Home for Christmas - Festive furnishings by Sue Locke

There is something inviting about a home that is dressed for Christmas. And whether you are having an intimate time with just a few friends or a large gathering, some festive touches will certainly help to set the scene. Here are a few suggestions that you might like to try.

The hallway

This is the first area that your guests will see so it’s worth taking the time to make it look attractive. If you have a spindle staircase you could wind lengths of different coloured ribbon around the poles. Use bright red and gold together and finish each one with a fancy bow. Create a low light in the hall with a lamp that has a fabric shade & if you pick an inexpensive red cloth one you can then add some handmade fabric flowers made from coiling lengths of leftover ribbon. If you have a hall table with a vase of Christmas flowers then make a pretty quilted mat - you can do this by simply sewing two circles of red curtain fabric and some wadding together (about the size of a dinner plate) remembering to leave an opening. Turn your mat to the right side, close up the opening and create a quilt pattern with the straight stitch on your machine.

The dining room

Traditionally this is the room that everyone expects will boast some colour at Christmas. If you have the time you could make some fresh seat cushions. Use foam seat pads and make some covers in a pretty tartan fabric. When your table is not in use you can decorate it with a runner (see the instructions below). You can co-ordinate the runner with your chairs by using a plain red cloth and finishing it with gold tassels and ribbon.

Festive place mats are quick and easy to make and will instantly give your table a facelift. For each one cut two rectangles in plain fabric and wadding, pin all the surfaces together with the right sides of the fabric facing outwards & then cover the outer raw edges with binding in a contrasting colour - finish by hand sewing the initials of each guest in the corner.

The sitting room

To make your sitting room cosy add in some fur fabric throws - they are practical and stylish. Either buy ready-made ones or make your own to fit the exact size of furniture. Add some colour to your soft seating areas with some Christmas cushions. Either buy or make some plain coloured covers, then, using machine embroidery with a hoop , try some free stitching working with a contrasting thread. You may like to practice on some scrap fabric first.

A child’s bedroom

Every child wants their room to look magical at Christmas. Start by making some bunting with them. First, using Christmas biscuit cutters, trace out some shapes on felt then cut them out. Take a long length of red ribbon and glue the felt shapes at intervals all the way along the strip. Make sure you leave enough room at each end of the ribbon to tie it up.

You could also make a fabric advent wall hanging. First cut a large rectangle in stiff cardboard then cover it with plain fabric using glue. Cut out 25 small squares in red and green felt. Arrange the squares on the fabric and make pockets by gluing three of the sides in place. Edge the board with narrow gold ribbon and finish by slipping a small chocolate into each pocket. Make a pretty bed cover by using a large rectangle of plain dark blue fleece. Finish the edges with machining. Draw out a crescent moon shape and cut it out in yellow felt. Then cut out a number of differently sized stars in white felt and glue them to the throw.

Home for Christmas - Festive furnishings by Sue Locke

Top tips for Christmas styling

1. Using a colour theme is a great way to give your handmade furnishings more impact.

2. Items such as covered seat pads and throws, made in plain colours or tartan, can be used even after Christmas has finished.

3. This is a great time of year to get your children interested in sewing and crafts so involve them in some of your simple projects.

4. Start your furnishing pieces early so they’ll be completed before your gift buying.

5. If you want some Christmas templates use biscuit cutters or images from children’s colouring books.

How to make a Christmas table runner

MATERIALS

To find the quantity you need, measure the length of your table and then add a drop to each end. Then decide how wide you want your runner to be. Add a seam allowance to both of these measurements . Choose a firm cotton fabric or linen.

50cm of Christmas novelty fabric, featuring small motifs such as Christmas trees, snowmen etc

Firm iron-on interfacing

2 gold Tassels

Narrow gold ribbon

STEPS TO SEW

1. Make a paper pattern to the size you require your runner to be. Then create a point at each end.

2. Lay your pattern on your fabric and cut out twice.

3. With right sides facing stitch the pieces together leaving an opening.

4. Trim the seams and around the pointed ends and turn runner to right side.

5. Close the opening with hand stitching.

6. Take your gold ribbon and pin it to one side of your runner 2cms in from the finished edge. Machine it in place.

7. Cut out your Christmas motifs and iron interfacing to the wrong side. Position your motifs on your runner (equal distances apart). Then using a small zig-zag stitch work round the edges to hold them in place. Don’t forget to keep your needle down but lift your presser foot as you turn each corner.

8. Hand sew tassels to each pointed end to finish.

Sue Locke is a freelance writer and designer. She writes the monthly style pages for Sewing World magazine and designs fashion accessories. For more information or advice please contact Sue Locke - Click here to view Sue’s website.