Dec 3, 2012

Ornament Exchange 2012!

When the lovely and talented Kelli of True Bias asked me to participate in an ornament exchange this holiday season with a bunch of other bloggers, I didn't have to consider it for long before saying yes. After all, the darkest days of the year are definitely easier to take with a little extra glitz. (I consider the lights on my Christmas tree a sort of S.A.D.-preventing device).

Plus the thought of receiving a tiny package from each of the eight other bloggers involved, each containing a completely unique handmade ornament, throughout the month of December? My kid might just lose it from the excitement. (And me too). 

Brainstorming ornament ideas, I tried to think of what aspects of Christmas decor I loved most. And I kept coming back to tiny details. Stuff like Bergdorf Goodman's Christmas window displays, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Baroque Creche and Christmas Tree, and the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden really floats my boat. (We haven't been yet but became NYBG members this year just so we could go see the intricate models of iconic NYC buildings and landmarks made completely from natural materials like acorns, bark, twigs and fungus.) And though I'm not Christian, I still adore nativity scenes for the miniature lambs, camels and fancily attired Three Wise Men. Dioramas, obviously, are also up my alley. Searching for and appreciating tiny details on Christmas ornaments is just so magical to me. 

Part of the deal here is providing readers with a tutorial to make whatever ornament we came up with. And I was trying to work with materials I already have on hand — that way I would keep the costs low for me, and also insure that readers can try their hand at making it possibly without having to spend any money themselves. (I care about your budgets, people!). I wanted something simple and fast to make, but infinitely customizable, so readers could add their own details if they have the time, materials and crazy will to make something weird this holiday season. 

The starting point is a simple corduroy and muslin mouse with button eyes, an embroidered nose and whiskers made from a few strands of thread:

The pattern I created is terribly simple — so simple I hesitate to call it a pattern. (It can be downloaded by clicking the image below):

But the details are what make it special. Consider this mouse, who I call "Craft Blogger Mouse" for her balls of yarn and on-trend chevron-printed dress:

Or this one, who is clearly from Brooklyn:

If there was ever a time to stage a craft intervention, now's the time:

Gangnam Style Mouse
OK, back to simpler, actual Christmas-themed ornaments. The Mouse King (from The Nutcracker, another of my holiday favorites), made with a muslin crown painted with gold fabric paint:

And the Sugar Plum Fairy, wearing a wee tutu and toting a fabric-wrapped button for good measure:

Poor dear is a little cockeyed, no?
Using the pattern posted above, cut two body pieces, one each from your two fabrics, and four ear pieces — two from each fabric. I used muslin and brown corduroy, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. (Save your fabric money for a nice dress instead and make this from your scraps. The tiniest pieces will do!).

At minimum, the only other supplies you will need are two buttons for eyes, and some black embroidery floss. This is what you will start with (plus a handful of polyfill):

Then, right sides together, machine stitch (or hand sew, if that's how you roll!),  3/8-inch from the edge most of the way around the body and the ears, leaving an opening along the bottom of each to turn right side out: 

Then turn the body right side out, using a chopstick or some other pointy object to get those little corners pressed out:

And do the same with the two ears, setting them aside for the moment:

Now sew on your two buttons for eyes, using a couple strands of black thread, keeping them level with the widest point of the mouse's face:

Thread an embroidery needle with black floss, and stitch your nose at the bottom point of the face. I used just four stitches to make my nose, starting with a small horizontal stitch, and then a couple slightly longer stitches above it:

Thread your embroidery needle again and knot the end. Poke the needle through the underside of your mouse face, pulling the thread all the way through. Snip the thread so it's about 3/4-inch long. That's one whisker. Repeat this process three more times. From the underside it will look a little messy, but don't worry; it won't show: 

Tired of hand stitching yet? If so, warm up your hot glue gun...and then glue down the mouse's face. (You can also stitch it, if you're anti-glue).

Stuff the mouse's body with some poly fill, using a chopstick to pack it in nice and tight:

Thread a needle with some brown thread (or whatever color works best depending on what fabric you chose), and make gathering stitches all around the bottom open end of your mouse:

Pull the thread tight, closing the opening, and then make a few stitches to secure it shut:

Now it's time for the ears. Using a dab of hot glue (or a couple stitches, if you prefer), fold your ear in half at the open end, securing it in place. Then glue or stitch the ears to the back of the mouse's head:

The last step (minus any embellishments) is securing an ornament hanger to the top of the mouse's head, using a few stitches:

All that's left is adding some details. Like Reindeer Mouse:

Or Angel Mouse:

To celebrate, do your best Gangnam Style Dance:

Not into adding rodents to your tree this Christmas? That's cool. I get it. Check out tutorials today from the eight other bloggers who took part in our little ornament exchange. I can't wait to see what these other ladies have cooked up for the holiday!

Sonja of
Mika of
Miranda of
Megan of
Jen of
Dixie of
Madalynne of
Kelli of


  1. these are way too cute - I think my favourite is the reindeer mouse!

  2. oh my sweet george harrison. those are too good to be true.

    1. Ha! Nice invocation of a Beatle...come to think of it, George Harrison Mouse might be cute....(I think I have a problem).

  3. Holy shit, I spat coffee onto my laptop when I saw the gangnam style mouse! HILARIOUS. I LOVE these!

    1. then that one just may be destined for your mailbox, lady!


  4. Aaaand now I know what all my relatives are getting for Christmas. You rule.

  5. The GIF is absolutely drool worthy!

  6. So adorable. And those little glasses! Love all of the small, perfect little details.

  7. Haha I love all of the different personalities! What a fun idea! I can't wait to make a couple to top Christmas gifts!

  8. Cute, cute, cute! The Gangnam style one is my favorite. You didn't make a sparkly my little pony mouse, though... ;)

  9. Hahahahah Gangnam Style Mouse and the dance gif!! Totally busted out laughing on that one! Love this mouse, so easy to customize and I'm a sucker for an animal ornament!

  10. I love these! Its so fun that you made different ones - I can't wait to see who I get!

  11. I died when I saw the Gangnam Style Mouse

  12. how fun! i love all the combos and the gangnam style mouse is THE BEST! that's seriously hilarious.

  13. Wow! I looked you up after hearing you mentioned by Kelli at True Bias. Your blog is great and I truly love your new year resolution / rant about this city. I'm a transplant here too and doing my best to love the city but it is a love / hate relationship, for sure.
    Hope to see you at the Pattern party on the 12th.

    Leu, sewing in Washington Heights.



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