I'm always looking for quick-to-make Christmas ornaments and thought I'd share this system with everyone. These can be as large or small as desired, and they're easy to make "production line" fashion if you have a rather long gift list. (Whenever I stitch an ornament in mass quantities, I always save one for my collection, too. This way I have a "sample" in case I want to stitch them again another year. I also make a list of all the people who get which ornament so I don't give the same one again.)
Draw a circle (or a bell, star, rectangle, angel, etc.) outline on some graph paper, taking into account the size fabric you want to work on and the finished size of the ornament. For example, if you want the ornament to be 2" in diameter and are using 14-count fabric, you'd want to draw the circle about 28 stitches in diameter.
Now fill in "bands" across the circle, putting the most elaborate ("heavy") band in the center and working out toward "lighter/airier" bands on top and bottom. (Alternate: put heavy bands at top and bottom.) For an idea of balance, unfocus your eyes and look at your chart. Does there appear to be a center of interest? Too many of them? Is the piece overall too "light" or too "dark"?
For mass production, cut a strip of fabric 3.5-4" tall (for 2"-high shapes) and work the shapes with about 1" between them. If you're careful, this is enough space.
Here are some simple ideas to get you started on bands (Note: my ASCII art did not translate well to html, so I'm going to make a gif of these little examples. In the meanwhile, I've gone ahead and posted this article in text fashion and though the gif files are hot, they won't work yet. Please come back again for these; my apologies.)
Couch on a piece of 1/8"-wide ribbon or a metallic cord. Tack on strips of lace, perhaps with beads atop them for accents.
Make a band of Smyrna crosses or another fancy stitch. Or whipped back stitch. Try out a new stitch; you'll only be making a few of them if you decide you don't like them (example: Queen stitch or--yipes!--single cross eyelet). How about a band of knots, either straight across or spaced? Or two rows, but staggered. Or sequins sewn on with seed beads? Some couched decorative metallic braids/cords/edging from the notions department of the fabric store? You might like to add a "charm," which you can purchase at jewelry-making stores, craft stores, and some fabric stores.
You might find you create something you like so well that you want to turn it into a large-scale piece to frame!
Read elsewhere about finishing these quickies.
copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
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