With Christmas fast approaching and the dark nights setting in, grab your leftover fabrics and get creating.
Christmas is a magical time of year, although one of the most expensive periods. It shouldn’t be all about how much you spend though. Receiving a handmade item is a lovely personal touch, and is something the recipient will treasure forever, knowing it was made just for them. You will find lots of tutorials on our blog, and this one will be perfect for creating all sorts of treasures. These Christmas panels can be made into bags, cushions, blankets and so much more. Made from oddments of material and felt, they are cost effective too, and that’s always a bonus with us here at The Crafty Co. Let your imagination run wild and let’s get creating.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED
coloured thread (this can be matching or a contrast colour)
Fuse a web (optional)
Fabric marker or pencil
Here’s what you do
The first thing you need to do is decide what fabric and colours you want to use. The panels can be any size you like, depending on what you turn them into. This is a great opportunity to use up all your fabric scraps. We have used felt for the applique, but you can use material if you don’t have felt to hand. The great thing about using material for the whole project is it will be washable. Although felt comes in a variety of colours and is easy to work with, it does have a tendency to bobble with use. It would be best to hand wash any item with felt as that too could affect the look
Print out the templates above. Use the thickest card your printer will take so that you can use the templates again.
Carefully cut out all the pieces.
Do not use your best dressmaking scissors for this job. (Adult supervision is required) If you are cutting all the templates, it is wise to store them individually so that they don’t get mixed up.
For this tutorial, we have used a product called fuse a web.
It looks like grease proof paper, but has adhesive on both sides. The glue is activated when it comes in contact with heat. It is simple to use and when positioned and stuck, makes it so much easier to stitch around shapes. Once you have cut out the templates, lay them out onto fuse a web and cut them out roughly, making sure that the fuse a web is slightly bigger than the template. Don’t worry if you don’t have fuse a web, you can draw straight onto your fabric.
You now want to stick the fuse a web onto your fabric.
You will see that one side is a like grease proof paper, while the other side has a sheen to it. Place it sheen side down and follow the instructions on the pack with regard to ironing it to the fabric. For most fabrics , use a piece that is larger than the fuse a web. This allows the edges of the material to get a good bond. Take extra care when working with felt as this will stick to your iron and make a mess. It is better to cut the felt marginally smaller than the fuse a web so that you don’t get the iron anywhere near the felt.
Next, lay the templates down on the fuse a web side and place them so that the writing doesn’t show.
This is so all the parts will be the right way up. Draw round the shape with a pen or pencil. If you are putting the fabric straight onto your panel and are not using fuse a web, make sure you use a washable fabric pen or pencil so that the lines don’t show. Put the templates in a safe place so you can use them again and again.
Using a sharp pair of scissors (adult supervision is always required), carefully cut round the lines.
Do the same for all the pieces and lay them out to check you have got them all.
If you have pieces that have detailed stitching, mark these with a washable fabric marker. Don’t do this too far in advance as some of the pens disappear after a while.
Applique is worked in layers.
Think of it as a 3D picture and place the layer that would be at the back. The box part of the present is at the back so place it down first. You decide where you want it to be placed on your panel. If you are making a cushion, you may want it to be in the centre. If you are making a present sack, you may want to add lots of designs. It’s a good idea to have a rough plan of how you want the finished item to look. Following ironing instructions for the Fuse a web, secure the box to the panel. When working with felt, it is really important that it NEVER comes in direct contact with the iron as it will melt the fibres and stick to it. If you are not using Fuse a web, secure in place with pins.
How you stitch applique is a personal choice.
Some people like to work freehand, stitching randomly around the shape several times. This technique allows you room for error, so if you are not yet confident with your machine, you may like to try this method. We have chosen to work a decorative stitch around each piece. Sewing machines nowadays have an array of built in stitches. You want to choose one that looks similar to a blanket stitch or you could choose a zig-zag. A top tip is to get an off cut and have a play first. Try out the different stitches to see what effect they give. Just bear in mind that you really want one that will secure the edges so that they don’t fray. If you have additional lines to sew, do this before you add the next part of the design.
What thread shall I use?
This will depend on your machine. We like to use white on the bottom bobbin. Not only does it make our colour threads last longer, it means that we don’t have to keep changing bobbins over. Ideally, you should have a separate bobbin for each colour. Don’t have lots of different threads on the same one, as it will affect your tension. Some machines do not like different threads top and bottom, so you may have to keep them the same.
What colour you use is up to you. You can match the thread to your material or use a contrasting colour. If you don’t have a lot of colours, use a contrast. This is a great way to use your supplies to keep the cost down.
Sew the present to the panel. Stitch any extra detail before you add the next piece.
To make your applique look really professional, turn your panel over and pull the front thread through to the back. Tie off securely and cut near to the panel. You may need to wiggle and tease the thread through.
Sew round the outside of all the shapes to secure the edges.
The next layer is the ribbon so attach it as you did with the box. Sticking felt onto felt is a bit more tricky so take you time here. You may find it easier to secure with a couple of pins.
Before you add the ribbon, lay the pieces down to see how you want it to look.
Once you’re happy, sew the ribbon tails in place.
Add the bow.
Finally, add the centre of the bow, and if you want, you can add definition to the bow with a couple of stitch lines.
Your panel is now finished, ready for you to make it into something amazing.
If you want to make a bag, click HERE for the bag tutorial.
To turn it into a festive cushion, click HERE for tutorial.
You can sew lots of panels and sew them together to make a blanket. (Tutorial coming soon!)
But for now….. here’s how the other designs are put together.
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSE REINDEER
Position his head on the fabric. Make sure you allow enough space for the height of his antlers. Not crucial unless you want him to be central on your finished item.
Add the antlers.
Don’t forget his ears so he can hear Santa calling.
Add his snout.
Place his eyes so they overlap his snout slightly. Once the nose has been added, it will hide any joins.
You can place the pupils anywhere within the eyes. Try different positions until you find the expression you want.
And finally….. add his big red nose so that he can guide Santa’s sleigh.
What a handsome chap he is!
Now, let’s put old Snowy the Snowman together.
First sew on his body. Make sure you allow space for his head and hat. This is important if you want him to be central on the finished panel or item.
Next add his arms. We used a light grey cotton so that the arms show and don’t get lost in the body. We also stitched halfway up his body from the bottom, to give him legs.
Sew on the head, leaving a small gap between the body. The scarf will hide this space.
Add his scarf so that his neck will be nice and warm.
Sew on his hat. You can place this at any angle you like. Just make sure you leave enough space for his face.
Add on his carrot nose.
Finally add on his coal face and buttons. We hand stitched these in place as it is a bit tricky on the machine.
And here he is, all dressed and ready for the frosty weather.
No Christmas is complete without a tasty pud. Sew the pudding in place.
Next add the frosting.
Finally sew on the holly and then the berries.
Although Christmas is approaching fast, there’s still plenty of time to whip up some fab presents.
So grab your scraps and machine and get creating.
We love seeing your creations and makes, so don’t forget to tag us #CraftyCoCreations
The Crafty Co