Last year when I made advent calendars for my niece and nephew I knew Mia had to have a special one for this year, and despite looking online for inspiration for a few months, nothing had jumped out. It was only when I saw the new design from Lilipopo Stitches back in October that I knew what I wanted to do.
The embroidery pattern is an instant download and her instructions are brilliant, especially for the less common stitches (she writes blog posts with lots of photos to guide you through these unusual stitches). I decided to use some speciality threads which I bought years ago, obviously with a project in mind because they all go together beautifully. These are DMC satin threads - the "new" marketing of rayon threads. Also included are a few metallic threads. My past experience of metallic threads has not been great, so I knew they would be used sparingly. But I was pleasantly surprised with the satins - shorter lengths and more care were required, but they sewed up really nicely and the sheen from them really makes this a special project. I used mostly two strands, and then single strands when I got to the finer parts of the Christmas tree. I love the fern stitch on the girls dress - this was a new stitch for me, and it gives some lovely texture.
The tree was quite the challenge and took much longer than I expected. This is where most of the new stitches came in. I love them all, though open Cretan stitch will take a little more practice to perfect. After the Christmas tree, the stool and cushions were very fast to finish off.
I needed my central embroidery panel to be a little larger than the original design - but only in height, not in width. I thought about adding Mia's name. But "Mia" doesn't take up much room, and she doesn't often get called by her full name "Amelia". We went through some Christmas carols and none were quite right (though it meant I was singing Christmas carols for a few days after). We moved from carols to songs and hit on "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" - how perfect for an advent calendar. I drew the lettering by hand, using a plate to get the curve I wanted. I stitched it up in one strand.
The relief of finishing the embroidery with a week left of November was tempered slightly when I realised how much I still had to do.... a few hours here and there and the "quilt" was finished, with just the pockets to do. And my goodness were they fiddly! But they are done and attached. I'm a little disappointed that a couple ended up wonky, even when they had been pinned on straight.
The facts: the finished advent calendar 24" x 18". Rather than bind it, I stitched right sides together and turned through. The quilting is minimal - just enough to hold the layers together each side of the purple inner border and right at the edge. The embroidery is in one or two strands of DMC satin threads, and is a design by Lilipopo with words added by me. The fabrics for the pockets are Pearl Bracelets, Art Gallery, Timeless Treasures, Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton and Steel, Violet Craft and Kona solids. I know they aren't by themselves "Christmassy colours" but I'm not keen on red and green! I stamped the numbers onto the pockets - you can just see it on the darker fabrics!
Overall I am chuffed to bits with this finish! And Mia seems to like it too - this is her cheekiest grin:
|Christmas tree blocked in by furniture to reduce temptation|