ice lanterns

Ice lanterns
Simple and free to make, they are a very pretty festive table centrepiece and/or a lovely craft to do with children.

To make: gather some natural things to be contained within the ice. The three above have ivy leaves and flowers, cypress sprigs and the nearest has coloured leaves from two shrubs that I do not know the names of…

Colourful shrubs

Set up as below: place natural bits in bowl, then the only slightly fiddly part is lining up something to go into the centre to make a candle well. It is a good idea to use a hollow object like the glass below (baby food jar ideal too) as this makes getting it out much easier once frozen as it can have warm water run into it. This old blog post shows an example of one where I just bunged a candle in and it would not budge. Still pretty, but the lantern didn't light up from inside… (it was a stressy, food-mountain-to-prepare Christmas).

Ice lantern in the making
I secured it in place with sticky tape. Remember to place something under the glass/jar else you will end up with an ice ring! The cypress was robust enough here by itself.

Fill bowl with water and place in freezer until frozen. Run warm water over and in to release bowl and glass and ta-da! The larger your lantern the less prone to melting it will be, but generally they can go for a couple of hours no problem and then you pop them back in the freezer for future use. The old one mentioned above got forgotten about and melted but, hey, it's water fed that twiggy display all through the festive season 🙂

Ivy
ivy one quite pretty…

Cyprus
I like the effect of the cypress too… but the shrubbery is the clear winner 😀

Shrubbage

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Christmas conical trees – A tutorial

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I would call them cone trees but that just makes me think of pine cones so conicals it has become. I've seen these wee guys all the internet but mainly in felt. I fancied some for my decorations this year so drafted up a simple pattern that I thought would work and just threw them together. I have more of these just waiting to be filled and finished and then they'll join my festive forest. 

Here's how you make them…

1. Download the handy pdf pattern and cut out the two pieces.

2. Draw round your pattern pieces onto some bits of fabric (I shamefully go round them with biro pen on the wrong side of the fabric because no one will see it).

3. With right sides together line up the two straight lines of the cone and sew it up like this…

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…you can see that it doesn't have to be perfectly lined up or particularly neat and that the seam is fairly wide for the size of it. That's OK, just trim reasonably close to your stitching and it will make it easier to turn inside out.

4. Turn inside out so right sides now face out.

5. Sew the small circle onto the base of the cone, so that again the right side of the material is facing out, and leave a small gap for filling it. Like this…

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6. Fill. I used urad dal (split mung beans) because they are small and white and so fit in quite nicely and don't show through the thinner lighter fabrics. We also had loads of them. They really need the weight of something like lentils as to just use toy stuffing would have these falling over or drifting away with a slight gust. Anyway, fill until you can fill no more and some spills out and then sew up the gap.

Job done!