Christmas Makes

Last year I shared several Christmassy things I was making for my family, and as the Christmas lights have just been switched on here in Bristol I thought I would share them again in the run up to the holidays!

First up is my tutorial to make the popular Christmas Jewel Birds. I had readers from all over the globe sharing theirs, and I would love it if you shared yours this year…

christmas month button

Make these pretty little felt Birds in different jewel colours. They look so lovely about the house, on the tree or as a little gift in a stocking…

You will need:

Felt in Different Colours

Embroidery Threads in Different Colours


Scissors, Pins and Needles

20131103_235528-1Pattern for the Pretty Jewel Bird, with suggested Flower and Leaf decorations with suggested Stitching Lines. Click to enlarge and Print. Re-Size by hand, or at a Copy Shop if you would like to make a larger or smaller decoration. 

bird 1 bird 2

Using the Pattern, for each Bird you want to make, cut two Felt bodies and two Felt Wings. Starting where illustrated, Stitch the two Bodies together using Blanket Stitch. Leave a portion open as illustrated so you can stuff the Body easily.

Blanket Stitch, click to see source. 

bird 3 bird 4 bird5

Stuff the Body of the Bird, using a Pencil to push the Stuffing in to the Head and Tail, then continue to Blanket Stitch the Body closed.

Cut Flowers and Leaves out of Felt indifferent colours, and place on the Body. You may need to cut the Flowers and Leaves a little smaller, or you could cut several! Position as you like…

bird6 bird5

Use Back Stitch to Stitch the Flowers and Leaves on, and Chain Stitch to decorate too if you’re feeling fancy! Use different thread colours- it’s Christmas so the more colours the merrier after all!- until you are happy with the effect.

When you have finished Appliquéing Flowers and Leaves to the Body move on the the Wing. The Wing is not stuffed, so first pin the two layers together, then Stitch around using Blanket Stitch to finish. Two layers of Felt ensure the Wing holds its shape.

Decorate the Wing as before, I think a contrast to the Body looks lovely but you could also make the Wing out of a different colour too!


Chain and Back Stitch, click to see source. 

When you are happy with the decoration, sew the Wing to the Body and add a loop of thread to hang the Pretty Jewel Bird by. I have made several now, but these are by far my favourite! I am very much looking forward to hanging them on the Christmas Tree but I may also use them to add a pretty extra to Presents as well!

bird7 pink bird

Don’t forget to share pictures if you make some of these pretty little things. You can share here or onFacebook!!

Look out for more Christmassy Tutorial shares over the next few weeks here at Laura After Midnight. Don’t forget I also have some great little Sewing Kit Stocking Fillers on my Etsy  shop, with Stocking, Christmas Bunting and Patchwork Coaster Kits coming soon!

Happy stitching!

18th Century gorgeous-ness.

So, a few years ago when I was about half way through my Costume Degree I decided to take a trip across the UK and visit as many Costume Collections as I could. Some eluded me because of refurbishments and opening times mainly however; it took about a month but I saw some amazing things, met some wonderful people and thought I would slowly start to share some of the amazing pictures I collected along the way with you.



1700-20 Waistcoat – Fine linen top and coarse linen underneath, quilted all over with cream 20 ply silk in back stitch. Design of small feathers and ‘rose window’ marguerites threaded with twisted sheep’s wool. Ground of small lozenges. Fronts curve away – slashed at sides and centre back. Sleeveless. 9 eyelets over sewn for front  [Stomacher is missing] lacing.

The first is this simply stunning Waistcoat, still my favourite piece from any collection I have seen (and I’ve seen many around the World!) however; I hadn’t noticed its awe inspiring beauty until the Curator, Althea Mackenzie, lifted the piece and the cold blue light of the mid-morning sun illuminated the expert craftsmanship.

waistcoat2 waistcoat3

We had been gazing at Quilted Petticoats from the late 1700’s at the Wade Collection for some hours, and this piece was just one in many but it still resonates with me. I have long been a fan of Quilting as a decorative form- having been taught to sew through Patchwork and Quilting- and this is the finest example of that I have ever had the pleasure to be in the presence of. A Ladies waistcoat, dated 1710, with subtle flaring and two slits at the back to allow for the fullness of the skirt, this is just longer than hip length and the curve at the front would have also slightly flared out over the skirts. Gorgeous.

Similar to a Gentlemans waistcoat I have cut of the same period, I long to re-create it for myself! It is exquisitely quilted, with hand worked eyelets and genuinely has to be one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen in my life. They really could make fabric do things I think we have now forgotten- the neckline would have gently but oh so slightly turned back on itself when wearing, as would have the bottom hem line under the lacing. The combination of Quilting and Backstitch also interests me, and I think contributes to the Embroidered feel. Lovely. There are more Quilted Waistcoats out there, Killerton holds a particularly stunning one which has a slight contrast colour in the stitching.

I have a storage box stuffed full of similar images, and I shall start to sift through them and share the unusual (burnt and blackened Corsets found in a Chimney and Thatch, which was a slight trend amongst the Victorians’!), the beautiful (some hand painted silk with the stencil still showing) and more. I shan’t follow a time line, but pick and choose as I please!

I do hope you find this as lovely as I do… any collections suggestions? I shall be travelling across Europe later this year and would love suggestions any where!

Happy stitching!

Some stunning new Mini Top Hats.

New things have been listed (finally!) in the Laura After Midnight Etsy store, hooray!! I feel as if I am a whirlwind of activity at the moment, and had actually given myself today off. What do I find myself up to? Writing a new Zine, and excitedly photographing things for Etsy then listing! Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead and all that!

Gold Hat 1 Gold Hat 4 Gold Hat 2

In the spare time that I do have, I’ve been hand embellishing some Mini Top Hats I made a while back with all sorts of lace, spangles and adornments I have found in my stash, and I do have to say that I am mighty impressed with the results! I bought a Vintage Embroidery book a while back which was all about the results Chain Stitch can give you if you layer it up.  As you can see I have used it to make Flowers and mixed it in with Spangles for a very effective and highly embellished look.

Cream Hat 3 Cream Hat 5

Above are just two, there are more in the shop! Because my line of Spats have proven so very, very popular, I have been working towards make a new and slightly more colorful range. What do you think? I adore the Pirate Spats soo much!!

Red Spats 1 Ship Spats 2

Stripe Spats 1 White Spats 1

In other news: I am on target for my 2nd Zine! Eek!

I am furiously commanding Photoshop to do my bidding as we speak, scanning in illustrations and generally having a high old time. This one is actually going to be given away as a free little extra with any Zines I sell and is all about the Vintage Sewing Books I use, and find most helpful. As I think every Seamstress (or Seamster!!) should own a couple and I have hand illustrated the covers and written a small review for a teeny tiny yellow Zine.

Right, time for tea me thinks…

Happy stitching!


 craftty 1 crafty 2

I shall be heading off to my local Newsagent this afternoon to see if I can pick up a copy of Crafty Magazine, the new Sewing, Craft & lovely things magazine!

I thought I would share the digital on-line sampler with you all, I love the look of the embroidered calico covered buttons. If you haven’t tried something like this before, it’s addictive! I also think their free gift- calico- is inspired! They cover several different ways to use the fabric, including embroidery & the aforementioned buttons, which is so much more interesting to a true crafter than a pre-made project with rules & only one outcome! It is a sure fire way to get people talking about what they have made, & how they have been inspired to create with this simple & plainly beautiful fabric.

Take a peek for yourselves, the thing I am most interested in how it is received & developed is the slant towards male crafters & sewers… Their blog is also fit to burst with loveliness.

Happy stitching!

New stitches

I thought I’d share what I have been working on in my downtime this week. I’ve really gotten into embroidery over the last few months, and I am excited to try my remembered skills out on my Mini Top Hats!

I am making quite a few Mini Top Hats at the moment as my Etsy shop is sadly lacking in this department…

white hat 1 white hat 2

I get quite a lot of messages on Etsy about commissions for White Silk Mini Top Hats, so I thought I’d make up this little number. As the wedding season is fast approaching, I have made it a little more romantic than I normally might but I have to say I am very pleased with the result. The flowers are appliqued, then embroidered over. I shall probably add in some beads as well for the texture.

When I have finished decorating I still have to trim… can’t decide if I want feathers or not but I am definitely going to add in a buttoned on Birdcage Veil. I haven’t done one in a  while & in looking back over my Etsy sales they were popular, & look fantastic with the added bonus that they can be removed.

I also have a couple Mini Top Hat Kits in White Silk, & wanted some example photographs to show people what can be done with the plainer kits. I have been surreptitiously listening in to the conversations customers have about my little kits & one of the notes seems to be that the more colourful  Kits really stand out but the plain black or white look a little dull, & they wonder what to do with them! Hopefully this will inspire…

Happy stitching!