My house looks like a bomb has hit it, but I'm almost ready for Christmas now. Parcels are on their way to England, there's one present left to buy, just a couple of handmade presents to put the finishing touches to and the Christmas cake is made (but not yet iced). I no longer feel like striking the people that had already sent me Christmas cards in the first week of December off my Christmas card list...
For teacher gifts, my kids made these beeswax candles. They are ever so easy, if you want to give it a try.
- beeswax sheets (I bought mine here, but you can find them at some craft stores, candle supply stores or some health food stores)
- wick (I used 1/0 square waxed wick)
The sheets that we used were 16" x 8". To make 2" tall votive candles, I cut them into 16" x 2" strips. Next I warmed them up slightly with a hairdryer, to make them a little more pliable, as my husband is still trying to maintain Arctic-like conditions in our house. Then I handed them over to my 5 year old.
First lay the wick across one end of the strip of wax. We leave extra wick hanging out of both sides, so that we can choose whichever side is neater to be the top of the candle. Gently bend the wax around the wick and push it down to secure the wick in place:
Roll the wax around the wick fairly firmly, keeping the edges even. Try to keep the roll as round as possible - you can push the wax in a little to reshape it as you go, but do this before the last roll, so that you do not ruin the honeycomb texture of the sheet.
When you get to the end, press the end edge of the strip down firmly against the candle to secure it. Chose which end is to be the top of the candle and trim the wick to 1/4" at the top and trim the excess wick off the bottom. You're all done.
A bit of ribbon, some French-seamed drawstring bags, a wee box of English chocolates from the Import store and homemade cards for the teachers and we were done. Then I put in some money to the class gift of a gift card or two, as our teachers need a lot more spoiling than that...
I don't go too crazy over trying to make handmade gifts for Christmas - I'm never too sure if people appreciate them or not. I tend to only make gifts either when I can't find what I am looking for in a store or when I think that I can make a better version than what I have seen in stores. Still, not everyone escapes with a store-bought gift. I've made a couple more reversible totes:
and attempted a gathered clutch using this tutorial.
You can only see half of the gathers in this picture - I should have angled it the other way - but, while the tutorial was fine, this was one of those projects that just did not go as planned. My sewing machine starting having funny spells with the tension. I should probably confess that I gave it a slight tap in frustration. That's when the light went out and it stopped working. Oh, the guilt - and the horror... After a few minutes of praying and apologising to my machine, followed by begging it to work again, I noticed that I had kicked the plug out of the socket...
It was one of those days. Earlier in the day an elderly chap had rolled his car into the back of mine while I was stopped at the traffic light (rather worryingly he mentioned that that 'kept happening lately' - and his driver license does not expire for another 5 years, when he's in his 90s....). Still, after unpicking a few seams and re-threading the machine, I got a gathered clutch finished and it does what it was intended to do: hold a bar of chocolate...
Ok, I had better get going and finish the kid's presents. I promise that I'll be nicer to my sewing machine, too.
Translation of the day:
UK English: Christmas cake = a rich, dark, MOIST fruitcake, covered with marzipan and royal icing, eaten at Christmas. It is nothing like the dry re-gifted fruitcake of American jokes, but my American in-laws still refuse to try it, so I usually get about half the cake to myself. That's not a bad thing - one of the advantages of living over here...