A last-minute Christmas craft project

Yesterday – my last day off before Christmas – I had fully intended to get into the festive spirit by (finally) putting up our tree, and wrapping presents.  I failed.  Why did I fail?  Because instead I was inspired by a project I saw recently by friend & blanket stitcher extraordinaire, Britta Jarvis: mini stockings (shown right).  Suddenly I decided that that was what I really needed to do, in order to start feeling Christmassy.  (I think it was the thought of the stocking fillers I have for my parents & sister, combined with the realisation that stocking fillers without a stocking aren’t even really fillers…!)

Britta’s stockings were made of felt & – as implied earlier – beautifully blanket stitched around the edges.  But as this was a completely off-the-cuff decision on my part (definitely no time for shopping!), of necessity my stockings were made from whatever materials I already had to hand.  Luckily, although under normal circumstances I will tell anyone who will listen that I cannot sew & have a hate-hate relationship with my sewing machine, I am powerless to resist pretty fabrics & hoard them, anyway..  Thus, no festive colours whatsoever, but I think I like them all the more for that!  And although I did begin by attempting a blanket stitch edging on Stocking #1, I very quickly unpicked after realising my non-proficiency in terms of seamstressing meant that I would do far better to work concealed seams, instead…

Stocking #1 has both sides cut from a tea towel, with no attempt made on my part to align the pattern in any way – as clearly seen!  I drew a rough stocking shape freehand onto the reverse of the fabric, then flipped it over & drew around it for a matching reverse side.  I might have done better to do a quick google search for a stocking pattern to trace (the ‘neck’ of this first one came out a little narrow), but I just wanted to get on with the project, so I decided not to worry about it.  The open end of the stocking, I hemmed the edges using a very primitive running stitch – yes, it could have been neater, but it was good enough for me. 😉

Stocking #2 is made from a thinner fabric, so to avoid flimsiness, I opted for a sturdy craft felt for the reverse side.  Brown would probably have been better, but orange was the best match available from my stash.  I tried to make the neck slightly wider this time, and the body slightly fuller (must remember actual gifts need to fit inside!) .

I think Stocking #3 shows positive results from my little learning curve, with proportions far more convincingly stocking-y.  The body is less rounded, yet has far smoother curves at toe and heel – guess that’s what happens with practise! 😉 Each of the stockings is approx. 7″ tall, but the widest point of Stocking #1 is 5″ across, compared with 6″ across Stocking #3 – it’s amazing how much difference such a small measurement can make to the overall look.  I must confess, I’m kind of in love with Stocking #3, which is why I was motivated to actually take pictures before we parted company…

As a finishing touch, I used an off-cut from each piece of fabric used  to make a matching badge, which I then pinned to the heel of Stockings #2 & #3 (& the toe of Stocking #1) to brighten up the plain reverse side.  The badges are removable, but I think they look kinda cool. 🙂

 

Given that every year I fully intend to make my own Christmas cards but never actually manage it, I’m very proud of myself for actually managing to do something handmade this year!  It only took a couple of hours to complete all 3 stockings, and that was including any minor mishaps needing to be recovered along the way.  I’m sure anyone more proficient with a needle (or sewing machine) could whip these up far more quickly than I, but the experience has nonetheless left me feeling quite positive (& indeed slightly inspired) about future handmade projects.  Felt plus fabric is definitely a successful combination.

Hmm, suddenly I am feeling the need to collect felt in a wide array of colours…
No hang on, I do still need to put up that tree & wrap presents…!

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Something different

It’s a long time since I’ve done any embroidery or design thereof, but recently, the urge has started twitching at me, again.  My charting program was a sacrifice I made for the greater good when I switched to my new laptop last year (because the new laptop does not have a disc drive, and my charting program was on disc) – but even so, in the last 2 weeks, I have managed to chart 3 different designs using a painstakingly longwinded method I devised using Open Office Draw.  It’s almost as painstaking as drawing it out by hand on graph paper, but slightly easier to amend errors & try out alternatives.  Anyway, I managed it!

This is the second design that I charted, but the first one that I stitched, as the first charted design is quite complex, and having not stitched anything for so long, I thought I would ease myself in gently!  This one is adapted from an illustration by Jay van Everen in a collection of Jugoslav fairy tales by Parker Fillmore (c. 1921).  The story is called ‘The Laughing Prince: the story of the boy who could talk nonsense’,  and the image is part of a larger illustration featuring different elements from the story (right).  I believe this section of the illustration relates to the this part of the story; “the dampness had made the millet grow so well that its tops now reached the sky” – but I may be wrong, so don’t quote me on that!  I just loved the weeping willow-esque shapes.  And the bird.  For some reason I seem to have been drawn to bird imagery more than usual, lately…

Anyway, definitely time to invest in a new charting program (downloadable, this time) and make life a bit easier for myself!  But I’ve surprised myself by enjoying the manual process, in the meantime.

Does anyone have any leftover lavender?

LL FrontThe reason I ask is, I’ve just added a new mini zine to my Etsy store that is absolutely packed with project suggestions for your leftovers.  The zine is printed on recycled paper embedded with real lavender flowers, and will show you how to make lavender sugar, tea, incense sticks, infused oils and more!  Cunningly concealed on the inside of the zine, you will also find a cross stitch embroidery pattern and instructions.  You just need to turn the zine inside-out to find it!  And if you don’t have the leftover threads in your stash to stitch the pattern, I have also put together a limited edition kit including 21 different shades of overdyed floss + fabric so you can get started straight away.  Check out listings for both zine and kit for more info.

LL kit[Update: June 10th] N.B. The first kit sold straight away, so I have just made up &  added a second.  There won’t be more than 5 kits made, so buy now if you want one!

An intro to TangleCrafts & me

A predominantly self-taught stitcher, I have recently decided to venture out into the world to market my own counted thread designs. I’ve been designing for 6 years, & have more patterns & ideas than time in which to stitch them (or in some cases, chart them).  Luckily, I have managed to build a little team of model stitchers who are helping me make some headway.  I can’t – of course – kit a design until I have a photo of the finished stitched pieces to show on the packaging, so this is an essential part of the process.  It also helps me gauge the quantities of thread & fabric to include in kits, find out if instructions need clarifying (something that’s harder to do if I stitch my own models), and in some cases, see things I want to change in the pattern itself.   It’s a great learning curve!

I do a lot less stitching myself than I used to, but I really enjoy the process of the designing, & stitch small samples as I go along, just to make sure things work.  I have lots of ideas I haven’t had chance to try out, yet, but with my stitchers’ help, that mythical day when I will have time to get around to everything is hopefully getting slightly closer.  At the moment, my time is spent mostly fine-tuning existing charts, typing up instructions, & perfecting the layout of the chart/kit packaging. I enjoy designing the packaging almost as much as the patterns themselves – just another aesthetic aspect of the job, I guess.

Of course, the problem with spending a lot of time charting, means that I ALWAYS get sidetracked & see how a spin-off pattern could work, or it will kick-start another idea entirely.  It’s fruitful in one way, but not necessarily productive in terms of actually getting done what I intended to!  But I have limited time for all this work, so I do have to be strict with myself, & prioritise things I would otherwise leave until later.  The ideas & planning notebook is ever-expanding…


There are related projects such as dyeing my own threads & colouring my own canvases which are on the really-need-to-get-done list, too. The charting & kitting has to take priority; but being able to supply my own hand-dyed threads would be a great addition – & I may even have to get some charts re-stitched using the, depending on how successful they turn out to be.  And canvas colouring, although not essential to the current wave of model stitching, will again play a large part in ideas I have for the future.

Why can’t I do everything at once?  I’m sure if I just had a few more hands, & a few more hours in every day, life would be so much easier!