Sunday, December 4, 2011
MERRY MAGPIE CHRISTMAS!
My entire house looks like a really messy backstage, it’s full of costumes and headdresses, swords, opera-length gloves, feather fans, Isis Wings, silk veils, fan veils, glitzy ballroom shoes, you name it.
That on it’s own wouldn’t be a big problem, except for the fact that my closets, shelves, and drawers are loaded down with yards of shiny materials and sequin trims, beads, rhinestones, bugle bead fringe, loose feathers and coins… not to mention broken jewelry, scraps of lace, hunks of rayon chainette fringe, a random foot of 4” wide organza ribbon, mis-matched drapery tassels, random buttons and Mardi Gras beads.
Yep, I’m a magpie, attracted to bright and shiny objects...which I take back to my "nest" on a regular basis!
Every so often, I have a kooky fantasy that the television show “Hoarders” will call me to offer me a starring role in an exclusive dance-centric episode, but so far…that hasn’t happened.
But I like to recycle and re-purpose these things-every day objects- into costumes, props and accessories. So instead of holding onto all this dazzling stuff, I like to make Christmas stockings for all of the kids ( and adult kids) in my life: my nieces and nephews; my dancer and civilian pals and their kids, too.
Some of my friends call me “The Showgirl Martha Stewart”, but I wasn’t the originator of these stockings.
This holiday tradition started with my Grandma Nelly, who was an ardent crafter; she fashioned beautiful sparkly felt stockings by hand for all her grandchildren. My mother continued this lovely custom, and every year I get out the blue Christmas stocking she so lovingly made for me, marveling that the little evergreen tree still has every pearl and sequin “ornament” intact!
I love carrying on this magical legacy, and you can do it too- because they’re so easy, and lots of fun to make!
First, have a look through your craft supplies, and see what you have- pretty much anything sparkly, shiny or bling-blingy will do. Make sure you have a needles and thread, craft glue and a glue gun on hand, too.
Gather all your bits and pieces together, then start thinking about which you’re going to make your stockings for, picking out a design that will delight your recipient. Sketch out your idea, and then start figuring out which leftovers will work best for your stocking(s).
I created all the stockings pictured here, and had a blast doing it. The peacock stocking was for one of my sisters, cause she was really into peacocks- and silhouettes. And of course, the person who got the Obama stocking was obsessive about our president! Ho-Ho-Hope! The pink stocking with the Egyptian motif was for the baby daughter of my dear friend Bahaia, the Texas-based belly dancer; the pink stocking with the horse on it was made for my niece who loves to ride, and the kitty was for my boyfriend, who calls himself “Mr. Crazy Cat Lady”!
After you’ve gotten your design together, cut out a large, simple stocking shape from a double thickness of felt, using a pinking shears or even just a regular scissors- the felt won’t ravel. My Grandma Nelly probably started off using felt because it doesn’t have to be hemmed…it’s also inexpensive and quite durable.
I make my stockings about 12” wide at the top, and about 15”-18” long at the bottom, where the foot shape is. They hang about 17"-20” long. With these measurements, you can actually fit little stocking stuffer presents inside the stocking before you give it as a gift.
Next, lay out your design on the felt, pin it down, and hand-sew ( or glue) the embellishments to the felt. Since I’m a confirmed glitter addict, after I’ve done this step I glue tons of rhinestones on top of all the designs!
Add any trimming you like to the top- wide ribbon, thick braid or sequin trim is always good to use, and those leftover pieces of fringe work very well here- attach the fringe, then put the trimming over it.
With embroidery thread or dental floss, hand stitch the stocking sides and bottom closed.
Last, sew on a looped length of pearls-by-the-yard or a doubled tab of ribbon to one of the corners at the top, attaching it on the inside. This way the stocking can be hung on the mantle... with care, of course.
If your hand sewing skills aren’t that great, you can machine stitch the stocking around the edges if the decorations aren’t too close to the borders. Or, if you just don’t have the time to make the stocking shape, just buy an inexpensive plain stocking- there are scads of them everywhere- and then custom decorate it.
Last: when you leave out cookies and milk for Santa, make sure to add in a pair of sunglasses for him, because if you’ve made the stockings in true showgirl style, they’re gonna be so bright, he’ll need shades!