I was thinking for a long time about gift tags this year, and how it'd be great if more packaging was either multi-functional or just less wasteful - so I came up with a few handmade versions that can be handily hung on the tree the following year. First up, the cross-stitched version - needles at the ready, ladies and gents!
I first got into cross-stitching when I took part in the great Craftivist #imapiece project, which involved hand stitching a message onto a fabric jigsaw piece - since then, I can't look at things without thinking, 'yeah, that's nice... but it'd look better with a bit of stitching on it....' I love how you can make it as simple or as intricate as you like, and how therapeutic it is; if I've got the hump, nothing makes me feel happier than a bit of stitching in front of whatever box set we're watching. (This one was done whilst watching the Walking Dead mid-season finale, so possibly not quite as relaxing as usual....)
I'm going to start by being honest; this was supposed to be round, but I got distracted and trimmed the aida too much, so had to make it square. It's totally possible to make it whatever shape you like, though, and is simple enough to knock up in a couple of hours (depending on your cross-stitching speed).
You will need:
Aida for your chosen cross-stitch (I think I used a 14 count) and coloured embroidery thread
Fabric that either matches or contrasts with the cross-stitch colours
A sheet of felt
Bondaweb / Heat 'n' Bond / Wonderweb, depending on which brand you choose
A pencil or tailors chalk
A ruler or quilting square
1. Work out your cross-stitch pattern, and complete in front of the TV, preferably watching a Christmas film and eating biscuits.
2. Work out how large you want your gift tag to be, and then cut two pieces of your chosen fabric and a piece of felt to the same size. One of the fabric pieces is going to act as a frame for the cross-stitch, so you need to make sure there's enough space to fit the cross-stitch comfortably.
3. Trim the aida - it's crucial not to cut off too much, or the edges will be visible in the frame.
4. Cut out the middle of the frame and iron onto a piece of bondaweb, then trim the middle again. (The reason I adore bondaweb so much is simply because it stops fabric fraying, and gives a really neat edge with no need for seams. If there's a shortcut available in a sewing project, always take it - that's what I say!)
5. Remove the backing from the bondaweb, and assemble the frame, the cross-stitch and the piece of felt in a little sandwich (see below). Iron around the edge, and you'll find that you're left with the top of your tag.
6. Iron some bondaweb onto the other piece of fabric, and then press onto the reverse of the tag - this means when it hangs up, it looks as nice from the back as it does from the front.
7. Trim the edges, and then thread a needle with some coloured thread. Insert into the top of the tag front, and then fasten in a knot - make sure it's long enough not only to attach to a parcel, but also to hang on a tree branch.
8. Make enough to give one each to friends and family; I'm going to make loads with quirky slogans, geometric patterns and classic Christmas symbols. The sky's the limit!