Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still At It

I don't remember it being this hard to decorate for Christmas last year. But then, I was satisfied with the same ole same ole and this year I'm trying to shake it up without spending a fortune. I've been trying to take what I already have, and rearrange it, or do something different with it. Case in point:

I had an idea to group all my snowmen together. I didn't even realize until this year, I had that many snowmen.  I was going to buy some "snow" to place them on, and I still might, but having some silver beads and red balls leftover from the tree, I thought I'd see how that would work. I kinda like it.

I also found some of my greenery and added it to the comfort and joy arrangement on my buffet.

I think with the greenery, and another couple of shorter candles, it's done. I don't want to over do it.

My tree is not working for me. Not posting a picture until I get it right, if I ever do.  I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. Well, other than it's a really inexepensive tree and it has a lot of holes in it. I know I need to get some gold or white mesh ribbon and fill those in. That might do the trick.

I still have to put out the lighted candy canes and green garland on the front of the house. And figure out what to do to decorate the empty flower pots on the front porch. I used silk poinsettias to make an arrangement last year, but I've already used them to make a door wreath. One that also needs a little something added.  I think I know what to add though.....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot.....

I'm getting started on Christmas decorating. (As you can tell by the last two posts.)

I had an idea to paint the words Comfort and Joy on wooden plaques and set them up with candles.

I first painted them white, then added silver, and gold around the edges.

I printed off the words Comfort and Joy, and transferred them to the disks, then painted using the gold and silver paint. I outlined the words in black, so they would stand out.

I decided I wanted a little more color to them, so I drew on some holly and berries, and some ribbon. Then painted them out.

Next, I took a styrofoam cone I puchased at walmart, and wrapped it with jute I had on hand. I secured the ends of the jute with tiny pieces of wire, and then painted the whole thing white. After it dried, I wrapped a square piece of styrofom in silver wrapping paper, and used it as a base, sticking a pencil in the center of the square and up through the bottom of the cone.  I had a wooden ball in a drawer, and I painted it silver, and hot glued it to the top of the tree.

I thought about glueing beads onto it or clear disks, but I think I like it just as it is.

After all these projects were done, I brought out some old gold and silver candlesticks and placed them all on the buffet in my dining area.

In this photo, you can see the jar of peppermint I still have to finish. But, I'm considering adding some small embellishment to the top of the buffet, and it might add just enough to help with the peppermint jar.

Right now, I'm working on the wall hanging I mentioned earlier. It has three reindeer in it, and one is Rudolph, of course. I'll post the steps when I'm finished, if not sooner.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not Working for Me...

Ok girls. Adding the bow, is not working for me. It lacks pizzazz in a big way. I tried putting it on a square red plate....nothing.   Today I saw a bow with two or three small round ornaments in the middle of it. That might help the bow, but not the contents of the jar.....

So, I'm wondering if I just need to forget about the peppermint candies in the jar, and use something else. Like cinnamon disks, or something with a bit more umph. Course, with that bow, you can't really see the contents from the front. Is the bow too large?

I saw a garland today at a local store that was pretty cool. It was made of round balls, some solid red, and some like peppermints. If I could find something like that, (only not so expensive) I could put that in the bowl instead, or even put the bowl on a plate and wrap some of the garland around.

I have some silk holly in the attic and could put  a few springs of that in there somewhere, as Y suggested. But I can't get up there by myself, and I told the hubs he could wait until after Thanksgiving to get it all down for me.  

It looks like the white taper is sitting crooked in this photo, but I assure you it's not. I tried using a red taper, but it didn't help. It could be due to the color of the bow, not matching the taper.

I could always just start completely over, and get one of those cool peppermint colored pillar candles to put inside. And use a peppermint colored bow I saw at Walmart yesterday. If I did that, and used solid colored red candy, it might make a difference. Any and all suggestions are welcome. We will share in this creation of Christmas beauty.  I really had high hopes for this when it came into my head. I sure hope we can pull it off....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stocking Project Completed

This project was also for my sister to give as gifts. They are two hand sewn, hand painted stockings.

I documented the process for those of you who are interested.

First I wash the fabric to eliminate any sizing. Then press, cut out and sew together stocking.

Before I start painting, I cut out a piece of cardboard or poster board and insert into the stocking, to keep paint from bleeding through. Then I set my pattern on it, and trace around.

 I usually find my patterns from coloring books, Christmas cards and royalty free pictures online. I print them out from my computer and then cut them out. It saves a lot of time, not having to draw the design out free handed.

 This is the design drawn onto  the stocking. I use light leaded pencils, as it will show through the paint if it's too dark.

 I then block in the color. Even if the picture is close to the same color as the fabric, I block it in. It makes it much easier to add highlights and shading. I usually need to apply two coats, as fabric doesn't absorb paint evenly for the first layer.

Then all the highlights and shading are added. When it has been dried overnight, I heat set with an iron. I use a pressing cloth, to keep the paint from melting onto the iron, and to keep the paint from smearing.  The names at the top, are usually done with the slick paint. It is thick and raised. It's also much faster than lettering with a brush.

There you have it. A stocking for Blake and Faith.

Now, I have something I need advice on.  I had this idea to make an arrangement with candy canes and peppermint. But it needs something. Any suggestions? It just doens't have that zing I'm looking for. Take a look at this....

?? Maybe a bow? A bigger candle? Something more colorful than the peppermints? What do you think?

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Few Christmas Projects

I've gotten a few Christmas presents done, and have some more in the works. I initially decided against posting the photos, for fear the recipients would see them, but I seriously doubt they will see my blog.
The first is a set of Christmas burp cloths I created for my sister to give as a gift.

I intended to create three, but she only wanted the two, and I had an extra applique to do something with, so I just tacked it onto the other end of one. This way, any way you lay it, it is facing the correct direction. While I was finishing up these two, my thread began to act very strange. The top stitching looked fine, but the understitching was nothing but a loose straight line. I fiddled with the tension but it didn't help. I wondered if it was the thin weave of the diapers, but I was afraid my 30 someodd year old machine was beginning to shut down. I left it alone for a couple of days, then used new thread and a different fabric and it was back to normal. I was even able to rip out the offensive stitching and redo it. What a relief!

The next photos are of two razorback fleece throws I bound and personalized. The first is for J's girlfriend. I was only going to purchase one yard of the fabric, but the clerk suggested I get one and a half, to make it more square. I am glad I did.

I really love how it turned out. BUT, I'm learning the hard way what not to do. I found that it is a must to use "wonder under" to steady the lettering. And the stretch of the fleece makes it very tricky when you are binding it, even when you cut the binding fabric on the bias.  The following is the one I did for J.

After I began working on it, I found a really disturbing flaw in the fabric. There was a line where the fleece was gone. I fretted over it and decided to add the lettering over the flaw to stablize it. Bad decision. It only brought attention to the line....

I should have left it alone, and the lettering being in another area would have taken the focus away. I tried zig zagging across it, but it looked horrible, so I ripped that all out. I hope that it will hold up after it's washed. I know J won't worry about that little flaw, I'm the only one who will care, but it still bothers me. Must be a pride thing. :-p

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tree Skirt Finally Done

I've been working on a tree skirt for Christmas for about 3 weeks. There was no rush, so I took my time and enjoyed the creating of it. I used fabric my mother gave me, (again!) and made my own patterns for the leaves, berries and chickadee birds.

Initially, it wasn't as large as I wanted, so I decided to add the blanket binding to the bottom. That was pretty expensive, considering it cost $5.00, but since everything else was free, I finally broke down and bought it. I doubt I could have found a custom tree skirt for $5.00, even after Christmas.

Close up of birds.

I zig-zagged all the appliques and it made me really wish I had a sewing machine with more embroidery settings. The machine I have was bought before LeLe was born. It's been a hum-dinger, and is till going strong after all these years. The cabinet that houses it, is beginning to look a little worse for wear though. I have to keep it covered up it is so distressed, and it's not solid wood, so I can't refinish it and spruce it up any.

I think most of you already know that I collect chickadees. Yes, they are traditionally Christmas birds, but I love them all year long. They are just easier to find in December. I've never had a nice tree skirt, and am anxious to place it around my tree this year. I have a couple of plans for more Christmas items before I put my tree up. One is a quilted (maybe) wall hanging that I will try to fashion with a pocket on the back. That way I can just slip it over a picture already hanging. The other is a Christmas stocking for little doodle bug that's on the way.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Matching Blanket

I finished the matching blanket this morning. It wound up 34 x 46 in size.

I found that working with the thinner flannel is not easier than working with fleece. The fleece is very forgiving when you go in a line you don't particularly like. (Had to back up and use the seam ripper once or twice) And the back of the fleece looks nicer when it's all finished. I could always double the flannel, but I don't want to make it too heavy, since it's meant for a receiving blanket, not a heavy one. Most embroidery has some kind of scratchy backing on it, for stablization. I'm afraid it would be too rough for a baby, so I'll have to come up with an alternative.

All in all, I'm fairly pleased with the result and I hope the new mother likes the set.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday's Work

Our church is giving a young mother a shower this coming Sunday, so I thought I'd try to make some things I've been seeing. I went to Walmart, (where else would I go?) and purchased a package of cloth diapers, and a yard of blue flannel. Using fabric my mother gave me, I created six burp cloths.

I made three of them simple, with just fabric on the lower part of them, but added the baby's initial, and trimmed the edges of the other three, just for variety. Tomorrow, I plan to add the initial to the flannel, and bind the edges with more of the same fabric. I'll post when completed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This and That

I reorganized my craft closet....again. I'm hoping I've rearranged things to be more easily accessible.

While looking for new places to stash junk we didn't want to throw away, I found something....

I made these when Jared was very small.(About 25 years ago) I cut them all out on my trusty old band saw, and painted them. I also made a flat wooden boat, but It just didn't ever really float for me (ha) so I got rid of it. And Jared never played with these, no matter how cute I thought they were. Maybe Leann's baby will want them.....I can see the smirk on LeLe's face in my mind's eye.

And today after months of tedious work, I finished a Christmas ornament.

I don't think I will ever go to that much trouble again. I created the design myself, by drawing it out on graph paper, then spent countless hours cross stitching. And I wound up with this very small ornament. That is just too much time for something so small.

Aside from that, I've been making some blankets for Christmas gifts and looking online for ideas of things to do when I'm finished with all the Christmas gifts I'm making. Can't post pictures here, for fear the recipents will accidentally find them...