103: Ornaments

Today we are going to finish up with some ways to finish odd-shaped ornaments:

  • No-Sew Blocks
  • Christmas Stockings
  • "Puff" pillows
  • Boxes, houses, etc.

Now-Sew Blocks

The completed piece is mounted on the front of a piece of Styrofoam. Then matching fabric (or another stitched piece) is added to the back. The edges are finishing with fabric, bows, trim, or artificial flowers. You can use almost any pattern that is geometric in shape. Once you know how the process goes, it really is quite easy, yet looks very hard! You can find excellent tutorials online. A great example is Totally In Stitches: No Sew Cube Tutorial. You’ll be a pro in no time with her excellent photos and instructions.

You can use the same concept to do smaller ornaments whether they are round, square, or perhaps in the shape of a gingerbread person. Just adjust the thickness of your Styrofoam and cut around the shape of your design. It may take a few cuts around the outer edges of your pattern to get it to fold nicely over the Styrofoam. A nice ribbon might be the way to finish the edges instead of a piece of folded fabric. Use your imagination and do what looks best for your piece.

Christmas Stockings

There is much debate on where the custom of Christmas Stockings began. Dutch children put hay in their clogs for the reindeer, which was replaced with goodies. French children also used their shoes. In China, stockings were made of muslin, and Dun Che Lao Ren filled them with gifts. Whether it is socks, shoes, or something else, the custom is a means to reward good little girls and boys!

Another tradition that can be traced back to Holland is the receiving of a lump of coal. If a child was good they got candy, but if they were bad they got a lump of coal.

Today’s stockings can be as simple as the red and white velvet stockings to ornate and elaborate personalized stockings. Sometimes the hardest part of a Christmas stocking isn’t the stitching, but the finishing. The mystery is solved with these two web resources. Click here for the first one that is a step-by-step tutorial without photos. Next we have Summer Louise blogging about her experience with a lined Christmas stocking (click here). The example she shows is for a miniature stocking, but she says it will work for a large one also.

Don’t be afraid to create your own stockings. They are a perfect gift idea for any age, and will be treasured for years. We have many books, patterns, and kits to get you started!! Here are just a few…

Stocking Books

Stocking Patterns

Complete Stocking Kits

"Puff" Pillows

This is an ingenious technique where you leave enough fabric around the stitched design to create the back side. You can fill with a bit of fiberfill or some fabrics you can blow a bit of air into the back to make them "puff" out. The instructions and photographs below are from Nordic Needle and are in black and white, so don’t adjust your monitor!

The design is from a fob kit. It is stitched on 28-count fabric with a design size of 2.125" square from point to point. You can use that dimension as a guide to adjust your own finished piece.

To begin trim away edges of fabric so you have a 4" square (remember this design is 2.125".) Be sure to leave the same number of fabric threads out from the design on all four sides. Fold the sides diagonally with all four sides equal; press with an iron.

Fold back 12 fabric threads (on the 28 count fabric) on all four sides. Press with an iron. If you have a different size or fabric count, you want to make sure that the edges will come together as shown in the next photo. If they don’t, adjust the number of threads that you fold under. Once you are satisfied, press with an iron.

On the back, fold two sides into the center so the fold line ends up in the center of the design.

Starting at the outer edge, whip stitch the two sides together.

Stop at the fold line.

Fold in the next side to the center and place your first stitch at the fold line of side #3.

Stitch the seam to the outer edge. If you are inserting a tassel, place the ends of the tassel into the seam and stitch it into place. Make a few stitches into the end of the tassel for added stability.

On the inside of the fob, run the needle along the fold line and bring it out in the next corner to begin stitching the third seam.

When the third side is complete, begin sewing the fourth seam. Stuff with fiberfill. If you have openwork, place a fabric square over the openwork. Place the cord end in the opening. Continue to stitch the seam to the end. Sew a few stitches into the cord for added stability. You’re done!

Mill Hill has several Treasured Diamond kits that use this finishing technique.

Boxes, Houses, and other 3-D Shapes

Sometimes your ornaments aren’t flat, square, or even round. They are best described as three-dimensional. For example, The Victoria Sampler just came out with an accessory set that includes a stitcher’s box designed as a Gingerbread House. Each side of the house is stitched separately. She uses mat boards and iron-on fleece pellon to stabilize the walls before stitching the walls together. Because this opens up to store your other accessories, instructions are also provided on how to complete the lining inside the house.

The Victoria Sampler also has a pattern called Beautiful Finishing 3 – Little House Ornaments. This booklet provides designs for four separate houses. There are excellent instructions and photos showing you how to put your houses together.

Sometimes your designs can be made into a cube shape. One way is stitching each side separately, and then joining them together one square at a time. Carol Pedersen’s Birthstone Ort Box is stitched as one long piece (open on the top) with only two edges stitched together.

You can turn a Biscornu into an ornament also. To change the size of your biscornu, change the count of your fabric from 32 count to 28 or even 22 count. You may need to adjust the number of strands of floss or size of pearl cotton you stitch with to be sure that your stitches cover your fabric well on a larger count. Click here to see how to finish a Biscornu. Be sure to add a loop for hanging your ornament before you finish whipstitching all the sides together!

If you are looking for other ideas, check out Sandy’s Finishing Touches. In her book she goes over some of the same things we have talked about, but covers many other options including covering a brick, ball or egg shaped foam ornament, cases, coasters, and adding special effects such as ruffles, tassels, and mitered corners.

Hopefully this series has given you some ideas and tips to finish your own ornaments. We would love to see how you finish your ornaments. Your pictures may be shared in future articles, newsletters, or on our Save Our Stitches! website.

We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

“The following article was published by Nordic Needle in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com.”

2 thoughts on “103: Ornaments

  1. I just wanted to let you know, the first Christmas stocking tutorial without photos can now be found at http://www.sage-urban-homesteading.com/cross-stitch-christmas-stocking.html
    Please update your links. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! We have updated the article. :)

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