When the V&A asked me to create a Christmas decoration for a special festive countdown, I was thrilled. After last year's Seasalt-inspired mussel wreath, I was well up for getting crafty. The only stipulation? To use limited-edition Liberty Art Fabrics.
The selection I received (below) was pretty but not particularly festive, so I took on the challenge to make them look Christmasy. Maybe a traditional Christmas decoration is the answer, I thought. A star perhaps? Or a fairy? I finally chose the humble paperchain and some simple hanging decorations as I wanted something others could easily make, too.
So, what's it all for? Well, as a crafty countdown to Christmas Day, the V&A invited a dozen bloggers to take part in its 12 Days of Blogger Crafty Christmas. Running from 12th to 23rd December, a decoration created by each blogger adorns the V&A's virtual Christmas tree every day in the run-up to Christmas. Click here and here to see everyone's creations on the V&A Shop's Facebook page (mine are day six).
So, here's Bargainista Fashionista's step-by-step guide to making your own V&A fabric paperchain (below):
1. Using the V&A's cotton quilting fabric (above), cut a strip about 4.5cm wide.
2. Fold it in half lengthways, with the printed side of the fabric facing inwards. Pin the edge and press with an iron.
3. Sew a seam using a sewing machine (or by hand using a running stitch). Then trim off the excess material.
4. Attach a safety pin to one end of the fabric strip and push it through the fabric tunnel to turn it inside out so that the printed side is now on the outside. Press again with an iron.
5. Cut a strip of thick paper to slip inside the fabric strip. This will help it to hold shape.
7. Cut the fabric strip into 12cm lengths using pinking shears (this will stop the ends from fraying).
8. Loop one of the 12cm lengths to create a ring and handstitch the ends together. Repeat to create your fabric paperchain.
As I had extra strips left over, I used them for the heart and onion-shaped decorations (top). Here's how to make those:
1. Follow steps 1 to 5 above.
2. Cut the following number of fabric strips using pinking shears: 2 x 12cm, 2 x 15cm, 2 x 18cm. The central strip is approx 8-10cm, but allow excess at the top to create a hanging loop.
3.Handstitch both ends of the 12cm, 15cm and 18cm strips together to create one half of the decoration. It should bow out in an arc. Repeat for the second half of the decoration.
4. Handstitch each half to the central strip, one on either side. Do this top and bottom. For the heart, curve the arc inwards at the top and sew into position.
5. Double over the top end of the central strip to make a hanging loop and thread through with twine to finish off your decorations.