Christmas Cacti

Well, who wouldn’t want to find a handmade felt cactus under their Christmas tree?!

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Pattern: DIY Felt Cactus FREE Pattern and Tutorial by Sewing 4 Free
Materials: Felt. Yarn. Cardboard. Embroidery floss. 3″ pots.

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Most everyone, probably, but this trio of frivolous flora was sent off to family members who will hopefully appreciate their whimsy.

Size is difficult to judge from the photos: these are not dainty things. They’re about 8 inches tall. If you click through the pattern link you’ll see that I used the Sewing 4 Free pattern as a jumping off point, mostly for the pattern templates so I wouldn’t have to draft my own. I wasn’t sure where to get felt poms, nor did I care to bother with glue, hot or otherwise. My cacti are plumper (I turned them inside out after sewing) and plainer than their inspirations, but I think that makes them more versatile. You can wear them at home or in the office! Dress them up or dress them down for any occasion!

Since I wasn’t bothering with the felt poms I had to figure out something else for soil and support. A seed stitch swatch that I sewed the cacti to did just fine gathered over a cardboard circle. Better than I expected, even. I had been brainstorming how to add washers to the cacti’s undersides for weight, but such engineering turned out to be completely unnecessary. Stuff these in their pots and you’re good to go.

I have a lot of leftover felt. A cursory pinterest search reveals many cute ideas for felt ornaments and critters and flowers. Hmmmm. Maybe next year. Or maybe not. In the meantime I’ll be irritated with myself that I overbought the stuff (it’s a pain to procure as we live far from any store that sells craft supplies and I overcompensated) and resent its presence in my home while also being unwilling to part with it because it might come in handy someday. You know the drill.

Thumbs Up 7 UP

My co-worker was looking at a book about aprons which featured a photo of bottle aprons which: 1) who knew?; and 2) of course that’s a thing.

So I made some as silly Christmas gifts.

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Pattern: Bottle Apron Cover from A Bee in my Bonnet
Fabric: Fat quarters on sale from Jo-Ann

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I have new respect for the clothes my mom used to make for my Barbies. Quarter-inch bias tape made me feel like I was all thumbs and getting the apron strings to feed through my machine was a challenge. Such a challenge that it may not have been a good thing for my machine which starting making an unsettling grinding noise as I was finishing the aprons pictured. I’m sure it’s the fault of deferred maintenance and not this project, but through no fault of the pattern I sort of really hated sewing these which makes it easy to blame them.

The sodas unadorned. When I went back to the soda pop store a few weeks later they had excellent novelty varieties like sweet corn and butter. I was disappointed that I missed the opportunity to use them, but I’m sure the soda pop gift recipients aren’t.

After finishing these 6 aprons I suffered through 4 more, 2 of which were for the co-worker who brought them to my attention. She was delighted and tried to con me into making her more. No, just no!

Fake Merry Til You Make Merry

My friend told me that I have the most holiday cheer of anybody he knows. It was meant as a compliment (or good-natured teasing), but it made me feel misunderstood. Once October hits I get very busy. This is intentional. I do the things and I buy the things and I make the things. But to me it doesn’t feel like cheer. It feels like desperation. Not desperation to make all the things or do all the things or have a perfect holiday. It’s a coping mechanism. I keep busy while I feel like I’m heading towards a cliff I can’t see. I worry that I’ll careen off that cliff and I have to do as many things as I can before that happens. My avoidance masquerades as excitement. I let myself get lost in the trappings so I don’t have time to think about the spirit.

The confusion this creates is understandable. Look, for example, at the Christmas outfit I made this year. I’ve already talked lots about my new Christmas sweater, but I haven’t mentioned my new skirt.

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Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Oliver + S
Size: Medium
Fabric: Moda, Berry Merry, Reindeer Games Cream
Mods: No pockets! I rather miss the, but didn’t want to spend the time or fabric.

If I was going to make a sweater-babe-style sweater I needed a skirt to go with it, after all.

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What I actually look like when not posing provocatively.

It’s more a costume than an outfit. You know how faking a smile will improve your mood? This is that in clothing form. But I’ll tell you a secret: there are moments when I wonder if my friend might be right. It may be that I do have a lot of holiday cheer. I tell myself that I’m faking it but maybe it’s that I’m finally letting that cheer assert itself a little. This year maybe there’s room for all the feelings the holiday brings.

Santa-Gnome

A little gift for Granny, a woman aged 93 years who needs nothing  but collects Santa. Guess what everyone gets her every year?

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Pattern: Never Not Gnoming
Size: Biggest – turned out 7.5 inches tall
Yarn: Bibs and bobs of leftovers + red Koigu KKPM that I bought eons ago and was too precious to use (I’m breaking myself of that bad habit)

In fact, who can say if she actually ever wanted to collect Santas or if we all collectively decided she should so we would have a go-to gift for her?

I Santa-ified this pattern by knitting the hat and body in red with white brim/cuffs/purl turning row at the bottom and knitting a belt which was just a long 3-stitch row of garter stitch sewed into a circle with a bit of embroidery for a buckle. I didn’t have pellets so he’s stuffed with plan old polyfil. It makes him rolly-polly. Oh, and the tassel because I somehow forgot pompoms were a thing (HOW?) and didn’t want to bother knitting a sphere.

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He turned out well, but not nearly so cute as the gnomes this pattern intends. But then I have a fondness for gnomes. Please, nobody decide I should collect them, though! I have big plans for lots of little gnomes for giving and not for keeping.

A Forest for the Trees

I continue to struggle to get any workable photos at all. Light! I need light! Light is hard to come by in December when you report to work at 8 am and the sun has set by the time you get home. There were a few occasions when I thought I’d wait for the weekend to take photos, but those weekends were so busy and overcast that it didn’t improve my results.  Given my time constraints I’m settling for light and leaving composition to the side.

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A captivating image of our baseboards

Composition is difficult because the morning light is by the windows and door at the back of our house and further complicated by the fact that we’re not a tidy family. A photo of stuffed trees on the latch hook rug I made years ago isn’t great, but hey: at least you can’t see dishes, toys, books, laundry, or any of the other detritus I don’t see until I whip out the camera (and get frustrated) or have company (and get embarrassed).

IMG_8297Pattern: McCall’s M5778 Holiday Decorations
Size: Smaller
Fabric: Novelty holiday prints from Jo-Ann

I made the smaller of the stuffed tree patterns. Note that “smaller” does not mean “small” – these stand 11.5 inches high. The larger tree stands 17.5 inches high and would take up a lot of real estate on a table.

I picked up the fabric when I was at Jo-Ann’a for interfacing. I saw the Santa flamingo fabric right away, but didn’t see anything that coordinated. I poked around a bit, hemmed and hawed, deliberated making stuffed trees at all, finally found the blue snowflake fabric, and rushed back to where the flamingo fabric was, sort-of invading a fellow shopper’s personal space in the process.

“Did you want Santa flamingo fabric?” I asked, in explanation, as I grabbed the bolt. She laughed at me. No, she didn’t want Santa flamingo fabric.

I’m sending these along with some socks I fished out of my box-o-sox. Yay!

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Stuff It

I decided – I wish I could remember the sequence of events that led to this decision, but when your decisions about what to make and when are best characterized by the word “whim” their roots are hard to trace – that I should make my husband’s cousins a pair of these throwback stuffed Christmas trees in whimsical (there’s that word again!) fabric. Didn’t you have these in your house growing up? Didn’t everyone? I thought so and consequently have had this conversation several times with my husband:

Me, confused: Really? You didn’t have these growing up?

Husband: No.

Me, incredulous: Like, really? You don’t remember them?

Husband: NO.

We certainly had at least one and I remember them at other people’s houses, too. I’m sure our was made by some well-wisher or other and my mom grudgingly held onto cherished it for years until she could finally chuck the thing with no guilt it fell apart from all the loving.

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NEEDS MORE STUFFING.

I have a fondness for homely objects of yesteryear. Making them in silly fabric elevates them from nostalgic to absurd. Unfortunately the seemingly never-ending bag of poly-fil I’ve had longer than I can remember did finally meet its match on this project and finishing will have to wait until another bag can be acquired.

I bet Hubs’ family had at least 3 of these and he just never noticed.

The Sea Captain

I finished a thing!

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This is the Sea Captain kit from Cozy Blue Handmade. I didn’t notice that random stray piece of a thread on the Captain’s cap until now. It’s driving me nuts. Look, you can really see it well in this photo:

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I used:

  • Stem stitch for the, smoke, and pipe stem
  • Split stitch for eyebrows, beard, and moustache
  • Satin stitch for eye and pipe bowl
  • Fern stitch for knit cap
  • French knots for sweater bobbles
  • Straight or back stitch for everything else
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I was surprised to learn that you finish embroidery like this using a hot glue gun. Good thing I have two!

I love him, but he already has a wife.