Here we go again...
Well, I have to admit that back in March when I wrote my first blog tutorial, I didn’t think we would still be here in November. However, It doesn’t feel quite so lockdowny this time, perhaps because the schools are struggling on and more of us are still going to work. Plus, it’s hopefully not for so long, which is a blessing considering the change in the seasons and the onset of colder weather curtailing our outdoor activities somewhat. The upside of a lockdown in November is that Christmas is just around the corner!! I have vowed to buy local where possible and make as many presents as I can in the weeks ahead (watch out friends and family!)
Many of our brilliant local fabric and yarn shops are working tirelessly behind the scenes to offer a full online service with collection possible from the shop or by mail. I must give a big shout out to Leanne at Gather’n’Sew in Bourne https://gathernsew.co.uk, Lucy at the Stamford Fabric Company https://thestamfordfabriccompany.com and Rachel at Ewe https://www.i-love-ewe.com for making sure we can get our hands on everything from fabric, patterns and thread to machine needles, elastic and fantastic buttons to ensure no one gets stuck on a sewing project.
So to get you started I have been making some little Christmas decorations for inspiration. If I were still able run my sewing clubs we would be making these little treasures together but it’s over to you this year!
Make them yourself, with the kids or get the children to surprise you with their creations.
Here’s my little gingerbread collection...
I love a gingerbread house and although tempted to smother it in button ‘smarties’, candy canes and icing, I’ve kept mine quite understated. Feel free to add as much as you like to yours.
I started with the basic house shape and an ‘icing’ roof, which I stitched onto one of the house shapes along the bottom edge only at this stage, the top gets stitched on when you sew the two shapes together.
Next I added a door and drew round a cotton reel to create a circular window under the eaves. Both of these were worked with white thread using a running stitch to look a little bit like icing.
To create a candy cane effect, I have used red thread to whip the running stitch. To do this knot your thread and starting on the back bring your thread out at the beginning of your white running stitch. Thread your needle under each white stitch without going through the felt at all, working from right to left each time. You should achieve a twisted look of alternate red and white threads.
I used the same method to create candy canes either side of the door but you could also use red and white pipe cleaners, shaped at the ends.
More embroidery in white thread with back stitch, chain stitch and French knots completed my ‘iced’ gingerbread.
Once you’ve finished decorating your house with your chosen ‘sweeties’, it’s time to stitch the house shapes together. I added a folded ribbon for a chimney and a loop for hanging.
Leave a little gap to add some stuffing then stitch the gap closed. I added a button for the window, stitching it through all the layers to give the house a quilted look.
Here’s a variation on a theme for a Scandi inspired house with snowflakes.
No gingerbread house is complete without some residents and this cute little fella is just the job.
I started by stitching his features and decoration onto one of the gingerbread man shapes. I added some little black beads for eyes, a pink bead for his nose and obviously, a smiley mouth!
Next came his bow tie and smartie buttons, before placing the two shapes together and stitching round the edge with a running stitch in white thread. When adding your hanging loop, make sure you stitch securely through the ribbon as you make your way round the edge.
Leave a little gap to add some stuffing and stitch the gap closed once he’s full. These shapes don’t take too much stuffing so take care not to end up with a lumpy gingerbread man.
Finally I stitched his pipe cleaner candy cane to his hand and secured the stitching on the back.
For an simpler project, a couple of beads, a button and some trim can transform a circle into a gingerbread woman. I think the addition of a bow at the top definitely makes her a girl! For a gingerbread man the bow could be at the bottom like a bow tie.
Again, I stitched the eyes and mouth onto one circle of felt (and used a pink ink pad to dab some blush on her cheeks) before stitching the two circles together. I used some ric rac trim as I stitched around the edge but you could just use white thread as before, remembering to leave a gap for some stuffing before finishing off.
Finally, I stitched the button for her nose through all the layers to give her a squishy face!
There are lots of simple decorations you can make with felt and buttons so I’ve put together some Christmas Craft Kits following the runaway success of my Easter offering. The kits include coloured felt, two pages of templates and ideas and a completely yummy selection of buttons, beads, bows and bells. There is some thread to get you started, ribbon and some felt shapes too. All in a Christmassy range of colours!
To get your hands on one of these, reply to this blog or contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org while stocks last.
Meanwhile, take care, stay safe and don’t forget to keep sewing. It’s proven to help with our mental health, well, that and cake!