Wednesday, 30 November 2011

December daily preparations! A stitch in time saves nine!

The key to success with the December daily is to have a grab box of "go to " items from completing the pages, so here is mine. I have used an RUB box and put in some off-cuts of patterned papers from the pages I made, some ribbon, buttons, a few different alphabets, some Christmas trimmings and embellishments from last years add on kit, some Smash stuff and some library pockets. these will be the basics, but i can grab other things if I need. This box will live on my computer desk in the study down stairs and along with scissors and a tape gun, I will try to complete the pages, as I blog every night. The pages for me consist of a least one photo of something about the day (not always Christmassy!) If I blog it, I can always catch it up later in the week in the album! In the previous years, I have managed it without too much difficulty.
We have been out in the town tonight, watching the Christmas lights switch on - an event we have not been to before, so these photo's may be the makings of a page tomorrow.

There were a lot of people there as the medieval bar was lit up for the first time since Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee! We managed a glass of mulled wine and also a hot pork sandwich from the hog roast! Very nice too! I am quite pleased with these photo's, taken on ISO setting whilst leaning the camera on a lamp post for support to stop camera shake! It was windy so I am quite chilly now! Love the photo of the church window in St Mary's too, with the lights on inside, it looks great! The butter cross in the centre of town looked very pretty with the draped fairy lights. Can you believe it is the first of December tomorrow????

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Craft Fayre for Christmas

I was doing all this crafting for Christmas for the Christmas Countdown and my school Christmas fayre.
I did a mock up of my stall at home on the dining table first, before going to school so I could be able to set it up much more quickly on the night. I bought a large patchwork double duvet  cover for the table drape and added some of my DIY bunting to the front. I then used some of my picnic boxes and old wine boxes and wooden trugs I have collected to display my wares as well as some vintage china. The vintage china in the wicker hamper was the china I bought for my tea party earlier this year, which I have decided to try and hire out. 
I displayed it all and included some leaflets about the hire and what was included. I displayed my shop sign which is the same as my Etsy shop logo.
I made lots of the things I crafted for the Christmas countdown. Unfortunately the sale was not as well attended as I would have hoped, so I am hosting a couple of evenings this week for friends and family to purchase. I have made my mince pies and have the mulled wine ready to warm. All systems go tomorrow and Thursday, let's hope I do better this time. 
All set with the December Daily for tomorrow? I have bought a new mug for the occasion! 

Never had a Christmas mug before! Will be back tomorrow with my first DD post. TFLx

Monday, 28 November 2011

Squirrel playtime!

 I was watching two squirrels, from my office desk, playing together in the trees! Could I photograph them????? Could I heck! Here they are disappearing behind the hedge,
 here is one but not the other!
 Here is one and the tail of the other!!!
Decided to go for single shots instead!

Even then the branches were getting in my way! Not bad though, through glass and handheld on max zoom at about 20 feet away! I am rather happy with them!
By the way, the offending boiler, has just this minute been fixed. I am slowly thawing out.
Barney is unhappy with me switching the gas fire off though! He was enjoying toasting!
Ok, well I suppose I better get back on with my school work now. Distractions over! Cute though! I feel a squirrel layout coming on! TFLx

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A cold winter chill :(

Our central heating boiler packed up last night about half past ten, so we are experiencing a cold winter chill - indoors!!! Why do these things always happen at a weekend????? I may be forced to do the ironing just to warm up!!!!  Well it is an option I have thought about, but as yet have not been that desperate! Fortunately we were invited to my sisters for lunch today, so as long as we can survive tonight, we will hopefully be able to get someone out tomorrow to look at it.
Just made the Studio Calico reveal and was very happy to get myself a couple of add ons. I have not let myself buy add ons for a while, but I wanted the Christmas add on for the December Daily album next year 
and I loved the first add on with its vintage style and linen background stamp! Fab!
Off to make another hot coffee to warm up! TFLx

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The advent of Advent! Are you ready?

Now my Christmas countdown is over and my little Christmas Craft fayre at school is done, I can finally turn my attention to advent which starts tomorrow (in the church year). I was reminded by my son that I need to search out the advent calendars, but I decided to do a cost cutting exercise on the chocolates that fill the calendar (much to my sons disgust!!) and make them myself! You might be able to do this next year if you think ahead and save a mould like I did from one of our previous advent calendars that we got as a gift! It's not that I'm being tight, but we are all looking for ways to economise this year and I am no exception! If you do it this way you often get a nicer tasting chocolate into the bargain!
It is hard to see I know but this is the clear plastic mould I saved from a previous year's chocolates. There are tree, angel, cracker and robin shapes in it to name but a few.
I mixed a couple of bars of Sainsbury's basics milk chocolate with half a bar of the more expensive Menier dark chocolate.
I melted them together in the microwave for a minute or so depending on the power of your microwave, but be careful not to overdo it or the chocolate will lose it's temper and be ruined.
Using some low fat cooking spray, spray the mould and wipe over with kitchen towel to remove all the excess, or your shapes wont be shiny. Drizzle the chocolate into the moulds using a teaspoon until full.
Slightly overfill each one as they do shrink as they cool. When cool, turn them out and trim away any excess chocolate from the sides with a warmed sharp knife.
Here are some of the shapes;

Nice little chocolate shapes at a fraction of the cost of filling each day with a fun size! For those wanting to do a non sweet advent calendar, try filling each day with a note of things you will share together or do each day as a treat.
Will be blogging again tomorrow about my Studio Calico reveal wish list! TFLx

Friday, 25 November 2011

Christmas Countdown project 25 - Shaker Angel

I love Shaker style! This simple Shaker style angel is my final project of the countdown. She is based on a a small conical glass vase from IKEA and makes a great ornament for a mantle or window sill.
You will need:
Small glass conical vase IKEA or similar (or a glass bottle of some kind) 
Fabric off cut in plain linen for wings
Scrap of wadding or interfacing for the wings
A fat quarter of Country style fabric (some will be left over)
Scraps of beige felt for hands
1 Stainless steel pan scourer for hair
Ribbon scrap for waist bow
Black pen
Stuffing for the head
1. Download and print the pattern pieces from here. Cut out two head pieces and two wing pieces in natural coloured linen,  leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance all around.
I have modified an idea I saw in Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle Book I have used before in this countdown. I have made her head bigger and the base wider to attach her to the neck of a vase or bottle.
Stitch together and snip the curved seam so it id=s easier to get a nice curved shape when you turn it right side out. Stuff carefully using a pencil to pack it in securely and smoothly. Place the stuffed head over the neck of the bottle or vase and wind tightly with strong thread or linen string to secure it.

2.  Cut a long strip of fabric for the bodice and arms, this should be an inch and a half wide by the width of the fat quarter.
Fold it in half and stitch a 1/4 inch seam along the whole length of it and then turn it the right way out and press. I always use a "Rouleaux loop turner" for these fiddly pieces it is my most treasured tool and not expensive either (£2 or £3!) I would invest in one, it saves so much time!! Search "loop turner" on the famous auction site or buy anywhere that sells sewing items. Mine is visible at the top of the photo above.
3. Cut off a 12" strip for the bodice, the other 6" piece will be the arms. Wrap the 12" strip of fabric around the body of the angel to create a bodice, and secure in place with a hand stitch at the back.
4. For the skirt, work out how tall your bottle or vase is and measure a rectangle the width of the fat quarter by the depth of your bottle plus 1". Stitch the two short edges together for a back seam in the skirt. Stitch a narrow hem on both longer edges to neaten. Gather the top edge for the waist of the skirt, using a needle and strong thread, pulling it up tight as you sew. Place it over the vase and secure the gathering thread tight with a couple of stitches.
Cover the join of the skirt and bodice with a scrap of ribbon tied in a bow at the front.
5. To make the wings, stitch all the way around the two layers of fabric and one thin layer of wadding or interfacing for a slightly padded feel. Clip the curved seams. Make a slit CAREFULLY across, through one layer of the wing only, from side to side and turn the wings right side out. Close the gap with stitches that we will cover later with the arms.
Add some feather lines in stitching to the wings.
6. For the hands, glue two layers of felt together and cut some small hand shapes.
7. For the arms, wrap the remaining 6" strip of bodice in a loop and pin. Push one hand into the cuff of each arm and secure with glue or stitches. Stitch the two hands together crossed.
Place this strip over the opening in the wings and stitch in place through all layers using the sewing machine.
 Thread this over the head of the angel and secure with a stitch to each shoulder of the bodice. 
Pull the bow on the waist through to the front of the hands
This is what it looks like form the back.
8. To complete the features, mark the eyes with a black pen, then unravel a few curls from a pan scourer and secure to the head using a few stitches. I made a few metal halos out of mine rather than hair.

So there she is! A fitting end to the Christmas countdown 2011. I hope you have found some inspiration here over the last 25 days! I am all crafted out! I think I need a rest. I will be back tomorrow with a few Advent catch ups and Dec daily preparations. I will be blogging my December Daily everyday in the run up to Christmas, if you want to join in.  Happy crafting and please leave a comment if you have enjoyed this year's trawl! TFLx

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Christmas Countdown Project 24 - Dogs Dinner

 Before you mention it, I know I have made these before, two years ago, but they were a real winner, so no apologies for making them again! They are slightly updated from last time.
You will need:
Paper plate
A squeaky meaty toy (chop, chicken or hotdog!)
Some munchy sticks, I use the packs containing the different colours
Other chews including mini bones and chicken twisters or similar
Cling film
Dog rubber stamp and ink pad
Round tags die cut using the Tim Holtz Tiny Tags die
Curling Ribbon
Jingle bell
Linen string
1. Group the munchy sticks into colours and wrap them in cling film to hold them together on the plate. Keep the cling film to a minimum, so you can still see what colour the sticks are. Arrange with the rest of the 'food' on the plate.
Wrap with the cellophane and secure underneath with sellotape. (I had to do this whilst Barney was out by the way, or he would have wanted all the squeaky toys!)
2. For the tag, die cut the circular tag from the Tiny tags and tabs die, Write the dogs name on if you know it already! Thread it onto some linen string with the jingle bell and tie it, then make a loop, so you can thread this on the ribbon like a dog tag.
Stamp your dog stamp on some card, this one is from Joanna Sheen I think. Cut around the dogs head with your craft knife so that when you fold the tag, the dog stands up in relief. (Optional)
Wrap the plate with ribbon and knot, then thread on the dog tag and the gift tag before knotting again. Curl the end of the ribbon.
That's the dog's gift sorted!!
Just to mention two other projects from the past I will be making again this year are Voucher Vases- a nicer way to give a gift voucher,
and Money Wallets
worth a look if you are new to the Christmas Countdown on this blog.
Join me tomorrow for the last project of the 25. Please leave me a comment with which project you have liked the best or link me to any of your projects that you have made from my countdown, I would love to see. TFLx

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Christmas Countdown Project 23 - Come out wee Mousie!!!!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!!!
I love Mailig Mouses!!! (Can I say that???) Lol! 
I have been looking for a pattern that I could adapt to make my own mouse. I finally found one here that I could alter slightly, so this is what I used. I downloaded the pattern from there and then altered the mouse to have a longer snout. If you are going to do that too you need to lengthen the central head panel too.
I had to make him a tail too! I plaited some neutral coloured cord and stitched it on the back. I altered the position of the ears too! If I made it again, I would make the arms and legs slightly shorter - arms particularly.
You will need;
Linen fabric for the mouse
Off cut of floral fabric for the inner ears and body
Cord for the tail
Sewing Machine
1. Cut out the pattern pieces, adding a 1/4 inch on all edges for a seam allowance. Pin them on to the double layer of fabric for all the pieces. Don't forget to cut the arm and leg pieces twice on the double fabric.
Cut the body and one pair of ear pieces from the floral fabric.
2. Stitch the arm and leg pieces together in pairs.
Turn the right way out and then stuff carefully and evenly with the polyester stuffing using a pencil to help push it down. Leave the top of each arm and leg flat, not stuffed right to the end.
3. Stitch a plain ear to a floral ear in a pair.
Turn the right way out and press flat. Pin in position on the head piece and stitch the three head panels together carefully, to make it three dimensional. (Sorry forgot to photo this - the most important bit!!) Turn it right side out and stuff carefully.
Stitch the arms and legs to one of the body pieces. Then stitch the head in place. Carefully
Stitch the second body piece over the top - you may have to do this by hand. Stuff the body and stitch up the last seam.
4. Make a tail from plaited cord and stitch to the back of the body. Tie a narrow ribbon around the neck in a bow. Using two tiny buttons for eyes, stitch these in place from one side of the head to the other pulling tight to make them sink in slightly. Stitch a bead on for the nose. PLEASE NOTE: if giving this to a child make a small felt eye instead.
I have to say that someone else in this house has decided that this is his!
I found him carrying it around the house like a baby! Will be wrapping it for him for Christmas!
Join me tomorrow for the penultimate crafting project of this years Christmas Countdown. TFLx