So no more shilly shallying, let's get cracking, you will need:
Paper, pencil, protractor (go on you know you can borrow it from your children's new school set... just to see if it works), a ruler and paper scissors
Christmas fabric scraps
Pins, needle, thread, dressmaking scissors, small sharp scissors
Ribbon or hairy string
Iron and ironing board
Wizard little bowmaker (I will be giving away two, Merry Christmas!)
Stuffing - kapok, polyester filling
Buttons for decoration (optional)
We are going to start with the star, this is a classic six point star used in quilting, yep, you are learning another technique by stealth... If you want to make the big star which will be 7" wide then start by drawing a line 3" long, for the smaller star which is 5" wide draw a line 2" long. Now we are going to use our protractor for good (not evil maths), line it up the line at the bottom of your protractor goes along the line you have drawn, at the left hand side mark it at 70' and the right hand side mark it at 110'. Draw a line up to this point measuring 3" for the big star and 2" for the little star. Draw a line along the top which will also measure 3" or 2" creating a rhombus, you have just created your pattern template. You can either use just this one or cut out half a dozen.
Choose six scraps of fabric which sit well together and on which you will be able to cut out two of your templates, iron the fabric. You need to lay the template so that the longest line through the centre of the template lies along the warp of the fabric (parallel to the selvedge). Pin the template to the material and cut out two diamonds in each fabric. Spend a couple of minutes working out how you want to arrange your star.
Take three of the diamonds, using a 1/4" seam allowance (if your machine does not have markings then use a permanent marker and draw a line a quarter of an inch from where the needle goes down and use this as your guideline).
Start sewing from the outer edge into the centre but stop 1/4" from the end ... this is really important, otherwise you will not get a sharp pointy star. I usually use my old and trusty hand Singer so that I have to work at a slower pace and allegedly I will make few mistakes - who is laughing at the back?
Now pin the other side to the middle diamond and sew it as above. Press the seams open, yes I know this goes against your quilting and patch work principles but you have to have faith in me... just this once.
Do exactly the same for the other side. When you look at it from the right side, you will see the centre point of the middle diamond 1/4" from the edge ... how clever are you? Pin the two sides together, ensuring that the points meet in the middle, I do this by putting a pin through the point on one side and then through the point on the other side to make sure that they meet exactly. If when you sew it together they do not sit correctly, undo it an start again, otherwise it will annoy you forever and it will only take a couple of minutes to correct it. Iron open the seams down the centre.
Next we are going to create the back using the same technique, however don't lay it out with both sides laying face up as the arrangement will not work ... believe me, I did it ... twice! What you need to do is lay the completed star right side down and place the matching diamonds on top, with right sides uppermost.
Repeat the steps we took to create the first star.
Take your ribbon, I visited my ribbon stash and found some festive red ribbon from Jane Means, fold it so that the loop of the ribbon reaches the mid-point of the star and make it about 8" for the large star and 6" for the small star (you may want to adjust this to suit your decorating scheme).
Take one side of the star, lay it face up, choose which point is going to be uppermost and fold the ribbon in two with the two ends lying over the point of the star, pin them in place. Take the other star and place it on top, pin it in place but leave a gap on one of the sides as we will turn the star inside out through this aperture. Sew the star together.
Trim the excess fabric from over each point and turn the star inside out, use the fishknife to poke up into the points to make them really sharp. Start to fill the star with stuffing, do this by using small amounts, I know it is tempting to ram it all in to save time but this will give you an uneven lumpy filling, so small and often is the way.
To make your bows, put two dowels in the holes for the size of bow that you want. Run the ribbon round the back of the dowels and take the left hand ribbon towards the right dowel.
Next take the right hand ribbon over the top of the left ribbon and round under the back ribbon and bring it back over the top to the front.
Make a loop by bringing the the left hand ribbon over to the left hand side.
Thread the right hand through the loop, pull both ends until you are happy. Slip it off the dowels and gussy it up... now you have perfect bows every time.
I have two of these little gadgets to give away to two posters who leave feedback and I will announce the winners on Friday 29 August.
For some reason the smaller stars look better with a couple of buttons sewn through the middle, use two buttons so that the star will look good from each side when you see it on the tree.
You will have noticed that I also made a heart, yep we are doing a bogoff on techniques this week, we are going to do some crazy patchwork. I bet that you have in your fabric stash, bits of fabric that are too small to do anything with yet, you cannot bear to throw away and that is what we are going to use. After cutting out the diamonds we are left with odd shaped bits and we can make use of those.
Remember how we made a heart template earlier this year from a biscuit cutter, either use that or cut out a new template.
Find a small square of fabric and sew another piece to one of the side, repeat this with square shapes and triangles until you have sewn together enough to cover your heart template... once this is done you are officially the Dolly Parton's mum of patchwork with your very own fabric of many colours, just like her mother made!
Pin the heart template to your patchwork and cut out the heart.
Repeat for the other side.
Now you can leave it like this but I remembered a fantastic crazy patchwork tea cosy that my mum had which was made of velvet and silk scraps which had herringbone embroidery joining them together, so I used the herringbone stitch on my machine using a contrasting thread to sew over all the seams.
Insert the ribbon loop in the same way that we did with the star, pin the heart together with right sides facing and leave a gap on one of the sides so that you can turn the heart inside out. Once you have sewn it together, ease the curves by cutting little notches into the curves so that the fabric will not bunch and pucker.
Turn the heart right side out, using the fish knife to get that lovely point at the base. Stuff the heart with small amounts of stuffing until it is filled to your satisfaction and slip stitch the opening shut. Add a bow to the bottom of the loop and now you have another Christmas decoration for your tree.
Don't forget to pop by on Friday to see if you are one of the winners.
And now is the time to go and look at Handmade Monday... and just think with it being a Bank Holiday weekend you will have plenty of time to kick back and enjoy it all
For those of you who are wondering why these are Chris's Christmas decorations, well they are for my brother who as a little boy always referred to decorations as decormorations... although I still feel his greatest skill was walking down our stairs head first on his hands, do you think 50+ is possibly too old to try this?