After the birth of my second child, I noticed that I had received A LOT of baby blankets between the birth of my first two children. 32 baby blankets to be exact, 7 of them lovingly handmade. In my case, I'm also a military spouse, so I know that most of my husband's co-workers are going to have to pack up everything they own and move cross-country every couple of years.
|Handmade Embroidered Baby Blanket|
A lot of times with new babies, I have no idea if the family has really crafty relatives, godparents, or other very close friends. Nor do I know what other people are going to give them. I realize that they may (or may not) receive a lot of blankets as gifts. However, I know the family is going to have to move. A lot. And if they need to get rid of a lot of stuff to fit into a smaller home at their next duty station, then the blanket from grandma is probably going to mean more to them than the blanket from one of Daddy's Marine Corps buddies.
So what do you give a new baby when the parents don't have a lot of space or don't want to haul around a bunch of stuff through multiple moves?
Personalized Christmas Ornaments.
They're small. They're useful. They outlive the lifetime of the average baby blanket (babies outgrow most blankets by the time they're two, whereas a Christmas ornament may survive until the child starts out on his or her own). And the family is going to see it and remember who gave it to them at least once a year when they hang it on the tree. Since the ornament is personalized with the child's name or initial, it will probably become special to that child as he or she grows up and sees his or her name up on the family tree.
I've done a few variations on personalized ornaments in the past. For example, here's an ornament that doubles as a candy cane holder:
|Personalized Snowman Ornament|
This one uses metallic thread:
|Xmas Ornament with Name in Metallic Silver Thread|
For this particular baby, I wanted to do something a little bit different. And here's what I came up with:
|Jacobean Initial Christmas Ornament|
Now the most recent ornament isn't the child's full name, but I think the initial alone is gorgeous. It's a beautiful, traditional-looking ornament, which has a lot of color. The embroidery harks back to the Jacobean style, which developed during the first quarter of the 17th Century during the reign of King James I. The style was very popular and moved to Colonial America. I like the idea of giving a little bit of history with my gifts.
|I like to lay my threads against the|
fabric in a group so I can see how
everything will look together.
To make it, I had a lot of colors to coordinate. Sometimes people think embroidery is easy and that the machine does everything for you. It certainly speeds up the process, but I'm the one who picks the colors and materials. In this case, I went through my 200-some collection of colors and picked out the shades that I thought worked well both together and with the dark green fabric.
This was a bit more tricky because there are a lot of shades in the flowers, and I also had to account for those little acorns. (Acorns are a traditional motif in both Jacobean embroidery and the earlier blackwork style.)
|Partway-through the stitching process.|
I ended up testing out about 4 different shades of pink before I found a light and dark tone that I was happy with. In this case, I wanted something that was bright and cheerful - appropriate for the birth of a new baby girl. I could have used different shades, but the result would have been a different look. (I could have used less saturated hues for a more subdued, antique look.)
|The initial ornament is a decent size.|
Big enough to be seen on the tree
without overwhelming it.
From there, I got to stitch it. I have to make sure I stop at the right time to add a backing so you don't see the backside of the embroidery once it's on the tree. The final step is to add the decorative stitched border and to cut out the shape. Oh, and add the ribbon, which involves using a large needle threaded with satin ribbon, so I can have it go through the ornament where I've reinforced it with a ring of embroidered satin stitches.
I think the end result is perfect for a little girl. I hope the family loves it.
Oh, and there's one more thing I like about these ornaments. Sometimes, you want to get a personalized gift but the name is unusual or there are several different spelling variations. (My own name of Michelle could be spelled as Michele, for example.) With just the initial, you can go with either the first name or the last name, and you don't have to worry about accidentally using the wrong spelling variation.