Nativity project

Thursday October 25th

Thanks to Wilma I was able to stitch this little design and I'm in the process of deciding how to finish it.

The design is from a set that appeared in the November 1991 issue of For the Love of Cross Stitch. (Photo of the magazine page below.)  I stitched it with single strands of floss on 22 count hardanger fabric. I plan to finish this one for my God daughter this year and to send other pieces in the next 2 or 3 years.

 photo KGrHqZnYFG23hjuBR3sVuL71g60_57.jpg

I've done a quick mock up using a photocopy of the design, a shaped block of wood, three pieces of  off white satin ribbon and one piece of green grosgrain ribbon.



The stable shape was cut from a piece of 3/4 inch thick pine.  If I decide to use these finishing materials I would cover the back with green fabric that is similar to the grosgrain ribbon. The fabric in the background of the above photo is the closet match I had on hand. I think it is too dark and too busy so I'd be shopping for a better match.

I had planned to use the blue mat board (also in the background above) to make a roof similar to, but less substantial looking than, the one in the photo below.  I'm now thinking that for this project something simpler would be better.


Friday October 26th

Plan B.  Today instead of ribbon I used white mat board for the floor and eaves and blue corrugated card stock for the side walls and roof. (They look a little beat up because I stuck and then shifted them around several times.)


The paper products have an advantage over the ribbon because I can easily make them wider or narrower. Fabric, for the side walls and roof, would have the same advantage but I would need to do something about the ends. I'd probably have them meet on the bottom and then put the whole ornament on a mat board or wood base.

In any case I have decided that this stable doesn't need an overhanging roof. (Though I usually prefer overhangs on a sloped roof models I think that this simple stable looks better without them.) Which is good news because I've been hoping that the finished building will fit in the same sized gift boxes as the other ornaments I am sending out this year. (Mostly because I have found a shipping box that will exactly accommodate 6 gift boxes and this ornament is going to the same destination as 5 of the other ornaments.)


The two experiments I've done so far will easily fit in the boxes. In fact I can make the stable a little taller.


I can add the extra height just to the roof.


Or I can keep the same roof slope and make the side walls higher.


I think I'll do the latter because it gives the donkey's ears more wiggle room.

Saturday October 27th

Plan C.  I made a mock up using a strip of scrap fabric folded over a strip of card stock. (Because I cut this block on Thursday is the same height as the previous ones.)


I knew before I started that I wouldn't like this fabric better than the corrugated card stock but now I  believe that I am unlikely to find any fabric that I would like better than the card stock. I just wish that the base paper for the card stock was blue instead of brown. I could try to paint the bit of brown paper that shows at the front edge. But I have such a poor track record with paint that I can confidently predict that it wouldn't be an improvement.

Tuesday October 30th

I finished the project today. Ready for the slow reveal?








Sigh. Why is it is only now, looking at the pictures, that I notice that I used the wrong "taller" pattern. (I didn't use the one that gives the donkey's ears the extra wiggle room.) Now I'll have to fight the urge to restitch and refinish it.

Wednesday November 20, 2013

I've finally got around to stitching some more for this project. At this point I have stitched the three wise men and two shepherds.

 photo 202and.jpg

I plan to stitch two more shepherds and two angels.

Sunday November 24. 2013

I have now finished stitching all of the pieces that I plan to stitch.

 photo 208and.jpg

 photo 205.jpg

Wednesday November 27, 2013

While I've been stitching these designs my gears have been whirling (and gigging) over how I was going to finish these as blocks. Last year when I put together the stable block I left the bottom of the block unfinished. This wasn't a problem because the cardboard strips covered the unfinished fabric edges at the top and bottom and the fabric edges sloped up and under the corrugated cardboard at the side edges. But because I wanted to make these blocks shorter and simpler than the stable I wasn't planning to use a cardboard strip. One solution would have been to have the cross stitch fabric continue under the base and up the back, but then the bottom would have been very different from the original stable.

So I decided that I would fold the top and bottom fabric edges over some card stock before gluing them to the wood blocks. And I decided that it order to have edges that wouldn't expose the wood block at the top or bottom (or highlight the thickness of the doubled fabric at side edges) that I would make the card stock slightly bigger than the wood blocks.

I used thread to mark the stitched pieced to the same size as my wood block,

 photo 224.jpg

centered it over the piece of card stock and glued the top and bottom edges to the card stock. (I used quick drying Fabri-Tac glue.)

 photo 227.jpg

 photo 230.jpg

Then I repeated the process for the piece of fabric for the back on the block.

Next I centered the block on the back of the stitched piece. (Note that because block is slightly smaller than the card stock piece when it is centered there is a sliver of fabric showing at the bottom and a sliver of card stock showing at the side.)

 photo 231.jpg

I cut the fabric so that it would cover about half the sides of the block then I applied glue to the top, bottom and sides of the fabric piece and glued it to the block. I centered the fabric and card stock for the back onto the back of the ornament, cut the fabric so it would just meet the edge of the cross stitch fabric and glued it to the block.

Then I was ready to apply the corrugated cardboard trim. Last year I wasn't happy with how the exposed edges of the corrugated cardboard showed on the edge of the stable. I thought about painting them. I considered using fabric over card stock in place of the corrugated cardboard. I went back to using the cardboard and frowned about the edges.

This year I found the solution. I cut the corrugated cardboard about 1/2 inch wider than I needed and carefully removed a 1/4 inch strip of the backing paper from the cardboard. Then I flattened, folded and glued the edges to the back of the card board pieces.

 photo 223.jpg

Once I had prepared my strip I was ready to glue it to the block. Because I knew the cardboard would resist being folded, even though I scored the inside of the folds, I decided that I would make sure that glue was completely set on each side before I proceeded to the next side. I used elastics to make sure that the card board strips were firmly pressed to the block as the glue was drying.

Left side.

 photo 236.jpg


 photo 238.jpg

Right side.

 photo 240.jpg

And here is a photo of the "messiest" detail of the block. I had considered wrapping some fine ribbon or paper over the fabric at the bottom edge, to cover the cut edges, but since the corrugated cardboard trim is going to be pulling especially hard on this point I wanted it to be firmly attached to the block.   All things considered it isn't as messy as I had feared.

 photo 241.jpg

Now I'll get busy assembling the rest of the blocks.

Later in the day ...

 photo 48.jpg

 photo 253.jpg

And here is a back view.  (My camera isn't doing a good job of replicating the mossy green colour of the fabric.  It is actually similar to DMC 3012.)

 photo 249.jpg

And here are all of the blocks together. (Since I no longer have the stable block the stable in the photo is the mock up, with the faded photocopy, that I made last year.)

 photo 275.jpg

 photo 277.jpg

 photo 270.jpg

 photo 272.jpg

Now that I see all of the pieces together I wish that I had made the stable piece just a little bit bigger.  (I forgot just how crowded the donkey's ears were.)


  1. Something totally satisfying seeing your attention to detail, the beautiful designs you choose, your wonderful finishes. Appreciate your sharing, very much.

  2. I'm sorry I have already given away these charts. If you can't find the magazine there is a similar pattern available from