Saturday, November 26, 2011

Handmade Christmas Ornaments

I have a bunch of left over scrap silks and fabrics from my various craft projects and wanted to find something useful for them. So I made hand-made ornaments to gift this Christmas. This photo tutorial will show you how to make your own. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Pick out some fabrics that you have on hand. Anything from a pretty napkin, to an old soft shirt will work perfectly. I'm using some old silk scraps that I practiced marbling on last year.

Items you will need:
1. Fabric
2. Scissors
3. Pretty Ribbon
4. Needle and thread
5. Stuffing. I'm using fake snow, $4 a bag at Michaels craft store.
Pillow stuffing works great too. You could even use cotton balls if you had a lot on hand.

Fold your fabric so its ugly side out. And cut out two circles.

You should have two circles of fabric stacked ontop of each other with the pretty sides facing each other on the inside. Then using your needle and thread, stitch around the outside edges. If you have a sewing machine you could of course use it and work a lot faster. I'm a horrible seamstress. Truly I'm terrible. So if I can make these few simple stitches, I promised you can too. If you can thread a needle and tie knot you can make this work. And if you can't do those things, just find a friend who can.

I losely stitched around the outer edges, about half an inch from the edge. Go all the way around the circle, leaving just an inch un-stitched. You need this little opening because you'll need to reach in and pull the pretty side out, and then complete the circle of stitches and tie your ending knot so the thread doesn't come out.

You can see in the photo above, I've left just a little space so I can turn the piece inside out.

Then finished off your stitches.

Next it's time to use the stuffing/filler. Simply place some stuffing in the middle of your circle, pick the ugliest side because it's the outer layer of fabric that will be most visible on your ornament.

Then gather up the corners, sort of like you're making a won-ton.
Yummmy, fried won-tons...

Securely grab the tops. You can wiggle your finger down into the stuffing to make sure it's nice and secure in the bottom and none of the stuffing is sticking out of the top. Then using a piece of ribbon, tie it nice and tight into a small little knot so it doesn't fall apart. Sorry I don't have a photo of this, but I needed both hands to tie the knot around the top.

Next it's time to make the loop of ribbon allowing your ornament to hang from the tree.

For the loop of ribbon, simply cut a string, as long or as short as you'd like. Make sure it's long enough to comfortably hang from a tree branch.Then stitch the ends together. It doesn't need to be perfect, you could even hot-glue or duck-tape it if you prefer.

And then it's time for the most difficult part--stitching the ribbon loop to the inside, top part of the ornaments so it hangs straight. I say this is the most difficult because it's easy to prick yourself with the needle. I certainly stuck myself a few times. I'm sure there is a better way to do this, but this was a fast project and I wasn't worried about making it perfect. Just make sure you attached the loop securely so it won't rip out.

And you're done! You can add some extra pretties such as this metallic gold ribbon for some extra sparkle. I just tied the gold ribbon around the neck of the ornament.

I'll brief re-explain it again with this second ornament to make sure you've got the steps down.

Step 1: cut out two matching circles of fabric.
They don't have to be perfect circles. Mine certainly weren't.

Step 2: stitch your two circles together, ugly side out. Leave an inch open so you can pull it right-side out with the pretty fabric on the outside.

Step 3: After pulling the pretty side of the fabric out through the open hole, finish off the stitches and tie a secure knot in the thread.

See above how non-perfect my circle is? It really doesn't matter.
You just want to have smooth, rounder edges vs sharp, jagged or square edges.

Step 4: Place the stuffing in the middle of the circle.
Don't forget to pick the ugliest side as the outer piece will be the most visible.

Step 5: Gather up the edges and tie the neck off with a tight knot of ribbon. Again, you can wiggle your finger down to push the stuffing to the bottom of the ornament so it doesn't stick out above the knot you'll tie around the neck.

You can see in the image above the tight little knot I made with white ribbon around the neck of the ornament.

Step 6: Create a loop of ribbon to hang your ornaments by. Use whatever method works best for you. Stitch, glue or duck-tape. Then affix the loop to the top part of the ornament.

Step 7: If you want, add some extra decorative ribbon that festively hangs down for a little extra holiday bling. And your done! Handmade ornaments ready for your tree or to give away as special gifts. Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hot Toddies and Bonfires

Fall is my absolute favorite season. This past weekend I feel like I got to take full advantage of the glories autumn has to offer. I spent a cool, sunny afternoon helping to collect firewood with my hubby. Then we had a massive bonfire. Grilled out, watch the embers and sipped on adult hot cocoa. The next morning Nick kept the fire going and we had coffee by the warm embers. It was like camping out but with the luxury of a hot shower and a down comforter. Later that day some friends came over and I painted this quick study of our backyard in oils. It's always fun to paint outdoors--it's a good excuse to really make a mess. By the end of the afternoon I was covered in greasy paints. This painting is more of a study than a finished piece. But sometimes all you want to do is get your hands a little dirty with some creativity in nature.

The evening turned in a beautiful night. Clear skies, lots of stars and another massive bonfire. We lit about 50-70 candles of all shapes and sizes and placed them everywhere so we could see to cook up a feast. It was so beautiful, surrounded by so many candles in the dark, I wish I had taken a picture. My friends are quite the chefs and when Scott and Nick get together the food is an event. They cooked shrimp, delicate thin steaks, chicken and delicious pan fried Pad Thai noodle cakes in cast iron skillets and make-shift grates over the logs and flames. We had sweet potatoes wrapped in foil cooking in the embers. And of course, more yummy adult hot cocoa. The hot toddies were delicious so I'm sharing the ingredients for you to try one yourself.

Per mug:
-A shot of Meyers rum (any dark rum will do)
-A shot of Baileys
-half a packet of hot cocoa mix
(or the whole packet if you like it really sweet)
-fill with hot water and stir

And I added a Hersey's chocolate kiss in the bottom of of each mug just for a little extra love.