Saturday, 24 December 2011

Wreaths, wreaths, wreaths.

Took me a while to finish this other wreath project; a Christmas card peg wreath. I had seen it on Pinterest and it looked fairly straight forward. You just need wooden clothes pegs, a wire hanger, pony beads, green paint and ribbon. I went and bought a pack of clothes pegs for next to nothing, had some green acrylic paint which I thought I'd use instead of shelling out for spray paint. Also I only had enough white pony beads to do it, so I was going for more 'mistletoe berries' than 'holly berries'
You can follow the tutorial I used here. I got my wonderful husband to help me paint the pegs one evening, like I said, we used paintbrushes and acrylic paint instead of spraying them so it did take longer. When the pegs were dry I clipped the pegs on the hanger alternating with the beads. The hard part was trying to get the wire into a circle and getting the pegs to all lie flat and the right way round so I could tell if they were evenly spaced. I used tape to stick the wire ends together and then discovered I didn't have a decent piece of red ribbon ( I didn't want to use the gingham again), so I whipped up a little padded bow with left over fabric from the Christmas bunting. As you can see, my circle is a bit wonky, but it does the job... 
As long as we don't get too many cards!

Wreath Number 3
I had to give it a go! Having made my wooly wreath for the front door, I still wanted to have a go at a pillow wreath. I'd never seen one before, but earlier this year I saw one at the Roding Valley Quilters exhibition in Chigwell. It looked simple enough but really impressive. I had some Christmas fabrics left over from the bunting and a few more bits of greens and tartans. 

I didn't have time to get a polystyrene florist ring so I made one out of scrunched up newspaper and tape and then covered it in green. My ring turned out about 7 inches in diameter, quite small as I want to put a pillar candle in the middle as a centre piece for the Christmas table.

  •  I cut out a load of 5 inch squares of fabric, I had no idea how many I'd need so I cut 30, this turned out to be just right. 
  • I folded and pressed a seam allowance of about 6mm on one side, this saved me loads of fiddling when I'd come to hand stitch the ends. 
  • Then I sewed up the two other sides and turned them all the right way round. 
  • Next I stuffed them with toy filling and sewed the pressed under edges together by hand. When I had a pile of 30 little pillows it really looked like I had way too many for my little paper ring. 
  • Using green yarn I tied the pillows in the centre and then tied them to the wreath. Each time I attached another, I just positioned it so that it covered more of the green paper and looked like they were all going in different directions.  I didn't cover the back because it will be place on a table.
  • I trimmed all the loose yarn and placed a pillar candle in the centre and ta-da!
I would much rather make another one of these than the peg wreath. I found it quicker and easier, but maybe that's just because I love sewing.

If you are going to make one, I should say that it probably isn't a good idea to light the candle in the middle as the filling in the pillows is probably highly flammable. I shan't be leaving it unattended if it does get lit this festive season.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Woolly Christmas

It feels like this Christmas I have gone pom pom crazy. But they are so versatile and great fun to make. I wanted to make a wreath for our front door and couldn't decide whether to make a rag wreath, pom pom wreath or pillow wreath. At the quilting shop round the corner they have loads of rag wreaths in the window. They look fantastic which made me think I might be disappointed if mine didn't turn out so good. When we got our Christmas decorations out of the cupboard there was a small bag of pom poms I had made a couple of years ago when we didn't have any decorations, they were quite cute. This made me decide to make a pom pom wreath.
I used four shades of green yarn, mainly double knit acrylic. Bottle green, khaki green, bright green and mint green. Using multiple strands at the same time makes making the pom poms loads quicker. I made 14 pom poms using the large pom pom maker in my Japanese set. Then I ran out of one of the greens so this determined the size of my wreath. I got some thickish wire and threaded it through the pom poms as if they were beads. As I did so I pushed them together quite close so that you could no longer really see the ball shapes of the individual pom poms. This made a really nice dense effect that I had not been expecting. I decided to keep them tight together which meant my wreath was to end up quite small. I twisted the ends of the wire together and covered it with a pretty gingham ribbon loop and bow. Then I trimmed all the stray bits of wool, it was a bit like wooly topiary with green fluff everywhere. I hung it on our front door where as you can see compared to our door knocker, it is quite small - but I think it's cute.

Here's some more pom pom Christmas joy. I saw these on a blog and couldn't resist having a go myself as I have some dolly pegs in my craft stash. 

First I painted the hair and face, clothes and shoes on the peg with acrylic paint. I used a really fine brush to do the face and jewellery details. For the skirt I decided to use a mixture of textures. I used a couple of different thicknesses of white yarn and cut long lengths from each ball so that I could wrap four strands instead of just two at the same time. I used red lurex glittery yarn as well to dot the 'skirt' with red to match the jewellery I had given my peg. Lying on my craft room floor was also some scraps of white tulle so I cut that into long strips and wrapped them round at the same time as the yarn. I had to be careful not to overfill the pom pom maker so that I could still get the peg through the middle. Then you just trim and tie off the pom pom as normal and it is nicely tied to the peg. I didn't give her wings as she isn't really a fairy. I have posted her to my friend Holly instead of a Christmas card. I hope she doesn't get attacked by Arnold, Holly's cat.

Decoupage Round Box

I am such a hoarder I can never throw anything away. I keep all sorts of things thinking that one day I might do something with them. Nice boxes are far too useful to throw away and I've been meaning to have a go at covering this round one that I got some hair products in last Christmas. 
I forgot to take a before photo, but it was gold with branding on the lid and the contents etc on the base. Choosing the paper was the hardest part, probably why it takes me so long to get round to things. I had bought a pack of vintage Christmas wrapping papers from a local charity shop back in the summer and only recently opened the pack to have a look. I really love this one which reminds me of Scandinavian knitwear.

First I painted it white all over the outside. I cut some of the wrapping paper to size and then when it was dry, painted the box with slightly watered down PVA glue. I carefully wrapped the paper round the box and then smoothed it down as best I could with the paintbrush which had a little of the glue on. When it was dry I carefully cut around the eyelets in the side with a scalpel and threaded the braid handle back through.
I will definitely be doing more of this in the not too distant future... as long as I can make a decision of what to cover and what paper to use.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Bunting Galore

Before I made the pom pom curtain, I made some lovely Christmas bunting. I had bought lots of different Christmas fabrics in mostly reds and greens. I love making bunting and have made quite a lot lately.

I made a length of about 12' to hang in our living room, it looks lovely and I can use it every year, unlike the pom poms which somehow I don't think will be able to remain untangled once they come down.
Here is some more bunting I have made recently, both for newborn baby girls born in November. First is for baby Penelope or "Nel". I used lovely patchwork print fabric in blue, pink and brown and machine appliqued the lettering on in blue, pink and brown fabrics.

And some more for my cousin's daughter Nancy Jean. I immediately thought to do the lettering in a soft denim for "Jean" and think it looks good against the red and white spotty fabric of the flags. I chose red because Nancy in 'Oliver' always wears a red dress.

And some more for my cousin's daughter Nancy Jean. I immediately thought to do the lettering in a soft denim for "Jean" and think it looks good against the red and white spotty fabric of the flags. I chose red because Nancy in 'Oliver' always wears a red dress.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Snowing Pom Poms

As usual I am in denial about how quickly Christmas comes and leave it too late to make all the lovely handmade Christmas decorations and things that I think about all year. Once again, I thought about starting to make an advent calendar on 29th November. Definitely not enough time to do it nicely so another year goes by with no daily December treats. I have been doing a few bits though.

When I thought about making this curtain of pom pom snow balls, I looked at my wool stash and decided that what would be really nice was a really fluffy white mohair type yarn. But I didn't have any. The next day I was in my local charity shop and there by the counter was a basket of wool with several balls of fluffy white yarn. I LOVE IT when that happens. So I bought one and got started.
I have a really cool little pom pom maker that my friend Annie got me from Japan, it makes it so much easier. The pom poms are about 4-5cm diameter, so quite small. I got through the one ball of yarn pretty quickly and it only made about 40 pom poms so I headed back to the charity shop and bought another ball. This time I mixed it with some yarn from my stash. This made making the pom poms take half the time and you get twice as many. In the end I made over 100.
Once I had used all the yarn and had a basket full, I put the project on hold for a few days. Threading the pom poms onto monofilament when there's a 10 month old on the loose is a nightmare. It just gets tangled up and is impossible to undo.

In the meantime I took some of the pom poms and glued them on to some nice long skinny twigs that I had picked up in the forest a while ago for making pom pom flowers that I had seen on Pinterest.

Then my husband picked up some holly branches to add to the display and I think it was just what it needed.
Once we put our tree up, I thought I better actually get on with stringing up the rest of the pom poms. I used invisible thread which is so fine it's like using hair. I tied pom poms at 15-25cm intervals on long lengths of thread, laying them out in a line so not to get them too tangled up. Then tied them to the curtain rail and secure with masking tape. They hang about 150cm long, just out of toddler reach.

I am really pleased with them. We have a bay window so the pom poms hang a distance from the window, creating a lovely curtain of snow across the room.