… or ‘Keeping Busy In The 2nd UK Lockdown’

Hello Sewists,

Here in the UK we’re in the second week of our second lockdown. We’ve been told it’s a month, but no-one believes that. Myself, I have to believe it; my workspace has closed so income has stopped and with some creative time management (including three extra 10hr days before we closed!) I have managed to accommodate or reschedule most of Novembers’ clients. I have vowed to maintain a positive outlook and remain chipper during this lockdown, in good faith that December (historically a hairdressers’ most profitable month) will happen. So, if you’re looking for silver linings, what better use for a month-off in November that some Christmas sewing!

Of course, we all know that Christmas sewing (if it is to be successful) should be started in July, so a month off with nowhere to go in November really is a beano – if you look at it from the right angle. With no income for (at least) a month, I’m mostly ‘shopping my stash’ first. It always feels good to use up things that are lying around or taking up space – and with a little bit of creativity, they can be turned into (hopefully) treasured gifts!

Christmas Stockings.

To start off with, Nephews and Nieces (… and Great-Nephews and Great-Nieces!), I figured Christmas stockings would be a good launch-pad. I drew a pattern freehand for a stocking and cuff. If you’re no good at freehand drawing, get a plate and use it as a template. On a big piece of paper, trace two down and one diagonally to the side. Draw around the outline, square off the top and split the top circle in half horizontally to mark the ‘cuff’. Extend your lines and draw the cuff piece again, high enough on your paper to add seam allowance to both the ‘boot’ and the ‘cuff’ pieces.

Using three circles to make a pattern.

🚨AD ALERT🚨 Before cutting them out, I embroidered the children’s names onto the felt fabric for the cuffs. Using the 240×150 embroidery hoop on the Creative 1.5 (on loan from Pfaff) I could fit three names at a time and made quite light work of it.

Sewing them together was a bit of a production line, here’s the technique condensed…

Pieces prepped for sewing

And they came out like this…

Nine Christmas stockings (for eight nieces & nephews … and one for MrA!)


I’ve made this pattern a few times, most recently HERE and a couple of summers ago I made some for my cousins A&M. They went down really well so I’m making some winter versions for them. As MrA & I tidy round the flat during this lockdown, I’m keeping my eye out for suitable fabrics appearing. I know A&M will appreciate saved or recycled fabric above something new. In the meantime, here are the last ones I made…

MrA & I in our summer T-shirts and hats.

Wallets, of course, wallets!

My favourite wallets to make are from washable paper, you can find it online if it’s not in your local craft shop. I haven’t found the widest range of colours, but with black/ white/ neutrals and metallics on offer you should find something to inspire you.

‘SewAndrew CityWalletin gold washable paper.

You can use it as it comes and allow it to wear with use, or you can give it a head start by washing it a couple of times first (I put mine in with my towels – not too much detergent and no conditioner) – screw it up when it’s wet and flatten it out as it dries off for a more ‘leathery’ texture.

There are plenty of wallet patterns available, I even designed one myself a while ago. The pattern is a free download from google docs, you can get it from the original blog post HERE.

I’ve got a few of these in reserve and will use them in the stockings for the older nieces & nephews. They’re also great for presenting cash or gift cards.

Use what you have: Cushions/Pyjama cases.

I’m really pleased with how this gift idea turned out. It was all MrA’s idea. You see, we had seven of these little cushion pads (20x25cm) knocking around from goodness only knows where, just taking up space. MrA decided I should make embroidered cushions for each of the nephews and nieces, to fill out their stockings.

Like a dog with a bone, he wouldn’t let the idea go and over the next few days gathered up the gold velvet curtain leftovers (from my Gene Kelly refashioners project) and some red velvet that he had picked up months ago from an antique market, for the fronts and backs of the cushions. Together we went online and ordered gold braid trim (the flanged type for sewing into the seams like piping) and some red and gold fringing to really bling them up. I have enough zippers in my stash to shop from without needing to buy more!

While I waited for the trims to arrive, I got on with embroidering the cushions. This took the best part of a day (seven name + motif embroideries) and was a welcome task: just snipping threads and sipping tea (until it was time to move on to something stronger!)

A cute penguin design.

They came out really well, and we’re both really pleased with what we managed to make mostly from things we had lying around! … But… they are too big to fit into the stockings! Oh well! We considered putting them in empty and calling them pyjama cases, but then I’d feel like I should actually make pyjamas too – this would be bad on two counts: 1) it would take too much time and be too expensive! 2) it would mean the cushions wouldn’t fit in the stockings again! So they’ll be a ‘companion gift’!

Seven braided, tasseled and embroidered velvet cushions!

Well, that’s enough Christmas sewing for now (but not enough Christmas sewing for Christmas of course!). I hope you are all keeping busy, feeling safe and staying happy. Before I sign off, let me share a story with you that really warmed my heart.

You may or may not know that back in the ‘real world’ as well as being a hairdresser, I also taught a couple of weekly adult tap dancing classes. They’ve obviously been suspended for the meantime but a couple of months ago I was invited to be a guest teacher for a tap group in Boston USA! – they’d moved their class online since the pandemic and their tutor reached out to me to see if we could set something up over Zoom. Now, tapping over the internet isn’t ideal, but I can tell you it works! I had a class of 27 logged in and we all had a fantastic time. I was so happy to be dancing and teaching again and the class were so sweet, sending me a very heartwarming video message after (I’m not ashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye!).

A very sweaty Andrew Zooming an international tap class!

Until next time,

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Keep Christmas sewing… it’s not far away!
  • Sew something for yourself too, you’ll be really busy if December happens.
  • Check the Christmas postal dates… that’s your deadline.