Sunday, 11 November 2012

Straighten Your Seams - The Christmas Stocking Tutorial

I don't know about you but one of my most fave childhood Christmas memories was waking up in the early hours feeling the weight on your feet and knowing that Father Christmas had been, filled your stocking and waiting until daylight before I was allowed to open them.  Although I was lucky that I was not my mum, as one Christmas two of her sisters, she was the eldest of 12, got up in the middle of the night and swapped the presents around so that they got what they wanted... at least, until my granny woke up!  Back then I used my father's socks from his wellingtons, large creamy socks with utilitarian writ large, so we are going to make something a little more aesthetically pleasing for the end of our beds.
You will need the following:
Selection of Christmas fabric strips 
1 yard / metre of wide ric rac braiding 
Christmas fat quarter, choose one with a good pattern
1/2 yard / metre plain cotton lining fabric
Selection of Christmas ribbons
1/2 yard / metre of cotton batting
Cutting mat, rotary cutter, dressmaking shears
Iron and ironing board

Let's get cracking, iron your fabrics and set them aside.  You will need a template to cut around, either use an old stocking and draw around it, or at this time of the year, there are lots around in magazines and Christmas make books (check out your local library, so use one and adapt to suit you... ie, with a longer, wider leg if you think Father Christmas is going to be generous this year!

Cut out two in cotton batting, two in the plain cotton lining and one in your fat Christmas quarter.  Lay your Christmas fat quarter on top of one piece of batting, now this is important, really IMPORTANT, lay the other piece of batting down and ensure that the toe is pointing in the OPPOSITE direction.  
Now we are going to layer up the stocking, cut strips of varying widths, now play with them, see which ones work best together.  You could lay them in parallel lines down the stocking or fan them out around the heel.
Sew down the strip at the top of stocking using a 1/4" seam allowance, now sew the next strip to the first strip, iron the seam open, continue this until it covers the whole of the stocking.  Trim the excess from around the stocking.  
Now the fun starts... more is more at Christmas, pop some ribbon over the seams, for the other seams use an embroidery stitch in a contrasting colour... one of those that you have on your machine but never use.  You could apply some applique, a snowman or a child's name... make sure you choose children with short names or we could be making Easter stockings!
Pin your ric rac braiding so that the centre is 5/8" away from the edge and sew it down.
Place the two linings together, now put the back of your stocking with the right side up on top of them and finally put the front of your stocking face down so that you can see the reverse.  Pin them all together.

You will be able to see the line of sewing that you made to attach the braid.  Sew along that line, do not deviate away from it, stay with it all the way around.  When you have finished, trim and notch the curves... for a small project like this pinking shears will give you the easing you need.
Now turn it inside out and hey presto your lining is in place... yes, really it is.  Pin more braiding around the top of the stocking 5/8" from the top and sew it in place.  Measure around the top and add 1 1/4" to this. Now cut a strip of fabric 3" wide by the length you have just measured, sew the ends together using a 5/8" seam allowance.  With right sides facing, pin the top strip and the stocking together and just like sewing the stocking up, sew along the seam line used to secure the braiding.  

You will now have a raw edge, iron under 5/8" and pin it over the top of the stocking... now you can either slip stitch it into place or top stitch it into place.
Cut a strip of fabric 12" x 3", fold it in half lengthwise, sew across the end and down the length, trim the excess and turn it inside out.  Press and fold it in half... so that you have a handle, pin it inside the stocking on the back on the heel side.  Machine it into place and now it is ready to hang at the end of your bed or on your fireplace.
And now over to Handmade Monday to see what everyone has been up to over the past week.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Stuff The Bunting Christmas Tree Tutorial

Our local fabric shop... the wonderful Belle Fabrics (who still do not have a website... grrr!) had a version of this tree in the window, so with their permission I used it as a starting point for my tree.  I thought you might like this tree which means we can use lots of the techniques from the last couple of years, from how to make bunting, to the Christmas stars we are going to use on top of it.
You will need:

Two contrasting, yet complementary fabrics, two fat quarters will do it with fabric to spare
Cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter or dressmaking shears/scissors
Needles, pins and cotton
Fish knife
Ribbons, buttons, bells for embellishment
Iron and ironing board
Paper, pencil, ruler and protractor or pre-made template

Firstly we are going to create the templates for the tree triangles, I used a template from my patchwork, but if you are making one then I suggest 5" sides and creating an equilateral triangle with angles of 60'.  We will be using the classic 1/4" seam allowance.
Iron your fabrics and cut out 19 triangles in each fabric.
Take a triangle from each fabric pile and pin them together, with right sides facing, start two thirds of the way along the base of your triangle, sew around the other two sides and just one third of the base, which leaves a third open.  Trim the across each of the three corners to reduce the bulk. 
Take your fish knife and pop it into the top angle of the triangle and push it through so that the right sides are now out, make sure you poke the knife into all the corners to ensure that they are sharp and pointy.  
Iron each of the triangles.
Fill with your choice of stuffing, you will find it easier to use small amounts rather than using a quart to fill a pint pot.  
When it is full, over sew the opening.
Set out the triangles as shown, then tack the corners into place, use a knot in between the layers and use a cross stitch to hold them in place.
Now, play around with your buttons and ribbons, and sew them permanently in place.
Right, we need to hang it up so I thought I would use one of the patchwork stars we made a couple of weeks ago and attach that to the top so that you can hang it up, although you could also gussie up a wide ribbon, too.
I did have a thought... how about getting a group of pupils from a class to paint a Christmassy image onto calico triangles using fabric paints and then make it into a tree for a teacher or for a grandma... I can tell you now that it would mean so much more to a teacher than another mug or a candle but possibly not as much as chocolate or wine!
I know that Christmas Pie Crafts wanted to see if I had made any hearts, so this weekend I borrowed Deborah's twig tree and fireplace to see how they looked... so if you look closely you will see all of the quilted and patchwork decs we have have worked on over the last few weeks... hope you like them :)