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.
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
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.
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.
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.
See, it really is that easy. Your very own nativity characters.
And a stable for them all.
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.