In case you missed it the first time around, I’m bringing a guest post home today. Have a quick scroll through for some last minute pjs you can whip up in time for Christmas morning and a recipe to keep everyone happy and full of energy for all that unwrapping.
When Suz and Laura got in touch about the 12 Days of Christmas series they described it as “making something for your child(ren) to wear on Christmas day.”
Now, visions of beautiful Christmas dresses did immediately flash through my mind but then I snapped out of my idyllic daydream of my kids wearing gorgeous, pristine clothing, all sharing and getting along while serenading us with perfectly pitched Christmas carols.
The reality of our Christmas day is more National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation than The Nutcracker. It’s messy, it’s loud, it’s often chaotic and it’s FUN! The kids rarely get out of their PJs until at least midday.
So, in the spirit of keeping it real…and comfortable…and acheivable, I decided to make *simple* PJs and coordinating dressing gowns.
And, that’s not all folks…this post also has FOOD (with recipe included)! I have been so good for the last 10 months about not letting food creep into my blog (I’m nearly as obsessed with cooking as I am with sewing and, little-known-fact, I use to run catering business in Brussels) but for this post I couldn’t resist because for me, food is such an integral part of family Christmas traditions. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first the sewing.
These pjs turned out exactly as I imagined – simple, easy-to-wear, with just enough Christmas cheer. Best of all – they’re a breeze to sew so, if you’re inspired, you still have time to whip up a pair before the holidays.
The bottoms of the pjs are leggings made using the Go To Leggings pattern. I made them all quite long (to allow for those legs to grow) and added cuffs at the bottom. Really not much to add since the instructions are very clear and the pattern itself is spot on – fitted but not too tight. I did, however, make my waistbands slightly too tight – the pattern recommends to cut the elastic three inches smaller that the waist measurement. Next time I’ll do about 1 inch. I made the cuffs following the instructions from the flashback skinny tee (see below).
The pj tops are none other than the trusty Flashback Skinny Tee pattern which I’m pretty sure I could sew in my sleep by now! Again, everything is explained beautifully in the instructions and Rae even gives you an instructions summary sheet for when you just need the bare bones of what to do – makes everything much quicker. You can read a full pattern review for the flashback skinny tee here.
These two patterns are some of the most useful in my collection. They are versatile, unisex (although the leggings wouldn’t go far beyond pjs for the boys), stylish and comfortable. And, even if you’re not a pro at sewing with knits, they are still very achievable (I don’t own a serger and have no problems doing these with my normal machine).
To jazz these pjs up a bit I added some festive flocking in the form of a polar bear, stag head and penguin – I wanted something festive but not overly Christmasy so I don’t cringe each time they wear them after 25th December. What’s flocking? It’s kind of a fuzzy iron-on adhesive substance that can be cut and applied to most textiles. It is easy to do and a great way to personalise a garment (you can also do it on RTW clothing). I got the images from the internet, sized them, cut them out, traced them on to the flocking, cut them out and ironed them on. I’ve done a few projects with flocking (here, here and here) and, I must say, I’m getting better each time – oh, and I got some expert advice from Leentje who also adds some cool designs to her clothing this way (I love this one).
Here in Belgium I buy the flocking online. If you can’t find it you can achieve a similar effect with fabric paint and freezer paper – check out Laura’s (Craftstorming) Christmas tee for a more detailed explanation of how this is done (I’ve never actually done it myself!).
I have a slight obsession with snuggling, comfort and keeping my kids warm so, what better to go with pjs than dressing gowns? These gowns are heavily inspired by the ones Meg (Elsie Marley) made for her kids a couple of years ago. Ever since seeing these I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind! The pattern is from Sewing for Boys and I bought the book on the basis of this project alone.
The pattern is clear with useful illustrations. Meg gives a great pattern review and I took her advice on lengthening the belt and shortening the sleeves. My pocket placement is a bit suspect but I can live with that (I should have marked the placement on the pattern itself rather than just slapping them straight on to the front of the robes). Also, be sure to clip into your seam allowances under the arms before attaching the lining – there’s a lot of fabric here and you don’t want it to get all bunched up.
This is another pattern I would recommend but, be warned, it’s not quite as quick to come together as the pjs (and each gown uses 4 yards of fabric!). If you do make one – make it BIG so it’ll last a few years and you can feel you’ve done your maternal duty of keeping your little one warm.
Food and Traditions
There is no one fixed place where I celebrate Christmas. I’ve lived outside of The States (where all my mom’s side of the family live) for 14 years now so I rarely make it home for Christmas. For me, Christmas is not about a specific location but more about the people and THE FOOD!!
Perhaps the my biggest Christmas food tradition – one that shouts out ‘Christmas!’ and fails to be ignored until every last morsel in consumed – is my grandmother’s (known to all as Aunt Mummy) Danish Pastry. Now, she called it Danish Pastry – I have never seen such a thing in Denmark and it rings no bells with any of my Danish friends (perhaps Mie could shed some light on it!) but that’s what she called it and Aunt Mummy was the most awesome woman of all time so for me it will forever remain Danish Pastry (or Panish Dastry as I called it when I was young).
In case you’d like to introduce a new foodie tradition to Christmas morning (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t 🙂 ), I’m sharing this recipe with you (I’m even giving both US and European measurements – I know the notion of ‘cups’ baffles many Europeans).
1 cup (140g) plain flour
1/2 cup (115g) butter
2 tablespoons water
Pre-heat oven to 350° F (180° C). Put flour in bowl and add the cold butter in chunks. Work with the tips of your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb-like consistency. Sprinkle with the water and blend quickly. Pat onto a cookie sheet until you have a rough 12in (30cm) circle.
1/2 cup (115g) butter
1 cup (24oml) water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (140g) plain flour
Combine water and butter in a pan and bring to the boil. Add almond extract. Remove from heat and beat in the flour with a large spoon. Add eggs one at a time and beat quickly (this is going to seem really weird – the first time I did it I thought I had done it all wrong because the eggs separate everything and you need to incorporate them back in). Spread over crust. Bake for 50-60 mins (I actually only bake mine for about 35 mins but my oven tends to cook everything quickly – just check it – it needs to be set but you don’t want the top to be too brown). Once cooked, remove to cool and make your icing.
3 oz (90g) cream cheese
2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
large handful of chopped nuts (being in Belgium I tend to use a praline mixture which is chopped nuts and bits of caramelised sugar – delicious!).
Cream all ingredients together (except nuts). Spread over cooled pastry and then sprinkle with nuts.
Enjoy on Christmas morning – guaranteed to give you enough energy to get through all the present opening!
Wow, I’ve really enjoyed writing this post – all the comfort, chaos and food would make Aunt Mummy very happy! It has also forced me to detach from the daily grind and to reflect a bit on what’s important to me this holiday season.
Christmas will still be messy, loud and chaotic but at least we’ll be comfortable and well-fed. And that, for me, is a very merry Christmas indeed.
Thanks for reading and a huge thanks to Suz and Laura for inviting me to be a part of this joyous series!