Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Stockings, a picture tutorial

Traditions abound at Christmas time.  I enjoy participating in the same activities year after year.  There are things we all look forward to every holiday season.  Lee quoted it best with the humorous statement someone said or wrote: "We don't have traditions.  We just do the same things year after year."  Okay, well it's funny to me.  Stockings have become part of our tradition.  I am pretty sure I had the same stocking for several years growing up, but then it was lost or ruined or something...ever left a forgotten orange in a stocking for several months?!

Lee's family all have the same stockings.  During my second Christmas with Lee we were at his parents' home and his mom gave me all the materials to make a stocking.  Soon thereafter she sent me a supply of beads and felt she was no longer using.  After making mine, I made stockings for all of my other kids, except Clark.  His stocking was his great-grandfather's.  Lee's mom replaced Grandpa Hibbard's name with Clark's--what a great keepsake!  Though Elden is the last child, I have kept making stockings.  They do take time, but they are fairly inexpensive.

On to the tutorial.  Here is a list of supplies you'll need:

Felt, various colors
Needle & Thread
Pinking Shears
Glue, such as Tacky Glue

Cut a stocking out of felt.  I do red, but pick any color you want.  You'll have to buy more than just the craft sheets of felt for the stocking. Cut it about 1/4 inch bigger on the edges.  You'll be sewing and trimming it later.
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You'll need these pieces too.  Oh and felt irons out quite nicely.  Just use a low iron.  If you need to iron it after you sew on the decorations, just flip it over and iron the back.
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You don't have to make the stocking part very "tall" because you'll add a green top to it.
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Next, you'll need some thread, a needle and some accessories! This is my stocking box.
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Many of these beads and sequins I got from Lee's mom.  Every year I put them back in the same bag and re-staple it. If you shop at Michael's or Hobby Lobby you can always get 40% off coupons, of course making the beads and such very cheap! Oh, if you want the jagged edge, you'll need a pair of pinking shears.  I bought them specially for stockings and I think I use them only on the stockings.  I was happy with the purchase though!
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When I make these stockings I like to break up the process.  Unless you have a whole day solo, don't anticipate getting these done in one sitting.  After I cut out the stockings, I cut out the personalized felt pieces. Sometimes I hand cut them, but other I make a paper pattern first.
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I finally decided to keep most of the little patterns I made.  Maybe I can use them again?
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Next I sew on all of the felt decorations. 
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Usually by the foot of the stocking is where I personalize it.  It's tricky to personalize a baby's stocking, but Elden sure likes candy and balls!
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Next is sewing. First I cut the pointed edges on the bottom of the green top. There are two green tops, a front and a back, so make sure to cut both.  Then sew one green top to the front of the stocking, and then sew a green top to the back of the stocking.  Line up the front and the back, pin, and sew all the way around.  Trim closely with pinking shears (be careful to not get too close!). If the initial stitching of sewing the green top onto the stocking over laps the stitching of the outside of the stocking, you can unpick the overlap if you want.  I've done it before.
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Next trim the skinny red strip and the green strip with pinking shears. Then sew the green on top of the red.
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Then attach to the stocking.  After that sew on the bells--double up on the thread.  My new bells have cut through the thread and I've had to re-sew some. Last step, write the name in glue and then sprinkle with glitter.  Let the glitter dry completely.  I actually haven't had the best of luck with tacky glue, but I keep using it.  It spreads out and flattens when I use it.  You could use a hot glue too...maybe do a letter at a time?
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Last Christmas I made my parents and my sister Stephanie and her husband Andy stockings.

My dad loves gardening...hence the rake type thing and the carrots, loves football and has his PhD in Food Science thus the grad hat.

My mom likes chocolate and candy and published a great young adult novel with Houghton Mifflin, The White Dove. I tried to re-create the book. She also likes horses and had one when she was younger, so you could say that is why there is a sleigh...

Andy loves music and play the guitar, is currently attending law school, and goes to BYU.

Stephanie loves clothes--thus the gloves, is getting her Master's degree in Food Science and also attends BYU.

I finished Sheldon's stocking a couple of weeks ago.

Sheldon attends BYU-Idaho and is in the National Guard.  Don't you love the bling on the kevlar helmet?

Here are all of our stockings...sorry you can't see the details!  It was hard to get a photo with all of them in.
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My parents' and Sheldon's stockings. 

Whatever you create with stockings have fun with them!  It's a fun piece to pull out year after year and enjoy during the holidays.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Purses

Last Christmastime in 2010 I made these skirts for the girls.  I mistakenly made them too big, but thankfully they yet again fit them (perfectly) this Christmas! 

Haley and Shanna Christmas of 2010
Dec 5 2010 Shanna Haley

I bought this purse for the girls' (they each got one) birthday in May.  We got them a mini Book of Mormon to put in the purse, thus becoming their little Sunday bag. Well, blue doesn't really go with their Christmas skirts.
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Bear with me, I am not a good writer...but I think the pictures will tell the tale. The purses were only $1 at Target so I actually bought four of them. I figured if my girls lost one then I could have a back-up.  Amazingly they haven't lost their purses.  So I took one of them and ripped it apart with my seam ripper.  I figured I could use it as a pattern.  When it comes to fabric I am more of a pattern person. That isn't necessarily true with cooking, but it sure is with fabric. 
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If you don't have a purse to rip apart, here is the basic pattern that you want...a rectangle with a square, rectangle thingy cut out of the middle edge.  I used fabric that I had on hand.  This fabric is from my high school choralier skirt. I cut of these shapes out of the black fabric. Cut two. I had a lot of interfacing (I bought too much one time) and ironed some interfacing on one of the black pieces (outer shell) of the purse.
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Fold the piece of fabric in half, with right-sides together and stitch up the sides--don't stitch the little hole that is created. The corner will look like a right angle....or a resemblance of one as my picture tells. Right here I have just sewn my lining. Oh and as you can tell the seam isn't very wide.  I am not sure how wide it is, but it is narrow.  You can make it wider if you want.  Just sew the same seam width on all pieces.
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Next, where the hole in the fabric is, make it into a triangle...or a volcano where the hole is at the top and the seam is in the center of it. Lay it flat. Sorry my picture is kind of crooked of the top of my "volcano". Then stitch up the hole.  The stitching of the hole should be perpendicular to the stitching of the seam sewn previously. Yet again, a picture of the lining. Sorry...does this make sense?  I think once you do it you'll see what I mean.
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And voila! You get a nice stitch for the bottom of the bag. This is actually a picture of the outer shell, not the lining.  But you do the same stitching on both pieces.
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Before you sew the outer shell and the lining together stitch on any other things you want on the outside of the purse, like a fabric flower.
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So now you have the outer shell and the lining.  Time to sew them together!
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Make sure the outer shell is turned right-side out and that the lining is wrong-side out.
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Now you need a break.  Here are some random pictures that Shanna took.  She managed some good lighting!
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Okay, so I forgot to tell you about the handles.  I had a fake satin belt for one of my formals that I never wear any more and I used the belt for the handles.  I used the blue handle to determine the length of the handle for the purse. The belt was about 1 1/2 inches wide.  I folded it in half and did stitching down both sides--so basically it was a piece of fabric folded in half, and then folded in half again.

Pin the lining and the outer shell together, folding the edges into the center....see below.
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You're ready to sew!
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I found while sewing that it's better to pin the handle likes this instead of perpendicular.
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And you're done! Okay, maybe a few hours later.... I am excited to make some other purses for the girls, now that I know how to make them!

Now they have purses to match their Sunday Christmas outfits!
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Chocolate Sugar Cookies

If you want to try something different from the standard sugar cookie, or don't want to do gingerbread, try chocolate sugar cookies instead.  I found this recipe at smittenkitchen.com and she calls them "Brownie Roll-Out Cookies" because if you roll them a little thicker and bake just until set, they taste like cookie brownies.  The dough was very easy to work with.  If you are in a rush, you can skip the dough chilling step.  Just be sure to flour your work surface and rolling pin so the dough doesn't stick.

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies*
From smittenkitchen.com

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup lightly salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top.  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Eat as is, or decorate as desired.

I actually used the boy and girl cookies I made for a lesson on Samson in my seminary class.  The kids made hair for Samson using peanut butter play dough, and then they used their cookies to act out the story.  Very fun. 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jingle All the Way

I seem to make these Jingle Bell Bracelets/Ornaments every year.  Whether it's for nursery or Primary at Church to accompany "Christmas Bells", or for a playgroup activity with a Jingle Bells theme, or for the music lessons I teach, this is a fun little activity that all the kids enjoy. 
Chenille Stems (aka pipe cleaners)
Jingle bells--if you use multiple bells clustered together, the jingling is better
Beads (Pony Beads)

You may need to help the kids get the bells on, but after that the beads are pretty easy for even the littlest fingers to string on.  When they are done, twist the ends of the chenille stems together to form a bracelet.  Then sing "Christmas Bells" or "Jingle Bells".


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soap Angel

Here's a cute, quick gift idea.  My visiting teaching companion gave me and the sister we visited these soap angels for Christmas.  I thought it was such a great idea.
20 oz. bottle of dish soap--in this picture it's a holiday edition called "Cranberry Spice"
Gift Wrap Ribbon-the kind that can curl
1 dish cloth
Fold the dish cloth like a paper fan, to make pleats.  Tie it securely around the middle, then tie and curl the ends of the ribbon and loop around the top of the dish soap.  Done.
It's so easy you could fix it in the car, after stopping at the store, on your way to visit a friend.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reindeer Party

With Christmas approaching, it's fun to get together with family and friends.  It's even more fun when you have a theme to center the get-together around.  Reindeer are a fun theme, especially for kids. 
 You can make these fun cupcakes.  Just go to the FamilyFun website.  Mine looks cuter than theirs though. 
You will need:
24 cupcakes
Chocolate frosting
Mini Marshmallows
Mini chocolate chips
Mini Nilla Wafers
Red Hots or red M&Ms
Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  Add broken pretzels for antlers.  Marshmallows and chocolate chips for eyes, mini nilla wafers and a redhot or m&m for the nose.
Get antlers at Dollar tree for your own little reindeer.
Read the original story by Robert L. May.
Sing the song by Johnny Marks.
Read a book about real reindeer.
Watch the 1964 television special.
Make reindeer food--eat carrots and celery.  Or make magic reindeer food--oatmeal mixed with a sugar sprinkles, to sprinkle outside for Santa's reindeer.