Friday, 10 January 2014

Skirting the issue

With our various home improvement schemes this year, it was inevitable that we'd have to go to Ikea at some point.  As we no longer have a car, I have three options for this.
  1. take a long, winding bus journey there and back
  2. wait until we need a hire car for other 'jobs' and combine the lot
  3. go with my parents when I visit the Land of Song
The cons of the above are:
  1. I'll spend more time on the bus than in Ikea and carrying bulky/heavy stuff back isn't ideal on public transport
  2. It may be a long wait until we can combine jobs that need transport
  3. I have to carry the stuff I buy back from LoS to London on public transport (see 1 above!)
However, needs must, so on a visit earlier this year, along with jars for food storage, hooks for tidying the cellar, etc, I also bought a couple of fleece blankets for crafting purposes.  I know it is easy enough to buy fleece fabric at a haberdashers, but they are so reasonable at Ikea you can't really go wrong.

The intention was to make Christmas tree skirts out of them.  So, I have 3 red ones, 2 white/cream ones, 1 green one and some off-cuts of pale blue and grey fleece.  Obviously, red, white and green are the colours of the LoS and conveniently also traditional Christmas colours, but blue, not so much.  However, the idea I had was to make a snowflake-themed one using the white and blue ones, with a bit of added silver sparkle in the form of silver thread, silver organza and/or some sequins/beads.  At some future date I may make a poinsettia one out of the red and white ones and/or make a Christmas bauble one on a green background using the off-cuts of the others and other vibrant fabrics.

I know, I know - how many tree skirts does a girl need?!?!  Well, I'm not intending to make them ALL for me - just two or three! ;-)  Naturally, I hope some are going to be Christmas presents!   However, plans didn't quite come to fruition for this Christmas.  With poorly parents I've only managed to make one 'prototype' skirt, but I am quite please with how it has turned out.  Here is my method:

Off-cuts ready for stitching/cutting
into snowflakes
Cutting out
Fold both the red and white fleeces in half, then in half again (so into four).  Using a make-shift compass out of some string and a dress-making pencil (or similar), fix one end of the string to the fold corner and the pencil to the other - then draw as big an arc (or quarter of a circle) as possible.  Cut out to create a large circle.  So, out of two fleeces I now have two circles large enough to be tree skirts.  The off-cuts will be used later.

Repeat the above method to draw a much smaller circle to make the hole for the tree trunk (or you could use a jar/mug/bottle as a template).  Cut out this smaller circle from the centre.

Using one of the folds as a guide, cut a straight line from the outer edge to the inner circle (this will be the opening).  If you wish (this may depend on the fabric you use), hem one of the straight edges - this will be the upper closing edge.

Next, the snowflakes:
  1. I tried three methods for the snowflakes, with varying success.  The first method was to trace the snowflake template directly onto the fleece and then sew the 'arms' with sparkly silver thread (I used Gutterman Sulky) along those lines by machine (quite easy - straight stitch in straight lines). And then trim around the stitching to get the 'classic' snowflake shape.  This method was fine, although not all the snowflakes were useable as the fleece stretched with sewing.
  2. The second method was to trace the templates onto some Wondaweb and iron them onto the off-cuts before stitching on the machine and trimming (as above).  This method was quite good for keeping the shape and for giving a clear shape to follow for cutting out.  But once it comes to removing the backing paper from the Wondaweb it all gets a bit fiddly to remove as the stitching keeps it in place rather well.
  3. Method 2 snowflake before cutting out
  4. The final method was to cut the snowflake out before stitching.  This way I was able to follow the traced lines to trim away the waste fabric and then peel away the backing paper with ease before ironing the snowflake into place, ready for the silver stitching.  
To be honest, if I were to make this again, I'd probably use this final method, although the second was fine and makes the snowflakes a little more sparkly as I stitched them twice.

There were two patterns of snowflake and the template offered three sizes.  I only used the two larger sizes for this project.

Lay out:
After making approximately 20-25 snowflakes I started laying them out to get the right 'look'.  Then I removed the backing paper and ironed them into place.  I'd never used Wondaweb before and I underestimated the 'ironing time' at this stage and quite a few snowflakes fell off before I stitched them into place (so the layout probably isn't as even as it could have been).  They were then stitched onto the red skirt.

To finish the tree skirt off and to continue the snow theme, I added some large white pom-pom trim to the outer edge.  I sewed this onto the underside (using red thread so that it didn't show) so that only the pom-poms show.  This was followed by sewing jumbo white ric-rac braid to both the outer edge and the inner.  To close the skirt once it is around the tree, you could sew some velcro along the straight edge, add buttons (self-covered?) and loops or use large press-studs (my option).

What do you think?  Are they worth doing again for this year's Christmas presents?

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