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How to turn a child’s drawing into a hand-stitched decoration.

I came up with this idea when I was trying to think of Christmas gifts for my kids teachers. I always think because there are roughly thirty kids in a class they could potentially end up with thirty boxes of chocs or thirty mugs or other items that are perhaps not their taste, so I try to think of something that wouldn’t become an addition to a possibly  unwanted collection. I think it is also nice to give something that the child has had some input in. I figure you can’t go to wrong with a Christmas tree decoration!

I bought some t-shirt transfer paper a while ago with another project in mind (which I haven’t got round to yet!!) and decided to try it out with this idea.

These little tree decos were fairly quick and easy to make. There is lots of potential for variations and adaptations.

This is how we made these:

Materials:

Felt

T-shirt transfer paper

Ivory polyester satin fabric

Toy stuffing

Beads and sequins

Embroidery thread

Narrow ribbon

These are the templates I used for these decorations and a simple tree shape which I didn’t end up using:

xmas deco shapes

xmas deco internal shapes

How to make:

I firstly asked the kids to draw a little Christmas themed picture for each of their teachers which I scanned and scaled before printing onto the transfer paper. There are very detailed instructions that come with the transfer paper and two options for light and dark fabrics. I used the light fabric paper. I chose to use polyester because I know from working with print design companies that polyester is usually the best base for printing on. I couldn’t see any information about which fabrics were appropriate to use this paper with in the pack.

I cut the fabric a few centimetres larger than the size of the decoration. Following the instructions I cut (leaving a narrow border) around the image and placed face down on the fabric and ironed using an iron with no steam.

I then removed the backing paper, this worked quite well, there are guides in the pack for trouble shooting if things don’t go right. There is also a piece of silicon paper provided which helps seal the design once the paper is removed.

How to turn this into a tree decoration:

  1. Cut two felt shapes. You could use the templates from this post or any others that you have. Check the outer edge is quite a bit bigger than your image and that the inner shape you cut will reveal enough or all of the image. Cut the inner shape from one of the felt pieces. I simply laid the inner shape template on one of the pieces and drew round it with chalk before cutting it.

2. I used contrasting embroidery thread to blanket stitch the image to the outer felt shape around the cut out. I varied the length of the stitch to make an irregular pattern. You could use a matching thread or a different stitch to attach the two together.

3. We decided to add some beads and sequins for some extra sparkle. My kids helped pick out colours and styles they wanted for each decoration.

4. I used regular sewing thread to attach the beads to the decoration.

5. Cut a length of narrow ribbon approximately 18cm long, fold in half and stitch the raw ends securely to the plain second piece of felt that you are going to use for the back of the decoration.

6. I found an embroidery thread fairly close in colour to stitch the decoration together. I used an overcasting stitch, stitching from the ribbon around most of the edge,  just leaving a small hole for stuffing.

7. Using toy stuffing fill the decoration, gently pushing into the corners if you have a star or angular shape. Don’t be tempted to over fill or the shape will look a bit distorted and the filling may show through the stitches at the edge.

8. Continue the overcast stitching to close the hole to complete the decoration! If you have time and willing kids they could make these themselves. My two enjoyed creating the pictures and choosing the colours of the felt and beads.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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