Handmade Holidays: Cross-stitched and Stuffed Ornaments

Even though Christmas has come and gone, I’m enjoying all my handmade decorations so much I thought I’d share a few more of them before putting the holiday behind me.

The first two are fabric dolls ornaments. Both were given to me as gifts, so I am unsure of the designer’s name, but I know they are made from patterns. (Does anyone recognize the style? After spending way too much time digging around, I came up with the name Gabrielle Cyr and I think these might be hers, but I can’t find her work anywhere online to verify this vague belief.)



The three cross-stitch ornaments are also from patterns. I made them from little kits I bought so long ago I no longer remember making them, but they are some of my favorite ornaments. (I’m a sucker for animals.)




Feel free to share your favorite handmade ornament in the comments.

Handmade Holidays: Quilted Stocking

When I got married in 2007, my husband already had a large cross-stitched stocking his sister had made for him. I wasn’t up for trying to make a stocking that matched in style, but I did want our stockings to look like they went together. So I used his stocking to make a pattern, then pieced together fabric scraps to make mine.


I used some holiday fabrics I owned (animal angels, traditional angels, holly leaves) and added other fabrics in the same colors to up the fun. Kit’s Unwritten Law of Quilting is The More Fabrics Used, The Better. Over the years, the bed quilts I’ve made have had a minimum of 13 different fabrics in them. I don’t think I hit 13 for this project, but I followed my Law to the best of my ability.

Quilted stocking from the back
Quilted stocking from the back

While picking the fabrics was fun, I really enjoyed stitching them together. I used free-motion machine quilting to doodle on top of my fabrics for more texture.


I love small projects like this. Enough work is involved to satisfy a quilting itch, and yet I can finish in an afternoon. The only thing better than getting to play in the studio is having finished work to show for it.

Wishing you a magical Christmas Eve and a Merry Christmas! And if you have handmade stockings up and waiting for Santa tonight, I want to hear all about them.

Handmade Holidays: Decoration Inspirations

I keep seeing fun handmade decorations on the web, and wanted to share them with you.

Over on Missy’s Crafty Mess you can see daily posts of great handmade ornaments from simple to complex. I’ve enjoyed getting a personal look at someone else’s ornament collection.


Another beautiful bauble, which reminded me of my own beaded ornament, is this lovely piece made from a kit by Spellbound Beads. You can see the original here.


The same blog also had these great beaded stars:


And for those looking for a fun decoration to crochet, Matt has the instructions for this colorful wreath on his site.


Seen any cool handmade decorations online this December? Feel free to share!

Handmade Holidays: Beaded Ornament

When I was a kid, we used to buy kits to make beaded ornaments. The balls were styrofoam wrapped with silky thread. Then pins with beads were stuck in them in a pattern to make a glitzy ornament for the tree. I adored those old ornaments and when I see them today, I still love them, even though they’ve lost some of the pins and the silky threads are shaggy from years of handling.

In my efforts to find ways to celebrate the holidays that don’t have to do with food, I made an ornament dripping with beads in honor of those decorations I remember from my childhood. I started with a pattern, but my ball was a different size. Also, I was just using a bunch of beads I had bought at random for this project, so they probably weren’t the right size either. The result was that as the net grew around the ball, the sections got uneven. I had to abandon the instructions and improvise. The end results are a little wonky, but I think that’s what I like about this ornament the best. It’s just like the ones we made as kids, imperfect and obviously handmade.

My homemade ornament, in honor of those we made as kids.
My homemade ornament, in honor of those we made as kids.


The metal heart was part of a pair of earrings I bought at a thrift store.
The metal heart was part of a pair of earrings I bought at a thrift store.

Do you have a favorite handmade ornament from your childhood? Do you make something like them today?

Handmade Holidays: Thanksgiving 2014

We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year with one friend as our guest. While the elaborate cooking always makes it feel like a celebration, I wanted to dress things up a little. My new focus on the handmade life had me watching for the things we did ourselves.

First off, I took the time to make myself an apron. Inspired by Marisa Lynch, I bought a strapless dress too small for me to wear at a thrift shop because I loved the roses on it. Right from the start, I intended to make it into an apron, but I only sat down and tackled it this week.

The strapless dress I started with.
The strapless dress I started with.
The apron I made for it. (Festive!)
The apron I made from it.

I also wanted the table to look festive. I bought flowers from a local florist and put them in a handmade vase that was given to me as a gift.

We own a beautiful batik tablecloth, but it’s dyed with indigo, and somehow dark blue doesn’t really go with a harvest color scheme. Then I remembered that one of my unfinished quilts is a maple leaf quilt in harvest colors. It was too big for the table, so I folded the edges under. I love how it made the table look. Best of all, my place mats went with it as if I’d been planning this all along.

The table cloth is an unfinished quilt top. I love how it looks!
The table cloth is an unfinished quilt top. I love how it looks!

The cooking of the Thanksgiving Day meal can be a great place to practice the handmade life. My husband did most of the cooking this year. Everything we ate was homemade. All of the foods met my strict dietary needs, from stuffing without any grains in it, to baked apples without any sugar added. It was all super delicious!

Sauce made from whole cranberries and apple juice concentrate. Tart but yummy.
Our bird, full of grain-free stuffing.

While our group was small, the carefully made food and attention to aesthetic details did make it feel like a party. I felt a quiet joy throughout the day that tells me my Thanksgiving day celebration was a success.

Did you do anything to personalize your holiday this year? What handmade touches did you add to the festivities?