Sewing and textiles with Ann
Do you feel obliged to make presents, because you can? I do.
It means that Christmas costs me far less than it might cost other people, at least in terms of pounds sterling. But it takes me hours to prepare. As I often take a holiday in the Autumn, and I wont consider the idea of hitting the shops in December, it means that I sometimes start my Christmas elf activities as early as September.
So when I disappear for days on end in the Autumn, I am in Santa’s workshop.
This year my theme has been about re-using things, or just simply using things that I have ‘in stock’. This wasn’t for any ethical or environmental reason; it just needed to be done.
I have already blogged about the bags that I made from an old tablecloth given to me by a friend. All the recipients will be together on Christmas Eve to see what I have done with the table cloth!
Then came the lavender bag project. I’ve been intending to do this for a while, but had struggled to find a source of loose lavender. Then I saw a bag of loose lavender at the Sewing Bee Live, and rather than buy it, I noted the supplier and sourced it myself, in a larger quantity. This came from Yorkshire Lavender, but there is also Shropshire lavender. Their lavender costs about twice as much as the Yorkshire source.
The bags are made from fat quarters that I won at SewBrum last year! The results have turned out to be really pretty with the addition of some lace from the market, or lace-y trimmings that I seem to think were free with a magazine. Interestingly, making the first lavender bag is lovely. But after six, there was a distinct lavender dust in the air, and I had to stop because I felt nauseous. I keep all the ‘ingredients’ in a box, and fill the bags through a piece of rolled up funnelled paper. Any spills are limited to being in the box. Each bag is slightly different. It fun working out what the next one will look like.
The mittens. These come from a template that was in Sewing World magazine. Again, all mittens have come from scraps of fleece left over from Bianca and my hoodie, which I must have made 5 years ago. The hoodie was one of the first things that I blogged, and it’s still one of my favourite creations so far! The magazine article uses an old sheepskin jacket to make mittens. They are stitched wrong sides together and carefully trimmed. I experimented a bit between using the sewing machine and the overlocker with the fleece. Machine-sewed looks unfinished and a bit untidy, but you do get the control to get round some tight bends and ensure that the sections fit together properly. The best solution is to machine sew all seams and then go over the outer edge with the overlocker. I have added buttons to the folded down cuffs. The mittens are very warm and surprisingly tactile. I drove all the way to Leeds the other week wearing the ‘prototype’ version.
The key pouches. This is a tried and tested make that was in an early issue of Love Sewing. I might have made 30 at some time or other in the last 4 years or so, and I am now using my second one; so maybe some of my friends need a replacement too. I do have to buy all of the supplies for these, which means felt, D rings and zips. They probably cost about 70p each, of which over half is the cost of the zip. All sourced from the market! As with the lavender bags, its fun making them each slightly different.
Oven mitts. These are a copy of an oven mitt that I bought in a National Trust shop several years ago. I just drew round it. I did have some difficulties sourcing the heatproof wadding, but eventually found some at VHaberdashery. My Mum used to use old towels when she needed heatproof wadding, but I have some problems with the concept of giving old towels as presents……. You will notice that I don’t always have the best colour of twill tape for each mitten. Most of this came from Minerva Crafts, but I notice that good old Birmingham market has a good supply in a wide variety of colours. I should have known!! I always tack round the tape in a matching colour before machining. This ensures that it is evenly wrapped around the fabric and will keep the tape in place if I just happen to drop off the edge of the tape whilst sewing. Yes, it happens sometimes!
All mitts are made from left over fabric. You need fabric with some weight in it for the oven mitt.
Some of these things are going into the bags for specific friends. I know that I will spend Christmas with one or two people that I don’t know very well – relatives of relatives for example. So they will get a selection of lavender bags and key pouches as little gifts. And they will also make little gifts for the friends with whom I have agreed that we are not giving presents any more. It has to be done, doesn’t it!!
There will be some gifts left over. I have over-sewed! Can you make one for my Mum? That’s quite a common request.
For the first time in years I went to a charity card and gift event at a house in Moseley. It started out as a Save the Children fund raising event, but has morphed into a small craft fair in aid of a range of other charities. I briefly suggested to the lady who runs the event that maybe next year I could have a stall to sell my hand made gifts for a mutually acceptable charity, perhaps along with some of Mum’s cross stitch (she’s very good at it) and maybe some hand made cards. It’s a thought…
When I have bits of fabric left over I can make little gifts, ready to be sold to raise money at the end of the year. Let’s see what happens, and if any readers in and around Birmingham would like to get involved, let me know.
Happy Christmas from Ann
PS I’m going to publish before Christmas, because I am reasonably sure that none of the gift recipients follow my blog – and if they do, maybe I will find out by doing this!