Today’s project is for both the green crafters, and those of you whose gifts have to travel, whether that’s in a suitcase or in a box full of packing peanuts. No matter how carefully you wrap them, you perfect bows and decorations will arrive in a tattered condition. But by using your sewing machine to decorate some plain paper – even a recycled grocery bag – you can lean into the challenge and create something that will arrive just as beautiful as when it left.
It’s now the week before Christmas and time to admit that what hasn’t gotten done yet might just not get done. So instead of starting another craft project, I wanted to turn my attention to wrapping up everything I’ve been making.
All week long I’ll have easy and innovative gift wrapping ideas, all with video demonstrations so you don’t miss a thing. First up: How to tie the Perfect Bow. It is so so so much easier than you think it is.
I kind of wish I’d saved this for Christmas, though. Teachers get so many food gifts this time of year, I think it would have been nice to have something to offer that they didn’t have to eat. Which means that you get to benefit from my tardiness. Somebody might as well.
When you’re drilling the pencils, be sure and do it over a protected surface, or a floor you don’t need to worry about. Those little pencil lead shavings have left a permanent stain on my carpet, but luckily it’s just my garage studio carpet so I’m not crying about it.
So now that I have “Teacher” crossed off your gift list, in the upcoming days you can look for great DIY gifts for moms, grandmas, dads, friends, neighbors, and all kinds of kid gifts! Like me on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
This is Pearl. And I love her. In fact, just this weekend when I was with family a heated debate broke out between my Bosch loving cousin and I over the better mixer. It nearly got bloody. I love her utterly. And I’m sorry, but if a mixer is going to cost as much as a Bosch, it should at least be pretty. I mean, look at her, all shimmery in the corner of the kitchen. I might put my baby in a corner, but I’m certainly not going to put her in a cabinet.
So when a bunch of my blogging friends and I got together and decided to come up with a really fantastic giveaway to usher in the holidays, it didn’t take long for us to settle on a KitchenAid Mixer.
Yep, that’s right. We’re giving away a KitchenAid Mixer! To You! Maybe! You get a ton of chances to win just by visiting my friends and I on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, so basically just things you’re already doing. And the best part is that there are going to be TWO WINNERS! The top winner gets to choose between a KitchenAid and a Keurig coffeemaker, and the second winner gets the other fantastic prize!
You have all week to enter, but you have to act fast. In order to make sure that you get your prizes in time for your holiday celebrations, we’ll be ending the giveaway Sunday night. This time next week the prize winner will be stalking the mailman so their Christmas guests will have warm cookies or coffee to wake up to Christmas morning.
My own Christmas plans around the blog are going to be a little different than past years. I couldn’t quite manage another Christmas tree this year. I don’t know why, it’s not like I’m busy, what with three blogs and a youtube channel, political punditry, and a book, but I just couldn’t get it together this year. However, I still can’t help myself from going big for Christmas. I may not have a new decoration for every day, but I will have some pretty fantastic gift ideas! I made a list of every person we have to come up with gifts for – Mom, Dad, Grandma, Son, Daughter, Neighbors, Teachers, more, more, more, and came up with a perfect handmade gift idea for every one of them. The first two weeks of December will be all DIY gifts, and I’ve got some amazing things coming up.
For the last week leading up until Christmas, most crafters start to come up with a Plan B. Not everyone is as crazy as me and pulling all nighters the whole week before Christmas, they let their sanity bring them to the store to pick out something nice and move on to wrapping and baking and celebrating that week. So taking a cue from the mentally healthy around me, I’m spending that week sharing some really beautiful wrapping ideas, including a video tutorial on how to tie the perfect fluffy bow.
I have so much festivity up my sleeves there’s barely room for my arms, so as you’re entering be sure and come back to see all the wonderful things the holidays are bringing to ReeseDixon.com!
Good Luck everyone!! May the odds be ever in your favor. (Nerd alert.)
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
Two winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter (powered by Random.org). The first prize winner will have the option of choosing between a KitchenAid Artisan Mixer – winner’s choice of color – (MSRP $429.95) or a Keurig Platinum Single-Cup Brewer (MSRP $179.95). The second prize winner will be awarded the item that was not chosen by the first prize winner.
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Here’s my final piece for this nativity tree. The one problem with doing themed trees is that a beautiful angel topper doesn’t usually fit. But with a nativity theme? There’s no way I was missing my chance.
A tree topper, first and foremost, needs a way to stay on the top of the tree. And traditionally, that’s through a cone that is underneath the angel’s skirt and fits over the topmost tree branch. For my angel I picked up a plastic dollar store vase to do that job. I used a 2″ bead topper for the angel’s head, and cut a piece of dowel to about four inches to be the right size for her chest.
After painting the angel’s face and hair on, I used hot glue to stick the dowel to her head, and then a whole lot more hot glue to stick the dowel into the crevice at the bottom of the face. I held it in place until the glue got hard so she stayed standing up nice and straight.
Just as we did for the other paper twist dolls, we’ll need to make arms and a set of sleeves. The arms are 12″ long, rolled up tight with a wire inside, and this time, since this angel is bigger, I glued a couple of wooden beads onto the end for her hands. The sleeves are 10″ long and glued into a tube.
The bottom of the vase makes the angels waist way way thicker than any other part of her, so wrap some paper twist around and around her torso in a figure 8 pattern until she looks a little more proportional.
The cone of the vase needs a lot more covering up than any of the framework of our other figures, so I used it as an opportunity to make a huge billowing skirt for our angel. Start by gluing on five pieces of natural colored paper twist, each 8″ long.
Now we can start adding the top layer of the skirt by gluing on eight pieces of cream colored paper twist, each 9″ long. When we’re done with the skirt the vase should be completely covered and the rose and tan of the underskirts should just peak through the layers.
Create the bodice by cutting two pieces of cream paper twist, each 24 inches long, and wrapping one piece over each shoulder. Wrap some gold colored wire around the waist as a belt, and to hold the bodice in place.
Make the wings in the same manner we did for the small angels. I made these ones out of the natural colored paper twist because I liked the stronger contrast against the cream of her gown. Cut four pieces of paper twist 8″ long. Hold two pieces together and cut them in the shape of half a heart, then glue a piece of wire in the top of one of the pieces.
Every year when I complete a new tree I am both sick to death of the theme, and totally in love with the finished project. And every year I say that no tree could measure up. I’m so pleased with how this tree turned out, it gets oohs and aahs from everyone who has been by the house. It’s both a homespun expression of my faith, and a majestic celebration. I hope that I’ve offered you some inspiration in your own Christmas decorating.
We did it again you guys. Another year, another themed tree stuffed with ornaments of every shape and size. There’s only a couple of days before Christmas, and there’s only a couple more things to show you. First of all, the tree skirt. In years past I’ve put this part off. For some reason cutting a good circle just infuriates me, so it’s not something I’m eager to do. But since I use cheap artificial trees, a tree skirt is a necessity to not give away my game. It’s time to ovary up and be a woman already.
Cut two large circles out of a piece of natural colored linen. I buy four yards of fabric, fold it in half and then cut my circle right to the edges to create two pieces roughly 44″ in diameter. Cut a smaller circle in the middle, and a slit in one side to make an opening.
Take the skirt to the sewing machine and sew the ribbon on, right next to the edge. If your ribbon is thick like mine, it will overlap at the top. Pull back the ribbon as necessary to sew the ribbon in place.
The beauty in this tree to me is the contrast I’ve gone back to over and over again. Luxury meets simplicity, gold meets hay, wise men and shepherds, ornate and humble. I used the same fancy ribbon I used in these wise men inspired ornaments to tie the tree skirt in with the tree, but also to offer the high end contrast to the clean and simple linen. A navy satin bias binding grounds the skirt and ties the whole story together.
This was one of the very first ornaments I made for this tree, but it is also the fastest, so I could save it for any last minute decorators out there. I see these paintable porcelain ornaments at Michael’s every year, and every year I talk myself out of trying them. But not this time. I do NOT consider myself a painter (yet, anyway. I’m working on it.) so don’t be turned off if you’re not either. This is an extremely simple design and I’ll walk you through every step of it.
Since I’m not a regular porcelain painter, I wanted to buy as few colors of paint as possible. So to get the color for the hair I mixed the gold and the peach together, then made little swoops with my paint brush to make angel’s curls. Add a couple of layers of this for good coverage.
These porcelain ornaments come with a hanger already attached, but I wanted to make it look a little more ethereal, so I tied a great big bow out of a piece of tulle and attached it with a little hot glue, and then let the ends hang long down behind.
Maybe I’m projecting, maybe painting is just intimidating to me, but anything is achievable if it’s just broken down into enough steps. This little angel is so simple that anyone, even I, can paint it, but it still looks fancy enough to celebrate.
Just like yesterday’s ornament inspired a whole nativity, and the needlefelted animals inspired another nativity, this paper twist nativity was inspired by this little angel ornament. I knew that I needed to add some angels to this tree, and when my friend handed me that great big bag of paper twist, I knew how to do it. And then I liked it so much that I expanded it (again) to a whole nativity, and a special surprise still to come.
Unroll all your paper twist, and brush a little gold paint onto the cream paper. I water mine down to keep it subtle. Let that paper dry while you work on the next couple of steps.
Since this ornament will be hung, you don’t have to worry about making it stand up. So all you need is a wooden bead for the head, and a small dowel that will fit through the hole. I actually used bamboo chopsticks from the dollar store because they were thin enough and easy to cut to the length I needed.
Thread a ribbon through the hole in the bead and tie a knot at the top to keep it place. Tie another knot in the ends for it to hang on the tree.
To make the halo, wrap a piece of wire around the bead and twist the ends. Use a tiny bit of glue to keep it in place.
To make the wings, begin by cutting 4 pieces of white paper twist 5″ long. Cut them into a wing shape by cutting just as you would if you were cutting a heart out of a folded piece of paper. For a little more stability, glue a piece of wire into the top of that curve.
The wire in the arms allows you to position them however you like. You could have your angel bringing a present, or praying, or, like my angel here, spreading some good news to some shepherds.
When I started this project, I thought making a whole nativity themed tree would be plenty. And then I kept on going and made a whole bunch of full nativity sets. Each time it was because I enjoyed the ornament I made so much I just couldn’t stop the inspiration. This papercut tree came after I had cut out 12 of these ornaments, which were originally inspired by this great ornament by Patricia at A Little Hut. I thought her use of a cardboard ring from a roll of masking tape was just brilliant recycling, and it inspired me to use a cardboard ring as a frame for my own papercrafting idea.
To measure a straight cutting line all the way around, I used a piece of ribbon and matched up the ends. This ribbon was an inch wide, so it worked perfectly to trace both ends and get the size I wanted.
Download this lovely pattern I made for you, totally for free because it’s Christmas and I love my readers. Just click on that image to go to flickr and you can save it to your computer. When you print it, print it at 8 1/2 x 11 to get it sized for the 3″ wide tube.
Cut the image out with a sharp exacto knife. The only thing to know about this step is that you shouldn’t cut the ground part. That’s a little confusing in the pattern, but if you look at my ornament you’ll see that the sheep are cut out, and then the rest of the ground stays.
This is a pretty delicate pattern, so chances are you might accidentally cut through something you didn’t intend to. Never fear. Just flip the paper over to the back side, cover your accident with a piece of tape, and then cut back along the lines of your papercutting so the extra tape gets sliced off.
The papercutting is fragile, but the great thing about using the cardboard tube is a frame is that it not only shows it off, but it also protects it. If you install the papercutting towards the middle of the tube, it will even be protected when you pack it up, barring anything pointy coming near it.