Just a couple of days ago whilst sorting through the gifts I'd bought for the boys' Christmas stockings I discovered that something essential was missing - the stockings!
Five years ago one of my major pre-Christmas craft projects was to make the boys their own personalised applique and embroidery felt stockings. They were made with lots of love over the course of December and since then they have made a star appearance each Christmas Eve to be filled with fun presents by Santa.
Not this year. Although I remember putting them away in a safe place when I was packing up to move, unfortunately I have no idea what or where that safe place was. They will turn up that is for sure, but just no this side of Christmas. A wise friend told me to give the boys pillow cases to use this year instead of stockings, but I couldn't quite bring myself to do so and two nights ago I cut out three stocking shapes from my felt supply and this is what happened....
There was no time to embellish or personalise this year, but I think the "Elf" style is cute, simple and effective. Whether my teenage boys appreciate my endeavours is another matter, but it makes me happy!
I also finished off another stocking which used the same motif as the Robin Heart that I made earlier in the month. I love the retro look of it - maybe I'll place it by the fireside next to the boys' just to see what happens.
Christmas stockings have been a major feature of the last few weeks for the Hope & Gloria Team and me - we have been making tonnes of adorable festive stockings in our sewing clubs and my next post will be a gallery of the wonderful creations made by our talented sewing club members.
I was really quite shocked to find that the last time I posted on here was back at Halloween! It has been a very eventful few weeks - a house move and the busiest half term ever at Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs have meant that the blog has been on the backburner.
This is not to say that the crafting hasn't continued (although at a much slower pace than usual), and now that the boys have finished school and our school clubs are taking a break until the new year/term, I can finally attempt to finish off a few of those sewing and knitting projects that have been on my to do list for many months. Hopefully, they will be finished in time for the big day - but watch this space....
I am really happy to have finished my vintage inspired robin heart decoration. I keep a special notebook full of sewing project ideas and whenever a new idea springs to mind I add it to the growing list.
This hanging heart decoration has been on my stitching to do list since November 2015 - I began making him in November 2016 and yesterday I completed it when I stitched on the ribbon and button.
If you have read my blog before, you will know that I am a huge fan of robins and I am happy to report that we have a couple of them in the garden in our new home - the perfect inspiration to prompt me to get around to making this decoration. I hope it evokes vintage Christmas Cards of days gone by featuring a fat cheerful robin. It is now hanging on a door handle adding festive cheer to our family room.
Christmas festivities have already begun with the Richardsons' - we had my family visiting for lunch last weekend and after watching Kirsty Allsop's Handmade Christmas programme I decided it would be fun to have a go at making our own crackers. As we were pushed for time I invested in cracker-making kits from Hobbycraft - I have to say they were a great introduction to making your own, and Theo and I had a lot of fun assembling them.
We used raffia instead of the silver ties supplied with the kit and we added name tags so that the crackers handily doubled up as place cards. There's no reason why this idea could not be put to use with shop bought crackers if you don't have time to make them.
Here they are in situ on our festive table on Saturday......
It really is lovely to add handmade touches to family gatherings - they are always appreciated and everyone seems to love a personal touch. Next year I'll try to begin sourcing materials for crackers a bit earlier so that they can be truly unique. Let's see if I manage it...!
Looking forward to sharing further Christmassy crafts with you over the next few days.
This year Halloween turned out to be a very last minute affair in our house. With the impending house move we didn't plan our usual party and the boys felt that now they are all teenagers (or nearly), it was time for them to put aside such childish things as dressing up.
This didn't stop me from getting the box of decorations from the loft and decorating our porch on Sunday afternoon ready to welcome trick or treaters the following evening.
I also managed to find some time for a spot of Halloween themed embroidery. I love Mexican Sugar Skulls with their intricate designs and bright colours. I wrote about their origins and use on this blog three years ago. If you'd like to know more click here . This year I had lots of fun using different embroidery stitches to create my own and the shape of the skull suits using an embroidery ring as a frame. It is now hanging on the wall in my workroom.
Yesterday evening when the boys arrived home from school the pumpkins were still uncarved and they had very little interest in turning them in to Jack O' Lanterns until I remembered a top tip from a friend and brought out my secret weapon - a drill!
Yes, it seems power tools are the answer when it comes to pumpkin carving post twelve years of age. Elliot and Theo were more than happy to get involved in making my glitter ball pumpkin. (Isaac was not so keen as he couldn't bear the smell of the pumpkin!) In just over an hour the pumpkins were carved and displayed on the doorstep in all their glowing glory!
We had more trick or treaters than normal this year - and Halloween turned out to be a fun evening after all with just enough sweets left over at the end of the evening to ensure smiley faces all around in our house!
Due to an impending house move and all of the planning and organisation that goes with it, I have been unable to run Halloween Sewing Workshops this half term.
As I have said many times before, I love Halloween and all of the fun that goes with it. This afternoon I have had a creative burst of activity and taken a break from packing boxes to make this cute pair - Bertie and Bella Batty Bats For Halloween.
They are fun and easy to make and since I can't run a workshop later this week I thought that sharing a Halloween themed tutorial would be the next best thing. Here's how to make them.....
You will need:
Small pieces of dark grey/black/grey and white felt
Two small black buttons
White and black embroidery thread
The Batty Bat Template (the print out can be found at the bottom of this tutorial)
Make your bat's face: cut two small white felt circles and sew on to the front of one of the body shapes and add two small black buttons. Embroider a mouth and fangs using back stitch and satin stitch - make his expression as crazy as possible!
For the wings you can either have single or double thickness. I have cut four wing shapes and stitched two together to make the wings double thickness and less floppy. If you want your wings to flap - cut just two wing shapes and have single thickness.
Pin the back and front body shapes together inserting the two wings in to the seams on either side. Sew around the outside edges making sure that you sew through all of the felt layers when you get to the wings. Leave a gap at the bottom of your bats body and add a small amount of soft toy filling. Sew up the remaining gap and your fabulous Halloween bat is complete.
You can add a loop through the top to hang your bat from - perfect for decorating the house this Halloween!
We have had a fantastic start to the school year at Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs! We finally got to make our Pocket Pet Cushions!
I began to design these super cute projects back in June. One of the things that I have discovered whilst running Hope & Gloria over the past few years is that children love making projects that involve using soft toy filling and they also love a pocket. We encourage our club members to be as creative as possible and often they will manage to add pockets to projects that didn't originally have them, so there was a tonnes of enthusiasm for our first project of the year. With a cute pet owl or pussycat, monster or mouse what's not to love?
As always our sewing club enthusiasts have been amazing this half term. Considering that many of the children are new to our clubs, the standard of sewing has been incredible. The Hope & Gloria Team would like to say a huge "Well Done" to everyone who joined us and we look forward to seeing you again next half term for our fantastic festive projects!
Owls were one of the first ever projects that we worked on when I began Hope & Gloria Sewing Clubs at St Jude's School six years ago.
Over the years they have featured as design choices for our sewing club members and I am still surprised by their popularity. This half term we made pocket pet cushions and the owls were just as popular as the other pocket pets on offer to make. Why wouldn't they be? After all these adorable birds have such appealing faces and shapes and they fit in so well with this time of the year with the fabulous Autumn colours to be found in the woodlands.
Suzy Stitch Owl began life as an old lambswool sweater that I had felted a while ago and was sitting around in one of my fabric stashes. "Something Old From Something New" was one of the categories at the Virginia Water Show in September and I had intended to make an owl from the sweater to enter in to the competition but as with many things, I never got around to it.
After an incredibly busy start to the school year at our sewing clubs, last weekend I finally began time to begin work on this project. Once the basic shape had been cut and I was cutting out the feathers and wings I began to think about using stitches as decoration and I decided that I could use the feathers to showcase a range of simple embroidery techniques and then I came upon the idea to use my owl as a teaching aid in my sewing clubs.
One of the many aims we have at Hope & Gloria is to teach children new stitches and introduce simple embroidery. Children always respond really well to a good visual to learn from and I am hoping that this is what Suzy Stich Owl will prove to be.
She features nine different types of decorative stitches on the feathers on her chest and star stitches on her wings. The wings are sewn on and edged in blanket stitch, the eyes sewn on with over stitch and the beak with back stitch. There is so much creativity to be had from just a needle and thread and this is what Suzy Stitch Owl is all about.
Many of the ladies from the Hope & Gloria Team will also be working on stitch owls to use as teaching aids and I am really looking forward to seeing how many of these stitches are being used by our clever and creative sewing club members by the end of the school year.
It is nearly a month since the Virginia Water Village Show. I have been meaning to post all about this lovely event for the past three weeks but the start of a very busy school year has meant I have been caught up in other things.
However, before I turn my attention fully to Autumn inspired projects and of course, Christmas, I thought I'd share why I love this type of event - the village show....
As I have driven around the local area and further afield this summer I have spotted so many signs for local village shows and I wonder whether the resurgence in popularity for handicrafts and all things vintage has led to a rise in the number of village shows. From here in Ascot to Cornwall during the summer, I have spotted lots of opportunities for gardeners, bakers, jam-makers and handcrafters to show off their skills and their wares.
For the last two years I have entered and won prizes for my knitted and stitched projects in the craft sections of the Egham Royal Show and The Chertsey Show - both of them fairly large in scale and a great day out for the family. This year Summer holiday plans meant that we were away at the time of shows but I was lucky enough to be around to enter The Virginia Water Village Show. This is a much smaller event but it perfectly embodies what a local gardening and craft show is all about.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't love winning prizes for my makes but there are so many other reasons to get involved in these events. They really do bring the community together. There are competition sections for old and young across lots of different gardening, cooking and crafting categories, so there is something to attract all family members across the generations. They provide an opportunity for local experts to showcase their skills and hopefully inspire others to take up a new hobby. There is also invariably a tearoom at a village show, so they are also the perfect opportunity to relax and make new friends over a cuppa.
This year I was delighted to win first prize in the craft section, but I was even more delighted to put my £1 winnings to use by buying this turban squash (modelled here by Theo), from the fruit and veg stall.
We were also given a fantastic recipe for Turban Squash Soup by the lovely lady from the stall, and following a quick trip in to the supermarket on the way home to buy ingredients we made soup to have as a starter with our dinner. Brilliant! There's nearly a whole year until next summer's shows but there is no time like the present to get making. I thoroughly recommend giving it a go!