Blog, Makes

Make your own Christmas Crackers

I originally designed and made these crackers for Coast magazine.

Crackers date back to the 1840’s. They were supposed to have been invented by a sweet manufacturer, Tom Smith, who came up with the idea as a way of promoting his bon-bon sweets, that were having a bit of a slump at the time.

My crackers have been designed with a coastal Christmas theme in mind, but you could create crackers for different events, such as a wedding, christening or birthday. For these designs I took photos of fabrics and sweet wrappers and enlarged them to create the scale I wanted. You could do this too, of even draw your own design on paper. There are lots of copyright free images to be found on the internet. You will need the design to fit onto an A4 piece of paper. I bought the cracker snaps on line, but everything else should be very easy to find. You can make paper hats from tissue paper and of course write your own jokes. The jokes can be created for different members of your family or particular friends. I put some tiny old fashioned Christmas decorations in my crackers. You could do the same or add balloons and sweets.

You will need

Piece of A4 Card for each cracker, Piece of A4 paper printed with a design, Cutting mat, Scalpel, Paper scissors, Clear tape, Double sided tape, Ruler, Pencil, Cracker snaps, Sweets, paper hats and tiny toys and decorations

Step 1

Cut a strip off the card so that it measures 16cm x 29.7cm.

Lay the card horizontally, starting from the right hand side measure in from the edge 6cm both top and bottom of the card. Draw a line between the pencil dots. Repeat at 8cm and 10 cm in from the edge. Repeat on the left hand side of the card. Score and fold as shown in image.

Step 2

Where the narrow folded edges are, mark out evenly spaced triangles. Make sure that there is a bridge between each triangle. Using the paper scissor cut out the triangles. Open out the card and you will have two rows of diamonds.

Step 3

Roll the card horizontally to form a long narrow cracker shaped tube. Using sticky tape, attach one side onto the other. Cut the A4 paper into three strips 2 x 6cms wide and 1 x 9.5cm wide. Using double sided tape stick the paper onto the three sections of the card tube.

Step 4

Push the cracker snap into the cracker, and secure it with a bit of tape to stop it falling out. Tie string or twine round one end of the cracker and then fill the cracker with sweets decorations toys etc or even your own jokes. Tie up the other end of the cracker.

Blog, Makes

Embroider and appliqué a Seagull inspired Cushion

Three things inspired this craft project, the sea, gulls and the effective but random looking stitching currently used by many fine art embroiderers. They in turn appear to have been inspired by Asian quilts made out of recycled Sari’s. I embroidered the cushion front in free hand stitches. I wanted to create the curls where the waves turn over themselves and also the subtle changes of colour in the waves and the sky. To achieve the turbulence of the weather I used two background colours of felt and also different colours of the embroidery floss. The changing direction and sizes of the stitches helps to suggest movement.

If you are not happy just doing freehand stitches using a water erasable pen, draw your design onto the cushion front, embroider over the pen lines. To get rid of the pen marks, dampen a cloth and rub quite lightly.

I expect, like you, I am forever taking photographs when I am by the sea. I took the images of the gulls using my phone. I increased the size of them and then printed them out quite large. Before cutting out in felt, I placed the paper gulls onto the stitched front and arranged in a pleasing composition. I then drew round the gull images onto the felt and cut out and then pinned and tacked the grey felt gulls onto the cushion front.

You will need

Piece of felt 100cm x 100cm x 3mm deep in pale blue felt for the cushion cover

36cm square cushion pad

Felt squares or oblongs in Grey, marine blue and purple

Embroidery floss in light grey, white, mid blue and turquoise (Korbond)

Tapestry needle

Sewing needle

Printer and images of flying seagulls

Water erasable pen

Paper Scissors

Dressmaking Shears

Dress makers pins

For the back opening cushion cover

Cut the cushion front 37cm x 37cm and cut the two cushion backs one 22cm x 37cm and the other 30cm x 37cm in pale blue felt .

Step 1

Work on the cushion front, leave a 2 cm border round the edge, and using brightly coloured thread, tack a piece of dark marine blue felt onto another piece and onto the cushion front so it measures 22cm x 32cm

Step 2

Thread the whole six strands of a piece of white embroidery floss into a tapestry needle and sew random sized running stitches from the left side of the felt to the right and back again, creating 7 uneven rows of stitches. Change colour and sew 7 rows in pale blue.

Step 3

Repeat step 1 using the purple felt. Make sure it joins onto the blue felt and will measure roughly 32cm x 11.5cm. You don’t need to cover the whole of the cushion in stitches, the effect you are after is the waves of the sea. Print images of gulls, draw round and cut out in grey felt.

Step 4

Arrange, pin and sew the gulls onto the cushion front. Using turquoise thread, blanket stitch along one long edge of the cushion back. Make an envelope opening for the cushion pad. With the two back pieces over lapping in the centre of the cushion, pin the cushion backs to the cushion front and sew together round the edge using blanket stitch.

Needles

Embroidery Floss

Pins and scissors and erasable marker pen from http://sew.korbond.co.uk

I designed this project for Coast Magazine

Blog, Makes

Make a recycled Appliquéd picnic blanket.

This project was originally in Coast magazine.

Those who live on the Coast are probably more aware than most, of the changing seasons. The skies are overcast and dark, the sea becomes rough and the sea gulls soar and wheel on the updrafts. With this image in mind I have designed an appliqued blanket. I have kept with the dark almost monochrome, but with suggestions of seasonal colours. The method of making is very easy and the end result has a Hygge Scandinavian feel.

Finished blanket

         I made this blanket out of two old woolen blankets purchased in a charity shop. They are easy to come by and often thin enough to use as a double thickness. If you don’t want to use old woolen blankets buy 160 cm woolen fabric that is 160cm wide. You will need two pieces in two different colours.

         If using old blankets, clean by washing on a wool wash. You can dye them, as I did one of ours, in a washing machine. We dyed it Jeans blue. The blanket must be made out of wool or another natural fiber for the dye to take. If you dye a blanket in the machine it will felt a little. Once the blankets are washed dyed and dry, then cut them so they are the same size as one another.

What you need

Tracing paper or baking parchment

Pencil

Dressmaking pins

Dressmaking scissors

Paper scissors

2 x woolen blankets or 2 pieces of 160 x 160cm woolen fabric

Dylon Jeans Blue machine dye (optional)

Tapestry yarn or an odd ball of wool (we used pale blue)

Tapestry needle

How to make

Step 1

Find some copyright free images of flying seagulls on the internet, scan to enlarge and print them out. Draw onto tracing paper and cut out using paper scissors. Or just copy the bird shapes shown here.

Pin the paper seagull onto the darker blanket. Being very careful to keep the shape, cut out the gull. You will need to repeat this with the other gulls depending on how many you want.

Pin the darker blanket on top of the lighter one. Round each edge, pin one blanket onto the other. Pin round the gull shape holes.  Using running stitch, sew round the edge of each gull.

Make sure the blankets haven’t stretched. If they have cut away any overlaps. Using blanket stitch, 1cm deep x 1cm wide, sew one blanket onto the other all the way round the edge.