Advent Calendar

Traditionally, (I’m talking about my childhood in the 1960’s), Advent Calendars were a just paper, or card, the little windows had no chocolate or treats behind them, only a little picture and I remember the excitement of seeing what might be behind the little door each day.

I finished this in January of this year; I’d found the Advent Calendar panel, bought years ago, in amongst some Christmas fabrics when I was looking for something else.  I decided that although I’d not get it done for Christmas, Advent was almost half way through, I’d start and plan to finish it, a stitch in time, so that I could hang it for Advent 2021.

It’s just a panel, which has the printed background and a strip of pockets, which are to be cut out and applied to the same image on the background fabric.

 Each pocket was cut, the raw edges turned and I tacked the edge down so that I could see the slim gold line at the edge. The plan was to topstitch the pockets onto the backing with a gold thread, but I didn’t like the effect, so I unpicked the ones I’d done and topstitched in a matching thread. 

 I also considered topstitching in various thread colours to match the colour of the pocket numbers, but that was beginning to look messy, that didn’t work either.

Once the pockets were sewn on, there needed to be more quilting to reduce the puffiness where the pocket were not placed.  I just picked out motifs in the same matching cream thread. Mostly these were hand stitched, because they were fiddly and in some cases too near the pockets for the machine foot to sew without pushing and pulling the fabric.

 I was determined not to buy any more fabric for this Advent Calendar project.  Seriously I have enough fabric to sink a ship. So I found a piece of ivory fabric with a gold and black motif in the Christmas box, which was not quite wide enough, and added green borders to make it fit the back. 

 The reason I chose green, (I’d rather have used red) was so that the edge at the front would match the edge on the back and any wobbliness or misalignment would be less apparent.  It worked and I’m happy with it. There was also enough of the green to make a hanging sleeve.

So the Advent Calendar was finished… well almost.  Traditionally, (I’m talking about my childhood in the 1960’s), Advent Calendars were a just paper, or card, the little windows had no chocolate or treats behind them, only a little picture and I remember the excitement of seeing what might be behind the little door each day.

 I didn’t want to just drop a sweet or wrapped chocolate in each pocket, I don’t need the calories anyway, and I couldn’t guarantee to have the self -discipline not to go chocolate rustling late at night, nor trust the beloved not to do so either. So what to put in the pockets?

As I took down my Christmas cards at Epiphany I began thinking about those little pictures behind the doors on my childhood Advent Calendars.  Would an image on its own be enough?  I cut a number of cardboard squares, small enough to fit into the pockets, each with a Christmassy image, Robins seem to be well represented, but then I like Robins.

That’s where I left it, the Advent Calendar with a temporary hanging cane and a string to hang it by and the pockets full of little squares of Christmas card.

Last month I rooted out the Advent Calendar from its resting place and began thinking about how it should be finished.  I wanted a wellbeing theme, something positive to think about each day, something maybe to do for my wellbeing.  My Niece has an Advent Calendar, which she made from downloaded materials from Calm Moment you can find it here, (https://www.calmmoment.com/mindfulness/mindful-christmas-advent-calendar/ )

 I printed the 24 wellbeing suggestions from the Calm Moment Advent Calendar cut them approximately square and folded each one diagonally twice, tucking it into the pockets on the Advent Calendar. I also searched Pinterest for Christmassy quotes, printed those very small and glued one to each of my little squares of Christmas card.

 Through Advent I will have a Christmas affirming quote and a wellbeing suggestion for every day and not a calorie in sight.

The only thing is… The hanging arrangements still don’t work for me, I need a metre or so of gold cord, and a stick  (with knobs on,) that I can paint gold., and tie the gold cord to. Inevitably even with my best efforts, it wasn’t ready in time for Advent. Shoot me! I’m still working full time and looking after my old Ma, and we have to keep a sense of proportion.  I’ll go into town on Saturday and buy gold cord, the stick I have, knobs are on order, (wooden beads actually) and all will be complete before Advent is over, honestly!  

A Scruffy Little Bear

I thought maybe making this scruffy little bear could help me; having something to do and to think about would maybe help to get my sewing mojo back, and I could learn something new.

I’ve not really been in the mood for sewing lately certainly not quilting and yet I recently found a need to sew for the solace it brings. My Beloved and I are heartsore and bereft. The Boy has left home! On the day he was coming to collect all his belongings, I spent the morning packing up his things, trying not to cry. The hardest thing for me to swallow was he wanted his childhood teddies. He has moved out and come home again a couple of times, but I guess its really final when they take their childhood companions. He really has left home this time. I’m fairly sure there are toys of mine still tucked away at my Mother’s house which I still think of as “home” but I have my childhood teddy Bear.

Once the packing was done,  and while I waited for The Boy to arrive, I needed to find some calm. I settled down to listen to a podcast “ Bearly Begun, episode 4. ” (you can find it on Spotify or https://anchor.fm/bearlybegun/episodes )

If you are familiar with the BBC One TV program The Repair Shop you will know the two ladies who repair soft toys, not just bears, on that programme.  (If you don’t know The Repair Shop you are missing a delight, seriously it’s one of the best , I wouldn’t miss it, everything about it is wonderful, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are not in the UK, I think you can find it @netflix.

The Bear Ladies had a project to suggest to their listeners, a free pattern to make a little teddy bear called Scruffy Duffy, well that nearly set me off crying again… Scruffy is the name of The Boy’s bear, which I’d just packed up and said goodbye to, remembering the times I’d read bedtime stories to The Boy and his Scruffy bear. My Stepson and I had first bonded over making paper hats for his teddies from ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’ by Conn and Hal Iggulden, when he was 7 years old.

Scruffy little Bear in progress

I thought maybe making this scruffy little bear could help me; having something to do and to think about would maybe help to get my sewing mojo back, and I could learn something new. So I downloaded the pattern, ordered the bits and bobs required to put it together, found a piece of fabric from my stash, and began.

Scruffy Duffy belongs to The Teddy Bear Ladies, if you are interested in making one you can find the free pattern here, http://bearitinmind.com/ and images of bears which have been made from the pattern can be found on their Pinterest account https://www.pinterest.co.uk/teddybearladies/, there is also an instagram account https://www.instagram.com/theteddybearladies/ where you can follow The Teddy bear ladies.  Do watch them on The Repair Shop too.

So what did I learn while making this Scruffy Little Bear?

I learned that my hand sewing could do with more practice, that I’m not good at judging a half centimetre seam allowance by eye, but if you mark the seam allowance on your thumbnail, that works.

I learned that I’m not good at stuffing soft toys, but practice may make perfect, and a pencil helps.

I learned how to create a cotter pin joint; again practice may improve technique, thankfully I have some round nose pliers in my kitchen drawer.

I learned that mohair, despite being more expensive than free fabric from my stash, may have been a better choice, and the pile would likely cover a multitude of inaccurate stitching sins.

I learned that I have arthritis developing in my thumb joints, and that I need varifocal glasses.

Most importantly and with much reflection, I learned that you cannot keep your children close, they will leave home and you have to let them go with an open heart.  I just hope he will let us know where he is and what he is up to, that he will come and see us occasionally.  And if he does decide to join the Army as he says he will, perhaps he’ll need a foster home for his beloved childhood friends, Monty and Scruffy, I do hope so.

Potholder for Mum

So what does a kind and loving daughter do when her mother confides… she has lost her pot holder?

 So what does a kind and loving daughter do when her mother confides… she has lost her pot holder? She thinks maybe it got thrown out with some newspapers which had been sitting by the kitchen door ready for recycling.

Make her a new one of course.

It took me a while to come up with a plan, I didn’t have suitable heat resistant wadding, well who does? So I needed to use a fabric which would be substantial enough to be heat resistant. Denim perhaps?

Denim jeans £1 , such a bargain.
Charity shop denim

In my stash I had a pair of jeans bought for £1 in a charity shop, I’d been thinking about a floor covering made from denim, but that would need a LOT  of denim. Not sure what I might do with the legs, but I will come up with something, what about a gardening apron? Hmm, I’ll need to think about that.

For my pot holders I needed two pieces of denim about 8-9 inches square, and a pocket on each one would give me more heat resistance in the middle, or a handy way to help keep hold of the potholder. With a pair, they could be used like ovengloves.

Sorting through my fabrics I came across the left overs from another project, Miriam’s cushion (http://www.mycrosspatch.com/blog/2018/05/11/making-miriams-cushion/)   half square triangles. Just what I needed, I’d seen a block on instagram just a few days before and saved it, now that’s  what I could do with my HSTs. (https://www.instagram.com/p/CANjHUUnDnF/…)

The Potholder only needed a simple quilting design to hold the layers together . I made a pair, one is handy but two is better, they aren’t exactly a pair but I’m happy with them, and so is MUM.   

Maybe I could make myself a pair too, when lockdown is over, and my local charity shop reopens.