Monday, 30 November 2015

...Advent Calendar ...the count down is complete

The final steps in my Advent Calendar extravaganza involves blowing the dust off the sewing machine and using a combination of scraps from my Summer sewing and one of hubby's old shirts to make some little draw string bags.  After Christmas they can be used to house some of the baubles when they get put away on 12th night or I might find a use for them around the house.

I am trying to tap into my resourceful side for this project and make do with things I have around the house or that I have left over from other projects, this does exclude the chocolate treats that will be going in.  If you are interested in these fabrics they were brought from Abakhan Fabrics in the Summer but there may some left still

I have kept it really simple, cut out a rectangle of fabric and attach your decoration to what will be the outside of the bag.

Fold over the top of your fabric leaving a gap large enough to thread your drawstring through and sew.

Sew up the sides but do not sew into the channel at the top that you have just created. Thread your drawstring through the channel on each side and tie the ends together to create a loop. Turn through the bag and draw up your bag.

I have created the three bags in different sizes to add to the eclectic nature of my Advent calendar and also to fit with the scraps of fabric that I have available.

The final make for this project is some air dried clay ornaments, although you could use salt dough. These have been a long time in the planning and I picked up some cookie cutters and a child's rolling pin in the sales last Christmas.  It was just a case of rolling it out to a suitable depth, I still haven't worked out exactly what that is. Cutting out the desired shape, popping a hole in the top using a drinking straw so there will be somewhere to hang the ribbon.

So that is the last of my makes and the Advent calendar is now complete.  The Advent photo challenge starts tomorrow and I will put up the list for anyone who wants to join in, although I don't think that it will come as a great surprise that day 1 is a photo of my Advent Calendar.

My gift tag give away will be drawn tomorrow and I will announce the winner on the blog on Wednesday so get in now if you want to be entered just leave a comment on this post there is currently only one entrant so the odds are favourable.

Friday, 27 November 2015

... making a free Christmas wreath

I am in full swing with my Christmas preparations and today I had big plans for sewing some of the elements for my Advent calendar project, however, I was distracted with a different make.  I was able to get some dogwood from one of my neighbours, its flexibility and red colour make it ideal for making a wreath base.

Start by taking a long stem that has very few side shoots and is not too woody.  Make into a circle overlapping about 15 to 20 cms (6 to 8 inches) on each side. fasten the ends with a piece of plastic covered wired.

We could leave it at that but it might be a tad on the understated side, so take another piece and start wrapping it around/inter-twining. Fasten with more wire as needed, you are looking to build a base that you can continue to weave more stems into.  I have allowed some of the side shoots to roam from the basic shape as I don't want it to be too constricted and I want it to take some of the shape from the wood and the way it has grown.

All you do now is weave/wrap more stems in, you should be able to position them in the gaps between the stems that are already there so shouldn't need to wire them in, however, use more wire if you think you need it.  Trim any stems that are too thick and woody as they won't be as pliable.

I will decorate this with ivy and holly from the garden in a couple of weeks when I am ready to hang it, and maybe a bauble or two.

Not a bad afternoons work, creating something from nothing.

Don't forget to enter my Christmas give away details on this post

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Advent Calendar .... the count down has begun pt3

Time is ticking on my Advent project, I could almost do a count down on my count down! so expect a flurry of activity on the blog over the next few days. Oh and we are having a give away!!

A nice simple make today as I turn my attention to gift tags, both as part of my Advent calendar and also for using on gifts.

When used in the Advent calendar I am going to attach a string at the bottom and tie in pieces of paper with the joke and the daily photo challenge, sort of like bows on the string of a kite.   I am not 100% sure if this is going to work but part of this creative process is taking an idea and giving it some time.

I have followed on with the same theme as the envelopes I made in pt 2 of my Advent calendar project.  I have introduced some stickers that were a part of my Christmas crafting stash, from Cox and Cox, yes of course they were an old sale bargain. I have tried to take them beyond the edges to create a less uniformed look.

While the advent tags are completley over the top, no holds barred I have pulled it back a bit with some of the gift tags, keeping it simple, less being more.

I have used punches and rubber stamps in some of my designs and I know that they may be considered to be uneconomical for the amount of use they are given. My thoughts are that they should last a long time and can be sold on when you no longer want them, so I consider them as a  investment. Some of the smaller stamps like the ones I brought from Hema are fairly low cost and they do pop up in the pound shops every now and again so not too much to pay out.

Finally the simplest of all, this was made with part of a page I recycled from the book I am still trying to craft my way through that I introduced here ,

As the spirit of christmas is starting to wend its way towards us I am having a little give away, I will make up a little goodie bag with blank tags and some stickers for you to craft your own gift tags. To enter just leave a comment below and I will pick one at random on December 1st (UK only sorry) as I don't get many visitors its got to be worth a go.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Advent Calendar..... the count down has begun pt2

The second stage of my Advent extravaganza project involved me bin diving into the recycling bin to retrieve a couple of envelopes,
Recycled envelope into Advent calendar

  • Cut down the envelopes to your desired size ensuring that you include enough to have a turnover at the top. This one was from a birthday card and so I could cut it in half and still have two good sized envelopes.

  • Seal the open side with wide tape, you are now free to decorate with anything you have available.

  • I have used patterned clear tape, this came from Cox and Cox a couple of years ago.  They have lots of interesting things but usually at a price outside of my budget, however, their sales can go as low as 75% off which is when I am most likely to be making my purchases.

  • For this one I have added a crafting button, old style pricing tags and shapes punched from paper retrieved out of the recycling bin.

  • The wolly hat stamp was a recent purchase from Hobbycraft  clearance for just 50p, the pompom was from a crafting set I brought from the Poundshop a few years ago and the stars were punched using a little stamp that I brought from Hema last year.

  • The final downsized envelope I wanted to be taller and thinner than the other two and was decorated with a very simple design using paper tape and more of the punched recycled paper.  The paper tape was purchased from Wilko a couple of years ago and this is the first time I have used it.

 These are all things that I had in which is a bit of an indicator that

a) I am something of a hoarder/magpie 

b) I am a sucker for a bargain as a large portion of these were sale purchases. 

If I didn't have any of these available I would look at old magazines, newspapers and promotional Christmas flyers and magazines, wrapping paper, print out words and phrases using different fonts or simply write myself, fabric scraps, bits of string, ribbon, old buttons, effectively what ever you have available you can use.

I am really please with the end results and think these designs would work equally well as cards or gift tags

Monday, 16 November 2015

Advent Calendars......the count down has begun pt1

I know its not even December and I am writing a Christmas blog, in my defense you do need to think about your advent calendar before the 1st of December unless you are hoping to bag a cut price bargain at the last minute.
Advent numbers from free printable source

When I was a child our advent calendar was made of card, reused each year until one of the doors dropped off and only then it was replaced. There was no chocolate involved, there was a big door for number 24 and there was always a picture of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.  I was one of 3 children and we took it in turns to open a door, my Mum kept a note of who had opened the big doors the year before and worked it out so that privilege was moved round so we all had a fair turn.

Nowadays the supermarkets offer us a chocolate treat behind every door and you would struggle to find any religious references on the vast majority, with cartoon characters being the preferred theme. They are available from mid October and everyone in the household has their own.
No1 Advent Calendar

In recent years I have looked around for new ideas, Pinterest has of course helped fuel this as there are so many creative and imaginative ideas as well as traditions from other parts of the world that are shared.  I very much like the Scandic tradition of counting own the Sundays to Advent by lighting a candle, last year I used four pillar candles and just tied a numbered kraft tag on each one and then remind Hubby which one(s) he could or couldn't light.  The year before I used a star shaped blackboard and just changed the number each day.

While the last couple of years have been simple and understated this year my creative juices have gone into overdrive and I am going completely overboard!   I am planning a multi medium extravaganza that will hang in my lounge and so it needs to be decorative both before and after each day is opened.

 1 to 24 free Advent Calendar print outs

I am a big fan of Pinterest and have created this board full of advent ideas so please feel free to jump in and pin away.

As there are several elements to my plan I will share these with you as I go along.  The first thing I have done is print out the numbers that I am going to use, I have used the black and white mixed fonts from the link below, although I may substitute some of them as I have a couple of other ideas, it will depend how it all comes together.

Free to download - Advent calendar numbers

Vintage style envelopes with numbers

Cute animals with blue background

Black and white mixed fonts numbers

As this calendar is an extravaganza  I wanted it to have a few elements to it so one of the things that I am including is a selection of cheesy Christmas jokes from the links below, these can also be printed out and put in lunchboxes for a little festive smile.

Christmas jokes

Free to download Christmas jokes - child friendly

Christmas jokes on picture back ground

Printable Christmas cracker jokes

I am intending to blog everyday in December up to the big day, I have a daily photo challenge as part of my advent calendar which I will be sharing with you on my next post, I will be sharing my daily Christmas joke as well as any Christmas makes, bakes and  any general Christmas good stuff.

As you can see from the pictures above I will be including some of the paper bags I had left over from my Red Nose day baking bonanza, although they may not be no 1 and no 24 in the final mix.

I hope this wasn't too harrowing for those of a delicate nature as far as Christmas is concerned and that you will pop back for part two.

What are your advent calendar plans?

A - Supermarket chocolate goodness

B - Four candles

C- You have inspired me to make my own

D - I will be reusing last years

E - Don't bother me with Christmas stuff its too early

F - Not for me thanks

Please leave a reply to let me know that you popped by

Monday, 2 November 2015

... boat trips and autumn pics

I had an unexpected treat at the weekend when I was invited to a day boat trip on the River Trent with some friends.   

Unlike today's blanket of fog we were blessed with beautiful autumnal weather and the low sun made for some great reflective  photo opportunities, sadly only on my phone.
If you turn this picture on its side it looks like one big tree :)
Its hard to see where the tree stops and the reflection begins
Swirling water on the River Trent
Love the bridge reflections
Under the bridge - the bit you don't see
Blowing bubbles

We had great fun with our bubble wand, the bubbles bounced off the top of the river and seemed to almost have a life of their own. The local anglers were a little less amused!

I hope you have enjoyed the piccys, leave me a message to let me know how the weather is with you.