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DIY

DIY Nutcracker Tree Skirt

diy-felt-nutcracker-tree-skirt-4 My love of The Nutcracker has been well documented here. I attend the ballet every season—this year I’ll be seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s version when my family comes to town—and last year I made these Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour nutcrackers to add to my collection.

As soon as it’s appropriate to start decorating for Christmas, I sprinkle as many nutcracker-related objects around my apartment as I can get away with. I’ve got nutcracker ornaments on my tree, nutcracker place card holders for Christmas dinner, a countdown-to-Christmas nutcracker, several dozen decorative wooden nutcrackers (including a few standouts like the hand-carved masterpiece I purchased from a woodworking shop in Austria, a bespoke specimen made in the image of my dog and a mariachi nutcracker that pays homage to my San Antonio home) and…a dog who is technically a year-round ode to The Nutcracker: I named her after Clara.

All this is to say that every year around Christmas, I’m eager to add still more nutcracker to my life. Last week, I turned my attention to the oft-forgotten tree skirt. After snagging a simple red felt tree skirt with a pretty scalloped edge from Target last year for a measly five bucks, I wanted to do something to dress it up a bit. You see where I’m going with this, right? A few hand-sketched stencils and a couple dozen sheets of felt later, I found myself draping this newly festooned skirt around my tree and feeling very happy indeed.

diy-felt-nutcracker-tree-skirt-5diy-felt-nutcracker-tree-skirt-3For this project, you’ll need the following:
• a plain felt tree skirt—there are a couple good options here and here
• sheets of crafting felt in various colors
• fabric glue
• good scissors
• black and red markers
• nutcracker stencils 1, 2 and 3

diy-felt-nutcracker-tree-skirt-10diy-felt-nutcracker-tree-skirt-81. Print out all three sets of stencils onto sturdy paper and cut them out. Using the stencils, trace the head, hair, mustache, body, pants and two boots in different colors of felt for each nutcracker you’ll be making. I made eight in total, but you can make however many you want. These would also be great for dressing up individual stockings.

2. We want each nutcracker to have his own custom look, so now’s the time to make a hat, beard and any uniform adornments you want to give him. I used this photo for inspiration, but you can really do whatever you want here.

3. Next, cut out eyes, a nose, a mouth, eyebrows and two little hands for each nutcracker. As you’ll see below, the noses, mouths and eyebrows are simple rectangles, the eyes are circles and the hands are semi-circles. I found these pieces were easiest to freehand. And don’t worry if they’re not super uniform—small imperfections add to the homespun charm of this project.

diy-felt-nutcracker-tree-skirt-114. Once you have all your pieces cut, all that’s left to do is glue your nutcrackers together. Start by gluing the head to the hair, then glue the body and boots to the pants. Once those have a chance to dry a bit, you can glue the head to the body and then layer on all of the extra details. Let your fully assembled nutcrackers dry completely then use black and red markers to carefully draw on pupils and teeth.

5. Lay your completed nutcrackers out atop your tree skirt and check to make sure they’re spaced evenly. Add glue to the backs and press them firmly onto the tree skirt. If you’re worried about wear, you can use some tonal thread and a few stitches here and there to secure the nutcracker more firmly, otherwise all that’s left to do is drape your pretty new tree skirt around your pretty new tree and drink some eggnog while you appreciate your handiwork.

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DIY

Anna Wintour & Karl Lagerfeld Nutcrackers

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Ever since I saw the Sugar Plum fairy bourrée across a stage in Sacramento at the age of eight, I’ve loved the Nutcracker. My grandmother bought me my very first wooden nutcracker that day, and I’ve spent the last 20 years adding to my collection. I’ve got soldiers, kings, explorers and a bright yellow, handcarved nutcracker from Austria. But until now, I didn’t have any related to one of my other lifelong passions: fashion.

Since nutcrackers traditionally depict men (specifically, they mimic men in positions of governmental authority in order to poke fun at them), I wasn’t able to find any in the likeness of the two figures that represent the pinnacle of sartorial authority: Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld. In order to pay proper tribute to the reigning king and queen of fashion, I set about making my own nutcrackers. I started with a couple of wooden blanks and began gathering materials essential to each character—a crisp white collar and a mini-me Fendi monster for Karl, loads of fur and signature crystal necklaces for Anna. A golden brown bob was also a must, and fun finishing touches like a red Starbucks cup and an oversized cameo necklace complete the looks. 

Although the whole process took a couple of week of on-and-off work to complete, I really enjoyed creating these lookalike nutcrackers from scratch, and I think I might just add this project to my list of Nutcracker-related holiday traditions. Maybe next year I’ll add Grace to the collection.

Lifestyle

Nutcracker Tradition

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Dress: Forever 21 // Jacket: Forever 21 // Earrings: Jeweliq // Shoes: Target // Bracelets: BaubleBar + Julie Vos // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff

It doesn’t quite feel like Christmas until I’ve gone to The Nutcracker. Ever since my grandmother took me to see The Sacramento Ballet’s production of the Christmas classic almost 20 years ago, I’ve had a minor obsession with it. I named my dog Clarabelle after the main character Clara, and my house is currently filled with the Nutcrackers I’ve collected over the years. I make sure to see it at least once a year, and I made Max promise that if we moved to Iowa, he would take me to see The Nutcracker at the Joffrey in Chicago.

While I missed seeing my beloved San Francisco Ballet’s art deco-inspired and historic production (not to mention Maria Kochetkova‘s Grand Pas de Deux), I am always happy to experience a new interpretation. Besides absolutely adoring the dancing itself, I love the ritual of going to the ballet. I love getting dressed up, eating a delicious dinner followed by a glass of Champaign at intermission, and perusing the gift shop to pick out a new Nutcracker to add to my collection.

Usually, I have my Nutcracker dress picked out weeks in advance, but this year I was at a loss. I waited until the last minute to decide what to wear, and ultimately forgot to pack anything suitable for my trip to Chicago. I had a bit of Christmas shopping to finish up in the city, so while I was out, I stopped by Forever 21 and picked up this cranberry pleated maxi dress along with this faux-fur-and-leather jacket. Since the temperature was in the 20s, I was desperate to find something warm to wear without looking like I was completely bundled up. Luckily, this combo fit the bill perfectly, and I spent a lovely night all dressed up with my beau and my favorite ballet characters.