Tuesday, 4 December 2018

It's coming ...

I know! I know! Shoot me now for mentioning it, but we're getting rather too close for comfort given how little Christmas shopping I've done. Eeeek! Every year I swear it'll be different next year. Next year will be the year when I finally get my act together and don't end up doing my usual demented dash for the festive finish-line.

I find it hard to get geared up for Christmas until it's officially December. It's a state of mind. I remind myself of my mum who has this tendency to not really feel like she needs to leave the house until just about the time she's supposed to arrive at wherever it is she's going to.  It is a tendency of hers that used to leave me hanging around a lot after Brownies.

Anyway I'm in my customary seasonal denial, frittering away the time with my needle. And this is what I've got to show for my head-buried-in-the-sand approach to the coming festivities:

I made four basic shapes: a star - cut out from a cookie cutter, a gingerbread man - also cut out from a cookie cutter, a Christmas bauble shape - cut out from a Pinterest template and a heart - also cut out from a Pinterest template. I copied the Pinterest templates onto the felt using dressmaker's carbon paper and a tracing wheel. The cookie cutters were easier: I just drew around them using dressmaker's chalk. I've got some chalks - in blue, white and pink - that come in pencil form, which are just perfect for jobs like this. You could also use one of those erasable pens that you can find in the haberdashery departments.

I embroidered on just one side using Anchor Stranded Cotton - taking 2 strands to make small stitches, and 4 ply Anchor tapestry wool - again choosing 2 strands to give a 2 ply thickness.

For this star with the embroidered abstract star I worked the centre of the abstract star in full thickness stranded cotton chain stitches sewn free-hand in a circle. I think it would have worked better (looked neater) if I'd used only 2 strands and sewn more stitches. Then I used the tapestry wool to sew some French knots where I wanted each limb to end. Using 2 stranded cotton I chain stitched a connection from the centre to the ends of the limbs.  The 2 sides of the felt star were then stitched together using red 2 ply tapestry wool and blanket stitch. I very lightly stuffed the star to give it 3 dimensions, and sewed in a length of hanging ribbon before sealing it with a small stay stitch over-sewn with blanket stitch.

The ribbon, which worked really well, was one of last year's purchases from the Flying Tiger shop in Ealing Broadway.  It cost very little, came on a spool with four or five contrasting designs and was (I thought) really good value for money. They've got some similar ones in stock this year.

I made the heart in a similar way, sewing on the smaller heart with small running stitches and finishing it off with a very small button that came from Hobbycraft in Greenford for my Costa Brava Rag Dolls a few years' ago. In the end I made their outfits without any buttons, but I'd bought a selection for one of my knitting holiday groups to use. I'd bought the felt over the internet and, as a result, the colour of the cream felt was rather creamier than the ribbon that I'd used on the star.  I cunningly avoided a clash of cream and creamier cream by using a hemp twine to hang this one. It had been twined on a spool and came off very curly, so had to be relaxed with a steam iron before being sewn in place.

My next star had a central star sewn in split stitch using 2 ply tapestry wool with some fixed chain stitch flowers sewn in the centre for contrast.

My gingerbread man was worked in brown felt with a nice festive jacket sewn in place with small blanket stitches. He was then sewn together with blanket stitch and very gently stuffed for volume. His features were worked in stem stitch using 2 stranded cotton, with satin stitch worked in stranded cotton for his eyes.

I made some festive Christmas baubles using a Pinterest template. The first I embroidered with an exploding star rather like some of this Agapanthus heads that people love to embroider with French knots. The second involved a Christmas tree, which I'm not quite so enthusiastic about. From a distance it looks like a deviant fungus rather than a fir tree.

I had another go, making another tier of foliage to balance out my tree, which worked ... better, but still wasn't quite what I was after. 

And then I made another ginger bread man in case the first little guy got lonely.

Working with felt, which doesn't unravel and is very forgiving, is a lovely way to practise embroidery stitches. And let's face it: we can all do with a little play-time right around now.

All the best,

Bonny x

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