Blogger Network #29 – Scandi Christmas Lilou Dress

tilly-and-the-buttons-christmas-lilou-dress

Happy December everyone! It’s time for my latest Minerva Blogger Network project, and this month I’ve made a Tilly and the Buttons Lilou dress in red and white Scandi-style Christmas fabric! Perfect for all the upcoming Christmas parties, dinners and gatherings, don’t you think?

Click here to read more about my Lilou dress!

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DIY Christmas Button Wreath

handmade-button-wreathHello! I’ve got another festive make for you today and I think it’s one of my favourites so far: a do-it-yourself Christmas button wreath! I think it’s perfect for a sewing or crafting fanatic’s home, don’t you?

The inspiration for this make came from the lovely Lisa at A Spoonful of Sugar. I saw her own button wreath on Twitter and knew straight away that it was something I’d like to copy. Who else has a collection of 10 million buttons at home that they need to use up? My sister thinks I need to join Button Hoarders Anonymous, but I’m sure it can’t just be me…

If you’d like to make a button wreath of your own then you’ll need:
button-wreath-what-you-need– Buttons! My sister and I spent a good half hour sorting through my collection to pick out all the red, white, green and gold ones, but you can pick whichever colours you want. I think we easily used about 400 buttons.
– A 30cm polystyrene wreath.
Dressmaker pins.
2.5mm beads. I used pearl coloured ones.
– Co-ordinating ribbon. I used some by Gisela Graham that I had in my stash.

diy-button-christmas-wreathDecorating the wreath is very easy! My sister and I spent about 3 hours yesterday afternoon pinning in all the buttons. You simply thread a bead onto your pin, and then push the pin through the hole in the button and straight into the polystyrene. It’s important that you don’t forego the beads as these prevent the buttons from falling off! We chose to go for a random colour pattern too, although you could do stripes, varigated colour or all one colour if you wanted.

how-to-make-a-button-wreathI also chose to pin a ‘Merry Christmas’ ribbon around the outside edge, and a red and white striped ribbon to the inside edge, partly because I like the look of it and partly because we were running out of buttons to cover the entire wreath! I’ve estimated that we used around 400 buttons for this, so you’d easily need 500+ to cover every available space. I had a mixture of button sizes too, ranging from tiny shirt buttons to bigger 2cm diameter ones, and in a variety of different shapes and shades.

diy-button-wreath-ribbon

Finally, I made a loop out of ribbon to hang my wreath with (this is just pinned in place on the back), and then used a piece of wide red ribbon to create an over-sized Christmas bow, which I also pinned in place on the top. And there we have it! An afternoon well spent. What do you think?

make-a-button-wreath

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Blogger Network #28 – Felt Christmas Decorations

dimensions-holiday-home-felt-ornaments

Hello November! A new month brings with it a new Minerva Blogger Network project, and this month I’m keeping things festive with these cute felt Christmas house ornaments. These were an absolute delight to make and I think they’ll look lovely alongside the Father Christmas cushion I made last month – don’t you?

Click here to read more about my festive make!

Blogger Network #27 – Father Christmas Cushion

Design Works Santa Cushion Kit

Welcome, October! It’s time for a new Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post and this month I’m crossing my fingers and hoping you don’t think it’s *too* early for something a bit festive! I actually made this Design Works Embroidery Santa Cushion Kit on the first rainy weekend back in September and I’ve been feeling wonderfully Christmassy ever since. Isn’t he just adorable?!

Click here to read more about my make!

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Blogger Network #19 – Beaded Christmas Bells

beaded bellContinuing on with the recent Christmas-themed blog posts, today I’ve got a fun little Christmas decoration project to show you! I’ve been away from my monthly Minerva Blogger Network posts for a little while because of moving house/life/etc but I’m back in time for the festive season with this beaded bell kit!

The kit can be found on the Minerva Crafts website here – it’s a Design Works kit and comes with all the thread and beads (a mixture of gold and pearl) that you’ll need to make five sparkly decorations. I actually had quite a few bits leftover too so you could probably make six!

beaded bells

beaded bell decorationI think each bell took me about an hour to make but they’re a great DIY project for when you’re sat on the sofa catching up on boxsets or watching the Christmas 24 channel (ahem, not that I’ve been doing that). All you need to do is cut a long piece of cotton and then follow the instructions to thread on the beads in the right order. It’s very satisfying seeing the bell emerge- the instructions require lots threading back and forth but, once you’re done, a fully formed bell magically appears! All from one piece of thread and a christmas beaded bell decorationseries of gold beads and pearls. You only have to thread the needle once the whole time, too!

The finished decorations are about 4cm tall and will look lovely hanging from my tree or mantlepiece. I love how the gold shimmers when they’re hung next to fairy lights too. They’re pretty timeless and I’m sure I’ll be bringing them out of the Christmas decorations box for years to come.

What do you think? Have you made any Christmas decorations this year? And are any of them beaded? Let me know!

Tartan Reindeer Megan Dress

tilly and the buttons christmas tartan megan dressWhen this post goes up it’ll be exactly four weeks until Christmas – just where has this year gone to? It’s also my first wedding anniversary this weekend which I cannot believe either. Time has raced past like Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. But never mind that – onto the sewing!

This week I’ve made myself the ultimate Christmas Day outfit in the form of a reindeer print Megan dress from the Tilly and the Buttons Love at First Stitch Book. I’ve made this pattern a couple of times before – a baroque linen Megan dress here and a summer seersucker Megan here – and I really do like it. There are flattering darts on the front and back skirt as well as the bodice, little cap sleeves and a long zip down the back. I also know that I can cut my fabric straight from the pattern pieces and it’ll fit me perfectly! No other pattern company seems to cater for my measurements as accurately as Tilly does. Even the length of her dresses are perfect (normally I have to hack at least 5 inches off the bottom of everything!).

reindeer tartan megan dress love at first stitch

The fabric for my Christmas dress came from the Remnant House in Harrogate. I think I bought 2m of it and I’ve used nearly all of it for this dress. It’s a tartan cotton with embroidered reindeers and hearts all over it and I love it. It’s so festive and cutesy and will make my Scottish mother-in-law very happy! Unfortunately they don’t seem to stock this particular fabric on their website any more but here are a few festive alternatives:

love at first stitch megan dress

If you see me out and about in my reindeer dress this Christmas please can you compliment me on my pattern matching? Aside from a teeny misaligned stripe on the back I couldn’t have got this cut out more precisely! I love how the tartan stripes match up so well on my side seams and how they run straight down the middle from top to bottom. This was quite an easy fabric to pattern match due to all the straight lines in the tartan but it does always impress me when I get it right!

tilly and the buttons tartan megan

Have you made a dress for Christmas this year? Is it as festive as mine or have you gone more glitzy? Show me! I also recommend adding Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch, to your Christmas wish list if you don’t already own it. I’m sure Father Christmas would be more than  happy to deliver it to you 🙂

Sew Your Own Advent Calendar

advent calendar sewingJust a quick sewing project for you today – a DIY Advent calendar! As a child we used to have a big, fabric advent calendar with little pockets that my mum used to hang on the wall each December. She’d fill the pockets with three sweets – one each for me and my two sisters – and it was such an exciting time. I loved reaching into those numbered fabric pockets and seeing what Advent treat had been put there for the corresponding day!

As a slight homage to my mum’s version – and because I now have my own house – I’ve made my own version and hand-sewn what I hope will become a family heirloom (maybe). And it couldn’t have been easier!

The Advent calendar is made using one of those quilting panels that you can pick up in most fabric shops. The panel features instructions printed at the top, 25 numbered squares printed below and the backing fabric to which you attach the pockets. I think I got my Advent panel from eBay for about £7 but I’ve seen them around the internet at Elephant in My Handbag, and Etsy amongst others.

patchwork advent calendar kit

The calendar is actually quilted, so you sew a layer of wadding in between two layers of fabric. The pockets are then sewn directly onto your padded backing, creating a quilted effect. It’s a very simple project to make but looks really effective when it’s finished. The worst thing about it was having to press all the pockets! All four edges needed to be folded under and ironed before they were stitched down so it’s a very hot job to do!

hand sewn adent calendar

What do you think of my finished Advent calendar? I really love it. The illustrations of the little woodland animals on the pockets are so sweet and I love the Christmas-sy colours! Now I just need to plan which sweets and treats to put in it come December!

Blogger Network #9 – Felt Woodland Animal Christmas Decorations

Here we are in November, meaning that Christmas is just around the corner, eek! For this month’s Minerva Blogger Network post I chose to do something a little festive and a little fun – felt woodland animals! In fact, a whole garland (woodland?) of felt animals.

simplicity 1516 felt animal christmas bunting

The pattern/templates that I used came from Simplicity 1516 – an entire sewing pattern dedicated to felt animals and Christmas stockings. Marvellous! I chose to make the moose, fox, bear and snowman patterns as they’re my favourites out of the bunch, but you can also make a squirrel and a green owl if you want to! All you need to make the decorations is felt – which Minerva Crafts has in good supply and in a gazillion colours (literally) – plus a needle and thread and some toy stuffing. I also got a long piece of spangly ribbon to make the loops and some Merry Christmas ribbon so that I could make my creatures into a garland.

simplicity 1516 felt woodland animal bunting

To make the felt animals, you simply cut out all the pieces that you need, sew on the faces/arms/antlers etc, sew the back and front bits together with a ribbon loop in between and then stuff some toy stuffing inside. Easy! Some of the pieces are a little bit fiddly (like the eyes and that carrot nose) so I used a little bit of Pritt Stick to hold them in place whilst I stitched them on. I made 2 of each creature in total and then cut out some holly leaves and berries to make my woodland garland that bit more festive.

I hope you love this project as much as I do – it’s so much fun to make and I certainly recommend it!

Christmas Jumper Day; Selfies for Save the Children!

christmas jumpersToday, Friday 13th December, is Save the Children’s official Christmas jumper day! This means that you get to go about your daily meanderings whilst sporting the best Christmas jumper you can find and also donating money to charity. Fantastic.

What’s more, Westfield shopping centre in London are calling upon bloggers of the world to strike a pose and blog about the event. For every blogger who uploads a post about the campaign, along with a festive shot of themselves in a Christmas jumper, £10 will go to Save the Children! Even more fantastic.

If you want to take part in the blog-campaign yourself, be sure to tweet the link to your blog post to @westfieldlondon – if you don’t have a blog but would still like to donate, you can simply text the word ‘woolly’ to 70050 and donate £1. Easy!

So here’s my contribution – me in my Santa-themed Christmas jumper and my lovely workmate Phoebe in her elf attire! Et voila, £10 has gone to Save the Children for this hardly-any-effort post. If I can do it, so can you. Happy Christmas!

Paul Hollywood’s Fruit-Filled Mince Pie Recipe

paul hollywood's mince pie recipe

Mince pies; the epitome of the run-up to Christmas (except maybe Advent)! And this may be the best mince pie recipe that I’ve ever come across. Thrown together by Paul Hollywood and demonstrated on UK television in a Christmas 2012 Great British Bake Off special, this fruit-filled mince pie recipe is an absolute winner. Don’t believe me? Just ask my family and work colleagues who have devoured an entire batch in less time than it takes snow to settle.

The recipe makes an awful lot of mince pies – I use a shallow bun tray and ended up with 48 little mince pies the first time around! If you use a larger muffin tray, as the recipe indicates and as seen in the picture below, then you’re supposed to make a batch of 12 – but I challenge anyone to manage this! The more the merrier though, and surely this applies perfectly in this situation…

paul_hollywoods_mince_04604_16x9The mince pie recipe is as follows:

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 375g plain flour
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • paul hollywood1 medium egg

For the filling:

  •  2 x 400g jars mincemeat
  • 2 tangerines, zest grated and flesh chopped
  • 1 apple, finely diced

Method (from BBC Recipes)

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. To make the sweet pastry, rub the flour, butter, sugar and egg together with a splash of cold water until it just comes together as a dough. Do not over work the dough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and set aside to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
  • To make the filling, turn the mincemeat out into a bowl, grate the zest of the tangerines into the mincemeat, then peel and chop the fruit. Throw the tangerine and apple pieces into the bowl and blend by hand.
  • Roll out the pastry to a 3mm/1/8in thickness. With a round pastry cutter, cut out 6 x 9cm/3½in discs of pastry. Press the pastry into the muffin cups and fill each one with a good helping of the mincemeat mixture, so that it reaches three-quarters of the way up the side of the pastry-lined cup.
  • With a fluted pastry cutter, cut out 6 x 8cm/3¼ in pastry circles for the lids (slightly bigger than the top of the muffin cups). Place a lid on top of each pie and gently push down. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with fresh cream.