Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Well, nothing like sliding in on Christmas Eve with one last post!  Here's this year's batch of ornaments -- minus the hunter, which wasn't yet finished when I needed to take this photo prior to my Thanksgiving distribution to my sister's family.

For awhile now, I've been wanting a tree covered with felt ornaments just like Clif's:

At our old house, we had a 12-foot tree.  In the new house, the ceilings weren't tall enough, so we had to get a smaller one.  The 12-foot one had been completely covered with ornaments, so I knew there was no way to get them all on a smaller tree.    What's a girl to do?


We got a 9-foot tree for the dining room and a 7-foot tree for the kitchen.  Granted, I don't have nearly as many ornaments as Clif does.  (Maybe I need to spend a year just making ornaments for myself and forget about everyone else -- don'tcha think??)  I filled in with some candy canes and I think it looks pretty good.  And there's room for plenty more!

I hope you're all enjoying your ornaments this year.  I've had some fantastic emails lately from readers who have fond memories of Carolyn DeAngelis ornaments from their childhood.  Nothing makes me happier than when someone says, "Do you have ANY idea of where I can get the patterns?" and I can say, "YES, I DO!"  Many of you have shared some wonderful pictures and I plan to sit down in January and share those with you on the blog.  Thanks to all of you who read, email, stitch, and share.  I started this blog to show Ouida and Clif the ornaments I was making and there are now dozens of you checking in.  How fun!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and blessed 2015!


Friday, December 19, 2014


I guess this should be titled "A Twist On Woody."  It was time for Luke's ornament -- my BFF's son.  He's the owner of the Pittsburgh Steeler football player and drum set ornaments, among others.  It was hard to decide what to stitch him for this year.  He started high school and is in the marching band, so I thought about tweaking the Fyfield pattern to dress him like our high school's band uniforms.  Since I'd just given him a drummer ornament last year, though, that seemed a bit repetitive.  I thought about designing a knight since that's our high school's mascot, but I'm not gonna lie -- I was too lazy.  (Incidentally, that knight is on the to-do list every year and never makes the cut.  Since Mariah starts high school next fall, I might have to get it in gear.)

We were actually having a family discussion about Luke's ornament at dinner one night and Scott came up with the idea for a hunter.  I started wondering about camo felt and did some searching online and found that Hobby Lobby carries it.  We don't have Hobby Lobby anywhere around here, so I had to wait until we made a shopping trip to Pittsburgh to get it.  The scale of the print was a little larger than I would've liked, but beggars can't be choosers.  I just had to strategically place the pattern pieces where the print was on the smaller side.  I also didn't love that the felt was only printed on the front and it had a white core.  What's a girl to do?

Again -- I'm no artist.  I knew I'd have to find an image to work into a pattern.  I asked Kelly, Luke's older sister, what he wore when he went hunting.  She said he wore an orange safety vest and an orange knit hat.  My mind immediately pictured Clif's version of Woody:

Problem solved!  Dress him in camo, give him a gun instead of an axe, and we're good to go!

Admittedly, that's not the greatest gun ever.  Have I mentioned that I CAN'T DRAW???  I was concerned about the white core on the felt showing on the sides and it does, but it's not anything that detracts from the overall look of the ornament.  I think Luke will really like him!

And this is a great visual for how ornaments made from the same pattern can look so completely different.  There are so many variables:  colors, stitching style, etc.  It's one of the things I love most about seeing other people's ornament pictures.  So make sure to send me YOURS!  I'll be posting soon with lots of photos made by others.  You'll love them!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Zombie Zoey

I've made ornaments each year for my nephews for a long time.  Because Mariah just joined our family last year, I feel I'm a bit behind with her ornament collection!  I made two for her and will be frantically stitching to try and complete a third before Christmas.  (We'll see how that works out!)

When I bought the clip-art for the snorkeling ornament, I noticed that JW Illustrations also had a cute clip-art package called Zombie Kids.  Like most teens, Mariah is caught up in the zombie craze.  I thought it would be fun to make an ornament to commemorate this fascination.  Here's Zombie Zoey:

I did something different method-wise on this one that I really wound up liking.  Skirts and legs are always problematic.  I usually stitch each leg to the skirt front, and stitch legs to the skirt back.  Then I stitch the front and back together as one piece.  When you do that, you sometimes wind up with a little something weird happening . . . . like this:

See how the skirt creeps down on the legs and up between the legs?  Not a fan.  I knew with the jagged bottom of Zoey's skirt, I'd wind up with all kinds of distortion if I tried to do it the normal way.  Instead, I stitched each leg front to back and stuffed them, leaving the top 1/4" or so unstuffed.  Then, I put the body front to back and as I was stitching around the bottom of the skirt, I inserted the completed legs.  (Does that make sense?)  It turned out perfect!  Incidentally, I did the ponytails the same way.

For the ornament I'm working on now, I'm trying that method with the hands and legs.  I'm anxious to see how it turns out.  He's an adaption of an existing Carolyn DeAngelis pattern and I can't for you to seem him later this week!


In case anyone happens by and thinks I've stolen someone else's work or thinks I'm profiting from it:

  • purchased the clip-art.  I did not do a "right click/save as."
  • I am not selling a pattern made from this clip-art.  I'm not even giving away a pattern made from this clip-art.  
  • I am not selling ornaments made from this clip-art.  

Snorkeling Mariah

As I told you in the Pacos post, our family took a vacation to Mexico in August.  One of the highlights was snorkeling.  This was Mariah's first beach vacation and first time snorkeling.  She LOVED it!

I made the Pacos and donkey set for our family tree, but I wanted to make Mariah her own ornament from the trip.  In my search for some suitable images to use, I stumbled upon the website for JW Illustrations.  She has very affordable clip-art packages that lend themselves very well to our purposes.  I purchased several different packages from her, including one that included images of girls snorkeling.  That led to this little cutie, which I named Snorkeling Mariah.  Isn't she great?  We're decorating the tree tomorrow and I can't wait to see her on there!


In case anyone happens by and thinks I've stolen someone else's work or thinks I'm profiting from it:

  • I purchased the clip-art.  I did not do a "right click/save as."
  • I am not selling a pattern made from this clip-art.  I'm not even giving away a pattern made from this clip-art.  
  • I am not selling ornaments made from this clip-art.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pacos and Donkey

This summer, our family took a trip to Mexico.  We all had a great time swimming, sunning, snorkeling, and just generally being lazy.  We also really enjoyed the local cuisine.  The maitre d' at one restaurant really left a lasting impression on all of us.  He was an absolute riot and kept us laughing through our whole meal.  His name was Roberto Carlos, but Mariah has insisted on calling him Robert Carl, which she says is his American name.

Here we are taking the typical tourist pic.  And yes, I probably COULD have found a less flattering picture of myself!

And here is Mariah with her new best friend, Robert  Carlos:

I wanted to make an ornament to commemorate our trip and it wasn't a hard decision. Pacos!  I thought about designing a girlfriend for him, but I've already done an international pair this year and, I'm not gonna lie, I did think about the time involved with everything else going on in our lives.  I remembered my Eskimo and husky dog and decided to give Pacos a burro instead of a woman.  (Something tells me he does not share my enthusiasm for this idea!)

They turned out great and we'll think of wonderful memories from our first vacation as a family of four every time we look at them!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fisher Price Little People

Here's where the love affair began:

That's me on my third birthday receiving my first piece of Fisher Price little people wonder.  That farm . . . just the thought of it makes me smile.  Do you remember it?

The trough, the fence, that pig . . . . the chicken, crafted with a square hole in its bottom so it could sit on the fence post . . . the barn door that mooed when you opened it . . . the silo that stored the pieces.  Genius.  

My sister and I amassed a collection that included the village, the house, the castle, the Sesame Street neighborhood, and others.  I can't begin to recount the hours and hours we spent arranging furniture and crafting lives for our little plastic friends.  

And then the miniature world went the way of Jarts.  It's all fun and games until somebody chokes on a little plastic man

I've told you before that ornaments are a BIG deal in my family.  I like to give my sister an ornament or two every year and I like them to have some sort of meaning.  Hallmark made some fabulous Fisher Price ornaments a few years ago.  Here's their version of the farm:

It's for sale right now on Ebay with a current bid of $64.99.  I know you'll want to race right over and buy one!  Yeah . . . out of my price range, too.  I love my sister, but . . . .

Felt is cheap, so to the drawing board I went.  I started looked at some images to determine which people I wanted to make.  So many little people, so little time!

I opted for a boy, girl, dog set.  But there were still so many decisions!  I decided to do my dog with the red collar.  (Did you know his name is Lucky?)  The boy HAD to be the crabby one.  Ouida said her son never wanted to play with the "mean boy."  LOL!  I opted for the brunette girl (obviously) and decided on a nice blue color that went well with the other color scheme.  Get ready to fall in love.

The girl's fade didn't turn out as round as I would've liked.  (That's a persistent problem with these ornaments.  The face sometimes gets pulled down into the neck when you stuff them.)  The boy looks awesome!  I gave you a side view so you could see his hat bill.  I think the dog is my favorite.  I made the muzzle a separate piece and put a little stuffing in it so it would have some dimension like the real toy.  My sister is going to LOVE these and I can't wait to give them to her!

If you'd like this pattern, email me at

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Horsin' Around

As you know, I make ornaments each year for my two nephews.  Sometimes, it's easy to pick a design and other years it isn't.  That was the case this year for Zach.  I was stumped.  I finally thought it might be a good time to commemorate his love for pitching horseshoes.  He pitches with his father at tournaments in the summer.

Aaaaand, as you know . . . I can't draw.  At all.  I'm pretty good at adapting, so I searched the internet for some graphics I could use and basically found nothing.  This grainy image did at least let me know I wanted one arm swung back and holding a horseshoe.

But that was it.  Back to square one.  I started perusing Carolyn's patterns to see if there was anything usable at all.  I kept coming back to Josh '84:

What if I gave him a rear arm and a horseshoe ... lost the overall straps and cuffs ... and sort of tipped him forward?  Guess what?  IT WORKED!  

P.S. -- In case you wonder if I ever mess one up . . . I stitched Zach's name and the year on the back of the shirt without remembering that the arm would need to be glued there.  So part of it is covered up.  AND, as I'm writing this post and looking at the photo, I'm realizing that the ornament is pitching left-handed and Zach is right-handed.  Oh, well!!

Astro Andy

As I've told you before, my patterns were given to me by my friend, Ouida.  She and her mother, Marjorie, started buying the patterns directly from Carolyn DeAngelis back in the 1970's.  They used to be advertised in the back of magazines like Family Circle, Woman's Day, and McCall's.  (Anybody remember those?)  When Marjorie became unable to stitch anymore, Ouida gave me all her patterns.  I distinctly remember when this occurred, too.  We had met Bill & Ouida in Nashville, TN for a weekend trip to see Ricky Skaggs at the Ryman Auditorium.  (If any of you ornament stitchers are also avid bluegrass fans, let me know at once so we can become best friends.)

Anyhoo . . . I can remember sitting in our hotel room with the box of patterns on the bed.  I was nearly in tears and Scott couldn't understand why.  For starters, I explained to him, these patterns aren't made anymore.  I considered it kind of a lost art and someone had just handed me a treasure box from the past!  Secondly, I know how much Ouida and her mother had enjoyed sharing patterns and crafting together over the years.  I was touched that she had given me something that belonged to her mother and felt so personal.  I have no doubt Marjorie would've enjoyed reading this blog and seeing all of our ornaments!

That night in the hotel room, I remember thinking that the Astro Andy pattern was awfully cute.  I don't know why, but he just never has made the cut since then.  Last week, I decided his time had come.  I was looking at the pattern on my computer and thinking he could use some improvement.

(Anybody but me notice that the flag is backward??)  I didn't like the details on the suit.  It looks like he ripped his clothes and his mom mended them!  I also thought the helmet opening wasn't quite right somehow.  I almost passed on him, but decided to have a look at the pieces.  I got out the tattered envelope containing the paper pattern from Marjorie's collection.  As I spilled out the contents, a surprise came out.  It was this picture clipped from a magazine:

Clearly, Marjorie and I had the same thought!  It was like she'd left me a little present.  I loved some of the details on this one -- particularly that you could see more of the face.  I used this little photo to make some changes to the pattern and created this:

If you're wondering what the white spots are on his head, they're actually a glare.  I inserted a piece of clear vinyl for a face shield.  I was already contemplating using vinyl in an upcoming snorkeling ornament, so I decided to give it a test run.  It was a little time consuming because the vinyl was slippery, but the finished product made it worth the effort.  I LOVE HIM!  The shiny parts are that silvery fabric you've seen me use before.  (For the record, I did NOT mean for that bottom piece to wind up looking like a codpiece -- LOL!)  The flag stick is a wooden toothpick that I clipped the ends from and painted silver.  Don't let the flag scare you -- you could buy some pre-made miniature flags at the craft store if you don't want to mess with stitching one.  He was actually relatively quick.  Give him a try!

(What do you think, Ouida?  Would this get the Marjorie seal of approval??)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Solo Sam

Caleb is our not-quite-son.  It's too long a story, but suffice it to say he's a little souvenir we picked up on a mission trip and he now lives with us when he's not in college.  He's a vocal music education major and participates in a performance group that performs scenes from various operas.  I was really struggling with what ornament to make him this year.  Then I took a glance at the Solo Sam pattern and realized it was perfect.

This spring, Caleb sang the lead part in this song in the opera scenes performance.  No -- that's not actually Caleb, but just a video from You Tube.  (But he did sound that good, if I do say so myself!)  The kids were holding these big fake ice cream cones that they were pretending to lick -- it was hilarious.

Here was Caleb the night of the performance:

I have no idea why the costume person thought a white shirt with a cream-colored suit was a good idea, but I decided that was too boring for an ornament!  I left off the arm band the pattern called for and gave him a striped bowtie like the one he wore.  I borrowed the pattern pieces for the ice cream cone from the Jodi pattern and stuck that in his hand.  He turned out perfect and I know Caleb will LOVE him!

Josh -- A tutorial

You've seen me stitch the angel and mouse ornaments for my friend's daughters.  They became big sisters this spring when this little guy arrived:

Rachel and I narrowed his ornament field down to the Old MacDonald set or miscellaneous boys.  I decided that the boys would be more fun to do as he got older and developed interests and hobbies.  I kept looking at patterns and just kept coming back to Josh -- the baby in the crib.  Then, I literally spent several days contemplating how I wanted to engineer this one.  Here's the pattern:

You can see that Carolyn's vision was for each individual bar to be cut out.  I don't do my ornaments exactly like she did because I stitch everything.  Every time I looked at this pattern, I considered a different way to do it.  I finally decided that I didn't want to spend a month stitching this and wanted it to be as simple as possible, while still having some dimension.  The first thing I did was print an extra copy of the pattern and cut out a new paper piece where the crib was just one piece.  I cut two -- one with the spaces between the bars cut out for the front, and one solid piece for the back.

Next, I started stitching the baby to the mattress and background.  First, I stitched everything that would be along the bottom on the mattress.

Next, I took that whole piece and laid it on top of the white background.  I stitched everything down along the top edge.  I went from the right side of the mattress, up over the head, down the top of the baby's pajamas, and back to the left side of the mattress.  Before I did the details like the button and the face, I turned the piece over and cut away the excess white felt to reduce the amount of bulk:

From there, I attached that piece to the back of my crib front piece.  Then the crib got stitched together front to back as two pieces.  I didn't stuff this one super tightly because I wanted it to be a little flatter.  I did the wheels and teddy bear as separate pieces and glued them on to give the ornament some dimension.  As I told Ouida, I'll 'fess up to taking the coward's way out on this one . . . but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Graduate Pattern Mortarboard Tutorial

I've made the graduate pattern several times.  It makes an awesome gift!  Kelly, the recipient of the marching bear band over the past four years, graduated from high school this year.  (sniffle, sniffle)  Obviously, she'll be receiving the graduate this Christmas!  I've put my own spin on the mortarboard to make it dimensional and accurate-looking and I thought I'd share how I do it in case you want to give it a try.

I get the ornament stitched and stuffed to this point:

Next, I have this piece ready.  I figured out the shape myself by just making the points wider than the width of the hat base.  You'll need two of these.

Stitching it on takes a little time and patience, but it's really not that bad.  I sort of hold it in place with my left hand and stitch with my right.  The first few stitches are a little tricky, but once you get it anchored, it's smooth sailing.  I take my needle down through the diamond piece so the knot is on the top.  Then I take my needle through through the front of the hat base and through the back.  Then back up through the bottom of the diamond piece.  On and on across the length of the hat base.  Here's what it looks like when it's finished.  (You can sort of see my stitches.)

Next, take the second felt diamond.  Use it as a pattern to cut a piece from cardstock or posterboard.  Trim the paper piece to be slightly smaller than the felt piece.  Use a big needle to punch a hole in the middle (I'll explain why in a minute) and then glue the paper piece to the felt piece.  This helps give the hat top some body.  

Now you'll want to make your tassel.  Our school's tassels are red, white, and blue so I used 3 strands of each color from embroidery floss.  Tie a knot in the bottom and use a needle with a big eye to pull the tassel threads up through the bottom of the hat piece, right through the hole.

When you flip it over, it'll look like this:

(Yes -- those are my husbands legs and his empty ice cream bowl in the background!)

The next step is to tie a knot to form the tassel.  You want this to wind up just past the edge of the felt piece.  Take your time.  Sometimes I have to to it more than once to get it just right.  Untying that little knot is no fun, so try your best to get it right on the first try!

The next step is easy.  Just stitch the top hat piece to the bottom hat piece that's already on the ornament.  (I'm lying -- it's really not that easy.  But it's really not that hard, either.  It's just a little awkward because you're stitching a piece to an ornament that's already stuffed.)

Here's what it looks like from the front when you finish. 

The final step is to attach the hanging loop.  I use metallic silver embroidery floss for all my ornaments.  On this ornament, it takes a little patience.  I bring the thread up through the bottom of the hat on the back of the head, feeling around with the needle to bring it through that little hole in the cardstock that's between the hat layers.  I take the thread through the hanging loop and back down through the hole and on the back of the head.  Do that a few more times to secure it and you'll wind up with this:

The last thing I do is print the little diploma.  I have this saved in my Print Shop program.  It measures 1.5" wide by 1.25" tall.  That's the seal of the state of Ohio in the middle, which is on our school's diplomas.  When I did a college diploma, I found a Google image of the school's logo.  I print it on cardstock and then glue it to a thin layer of cardboard -- like a cereal box. 

A little bit of hot glue to attach the diploma and secure the tassel to the hat is all you need to finish this one.  I realize I said the word "patience" several times, but don't let that scare you.  All of the ornaments make wonderful keepsakes, but this pattern is a particularly special gift.