DIY – If You Dare

Well, here we are…the clock is tick, tick, ticking down towards Christmas and what are we doing here at Idiosyncrazies? Why, giving you more project ideas, of course! But, believe me, unless you have WEEKS completely cleared on your calendar and no need for sleeping, eating, showering or working, you might want to put this project on hold until next year.

It all began about two years ago. A “friend” who will remain unnamed, Fae, (oops…I slipped) ran across these little “projects.” I believe they were touted as being “weekend projects.” HA! Weekend my A**… I mean, arm. And since we were both new to the grandparent world we were only too eager to jump on this bandwagon. Look, isn’t it cute? It looks harmless enough, don’t you think?

...ahhh, but don't let the sequins and beading blind you...

…ahhh, but don’t let the sequins and beading blind you…

Ha! Do not let the lovely sequins blind you…you’ll have plenty of time to worry about blindness as you toil  over satin stitches, straight stitches, and french knots by the light of the oil lamp into the wee hours of the morning. Oh did I mention that there is NO GLUEING in this project? Yeah, put away your glue gun and get out your embroidery sampler (remember the one you did in Girl Scouts back in fifth grade?); you’re going to be needing it for reference.

Actually, I really do enjoy working on these. The design is very cute, the craftsmanship is challenging and the materials are high quality and worthy of all of the hours you will put into this little keepsake. The thing I DON’T enjoy is working under a serious time crunch, which, in spite of my best intentions seems to happen.

Anyway, let’s get going…I’ll provide you with some tips that I have learned along the way.

First of all, both of the stockings that I have done, (one completed and one getting there) are Bucilla kits. Here is a link to a website that carries quite a few of the designs available.

http://www.merrystockings.com/christmas-stocking-kits/bucilla-felt-applique.html

I believe I purchased mine at Joann’s.com

I can’t offer guidance on any of the other manufacturer’s kits, so my comments are related only to the Bucilla kits.

Anyway, lest you be intimidated by this little “project,” believe me, I can be the Queen of UFO’s (unfinished objects). However, I was up to Fae’s challenge and from this:

...the early, early stages of my first Bucilla keepsake stocking...

…the early, early stages of my first Bucilla keepsake stocking…

Came this:

Ta Da!

Ta Da!

Now, take a closer look…see the areas of red and white, like say the candy canes or other multi-color areas? The stripes on the elf’s shirt? The print on Santa’s apron? Keep in mind, that is all achieved by either applique or embroidery…no printed pieces in THIS kit. The only “print” is the outlined area indicating where to cut and where to place the individual pieces. Are you running, screaming from our DIY week yet? Good! Let’s keep going…

Here are some tips.

1. Sit down at a fairly large craft or dining table and remove all of the contents of your kit. Spread everything out and take inventory of what you have. Pay close attention to the instructions, they will tell you what is included and what you will need to purchase. When it comes to the list of included components, it is particularly important to take stock of the embroidery threads, the colors listed and the lengths of thread included. It can help you decipher between “peach” and “light peach” or “golden brown” and “rust.”

Felt pieces included in the kit. Note the sequined pink piece, I'll reference that later.

Felt pieces included in the kit. Note the sequined pink piece, I’ll reference that later.

2. Gather up zip lock baggies. You will want to sort and store your kit components in them. I use the tiny ones (you can find these in your local craft store) for the threads (labeled by color with a sharpie), and then a small sandwich sized one to group them in. I use a very small one (again, craft store find) for the beads and sequins,  a medium sized one (quart sized) for my tools, a large one (one gallon) for the felt, another large one for the stocking in progress and a jumbo one (two gallon) to put all of the other bags in.  Regarding the beads and sequins, I just dump all of these together, in one baggie; you’ll be using them together anyway, picking through them as you bead and sequin.

DSCN4063

Here are the other kit components, sorted and labeled. Believe me, the time invested in this step will pay off throughout the project.

Here are the other kit components, sorted and labeled. Believe me, the time invested in this step will pay off throughout the project.

3. Gather your tools. You’ll want to get a small pin cushion for your needles; although the kit provides an embroidery needle and a beading needle, you may want to rifle through your sewing supplies for a couple of extra needles. It’s a pain to try and keep track of your needles in the silly little plastic that comes with the kit…use a pin cushion.

DSCN4061

4. One of the BEST of my tools is a beading tray. I had purchased this years ago for some other crafry project and unearthed it when I did my first stocking. It is a LIFESAVER! It’s cheap and provides a good work surface for chasing around the pesky little beads and sequins. And after you’ve finished a little beading/sequining segment, it has a little capped funnel corner (or two) that you can just open and pour all of your wayward little beads and sequins right back into their bag. Believe me, it’s a must. I’m sure you can find them at any craft store, probably in the beading section.

5. I also like my little craft tweazers. They are handy for stuffing fiberfill into itsy bitsy teeny weenie little corners, candy canes and whatnot.

6. And scissors; believe me…do NOT go cheap on the scissors. Mine are a small set of Fiskars. You need a pair that are VERY sharp and have very tiny, sharp points. This is imperative when you are trimming your felt pieces.

6. Misc….my reading glasses (if you don’t need them yet, you will when you are done with one of these!) and a highlighter to mark my progress on the instructions. It’s important to complete the kit in order and, well, take a look at these instructions…

The front...

The front…

and…

The back...

The back…

Don’t be TOO intimidated here; if you want to be really challenged, you can read the Spanish, German or French version of the instructions.

As you can see, the instructions are pretty detailed and it can be easy to lose track of where you are. And, I cannot stress this enough, read, read, READ the directions…each and every step…thoroughly. It’s amazing how a symbol for one type of stitch or thread color can look amazingly like a completely different stitch or thread color. Also, refer frequently to the color picture on the front of your kit.

And now…the venue…

A cozy spot with good lighting:

...you're going to be here awhile.

…you’re going to be here awhile.

And, depending upon the time of day…

...when you want to sneak up on your project...

…when you want to sneak up on your project..

Or, after you have spent much of the day and into the evening

...however, too much of THIS one MAY impede your progress and you might just get the glue gun out after all!

…however, too much of THIS one MAY impede your progress and you might just get the glue gun out after all!

So, you’ve got your kit, your tools, your venue and your beverage. Time to get to work!

As the instructions in the kit will tell you, work the steps IN ORDER. This is critical for the proper placement of different components. Also, DO NOT, under any circumstances cut out the individual pieces UNTIL you are ready to work on them. One thing I have learned though, is that it is much easier to embroider or bead/applique a piece before cutting it out (look back at my picture of the felt pieces of the kit; you can see where I am sequining the pink sleeve before I cut it out). Working on the larger piece is much easier to handle then trying to embroider or bead on a tiny little candy cane stripe that has already been cut out. Just be careful when cutting out an embellished piece to avoid snipping your embroidery threads.

Here was my progress as of Sunday night. I estimate that this represents approximately 25-30 hours of work at this point.

Here was my progress as of Sunday night. I estimate that this represents approximately 25-30 hours of work at this point.

And here is a closer view of the detail on the cupcake skirt:

See all that beading and embroidery? Those little peppermint swirls? Those are little appliqued felt pieces fastened with a sequin and a bead. Looks fun, doesn't it? C'mon, doesn't it?

See all that beading and embroidery? Those little peppermint swirls and candy dots? Those are little appliqued felt pieces embellished with a sequin and a bead. Looks fun, doesn’t it? C’mon, doesn’t it?

So, take a look at the finished product, way back at the beginning of this post, and then take a look at my progress as of Sunday. Then take a look at the calendar and realize that this little heirloom needs to be in Silver Spring, Maryland before the big guy arrives to fill it with baby goodies…and with that, friends, I need to go settle in my chair…I have a lot of work to do!

If you DO decide to embrace one of these DIY projects for yourself and you run into problems or questions, let me know. After having done two of these, I may have some points, insight or, at the very least, be able to recommend a good wine.

Happy DIY’ing!

Love, Fannie

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12 Responses to DIY – If You Dare

  1. Fae says:

    This is so funny because my latest kit just arrived yesterday in the mail. And guess what? IT IS THE SAME AS PARKER’S! Yes, Parker and Colter will have the same sock. One extra thing that I would pass on to our readers regarding these kits, it that after I’ve sewn on the sequins on each piece, I put a dab of clear glue on it. I use a scrapbooking (what else?) clear called Glossy Accents. HOWEVER, on this next one, I will be using my colored sparkle glue called Stickles on the sequins that I have that will match the Stickles colors I have. These glues can be found at Michael’s stores. Whew. It is a big project but so worthwhile. These stockings are incredible for the little ones to look at and talk about, and they are certainly, without a doubt, heirloom quality.

  2. Farie says:

    Very enjoyable reading, Fanny! Looks like I get to wait until Adri’s babies are born!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just finished a needlepoint stocking and now am starting my first appliqué project which is another stocking for my mother in law. Loved your humor and tips.

  4. Emilia says:

    Hi! So glad that I found your blog! I just ordered one of these kits for my son’s Christmas stocking. Clearly he will not be getting it for this, his first, Christmas! I was hoping you could give me some advice as to how you sewed on the name? It looks like you used tracing paper? Just curious how you actually sewed it though. Did you then trace right onto the felt? Sorry if this is a silly question- I’m truly a beginner!

    Thanks! Emilia 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, So glad you stumbled upon our blog. The way I stitched on the name was to trace it onto a piece of tissue paper, using the lettering guide in the kit. I then pinned the tissue strip onto the stocking. Using one strand of red and one of white, twisted together, I stitched (outline stitch, I believe) along the letters on the tissue and through the felt (in essence stitching the tissue paper to the felt). When finished, I gently tore the tissue away from the stitching, using tweezers to pull out the tiny pieces left behind under the stitches. I hope that helps.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hello Fanny, I am finishing my first ever stocking and loved working on it! I Will definately do another! I have Some trouble in keeping the beading nice and tight. When I am sowing them on it looks fine but later the bead and sequin stem to loosen. Any tips?

    • Fae says:

      Good morning! I’m up bright and early so I thought I’d offer a tip I learned when I did these….and I posted it as the first comment on this page. Clear glue or a craft sparkly glue works wonders. I’ve done four stockings now and I went back to the very first one and added a dab of the glue to all the sequins on it. Have fun!

  7. I am a TOTAL DIY novice. I think I did some cross stitch in first grade, and I sewed the border of my curtains successfully after a few tries. Is this something I should even CONSIDER taking on? My granny made one for me when I was a baby; now that I have a kiddo of my own, I’d love for him to have a beautiful, personalized stocking. But these instructions seem daunting, and I don’t know whether I have the skills to complete it. Or the time! Will it take me a million (approximately) hours? Thank you!

    • Fannie says:

      In order to do this project, you do need to have a basic knowledge of various embroidery/needlepoint stitches. I would estimate I spent 60-80 hours on this stocking.

      • dianascherff says:

        I’m working on my first Bucilla stocking. My mother made me one as a kid and now I’m making my stepdaughter one. It’s the Sugarplum Fairy stocking currently available for sale. My mother doesn’t remember having any problems so I’m hoping you can give me some pointers. The first problem I’m having is my sequin strings keep coming lose. I pull them tight, then I applique that piece onto another and I can no longer tighten them again. Talk about getting the glue gun, I want to dip my sequin strings in super glue so they’ll be sure to stay put. When I tie my knots, I make one end short, just long enough to pull on it, strong the sequin and bead, then tie the two ends together. Is this why they’re coming lose, because I’m tying them together rather than tying the first end in 3 knots, stringing, then tying the other end in a knot? It seems even more painful a task to tie all the ends this way when sewing sequins. It’s bad enough as it is.

        My second question is about hiding ends when appliqueing. I can hide the first end easily, but after I applique, then knot the other end, how do you hide the loose ends on the last piece of felt, the top piece that doesn’t have any others on top of it?

        So far I’ve only done sequins and appliqueing. I found it hard to determine which needle to use because the instructions called for red and orange packaged needles but I only had blue and purple packaged needles, and I was sure the gold floss should have gone with the gold star sequins until I couldn’t get the floss threaded through the needle. So the instructions are long, but I wouldn’t complain if they were longer and a bit more detailed. I’m giving myself a whole year to get this one done, I don’t think I could finish this before Christmas if life depended on it lol.

        Thanks, and happy holidays!
        Diana

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