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

 

 

 

OMG! Commemorative Artwork

My dear friend, Lorie, established a charity called Project 71 which supports war veterans who, for the most part, live in our local area.  She works tirelessly to raise funds and raise awareness of the charity so that, at no cost to themselves, the veterans can enjoy lunches together, trips abroad, for example to Normandy and Arnhem, for the veterans to pay their respects to those who didn’t return home.  Project 71 also provides assistance to the veterans in the form of lifts to places, providing mobility scooters, doing the shopping or just visiting at home or in hospital to have a cup of tea and a chat.  Lorie has a group of volunteers from all walks of life that help her to provide these things for the veterans. The work they do is humbling and amazing in equal measures.  Please visit their site via the link below to see the wonderful things they do.

http://www.project71.co.uk/

Just over a year ago, Lorie sent a request out to crafty types via Facebook, to see who would be interested in producing some fabric artwork to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden.  The artwork is based on the plate produced by the Market Garden Veterans Association for the 50th anniversary.

The only rules were that the finished badge should be 6” tall and as wide as necessary to keep the proportions right.  Any crafting media or technique using fabric or wool could be used providing they could be joined together as the finished badges would be sewn together and mounted onto a background of parachutes and aircraft.  The finished article will be donated to the National Liberation Museum (Nationaal Bevrijdingsmuseum 1944-1945) in Groesbeek, Netherlands in September 2019 as part of the 75th anniversary weekend.

I chose to make the 50th Infantry Division

and 101st Airborne Division.

The 50th Infantry Division was a division of the British Army whose insignia features two Ts which apparently represent the three main rivers, the Tyne, Tees and Humber, from the recruitment area of the Territorial Army, of which the division was a part before the Second World War.  I immediately saw this design as a crocheted piece and set about creating a stitch grid onto which I could transfer the design.  Then it was simply a case of single crocheting the stitches in the appropriate colour.

The 101st Airborne Division (“Screaming Eagles”) is a light infantry division of the US Army who were engaged in numerous operations during World War II.  This insignia cried out for appliqué so I got out my felt and Bondaweb and got to work.  First I scaled the insignia on the computer so that the image was just under 6” tall.  I then traced this onto tracing paper as the reverse image is needed to trace onto the Bondaweb due to it being attached on the back of the fabric by ironing.

The next step was to carefully cut out the images and adhere them by removing the backing and ironing them in position.

I hit a slight snag when I started to appliqué the letters as the felt was not holding its shape and the resulting mess was not acceptable!  I experimented with various styles of attachment and found that stitching over the entire letter produced the best result, but not using felt as the fibres stuck up through the gaps between the thread.  I remade the letters using yellow fabric, coloured the centres of the letters with black sharpie (cheat!) and sewed over the whole letter using a closely spaced zig-zag stitch.

Top shows the experiments, bottom is the finished piece.

Now it was time to assemble the piece.  I used a piece of khaki linen fabric and quilted it in a diamond pattern and then simply attached the badge pieces on top.

The edges of the piece were finished using the overlocker to get the piece to the correct size.

These are some of the other pieces of work that other crafters have made.

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished piece once Lorie has finished the construction.

Project 71 is a small charity where 100% of the money donated goes to supporting the veterans.  If you would like to donate and help out this very worthy cause, please click on the link below.  Any donation will be much appreciated.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/panicbutton

 

 

 

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!

Eclipse Card and Minion Trousers

This week, we have been celebrating Mr. L’s birthday.  It wasn’t a big one but still a birthday so warrants some celebrating!  Amongst his presents were two pairs of homemade house trousers.  I don’t know what other people call them but they’re the comfy trousers you put on to doss around in and they’re known as House Trousers in our house. He had asked for some for Christmas but I ran out of time so he got them for his birthday instead.  Now I had never made trousers before so I was a bit concerned but, since the pattern was a simple pyjama style, they ended up being quite straight forward to construct.  His request for trousers was “the more outrageous the better!” and he loves the Minions so that’s what he got!  Here he is sporting the two designs….

For his card I used my newly acquired Winter Woods stamp.  The bare winter trees are great for Christmas cards but can also be handy for those tricky male cards.  This card is a variation of my ombre sunset card (blog post from Sept 2018) but the inked panel is horizontal instead of vertical.  I’m also currently in love with eclipse cards and Mr. L has been coveting the ones I’ve made for others so I made one for him too.

I began by tearing some Post-It notes along the sticky edge and positioning them to make the area to be inked.  I made it just narrower than the height of the trees as I wanted them to go into the white areas at the top and bottom of the panel.  Using sponge daubers, I blended Crushed Curry, Pumpkin Pie, Cajun Craze and Cherry Cobbler to give the sunset look.

I stamped the bare trees image using Memento Tuxedo Black repeatedly across the panel and then flicked a bit of (retired) shimmer paint in copper and gold over the panel to give a bit of added interest.

Using the large letter dies, I lined the word ‘HUBBY’ up on my grid paper (I had to sub in a P to keep the space for my other B!) and taped the dies together with Post-It tape.  After much trial and error, I’ve found this is the easiest way to keep them lined up!

I ran it through the Big Shot and then positioned the second B and cut that out too.  I then stuck down the panel onto a Basic Black backing and adhered the negative spaces from the Bs.

The SU! Foam Adhesive Strips are brilliant for eclipse cards as the strips are narrow so fit easily on the back of the die cut letters.  After applying the adhesive strips, I stuck the letters into their appropriate positions and mounted the card on a card base of Pumpkin Pie, since orange is Mr. L’s favourite colour!  For the sentiment, I heat embossed some gold powder onto a strip of Basic Black and mounted using dimensionals.  I used some Whisper White card for inside liner and just stamped the tops of the trees along the bottom edge in Smoky Slate ink.  Here’s the finished card.

 

 

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

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….!