Welcome to my October post on Minerva.  With the Christmas season soon upon us I chose a kit to design & make some mixed media Remembrance Christmas Ornaments.

The kit comprised of four 3 inch DMC embroidery hoopsChristmas colours fabric fat quarters, some rustic stringnatural quilting cotton & heat and bond.

I considered using felt but wanted to create the designs using applique and ironing felt can be tricky, firstly it can singe when ironing, and also not enough heat can transfer through to fix the heat n bond sufficiently.

I researched some styles on what I had in mind and then sketched the designs on paper.  To transfer the designs onto the heat and bond I used greaseproof paper to trace the original design and draw over it to transfer onto the paper backing.  It is important to remember that the image will be in reverse using this method although it didn’t matter for these designs, however, it would be a problem if using letters/words.

I roughly cut the transferred images and ironed onto the wrong side of the fabrics.  It is easier to cut accurately after applying the heat and bond to the fabric and also ensures that the fabric is adhered to the very edges of the shapes. 

For the backing fabric I cut squares approximately 6 inch/15 cm wide and folded across the centre in two directions to mark the middle of the fabric.  The applique was then placed onto the quilting cotton to check the layout & positioning.  Once the backing paper is removed it helps to iron the backing fabric first to warm it and then apply the applique shapes with further heat.  I also iron on the reverse to add more heat to the heat and bond.  On this occasion I chose not to have additional stitching on the applique & this particular bonding medium does not require sewing.

The next step was to add some detail and sparkle to the designs, and this was created with a combination of fabric paint, sharpies and acrylic paint.  Care must be taken with the sharpies as they can ‘bleed’ on the fabric spoiling the finished piece.  It is sensible to test all of the media on some scrap pieces before applying to the designs.  I used a combination of fine brushes and nail art tools for the dots.

I love the effect of wooden embroidery hoops as frames and considered painting to change the appearance.  However, the effect I wanted was a tiny holly design, and, as I could not quite find the right fabric, I used decoupage paper to cover the hoops.  Pinterest and google are great resources for ideas and craft tips and never having done decoupage before I wasn’t sure which glue would work best.  I thought PVA would do the job but found that Modge Podge has some great reviews and dries clear, so I used a matt glue to achieve the finish.  It is easy to apply, and only very small amounts are needed with the thin decoupage paper, finally adding a topcoat to seal any paper edges and provide a final seal.  Vanish wasn’t needed for this project.  A chop stick carefully balance on a plastic measuring jug made the perfect drying rack.  This picture is of the hoops at different stages of drying.

A further piece of heat and bond was used on a small piece of cream fabric for the personalised tag, edged with fabric paint and hand stamped with permanent ink.

I use a piece of interfacing to fill the centre and prevent it sagging inwards.  I cut squares the same size as the inner hoop then rounded the corners with scissors. It doesn’t have to be exact and it’s tricky to mark the interfacing with a pen. The quilting fabric is trimmed to slightly less than an inch all around and a quick running stitch added to pull in the fabric at the back.

When working on the back of the hoops, such as when inserting a running stitch I suggest placing it on a clean surface to prevent any dust or dirt marking the finished piece.

There are a number of ways to finish the back of hoops and one way is to leave it at the point of adding the running stitch.  I personally prefer a more ‘finished’ look and usually hand stitch a circle of felt over the hoop back.  For these ornaments I used some Christmas fat quarters (from my stash) with a robin motif and hand stitched after tucking in the edges all the way round.  I secured the edges with pins whilst stitching in place.

The final touch was the hanging thread, in this case rustic jute string.  Festive ribbon can also be used and there are many more ways to decorate the ornaments.

I’m really pleased with the ornaments – from the applique designs to the robin fabric finish on the back of the hoops.

Thank you to Minerva for the kit and to everyone for reading.

Helen @ JustSewHelen.com