Tagged: cotton reels

Dec 04

Keep-it-simple Christmas decorations

 

 

A local magazine asked me to put together the following brief article about making your own Christmas decorations. And I mean brief: the word count was 250-300 words (the briefest of briefs) so there was no space to explain or give instructions. But  it offers a few thrifty ideas to pursue, so I thought I’d post it here on the blog. If you’d like instructions – or even a film from me – explaining how to make any of these, just leave me a comment or email and I’ll be happy to demonstrate; I’ve been meaning to dust off the camera for a while now.

 

Place-marker cotton reels

Place-marker cotton reels

 

OK, so here’s the article…

 

Think laterally this year and make your own beautifully thrifty Christmas decorations.

1. Use what you have in the cupboard.  Jazz up sewing materials; coax a paper-clip into a circle with some jewellery pliers and position in a cotton reel to make a jauntily festive place-marker. Or thread buttons onto looped wire for a napkin ring, finished with a scrap-fabric bow. Turn functional kitchen items decorative; upend a jam jar to create a voguish snow globe*, and hang cookie cutters as tree bling.

Jam-jar snow globe

Kitchen bling

 

2. Display kitchen ingredients. Pull dried cinnamon sticks and star anise out of the spice cupboard to look and smell the part. String fresh red chili peppers this Christmas and they’ll slowly dry for your cooking throughout 2013.

3. Gather natural objects. Bring in pinecones and garden greenery.

4. Recycle broken paperbacks. Cut page lengths into 2.5cms /1”-wide strips. A pair of children’s scalloped craft scissors gives a fancier edge. Glue or staple strips into loops to form a paper chain.

Book paper chains

Old book paper chains

 

5. Turn newspapers into hearts. Old wrapping paper, greetings cards and catalogues also work for heart garlands. Consider investing in a specialist cutter (like a giant hole punch) if you’re making lots; good but slower results come from drawing round a template, such as a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and cutting out with scissors. Machine-stitch hearts together vertically or horizontally, with gaps close or wide to suit. Red thread sets it off nicely.

Upcycled garlands

Before: a newspaper, a sweater, a scarf, a map

 

6. Upcycle old clothes. Transform a precious wool garment accidentally felted in the wash into another pretty garland. Cut out graded circles (3 slightly different sizes look good). Arrange rounds pleasingly before stitching together on a sewing machine. Strengthen with a second line of stitching before decking the halls.

 

Scrap paper and felt garlands

Deck the halls with… junk!

 

I’m selling packs of 100 pre-cut book-page links in my Etsy store. I am also happy to supply you with finished chain, if you prefer. You can  see some of the finished paper-chain currently decking the halls of Topping Books, Bath, where you might also be interested in a lovely event this Thursday 6th December with Scandinavian Christmas author Trine Hahnemann, 6-9pm.  I’ll be there, sniffing the lingonberry gin fizz! Hope to see you.

 

* snow globe remarkably similar to this one spotted in Anthropologie, Chelsea for c, £22 pounds. Dear Reader, make your own!

 

 

 

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Dec 28

Keeping it reel

Christmas kitty

Festive kitty & cotton reel

 

Greetings from the 4th day of Christmas! How has Christmas been so far for you? At this point in the festivities I go into a kind of reverse-Scrooge mode and make a point of maximising Christmas, spreading it out over the full 12 days. Well, at least until New Year. I feel that I’m punching the tide, however. Yesterday I spotted my first discarded Christmas tree outside a neighbouring house. And today’s TV news trumpeted that Christmas is now entirely done and dusted and the season of sales has begun.

But why move on so fast? After all, we’ve all worked so hard just to reach Christmas, it seems a pity to ditch it quite so rapidly. I’d rather relish the muddy walks in the mid-afternoon dusk, the tedious board games, the new adaptations of Dickens, the belated-writing-of-Christmas-cards-and-round-robins, the pitter-patter of pine needles, the umpteenth pseudo-meal of Stilton & crackers, time almost slowing to a standstill.

I’m guessing that a lot of people can’t wait to leave Christmas firmly behind as too painful a time: too poignant a reminder of happier days past, hearts as yet unbroken, beloved souls not yet departed. That’s entirely understandable. My Christmas has certainly been peppered with more sadness and loss this year than I’d have liked. But before I bundle it all up and move on, losing myself in a frenzy of new-leaf-turning activity, I’m taking stock and practising some Christmas present.

Inside another old Christmas card — featuring a large reel of cotton and a needle on the front, and captioned ‘A “reel” happy Christmas’ — I found this timely message:

 

This reel and needle here I send

In case you have forgotten

That things that break,

and hearts that ache

Are mended oft by

Love — and Cotton!

 


 

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