Monday, September 26, 2011

Christmas Planning

Last Wednesday I attended a short two-part seminar on Suicide Awareness and Art Therapy. Though I found both presentations incredibly interesting, to be honest being an Accountant/Scrapbooking Teacher in a room full of counselors and therapists, I did feel somewhat out of my depth when they started talking about CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) and a whole lot of other abbreviations I couldn't understand.
Anyway... the point of the story... before the presentations started I was talking to one of the presenters and she expressed an interest in participating in some scrapbooking classes.
She asked what types of classes I ran so I recalled some of the classes I had run and was looking to run including a class on hand made Christmas Cards.
This got me thinking about Christmas Card designs to teach in the class.
I've come up with a long list of ideas from stamping, paper piecing, templates through to digital stamps. The list needs refining and samples created, but one thing really stuck out as an idea... decorating with small hand stitched designs.
As anyone who has met me knows I love my templates... I have five or six binder rings of templates from 12 x 12 sized shaped page templates through to creative shaped templates for embellishments. I also have templates for stenciling, stitching (refer to my previous blog post) and of course misting. Though I have a large number of purchased templates I also have a large selection of home-made (hand-cut) stencils I have made myself (and another blog post on how to create them here). Last night I added to my collective with some DIY designed stitching templates of Christmas designs. 
1. Find a small picture that you want to create a template out of. I used simple outlines that would be easy to stitch especially for non-sewers.
2. Trace your design onto clear plastic. I use clear, slightly textured, very thin chopping boards which I buy from the $2 shop (budget emporium/cheap Chinese imported goods) though you could also use Heavy-Weight Acetate Sheets - which you can buy from my online shop here.
3. Using a piercing tool pierce through the plastic around your design ensuring that your pierced holes are evenly spaced. 
The trick to this is to first pierce at the extremes - the ends of each line, convergence of two lines, then find the middle between the two ends and finally add any additional holes in-between if you so desire.
If you look closely, you will see that the holes are further spaced on the straight edged designs, such as the Christmas trees and star, compared to the bell and bauble. Straight lines can be made with longer stitches and still look good where as you need to have holes that a closer together to get a smooth looking curve.
It's probably easier to see on the stitched samples below.
4. Having pierced the design, you may want to go back through each hole and make them slightly larger so its easier to push your threaded needle through the hole.
5. Finally, and this is optional, draw over the design of your template with a permanent marker so you can follow the line when you actually do the stitching (kind of like your pattern). I used a black vivid marker then just rubbed off any excess ink so I didn't end up with black marks all over my paper and fingers.
Your templates are now already for you to use.
For a tutorial on how to stitch using these templates you can find an excellent Technique Class here. (Even if I say so myself LOL).
Here are the samples for the templates I created above.
Note the differences between the two stars. The left one is sewn with two stitches per side of the star point whereas the one on the right is sewn with a single stitch along the side of each point. You can also see the difference in stitch length between the straight edged star and the curved bauble and bell.

The original single tree is down below bottom, but I also tried a triple layered version above as well as a single tree with sequins added to each stitch below top. (Sorry the order is a bit wrong).
The class for these Christmas Cards and others will be held in October/November at my studio. If you are interested in attending, please contact me either through my website contact page or directly by email on I will also add more information about the contents of the class (and other upcoming classes) onto the website so be sure to check back on a regular basis.
The finished results will also appear in my Christmas Challenge Blog Posts for 2011. You can check out my creations for 2009 & 2010 here or by searching through my blog archives and searching by "Christmas Craft Challenge".
If you are interested in participating in this year's Christmas Craft Challenge (and no you don't have to post every single day leading up to Christmas) then leave me a comment, email me, send me a link to your blog and I will send you some more information in the next week or two so you have plenty of time to plan in advance... a lesson I learnt the hard way the first year I did the challenge. I would love to have a list of other Christmas Challengees that I can link to on my blog.