Monday, June 1, 2015

It's only 206 days to Christmas!

It's true! Christmas isn't far away!
Well....if you're a DIY-er that is.
This Warrior Princess inspired headband, styled on similar ones by designer brand Mimco, was something I made for my daughters Dance Troupe, and I've already had a dozen requests for similar ones just to wear out! Tip your head to the left, and imagine this one worn headband style, with the stunning applique` on the left of the wearers head, and the gold tipped black feather facing back and pointing down behind the shoulder. It's rather fabulous!
So these are definitely on the to-do list here.
Here's how I made mine....
I needed:
1 wide plain black headband
1 sheet gold temporary tattoos
1/2 metre (approx. 1/2yd) two different types of small feathers on satin binding, usually called 'feather trim'
6 large feathers of varying sizes and colours
Metallic gold acrylic paint and a small paintbrush
Sequinned or rhinestone and beaded long applique of choice approx. 15cm/6 inches
So the first thing to do is to cut a length of each of the types of smaller feather trim, long enough to glue to the rhinestone applique`. That's the feathers attached to satin binding. Use a hot glue gun, to glue one row lower when viewed front on, and the second so it peeks above that one. I left some of the fluffy, lower tufts showing but you could just have the silky tips visible if you preferred. So you have a rhinestone applique`, with two rows of feathers attached all the way around, making it significantly larger.
Now, the larger feathers. I bought two each of large black Coque feathers, one white Coque feather, some oilslick feathers with vivid blue bases, and a purple and black flecked one. First position them in their approximate spot on the headband (halfway down on the left for us), and trim them so they don't dig into the wearers neck or shoulders. Trim the spines to fit the width of the headband so they're not showing at the front once glued into place.
Using the small paintbrush and resting the feathers on a surface you don't mind marking, such as an old dinner plate or chopping board, paint the tips and edges gold. As much or as little gold as you like. Set them aside to dry. This takes about 30 minutes.
 Once they're dry, take your plain black headband and your hot glue gun, and carefully glue the large feathers into place, facing them so they point to the back and down behind the wearers shoulder blades, or according to how you want them positioned.
Now take your embellished feather and rhinestone beaded applique`, and glue it over the spines of the glued feathers to hide your handiwork.
Now take a metallic gold temporary tattoo, and following the instructions, apply this to the unadorned side of the headband to make it look finished. Alternatively, you could paint it gold with your metallic paint, or simply buy metallic headbands to begin with.
And you are done!
Similar Mimco headbands sell for between $75 and $95, and my daughters dance teacher loved these so much, she has commissioned one from me for herself!
I adore making gifts, and I make a list about now, and decide what is going to whom.
Starting early on Christmas planning saves money, sanity, and time, and gives us the ability to source gifts and treats that are truly meaningful.
How do you know what special thing a special person longs for, if you don't ask?
Now sometimes the best way to ask, is not to actually 'ask', but rather to be observant and attentive.
For example, it's only through looking at my daughters Pinterest boards, that I know she adores sloths (of all things!). So I am in the process of making her a little sloth made from grey tipped white fur.
It's only through watching my sons Facebook feed that I know he really loves a particular whiskey...something I can plan to buy when it's at a good price between now and December.
My husband only mentioned yesterday how much he loves a particular Cinnamon and Citrus soap I gave him a few years ago. It's hard to come by, so I have plenty of time to find some.
I make little entries in my notes on my phone all the time, as ideas arise in conversation. A particular plant for this person, a book by a favourite author for that one. A silk scarf, $32 at a designer shop nearby, can be found for less on eBay or at the sales, and a gorgeous wallet my sister admires, can be a special purchase.
Some things like pencils with pompom tops, adored by my younger nieces, can be purchased on eBay for mere cents if sufficient time is allowed for the 'free shipping' that means that they must come via Outer Mongolia and the North Pole, judging by the length of time they take to arrive!
And then of course, there's the lovingly crafted hand made gifts and cards that take time to create, but sometimes are the most valued of all.
This year I'm making Viking themed gifts for many family members as they are all fans of both the Vikings series, and Game of Thrones. Bib style necklaces adorned with rhinestone and beaded appliques for the women of the family, and regal throw rugs for the men, in rich brocades sourced from the remnant bin or when Spotlight have a sale on those fabrics. Again, it's having the time up your sleeve to gather the materials at a comfortable price.
My little granddaughters will get vibrant pompom trimmed linen for their beds, and very special nightgowns to match, trimmed with all sorts of pretty ribbons and braids. I'm also going to attempt some 'just-like-me' rag dolls, meant to look like the girls themselves. I'm starting to think it's a rather ambitious project though, so I'll have to see how I go. In the end, it might just be rag dolls or a softie, depending on time constraints. See? I'm already thinking I don't have enough time!
So let's start now. Let's make our lists, check them twice, and start looking for those special somethings, or the materials to make them. Let's give ourselves and those we love, a special Christmas, not from a store, but rather, as The Grinch says, something a little more.
For me, this is an opportunity to really be creative. As you would all know, my gifts have been almost exclusively food based for many long years, but I feel it's time for a change. There will undoubtedly be some last minute foodie gifts come November-December, but I'm not planning those just yet.
The joy of my new craft and sewing room, is the ability to have the sewing machine set up permanently, with materials at hand, to drown your thoughts in at a moments notice. The other day, I made a little Babushka inspired doll, scented with lavender flowers hidden in the stuffing, and trimmed with fur and lace, for my granddaughter. A little face was appliqued using some scraps of pink sheeting, and a face stitched in black for the eyes, and red for the mouth in mere minutes. All up it was a 30 minute project and my darling little girl, at 3 years old, has not let the funny little thing out of her sight since!
Don't let your lack of skills stop you from being creative. I believe everyone has a creative gene in their heart somewhere, and it's just finding the 'right' creative, that slows us down. I know after many years, that I am best with small projects that are finished quickly. Not for me the long haul, unfortunately!
Pillowcases and trimmed sheets, simple nightdresses, softie toys, beaded appliques (where the hard work is already done for you!) used to embellish cardigans, jeans, bags, headbands, cushions and decorative bed scarves, scarves cut from vivid scraps of silk and trimmed with neon pompoms or fringing are hot at the moment too, and sell for wild prices in the boutiques. Gucci recently released a denim skirt embellished with rhinestones, and selling for $1600, and Dolce & Gabbana showcased ripped jeans, with chinese brocade showing through the rips for over $1000. Gosh. I can steal that idea and make it my own!
You really don't need more than the most basic skills, a sewing machine and a hot glue gun for any of those, take my word for it! I am actually the laziest of seamstresses and crafters, and if it ain't finished in 30 minutes, forget it!
I love the Bead, Trimming and Craft Co. for my bits and pieces, but mainly because they're not far from me, and I don't have to factor exorbitant postage into the equation. I also find the owners there really accommodating and helpful, and willing to work within my budget on projects.
Just walking in there is inspiration personified, and you must (if you're a local in my city) see the divine samplers, supplied by the Swarovski company to showcase their new products, displayed on the walls. Much like the old embroidery samplers I did as a child, they are just a series of pretty effects on calico, made into a wall hanging, but with SPARKLE! The crystal studded front door step is a thing to behold as well.
For me, it there is sparkle in the way of beads, rhinestones and sequins, textural interest in the form of brocade, silks, satins, braid, ribbons, pompoms, ric-rac or other trims, or detail in embroidery or lace, I'm hooked :)
What's your 'thing', and why do you love it, how do you use it, and where's the best place for the rest of us to follow your lead?


  1. Mimi, I literally just made a homemade Christmas list this morning. And I have actually already made a few things already! For my friends I am knitting some cotton face cloths and will include a nice soap or body wash, I have cross stitched some cute Christmas samplers as well. For my best friends children I am making some felt faux taxidermy! I have already made a unicorn head for my daughter and it's very popular. For my brothers I am going to print photo books with pictures I have been scanning from our childhood. I am most excited about those gifts I think, they will be unexpected and very special I hope. I think for my own children I will hand sew some felt name garlands. Last year I had planned to make more gifts than I did, but just wasn't feeling like it come December. Funnily enough, I was in the mood to start in February this year lol. My experience of Christmas since having children is that presents can often fall into the 'ticking off the list' category. I far prefer to give gifts that have taken my time, and when I think of the gifts I have cherished throughout my life, most were handmade. I love the idea of lookalike rag dolls, and they will be absolutely loved regardless of how accurate they are!
    If anyone is intrigued by the felt taxidermy, I purchase the patterns from a seller called cupcakecutie1 on etsy. She is awesome! I also used free patterns for the cross stitch Christmas samplers, if anyone is interested I will be happy to find the links :)

    1. Now Jen, you really have my attention with the words 'felt faux taxidermy'! I'm Googling that for certain! Your ideas have inspired me to think outside of the box, so thankyou. Awesome! Mimi xxx

  2. Mimi, I enjoy working on Christmas gifts all year long. I enjoy quilting and cross-stitching to name just two. I'm working on a couple of quilts hoping to have them completed in time for gift giving this Christmas and maybe some keepsake cross-stitched Christmas ornaments as well.

    1. Patsi, your projects fall into the long term category, and I am in awe of anyone who has the tenacity to tackle those. Cross stitched ornaments and quilts sound like genuine keepsakes to me. Mimi xxx

  3. I've already begun my Christmas gift planning and shopping and gift-making as well. Because we'll be in the mainland this year, I'm doing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" for our four marrieds (two daughters and hubbies), beginning December 14 with the opening of a daily gift and concluding Christmas Day. Most of the gifts cost under $5, but I have bought bigger-priced items. It's always a lot of fun, especially when we'll be home with them for Christmas.

    Hugs and happy Christmas prep,

    1. Oh I must try your Twelve Days of Christmas tradition. That sounds utterly gorgeous! So fun, and so memorable too I bet. Mimi xxx

  4. Mimi, you are the most organised person I know! Re the look-alike rag dolls - if you make matching night dresses for the dolls and girls, and match the colour of their hair, you'll be close enough for wee ones. Also, if your husband (or you) is handy and can make doll's beds for them, they can have matching bedding as well:)

    1. That's a compliment from you Jo! And thankyou....matching hair and eye colour and matching nightdresses is a stroke of genius...much easier than what I was contemplating! And doll beds? How adorable! Surely they could be done with recycled boxes and fabric?? Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! Mimi xxx

  5. Mimi, my oh my you are going to be a busy little vegemite. You do have lots of good ideas there I must say. Christmas has changed for us over the years and now that we are older and my parents are gone we have a very quiet time. I have good memories though of when the children were growing up and the fun times we had.

    1. Nanna Chel, this sort of 'busy' is good for me. I do not enjoy being busy just for the sake of it, but creative busy is just my thing. A quiet Christmas with low key celebrations has it's place too. I'm sure yours is just as enjoyable for different reasons. And I've seen what you create. It puts my little projects in the shade for sure! Mimi xxx

  6. Dear Mimi,
    I have started my list, planning and purchasing along with you thank you, you got me started. Firstly I am trying to use thing sI have. I have heaps of tags, glitter and card making things. Also I have lovely french grey and also ecru crochet cottons in large amounts. I found some gorgeous french tea towels in a heavy french grey linen... I am working a lace crochet edge along them. Next I thought I would get french grey/lilac shade hand towels and do the same on those and tie up with lavender ribbons.
    I also buy during the year the things like dried fruits when on special as in October I make my Christmas cakes and these packaged nicely make lovely gifts.
    My ideas pinterest board needs a good trawling through as I know I have good ideas for everyone in there! To me winter is the time to work on these things. It makes winter wonderful! And it is utterly amazing how much things mount up as we work our way through winter and collect... I cant imagine how much this saves at christmas but it is a small fortune. Thank you for the encouragement! Love

    1. Annabel, you are so resourceful, and have such a fabulous eye for what works, that I have no doubt whatever you come up with will be glorious and desirable. The French teatowels sound divine, and a crocheted edge even more so. I too have been revisiting my Pinterest boards, and culling them too. Some things that seemed a good idea two years ago, are really a bit hohum! This really does save a fortune, especially if like us, you are a compulsive gift giver! Mimi xxx

  7. Mimi you are very generous with your blog, not only do you tell everyone what you have made/created, you show how to do it. So not only a case of 'wow' that's gorgeous, it then has the directions and hints. At the beginning of the year I purchased Annabel's e book and that has some great ideas.I've started my christmas list and presents too, you are very right in saying it will be here quickly. Great post. Fi

    1. Thankyou for that lovely note Fi. I really appreciate

  8. I love your ideas for gifts and getting started now. I need to do the same! I love my sewing/craft room as I can go in there and work on something and even leave it out!


    1. Hi Dianne! Yes having a space to work from really helps, doesn't it. It's a luxury that I've earned at this stage in my life :) Mimi xxx

  9. My dear Mim, I can't believe we are already headed towards Christmas seems like just yesterday that we celebrated the beautiful holiday! :) It's always such a joy to visit are a beautiful blessing, my dear.

    May you have a wonderful day. Hugs!

    1. Christmas is a lovely time for us, and I think it's also worth remembering that it isn't always so for everyone. So in my gift stash is always a generous number of hand made lovely things for the local womens refuge and donations to charities who look out for disadvantaged children. This too is important and making gifts allows us to give generously. As the saying goes, the joy is truly in the giving. Thankyou always for your lovely comments Stephanie. Mimi xxx

  10. Hi Mimi,
    That is a great idea to start thinking of ideas now, cause I have a tendency to think of
    things to late and sometimes I can pull it off and other times I can't. So now you have
    me thinking............and that is definitely the first step. Great post hon,
    Hope this finds you doing well.............
    Blessings Galore, Nellie

    1. Thankyou Nellie. Truthfully, it's also a way of keeping the Christmas spirit going all year long too. I love that as much as anything. Mimi xxx


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx