Secret Santa 2012 + Swap recap

One last little bit of Christmas 2012 showing off, I couldn’t leave this stuff out! My awesomest-in-the-whole-world knitting group did a Secret Santa swap this year, exchanging gifts at our now annual Christmas dinner and it was so lovely, it just made me love our group even more. I know some of you are out there in internet-land, so pardon me for being squishy for a second, but every last gift was so lovely, so thoughtful that it really made my heart feel enormous. It was the proper true spirit of Christmas.

Ahem. (Little tear in my eye.)

Seriously, it was the best. I Secret Santa-ed the amazingly talented and adorable and so sweet Suzy, of Suzy Sewing. Suzy’s gradually working on developing her own line of patterns, which will be under the name Suzy Patterns. (They’re going to be amazing, just you wait and see.) So even though she’s not ready for a launch or anything yet, I wanted to make something for her sewing room, something special that made it really hers.

Secret Santa Gifts

So I embroidered her logo! Embellished with a little sprig of vintage flowers, just because it was cute.

Secret Santa Gifts
Secret Santa Gifts

And I framed it in a hoop (no photo of that, sadly, because I had to pack it up the second the glue was dry!) and used my pal Carina’s excellent embroidery hoop framing tutorial to learn how. Highly recommended! I wasn’t convinced I could get that lettering as neat as a logo should be, so I also got her a coffee mug for her studio and made a little coaster to go with it:

Secret Santa Gifts

My Santa was my very good friend Christa (who doesn’t have a blog but really should, doncha think?!) and she spoiled me rotten! Lookit!

Secret Santa gift for me!

My new tiny bunny friend is called Dorothy and was handmade by Christa from a vintage pattern with vintage fabric, with tiny Liberty fabric details. Isn’t she lovely?! And not just any Liberty fabric, but a print I’d admired in a quilt at the Festival of Quilts last summer, which Christa hunted down for me and then treated me to a piece of in my Secret Santa package …

Secret Santa gift for me!

… as well as a couple of others that I’d admired on a recent shopping trip. That one (at the back of the pile) will be used right away in project for the bedroom redecoration I’m working on and will blog about soon; the two fabrics at the front really need to be used together, don’t you think? But I can’t decide for what yet. It can’t just be any old thing. And excuse the bunny bum in this photo, you just had to see Dorothy’s adorable tail. (Also, it reminds me of how a guy-friend in high school used to call me ‘bunny bottoms’ as a term of endearment, which I still think is so sweet.)

And lastly, I did a Christmas swap with my penpal from the Netherlands, who I met on Ravelry during the 2012 Tour de Fleece. (Hi, Mirjam!) She sent me the most exciting TWO packages for Christmas, full to the brim of Dutch treats I missed – kruidnoten and a chocolate J and stroopwafels and hagelslag and everything I ever said I liked …

Oh my gosh. I opened my swap partner's packages and I think she overdid it! There's like 3 layers of Dutch treats here!! All stuff I said I missed. NOM.

… as well as lovely baking kits and some beautiful spinning fiber and ornaments and … seriously, talk about being spoiled, it was insane! I grabbed that quick Instagram photo before I just dug right in.

I sent Mirjam a slightly less extravagant package, but I did make her a little handmade gift for the studio space she will soon have in her new home:

Mini-Quilt for Christmas Swap
Mini-Quilt for Christmas Swap

I already forgot a bit now, but I think those pieces are 1″ square – maybe 1.5″, but pretty small. I used Elizabeth of Oh, Fransson’s Quick-Piece Tiny Squares method which is, as advertised, amazing for precise piecing of tiny pieces. I’m not sure it made it faster so much, for me anyway, but definitely neater. I used the fabrics I’ve been hoarding from the big V&A museum Quilts exhibition a few years ago, because I know my penpal loves textile history.

As always, more photos over on Flickr, and that’s about all for Christmas 2012, folks! It was a little insane, as always, and I’ve already decided I’m taking a year off from handmade Christmas (or at least handmade by me – there will almost definitely be handmade shopping though) for a year, just for a break from Christmas stress and to allow me to come up with some new ideas. But this year was a pretty good success, I’d say!

Liberty Hearts Ornament Tutorial

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

So there’s about a week left to Christmas, right? Here’s a tutorial for a quick but lovely ornament you can make with stuff you almost definitely have around the house. It’s a good one to slip into a card, use as a tag on a gift for some extra-special wrapping, or just as a little treat for yourself to break up the Christmas panic. These are modeled on ornaments my family has had on the tree ever since I can remember* and they’re some of my favorites. I love that they’re quite large, larger than ornaments normally are, and let you showcase beautiful fabrics.

You can use whatever quilting-type fabric you have handy, but I made mine as a gift, so I went that little bit further and bought some Christmas-colored Liberty Tana Lawn pieces just for this project. That does make these ornaments extra-pretty, but it’s also a nice use for your favorite scraps. Here’s what you’ll need per ornament:

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

– 2 x fabric pieces, minimum 4.75″ square
– 2 x medium-weight fusible interfacing pieces, minimum 4.75″ square
– 1 piece of Wonder-Under, minimum 4.75″ square
– removable fabric pen (we use Pilot Frixion pens** – you don’t want one that needs to be washed out with water)
– sharp scissors
– sewing machine & thread to match (or contrast with!) your fabric
– some kind of string or thread for hanging (not shown) – I used some perle cotton floss
– a printed copy of my heart template (Download here!) and a bit of light cardboard – I used the back of a cereal box

** Note: be careful with these Pilot Frixion pens! We love love love them but have noticed that they leave a white mark behind when ironed away. We didn’t notice for a long time because we do all of our embroidery pattern work on white fabric and, besides, it won’t matter if you stitch right over the line anyway. But if you change your mind about line placement, it could leave a mark.

First things first. Cut out the large heart template, trace it onto your cardboard and cut that out. We’ll come back to the little heart later – until then, don’t throw anything away.

Next – apply your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric squares:

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

If you are using Liberty Tana Lawn, be sure to test your interfacing on a scrap first! This medium-weight interfacing worked well for me. You want it stiff enough not to droop when hung, but not bubble or wrinkle. And iron very carefully – I went very slowly and left them untouched on the ironing board for a minute or two until they were completely cool between each ironing step.

Apply your Wonder-Under to the interfacing side of one square, peel back the paper backing, then apply the two squares together. If you’ve used a directional print, make sure they’re both facing the same direction before you iron!

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Now you basically have a double-sized, interfaced, square of fabric. Trace your heart onto one side of the fabric square.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Now sew along the line you just drew. Make it easy on yourself and start along one of the straight lengths, not a curve. Also, you might want to use a small stitch length for this to make the curves a little tighter. I set the stitch length on my machine to about 2.25.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Remove your line marking and cut out the heart close to the stitching, about 1/16″ or so, or as close as you can cut neatly.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Thread a string through the top of the heart and there you go! (And I just noticed my ornament magically changed prints!)

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Of course, you can use this method for any shape or size ornament you like, or with different prints on each side, or even with a bit of decorative stitching maybe. They’re perfect for customizing to the recipient.

Oh, and remember when I told you not to throw anything away? If you were really using 4.75″ squares at the beginning, you should have these funny little triangular fabric-interfacing-Wonder-Under sandwiches left. Cut the smaller heart from my template and it should be just the right size to make mini-ornaments from those scraps! I didn’t sew these because I didn’t trust my skills on something so small, but I bet they’d be cute with some hand-stitched running stitch or blanket stitch along the edge.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

I hope you like them, and come back here to show off if you make some!

* Because these are not really my original idea, I’m just re-creating something made long ago by some unknown crafter, I’m happy for these to be made for sale by the enterprising among you. It’s hardly mine to own!

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