Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Big Christmas Presents

Finally, onto the big Christmas presents I've hinted at over and over and over again.

Rich and I have a blanket I made when I was at uni. It's toasty warm and fantastically cuddly and in the run up to Christmas was in almost constant use in the cold evenings. It was incredibly simple to make - two layers of fleece stitched together - one is black, the other is yellow smiley faces on a black background. It's lasted really well despite being incredibly cheap fabric - at least 8 years of frequent washing.

So we based our Christmas presents for family on wanting to share that cuddly winter evening warmth. We wanted to theme each blanket on something that was important to the people we were making it for. We decided to appliqué a pattern onto each and to back it with a relevant printed fleece.

We hand stitched the appliqués with the blankets (1.6m x 2m) laid out on the floor. We then attached the front and back on the overlocker with strong blue thread to bring out the pale blue background we'd used for each.

We're really pleased with the output, and by WE I mean WE - Rich helped out loads on these - he was chief cutter and did some fantastic stitch work!

First we have one for his parents - a scale appliqué of their boat, Boing. The back is a panel of pirates stitched onto a plain black background:

Right, next onto my parents. There's a story from when my Dad and I went walking in Wales and we found the PERFECT PATH. I mean, this path was amazing - bouncy, every so slightly uphill (down's bad on the knees), the perfect place to enjoy hiking and each other's company. We've searched for years for something to beat it, but nothing ever will. So anyway, here's the perfect path, with sheep on the other side:

Next we have my brother in law and his girlfriend. They're both really into their planes (he's an air traffic controller and she's a qualified pilot) and I'm reliably informed that this is their favourite. It's to scale again and it's a Cessna 182. Rich really took control on this one and his attention to detail really shows in just how fantastic it is (and in the fact that they knew exactly what type of plane it was). The back is a gorgeous print of helicopters and aeroplanes.

And finally we move onto my Aunt's gift. She took a fantastic photo of one of her dogs, Rockett for her Christmas cards. We used T-Shirt transfer paper to transfer it to white fleece and then stitched it onto the background. I did a knot every 4 or 5 stitches in case any of the dogs catch their claws in it. I hope that does the trick. The backing is paw prints.

So there we go, it's been an epic job (although finished a month ago - bad me not updating the blog) but I'm thrilled with the results. Christmas day was magical - we wrapped them up with the patterned side out and watched in joy as they realised they were really personal. They barely believed we'd made them. One of the greatest joys in putting this much effort in is seeing the joy on faces as they see how personal they are. Even thinking about it a month later I'm grinning about it.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

More Christmas Stuff

I'm determined to get all my Christmas stuff sorted by the end of January as I've been a very bad blogger this year so far. I'm trying to get the photos sorted for the BIG PRESENTS I made such a deal about in December - they'll come soon.

But for a bit of a giggle, here's the fancy dress costume I made for our Scout Christmas party. We usually get a lot of Santas and another leader is always Santa so I wanted to go for something different.

This took me just an hour or so to make:

It's made from a cardboard box. I opened out the top and cut a hole in the bottom. I used the cut out parts to hold the flaps out at 90 degrees to the box (so that it's open like this:)

I used a grey packing bag wrapped around and pleated to take the shape of the box to make the 'foil case' and stuck brown packing paper all around the outside edge. I used duck tape to make a channel at the top with some scrap fabric in as a draw string.

Finally I made straps out of more scrap fabric (I've found a use for all those bits left over when you use the overlocker!), jumped into it and voila - I was a mince pie!!!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Christmas gifts - cushions

Most of November & December were spent making Christmas gifts, and now that they’ve all gone to new homes I can write about them on here.

Firstly, my mum gave me the remnant of the fabric used to cover some of her chairs and asked me to make her some cushions with it. The fabric’s a large weave in blue and beige (way prettier than that sounds). I decided that the best style to suit my mum’s tastes in decorating was understated and stylish. I decided to create two 40cm square cushions with blue piping round the edge and fairly discrete zippers.

I’ve not made a cushion cover since school – one of the first things we made in textiles – so my first port of call was the Reader’s Digest sewing guide. It confirmed the approach I was considering and showed me the best way to make and insert piping (which amazingly I’ve never tried before).

I took a little sample of fabric to my local fabric shop but couldn’t find the right colour bias binding to make the piping. I could have bought some fabric and made my own, but when you see how much I made for Christmas you’ll understand that I had to cut some corners. I was looking around the shop when I found pre-made piping!!! I didn’t even know that existed! The colour was almost perfect and it was only 55p a metre!!! I bought zips in the beige rather than the blue as that helped them blend into the background.

My cushions were from Dunelm Mill – 38cm square. The Readers Digest book suggested cutting that size plus seam allowance, but that made me nervous – I didn’t have spare fabric so couldn’t cut too small. I decided to add 4cm for seam allowances and do a 1cm seam. I’ll say straight out that this worked perfectly for me.

So, I cut 4 42cm squares. Due to the weave (and wanting things to be perfect for my mum) I cleaned up two edges, cutting along the weave of the fabric first. Then I measured along and cut the squares using the weave again. I then manipulated the fabric (iron and steam) into a square. I did this as the fabric had been sitting around for a while and had got a bit wibbly.

I used the large weave to line up the piping around the edge of two of the squares and stitched it on. Then I set the zip onto one edge of each square, making two long pieces each with a zip in the middle and one end with piping on. I wanted the zip to form part of the back of the cover rather than sticking out so I folded them along the piping line and pinned them together (inside out). I stitched the three remaining sides including stitching over the zips and trimmed the excess. Obviously I left the zips open, ironed the seams, turned them the right way around and popped the cushions in.

Here they are. I’m rather proud of them...

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