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November 2013

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DaWanda competition

November 25, 2013

My little Christmas mini mitt is living it large!  Not only was it the subject of the very first tutorial I’ve posted here, that tutorial was the very first group blog activity I’ve taken part in and now, if that weren’t enough, the Christmas mini mitts are in a competition!

The competition is being run by DaWanda EN via their facebook page, which you can find here.  It is called ‘Creative Xmas Decorations, a DIY blogger competition’ and they have posted all the entries in a photo album, so that visitors can vote for their favourite design.

If you don’t know about DaWanda already, it is a massive online marketplace for ‘Products with Love’ where designers and creative types can offer their one of a kind and limited edition products for sale.  They have been expanding steadily for some time now and their facebook page is full of really interesting and useful articles, links to discounts, patterns, tutorials and competitions.

If you haven’t already visited, please do – and especially so if you’d like to go and place your vote for my intrepid little Christmas mitt, the photo you need to ‘like’ is here! 🙂

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November 22, 2013

I decided earlier this year that to save money, we would be giving home made gifts to family this Christmas.  We’ve just found out that we will be doing our Santa trip to Yorkshire to see my husband’s family mid December, so I thought it was high time I got planning.

I’d spent a little time a month or so ago cruising around Pinterest and pinning any likely looking gift ideas, so yesterday was stage 2 of the operation: fix on what I’m going to make and put together a shopping list and plan of action.  Well, I spent the most frustrating day ever completing this stage 2!  I have 3 hampers to put together – all will share some contents (although not all in the same amounts) and all will have their own specific contents too.  Then, of course, you have to think about how you will be presenting each item and what little ‘tuck-ins’ you might want to include with some things, so I also spent time looking for cellophane cones, jars, tins, muffin cases and on, and on…  I do pride myself on my planning ability and love to make lists, but even I’d had enough by 6pm yesterday!

Today was stage 3, and I’ve been making up all the item gift tags with the instructions printed on the other side, which has again taken me hours! Having said that, I do now feel very virtuous and super organised.  I even have all the ingredients for every item in an Ocado shopping list so I just click a button to tip everything into my virtual trolley when I do my weekly shop next week – hurrah!  After listening to me moan about the whole experience on email, my friend Leonor suggested that I write about it, which seemed like a very therapeutic thing to do, so here I am!

At the same time as indulging myself in this therapy, I thought I’d record all the items I’m making so that if you’re thinking about putting together hampers, or just the odd home made gift this Christmas, you might find this entry useful.  Thankfully, most of our family are either technophobes or far too busy raising young family to read this blog, so they won’t stumble across any secrets I share here about what they’re getting for Christmas…

Chai tea mix

My in laws and my Mum are going to love this.  I found the recipe here and then I bought some little house shaped tea infusers from Amazon as a little tuck-in.

How cute?

Mulled cider mix

The recipe for this one is from Martha Stewart.  I ordered some cheesecloth and baker’s twine (you can use any 100% cotton twine to make these up) from a seller on ebay and have some saved up jam jars that I will recycle for the packaging.  I’ll also include a bottle of delicious cider in the hamper – I’ve plumped for this one from Ocado / Waitrose.  I like to give organic booze whenever possible as I don’t think you get such bad hangovers with it.

Jamaican spice rub

There are a couple of different rub recipes on this page (be a little patient as it takes a minute to load fully) and I went for this one purely because I think a rub is more useful for chicken than for steak – why mess with steak apart from maybe covering it with Roquefort butter or a delicious peppercorn sauce?!  I have some mini parfait style jars that I will pop these into, but these little steel canisters are easily available in lots of places and I love how they’ve been presented in this picture.


I have never had s’mores, but I am willing to bet I would love them!  The instructions for making these up are here.  This has also turned out to be a great new blog find that I’ve added to my feedly.  Of course we don’t have Graham crackers in the UK but my research tells me that they are similar to digestives, so that’s what I’ve gone with.  You usually make s’mores on an open fire or bbq, but the instructions for these are to make in the oven.  I’m not sure I will follow all the presentation ideas here, but will probably decant the biscuits and the marshmallows into clear cello bags and then put them and the bars of chocolate (I’ve gone for Greene & Black’s organic bars in milk and plain) in a little basket or box with some festive napkins.

Christmas muffin mix

No hamper of hand made gifts would be complete without this one!  The recipe is from BBC Good Food and is super easy.   I will be putting my mix into 1 litre Kilner jars and rather than the spoon, I am going to include a set of 12 silicone muffin cases (the recipe makes enough for 12) that you can use without a tray:

I found these on Ocado here and will put them (inverted) on top of the jar and then tie them on somehow.

Hot chocolate cones

Another home made staple!  Everyone will love these and the great thing is that you can easily adjust the amounts in the cones to suit the number of people in the family you’re gifting to, and just adjust the instructions accordingly.  I’m putting Greene & Black’s organic hot chocolate in mine along with Waitrose Belgian dark chocolate chips and mini pink and white marshmallows.  I also read a tip that suggested that you pack the hot choc mix into its own cone and seal that with a mini elastic band.  You then trim off the excess of the bag, drop it into another cone, then fill that with the choc chips and marshmallows, which is a great idea and will keep the chocolate powder separated.

Good for you granola

This is actually the granola I make for us, so I know it is delicious!  You can either eat it as a breakfast cereal with milk or yoghurt (option to add some fresh fruit too) or you can sprinkle it on top of hot porridge to add some interest.  For this hamper version, I’m substituting some dried berries and cherries for the tropical dried fruit in the recipe.  I’ve ordered some sealable containers to put this into, which aren’t the prettiest, but will come in useful for storage later – a gift, in a gift!

Baked rice pudding for one

This one is specially for my Mum, who LOVES rice pudding!  The recipe is here.  I’ll be putting all the dry ingredients needed for one pudding into cello cones and then popping them into some other container, along with a bottle of vanilla essence and a whole nutmeg.  Cute.

I hope that all these ideas will inspire you to make something handmade this Christmas!  The planning may be painful, but the results should make up for it 🙂

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Crafty Christmas link up – what everyone made

November 20, 2013

As I mentioned in this post, I designed my Christmas mitts tutorial as part of a link up with other crafty peeps, orgainsed by Laura of Bugs and Fishes by Lupin.

This is where you can find all the tutorials – such a wide range of ideas and crafts – hope you enjoy the tour!

Felt House Gift Tag Holder – I ManuFatti

Christmas Trinket Hoop Mobile – Carina’s Craft Blog

Felt Polar Bear Ornament – La Creature and You

Christmas Hoop – Claire Payne

Embroidered Christmas Mug Rug – Button Button

Polymer Clay Star Ornaments – Saraccino

Knitted Christmas Stockings Garland – Knit Me a Cake

DIY Christmas Ribbon – Adventures & Tea Parties

Embroidered Mistletoe Ornament – Bugs and Fishes

Scented Salt Dough Ornaments – Retro Delicious

Crochet Christmas Tree Decorations – Homemade@MyPlace

Christmas Cross Stitch Raccoon Ornament – Hugs are Fun

Polymer Clay Christmas Tree – Little Creatures

Christmas Wish-List Felt Envelope – Jumbleberries

Felt Christmas Tree Toy – Pinwheels and Stories


Let it Snow Embroidery Pattern – A Little Happy Place

Festive Wanderers Embroidery Pattern – Unexpected Kitty

Festive Felt and Fabric Coasters – Betz White

Holiday Ribbon Pillow – Mrs. Saint Nick

Felt Gingerbread Man Gift Tag – Grace’s Favours

Crochet Christmas Star Jar Covers – Dinki Dots

Edible Christmas Ornaments – Hydrangea Girl

Cross Stitch Christmas Trees – Made by Mrs M

Secret Love Letter Christmas Gift Tag – Crafts of Texture

Applique Love Christmas Card – Halcyon Threads

Christmas Mini Mitts – The Crimson Rabbit

Felt Reindeer Ornament – Pickle-Lily

Christmas Carousel – Aura Verde Crafts

Embroidered Christmas Stocking Ornament – Cocojude

Stencilled Christmas Embroidery Hoop – Angharad

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Christmas mini mitts tutorial

November 18, 2013

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I do love to make miniature things, and these mini mitts are my latest mini make.  I designed these for a festive tutorial link up organised by Laura Howard of Bugs and Fishes by Lupin.  You can find links to all the lovely tutorials in the link up right here.

Although I’ve made my mitt mini, you don’t have to – make yours whatever size you like.  This single mitt would make a great tree ornament just as it is, or you could pop a little gift or treat in it.  You could also make a 2nd mitt and string them together as a pair, to put on your tree.  More than 2 would make a nice garland (maybe strung with baker’s twine and mini pegs) or even an advent calendar, mounted on a board.

You’re going to need a few basic supplies:

  • White felt.  I use 40% wool felt but use whatever you like – just don’t use thicker than 1mm if you’re making your mitts in miniature, or they will be impossible to turn out
  • Tacking / basting thread
  • Cotton sewing thread in matching colours (white and red)
  • Red embroidery cotton (I use DMC perle cotton No8)
  • 2 shiny red buttons (I’ve used 20mm shell buttons here)
  • 12 sequins (I’ve used iridescent ones)
  • Needles for both types of threads
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pencil for marking fabric and pencil for tracing / marking plastic
  • Printed template design
  • Template plastic OR a piece of thick card and some tracing paper
  • Iron, board and a pressing cloth (a white cotton hanky folded once is perfect for this)

To make:

First you need to find your mitten template and settle on the size you want to make.  There are 100s of mitten templates on the internet – search Google images for ‘mittens template’ and pick one you like.  Don’t choose anything too dainty or detailed – you need a simple and strong image.  Print out the template to the ‘real life’ finished size you would like your mitten to be and then make your template by tracing the design.  I like to use template plastic and a plastic marking pencil to do this (make sure you remove the pencil marks from the template before you use it – a baby wipe is perfect for this), but you can use tracing paper and cardboard if you don’t have any to hand – just as good.

Prepare your felt by pressing it smooth using a pressing cloth and your iron set on wool with steam.  Double over the felt and using the template, make sure that your doubled piece of felt is large enough to take the template design twice, laid side by side.  One of these mittens will be the ‘outer’ decorated mitten and the other will be its lining.

Draw around the template once (the whole way around – including the line at the wrist) then flip the template to become a mirror image of the first, joining at the wrist, and draw around that one too.  Make sure you have the thumbs at the same side!

Making sure your two felt pieces are still together at the edges, pin the two mitten shapes together through both thicknesses of felt.  Now use your tacking thread to tack / baste around the inside of the mitten shape, to hold everything together.  You can now cut out your pattern piece, leaving a small seam allowance all around (my seam here is only 2 to 3mm).

Remove the pins and using white cotton thread, sew along the long side of both mittens, on the pencil line.  If you’re hand stitching (which is what I usually do) you can get away with a small running stitch, but best to backstitch for a good finish and sound seams, especially if you’re planning on having a small seam allowance (a good idea to avoid bulk).

Remove the tacking thread.   You now need to create a temporary marker of where the two mittens intersect at the wrist, that you will be able to see on both the wrong and right side of the felt.  You already have a pencil mark on the wrong side of one side of your pattern pieces – you now need to use your template and pencil to create the line on the other side too.

Once you have a line on the wrong side of both pieces, use your tacking thread and small stitches to stitch along the lines on both pieces, from the wrong side.  Be careful not to accidentally pull this line of stitches out as you work on the mittens – you will need to keep it in place right up to the last steps.

Now we’ll decorate the ‘outer’ mitten.  Open the mittens up, wrong side facing you and use your fingers to press the shapes open.  You can now see the outlines of 4 mittens in total with your tacking stitches dividing the outer and lining mitten pieces.

For the decoration on my mitten, I made two rows of 3 sequins close to the top of the mitten and added a button to each side of the mitten.  Feel free to decorate your mitten in any way you like – use embroidery threads, beads, crystals, whatever you like – change up the felt and thread colours – be as inventive as you like!  I stitched my sequins down with three stitches in a ‘Y’ pattern and secured my buttons with matching red thread, just as I would stitch a button to a shirt.  Just make sure that you don’t decorate in the seaming area and when centering decorations, take the seams into account so that everything is lined up on the finished piece in a balanced way.

Once your mitten is decorated, fold the two pieces back together, right sides facing, and use your tacking thread again to baste it all back together, making sure the edges all meet up properly.

Once this is done, you can sew around the mittens, meeting up with the seam you already stitched down one side – leaving an opening on one side of the lining mitten, large enough to turn the whole thing inside out through.  I’d recommend that you sew ON the pencil line when seaming the ‘outer’ mitten, and just inside the pencil line when seaming the lining mitten.  Doing this makes the lining mitten a teeny bit smaller, which will make it fit into the outer mitten a little tidier, when you turn them inside out.  Finally, check your seam allowance and trim, if you feel it needs it.  Make a tiny cut into the inside of the thumb, which will help avoid any creasing when you turn the mitten out.  Be careful and don’t snip your stitches though!

Now we can turn the mittens right side out, through the gap in the seam you left in the lining mitten.  If you’re making these in miniature, this is very fiddly!  Because I make miniature things quite regularly and make stuffed cloth dolls with small parts, I have a pair of surgical hemostats, which I absolutely couldn’t live without!  These are perfect for turning tiny things out and getting stuffing into small spaces, but use with care – they pincer the fabric very solidly and can tear things if you aren’t gentle.  You can pick these up on ebay for a few pounds.  The blunt end of knitting needles or bamboo skewers are also useful turning out tools – just be gentle.

Once you’ve got the shape turned right side out, finger press it flat and turn in the seam allowance around the opening on the lining mitten.  Place over the pressing cloth and press your mitten flat.  Now thread a needle and stitch up the open slot in the lining mitten.  I use ladder stitch to do this, which is invisible, when completed.  Check out YouTube for a video on how to make this stitch – it is very easy once learned and you will find that you use it a lot!

Knot off your thread in the seam itself, to hide it and run the needle some way into the lining part before clipping it off.

Now the fun bit!  You now need to push the lining into the outer mitten.  Start at the tacking thread on the wrist line – pinch the fabric here between your fingers and fold and push the first bit of lining into the outer.  You can then start to push the rest of the lining in and gently ease the lining shape inside the outer shape using your hemostats / needle / skewer.

Using the tacking thread as your guide to where the top of the mitten should be, finger press the parts together before giving them a press with the iron and pressing cloth.

Finally, pull out the wrist tacking stitches and using your embroidery thread, blanket stitch around the wrist.

Hide any thread knots in the seams of the lining mitten, where they will be out of sight.  Now add a hanging thread and any other decorations you want – I’ve added a mini jingle bell in red to mine by just knotting it onto the thread.  This is a fun way to create an ‘alarm’ on your mitt if you’re going to use it as a gift pouch on the three – nobody can touch it without jingling!  For mini mitts, a piece of the embroidery thread is perfect for hanging – just knot it together at the top.  If you’re making a bigger mitt, ribbon would be good – just seam the raw edges together and hide them folded inside the lining, which you can stitch to the side of the mitt using a small and neat running stitch.

I hope you will enjoy making these mitts and that these instructions make sense.  If you have any problems or want to ask any questions, please post a reply.  If you have any feedback for me on the post in general, would love to hear from you!