Getting Christmassy!

Last week I found that my to-do list wasn’t too long, so I took the opportunity to grab a few hours at work to make one of this year’s advent calendars from Stof Fabrics.

Rather than the traditional colours, I decided I would make one in the copper colour way to show people just how lovely and effective it is! Stof do some really lovely Christmas fabrics.

I had fun with a little free motion quilting on the top too, trying to follow the swirls 🙂  Think I succeeded ok!

copper advent calendar from Stof Fabrics

Some Christmas sewing

We have a new sewing machine in the shop – the Janome Atelier 5, which was brought out in October. Although I had a quick go on it when it first arrived last month, I have been wanting to have a more in depth look at it so I could review it properly on the shop’s blog.

As yesterday was a quiet day I decided that I would use it to sew the advent stockings that I’ve been wanting to make. They are made from a panel by Makower which we sold in the shop. I hope that they redo them again next year because they just flew off the shelves and we sold out very quickly.

stocking advent bunting

The first decision I had to make was whether to line them, so I sewed a couple together, one with and one without and decided they were nicer with lining.

Then I had to decide how I was going to do the tops… do I put bias binding around them or if not, how do I fold them so it looks neat? They are quite small stockings and a bit fiddly! Fortunately my Mum was here with me and she had her new Elna 664Pro Overlocker with her. She suggested that we overlock the top edges of the stockings, cut the lining so that it was slightly shorter than the stocking pieces and then fold them back in order to hand stitch the top down.

overlocking stocking tops on Elna 664 Pro Overlocker

I also used Mum’s neat trick to put the lining in:

Cut out the lining pieces using the stocking pieces as a template.

Put the stocking piece and backing piece right sides together.

stocking right sides together

Put the two lining pieces together (if they had a right side, it would be the right sides together). Then pin them with the stocking pieces.stocking and lining together

Sew down the side, around the toe and up the other side. Leave the top open.

sewing advent stocking

You can then turn the stocking pieces inside out and the lining just falls into place, just like magic!

stocking right way out

All that is left to do, is turn the top edges down and hand stitch into place together with a ribbon to string them up. I decided they are too small to top stitch on the machine neatly. I’ll get them done this weekend hopefully.

Incidentally you can read my review of the Janome Atelier 5 here.

Christmas crafting

Last night my friend organised a craft evening at our church, for all the women in their church and their friends. There were about 30 women there and we got to choose whether we wanted to make a Christmas tree from a paperback book, a paper Christmas wreath or a fir cone.  I chose the fir cone option and here it is!

fabric fir coneThe lady who taught us how to make it actually bought the fabric from my shop. It’s from the Winter’s Lane collection – our most popular collection at the moment.

It was pretty easy to make. Just a matter of folding lots of 2″ squares into triangles and then pinning them to a polystyrene egg. Here’s a YouTube video explaining it:

She also showed us how to make christmas baubles with ribbons using a similar technique of folding and pinning to a polystyrene ball. I might pop to Hobbycraft or the Range at the weekend and pick up a ball, so I can have a go at them. They looked particularly effective!

Knitted Christmas Baubles

I bought myself a little pre-Christmas present which arrived today… a book called 55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colourful Festive Ornaments

I’d seen people talking about this book on Twitter and Ravelry and I found myself putting a copy into my shopping basket whilst purchasing some Christmas presents on Amazon.

I’ll post some pictures of baubles as I make them 🙂

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year

The days between Christmas and New Year are funny aren’t they? I’m not at work and enjoying the time off.  It’s such a luxury to be able to watch films in the afternoon or sit and read a book after getting dressed late and eating Christmas cake for breakfast!

I only did one bit of Christmas knitting this year – a scarf for my brother which he’d requested.  Knitting in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in green and white stripes. He was pleased with it. I was pleased with it too… note the hem which I tried for the first time with the help of this Knitting Daily article. I found some of the comments particularly helpful, for instance, knitting the first part of the hem on smaller needles, and at the finishing end of the scarf, picking up the bumpy bit of the stitch on the wrong side of the fabric to bind off.

james green white scarf

I also make some knitted Christmas cards for my family! When I say knitted Christmas cards, I mean, I crocheted a snowflake using this pattern from the Attic24 blog, and knitted a robin and christmas tree (patterns made up as I went along) and mounted them on card.  I didn’t knit the WHOLE card itself 😉  It was a bit of a rush on Christmas Eve getting them finished (I left them rather late) but the family were delighted with them.

knitted christmas cards

Yarny Christmas

Thought I’d show you what knitting related presents Father Christmas brought me this year…

Two skeins of Mirasol Hacho.  Mum actually picked this up for me when we visited Get Knitted a couple of months ago.  I’ve never used Mirasol yarn before but I loved the colours of this particular one.  Don’t know what I’ll use it for.

Mirasol Hacho yarn

Then some Fleece Artist Slubbby Blue which is a 100% blue faced leicester wool.  Again I knew about this as we picked it up at Ally Pally.  It was the colours again that drew me to it. One skein is called Angel Fish and the other is Peacock.

Slubby Blue

Finally on the yarn front is a 250g skein of Fleece Artist Blue Face Aran.  It comes with a pattern to make a felted bag.  I’m not all that fussed about felted items but I think a bag would be a good thing to make with it, so maybe I’ll look around at other bag patterns.

Fleece Artist Blue Faced Aran

I also got a Yarn Harlot desk calendar, so I can have her “purls” of wisdom every day at work next year.

The socks I knitted for my brother fitted – thankfully!  And my best friend’s Dad has asked if I’d knit him some socks too.  So I’ll probably start those soon.  I just need to make sure they’re big enough as his feet have swollen due to medical treatment he’s having.

Our homemade Christmas

If you’re in the UK you may have seen a mini series called Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas.  For those who don’t know, the presenter, Kirstie Allsop usually presents a property show, where she and her co-presenter help people find their ideal house.  But she also likes crafts and interior design too.  So earlier this year she had a series called Kirstie’s homemade home, in which she was renovating a holiday home in North Devon and she decided to “make” a lot of the little things such as lampshades and fire pokers and a knitted draft excluder. However I’m not entirely convinced how much she actually made herself!  Anyway, last week she had a Christmas mini-series, making Christmas decorations and things for the Christmas table like crackers and embroidered napkins and place settings and candles etc.

Well we’ve been doing our own version of a Homemade Christmas and we think ours in much nicer!

Firstly there’s this Christmas tree ornament – a little padded star.  Just two lots of 6 diamond shaped pieces sewn together with a little bit of wadding in between.  Ideal way to use up those little scraps of material that you might have in your stash.

Christmas tree star

Then there’s the Merry Christmas banner.  It only took 5 fat quarters (you can get about 3 letters out of a quarter) and then strung up with some ribbon.

Merry Christmas

She also made these amazing card hangers.  They have pockets in which you can put the cards.

No snow here :-(

Sadly whilst the east of the UK is covered in snow, we in Devon haven’t any 😦  It really does upset me.  Last time we had a lot of snow in this country, I think the whole country had snow except my town.  It stopped short of us by about 3 miles, skirted around us and continued into Cornwall.  Seriously it did.  I had to get the train to Reading to see a friend and as I looked out of the window over the countryside as we left the station, there was this definite line where the snow had just stopped.  It was as if an invisible shield was put over our town, stopping the snow getting in.

Anyway, instead of real snowflakes, my Mum has been very clever and made large paper ones instead.

Isn’t it impressive? She was helping some other ladies to decorate the church with these and they showed her how to do them.  This article on the Internet also describes how to do them.

Handmade Christmas Cards

I don’t about you, but if I have time, I like to give handmade Christmas cards to my family and special friends.  It is nice to make the extra effort for the people you’re closest to.  So a few of our friends will be getting these cards this year:

Christmas Cards

They were so easy to make.  We used some card blanks bought from a local craft store and a piece of Novelty Labels and Classic labels Christmas fabric. From the fabric, we cut around each square label.  These were mounted onto a small piece of wadding which was slightly smaller than the size of the square.  We fixed the fabric to the wadding, wrapping the edges around the wadding so it was nice and neat.

The red and green card blanks already have square apertures cut into them which were the right size for the squares.  So we were able to fit the now padded squares into them and sealed them up.  The white card is plain, so we just glued it the square to the front of the card.

Easy peasy!

Mum’s been very creative

My Mum is a very clever lady.  She’s been almost glued to her sewing machine these past few weeks, making toys for both display in my shop and for our friends’ children. But she’s also been coming up with lots of nice little things for Christmas.  These placemats are one of her ideas.

Christmas placements

She used the gold stars fabric for the main part and then cut borders from a piece of the Novelty Borders Christmas Fabric.  She sewed them together and used some special heat resistance wadding. She backed them with a piece of the Classic Stripe Christmas Fabric.