Cor, two posts in a week (and more to come!) - I'm spoiling you lot! It's just a shame I couldn't find the time to blog all these crafty ideas before the big day... but never mind. Next year!
When I was thinking about wrapping the presents this year, I decided I wanted to forget the usual paper gift tags that go out with the recycling, and give something a bit nicer that could be kept. Less waste, and a nice extra little something for the giftee (is that even a word? It is now!) to keep and hang on their tree next year - what could be better than that? I thought about going down the usual route of salt dough, but mine all seemed to puff up, and then they needed to be painted once they came out of the oven... not good for someone like me who gravitates towards crafts with quick results. So I had a play around with some Fimo (and some cheap own brand alternatives, which are just as good - the only advantage of Fimo is the ace range of colours) and came up with a few different ideas that are quick, simple and hugely satisfying.
1. Star Shaped Multi-Tags
Stick with me here, because this is tricky.
- Roll out the clay, and use a different sized star cookie cutters to cut out your shapes.
- Punch a hole at the top of each star so you can thread your cotton through the top.
- Put them in the oven to harden, then leave to cool.
- String different sized stars together using a couple of strands of embroidery thread.
- Stick it onto your parcel.
Soooooo easy! You could obviously do this with pretty much any shape, or even try cutting out letters and spelling out the recipients name (actually wish I'd thought of that sooner..!).
2. Crochet-Edged Tags
This actually started life as a crochet-edged leaf (just, don't ask), but I ended up sat on the sofa with the hump, covered in torn pieces of leaf because I couldn't get it to work properly. And so, the clay gift tag with crochet edging was born!
- Roll out the clay, and choose your cookie cutter - I decided on a circle, because it's the easiest one to space the crochet evenly around, and there's no pesky corners to tackle.
- Cut your shapes out, then pierce the clay around the edge to make the holes that you'll work into later.
- Pop them into the oven to harden, then leave to cool.
- Using a needle threaded with the same colour embroidery thread as your clay, blanket stitch around the edge of your shape. Make sure you do it fairly tightly and evenly, but not so tight you can't get a small crochet hook underneath.
- Using a 2mm crochet hook, work a row of double crochet stitches into the blanket stitch around the edge. Don't worry if there's not the same number in each section, just try to make sure it lies flat. I used a cotton yarn (Rico Creative Cotton is ace) in the same colour as the embroidery thread, so it looked nice and neat.
- Using a different colour yarn, work the following into your stitches to create the star effect: double crochet, treble crochet, create picot, treble crochet, double crochet, slip stitch. Repeat these around - you might find you have to frog it a bit, adding in slip stitches or taking them away to make it fit, Make it up as you go - I always get my best results that way!
- Fasten off and weave in ends.
- I painted mine (I can't remember what paint, acrylic I think. By this point, my little conservatory craft-space looked like an explosion in Hobbycraft) with a simple snowflake, but you could easily decoupage with a vintage Christmas picture printed from the internet. Or leave it blank!
3. Cross -Stitch Clay Tags
Of all the tags I made, these were by far my favourites - I've mentioned my new found addiction to cross-stitch, so it was pretty inevitable that I was going to find a way to work it in with these little babies. They're sooooo simple to do - it's literally just a case of working out what you want to embellish your tags with in advance, so you can punch the holes in before they go into the oven.
- Choose your clay (I went for teal and mustard... surprise..... and traditional festive red), and your cookie cutter shapes, roll out the clay and cut them out.
- Decide what design you're going to do - I went with simple triangles (everybody loves a triangle, plus it's the easiest shape to do), snowflakes and rows of simple cross-stitches - and use a toothpick to create the holes. Don't forget to make a hole for the thread that it'll hang by.
- Put them into the oven to harden, and leave to cool.
- Using different coloured embroidery thread, stitch your design onto the right side of the shape. This was the most enjoyable part for me - sitting in front of Homeland, stitching my heart out. And eating biscuits.
- If you've done cross-stitch before, you'll know that the back is often a bit of a mess (mine more so than others, I always seem to get in tangle somewhere along the way), so cut a matching shape out of wrapping paper, and use some spray mount (it's nice and strong) to stick it to the back. Don't worry about it being a perfect fit - the aim is to cover the ends of the threads; plus, imperfections only make it more lovely (or so I constantly tell myself....).
The great thing about all these ideas is that you could make them all year round; for birthdays, new baby gifts, Valentines day.... anything really. In fact, I may never buy a gift tag again!