A Crafty Regency Christmas

A Crafty Regency Christmas

Wheew! I just wrapped up the NaNoWriMo madness, and now it’s time to bring on the holidays!

I can’t help but get crafty at this time each year. My fingers seem to literally itch for a needle and thread, a pile of scrapbooking supplies, or whatever else I’ve found on Pinterest to inspire me. Ah, Pinterest! What did we ever do without you? So as my attention turns away from writing and onto paper folding, I thought I would do some research on Pinterest for Austen/Regency inspired craft projects to decorate your home with this holiday season. I’m not sure if I will personally get to any of these projects this year as I am in midst of appliquéing a set of Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments, but all are going on the “maybe someday” list, of which I have such a treasure trove.

The first project I will definitely get to someday, as I have a proliferation of inherited, crochet doilies (not all of which I’m willing to cut up – but some seem perfect for this!) and have yet to find a use for them. Why not turn them into a garland for use on any festive occasion? This is an item that you can buy on Etsy from DaisiesBlueShop, but I think it would be quite easy to make. The key is getting your hands on the doilies, if you haven’t a convenient stash on hand. Now you have an excuse to go antiqueing: you’re welcome!


Now let’s get super traditional. Have you ever made a Christmas bough? I have not, but now that I live in Switzerland where beautiful greens clippings are available in all the florist shops, of which there are a far greater number than where I used to live in the United States, I am extremely tempted to do so. Below find links to a tutorial on how to make a Tudor Christmas bough from English-Heritage.org.uk, and an article from the lovely blog AustenOnly on Georgian Christmas traditions, including the roll of the kissing bough.


Because I am always looking for crafts to do with my daughter, taking her silhouette (a la Marianne and Willoughby in the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility) has great appeal. The trick will be getting her to sit still! Modern technology has the answer for that, and below are links on two tutorials I would combine to produce my final version. The first, from megduerksen.typepad.com, shows you how to incorporate the whole family in the tricky task of taking a silhouette by hand, and the second, from Design Dazzle, provides instructions on how to do it with a camera. I would really to at least attempt it by means of hand tracing, but I want my final product to look more like the second image. This one might take some tinkering to get right, but it sure sounds like a super fun way to spend an evening at home with the family this holiday. They would make adorable ornaments or Christmas cards.


“I am glad,” said Lady Middleton to Lucy, “you are not going to finish poor little Annamaria’s basket this evening; for I am sure it must hurt your eyes to work filigree by candlelight. And we will make the dear little love some amends for her disappointment to-morrow, and then I hope she will not much mind it.”

This hint was enough, Lucy recollected herself instantly and replied, “Indeed you are very much mistaken, Lady Middleton; I am only waiting to know whether you can make your party without me, or I should have been at my filigree already. I would not disappoint the little angel for all the world: and if you want me at the card-table now, I am resolved to finish the basket after supper.”

“You are very good, I hope it won’t hurt your eyes–will you ring the bell for some working candles? My poor little girl would be sadly disappointed, I know, if the basket was not finished tomorrow, for though I told her it certainly would not, I am sure she depends upon having it done.”

Lucy directly drew her work table near her and reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight than in making a filigree basket for a spoilt child.

Sticking with Sense and Sensibility, what was once known as filigree, a popular accomplishment for ladies in the late 18th century, is now called quilling, and there are some phenomenal examples of it on Pinterest. Following the quote above, Eleanor excuses herself from cards to assist Lucy by cutting the strips of paper with which she works. Together they labor over the basket while sharing confidences regarding Lucy’s recently revealed relationship with Edward Ferrars. I have never attempted quilling myself, but I love working with paper and have long had my eye on it. Perhaps this will be the year I give it a go? I picked small projects that I found less intimidating to share (definitely not taking on a basket the first time out). Unfortunately, not many of the links lead to instructions, or at least not in english, so first I’ve included a video from Quiling Made Easy on how to quil a rabbit that gives a good notion of the technique. The tool used is called a quil, and you can now by paper cut for the purpose from craft stores. After the video find a few ideas for Christmas quiling projects. Aren’t they gorgeous? The bottom one does have instructions, but they’re in polish.




I would love to make these mini Austen books from Dear Lillie for use as tree ornaments. I want all six! This is probably the new project that has the best chance of happening this year as I have everything needed for it on hand, and the easy to follow instructions are thoroughly non-intimidating and include the cover templates. Easy, cheap, and the results are outstanding! Plus, my daughter could help out, which is always a bonus.


This is an old favorite we often do at christmas: orange pomanders. They’re easy to make, smell divine, and everyone can do it. We like to use skewers to pierce the orange skin for easy clove insertion. We keep them in a big bowl to use as a centerpiece, and one by one they get thrown into a pot of bowling water, spreading a wonderful holiday aroma throughout the house. Here are some images of particularly beautiful examples. The bottom one links to a tutorial from Entirely Smitten that shows you how to hang them.



I adore cross-stitch, and I want to go ahead and order the hardcopy instructions for this Jane Austen at the Christmas Ball pattern from BrooksBooksStore on Etsy so I can work it next year. The key will be not to stick the instructions in a drawer and forget about them. The pattern is fabulous and would make an excellent addition to the holiday decor or a gift for a fellow Janeite, if I could bear to part with her. Does she not look simply angelic?


I am going to finish up with another item from Etsy, though this one is sadly out of stock. However, I think it would be really easy to reproduce at home. All you need is a clear ornament, some ribbon, a period-looking charm, and the time it takes to write out (or to print if, like me, your handwriting isn’t up to snuff) Mr. Darcy’s first proposal and stuff it carefully into the globe. Use your leftover quiling papers.


I have added all the above pins to the Austen Authors’ Jane Austen Culture board for your convenience. Do visit and connect with us there. All images posted here link to their original sources. Whatever you try your hand at this holiday – be it a suggestion from above, your latest Pinterest find, or whatever inspires – may it be a happy and prosperous one! With far better will than Miss Bingley ever employed I quote, be you in Hertfordshire or elsewhere: “I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings.” Seasons greetings to all!

25 Responses to A Crafty Regency Christmas

  1. I just recently started paper quilling and am teaching it as an elective to a small group of 7th grade girls. It’s so much fun! We are currently making some really neat ornaments and then will be making some snowflakes. There are so many lovely patterns available, at all levels of difficulty. It’s a great craft adaptable to many skill levels.

  2. I have made many ornaments over the years. The only one I do now is the Polish Star which you can find on the Internet. It has 96 individually rolled points and some have nicknamed it the porcupine ball with all the points. I have done quilling in the past but none of mine are as refined as the ones pictured here. I have made smocked Christmas balls and crocheted balls also. And there are some needle point and counted cross stitch also. But frankly at this point I have enough for about 3 or 4 trees and with no children here on Christmas day we only now use a miniature tree. But those pictured are lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Some gorgeous project ideas there, Alexa. I can crochet and have a whole stash of doiles made by myself and my maternal grandmother (sadly I never knew her as she’d passed away before my parents even married). They get rotated in use around the house as and when they need laundering. The cross stitch angel looks like another project I could tackle (must bookmark the link to that)!as that’t the craft that I probably devote more time to after reading. I actually have a kit depicting the house at Chawton which I actually bought in the gift shop there which is waiting in my TBS (To Be Stitched) pile.

    • HI Anji! I have the kit based on Cassandra’s watercolor of Jane’s back in my TBS project. I’m definitely considering the angel for next year. If you make the garland, share the picture please! Merry Christmas!

    • I didn’t celebrate Christmas as a kid so I’ve adopted my in-laws’ traditions which are very crafty. Now I build up all my crafting energy most of the year for this huge burst in December. I love it! I’d really like to try the silhouettes on Christmas Eve this year.

  4. I love all those projects you found! Personally, I would do the doily thing first, but I’d make the doilies and not cut up antique ones. Which would, of course, mean I’d have to start the project now to have it complete for next Christmas! LOL

    We will want pics of whatever you do get done, you know this, right? 😉

    • I’ll get you pictures, Zoe! I still haven’t actually taken on any of these projects yet, being pretty involved in others. I’ll share what I have done. I want to see your doilies, too! Don’t forget to send me a pic next year.

  5. Thanks, Lori! I would LOVE to make quote balls for each novel. Which scenes would you use? I’m thinking The Letter from Persuasion, Edward’s announcement that Lucy married his brother from Sense & Sensibility, Knightley’s declaration from Emma, but I have no idea where to go with Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Now I’m going to be puzzling over it until I come up with an idea for both.

  6. Each example is lovelier than the one before. Thank you so much for the huge effort this blog post entailed. It would be fun to make a quotes ball for each novel. And those ornaments are simple enough to accomplish at a gathering of friends. Thank you for this gift. So glad you’ve shared them on a Pinterest board. I’m your newest follower!

    • What would we crafters do without those who aren’t crafty? We would be overloaded with our creations. It’s a beautiful ornament. If I ever reproduce it, I’ll send you a picture of my results, good or bad.

  7. What a delightful post for the Holidays. OMG!! I thought my crafting days were over. I’ve gone through periods of crafting just about everything you can imagine. What fun it has been throughout my lifetime and the joy it brought in the accomplishment of creating something beautiful. I’ve done the quilling and you really have to be patient and as I watched the video…kept saying…tweezers…where’s my tweezers; I want to make that. You have given us many samples that we can use and…let me just say…how creative to keep the kids busy with oranges and cloves. Bet that would keep them our of trouble. Blessings for the Holidays while you are off US soil. Enjoy this time in your life…it will pass quickly enough and you will look back with fondness. Once again, delightful post.

    • This time in my life is flying by! Sometimes I just have to stop, shake my head, and take stock, because there is often far too much going on to really appreciate it all. The crafts are a tangible memento of this moment, right now (must always date EVERYTHING). I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Have a wonderful holiday!

  8. Hi Alexa,

    Thank you for the fun projects! They’re so pretty, and educational, and some of them are even kitten proof. Did they really used to put lit candles all over evergreen boughs and holly? Don’t worry, I won’t try that one. I like my house standing. I bet it was pretty, though. I read once that they put rowan sprigs over doors and windows, or included them in the Christmas boughs, to keep out evil. I think that may have been in a fantasy book, but rooted in British superstitions. Either way, if I ever put up any evergreen boughs, I’ll add some.

    Have a happy Christmas and enjoy crafting!

    • Thanks Summer! Actually, where I live in Switzerland they still put real candles on the christmas trees. We aren’t that brave yet, but they sell the holders, which clip onto the limbs, in all the supermarkets. I’ll stick with lights, thanks! Ikea does make some very nice led candles, if you wanted to fake the effect.

  9. Well Alexa, I’ve made all those so what next? LOL! Seriously I could crochet the doilies and make the oranges but then…..a friend always used to send me quilled cards which were gorgeous and I bought a set for my daughter when she was in her teens but never tried it myself. I have just finished a crocheted t-shirt for my daughter and am now doing a baby jacket as a gift as well as 2 cot blankets for my twin grandsons so don’t suppose I will get round to any of them but I really enjoyed this post so thank you ?

    • You’ve either got the craft bug or your don’t, and you, my friend, sound like you have it bad. Fortunately, you are in very good company. I have never crocheted before. I think I’ll get to it someday. In the meantime, I think a garland made of my doilies from my many different grandmothers (maybe some tea towels and handkerchiefs thrown in?) would be a gorgeous tribute (the last just passed in October).

      Good luck with all your projects!

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