Monday, November 18, 2013

November Craft Challenge: A Doxie Christmas Ornament

When I first saw the title of Anja's project, I felt a bit thick....maybe because I am not a dog owner, I've missed out on the doxie (doggy) trend, so I actually had to Google it in order to see what was going down. When I did, I ended up finding some of the most hideous decorations known to man....and I own a glittery squirrel. I had no idea what to expect. Although I DID suspect that whatever she had made was bound to be heaps cuter than what I had already seen.  Then I realised I was spelling it incorrectly (doxxy) and was more pleasantly surprised to find a breed of dog. I (It is so worth googling 'doxxy ornament' to see what this COULD have been). Thankfully, for all of us, Anja's doxIE ornament is EXACTLY what you all need this Christmas. Here she is now to talk you through it:

My mind has been all over the place lately - and definitely nowhere near Christmas mode. Anyway, this month's Craft Challenge is for Christmas. So I had to come up with something, right?

Christmas in our home is a mix between traditional and whimsical. For example, I have all the classic Christmas ornaments from my grandma, but they share the tree with all kinds of adorable not-so-traditional ones: the Eiffel tower, turquoise toadstools, a silver pick-up truck... in a blue, white and silver extravaganza. That's why I decided to create some doxie Christmas ornaments this year.
First of all, you need some fabric in the colour of your choice. Then you can either print out a doxie silhouette or you can draw one yourself. Just make sure that the legs and the tail aren't too thin, or it will be very hard to sew.
Transfer the silhouette onto the fabric (I always use a regular pencil). One doxie faces right, the other one left. Don't forget the sewing allowance. It can be quite small, though.
Attach the two pieces of fabric to each other and sew along the outlines. Where the shape bends (the neck, the tail, the legs), cut into your sewing allowance to make life a bit easier. Leave the belly open for the stuffing.
Find a corresponding piece of fabric for the ears. Draw the outline for two long and floppy ears, sew along the outline (leave a gap). Then turn the inside out and close the gap. Sew the ears onto the doxie's head. (For my first doxie, I stuffed the dog before this step. But it is easier to attach the extras while the doxie isn't stuffed yet.)
Stuff the doxie and close the belly.

Now you only need to make a cute bead collar with a little silver bell (after all, it is a Christmas ornament) and a ribbon. Easy, right? Some glitter might be nice, too.

This doxie might not be your traditional Christmas decoration, but for me it is spot on. I hope you enjoyed it! I can't wait to see what you all created for Christmas - come again next week to link up your projects (and to give me some much-needed Christmas inspiration)!

I really cannot wait to see what you guys have been doing too. I cannot even think of Christmas right now. Selling a flat, moving, marking examinations, writing full reports, organising a poetry recitation and maintaining day-to-day teaching responsibilities (you know....lesson preparation, book and assessment marking, meetings and the like...) is taking up every inch of's taken up so much head-space I even forgot that I am going through a list of companies the size of me with whom I need to change my name. How have I only got 3.5 weeks of work left? I keep asking myself how can I fit all of this into the next 29 days? I am not sure I can....let alone even consider Christmas shopping.

Any tips on coping with this folks? Well, needless to say I will be back next week with the round-up post and then my last project of the year. I have an idea of what I want to do. Shall we keep our fingers crossed that I have time?
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Monday, November 11, 2013

November Craft Challenge: Seeing Christmas Stars with PJ

 I am not 'technically' late with this post, folks. It is still Monday, right? Even if it is past 10pm here in dark, cold, wintery England. My stomach did little flips over the starry offering from PJ for this month's craft challenge. So much so that I had to go back and check to see what I made for my go last week. I made wine charms it turns can check them out here. Everything that happened two weeks ago feels like a dream, such has my life spun back to the joys of teaching during a report and mock examination period (if you didn't read the last part with dry sarcasm...try doing it again...!) Did I really get married? My new passport application and wedding certificate would suggest so...we'll see how much better it all feels in 5 weeks when I move to Germany. Watch out husband...I'll be there soon! Anyhoo, enough about's PJ with some more festive fun.
How is it November?  This month snuck up on me, for real!  Luckily I have had this project percolating in my brain since August! Before I went back to work my mother in law, sister in law and I spent an awesome weekend thrifting and antiquing in Virginia, and while we were there we had dinner at a certain country style restaurant that let's you shop before or after your meal. They had all their Christmas stuff out already (yuk) and for the low price of 5.99 I could have bought one of these.
For a lot less than that, I'm making my own!
 I'm not going to lie and say these were easy, but luckily for you I've already made ALL the mistakes and now you don't have to. 
I picked up an XL sweater at the thrift shop on 1/2 price day. $2.50. I have a white one as well.  When Mr. T finally lets me put up my Christmas Tree it's going to be MUCH larger than last years and I'm going to need a lot of ornaments! To start this project you need a star. 
 I rounded the corner of mine because I thought it would look better after sewing.  My star is about 7 inches across, don't go smaller it will be impossible to turn right side out. 
 Trace the star onto the thinnest fusible interfacing you can find.  Since you're cutting these stars out of a knit if you don't add something to it the stars just curl up. 
 Here is my first tip for you, don't worry about trimming the star out of the interfacing, once it's on the sweater you just have to trim it AGAIN! 
 Iron on (oops, I drew on the wrong side of the interfacing, I guess tip one should have been draw on the right side of the interfacing!) 
 Trim it out.
Add a bit of twine so you can hang it. Second tip, tie a knot that will end up on the inside of the ornament so it is triple reinforced.  The first one I made tore out of the ornament despite triple sewing over it.  Do not skip this step or you will be sorry!  I promise.  
 With right sides together sew with the smallest seam allowance you can manage, leave an opening to turn it right side out. 
Here is why you don't want to skip the step that adds a hanger.  It is infinitely easier to turn this right side out if you can put a crochet hook inside and grab that loop to start pulling it through. 
 Now add some stuffing, and close up the opening you left and you have a cute ornament for pennies not dollars. 
I am in the process of kicking myself for giving away all of my old jumpers to a thrift shop. With moving places I have down-sized to the max and been quite ruthless in sorting out my stuff. I considered keeping the jumpers to do a project, but I am scared to sew knit just yet. Maybe with this super tutorial I will be able to get over it. Have you guys got any knitwear related projects and tips for sewing with this tricky materials? As usual, I need all the help I can get. Anja will be sharing next week, before we head into the penultimate vote of the yearly challenge. 
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Monday, November 4, 2013

November Craft Challenge - Tis the commence Christmas crafting and create some Wine Charms.

It really nearly is the season to start thinking about Christmas. It is unusual for me not to have all of my gifts planned and a schedule of home-made gifts on the go. Having lost my craft stash to Germany in the house move, I am having to take advantage of my week in Germany to make my contribution to this month's challenge. It is so nice to think about Christmas a bit, although it has made me feel somewhat behind.
Before I share with you my idea for this month, it is time to announce the winners of the vote from October's Upcycle Craft. It was massively close with only one vote between each place.
Results of the Upcycle Craft Challenge 2013
1st - Anja's Greyhound Pillow
2nd - Rosie's Tribal Chalk Board
3rd - PJs Plate Rack Makeover
 This month my craft is designed to help with your Christmas entertaining. A few years ago, I bought my mum some wine charms, so that people did not get confused over whose drink belonged to whom. Now that I am so close to setting up my own home, I think it is vital that we make some for us. The champagne after the registry office last week was certainly a little bit of a Russian Roulette for whose you were actually sipping on. I figured even when not entertaining some festive wine charms would help to create a bit of Crimbo sparkle. I dug into my Christmas craft stash and came up with these beauties:
 I have made three different designs because I go crazy in the post-Christmas craft sales and buy all of the scrap-book, charm, papers and beads I can when it is all reduced by 70%. The only thing I bought for this project was the florist wire for less than 2 euros.
 To make the base of the charm, you need to construct a round base.  I wrapped my wire around the top of a beer bottle. Turn one of the ends back to prevent what you thread on from jumping off. For my first charm, I experimented with different bead patterns. You can't beat a bit of candy-cane glamour. When I was finished, I just turned back the other end. With a little squash these will clasp together nicely around the base of a glass.
The next round incorporated some wooden scrapbook shapes I had from last year. Make a small loop of wire before attaching this to the charm base. I put beads on either side, and some little gems on the front to make them even more sparkly and festive.
 I then found these little scrapbook pins, which have a nice vintage feel. To attach these it took a bit more work. I had to snip down the pointy ends with wire scissors and the loop took a bit more construction. Take care - it is possible to cut yourself - or so I found out!
So there you have it, three sets of wine charms. When you are a festive party animal like myself (cough), you couldn't possibly be seen with the same set twice in one season! As it only took a couple of hours to make all three sets, it is perfectly reasonable to cosy up by the fire and prepare enough to make even the most plain glass, a sparkly Christmas treat.
Next week PJ will be delighting us with her festive frolics. Remember you can link-up your Christmas projects on the last Monday of November, leaving plenty of time for people to still take inspiration from your ideas. Now what are you waiting for? Pimp those wine glasses!
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