Nativity Bunting Tutorial

Some of you may remember that, back in May, I took part in a craft tutorial link up.

In essence, lovely bloggers across the internet beavered away to make something fantastic and then left a trail of breadcrumbs so that others could follow in their footsteps to make similar items. I designed a Scandi Style embroidery pattern for a cushion cover.

Well, there’s another crafty link-up and this time we’ve all been getting in the Christmas spirit.

My contribution is a handful of felt nativity characters ready to brighten up your mantlepiece.
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They’re really fun to make and you’ll be able to dash them off before you can say “ho, ho, ho”. Well… maybe not quite that quickly but certainly in plenty of time to use this year.

Now its just a few simple steps before you’ll have your very own nativity bunting.

As I’ve done previously, if you’re a dab hand at this sewing malarky then the headings of my instructions will be more than sufficient to guide you towards a completed nativity figure. If, however, you’re a little newer to the world of sewing then I’ve added a bit more detail, and some hints and tips, in the hope of making things a little clearer.

No matter what your level of experience, your starting point is the templates for these guys.
Mary and Joseph Patterns
Shepard and Wise Man Patterns
Stable Pattern

1. Cut out the felt pieces.

There are really two options here, both of which start with cutting out two egg shapes in a colour of your choice.

If you’ve moved onto making the stable, then there are obviously no eggs in the stable. Well unless there’s a rogue chicken, hiding behind the manger, that I’ve failed to notice. So just cut out the stable shape instead as your base shape.

Then, you can either cut out the shapes as they appear on the pattern, or layer the shapes up. I chose the second option, and have tried to explain it in a bit more detail below, using the Joseph template pieces.
Patternpieces

2. Sew the pattern pieces onto your first egg shape.

I chose to use whip stitch to attach all of the pieces. As felt tends not to fray you could instead sew a line of backstitch or a simple running stitch along the edge of each shape.

Now I didn’t sew around the outside edge of the egg shape at this stage, it makes it easier and neater to do that when you’re fitting the two egg pieces together later.

If, however, you find the felt fidgeting a bit then you could just run some simple temporary tacking stitches around the outside to hold it in place. You could also use pins but I try to avoid this as I just end up stabbing myself as I sew.

I’m sure you’re less clumsy than me and can handle this level of risk.

3. Attach the front egg shape to the back egg shape.

You won’t need to turn the pieces inside out after sewing because there’s no inside seam. You just need to place the egg shapes on top of each other as they will appear when the decoration is complete. So the clothing, beards, faces etc need to be on view at the front.

At this point you also need to put in place whatever you’re using to create a hoop to hang these guys by. I used some ribbon that I already had.

The lack of fiddly turning inside out means that it’s a simple case of folding over the ribbon and placing it between the two fabric pieces where you want the hoop.
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You then need to join the two egg shapes by sewing around the outside and, when you get to the hoop, just keep sewing but make sure that your stitches catch the part of the hoop that is between your felt. This will anchor the hoop in place.

Again, I used whip-stitch for this outer seam, but backstitch or a simple running stitch are options too.

And remember to stop sewing your outer seam when you’ve got about two to three inches left un-sewn. Don’t sign off yet, stay away from any knots, this is just a momentary pause in the proceedings.

4. Stuff the figure and complete the outer seam.

I used normal toy stuffing for the nativity figures, but found that wadding used for quilting worked better for the stable as it sat a bit more neatly. The choice is yours. You could even leave the pieces unstuffed particularly if the felt you’ve used is quite thick.

So finally pick up that needle and carry on stitching around the outside, then finish off securely.

Tada!

See, it really is that easy. Your very own nativity characters.
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And a stable for them all.
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So now you know how to do it, are you going to stick with the characters and stable, or are you tempted to add a few accessories – perhaps a sheep for the shepherd or gifts for the wise man to bring?

Might you downsize the designs to hang on your tree?

If you’ve not room for the full ensemble, it would only take a small amount of juggling to make a single decoration out of the stable with Mary and Joseph. I’ve had a go at making a Nativity Decoration Pattern for this, in case you’ve only got room for a small number of visitors this year. It just goes with the caution that it’s untested as a pattern.

But there’s no need to stop there, you could leave out the hoop and sew velcro on the back. Then attach matching velcro squares onto a firm board or fabric to create a “make your own nativity scene” as a gift for a child. I’d personally be tempted to opt for a dark blue background with a black silhouette of hills and palm trees, but really the sky’s the limit.

Finally I’d hope that some of these designs would be simple enough for an older child to sew, with a little guidance along the way. Perhaps you could cut out the pieces for Mary, Joseph and the Stable and bundle them into little kits, as an advent craft to make with a child in your life.

I’m sure there are many more nativity craft projects out there if you want to try something slightly different, but this is my take on it, my little bit of the Christmas story.

They’re a little bit wonky in places, not quite perfect, but they bring a warm glow to me when I look at them.

And really I’m often so occupied with getting Christmas “just right”, whether it’s perfect presents under a pristine tree, or the ultimate roast potatoes.

But then I think about where it all began; two young people with nowhere to stay, shunned by their community while bringing their first child into the world. Suddenly, I find that stage managing my Christmas to within an inch of its life doesn’t seem quite so important.

So I’ll be hanging my homemade, not quite perfect, nativity figures in pride of place in my home to help me remember that when you really get down to it, Christmas is all about love.

So, let me be the first to wish you a Christmas filled with love and I hope that these little nativity figures help to bring a little more love into your home.

And now time for something a little different…

In a departure from my usual needle and thread based endeavours I recently decided to try something a little different.

A little off the beaten track, for me.

Being naturally cautious (and fearful of heights) I steered around the sky diving and bungee jumping and headed straight for a lino-printing and stamp-making class.

Now there are some of you that will recall lino cutting from your school days, but not me. I have vague memories of there being lino cutting but I don’t specifically remember being entrusted with a foamy sheet and a sharp implement.

In retrospect, and given my track record of accidents, this was probably a wise omission from my education.

In any event, I can now highly recommend such off-piste crafty adventures.

I loved experiencing the texture that lino-cutting affords you. I found myself having to really think about the spaces in my designs as much as the lines.

So a fun day, a new skill experienced (though far from mastered) and a challenge to reflect on the spaces in my sewing, and my current under-use of texture.

And in the meantime, here are the fruits of my efforts.
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Normal service will resume shortly…

So there’s been a bit of radio silence recently… a lot of radio silence really.

It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say, but almost that I’ve had too much to say.

There’s been returning to school and a birthday party.
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And the bittersweet bundling up of baby clothes to sell or pass on.

A host of milestones which, although occupying the same places as they always do, seem to be increasingly separated by shorter and shorter periods of time.

Which is why I find myself flanked by a boy growing alarmingly close to my own height, and a toddler with an ever increasing vocabulary and a surprisingly specific set of opinions.

But the new school year is well and truly worn in, the balloons and bunting are tidied away and the proceeds of the baby sale are stashed away for holiday spending money next year. Ready to help us make new memories as we try to pause the frenetic passage of time for just a moment before it all begins again.

And me?

Well, I’ve been beavering away on a new embroidery project and here’s a teasing glimpse.
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But this has had to take a back seat while I worked on an entirely different endeavour that I will be sharing with you next Wednesday.

Until then, I hope that you have a weekend that creates fresh memories filled with laughter and love.

And breathe….

And so we’ve now got back into the routine of school runs and toddler groups again, I’ve finally had time to reflect on the summer.

It’s been a good summer but a challenging one, balancing the needs of a toddler who couldn’t walk reliably and a five year old boy who could, the toddler who wanted to go out and DO THINGS and the five year old who wanted to play Lego or watch Scooby Doo (or a certain Dragon film).

As a result of this juggling act, trying to keep all the plates in the air, my energy levels took a hammering, and my creative times did too.

Which I find interesting because I’ve always said (and still believe it to be true) that being creative ‘feeds’ me.

I think that this summer all my creativity went into making our days work and be fun.

There may have been a certain amount of dispute resolution too…

That said, we managed to be creative on one level, be it more dependant on wind and sun and soil than paper or thread.
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And managed to enjoy a bit of the natural creativity around us on a few trips out.
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But it was mostly dragons.

And Lego.

And more dragons.

Drawing in thread

Just dropping in to share about a blissfully peaceful and creative afternoon today at a sewing workshop with the talented Roanna Wells.

A fantastic opportunity to think about incorporating spontaneity and abstract ideas into my sewing, given my predilection towards neatness and symmetry!

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I chose to try a bit of ad hoc exploration of a single stitch (see I’m talking the lingo already!).

At first I wasn’t sure of the end result but I think it may be growing on me.
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Either way, I came home refreshed, challenged and motivated.

I’ll post more about the creative and chaotic exploits of the Hoogally household in the midst of mid-summer-madness.

But for now I’m attempting to stay serene and unflustered!

Ellie Made It!

So today we are being treated to another brilliant balloon jellyfish, this time courtesy of Ellie.

Ellie’s jellyfish has a mass of swirling twirling tentacles to catch your eyes and a fantastic furry smile in case you are ever in need of cheering up.

My favourite part, however, is his jaunty little sun hat.
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And here is Ellie hard at work making her jellyfish friend. Just look at all those fantastic ribbons.
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Thank you Ellie for sharing him with us.

But wait… I can’t finish without sharing a little jellyfish secret.

You see, every time you walk past them they move in the breeze and their shiny ribbon-y tentacles twist and turn as if to say a wibbly jellyfish ‘hello’. It almost makes you want to walk past them just for fun.

And if that doesn’t make you smile then I don’t know what will. Thank you Keira and Ellie. You make the best balloon jellyfish.

Keira Made It!

And so we find ourselves with another fantastic “I made it!” and very excitingly it’s a double episode!

So our first talented crafter is Keira who, along with her sister, has made a brilliant balloon jellyfish.

These are always my favourite posts and my favourite projects. I love the fact that when children craft there’s no limit to their creativity, no restraint, no holding back.

And why should there be?

Quite frankly if you’re a homemade jellyfish then I can see no reason not to have as many ribbons and decorations as possible.

I’m sure you’ll agree that Keira (and her sister Ellie, as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post) have both ensured that their balloon jellyfish are as magnificent as any jellyfish could possibly want to be.

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My favourite parts are the beautiful ribbon tentacles, twisting and twirling as if they were swimming along in the sea.
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And here is Keira working away on her jellyfish.
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Thank you for sharing your jellyfish with us Keira, his big bright smile has cheered up our house while he visited us.

Tying up loose ends…

I find that summertime is a slightly challenging time for my crafting.

No, scrap that… I have absolutely no issue with some calm sewing, seated in dappled shade with a backdrop of distant overlapping sounds of summer; lawn mowers, children’s laughter and cheerful bird song.

But it’s not quite the scene that you find in our garden at this time of year.

It’s a truth often said (or at least which should be often said) that a half finished sewing project, sun tan lotion, melting ice creams, and sand pit contents are not the component ingredients for a happy crafter.
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And in a final blow to my crafting plans, the Little Pumpkin has decided that day time naps are now firmly placed on the negotiating table.

So it can feel as if I’m constantly chasing my tail, but I know that I’m not unique in this pace of life.

And in the midst of all the chaos my sense is that, before I know it, the Monkey and Pumpkin will be well on their way to independence, running off with friends and leaving my ‘goodbyes’ hanging in the air unheard.

That before I know it, I’ll find myself longing for the days when a paddling pool was the epitome of post school entertainment.
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After all, it’s nice to be needed isn’t it? Nice to be a main cast member rather than the support act.

And so my ideas mooch around my head for a little while longer, but it’s a trade I’m willing to make. I might not be making all the projects I’d like to but I’m helping two amazing children grow into the people that they have been created to be.

And I’m walking with them as they discover the gifts and talents that lie their hands and the things that make their hearts sing the way that being creative resonates with my heart.

And in the meantime I’ve been trying to move things along and tie up loose ends, in particular a dress for the Little Pumpkin that I started for Easter but missed the deadline.
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In a fit of frustration at the dresses’ audacity to fail to be completed on time, I allowed it to sit there requiring, but not receiving, attention.

But it does look adorable on Little Pumpkin and so I’ve picked it up and fallen in love again with its pattern and colours.
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So now it is hemmed, pressed, finished and ready for wearing to a special day in a few weeks’ time.

A tale of two cat bags…

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Recently our two year old God-Daughter had to go into hospital for an operation and I found myself pondering what I could create to make her smile.

Whilst racking my brains, it struck me that I hadn’t seen her carrying a bag of her own around.

Now pretty much every toddler girl (and pre-school girl, and school girl…) that I know loves a good bag. This particular little girl loves cats and so it was clear that if a bag was going to capture her heart then it would need to have a cat of her own as part of the design.

Now I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t always get my projects right first time. Planning ahead is not my strong point, but I like to think that I make up for it in enthusiasm.

And I charged so quickly into the creative process that I didn’t consider running off a mock up version before officially committing needle and thread to fabric.

In fact, I was so focused beavering away in my evenings that I really failed to step back and consider the bag as a whole.

Otherwise I might have noticed that the bag was coming up a little small for a two year old and all the fun treasures that she would want to carry.

But I didn’t and so, last stitch sewn, ends tidied up and tools put down… it slowly dawned on me that things had gone a tad awry. To put it bluntly, the bag was too small. It needed to be significantly bigger to carry all of her treasures.

And so I scratched my head, stomped around the house with frustration and eventually picked myself up, and started again. I wasn’t going to be beaten!

And after slightly more preparation than was given to my first attempt, I decided that a toddler messenger bag was clearly in order.

There are a whole raft of tutorials out there on how to make messenger bags suitable for the short of stature. I must apologise that I didn’t have the time to take photos of the bag making process myself but time was of the essence.

I was, however, pleased with the original cat design and decided to applique it onto the front of this second bag.
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I used a fusible webbing and then secured the design firmly in place with hand stitches around the edges.

In case you too are in need of a friendly cat to cheer up a bag, or skirt or other such item, then here is my pattern ready to resize and roll out to suit your needs. There’s also an alternate version to allow you to play around with the pattern and make it your own.

Here you go!

And if that’s not enough then try using buttons for the eyes, a few characterful whiskers or push the boat out completely (and the applique idea overboard) and embroider the outlines instead.

Perhaps some whipped backstitch and a bit of satin stitch for the pupils or nose?

And it’s not all bad news; Little Pumpkin has adopted the original bag which, it turns out, is a remarkably suitable size for a just turned one year old with a penchant for her brother’s metal cars.
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Even More Super Cute Scandi Embroidery!

A while ago I took part in a blog-world link up adventure. To cut a long story short, a handful of lovely bloggers shared tutorials for an array of flowery items.

My contribution was a scandi style embroidery pattern that I sewed onto a cushion but which I had designed to be easily adapted for a whole plethora of scandi-fied projects.

In keeping with the floral theme, I provided the patterns for the flower designs.

There were, however, a pair of little scandi style birds that snuck their way onto my cushion and which turned out to be a surprise hit.
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And now, after a frankly inexcusable delay, I am proud to share the pattern for these little guys.

scandi bird pattern

For my little bird, I used backstitch and whipped backstitch for the main part of this design.

You’ll notice that the pattern doesn’t direct you on how to fill the wings in. You could simply choose to sew the outlines in backstitch, as the pattern suggests.

I chose to fill the wings with satin stitch and you’re more than welcome to do the same. Or how about a bit of applique to add a twist to the design?

However you sew these little guys, I hope that you like them as much as I do and that you manage to find a place for them in your hearts and your homes.

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