Inked and Quilted mini Christmas Tree Skirt

I've been working on my family Christmas tree skirt over the past few years. Usually I'll pull it out from the Christmas closet in November and add some beading or applique or whatever suits my fancy. This year I had intended to make an additional Christmas tree skirt in October, start embellishing that one, thus I would eventually have two complete skirts ready to pass on to my two children when they were ready for a family Christmas tree of their own some day.

Here are a couple photos of the full-sized skirt. You can read the complete story here.

I like to use a shimmery tablecloth for the under layer.

You can see the tiny bit of sparkle showing through the snowflake.

Well, search and search as I might, I could not find anything suitable. Note to self, buy that tablecloth now while there are lots of subtly shimmery tablecloths out there! Or better yet, when they go on sale just after the Holidays. 

My second option was to make a smaller skirt for my tiny white feather tree.

After working on such a large skirt, this tiny version whipped up in no time flat! It's really quite easy, and I would suggest it for a first time project if you're new at hand stitching in the Alabama Chanin style or just want a quick project.

I made a paper template, a 23 inch round circle. I used Alabama Chanin 100% organic medium weight cotton jersey in the Natural color. I cut two circles, and stencil/painted the top layer with my poppies stencil.

Since I was using the inked and quilted method, I used a grey Sharpie (not an easy color to find, mind you) to outline around each of the painted elements. I found it easier to do the drawing before the layers were quilted together, so I didn't have to worry about accidentally getting Sharpie on the threads. 

I then put the painted layer on top of the bottom layer, both sides facing up, and pinned the layers together. Using white Coats and Clark Button Craft thread I stitched 1/8" inside the lines of each element to quilt the two layers together.

Next, I used a four or five inch wide strip in white jersey to create a very large "pull". I then couched this "pull" on the very edge of the skirt with some sparkly embroidery floss.

Here's a close-up of the couched edging.

And here's the underside of the couched edging.

I appliqued a few areas and added French knots. Then I embellished just a bit more by sewing a smattering of white Alabama eyelets. It needs some blingy bits, but I'll do that down the road as the Holidays are upon us and time is running short.

Now's the time for Christmas tree hunting...

And ornament making......

My mother has started a Thanksgiving tradition of placing a Christmas ornament at each place setting for the guest to take home with them. This year I made these woolen ornaments. I was inspired by Purl Soho's Heirloom wool ornaments; and also the book, Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs. I've made some of her sweet projects before, and they're simple yet beautiful.

The woolen bird is now at home on the tiny white feather tree.

I'll leave you with a little winter snow. This is what I saw outside my window as I started this post...

And this is what I saw at the finish .....

P.S. I took a little video where you could see the snow softly fluttering down. Alas, I cannot figure out how to successfully post the video. I tried converting it via Movie Maker. No luck.  If anyone has any suggestions, I would be most delighted to give it a try.

Mindful Making

I began teaching hand stitching because I loved how relaxing it was. I wanted to share this craft and this feeling of slowing down and being more present in the moment. You may already know, but being creative and making things with your hands accesses the same part of your brain that Buddhist monks use while meditating. No wonder sewing feels so great; you're not only going to your happy place, but you're making something beautiful.

This holiday season, consider something outside the box; a gift that’s not to be wrapped and placed under the tree, but experienced: a gift that engages the mind, teaches new skills; a gift that keeps on giving. This holiday season you may want to consider giving the gift of creativity by gifting that special person in your life a workshop or class. Whether it's one of my hand stitching classes, or one of the many local or on-line courses, you're sure to find something that will thrill; drawing, glass fusing, painting, photography, sewing, wood working, cooking, soldering, pattern making, gardening, crocheting, knitting, wire wrapping.....the list goes on and on. Does something spark your interest? Put a class on your "Wish List".

During this holiday season, put Mindful Making on your radar. You just might discover something new and wonderful for that special someone or even yourself.

Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing, Pants No. 1, pattern review

Pants, I love them, wear them every day. I lounge in them, work in them, Zumba in them, ski in them, socialize and play in them. But the thought of making them...... gives me the shivers! Pants are so difficult to fit. After putting all the effort into sewing them, will I be lucky enough to have a pair that I actually would wear and be comfortable in? For me, patterns for pants are complicated. There are rises, snaps or buttonholes, waistbands, and pleats or darts, oh my goodness. It's enough to have me turning the page with a sigh and a shrug. But I am not one to give up. I knew there HAD to be a pattern out there that I could understand, complete, comfortably wear, and would actually look flattering on.

So when I was at Makers' Mercantile and spied the sweet and simplistic packaging of Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing, Pants No. 1 pattern, I stopped dead in my tracks. I said, "Rhonda, tell me about this pattern". Rhonda went on to explain that it was a very simple, straightforward pattern, and the pants looked very cute on. Just what I had been dreaming of! I purchased it, and went about giving it a go ASAP.

First off, look at this packaging. Doesn't it say ~ "These are wonderfully elementary, clear, unfussy, basic pants"? When I looked at the directions, my heart shouted "YES!" I could actually do this.

I probably should have made a muslin up first, but I had a feeling that all was going to work out, and besides, I wanted to use jersey fabric, which fits differently than a woven.

Normally I use Alabama Chanin's 100% organic cotton jersey fabric, but a friend of mine gave me some of her fabric to try (Thank you, Mary!) The fabric is from Organic Cotton Plus. All of their fabric is 100% organic, from the United States and abroad. They are the first fabric retailer in the U.S. to be fully GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified, which is no small feat. There are 48 companies in the US with the GOTS certification, including Burts Bees Baby and Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

I used their domestic baby rib in Shadow Blue. The fabric is not pre-washed, so I ran it through the washer and dryer. Their selvage was about an inch or so of tighter woven fabric, and it didn't lay completely flat, so I cut it off. Once the fabric was properly prepped, it handled like a charm. It was easy to work with and laid out nicely.

My next step was to copy my size from the pattern onto Pellon. The pattern calls for a 1/2" seam, and I opted for a 1/4" seam. All of the Alabama Chanin patterns use a 1/4" seam. It makes for a less bulky seam when using jersey fabric. I adjusted the pattern accordingly.

I was itching to completely embellish the pants, but since I wasn't sure of the fit yet, I decided to make do with a six inch trim at the cuffs. Using the Anna's Garden stencil and Tulip Colorshot in gray, I spray painted the pattern onto the bottom of the pant legs. I had some navy lightweight fabric leftover from the Marcy Tilton pants I had made previously. I placed it behind the stenciled area with a one inch "ribbon" peeping out past the very bottom edge. I figured if the pants were too long, I could always cut it off. I'm so glad I did put the extra length on, because now they're perfect. I'm pretty short, so I'd say the pants unaltered are more of a cropped nature.

I embellished the trim in the reverse applique method.

I then stitched the pieces together, felling all the seams. Since the fabric is jersey, there's no need to finish the seams. I made the waistband, adding a top stitch 1/8" from the very top, and using a draw string instead of elastic.

I will definitely make more of these pants.  This pair stitched up in less than ten hours, embellishment and all. They fit well and are comfy. They are very roomy, which is great for cozy, lounge wear. I think I'll cut the pattern down by an inch or two in the top half of the pattern to make it just a tad more tailored when I make my fully embellished pair in black on black. See, I'm already thinking ahead! I've been so wanting to make some pants, but was just waiting for the right pattern, and now I've found it. Thank you, Sonya for making this fantastic pattern. I have a feeling I'll be trying even more of your patterns in the future.

Now where did I put that black fabric.......