This week’s blog post is a little late due to that pesky Covid. I was going to do a post on a fun decoration I’d made as gifts for a couple of friends but have been unable to deliver them due to being suddenly upgraded (or is that downgraded?!) to Tier 4, which is essentially another lockdown. Since the recipients don’t have their gifts, I can’t post about them! So instead, I’m focussing on Christmas tree decorations. First though, I finally got my wreath made for the front door.
Do you have a colour theme for your tree? Ours is predominantly red and gold but not exclusively! Wherever we are, if we spot a nice Christmas decoration, we get it to add to the collection. I love unpacking the decs each year and having the memories of where they were bought. I’ve got ones made from Fimo by my sister about 30 years ago, a Smurf Santa from when I was a kid and collected those Smurf figures, ones given to me by old neighbours and lots of homemade ones too. Our tree is lightly decorated this year due to the kittens. There’s nothing breakable on there and nothing below the bottom 18”! It still looks lovely though.
These ones are purchased decs. Clockwise from top left: angel from Monaco, moon and star from a French supermarket, pebble cat on a heart from a local lady (Em’s Pebbles) and a metal tree from the Netherlands, accompanied by my gold ring felt ornament.
These are a selection of some handmade decs. Clockwise from top left: sequinned pudding (on a polystyrene ball), cross-stitched Tigger mini cushion, piper piping felt ornament and a clay heart sent by our wedding venue the first Christmas after our marriage.
My latest felt decoration, again from mmmcrafts, is a Santa. Mrs Claus is almost done but is alarmingly headless at the moment. I must try to get her finished before Christmas Day!
mmmcrafts has just released a pattern for some elves so hopefully they’ll make an appearance next year too.
Wherever you are in the world and whomever you’re allowed to celebrate with, here’s hoping it’s a happy and healthy Christmas.
Last weekend, I did my first ever 10k. It was a charity event to raise money for a little girl called Sophie, who lives in the next village. Sadly, Sophie has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is facing many years of treatments. Her Mum set up a Facebook group (called Sophie’s Journey, if you’re interested) and it was through this that I found out about the virtual 10k event. You could run, walk, cycle or swim the distance – I jogged half and then walked the rest – between 4-13th December and afterwards, collect your medal from Sophie’s house, socially distanced of course! The medals were designed by Sophie and are super cute!
When I went to collect my medal, I wanted to take a little something for Sophie and her two sisters. I’d seen this idea from Sew Dainty on Pinterest for a Christmas tree garland and thought they’d work well as individual decorations too. First, I drew and cut out my Christmas tree shape on paper before pinning it onto felt sandwiched between two pieces of Christmas print fabric. You can use wadding or anything in the centre of the sandwich, it’s just to give the trees some body. It’s a good way to use up random pieces of fabric!
Next, I added in a hanging ribbon at the top before taking my tree sandwich to the sewing machine and sewing around the outside of the template, pivoting at the corners to give nice sharp points.
After I’d finished, it looked like this.
Using pinking shears, I cut around the outside of the tree, taking care not to chop off the ribbon hanger!
Lastly, I stitched some zigzag lines up the tree. I wanted a tree topper but I’d run out of star buttons so I hand stitched a pair of wooden hearts to the front and back of the top of the trees instead.
I love how these came out and think I’ll be making a garland of trees in the near future.
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.
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.
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…
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.