This weekend was glorious. Crisp days with clear blue skies. My favourite type of winter days. It puts me in the mood for the ‘non-serious’ type of creating. I can set aside my Diploma work for a little while and create something for the pure joy of creating.
The stumpwork is coming along nicely. I am happily up to date with my stitching plan. The fabrics have been applied to the background. The fabric was still together when I pulled the fabric drum-tight on the slate frame. I also made a start on the first part of surface stitching – leaf stitch and ‘long and short’ stitch using Appleton wool. I am quite happy with the result.
In the bigger scheme, it is quite a small amount of stitching, but the colours contrast beautifully with the shiny silk fabrics.
With my brief hiatus from this piece, I spent some time making a stocking for the Sleepthief for Christmas. I thought I would go for a tactile rather than visually ‘pretty’ design. With the winter settling in, bringing with it cold and frost – and making themselves quite comfortable, I thought I would do this mini project to make me feel all snug, cosy and festive.
I have never really been a drawing to sewing machines. I come from a family of women who were very talented with a sewing machine, however I spend my childhood and teenage years as far from a sewing machine as I could get. I was given a little £50 John Lewis sewing machine a few years ago and tried my hand at it. Little by little, I have been bringing it out of the box more often, becoming more confident and more adventurous each time. This time, I was going to need a pattern.
Firstly, I got out a few old knee-high socks, an old newspaper and a marking pen. I outlined the design, tweaked the shape, then cut out the ‘pattern.’ The fabrics I chose were red cotton velvet, white faux fur and a Christmas patterned cotton. Right sides of fabric facing, I cut out the shape, leaving a 1cm seem allowance. I cut out a rectangle of the faux fur that was approx 18cm x 30cm for the trim along the top of the stocking. All up – there are 4-5 parts to the stocking, 2 velvet stocking shapes, 2 cotton stocking shapes (or 1 if the fabric is folded along the grain to create a seem, like I did in the middle picture below) and one faux fur rectangle.
With right sides facing, I machine sewed the edges of the velvet and the cotton pieces, leaving the top open. I turned the velvet stocking inside out, inserted the cotton stocking (once sewn and right sides still facing) into the velvet stocking. I folded the faux fur in half, pinned it to the velvet, did a quick seam with the sewing machine, then turned the faux fur edge over, pinned it to the cotton and slip stitched this seam. I added a little gold ribbon (trapped between the faux fur slip stitching) to hang the stocking.
This first half was all done at home. I cut the fabric and machined the seams. All the hand sewing together was done while having a relaxing coffee and cake at my favourite coffee shop. It was such a great place to work on a festive piece, the staff were showing off their amazing new hand painted Christmas aprons, the owner was decorating the Christmas tree in the corner behind me and there was just that happy buzz of the festive season drifting through the coffee shop. It was really a lovely way to complete my mini project.
It is a visually very simple stocking, however there would be so many ways to embellish a stocking and make it a truly unique and gorgeous addition to Christmas decorating around the house. I chose more textured fabrics because Sleepthief is still too little for adornments. But the verdict said it all – Sleepthief hugged the stocking, smiling and stroking the contrasting textures of the velvet and faux fur for the rest of the afternoon.