Tutorial: Appliqué Christmas cards

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Here’s a little project I wrote for my Christmas stitchers club at Hollies Haberdashery. I liked it too much (as did my stitchers!) not to share. Hope you enjoy it too.

Applique Christmas cards tutorial for IG

You will need:

The quantities listed here are for the seven cards.

  • 5 scraps of colourful fabric measuring  at least 1 by 8 inches for the appliqué trees.
  • Scraps of white/cream fabric measuring at least 2.75 by 3.75 inches (you will need 7 of these) to back the trees.
  • Scraps of medium-weight iron-on interfacing measuring at least 2.75 by 3.75 inches (you will need 7 of these).
  • Scraps of fabric measuring at least 3.5 by 4.75 inches to use for the colourful background fabric – I found two-colour fabrics with small print sized (e.g. polka-dots) worked really well for this.
  • Bondaweb (at least 2.5 by 8 inches)
  • A4 card (at least 4 sheets)
  • Glue stick

Applique Christmas cards tutorial by Very Berry Handmade

Make the strip patchwork piece:

From the colourful fabric strips cut 2 strips measuring 0.75 by 8 inches, and 3 strips measuring 1 by 8 inches. Stitch them together along the long edges with a 1/4 inch seam. The 3 wider pieces need to be in the middle, and the narrow strips on either side. Don’t worry about which way up the strips are:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 1

And it definitely doesn’t matter if things go a bit wonky:

applique-christmas-cards-tutorial-step-2.jpg

Press the seams of the patchwork open – they will nearly meet in the middle, don’t worry about this:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 3

Make the appliqué pieces:

Cut a piece of Bondaweb measuring 2.5 by 8 inches and iron it onto the back of the patchwork piece. I find that the easiest way to do this is to lay a piece of baking parchment on my ironing board, then put the pieced fabric, wrong side facing, on top, then the Bondaweb, glue side down, on top, like this:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 4

Cut out the Christmas trees:

Mark 2 inch intervals along the bottom edge of the patchwork piece (on the Bondaweb side). On the top edge, measure 1 inch along, then mark the next three 2 inch intervals:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 5

Use a ruler and the marks you’ve made to cut out triangles:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 6

You’ll get 7 triangles from the fabric strip:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 7

Apply the appliqué

Cut a piece of plain fabric measuring approximately 2.75 by 3.75 inches and back with a similar sized piece of iron-on interfacing (this isn’t essential, but I found it gave more structure to the cards and also stopped the backing fabric from showing through quite so much).

Peel the back off the Bondaweb and position the appliqué on the fabric and iron into place on the white fabric.

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 8

Cut a small rectangle of fabric (whatever size you like, it’s fun to mix it up) for the ‘trunk’ of the tree and apply some Bondaweb to that too. I like to do this piece by piece, but you can cut a strip of fabric about 1/2 inch wide, back it with Bondaweb, and cut a few at a time.  

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 9

Cut another piece of fabric (a small print is a great choice for this) about 3 1/2 inches by 4 3/4 inches, and place the tree appliqué, on its white backing, in the centre:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 10

Now you can stitch the appliqué in place – using ordinary stitching, or free motion embroidery. Leave long threads when you start and finish:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 11

 Pull the threads through to the back off the fabric and tie to secure:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 12

If your machine has the option, you can add decorative stitches to your card, if you like. Stitch round the edge of the white fabric, leaving long threads and pulling them through to the back as before:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial step 13

Cut a piece of A4 card (cardstock) in half widthways and then fold to make two cards. Glue the finished appliqué to one of the folded pieces of card.

I made another patchwork strip in exactly the same way and cut out stockings (using a template) to mix it up a bit:

Applique Christmas cards tutorial by Very Berry

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Enjoyed this Christmassy project? You might like to try making some festive stars

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Listen of the Week: On Being

It’s time for another…

Listen of the week
And this is the week when you discover my ulterior motive – getting to talk poetry on a craft blog… what can I say, it’s *my* blog!

So, if you haven’t discovered it already, the On Being podcast is a rich seam of listening for anyone with an interest in spirituality, creativity, mental health, politics, theology, philosophy and generally trying to live life well. It’s a very wonderful thing, full of riches from a fascinating and diverse range of interviewees, brought to the surface and out onto the airways by the host and founder of On Being, Krista Tippett.

Poets frequently end up in the guest spot, and today I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Alexander, the poet who you might remember wrote the Inaugural Poem for Barack Obama back in 2009. In the On Being episode, Words that Shimmer, Alexander and Tippett discuss the hunger that humans have for poetry, how essential it is to help us get to the truth of our feelings, and how it can cut to the heart of our shared experience and bring a sense of community.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

–Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

Poetry is not a luxury, as Audre Lorde writes, and I know that she is right. And yet I rarely read poems. It feels very hard to do at the end of a long day, it’s easier to pick up a novel and lose myself in a story. But I have found that listening to podcasts like On Being whilst I’m in the studio, or in the kitchen at home, has meant that poetry is sneaking back into my life, making me take a breath, pulling me up short. Here’s a few of my favourites from On Being interviews with other poets, I hope you like them too.

Beannacht – John O’Donohue

The First Time Percy Came Back – Mary Oliver

Thirteen-Year-Old American Negro Girl – Marilyn Nelson

The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry

Do you read or listen to poetry? I’d love to hear about your favourite poets or poetry. I’m also ALWAYS happy to read Podcast recommendations, so feel free to make suggestions.

Sunday Bake: Carrot Loaf Cake

This is my favourite-ever carrot cake recipe, it’s full of delicious flavours and good things, and is not too sweet. Although I love a big round carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese topping, sometimes you want something less fiddly and quicker to make, and perhaps something without a load of extra calories. This recipe is so delicious it absolutely does not need the topping – so I bake it in a loaf tin and enjoy it in slices, fruit loaf style – you don’t even need a plate!

Carrot cake recipe

  • Servings: approx 12 slices
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 175g carrot (this is approximately 2 large carrots)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70g soft dark brown sugar
  • 75ml rapeseed oil, or other oil (suitable for baking) of your choice
  • 100g self-raising wholemeal flour (or plain wholemeal flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g desiccated coconut (or 50g of ground almonds if you are baking for coconut-haters)
  • 75g raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 190C (180C fan) or gas mark 5 and line a 1lb loaf tin (a rectangular loaf tin approx 19cm x 12 cm x 6.5cm) with baking parchment.
  2. Scrub (and peel if they are older carrots) then finely grate the carrots.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until they are very thick and creamy.
  4. Whisk in the oil, pouring it slowly in a thin stream.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
  6. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and bake until golden brown on the top and firm to the touch. This takes about 35 minutes – check after 30, and if the cake still seems a little gooey to the touch but quite brown on top, cover with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more.
  7. Take out of the tin immediately and leave on a wire rack to cool.

The cake will keep in a air-tight container for about 3 days.

Carrot loaf cake recipe

Pretty simple, I am sure you will agree. Do let me know if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how you get on with it.