Look at the lovely ornament my sweet art-teacher-writer-friend Ginger gave me at church on Sunday! She twisted and turned a piece of wire into a heart surrounding my L-O-N-G name . . . thoughtfulness and handcrafting at its finest. And now, with Christmas Eve just one week away, I’m off to finish my end-of-year writing assignments, bake, and celebrate with my family. I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and happy, happy New Year, and I’ll see you in 2014! ♥
Since I have so many colorful red and green decorations and busy prints up for Christmas (like here, here, here, here, here, here, and here!) I decided to go completely the other way on my newest idea . . . somewhat of a visual trick since “Deck the Halls” is such a cheerful song! I used turquoise chevron flannel with the same color embroidery floss, then I played around with the size and placement of the words to replicate the chorus’s inflection, pauses, and pitch. I love the way it makes your eyes say, “Ahhhhh . . . ” Oh, and the embroidery hoops were hand-me-downs and I already had the fabric and floss in my stash, so this was a “free” project. I love those, don’t you? ♥
In our smaller house, we’ve downsized to a smaller Christmas tree . . . but we still have lots of special ornaments we enjoy having out. So, I like to separate them into “categories” and display like items together.
- How about rocking horses in a bowl on a side table?
- Or wooden toy soldiers in a frame on the wall?
Pretty, easy, and fun! ♥
Look what I got in the mail this week! My sweet bloggy friend Sharon of Gentlestitches sent these lovely, handmade pillow ornaments for my Christmas tree all the way from Victoria, Australia to Kansas, USA! I just love them! If you haven’t had a chance to visit Sharon’s blog yet, please go take a look . . . she even has a page full of free patterns! Thank you, dear Sharon! ♥
Another favorite Christmas decoration at our house is the “fabric forest” I made last winter. I enjoyed getting these colorful little trees back out to display on top of the china hutch again! You can make the trees any size, and they’re a great way to use up some remnants that might not work for other projects. For a step-by-step photo tutorial, click here. ♥
Ever since I found the perfect giant sunflower paintings by a local artist at one of my favorite little shops, I’ve enjoyed them in spring, summer, and fall. However, when December rolls around, they become Christmas decor! In the past, I’ve always wrapped them in Christmas paper, but this year I purchased some pretty $1/yard cotton fabric that I can use year after year for a little more Earth-friendly approach. Click here and here for the 2011 and 2012 versions! ♥
Remember the chicken-wire frame I bought at the craft show from Shantilly? And how I decorated it for Thanksgiving with cut out burlap letters and a fabric flower? My granddaughter Miranda helped me restyle it for Christmas with new letters, then we added the scrapbook paper ornament my friend Debbie taught me how to make. Perfect . . . and I’ve already got ideas for when Valentine’s Day rolls around! ♥
First of all, THANK YOU for all the lovely comments, good wishes, and over 100 LIKES on my Christmas Bunting post! I met my writing deadline for work and had an extra-special time with our Thanksgiving guests. Before I straighten the house and start decorating for Christmas, I want to make sure you’ve heard about our friend Mahe’s newest “green crafting” e-book that you can get TODAY through DECEMBER 4 for FREE by clicking here! (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a Kindle app for your computer—also for free—right here.) The book includes step-by-step photos and directions for a Christmas tree, snowman, package toppers and tags, ornaments, placecards, a mobile, bunting, cards, envelopes, gift bags, and LOTS of fun handmade gifts. Most of the projects are designed by Mahe herself but (as always!) Mahe welcomes guest artists, such as:
- Danielle of On the Upcycle
- Vicky of Vicky Myers Creations
- Cherie of Down In Fairy Dell
- Cristin of Eve of Reduction
I’m going to take off the rest of November from blogging to finish a big writing assignment (for my “real” job!), host Thanksgiving dinner, and attend some family events. But first, here are my new strings of Christmas bunting! Last year I cut out bazillions of squares of Christmas fabric to make mini-pillow ornaments but didn’t use them all, so I turned the rest into triangles that I could stitch into seam binding. Simply turn under the ends and fasten them with buttons to create loops, and they’re ready to hang. Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll see you in December! ♥
I bought the fun Anny Bag pattern from my blogging friend Anny of It’s Sew Anny, and I decided to make my first one using Christmasy remnants. Although the pattern calls for ruffles on both sides, I left the back unruffled to show off this fun print. The pattern has fabric measurements for two different sizes, and the lined bag has a flat base and two large inside pockets. It was REALLY fun to sew, and I’ll definitely be making more! Check out the Anny Bag and Anny’s other great bag patterns at the It’s Sew Anny Etsy Shop . . . thank you, Anny! ♥
When the lovely Simona of Sewing Adventures in the Attick decided to downsize her pattern collection, she hosted a giveaway . . . and I won two! I can’t wait to try them out! If you haven’t met Simona yet, please click below to read about:
- her Craftsy class,
- her cute pillows (and you KNOW how much I love pillows!),
- her gorgeous party dress,
- her sporty red and white dress,
- her altered T’s, and
- her colorful Christmas stockings!
Thank you, Simona! ♥
Saturday I had a fun craft day with three lovely ladies . . . my daughter-in-law Shannon, her mom Debbie, and her friend Lori. First we went to a “crafter’s sale” where very friendly people sold their gently used or leftover craft books, supplies, and tools for REALLY REALLY low prices. I came home with a delightful bag of goodies! Then Debbie taught us to make these fun ornaments . . . perfect for decorating packages or hanging on a Christmas tree. Click here for a detailed how-to video and here for a shorter version. As someone who has never scrapbooked before, I had a LOT to learn about terminology and how to use the equipment and tools, so I appreciated my very patient teacher. We all love our finished projects . . . thank you, Debbie! ♥
I can never take down ALL the Christmas decorations on December 31, can you? Instead, I like to “tweak” some of them for the winter. Here are some of this year’s gentle changes:
(1) Keep the giant winter wreath and snowflake garland, but trade the nativity on the mantel for family photos.
(2) Keep the Christmas cards nearby to enjoy again and again, but add a free New Year’s printable in a frame.
(3) Put a fun snowman on top of the kitchen cabinet by the antique milk bottles.
(5) Get out the softest, squishiest, coziest sweater pillow I’ve ever made for winter napping. ♥
I have the sweetest friends! One of them gave me a stack of Christmas remnants this fall. I used them for my mini-pillow ornaments and decided to make a “fabric forest” from some of the other bits. I was inspired by the cute design I saw on the cover of my Fa la la la Felt book by Kathy Sheldon, but I wanted to use cotton fabric instead of felt and make all different sizes, so I came up with my own tutorial. It would also be pretty to use solid color fabrics and make them look like decorated Christmas trees with buttons, sequins, rick-rack, and other a-la-mode. I think I’ll leave my forest up through the winter, switching out their Santa companion for a snowman. Each tree takes about 15 minutes. Ready? Let’s go! ♥
For the tree, find a corner of the fabric. Measure and mark the same length straight down, straight across, and at several points in the curve between, then cut along your marks. For the base, divide the length you used by .25. This measurement will be the radius of the circle. Mark a dot on the fabric. Measure and mark the radius all the way around, then cut along your marks. Example: This tree measurement is 9 inches, so the base radius measurement is 2.25 inches.
Fold the tree piece right sides together and pin along the straight edge . . .
and then sew the edge with a ¼ or 3/8 inch seam.
Turn the tree right side out.
Open the seam at the bottom and pin on the base, right sides together. Only use one pin . . . your fingers will do the rest!
Sew the tree and base together from the tree side using a 3/8 inch seam. Feed the fabric through a bit at a time, using your fingers to make tiny gathers in the tree to help it fit the curve of the base. It sounds hard, but it’s really not!
Keep going . . .
until you’re a couple of inches away from where you started.
Turn the base right side out.
Put stuffing through the opening. If needed, use a chopstick to poke the stuffing to the top. NOTE: Don’t overstuff, as that will give the tree a rounded base and it won’t stand up straight.
Pin the opening and hand-stitch it shut.
You’re done with that one! To make a little forest, simply repeat with different fabrics and sizes. Enjoy!
Welcome to the “JOYFUL” edition of Collectively Creative, hosted by Kelly of Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons! My project is easy and fun . . . similar to the Instagram collage letters I made this summer. . . . and I love how it turned out!
(1) Purchase some wooden letters at a craft store. Mine are 12 inches tall and were on sale for around $2 each.
(2) Optional: Paint the letters and let them thoroughly dry. I spray painted these with the green paint left over from my antique milk bottle project.
(3) Get out Christmas cards you received and saved from last year and cut out pictures and words to fit the shapes of the letters, overlapping them as in a collage. Attach these bits with Mod Podge. Or, if you don’t have cards available, use images and words from holiday magazines.
(4) When each surface is covered to your satisfaction, coat the entire letter with Mod Podge and let it thoroughly dry.
(5) Display your letters on a shelf or drill small holes or attach hanging hardware to the backs and hang them on the wall. Mine are now over the stairs along with my peppermint wreath where they’ll greet our Christmas Day guests at the front door. ♥
P.S. Before I link to our other Collectively Creative posts, I’d like to give a shout out to some other amazing bloggers who have shared their J-O-Y this season. Thank you to ALL of you for your inspiration!
- Framing Christmas PJs - (Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons)
- How To Display Christmas Cards - (Organized Living Essentials)
- Adding Joy to Every Room - (Neaten Your Nest)
- DIY Gift Bows (Upcycled Toilet Paper Rolls) - (Inspire and Indulge)
- How to trim a Christmas tree: ornaments, Lego trains and whipped cream - (The Thing About Joan)
- Joy Advent Calendar (And Giveaway!) - (Cul de Sac)
- Joy To The Cookies: Having an Annual Holiday Cookie Baking Party - (Green Door Hospitality)
- The Spirit Of Christmas - (A Ponytail Kind Of Day)
- DIY Themed Mini Christmas Trees (This One’s for My Husband!) - (Mrs. And The Misc.)
- Wrapped In Christmas Lights (Happy Little Kiwi)
- Sharing Joy – (Gentle Stitches)
- The Joy Of Discovery - (Love, Laughter and a Touch Of Insanity)
I started writing this post a couple of days ago to show you my new Christmas decoration. When I began having children of my own, my mother gave me the cookie cutters we used to make Christmas cookies when I was a little girl. Oh, the hours of fun I’ve had with them! This December I wanted a little something extra in the kitchen, so I strung them on ribbons, tied them together at the top, and hung them in my window.
Today, I think of my cookie cutters in a completely different way. I weep with joy that I got to grow up baking Christmas cookies with my mom and that my sons got to grow up baking Christmas cookies with me. And I weep with sadness for those children and parents who won’t have that opportunity this Christmas.
To Kris and Mike, who lost their 14-year-old daughter Bekah to cancer this week . . . to the parents of the children who were killed at their elementary school yesterday . . . to all parents everywhere who mourn the loss of a child . . . may you find comfort in the love and prayers of all of us. ♥
Since my favorite set of paintings take up a large bit of wall space in our great room, I like to gift-wrap them in December to fit our Christmas decor. This year I used some sweet vintage Santa paper I received as a gift. Click here to see last year’s! ♥
Last week I put out my first “Shop Love!” post.
I wanted to start promoting our blogging friends’ small businesses.
I’ve done a little more shopping . . .
and I won a giveaway . . .
so today I’d like to highlight four more bloggers and stores.
Once again, each one impressed me with both their BEAUTIFUL products . . .
and their QUALITY customer service.
Here are their contact links!
You can also check them out ANYtime on my new “Shop Love” page above. ♥
(1) The Original Thread: I fell in LOVE with this inspirational 2013 calendar, which is designed by Melanie of The Original Thread blog and sold as a fabric panel in her Spoonflower shop at Madex Designs. She has many other gorgeous fabrics as well!
(2) Terri’s Notebook: I recently won a lovely giveaway from Terri’s Notebook—two pdf patterns. I was going to wait until I made the items to share them . . . but that hasn’t happened yet, so I’ll share what they WILL look like. The first pattern is for Stuff Baskets and the second is for a Checkerboard Set, and both are for sale at her Patchwork Trails Etsy Shop. You can also visit Terri’s portfolio here and her paper goods shops here. Terri’s motto is “Explore. Dream. Create.” Don’t you love that? ♥
(3) A Kitschy Kitchen: I’m just starting to make aprons myself, but I know someone on my gift list who will LOVE this one! It’s from Megan of A Kitschy Kitchen: The Life and Studio of an Apronista who sells her creations at her Etsy shop. Notice, too, the adorable fabric gift card holder! Stressing quality as well as beauty, Megan’s motto is “Buy Well, Buy Once.” She also has some other lovely items in her shop, such as embroidery, cocktail napkins, and coasters.
(4) TheHighNoteDotNet: I’ve followed Darilyn’s lovely blog thehighnotedotnet for a long time now and was so excited to receive my first purchase from her Etsy shop, which specializes in vintage music projects. Darilyn even included a little gift . . . a copy of my favorite quote, which I embroidered on a pillow and she offers to all of us for free to make an iron-on transfer. She graciously provides tutorials for her projects as well. And check out her craft room . . . it’s amazing!
A couple of years ago I saw a kids’ art jar online and thought it would be the perfect gift for a special little girl’s birthday. It was so colorful and intriguing . . . but when we dumped everything out, I found LOTS of pretty raffia filling and WAY too few actual art supplies. Live and learn, right? So, when my dad was preparing for a recent move and asked if I’d like to have some empty plastic snack containers, I immediately thought, “ART JARS!” I began collecting artsy/crafty items from the dollar bins at Michaels and Target, plus hitting the dollar stores, and soon had a huge bag of fun things to include. These will be under some Christmas trees soon! ♥
After making a peppermint wreath and peppermint Christmas tree skirt, I had three little felt peppermints left, so I wrapped a headband in red bias tape and stitched the candies on top to make a festive accessory for a special little girl. This was another free-to-me activity since I already had all the supplies on hand . . . don’t you love it when that happens? There’ll be no more peppermint projects for me this Christmas since I used up all my red felt remnants and have vowed to use up my stash before buying more fabrics (we’ll see how THAT goes!). But several of you have said you’re on it now, so I can’t wait to see what you make! Now . . . on to some Christmas gifts . . . and Christmas pillows . . . and . . . ♥
No, not for me . . . for a mini-Christmas tree! I used this small tree in my classroom when I was an elementary teacher and decided to put it on a side table this year to showcase some of our homemade-by-family-and-friends ornaments. To make the skirt, I:
- cut a 24-inch diameter circle from the thrifted red tablecloth I used for my argyle pillow and opened one side,
- cut a 3-inch diameter circle in the center,
- used a remnant from my snowman pillow to make a bias edging for the top,
- sewed on some fancy red and white rick-rack from my stash,
- machine-hemmed the sides and bottom, and added my no-sew felt peppermints.
It was a “free” project for me since I already had all the materials and adds a festive touch to a favorite little spot in our living room. ♥ P.S. Three peppermints to go . . . one more project!
Yesterday I posted a tutorial for “Easy No-Sew Felt Peppermint Garland.” Here’s what I made with mine! We’ve had the grapevine wreath forever, and it was definitely due for refreshing, so I pulled off all the tired greenery and replaced it with my new garland. Other than tying the ends together at the top, I didn’t even have to stitch or glue anything as the branches themselves hold the garland in place. Now the wreath is hanging in my kitchen window topped with a little raffia. I love it! ♥ P.S. I have ten “peppermints” left over, so watch for one more post on them!
(1) Cut red and white felt into strips. Mine are 1/2 inch x 8 inches.
(2) Lay a white strip over a red strip, then pull the white strip down about an inch. Begin rolling upward at the end you pulled down. This will give the “candy” a solid white center and a red outer layer.
(3) After the piece is rolled, put a pin through it to hold everything in place until you string the candies.
(4) Using a sturdy needle and extra-strength thread, poke the needle through the loose end of a candy, go through the middle of the candy and out the middle of the opposite side, and remove the pin. Pull the candies close together to keep the rolls tight.
(5) Hang your garland on the mantel, in a doorway or window, or on a Christmas tree or wreath! ♥
(1) When I recently organized my crafty corner, these two fabrics ended up side by side on a shelf and made me think of Christmas. The red cotton is from a thrifted tablecloth, and the lime green felt is from the citrus coasters I made last summer. Then I saw an argyle sweater in an ad, and a lightbulb went on!
(2) I used a shape pattern from Google images to cut these diamonds from the felt. Then I pinned them in rows and pondered how to attach them. I decided that having the corners loose would give the pillow a more interesting texture, so I embroidered an “X” across the middle of each diamond . . . sort of a “free-form argyle.”
(3) When I stitched the pillow front and back together (the back is another piece of the red tablecloth, unadorned), I stitched through the middle of each outer diamond, which gave the edges a sort of rick-rack pattern. Finally, I stuffed the pillow and hand-stitched the opening. I may never make another one, but it sure makes me smile! ♥
I want to thank my blogging friend Sharon of Crafts ‘n Coffee for the WONDERFUL blog giveaway gifts she sent to me—THREE Christmas craft magazines, three mini-magazines with even more crafting ideas, and a STAK tree kit . . . plus she added a button, Starbucks coffee packet, and full-length pocketed apron from Styrofoamflorals.com! THANK YOU, Sharon . . . I can’t wait to try all these ideas! ♥
In late summer I started on my Christmas mini-pillow ornaments, and I finally decided to stop . . . for this year! (They’re addictive!) All they take are little bits of fabric and ribbon, plus buttons, bells, lace, and embroidery . . . oh, and your imagination! P.S. Please check out these links for some more ornaments to try! ♥
- Crafts ‘n Coffee
- Gembobs Crafts
- Em One, Em Two
- Southern Cricket Lady
- Handmade Tales of DIY Derring Do
After the big Thanksgiving dinner at our house, the kids and grown-ups visit, snack, watch football, snack, nap, snack, and . . . make things! (Check out these Play-Doh sculptures from Thanksgivings past! :)) This year I’ll still have the usual supplies, but I thought it would also be fun to have a project that the kids can take home and/or guests can make to donate to a local nonprofit for Christmas gifts for children in need. The minute I decided on no-sew fleece pillows, I got an email from Hancock Fabrics with all their fleece for half price PLUS free shipping, so I knew it had to be! To keep it simple, I went ahead and did all the cutting, rolled and tied each matching pillow top and bottom together, and put the right amount of stuffing in individual bags so everyone can just choose a fabric, grab a bag, and find a comfy spot to craft and chat. I’ll try to post a photo of all the kids with the pillows we make after the holiday! ♥
P.S. Since the instructions call for cutting out the corners from each piece, I now I have about a bazillion colorful 4 x 4 inch fleece squares to use for other projects. Any ideas???
Here are the tags for this year’s donations to the silent auction at the Arts and Crafts Mission Market at my church. It’s such a worthy cause . . . all the money goes to a local daycare center for families in need. Click here to see how to make the Christmas wreath pillow and here to see the Americana pillows. P.S. Below are my gift baskets from markets past, each based on . . . you guessed it . . . a pillow! ♥
For my one year blog anniversary, I invited you to nominate people you’ve met through the blogging world whom you would like to have as next-door neighbors . . . and to tell why. It was SO heartwarming to read the lovely comments that came in from all around the world! The blogger with the MOST nominations was then invited to send me a once-loved garment to remake into some fun treasures (a-la “What can you make with a flannel shirt?,” “What can you make with a lace tank?,” and “What can you make with a polo shirt?“) and return. The winner was Kelly of Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons! Kelly said, “After the shock wore off I ran to my closet to decide what I was going to send. I chose a little sundress that has a lot of happy memories attached to it, but now that I’m a mama seems a little, well…SHORT. I know that I will never wear it again, so I am very excited to send it off!” So . . .today is the big reveal! In addition, this project will have a permanent home on the “What Can You Make With A . . .” page on my header.
- I couldn’t resist using the bottom of the sundress with its lacy underskirt for another dress . . . this time for Kelly’s adorable daughter Annabelle! A bright pink T-shirt from Target made the perfect top. (Click here and here for more little girl’s T-shirt dress ideas.)
- The zippered back of the sundress was perfect for the back of a pillow cover, and I added the pretty label and butterfly that I snipped from the inside neckline. The pillow front is a combination of dress fabric, T-shirt fabric, a vintage hanky, pale pink lace, and lime-green embroidery.
- The bodice of the sundress is now a jewelry pouch! The ribbons form the casings, and the dress straps are the strings. The lining of the pouch is made from the dress lining for a soft, shiny finish.
- With seven circles of fabric, three stacked buttons, and a bit more of the lace from the bottom of the sundress, I made a fabric flower to pin onto a jacket, hat, or headband.
- A small rectangle of dress fabric and T-shirt fabric along with a bit of green dotted fabric and some buttons and ribbon were just the right ingredients for a Christmas mini-pillow ornament.
- While pondering Kelly’s blog name, I thought of embroidering three C’s onto a bit of fabric and framing it. Suddenly I thought, “Hmm . . . if the Scrabble letter C is worth 3 points, I could use that instead.” I ran to look it up, and . . . it is! I KNOW Kelly didn’t choose “Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons” based on this fact . . . but I was excited! After several experiments, I ended up with a collage of dress fabric, T-shirt fabric, lace, scrapbook paper, and a paper Scrabble tile in a hot pink frame. (The back of the frame is also magnetized for a frig or file cabinet.)
- Finally, I was down to a small pile of random scraps. Not ready to give up quite yet, I decoupaged them onto a plastic bangle bracelet.
Done! Kelly . . . your package is in the mail! ♥
Since I finished my fall wreath, my new “kitchen project”–as in leaving the materials out on the kitchen island to work on in spare moments–is to make enough mini-pillow ornaments to decorate a small Christmas tree. I started on these last fall but only ended up finishing five. First, I cut all my Christmas remnants into 4-inch squares to mix and match for fronts and backs. I always add a bit of embroidery a-la-mode to the front, along with buttons or jingle bells here and there. Then I stitch and stuff just as I would a regular pillow but add a ribbon for hanging before sewing. I love how festive they look, and they make a great road-trip project, too. I’ll post my decorated tree when they’re all done! ♥
Before the first freeze, Dave brought in all the green tomatoes from the vines. We’d always heard that you can put them in a brown paper sack in a dark cupboard or closet and they’ll go ahead and ripen. Well, it works! Truthfully, I’d forgotten about them until I was digging for some baking supplies last night. There was the sack, and here are the tomatoes . . . a little taste of summer on a snowman plate. ♥