Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Handmade Christmas

Can't believe January is nearly over.  Can't believe I've not said anything about my handmade Christmas gifts.  Can't believe I didn't take photographs of some of them.  Never mind, here goes.

This year I resolved to use the very wide velveteen ribbon that was in my Aunt Rita's stash.  I've had three enormous rolls for going on seven years now and I thought it high time to use them or lose them.  I bought rolls of brown paper from Wilkinson's (sort of like a five-and-dime, though these days it's more like 'dollar' or 'pound' shops, eh?) for £1.  I used this Youtube video on making 'pom pom' bows (I've never called them that, but there you are).  My mom used to do this all the time - she never bought pre-made bows and I remembered bits but not altogether how she did it. The huge advantage of this method is that you control the size of the bow.  If you're making 30-40 in a row (like I did), be careful you don't get tired and try to cut your finger off (like I did).

For the ladies on my list, I made Criss-Cross Coasters.  A half-dozen each.  Times five.  That's 480 squares to cut out.

For Helen; the backs were all the lighter solid purple.

For Sarah. The backs were some Australian fabric
brought over by her Aunt Jane, as in upper right;.

For Lucy.

 My eyes were a bit criss-crossed by the time I finished, but they were still great fun to make.  

For Jules; the backs were all floral as in the upper left corner.

I thought hard about what colours to make for each person and I think this was what made it fun. Instructions can be found here.  I used the tip of having a chop stick on hand to help turn the corners, which was fun in itself.  

For Vivien, who gave me the green striped curtains.  

I was annoyed not to have remembered this tip about sewing sharp corners until I was doing the very last set.

It seems counter-intuitive to me, but making a diagonal stitch across the corner makes it turn out into a sharper point. Go figure.

For several other people on my list, mostly people in the States, I bought hot water bottles and made covers for them.  I ended up drafting my own pattern by tracing around the bottle for one side and adding a seam allowance all the way around.  I extended the top a few more inches so it could fold down and be buttoned. Then I copied that pattern and extended the bottom so it could be folded up.  I wanted it to be possible to easily remove the hot water bottle, but also for this not to be necessary in order to fill it with water.  I typed up safety and other tips (don't use boiling water; don't fill it, but do squeeze out the air before screwing on the top; virtually every British household has one of these things. )

I chose velvets and brocades to make the covers.  I had great fun choosing interesting buttons.  I only used one button per cover and I crocheted loops in colour-coordinated yarns and stitched those to the top and bottom to hold it all closed.  I thought they looked quite elegant, but forgot to photograph them before sending them off to the US.  Oh well.

Did you make any of your gifts for Christmas?


sanda said...

You were a busy bee making those coasters. Great idea for using up those odd quilting scraps. Don't you just love it whe you can use up the last bit of things? I might steal this idea for gifts next Christmas. Wondering if it might work to place some stiff material inside to reinforce them. But that might present a problem turning them. I've been looking at knitted covers for hot water bottles. Seems so British! Are they used in beds to warm cold feet or whatever else? We always had one at my home but I think mother used them for arthritic pains or sore muscles. Have you investigated Pinterest? There are so many good crafty ideas there! I could look forever there!!!

Shelley said...

Sanda - Yes it was a busy time,but fun. I don't know which is the greater - my love of using scraps (mostly free) or my hate of waste. I have to confess those weren't generally quilting cottons but clothing fabrics and I did use some heavy linen for Jules'; couldn't resist the colours. I wouldn't try inserting cardboard into this particular pattern. You are right that you couldn't then turn them inside out. What I might consider is using something plastic (I sometimes rescue abandoned umbrellas this time of year) to aid in water proofing.

I tried knitting a HWB cover but it took ages and didn't turn out well, so went back to sewing. Yes, I think of them as being British though I'm sure my Grandma and Grandpa had one. They are used for all sorts - keeping feet warm during the day (rest feet on it on the floor), putting in the bed to warm it up, I use it to warm up my feet when going to bed. I've even heard of people strapping them to their backs - the lower part that seems more prone to cold.

Yes, I do have a Pinterest account but found I did spend all day looking, instead of doing! Also, I find it difficult to find out more information - you have to do a bit of sleuthing to get back to the original source. It is very seductive, Pinterest,but I don't find it hugely useful. I don't lack ideas, I need more motivation!