash bag so I treated myself to a floss organiser, complete with thread bobbins.  This made my floss selection process a lot easier I can tell you.

Next job was to sew the embroidery.  It’s mainly back stitch, a bit of running stitch and lots of French knots.  I used to hate French knots and did substitute some with seed beads for the first few but I guess I became better at them with all that practice and I don’t mind them at all now.  Once the embroidery was complete, the pieces were carefully cut out…

…then soaked for 15-20 minutes in cold water to dissolve the stabiliser and then left to dry face up on a dry towel.

One day, when I was feeling particularly brave and artistic(!) I decided to try my hand at making the heads for days 8-12.  The pattern offers great tips for eye and mouth placement.  After lightly drawing the features with a pencil, I then coloured them in with fabric marker pens.  These were great as they didn’t bleed into the wooden beads at all so the images are really crisp.

Shrunken heads!

The construction is largely the same in that all pieces are sewn with wrong sides together using a whip stitch and matching floss.  Depending on the ornament, interfacing, cardboard, pipe cleaners, wooden beads, fabric markers and cocktail sticks may be needed in addition to fibre stuffing and fabric glue.  The instructions for constructing the ornaments are really clear and easy to follow.

So, a mere 2½ months after I began, the whole gang is finished.  Woohoo! And here they are…

A closer look at Days 1-4…

Days 5-8…

Days 9-12…

Even the backs look  great too!

I’m now working on a storage box for the ornaments as they are too precious to be thrown in with the rest of the Christmas decs.  Watch this space for that post!

These ornaments are a bit fiddly to make at times but not so much so that it put me off finishing.  In fact, I’ve enjoyed making them so much, I’m going to make another set in a more limited colour palette.

If you like the look of these you can find out more on Larissa’s website, where there are links to her shop to buy the patterns together with lots of tips, techniques and colour scheme ideas.  There are also lots of inspiring colour palettes on Instagram at #twelvedaysornaments and #mmmcrafts.

www.mmmcrafts.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Crochet, Cards and….Christmas!

This week has involved a veritable feast of crafts!

Firstly, it was my Mum-in-Law’s birthday.   Despite her saying that she didn’t need anything, you can’t not get anything for your nearest and dearest.  I crocheted a blanket for her from a pattern called Rosslyn by Helen Shrimpton….

….and made her a set of birthday cards.

Next was her actual birthday card which was inspired by another SU! demonstrator from Mituso Crafts who kindly shared a YouTube video on how to make a pop-up wiper card without using any dies for the mechanism.

After making a mock-up of the mechanism to check I could make it work(!) I set to work stamping and colouring in frogs.  At this stage, I didn’t really have a design as such in mind, but I knew I’d need a few frogs!

The front gives nothing away about what’s inside.

This is the inside once it’s opened.

And this is the card in action!

Second this week was the start of the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee.  I LOVE watching this programme.  I’m not sure that having a limited time restriction would make the creating quite as enjoyable for me. I like to get started, shilly-shally about a bit, get distracted doing something else entirely, and then go back to what I was doing in the first place!  Anyway, it’s very apparent there’s a very talented bunch on the programme this year and I look forward to seeing what they create in the coming weeks. So, it got me thinking about sewing and whilst it’s not clothing, it is a sewing project that I’d planned to create this year in time for Christmas.  The project is hand embroidered ornaments depicting the song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and I figure I’ve got 9 months to get them all done – now that’s my kind of timescale!!  There are 15 decorations as it’s only one per day plus a few extras (like the pear), not 12 lords a-leaping etc. as I’m certain that making 78 would put me well into my ‘I’ve had enough of this project’ zone!  The patterns are by Larissa Holland and are not cheap but they are comprehensive, very well written and the designs are beautiful.   A full blog post will be forthcoming later in the year but for now I have completed the First Day: the partridge and the pear.

The reverse side is not patterned but does have the day number embroidered in a lovely font.

The third thing this week was, of course, Valentine’s Day.  Mr. L Loves Valentine’s Day and had requested a few hours’ access to my craft room and some supplies.  He made a really cool pop-up card, with a design which he cut out with a craft knife, and bought me a lovely bottle of fizz.  I stamped a card for him using the Baby Bear set and pyrographed a fun little sign for his man cave.

 

 

 

Links:

Helen Shrimpton: https://crystalsandcrochet.com/

Mitosu Crafts:http://mitosustampin.blogspot.com/

Mmmcrafts: https://mmmcrafts.blogspot.com/

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

Team Training with Inspiring Inkin’

To be a demonstrator with Stampin’ Up!, you have to join another demonstrator’s team.  You can join any team you fancy within your worldwide geographical area but I joined a local demonstrator, Amanda Fowler of Inspiring Inkin’ (http://www.inspiringinkin.com) as I’d enjoyed many of Amanda’s videos on YouTube and I like to support local businesses where I can.

We have online training once a month via Facebook Live but there are a few in person training days where you get to meet other members of the team, get new ideas and try out new products, chat, eat cake and craft together, which makes a nice change as crafting tends to be a solitary occupation.

A common, but optional, activity at this kind of event is Team Swaps.  This involves making a card front to swap with other demonstrators, thereby getting new ideas for a stamp set you own or seeing a new set that may have escaped your notice!  I decided to repeat my old favourite of the ombre sunset and Dandelion Wishes card front and, whilst watching the Masters snooker, spent a very pleasant couple of hours ink blending 25 card fronts.  I then stamped the image together with the sentiment, then heat embossed them with clear powder.  The Stamparatus is invaluable for this kind of mass production.  A sticker with the ‘recipe’ is put on the back should anyone want to CASE (Copy And Share Everything) your design.  Here are my swaps.  Can you spot the slight oops moment? I inked the panel upside down – I have no idea how I managed it!!

These are the swaps I received from my fellow demonstrators – such a talented bunch!

Amanda also had a Demonstrator’s Choice competition whereby you make any project using anything, but if SU! sell it (like ribbon, card etc.) you have to use it but anything they don’t sell can also be used.  I decided to make a Lighted Bethlehem 3D frame as I’d made a few of these for Christmas presents and they had all been well received.  I was chuffed to bits to be voted the winner especially as there was very strong competition.  Here’s my frame with lights off…

….and lights on.

For this, I won a stamp set and was also lucky enough to win another one in the raffle too.

Whilst the day is called a training day, that is a rather formal term and it’s actually a lot of fun.  Amanda provides a number of projects for the team to complete although I didn’t get to finish all of them.  Here’s what I did complete.

We also had a couple of demonstrations of techniques and new product lines and a very interesting presentation on bullet journaling, or Bujo as it’s apparently known!  This really piqued my interest and I’m going to investigate this further, particularly as I may be able to combine it with my challenge to myself for this year, to learn hand/brush lettering – so that I’m not totally dependent on stamp sets for my sentiments!!

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

 

Festive Foliage and Friends!

Last Friday I had the most enjoyable day when some friends came around for coffee, biscuits and wreath making.   Mr. L had been busy with his chain saw on our overgrown Leylandii hedge to give us some base materials and I had pruned the eucalyptus and rosemary bushes that I let grow large for this very purpose.  Between the rain storms, I’d nipped out and cut a little holly and ivy and from the hedgerow and I’d gathered some teasels from the scrub land next to our house and some pine cones from a local park.  There are no air miles attached to these wreaths!!

Jane’s husband Dave also came along to offer words of encouragement and be a guest cat bed for Leia….

I’d watched a Gardener’s World video and made a wreath last year so I was the appointed “teacher”.   We started with a 12” wire frame and using binding wire, attached the various base foliage to the frame by winding the wire around the frame and foliage, wiggling it between the fronds and leaves to avoid getting a ‘bandaged’ look!

This process was repeated until the base layer was completed and the wire frame was covered.

Next, we prepared the accent pieces – the holly, ivy, pinecones and teasels – by wrapping the stems with floristry wire.  Our holly was nude so we attached some artificial berries for added colour.

These pieces were pushed through the base layer and secured to the metal frame.  We finished the wreaths by making a bow using wire edged ribbon and secured that into the frame with some binding wire.

Here are Ruth, Joy and Jane with their finished wreaths.  They look so professional!

We had so much fun making these and they really weren’t difficult nor expensive to make so I encourage you to have a go!

Since there was a lot of foliage left, Jane took home a couple of the eucalyptus branches for the church flowers so Dave got his own aromatherapy experience on their return journey!

I made three wreaths in total; one for us and one each for my Mum and my Mum-in-law.  I finished off my wreaths with a bit of spray glitter.

Last year we bought mini Christmas trees, hellebores and cyclamen to put in the wall mangers which gradually died when I neglected to remove them and plant them in the garden in the spring.  So, since I had enough base foliage to make wreaths for about half of Hampshire(!), I decided to fashion some wreath style Christmas trees.  I started with some garden wire mesh and cut and moulded it to form a sort of half cone shape and then added the foliage in tree type layers.

Some accent pieces, fairy lights and a star for the top and my Festive Foliage Christmas Tree (that looks like Cousin It!) was complete.

 

Silent Night Advent Calendar

Every year Mr L and I buy advent calendars for each other.  They tend to feature beer for him and toiletries for me and are in general expensive for what you get.  I thought we’d get back to more of what Christmas is all about – being thoughtful, making something for them, spending quality time with them or giving a gift that doesn’t cost any money, like cooking them their favourite meal or just going for a walk in a favourite location.  We aren’t religious at all but I love the magic of Christmas and feel it can get overtaken by massive spending.  So, I decided to make an advent calendar that we can fill for each other for years to come.  One of us get to fill the odd days, one the evens, for the other to open (Mr L has bagsied the even days this year so he’s got an extra day to think of ideas!).  The idea is that we would normally have 11 months to come up with ideas for gifts, maybe from somewhere we’ve visited or inspired by something we’ve done during the year however this year it’s all a bit last minute as I’ve only just finished it, so there’s some frantic googling going on for ideas! Here’s how I made it.

I used a fabric panel from Makower UK called Silent Night.  The instructions are printed at the top, the middle section is the main body of the calendar and the bottom section is the pockets.

I started by cutting out the pockets and hemming the top edge.  I then ran the side and bottom edges through the overlocker to stop any fraying.

The next job was to press the pocket sections into box pleats down the edges of the houses to form each pocket and then sew in place on the calendar.

Once all the pockets were completed, I cut out and piece of quilt batting and a piece of backing fabric and stuck the three layers together with spray baste adhesive (Odif 505) to form my quilt sandwich.  The batting provides more stability to the project when it’s hung up and filled with gifts.  To quilt, I just did straight line quilting around the borders and the pockets since it was just a case of holding the layers together rather than to produce a decorative effect.  After this, I squared up the quilt by cutting the edges down to the finished size of the calendar, taking into account the pattern on the panel.

I then had to think about how it was going to hang.  I attached a length of ribbon to the top for hanging but a length of dowel was needed to hold the top edge straight.  I was going to sew on a pocket on the back at the end for the dowel but decide that since I had a pocket already from my quilting, I’d use the top holly border section as my in-built pocket.  I cut a piece of dowel about ¾” less than the width of the holly border, unpicked a section of the quilting and fed the dowel into the pocket.

It needed a bit of wiggling due to the spray basting but went in without any problem.

Note:   If you don’t want to have to faff about changing feet on your sewing machine, sew a pocket on at the end.  I had to use my zipper foot to be able to sew around the edges and side of the dowel.

Zipper foot for sewing around the dowel

Next, I made some binding for the edges.  It doesn’t need to be bias binding as it’s straight edges – bias binding is needed for curves.  I cut strips of my backing fabric 2¼” wide and joined them using a diagonal seam as this spreads the bulk of the join around the edge of the quilt when it’s folded over to the back and avoids a big hump where the joins are.

Once the strips were joined, I pressed the binding in half and then clipped the binding to the panel, matching the raw edge of the binding to the edge of the panel and stitched in place with a ¼” seam.

Once this was completed, I pressed the binding away from the panel and then folded the binding over to the back and clipped it in place, ensuring that the edge covered the stitching where the binding was attached.

I pressed the binding in place and then stitched it down from the top of the panel by stitching ‘in the ditch’.  The ditch is the slight indentation where the binding is attached to the panel.  If stitched accurately, the stitches ‘in the ditch’ are almost invisible on the top side but will also be in the correct position to secure the other edge of the binding on the reverse side.

Due to inserting the dowel earlier, I had to use my zipper foot around the edges and top of the dowel but switched to my ‘in the ditch’ foot once I was clear of the dowel as it makes the whole process easier.

‘In the ditch’ foot

To finish, I ensured all thread end were cut off and then gave the calendar a good press with steam.  All it needs now is to be filled with gifts – need to make a Thinking Cap pronto….!