Monday, December 19, 2016

Happy Handmade Holidays!

Christmas is just days away, and our house is all decked out for the season. I love incorporating handmade decorations in my holiday decor---made by me or by loved ones. The sweet sequined ornaments above were stitched by my maternal grandmother in the '70s. I still think sequins are magical! She used to work on felt projects all year round.

This beautiful bird nest ornament was made by my paternal grandmother. She created the nests from wood shavings and starch, and then filled them with beans that she dyed to look like eggs. I'm so happy to have these keepsakes so I can bring them out each year and remember the women who provided my first craft inspiration.

This little gingerbread house was made by me at my sister's annual gingerbread party. (Full disclosure: I did not bake the gingerbread; I assembled the house from a kit.)

I'm going to be taking a few weeks off from the blog world to spend time with my family. I hope you're doing the same. Before I go, I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blue Acorn and Oak Leaf Garland

Blue was my first favorite color. I had a blue dress that I wore to death when I was in elementary school, and I even had a pair of blue suede shoes (it was the '70s). Now I'd have a hard time picking a favorite color--I love them all! But I do find a blue palette soothing. Last year, I made a bunch of felt acorn and oak leaf ornaments in shades of blue and white. This year, I strung them onto a strand of white rick-rack to make a garland that I can keep up all winter.

For the acorns, I cut simple acorn and cap shapes from felt and sewed them together. I added chain stitch details with DMC embroidery floss. The white floss is DMC Satin (S5200), which has a gorgeous sheen. For extra sparkle, I embellished the acorns with glass beads, glittery buttons, and snowflake sequins. I also used rick-rack, one of my favorite embellishments, on some of the caps. To finish, I sewed pairs of acorns together, stuffing them with polyester fiberfill before I stitched them closed.

For the leaves, I embroidered chain-stitch veins on oak leaf shapes that I cut from felt. I assembled the leaf ornaments the same as the acorns--sewed pairs together and stuffed them with fiberfill. If you look closely at the photo below, you'll see that I sewed a jump to the back of each ornament for hanging.

Here are the finished ornaments, waiting to be strung onto the garland. They look so frosty and wintry, I think I may have to make myself a cup of cocoa.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pink Christmas Tree Cross-Stitch

I've always wanted a pink Christmas tree--one with fluffy faux branches, white twinkle lights, and colorful kitschy ornaments. Since I haven't gotten around to indulging my pink tree craving yet, I decided to make a miniature cross-stitch version. (The design is actually worked primarily in backstitch and half cross-stitches. The only full cross-stitches are on the base.)

I stitched my little tree on 18-count white Aida, which creates a finished design size of 1 1/2" by 2 1/2". I used two strands of DMC Light Effects E168 Silver for the base, trunk, and branches. For the "needles," I used three strands of DMC Six-Strand Embroidery Floss in 776 Medium Pink and 605 Very Light Cranberry, alternating the shades along each branch. To add some extra sparkle to the design, I sewed a pink seed bead to the tip of each branch and the top of the tree.

Pink Christmas Tree   ©2016 Kathleen Berlew

Follow the chart above to stitch your own tiny tree. Of course, you can use any colors you like. I think I might make one that's all silver--I'm in a vintage kind of mood these days. I framed my finished tree in a little silver frame at a flea market last year for fifty cents (I can't resist bragging about a bargain), and I think it suits the design perfectly. I may not have room in my house for a full-size pink tree, but I can definitely find a spot for this one.