A close-to-the-wire Christmas stocking for Emily

Just about managed to get this stocking made in time for Christmas for my friend’s little daughter:

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See that pink fabric there? My friend was eyeing up a couple of my charm packs, so we decided to do a fabric swap . I couldn’t believe she so happily and readily was prepared to let this go, I just LOVE it. I am looking to make myself a new “carry-all” bag, although in truth, I am managing fine these days now Kiddo is school age – I’ll definitely need one before the summer though. Anyway I had thought I’d love to make a bag from it… now I wonder if it’s too girly, so it might not happen – doesn’t stop me being utterly in love with it though! It’s from the “love and Joy” collection by Dena Designs. Alison doesn’t really notice who made or what are the fabrics unless she looks for them specifically online –  but tons of her stash fabrics are Dena Designs; she must instinctively really love her style. And no wonder.

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And no wonder it looks great on this Christmas stocking – it is apparently a festive collection! It’s lined with the same. I batted it for structure and strength with W+N cotton batting. Wanna see some close-ups?

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This is the little penguin close up. I first made him when I was making our antenatal class children their first Christmas presents, and he looks mostly the same now, although my stockings have become more refined (you can see them on my Flickr stream if you like in the “fabric goodness for children” album). In fact this little girl is one of the younger, newer siblings from that same antenatal group! These guys get more attention; I have more time now that Kiddo isn’t a baby anymore!

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I just freehand cut felt and sew the shapes on where I want in matching thread. I usually choose nice simple shapes for felt applique and let the bright colours do the talking!

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Once you see that it’s all simple shapes, it doesn’t look that difficult does it?  It’s not. It takes time, but I love sewing in front of the TV, so this suits me down to the ground. In fact next year I’m going to do more handsewing if I can.

My favourite bit is embellishing with perle 8 cottons. Once I realised how simple it is to do some running stitches and backstitches in perle 8s to embellish my applique and give it some depth and texture, I have really looked forward to this step! I used a bit of perle cuteness on whatever I could this time.image

The letters have Steam-a-seam 2 fusible web underneath unlike the rest – I figure they would be the most difficult to repair if they came off. And of course you can draw the letters on in reverse, you can’t really freehand cut letters unless you want that look (I did on the original stockings I made). This is the strongest web I have found – but even so I stitched round the letters. Despite the difficulty in getting the needle through the glue – you do get a bit of needle gumminess. But it would be awful for the name to be dropping off on a stocking. Like a run-down shop.

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Finally a cute little hanging ribbon. This bit of ribbon tied up a fabric bundle I once got – it’s sweet but there’s not much of it. I’m glad it’s gone to good use!

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There it is, ready for a sweet little girl. If you flick back through my previous posts you’ll see she’s already got a quilt from me when she was born, and an applique cushion – she is going to grow up surrounded by things I’ve made her – that’s a nice feeling 🙂

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If you want to see my previous, similar-but-not-the-same stockings, see these posts here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/67891349675/its-sew-christmas

and here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/69915376369/christmas-stockings-and-christmas-cheer

Meanwhile – Happy Christmas to you all! Wishing us all a peaceful and cosy family one; and a happy healthy 2015.

Till the next time, Poppy xx

See you after Christmas – and possibly even into 2015 – where is time going??

Christmas Stockings and Christmas cheer

Eeeeek! It’s nearly Christmas! So excited about this Christmas  – we are not hosting it this year, so will be able to hang out with our family without organising the food or preparations, and play with my brother’s new puppy, yay! Anyway, given that a sewing blog should have more sewing and less puppy in it, I’ll move on  –  to Christmas stockings! Hurrah for Christmas stockings! Apparently in Germany, they used to leave out shoes and Santa would put sweets in them. I might have nicked my dad’s shoes when I was little…

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You might have seen the one I made for a wee baby boy called Matthew a couple of posts ago. Well, this one is for his mum. They are commissioned by a neighbour of mine, and I think she liked the idea of one which matched Matthew’s, even though I offered her the choice of some more grown up ones. Obviously you know your own family, so she felt Chloe would like this, although at the time it was only part-finished (and nameless!). It was nice to finish it, as I think it did end up quite nice, and looks like a pair with her son’s.

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I made Chloe’s stocking with a white cotton exterior, a red cotton lining and the cuff and heel with a flannel christmas tree fabric from … I can’t remember! I’ll have a think an insert here, but it could be by My Mind’s Eye for Riley Blake.

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I rather liked this little penguin on Matthew’s stocking (I designed him 3 years ago for my son’s little friends’ stockings – on my flickr stream if you are particularly interested, although I think I’ve got more polished over the last years), so decided to give him a wee friend:

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Again, I had fun just freehand cutting felt, keeping the shapes simple is the key to this! And particularly enjoyed the hand stitching. I used no. 8 perle cottons again, and the are lovely to work with, and add texture and a shimmer, which I don’t remember getting with the little embroidery I have done in the past using embroidery floss. Running stitches and backstitches – not difficult! But I think they look nice anyway.

And finally Chloe’s name in pink:

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And then the other daughter in law! My neighbour got 2 daughters in law and a baby grandson in the space of a year – lucky lady! And such a lovely family. The brief for Carolyn was “pastel”. I read “more grown up”. Unfortunately I can’t get good pictures of this, so you’ll have to trust me when I say it looks better in the reality (again!)… That’s one thing about Christmas crafting in Scotland – difficult to get any light to photograph in!

Well I most definitely did not freehand cut the felt for the stag! I found a nice silhouette of a deer on the internet, sized it up, printed it out, traced it onto freezer paper, ironed it onto the felt and cut round it. Once I sewed it onto the stocking I could then “draw” with my needle and perle cotton thread and a running stitch. It was very therapeutic.

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The little pink hearts were sweet and fun to add a little touch of colour. The whole thing was lovely to make – I think the white makes it feel wintry and snowy, not to mention Scottish, without being too “in your face” Christmas holly and all. After all it is a christmas stocking, you could applique a beach and it would look Christmassy. Well in Australia anyway.

I’ve only swithered about whether I should have done the lettering in pink felt – part of me is still unsure, although I like it better in my hands than on pictures. I think pink might have messed with the magic of the pink hearts on a frosty day, and the white gives the impression of having been made of snow. I’m saying that, but in reality whatever my subconcsious feels is being firmly slapped down by my conscious which says I don’t want to unpick and re-do it!

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well that’s a lot of words about stockings (and as ever pictures!), so I’ll take my leave of you and maybe even get in an episode of “Firefly” which we got on boxset last Christmas and are only just getting round to watching now! It’s those cold winter nights, make us couch potatoes 😉

Poppy

xx

Elephants, peacocks and splashes of colour

A while ago I made a baby quilt which a neighbour of mine snapped up for her little baby grandson; on the back is the most glorious print from a designer called Violet Craft, who designs for MIchael Miller fabrics. My neighbour has a daughter in her twenties, and was smitten by the print from the moment she saw it, and asked if I would make a wholecloth quilt from it for her daughter. Her daughter seemingly just adores elephants and my neighbour is convinced she is going to be absolutely thrilled with this print.

And here it is:

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Isn’t it the most beautiful fabric? It’s called Parade Day in Grey from the collection “peacock Lane” by Violet Craft for Michael Miller fabrics.  It reminds me of celebrations, of fireworks. Of hot, dark nights in far-off lands. Of adventure, of the world being a wondrous place full of mysteries and laughter. My only regret is that I didn’t notice this collection until it was almost out of print, and this is the only fabric I got. I love the collection as a whole and its bright sorbet colours remind me of the summer days we rarely get in scotland!

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So I wasn’t sure about this brief; firstly a wholecloth quilt the top made from one piece of fabric) seems… well, cheating, doesn’t it? Although you can’t slice into this incredible scene either, so it’s not like I had any other solutions! Secondly, Catriona is in her 20s, and I was worried it would be too childish for her. Apparently she has a charcoal grey sofa and this will go well whilst providing the colour the room might need, so my neighbour was unconcerned, but I wasn’t. Still I made it, and you know what? I love it. I really do.

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It’s about 55” x 55”. In order to make it wide enough, I used 5.5” sashing of Kona charcoal, with a 3 inch border along the top. The charcoal was a good match to the background dark grey, which although nearly black it has little white lines on it, which adds a kind of “drawing” feel to it, and gives the print texture and movement, so dark grey was perfect.

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In order to reconcile myself with giving this to a grown woman, I decided on a more grown up but still fun backing. I love this numbers in words 100% cotton print from IKEA. The words are in deep grey, which is perfect, and it works reallly well with the front. It’s a grey day in Scotland today with no bright red elephants and trees bursting with colour to cheer it up here, so apologies for the dark pictures!

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Catriona lives in norway, so I wanted to make this as warm as possible. I almost went with wool batting, but the potential difficulty in washing it put me off. Cotton is the coolest, and I try not to quilt in polyester in case it might end up over a sleeping child. I tried for the first time Quilter’s Dream Orient – a blend of silk, tencel (eucalyptus!) bamboo and cotton, which supposedly combines the best of these natural fibres and although not as warm as wool, it supposedly isn’t far off. I really liked it, easy to quilt, no issues, nice drape and softness afterwards, machine washable. Apparently it won’t shrink, so maybe go with cotton if you want the antique crinkly effect after washing.

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The biggest issue I had and I’ve still not resolved in my mind is the quilting thread. I went with white as you can see, and it’s not too dense a stipple (although I seem to be out of practice!) to avoid breaking up the design too much. White works for the fabric itself which does have those little white lines on it anyway, but of course it doesn’t really work for the solid grey borders, where it all shows up, quilting mistakes and all. I didn’t really want to muddy the bright colours of the print by using grey thread, which would also have changed the back. The only thing I could have done was use a variegated coloured thread, although I was worried about making a mess of stringy colour all over the front. So in the end, white it is. Now the quilt is finished, I think it looks good as a whole, but I’m still trying to work out if I should have quilted it differently!

I am very happy with the binding though – this is a stripe I got from my local fabric shop, “Fabrication” in Haddington. I am pretty sure it’s from the Makower company from a collection called “space” – rockets and aliens for little boys. Laura, the lovely owner, had this on end-of-bolt offer, and I took all she had – it’s such a versatile print – stripe, boyish enough for boys, multicoloured enough to match most projects and despite that, not too “primary colour” to be used for adult projects. Perfect. And stripy bindings – well. Yummy. Calorie-free yummy.

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Finally, a label with mum + dad’s choice of message, and it’s off to its new owner for Christmas! 

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Hurrah. I hope she likes it. And hope your Christmas shopping, baking, sewing, crafting, playing or denial is all going swimmingly!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

It’s Sew Christmas!

I can never decide if being too busy sewing to blog is a good or bad thing. I’ve most certainly been too busy sewing to Flickr. Sewing… Ok, and holidays in Mallorca (wonderful), Shingles (not wonderful), only son turning 4 (pretty darn cool) and a piratey 4th Birthday party (too wonderful and joyous for words). And sewing and sewing and sewing…

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This is a first Christmas stocking for a sweet little baby boy called Matthew, who is the grandchild of a lovely neighbour of mine. It’s her first grandchild and she’s quite rightly smitten; and asked for a Christmas stocking after seeing my flickr stream. I really enjoy the embellishing of a Christmas stocking, once I get over the hump of “it’ll take ages” – and it never does take as long as you’d think! Mostly because it’s mainly handsewing, which is a lovely relaxing thing to do, and I do it in front of the TV or whilst listening to an audiobook (I’ve discovered the joys of Audible!)

The exterior and lining fabrics are 100% cotton, and it’s interlined with “Warm & Natural” cotton batting, which gives it some nice structure without being stiff. I drafted my own template mainly because I like quite a big stocking – nothing worse than those skinny little things. Actually, his parents might not thank me for that; there is equally nothing worse than a half-filled stocking 😉

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I freehand cut felt into shapes after a quick back-of-an-envelope sketch of a design on paper first. I would find these things much harder to do if I had to use a lot of templates and be too fussy about it all. I’m much more of a go with the flow kind of girl. Keeping shapes simple is the key for me! And felt is very forgiving. I have done a stocking using a picture from Tilda’s “Crafting Christmas Gifts” and fabric – using wonderunder and then handsewing all the layers down. To be honest although I loved the results, I didn’t really enjoy the process – too restrained – using someone else’s ideas, and too much faffing around with an iron. It is lovely though!

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Anyway, stocking sewn, felt cut, I settled down in front of cosy crime on the iplayer and sewed them on with a whipstitch. I should probably use blanket stitch for stength, but a whipstitch seems to do the job from past projects and is quicker and more fun for me. I did blanket stitch the lettering, as that would be harder to repair in the future if needed.

My absolutely favourite bit was getting out the perle 8 cotton and doing some simple running stitch embroidery. I was deeply inspired by an amazingly creative and lovely girl I met who runs “Avery Homestore” in Edinburgh, and has the most inspiring blog (http://www.mybearpaw.com) who likes to hand quilt with perle 8s, and inspired me to buy some, a long time ago – finally I decided to give them a go, and I’m glad I did! I loved working with them – they give texture and an almost shimmery look to the stocking, which I hadn’t expected, and were surprisingly easy to work with.

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So there you have it, one Christmas stocking for Matthew. I really love it and one day will work out how to make photos look as nice as the real thing – the only thing I don’t like about it is that the name “Matthew” is firmly stitched on there and not the name of my own boy. I think he might notice if I suddenly called him something else too 😉

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Well, more sewing to be done, including more Christmas stockings – expect many more blog posts in the future!

Hope you are all enjoying a lovely bright Autumn, and getting excited about Christmas too! I dread the end of summer every year, and yet the colours of Autumn and magic of Christmas is always so inspiring and exciting every year. Now January may see me turning to drink…!

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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