I want to thank all of the MerryStockings customers who have given me advice on organizing Bucilla felt kit materials. Many of you have been sewing Bucilla kits for years, and it is fun to hear what works for you and makes creating these beautiful stockings a bit easier.

I will try to sum up what I have heard over the last couple of weeks below. Of course everyone works differently, but one thing is certain . . . organizing materials well can make the job go much faster.

 

Embroidery Floss

Each Bucilla felt appliqué kit comes with embroidery floss.

Thread-with-watermark

 

As you can see, it is a big ball of floss. The Jolly St. Nick kit instructions say to separate the floss by color. Some colors (like the light blue and white) are very close in hue, so it will be important to keep the floss organized. I used the Color/Symbol Guide in the instructions to know what colors are included in the kit (in my previous blog post I included an illustration of the Color/Symbol).

It turns out, most craft stores offer many products to organize floss, from cardboard or plastic bobbins that you wind floss around and store in a plastic case, to plastic or cardboard floss separators that you thread your floss through and write the symbol or code near each color.

But, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to organize the floss by color. Peggy C. says “Take a piece of sturdy cardboard and make slits about every ½ inch about ½ inch deep on one side and put each color in a slot. Keeps every thing from tangling.”

Mary Lee B. recommends using a small white small paper plate. She punches holes in plate, threads the floss through and writes the color/code above it. An inexpensive way to have floss handy and easy to work with.

For now, I’ve just loosely wound the floss by color and zipped them up in small, snack-size plastic bags.

Floss-in-Baggies

 

Most agree that rethreading a needle every time you need to use a new thread color takes too much time and effort. Everyone I spoke with or heard from strongly suggested that I buy some extra embroidery needles so I can have each color threaded while I work.

Wendy R. uses a piece of extra felt maybe 6” long by 1” wide that she cuts from the kit (there is usually some extra on the piece of felt containing the back of the stocking). She uses that to hold her threaded needles while she works.

Bonnie D. says “First I separate all the floss into colors and wrap them around 3 fingers loosely and put them on a paper plate (dinner size). As you use a color you take one of the strands and separate it out for the strands you need (1 for beading or 2 or 3 for embroidery) and wrap it around 2 fingers and place it inside the hole of the first strands. Then your colors are always together.

I purchased extra needles with eyes for beading and embroidery. Use a pin cushion to keep them on hand. I always have one of each color threaded on the needles. You are always changing colors of thread and some of the needles are hard to thread, therefore you don’t want to be taking out the thread every time you need to change colors. You may want to purchase needle threaders for this task.”

I agree that the needles for beading have especially tiny eyes, and a needle threader will be a necessity for me. I had a couple at home, so I included one in my supplies.

Needle_Threader

 

I found this magnetic Needleholder Card at the craft store for around $3.00.  It holds the threaded needle on a magnet, has slits to secure the thread, and has a place to label each color. I’m going to give it a try. It seemed like a good idea for me because I will be toting this project from MerryStockings to home and back.

Needle-Holder-Card

 

Susan H. says it goes much quicker if you have multiple needles threaded at a time. The thread tangles easily. She reminded me to be patient and not hurry the process of unwinding to get a single strand. Susan was also kind enough to send me some pictures of her work area (near her T.V.).  I’ve heard from many MerryStockings customers that these kits are a nice project to do while watching T.V.

Susan-H-Work-Space

 

Sequins and Beads

There are also a number of ways to sort and store the kit’s beads and sequins. The instructions in the kit say to use separate paper plates to organize each sequin color. A pill organizer or empty TicTac containers work too.  My craft store had a least a dozen options for organizing beads. I wanted something mobile, so I opted for a bead organizer with separate compartments and lids (sort of looks like a pill holder, doesn’t it!)

Bead-organizer

 

Donna Z. and Wendy R. both told me it is easier to work with the beads and sequins on a plate or in small glass bowls when trying string a sequin or bead onto the beading needle. I see that Susan H.’s bead container allows for her to unscrew each bin, so the lids are not in the way when trying to string the sequins. Perhaps I will find that I need to put a few sequins or beads on a plate (or glass small bowl) once I start embellishing my felt pieces.

I might also find I want to thread extra beading needles (which I found at my local craft store in the beading section) with the floss colors and store on my needle holder card as well.

 

So, here’s my organized Bucilla kit components so far . . . ready to go.  I’m sure as I begin working I’ll find what does and does not work for me . . . I’ll let you know!

Organized-kit

 

Thanks again to Susan, Bonnie, Wendy, Peggy, Hillary, Donna, and Mary Lee for your advice. It has been fun to hear how others work, and I’d love to hear more tips. Feel free to post comments below to share how you organize your kit materials or ask a question.

 

Kirsten

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I have decided to try my hand at putting together the Jolly St. Nick Bucilla felt Christmas stocking kit. Today I am going to open up the kit and show you what a Bucilla kit looks like.

Jolly w watermark

 

Step 2 – Opening kit and verifying contents

Every Bucilla felt Christmas stocking kit comes with pre-stamped felt pieces (which means that the patterns are already printed right on the felt, so it is just a matter of cutting on the lines to get the felt shapes I’ll need to finish the kit), cotton embroidery floss, sequins and beads, 2 needles, and the instruction sheets.

Contents with watermark

 

The first thing I’m going to do is open up the instruction sheet to make sure that the kit includes everything I need to finish it. I would hate to be chugging along and find I’m missing a sequin or floss color. I’m using the Color/Symbol Guide in the instructions as my reference to check that everything is included. (You can click on the image below to see a larger version.)

Color Symbol Guide

 

I can see that this kit is asking for red, pink, green, light peach, black, white, light green, and light blue cotton floss. Some of these colors are repeated because you will use them for different embroidery stitches (the symbols in the left column are the different stitches). I have all of these colors.

Thread w watermark

 

I also see I will need light green, red, and white sequins for this kit. It also shows I will need clear and red beads. The kit also comes with two needles, one with a smaller eye for beading and one with a larger eye for embroidery.

Beads and sequins with watermark 2

 

I chose this kit as my first kit to construct because it looked to have fewer pieces than some of the other Bucilla designs, and, indeed, this kit only requires six felt colors: white, pink, peach, black, green, and red.

Felt w watermark

 

The kits do not come with polyester fiber, which is recommended to stuff some of the pieces to create that wonderful 3-D look that Bucilla felt applique stocking kits are known for. I believe I have some of this at home, and will bring it in.

One spectacular thing about MerryStockings.com, is that we do have some extra Bucilla kit supplies on hand here if you need clear beads, thread, sequins, etc. to finish your kit. If we have the component on hand, we are happy to send it to our customers!

For now, I’ve zipped up everything in a plastic bag. I’ve kept the color photo of the finished kit that comes with package to use as a reference when I am constructing the kit. I know organization is going to be key for me to get this stocking kit completed . . . I don’t want to lose any pieces, and I also know well-organized materials will make the job quicker.

Jolly in ziplock w watermark

 

I’d like to devote the next few blog posts to how people organize their felt stocking kit supplies like beads, sequins, and floss. If you would like to share tips or photos of how you organize your kit supplies, please send them to me at kirsten@merrystockings.com.

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.

Kirsten

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Last year MerryStockings.com sold thousands of felt applique Christmas kits to our customers. This means there are many, many people out there who enjoy creating these wonderful, heirloom stockings for the people they love.

My grandmother was one such person. Over 40 years ago she made me the stocking below, which has been stuffed full of surprises from Santa for many, many years. In fact, we often traveled for Christmas when I was little, and we never worried about Santa finding us because our stockings always went with us and were hung wherever we were on Christmas Eve. So my snowman stocking has traveled a lot, too! Every time I pull it out at Christmas, it reminds me of some wonderful memories, and it reminds me of my grandma and all of the special things she did for me.

Kirsten Stocking

Now that I have worked at MerryStockings (perhaps I have spoken to you on the phone a time or two), I feel it is my turn to learn the craft of creating these beautiful stockings. And, so, I am going to try my hand at creating a felt stocking over the course of the next few months. With each step in the process, I will create a new blog post in the hopes of creating a place where people can share their tips and post questions about creating felt stocking kits. I’m excited to hear from you all . . . I’m sure I will learn from you and I hope you can learn something too!

 

Step 1 – Picking a stocking kit!

How do you ever decide which stocking kit to make! There are so many designs in our catalog and on our website that it is hard for me to choose. I know some people enjoy thinking about the person they are making the kit for, and selecting a Christmas stocking kit that fits the recipient’s personality. We have sports themed kits, and princess and fairy kits. We have cute snowman and deer families, and more traditional Christmas designs that feature Santa. There are even some more whimsical designs like the Santa Gnome and Snow Garden. I have had the chance to see the kits as they come in to MerryStockings, and I get to see many of the pictures of the completed kits that our customers send to us. There are just too many good choices!

Since this is my first try at constructing a felt stocking kit, I think I will pick a design with fewer details. I’m not sure who might receive the finished kit, so I’d like a more traditional theme. One of our customers recommended that I try either the Jolly St. Nick (BC10-414) or the Jack Frost (BC10-412) kits because they are good beginner kits. I’ve also heard that the Snowman with Lights (BC10-301) and the Gingerbread House (BC10-302) are fun kits to start out on.

MerryStockings also carries a line of 16” Bucilla felt stocking kits (BC10-306 through BC10-317). These kits are smaller than the traditional 18” Bucilla stocking kits, and were designed to be a bit quicker to finish.

All that said, I think I am going to take our customer’s advice and try the Jolly St. Nick Bucilla stocking kit. I like the rosy-cheeked, friendly Santa design and it seems to have bigger pieces on it (and not too much in the way of stuffing, I think).

Jolly St. Nick

 

I’m excited to start!  I know that some of you have been making these kits for over 40 years . . . I would love to hear about the first kit, or a favorite kit you’ve made!

Kirsten
MerryStockings.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great news! If you’ll remember back a couple of weeks, I shared with you a darling advent calendar pattern. Many of our readers love these kinds of Christmas decoration projects because they are simple to make and yet add so much to the whole holiday experience.  Advent calendars in particular have become a preferred way for you and your family to count down the days until Christmas, and Merry Stockings did not want to be left out of all the hoopla. Sooo, we are now carrying fabric advent calendars on our website!

The products that you’ll see come in both non-religious and religious themes, so you are sure to find one your family will love. Take a peek at the 5 designs we’re carrying brand new this year:

 

Santas Workshop Advent Calendar

Santa’s Workshop Advent Calendar

Holy Night Advent Calendar

Holy Night Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Nativity Advent Calendar

Nativity Advent Calendar

Dog Gone It Advent Calendar

Dog Gone It Advent Calendar

Tidings of Joy Advent Calendar

Tidings of Joy Advent Calendar

Every advent calendar comes with movable pieces, making these fabric decorations both utterly adorable and ingeniously interactive! No more questions about how many more days until Christmas….the little ones in your family will be telling you!

Fabric advent Calendars are a perfect way to prepare for Christmas Day, and the best news is that each of the above designs have a reduced retail price. Click on the links below each one to be taken to the Merry Stockings website where you’ll find full details!

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Christmas in October

by admin on October 4, 2014

in Christmas

Santa pumpkin

While it is true that we here at Merry Stockings think about and plan for Christmas year round, most people put all of the holiday decor and plans for the season aside come January. And, we admit, that is the normal way of doing things.

I think we can all agree, tho, that it would be so wonderful if, year round and in every place in the world, the spirit of Christmas endured….that spirit of giving, thoughtful shopping, taking time to be with the ones we care the most about, and crazy fun parties.

As it turns out, there is some of the Christmas spirit floating around, and it’s not even December yet. In fact, these fine folks have been practicing this out-of-season love for 31 years!


Christmas in October
is a leading volunteer group in the Kansas City area that focuses in on rehabilitating the homes of low income home owners, some of which are living with no heat, a leaky roof, or dealing with other conditions that make their home unsafe and unlivable. This organiztion has dedicated the first 2 Saturdays in October to the giving of their time and talent for those less fortunate.

Christmas in october

Over the years more than 7500 homes have been restored! As if this wasn’t enough, in 2012 the organization expanded with a yaer round program, and now are able to complete 50 homes including 31 wheelchair ramps outside of our normal event days per year!

It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint,  a new furnace, a hot water heater, and knowing that people care can do! If that isn’t the spirit of Christmas, I don’t know what would be!

 

Photo credit:  www.spookmaster.com

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Carving Pumpkins

by admin on September 27, 2014

in decorating tips,family,Fun

Everybody knows that carving pumpkins is a solid, fall tradition. What used to be strictly a Halloween decoration has turned into a fun, and even competitive family and friends activity that lots of people are getting in on. Just take a look at Facebook and you’ll undoubtedly have at least one friend who is hosting their own family-friendly competition!

If you are already into this tradition or just hopping on board, I thought I’d show you some examples to get the ball rolling for this year’s soiree. Of course there is no replacement for your own imagination, so use these “templates” as a starting point and branch out….have some fun….be wild with your pumpkins! Some have been known to even pull out the power tools!

A FRIENDLY FACE!

friendly-face-pumpkin-l

 

EXPRESSIVE!

fun-pumpkin-eyes-l

 

 

SILHOUETTE

kitty-pumpkin-l

 

 

FALL LEAVES

2249201_Carve_049

 

 

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE FLAG!

south-carolina-pumpkin-l

 

 

MESSAGE ON A PUMPKIN

spooky-word-pumpkin-l

 

 

STARRY STARRY NIGHT?

starry-night-pumpkin-l

 

 

READY TO PAINT THE TOWN ORANGE!

tux-pumpkin-l

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I think we’re heading to the pumpkin patch this year and having some fun!

Photo credit:  www.southernliving.com

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minnesota phrasesAs you all know, I live in Minnesota. And, as most regions of our country do, we Minnesotans have certain ways of saying and doing things that are unique. When I first moved here 11 years ago, I heard some of these for the first time, and let me tell you, they ARE definitely unique.

Phrases like “up north”, a place that everyone headed to come the weekend. So many people that I met were going there, and I honestly thought it must’ve been a phenomenal town!

Another oddity is how natives drag their o’s out….as in Minnesooooohta. It doesn’t take long to pick up this midwestern accent and not even realize it.

meatball hotdish

Then there’s the hot dish, otherwise known as a casserole, popular at not just church potlucks, but come fall, in homes across the state. Hot dish recipes come out of the woodwork this time of year, and I’ve got one of those today that’ll warm you right up, Gnocchi and Meatball Bake. You’re going to just love it.

Italian spices are a big favorite in our house, and this recipe is a solid staple on our fall menu. When you combine homemade meatballs, potato gnocchi, tomato sauce and cheese, well, what’s not to like about that? It is a real winner.

You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

 

Photo credit:  Minnesota phrases

 

 

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Creative Advent Calendar

by admin on September 20, 2014

in Christmas,Christmas Countdown

There are many, many ways that people around the world prepare for Christmas. We, of course, talk about this a lot on this blog as it relates to stockings, ornaments and other Christmas decorations. A very meaningful practice that is really universal is the preparation time called Advent. Advent begins on the the 4th Sunday before Christmas, and is a time of expectant waiting for the celebration of the birth of Jesus and Christmas Day.

advent calendar

There are often readings that accompany Advent, and many Christian churches light a candle and participate. We are encouraged to couple these things with practices of our own at home, and the Advent Calendar has been one of the practical ways many have adopted.

I think this lovely, handmade Advent Calendar is really wonderful. The little bags that hang are filled with treats, and are a great way to involve children in the anticipation of something more than just the gifts they’ll be receiving.

There are whole books that have been written on the history of Advent and its practice today, and you can find those with a simple google search. Couple the daily treat with a short reading, and this  will instill in both your children’s and your own heart the true meaning of Christmas!

And, of course, the simplicity of this Advent Calendar cannot be beat! Using tension rods that fit the window you’ll hang this in, small muslin bags, and some green felt, you can craft your own Advent Calendar.  Find full instructions for this project here.

Do you practice Advent in your home? It’s a great way to remember the reason for the season.

 

Photo credit:  betterhomesandgardens.com

 

 

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rustic buttonOne of the things my creative mind loves doing the most is finding multiple uses for simple, ordinary things. It is my industrious character trait coupled with creativity and, of course, frugality at work! And, what could be more basic than a button?

I dare say few things are more rudimentary than a button. 🙂 Think about it, we’ve been making buttons to clasp things closed for a very long time, way before we learned to make them in a factory. Wood sticks and loops of twine is just one example!

I think we can take this inexpensive little thing called a button and make some really charming Christmas items. Here are just a few examples:

 

button card

Now isn’t that just about the cutest card you’ve ever seen? It has that minimalist look too that is so popular, and what you see ends up being way more than the sum of its parts.

 

button cookies

How about button cookies? These are simple sugar or butter cookies, too! After you roll out your dough and cut your circle, take a cookie cutter just a little smaller and press lightly for the groove. Then poke 2 holes in the center with a skewer. I think these would be adorable as a table favor at a ladies Christmas party, or a very creative way to bundle up plain sugar cookies for a cookie exchange.

 

button ornament

I LOVE this idea. It involves a package of colored buttons in various shades, some thin wire and ribbon. These can be ornaments for the tree or even gift tags! This is a tag that your sewing friend will definitely not throw away, and will forever think of you as their most creative friend.

While going to the spendy department store for their annual Christmas ornament is a tradition for many, I simply love the idea of crafting one of our own annual ornaments from the staples of life.

 

Photo credit:  Wooden stick, card, cookies, ornament/gift tag

 

 

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One of the things I love the most about Halloween is that it’s a holiday for everyone. The littles get all dressed up, the bigs pull pranks, and even adults get a charge out of finding THE best costume for the annual neighborhood party. Somehow when we dress up in a disguise, we lose our inhibitions and end up having a blast. What’s not to love about that?

halloween wreathMerry Stockings, while primarily a Christmas stocking and decoration website, has got the most adorable Witch’s Brew Bucilla Wreath kit for Halloween. The picture to the left here was actually sent in by a customer who purchased the kit and created the wreath! She did a fantastic job, don’t you think? If you agree, head on over to Facebook and tell her so! You can find the post about D. Copeland on our fan page.

It’s always fun to add a few new decorations to our holiday collections, and this one is really fun. It’s one of Bucilla’s felt applique wreath kits, and just like the other kits they make, comes complete with everything you’ll need to complete it. Hang it in a window or on the door where the trick or treaters will come ‘a knockin’, it’s sure to be a hit!

The wreath measures out to 17″  x 17″ when finished, and the price is only $27.99, 20% off list price! You can grab yours on the Merry Stockings website right now. 🙂

This will make a perfect early Christmas gift for that person in your life that really loves Halloween.

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