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Monday, January 25, 2016

Christmas Projects

Sorry I disappeared again, folks! I'm trying to do better, but I'm obviously not always succeeding. The ballet costume has been on hold because of other projects with more urgent deadlines and because of a stressful job. I have been working on some smaller projects, though.

Can you guess what these were for? I made it for a friend to give to her son as an early Christmas present. Just to tease you, I'm not going to post the finished pictures until after showing you another project. (Although, you've probably guessed what it was.)

My husband's family makes these adorable stockings for everyone in the family, including those of us who marry into it and the new babies. Sometimes they even make them for close friends of the family. They originally had a relatively random assortment Christmasy figures on them, not necessarily matching as much as Jon's and mine do. Among the choices are a chimney, a scotty dog, and a few other things. They did not originally have any non-Christmas items to represent the owner of the stocking because they were generally made as children were born, when my mother-in-law couldn't know their interests or talents yet. But Jon's sister-in-law got a unique item, which got Jon and me each wanting one too. So a couple of years ago, I took our stockings apart and moved around the decorations to make room, and I embroidered an atomic symbol onto Jon's stocking because he loves science, and I embroidered/beaded a needle and thread onto mine (for obvious reasons).

Anyway, as you know, I made that felt nativity this past summer, but I didn't really know what to do with it. Around the time we bought our Christmas tree (a real one this year), I was struck with inspiration. I could use it on a tree skirt to match the family stockings. But first I had to fix the balance because the nativity clearly needed to be centered, but with the three Wise Men on one side and a shepherd and one sheep on the other side, it was lopsided. So I designed an angel to go on the shepherds' side.

Then I decided I wanted holly and snowflakes to decorate the sides and back of the tree skirt. I drew one holly leaf freehand and then cut twelve out of green felt (for four clusters of three leaves). Then I cut out a paper snowflake (the normal way, folded in quarters then thirds) keeping it simple and leaving a fair amount of paper intact so that I would be able to cut it out of felt. I sewed the snowflakes on first.

I hand-stitched the snowflake down, adding in clear sequins (harvested from the wedding gown I modified for the Halloween wedding) and some bluish-clear beads as I went along to give it some sparkle. Then I positioned the holly leaves around the snowflakes. I embroidered the veins down the centers of the leaves, sewed green beads from my stash to the points of the leaves, and made holly berries out of 1/4-inch ribbon sewn into French knots.

I also thought the tree skirt should have something spelled out on it the way the stockings do. I considered our last name, but I changed my mind in favor of Noel. I drafted the letters myself because finding a font with just the right shape to the letters was proving to be too difficult. I also bought some really large sequins in assorted colors.

Everything was handsewn on. I added the gold cord around all of the nativity figures because one of my Wise Men is mostly red, so he wouldn't show up very well against the red background without some help. People won't spend much time looking at any of it super close-up, but I still sewed everything with matching thread because I'm too nit-picky not to.

I have already made the red, white, and green braid for the edges, but it is not attached because I don't know what fabric I'm using for the backing. Unfortunately, you read that right. I still have not finished it, so it did not get used on my beautiful Christmas tree this year. But at least it will be ready for next Christmas.

And here's the mostly-done tree skirt. Any votes on whether I should add more embellishment? Either more little felt things, or just scattered sequins? I feel like it is proportionately more empty than the stockings are.

Okay, now I will stop tantalizing you. You were waiting on the edge of your seat, right? Do you recognize these?

They are the jammies and robe from The Polar Express! My friend's son is a huge fan, and she surprised him by getting him these and taking him on a Polar Express train ride! And my little heart is made happy that he loves his jammies enough that he likes to wear them at home.

Here's the happy kid!

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