Christmas Craft Books

home-made Christmas

I have a couple of craft books that are full of ideas for making Christmas things. The one I’m posting about today is called ‘home-made Christmas’ by Tessa Evelegh. It has some lovely tips on decorating the house and some great things to make. I have followed a couple of the crafts and been inspired by others.

Cranberry heart

One of the crafts that I haven’t yet tried but want to is the cranberry wreath. It looks simple but effective and would fit in perfectly with the red and white theme in the hallway! The only thing is, I’m not sure I can bring myself to use cranberries for anything other than eating! Maybe next year….

Cranberry Heart

Felt Tree Decorations

Felt Tree

Even more tree decorations today! These are ones that I’ve been making myself for a few years now. Felt is a great fabric to work with as it’s so easy to cut and of course doesn’t fray at the edges. The variety of colours you can find are endless! I get my felt from a number of shops: Boyes in Beverley (I think I’ve mentioned them before!), The Range, and Hobbycraft. Boyes even sell it on a roll so you can get it for table-runners or other bigger projects.

Felt Stocking

These decorations came about as I had loads of sequins to use. I cut out the stocking or tree shape (after drawing a simple pattern and tracing around it)- two for each decoration. Then I planned out a pretty design with sequins. I particularly impressed myself with the holly design on one of the stockings! These are sewn on with gold thread and then the whole thing sewn together with an overstitch. Remember to add a loop using ribbon so they can hang from the tree.

Felt Stocking

The stockings can be used to put little gifts in for presents and of course can be scaled up to full-size if you feel so inclined!

 

Making Mincemeat

I know it’s probably too late to be starting mincemeat for this year (although I’m sure it would still taste lovely in a pie) but I wanted to show you the the big jar of mincemeat (one of a few) that I made in October. I’ve made it for a couple of years now and it still impresses me how easy it is and how good it tastes! I’m not actually the biggest fan of shop bought mince pies- I find them very filling and too sweet- but making my own mincemeat and pastry provides a much better taste! I usually give a jar to my mum and may get in return a jar of her cranberry sauce.

Mincemeat

The recipe I use is from Nigella Lawson’s Domestic Goddess cookbook. It appealed to me as it uses Bramley apples and not suet. I’m not a vegetarian but the funny bits of white suet never look that nice! I also like the big chunks of almonds that give a bite to the mincemeat. The recipe is found on page 264 of the softbound addition of the book and is very simple. Just peel and chop loads of apples, some glace cherries and almonds. Dissolve sugar and cider in a saucepan and add the apples, cherries, almonds, dried fruit, spices and lemon juice. Everything simmers away until the apples have gone mushy- I love squashing the bits of apples with a wooden spoon! Then stir in a bit of rum. While still hot the mincemeat is spooned into jars. I’m a bit lazy and don’t label mine but I wouldn’t advise this. It looks very similar to the chutney I sometimes make and also don’t label: for some reason chutney pies don’t seem to appeal as much!

Mince Pies and Mulled Wine

Also in the pictures are some mini stollen and one of four different mulled wine mugs we have. This one is from when we went to Berlin during December a few years ago. Nothing better than mulled wine to warm the hands!

NOEL Canvas Decoration

NOEL canvas decoration

I saw this idea on the Hobby Craft website (really useful for craft projects), and thought it would look great sitting on a shelf or windowsill, or even displayed on the wall.

I bought three quite deep box canvases (6 inch square) from The Range- whatever size canvases you want but probably square are best. The font was one I picked from all those available on Word, I went for a simple but bold font and then added the stars using the available shapes in Word. Print the letters out to the right size, then you can stick this onto some thin card and cut out the letters to make a stencil. Paint the letters onto each canvas, I’ve used this bright red but of course use whichever colour you fancy. Maybe try using different words- JOY or PEACE perhaps for the Christmas season.

Postage stamp art

Postage Stamps Art

On one of my visits home I picked up the stamp collection book that I did when young. It seemed a shame that all the colourful stamps would just stay in the book never to be looked at so I decided to make a picture out of some of them. I took out all the stamps of a similar size and sorted them into colour groups. Then I arranged them on some plain cream card as a rainbow starting from the top left corner going down to the bottom right corner. The stamps are stuck to the card using those little foam pads you can buy for card craft. I made sure the pads were measured precisely so that the stamps wouldn’t look wonky!

The frame was a cheap one from The Range and I cut the mount to size around the stamps.

Very pleased with the end result- at the moment it is propped on the picture ledge in the spare bedroom.

I am hoping to do some more stamp art with the bigger stamps from the collection- work in progress so far!

Smarten up a Boring Noticeboard

Want a new way of displaying all those cards and postcards that are too pretty to throw away? Need to smarten up your noticeboard so all the bills or reminders for appointments don’t look so depressing? This post will show you how with a bit of paper, some ribbon and pins.

Noticeboard Materials

What you will need: Cork noticeboard (I got this one from a supermarket for £2.75), wrapping paper or wallpaper, ribbon or string (I used elastic ribbon), drawing pins, double sided tape, scissors.

Measuring Noticeboard Paper

I started off by trimming the wrapping paper to the size of the outside edge of the noticeboard (i.e. cork board + outer wooden frame). This meant I had enough paper to fold under to get a sharp edge, and perfect fit. Step two is to fold under the edges of the paper so it is the exact size of the cork board. If you have stiffer paper than I did, just trim to the size of the cork board. Place double sided tape in each corner of the paper and position the paper (the right way up) on the cork board and press the corners down to secure in place.

Noticeboard Ribbon

Now comes the slightly tricky bit – pinning the ribbon. Place a loop in the end of the ribbon to put the pin through. Start off by pinning the ribbon from corner to corner. I pinned one end of the ribbon before pulling it across the board and trimming it to the correct length, ensuring that the ribbon could be pulled tight once pinned down.

Noticeboard Ribbon Final Layout

Next do the other diagonal exactly the same as before to make a cross on the board. Now add more diagonals to make a criss-cross pattern. It’s easiest to mark off pinning points a third of the way along each side of the board. These pinning points will have two pieces of ribbon originating from them, so remember to pin both of these at the same time. As before, make loops in the ribbon and pin one end down, then stretch the ribbon across to the other side of the board.

Finished Noticeboard

Wherever the ribbon crosses itself place a pin. This creates more tension in the ribbons to secure whatever you decide to place on the board. The noticeboard is now finished and ready to fill with pretty postcards or mundane bills!

Making things with tea towels (Part 3 of a 3 part series!)

Knitting needle case

Knitting Case

This make is the simplest one of the lot! Although as I don’t actually knit possibly a bit pointless……. luckily I know people who do so this will be given with love to someone else!

All you need are the tea towel, thread, scissors, sewing machine (could always hand-stitch) and some ribbon.

Firstly decide on the dimensions: I folded the top of the tea towel over by about 10cm and the bottom up (so there was an overlap) by about 20-25cm. Make sure the bottom edge is overlapping the top so that the needles can go in the pockets!

Sew down the two outside edges all the way along. Then, at regular intervals sew between the join and the bottom edge to create the pockets. You can measure them out to be precise or just wing it (which is obviously what I did….)

Oh, forgot to mention about putting the ribbon in when sewing the edges. Cut enough so that it will easily tie around the rolled up tea towel and knitting needles, fold in half and place the fold within one of the edges (about halfway along). Make sure it gets sewn in!

Perfect!

Making things with tea towels (Part 2 of a 3 part series!)

Tea Towel Tablecloth

Tablecloth

Here’s a simple idea to make a quick, inexpensive and completely washable tablecloth. All I used was a pack of tea towels from the supermarket, an old table runner (obviously this isn’t needed I just didn’t buy enough tea towels!), pins, needle and thread (I did some of the sewing on a machine but it’s not essential) and a bit of time.

First of all I stitched together the tea towels along the shortest edge- don’t worry about things not being completely neat this just adds to the charm! Then I used the sewing machine to stitch the red runner along the middle of the tea towels.

Simple! This is ideal for covering a picnic table- just remember to weigh it down with something heavy if it’s a bit breezy.

Making things with tea towels (Part 1 of a 3 part series!)

Tea towels are marvellous things that don’t have to be used for the dull job of drying dishes. Spurred on by an article in Ideal Home magazine, when I saw some brightly coloured tea towels in Wilko’s I had to try my hand at making some of the ideas.

Tea Cosy

Make your own tea cosy

This lovely apple patterned tea cosy was the first project I had a go at. We only use a teapot occasionally but when we do the second cuppa is never quite hot enough for my liking, so I thought I’d give making a tea cosy a go.

What you will need:

Fabric (two types- one for the outside and one for the inside), thin wadding, paper for the pattern, scissors, thread, pins, sewing machine.

  • First off draw your pattern. I measured up against the teapot, added extra then extra again for the seam! I drew the pattern freehand but I suppose a compass or dinner plate would come in handy to get a smart curve.
  • Cut out two pieces from the fabric for inside the cosy (I used an old sheet) and then two pieces from the tea towel. Remember that you want any pattern the right way up on both sides of the tea cosy….. I didn’t and have upside down apples on one side!
  • Sew together the straight edges of the outside and inside fabric (right sides in).
  • At this point I turned the fabric right way round and then placed the wadding sandwiched between and cut it to fit.
  • All you have to do now (again right side in) is sew through all the layers along the curved side. The layers should be in the following order: inside fabric, wadding, tea towel, tea towel, wadding, inside fabric.

Turn your tea cosy right side out and pop it on your teapot! Marvel at how the tea stays that extra bit warmer!

Heart Decorations for the Home

Heart decoration

I’ve been making a few of these recently using fabric I had left over from Christmas and some cheap tea towels. You can hang them from doors, lamps, or just pile them up on a mantel piece or table.

What you will need:

Fabric, paper to draw the heart pattern, pins, scissors, thread, sewing machine (not essential, can be hand sewn), needle, stuffing.

Check out craft stores such as Hobycraft, The Range etc. or many online shops, including eBay for materials.

Decide on the fabric you want to use, depending on the size of the hearts a smaller pattern or plain stripes or spots is probably best.

  • Draw a heart pattern on some paper, you can decide on the exact size you want. If you would like a perfectly symmetrical heart you can use a compass or something circular to draw round (e.g. a cup or glass). The example at the top of this post was just drawn freehand, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Now you have a template that you can use to make as many hearts as you like. Take your fabric and fold it in half, with the reverse side facing upwards. Trace the heart design onto the reverse side of the material. Pin the fabric to hold it in position.
  • Sew around the heart shape- this can be done on a sewing machine or by hand. Do not sew up the design completely, you need to leave a small gap (approximately 2 or 3cm) along one of the straight edges. This is so you can turn the design the right way around and put in the stuffing.
  • After you have sewn the heart (leaving the small gap) cut out the heart shape, but not exactly to the drawn line, leave a seam of material about half a centimetre wide.
  • Turn the heart the right way out. You may need to use something like a knitting needle or chopstick. When the right way around you can iron out any creases.
  • Stuff the heart until firm. You can buy stuffing from craft shops, but I’m currently using stuffing from an old cushion!
  • Sew up the gap and then sew a small metal hoop onto the heart, as shown above. Thread some ribbon through the hoop so the heart can be tied easily.

Hang the hearts from doorknobs, cupboards, coat hooks, chair backs- wherever takes your fancy!

Heart decoration in home

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