DIY silhouette Christmas card

Alexis Allan DIY Silhouette Christmas card for Seeds and Stitches blog

Hannah here: Continuing in the vein of the awesome list of contributors we’ve had recently, i’m chuffed to welcome Alexis from something I made to the blog today. We’ve met each other a few times, have shared a lot of blog love and have talked about working together for yonks. Lets hope this is the start! Here she is with a quite frankly brilliant idea for a DIY Christmas card. If we can get our act together this year we will do this and send it as an e card. Thanks so much Alexis!

Back in 2010 I had an idea for a Christmas card, I was heavily pregnant at the time and being a little obsessed with documenting life and stuff I thought I'd send a card with a silhouette image of our little family on. I ended up unknowingly starting a family tradition and now each year we try to take a photo of ourselves in a similar vein for our Christmas card.

Alexis Allan DIY Silhouette Christmas card for Seeds and Stitches blog

Silhouette shots are amazingly effective, it's surprisingly easy to recognise people from just their profile, and it's especially nice with young children. Over the years we've managed to get better and better at taking our silhouette shots - so if you fancy having a go here are my tips...

Alexis Allan DIY Silhouette Christmas card for Seeds and Stitches blog

) Find a plain background - and if you can a light floor too, we used a sheet on the floor this year

2) Light your background - if you have directional lights all the better!

3) Stand in front of the lights and you will be silhouetted against the background. 

4) Profile shots are more recognisable so if you are taking a group or couple shot then try looking at each other - also you can tell when people are smiling, so even though it's a silhouette you can still smile!

5) Once you have your shot you can use a photo editing tool if you have one to darken the shadows and increase the contrast. You can see the original image on the left straight from the camera and then the modified one on the right. I use photoshop to create my silhouette now, but in the early days I just printed out the image and then traced the black and coloured it in and then re-scanned it into the computer. A bit of a round about way of doing it but it worked a treat.

Alexis Allan DIY Silhouette Christmas card for Seeds and Stitches blog

Next up I then collage it together with my surrounding design which I draw and then scan into the computer... here are all the designs I've made so far. 

Alexis Allan DIY Silhouette Christmas card for Seeds and Stitches blog

I print our card onto recycled plain cards (I get mine from PDA cards) on my Gocco machine, which is a kind of home screen printing kit, but they could just as well be printed - or would make a great e-card saving on paper all together.

Alexis Allan DIY Silhouette Christmas card for Seeds and Stitches blog

This year I had a bit of 'help' printing in the form of my seven year old daughter... although I have to take a you-tube refresher course on how to use my little gocco every time!

Genius or what eh?! Really hope we can find time to make one ourselves! Thanks again, Alexis!

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Lately; Christmas happenings.

Decorating the tree with a toddler

Hannah here: The crazy work deadlines, sickness, late-paying invoice stress and house work of the last month have, I am pleased to report, been smattered with Christmas loveliness.

Firstly, a pathetically brilliant Christmas Lights switch on in Faversham; long candle lit tables, rows of tented food stalls steaming in the cold night air. A countdown, another countdown, and another, still no lights. The band starts up, and we shrug our shoulders and get back to our burgers. In the middle of Jingle bells and a mouthful of Malteaser cake, and with no ceremony whatsoever, the lights finally sputter to life. Priceless.  

Christmas Lights switch on
Faversham Christmas lights switch on

Next, our annual trip to London to soak up some, albeit crowded, London Christmas shizzz (although Carnaby St was a bit rubbish this year- giant headphones?!). My mister and I snuck in some especially toothsome Yalla Yalla wraps whilst the babe slept in the buggy and MAN they were good. And (top tip!) impressively cheap for London. Next up, an impressively tinsel-decked Soho pub and declarations that there is nothing quite like Christmas in a British pub. Then a late afternoon constitutional down Carnaby St to Liberty, in the waning light.

Liberty; to soak up the Christmas decadence, those monochrome gables, the impossibly expensive antique Berber rugs, the stretched-face Oxford St matriarchs. A lovely reader said hello (I blushed and gabbled), Frankie chose an impressively subdued bird for the tree, she kissed the enormous stuffed Polar bear in the stair well and I snuck an oversize Chocolate Liberty gold coin in the shopping basket. It’s about the most commercial Christmas thing we do, but if you’re gonna feed the capitalist machine, might as well feed it at Liberty, yah?

Contrarary to what you might think, that face is a "SERIOUSLY good food" face.

Contrarary to what you might think, that face is a "SERIOUSLY good food" face.

Tinsel decked London pub
Annual Christmas bauble trip to London
Annual Christmas bauble choosing trip to Liberty  London

In the days that followed, I attended a delightful morning of Christmas makery with some of my besties, a welcome full stop in a crazy week of deadlines, which you can read more about here. A day trip to London with the selfsame brilliant women followed shortly afterwards, a birthday surprise for one of the group, SANS BABIES. OMG it was so exciting. Coffee and doughnuts on the train, conversations not interrupted by unreasonable toddler requests for ice lollies,  maundering down the Southbank dressed in it’s Christmas finery, finger licking piggery at Wahaca followed by the Matinee performance of 3 Winters at the Littleton, which was excellent, and sobering. Everything about the day was food for the soul. 

Wahaca Southbank Christmas
Wahaca Southbank Christmas
Southbank Christmas

Then of course, there are all the Christmas traditions at home. Bing on the record player. Morning excitement about Jack Frost. Holding Frankie up so she can hang her Liberty bird on that exact branch right there, NO, not that one, that one. Stringing up our Peparkaker cookies on the tree, subsequently finding empty strings and a trail of crumbs, and now, as I glance around, realising that they have almost all gone. Lighting candles, finding small, perfect little Christmas trees in enamel buckets that I simply could not leave the market without. Making a King Winter pine cone ornament with Frankie in the woods, and hanging it carefully on the tree. 

Decorating the tree, King Winter
Decorating the tree with a toddler
Simple Christmas Decorating
Decorating the tree with a toddler
Christmas cosy

As per usual, this was supposed to be split over a couple of posts but toddler then mother sickness has prevented it so here we are with a behemoth of a blog instead. Did you get this far? High five yourself. And have a very merry Christmas.

P.S I am guest pinning for Folksy this week from today! Woohoo! 

P.P.S Any freelancers out there find themselves doing this insane juggling act of a little time Chirstmassifying, then a little time (and late into the night) working?! I'm finding it hard to truly switch off. I'm grateful for the flexibility but a little part of me misses the clean delineations between work and play that a 9-5 offers. Anyway. One more feature to write before Christmas then I'm done. 

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DIY rustic Christmas star

Simple rustic Christmas star by owl and Accordion for Seeds and Stitches.

Hannah here: I’m thrilled to welcome crafty type, charity shop champion and all round lovely person Vicky, from The Owl and The Accordion to the blog today with a lovely rustic star tutorial. We’ve been blog friends for years now and I was chuffed that she was up for helping us whilst Davina was on maternity leave. Our feelings about Christmas almost exactly mirror, and you know by now that I am allllll about the simple things this year. I love this star so much and hope to carve a bit of time to make it this week. Over to Vicky:

Until this year, I’ve always been part of the ‘more-is-more’ decorative school of thinking; colours everywhere, something on every surface and garlands hanging from every shelf and window. I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I got fed up with the endless dusting, or whether I just started feeling like my home was trying to smother me, but I found myself hankering after a simpler way of living; clear surfaces with a few meaningful objects, one beautiful print rather than an entire gallery wall and just, well, less stuff. It spread to Christmas as well, and as well as scaling back on the present buying, I decided I wanted our decorations to be more rustic; the heady scent of clove-studded oranges, cinnamon sticks strung up, simple wooden figures and plenty of greenery. One of my favourite makes so far has been my rustic star, which took about an hour, and incorporates all of the best bits of the woods in winter. 

Simple rustic Christmas star by Owl and Accordion for Seeds and Stitches.


You Will Need:

Five relatively straight sticks of a similar size

Various types of greenery and berries (I used Hawthorn, Holly berries, Pine twigs and a bit of someone’s hedge)

Wire and garden string

A hot glue gun (the mini version can be bought from Hobbycraft for just £5!)

1. Start by arranging your sticks into a star shape, and then tie them together with the garden string. To get the shape right, you might find you have to overlap them more in certain places than in others, but you can always clip the excess off once you’ve tied all your sticks in place.

Simple rustic Christmas star by Owl and Accordion for Seeds and Stitches.

2. Wrap some wire around your sticks, so you have something to weave the foliage into, and bend over at the end so there are no sharp edges.

3. Cover your star shape in greenery and berries, weaving in and out of the wire and sticks, and using the glue gun where necessary.

Simple rustic Christmas star by Owl and Accordion for Seeds and Stitches.

4. To make the top of the star, arrange some pine cones, greenery and berries, and use the glue gun to fix it in place.

Simple rustic Christmas star by Owl and Accordion for Seeds and Stitches.

5. Leave the glue to try and harden, and then display your festive rustic star with pride!

DIY Christmas rustic star by Owl and Accordion for Seeds and Stitches

Easy(-ish!) Christmas crafting with kids: wreathes and edible decorations

Pepperkaker biscuits in the making | Seeds and Stitches blog

A thing I learned last week: a group of mothers, their ever-so-slightly wild toddlers, a vat of chai tea, bucket loads of greenery and some cookie cutters; doth a wonderful craft morning make. 

Christmas crafting with garden greenery | Seeds and Stitches blog

I am working on lots of interiors features at the moment which are due to be published next Spring, which is extraordinarily exciting but also extraordinarily stressful too. As a result my Christmas crafting, something I normally relish, has been rather miserly. So when my friend Rosa invited us over for a Crafternoon (well, it was in the morning, a, err, craftermorning?) I probably responded quite overzealously. Adding toddlers to the mix is an unexpected quirk, I realize, but with the right combination of crafters vs kid watchers, we were all able to leave with at least something hand made. The kids made Christmas cookies using Pepperkaker dough, and a whole lot of mess with glitter, and the adults made wreathes. Here is a little snippet of the morning. It felt so so good to step away from my laptop for a morning and actually make something, especially with Frankie. So good in fact that I had a misty-eyed moment or two along the way. 

Pepperkaker biscuits in the making | Seeds and Stitches blog
Pepperkaker biscuits in the making | Seeds and Stitches blog

How- to’s

Simple wreathes:
None of us have ever made a ‘proper’ wreath before, but with the help of some copper wreath rings, we made some really rather marvellous concoctions.

Meterials:
Garden greenery: Ivy, Holly or Rosemary all look lovely and dry well.
A copper wreath ring- incredibly cheap on good ol’ eBay 
Twine or green garden wire
Strong scissors of secateurs

Method:
1. Cut your greenery into small chunks- no longer than around 6 inches. 
2. Bunch together and tie it onto the ring, making sure not to crush too many of the leaves (or you’ll end up with a flat bit.) 
3. Keep going until you’ve covered your wreath. 
The prettiest wreathes had thicker foliage or a cluster of berries at the bottom of the ring. You could also add wool pompoms like I did last year.

Christmas crafting with garden greenery| Seeds and Stitches blog
My lovely sister in law- Ray

My lovely sister in law- Ray

Pepperkaker
Rosa used a recipe she found in The Guardian for Pepperkaker and they were delicious. Once the dough is made, it lasts in the fridge for weeks, so you could double it and make batches of fresh biscuits whenever you need them. For ease, i’ve copied the recipe below. 
Makes 30–50, depending on your cookie cutters

Ingredients:
150ml golden syrup 
250ml soft brown sugar 
2 tsp ground ginger 
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
½ tsp ground cloves 
175g butter, softened 
150ml double cream 
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 
750g plain flour, plus more for dusting

Method:
1. Beat the syrup, brown sugar, spices and butter in a big bowl until soft and smooth. Add the cream and beat again. Sift together the bicarbonate of soda and flour, then mix it into the butter mixture. Flour a work surface and knead the dough well, then wrap in clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator overnight. At this stage, you can leave it in there for weeks.
2. The next day, or when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Roll out the dough really thinly on a floured work surface and cut out with whichever cookie cutters you fancy. Place on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Bake for about eight minutes, then leave to cool on the baking parchment on a wire rack. Recipe by Trine Hahnemann- Scandinavian Baking 

Pepperkaker | Seeds and Stitches blog
Easy DIY Christmas crafting | Seeds and Stitches blog

Styling the Seasons: December

Styling The Seasons by Sian from Fforest, Cold at Night. 

Styling The Seasons by Sian from Fforest, Cold at Night. 

Have you heard of Styling the Seasons? It's a monthly project that encourages people to style something seasonal each month in their home and share it with the world. I loved the concept straight away: the quiet celebration of nature, taking time out of your day to go outside and breathe, bringing nature indoors... I recently got in touch with Lottie and Katy who started the project to ask some more questions. (my December contribution is at the bottom of the post, too!)

Can you introduce yourselves to us? Hello! We're Charlotte from Lotts and Lots and Katy from Apartment Apothecary. We're both bloggers who love creating and celebrating in our homes.

Can you tell us about Styling the Seasons? How did it start?
Styling the Seasons is a monthly series where we ask the online community to style any surface in the home (from window sill to ballroom) to reflect what the month/season means to them. For example, when we launched in September, my post was all about holding onto the last days of summer and Katy's was all about her office space and the sense of newness autumn brings.  They were completely different but as the month held different meanings to us it was really inspiring seeing what each other came up with. 

It started as a conversation between Katy and myself about being so busy and not always taking the time to notice the change of seasons around us. We thought it was a shame that you only decorate your home at Christmas, so wanted to create a project that could be carried out all year round to celebrate those forgotten surfaces and make your home feel loved. It was also massively important to us that anyone could join in, not just bloggers but the amazing communities on Instagram and Twitter. It's been such a joy to see real life homes and interpretations each month. 

Styling The Seasons by Cristina Colli

Styling The Seasons by Cristina Colli

This is so true, it is a shame we only really decorate at Christmas, the other seasons have so much to offer too! Why, do you feel its important to be more aware of the seasons?
Yes, t's so important. Like you Hannah, I have been renovating house, between work and the house I don't think I went outside in daylight for the month of March. When I did go outside the seasons had completely changed and I had missed it, which was really scary. We all lead such busy lives its easy to be caught up in where you have to be next, you can forget to pause and take in what is happening around you now. Each season has its own beauty and taking time to celebrate and enjoy each one is a real pleasure. 

Styling The Seasons by Circle of Pine Trees

Styling The Seasons by Circle of Pine Trees

Ugh, house renovating. Between that and work there has been no time but I have to crave a bit of time to be outdoors in the wild, or I sort of go wild myself?! I love that this project is a way to help ground people in nature and the seasons, if only for a moment, and I really believe it has lasting benefits to the earth as a result. What advice would you give to really busy people who would like to celebrate and be more grounded in the seasons? 

I have a few tid bits of advice. Enjoy the process of popping outside to see what treasures are out there on your doorstep. Notice the colours of fallen leaves, interesting twigs or special feathers. This doesn't have to take long, 5 minutes is plenty - it's really an exercise in slowing down and noticing your surroundings. You could also gather your favourite items you already own and put them together in a new setting or grouping, there have been some wonderful posts on really personal one-off items that deserve to be celebrated. Finally, have fun! There is no right or wrong with Styling The Seasons everyone is different and unique which is why it is so exciting to watch it take shape and evolve every month. 

Styling The Seasons by Sian from Fforest, Cold at Night

Styling The Seasons by Sian from Fforest, Cold at Night

And here is my Styling the Seasons- December; a little celebration of winter: of misteltoe and rosemary, chestnuts and evergreens, Christmas baking and candle light. 

Seeds and Stitches- December Styling the seasons

Have you joined in? Planning on it?

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