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All New for 2014!

It’s all changing for 2014! Actually, not everything, but there are lots of exciting changes going on at While Shepherds Watched this year.

After years of supplying beautiful Nativity costumes made from fairtrade Cotton made in India, I am now very proud to annouce that our new costumes are made from Organic Cotton (some of which is fairtrade) and the costumes are now sewn in the UK. I am working with a sewing co-operative based in England and I can’t wait to see the finished results.

They are being sewn now so will be with me in the next few weeks. If you need something specific please do get in touch and I can advise you on dates. As well as the fabrics below, more Angels are on their way as well.

Sneaky peak at the new fabrics

Sneaky peak at the new fabrics

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Nativity Costume Ideas – Travellers

I’ve had a few calls asking me what costume would be suitable for an Innkeeper’s wife, or a Traveller, or the Third Shepherd from the left (and so on – you get the idea!) At least I’ve never had anyone ask for a lobster costume like in ‘Love Actually’. So I thought I’d write down the advice I normally give on various costumes, in the hope it will help someone struggling with a Nativity Costume.

If you’ve been asked to supply a different costume, please ask for help (as long as its not a lobster – I’ll  be struggling with that one!)

Moving on to Travellers, this is a role that the teacher in charge of the Play may have very specific ideas as to what they want the children to wear. In my daughter’s very first Nativity Play, when she was in Reception, she was a ‘Traveller’, and simply had to wear her normal coat. That was an easy costume! If your Traveller has to be more traditional though, then you can still take one of While Shepherd’s Watched costumes, and accessorise as you please.

Like Innkeepers, Travellers’ costumes can include a variety of colours and styles, as both rich and poor were having to travel to Bethlehem. This is why I group both costumes together on the website.

Like Innkeepers, the costume can be added to with scarves, shawls, and maybe cloaks. So Lady Travellers could add a shawl over the top of their tunic, and any Travellers could add a cloak. Cloaks are easily made from any length of fabric fastened around the neck, although I think ‘dull’ colours such as brown, beige or green will help to add to the ‘dust from the road’ image. Carrying a bundle of belongings, or a sack over the shoulder, will  be another good prop.

I hope that helps!

See all of While Shepherds Watched Nativity Costumes here

 

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Nativity Costume Ideas – Innkeeper

Continuing my series of posts to give you some ideas for different costumes, I’m moving on to Innkeepers, and Innkeeper’s wives. I always imagine these characters to be wealthier than the Shepherds, or any of the Travellers and people looking for somewhere to stay. This means you can take a basic tunic and head dress and have some fun adding accessories.

Innkeeper with waistcoat

Innkeeper with long waistcoat

For an inn keeper this might be a richly coloured waistcoat, or a lovely scarf tied as a belt. You could even add a large medallian, or chunky rings. For the Inn keeper’s wife, you could add a beautiful shawl. For a different look the head dress could be replaced with a scarf, or the head dress could be tied under the chin, headscarf style.

I had a request one year for ideas for a ‘Sleepy Innkeeper’, as in their play theinnkeeper had been woken up. I suggested taking the standard head dress, and stitching it into a ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ style nightcap which could then be held on with hair clips.

Making a Sleepy Innkeeper Cap from a Head dress

Step 1 – Fold the head dress along a long side, and then safety pin, or sew to form a triangle

 

Making a Sleepy Innkeeper Cap from a Head dress

Step 2. Turn the cap the right way around

 

Making a Sleepy Innkeeper Cap from a Head dress

Step 3. Place on head, adjust size if necessary, and secure to hair with hairclips

See all While Shepherds Watched Nativity Costumes here

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Nativity Costume Ideas – Shepherd

I’ve had a few calls asking me what costume would be suitable for an Innkeeper’s wife, or a Traveller, or the Third Shepherd from the left (and so on – you get the idea!) At least I’ve never had anyone ask for a lobster costume like in ‘Love Actually’. So I thought I’d write down the advice I normally give on various costumes, in the hope it will help someone struggling with a Nativity Costume.

If you’ve been asked to supply a different costume, please ask for help (as long as its not a lobster – I’ll  be struggling with that one!)

A flock of ShepherdsMoving on to the Shepherds – my favourite Nativity characters. They are such an  important part of the Christmas story that I named my business after them. Obviously, 2,000 years ago these hard working guys would have worn anything they could to keep themselves warm out in the fields at night. Traditionally (well, at least when I was a girl) the shepherds in Nativity Plays wore their dressing gowns (hopefully checked wool with a tie cord) with one of Mum’s tea towels on their head held in place either with a curtain cord or one of Dad’s ties. Not many children have woollen checked dressing gowns anymore so Mums have to work a little harder to assemble a Shepherd’s outfit.

Any of my Tunic and Headdresses will work well for a shepherd, and I do particularly like Blue stripes (so I stock lots of them!) When I’ve sold other colours, such as a dark Green Shepherd, they has also sold well. Any fabric can work as a tunic though, if it is held in place with a good belt, and the good old tea towel has never gone out of fashion!

Shepherds with Waistcoats

Shepherds with Waistcoats

If you want to push the boat out you can accessorise the basic costume to make it more ‘Shepherd-y’. How about a fleecy waistcoat (simply made by cutting armholes in a piece of faux sheepskin), a small sheep to hold, or even a shepherd’s crook? Just a word of warning about the crooks – I have seen shepherds having a “light saber battle” at the back of the Nativity, with their crooks as light sabers – so think carefully before arming your shepherd…

Grey and Pink Narrow Striped Shepherd

Grey and Pink Narrow Striped Shepherd

All this talk of Shepherds, let’s not forget the Shepherdesses! I have plenty of orders for female shepherds who want something a bit more ‘girly’ than Blue or Green stripes. I’ve managed to find fabrics for the last few years that have some Pink, or Purple in, and these seem to be a good way of pleasing the young Shepherd, the parents AND the teacher in charge of costumes!

 See all While Shepherds Watched Nativity Costumes here

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Nativity Costume Ideas – Joseph

I’ve had a few calls asking me what costume would be suitable for an Innkeeper’s wife, or a Traveller, or the Third Shepherd from the left (and so on – you get the idea!) At least I’ve never had anyone ask for a lobster costume like in ‘Love Actually’! So I thought I’d write down the advice I normally give on various costumes, in the hope it will help someone struggling with a Nativity Costume.

If you’ve been asked to supply a different costume, please ask for help (as long as its not a lobster – I’ll  be struggling with that one!)

After Mary, the next most easily identifiable character in the Christmas Story is Joseph. However his costume is not as specific as Mary’s, which gives you a greater chance of finding something that is suitable AND that ‘Joseph’ wants to wear.

Mary and Joseph

Mary and Joseph

Joseph has to stand out from the other ‘male’ characters such as the Shepherds and Innkeepers, but as he is meant to have been travelling on the road for many days, and struggling to find somewhere to stay he shouldn’t look too rich, or be in very fine clothes. A traditional tunic and robe (like the ones I sell at While Shepherds Watched) is a good start for Joseph’s costume, and then you can add some accessories if you wish.

For the tunic and head dress, blue will always look good next to Mary’s blue costume. Brown and beiges are also good for Joseph as they look like Traveller’s clothes. A short cloak over the tunic is a good way to distinguish Joseph from the other characters, and this is easily made from a short piece of fabric or an old sack simply fastened around the neck. A long waistcoat could be another accessory.

Red and Brown Joseph

Red and Brown Joseph

As with a Mary costume, the Joseph costume shouldn’t be too long as this could cause him to trip when getting up and walking about.

See all of While Shepherds Watched’s Nativity Costumes here

 

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Nativity Costume Ideas – Mary

I’ve had a few calls asking me what costume would be suitable for an Innkeeper’s wife, or a Traveller, or the Third Shepherd from the left (and so on – you get the idea!) At least I’ve never had anyone ask for a lobster costume like in ‘Love Actually’! So I thought I’d write down the advice I normally give on various costumes, in the hope it will help someone struggling with a Nativity Costume.

If you’ve been asked to supply a different costume, please ask for help (as long as its not a lobster – I’ll  be struggling with that one!)

Traditional Mary Costume

First up, Mary. Probably the easiest, and the most iconic, of all the nativity costumes. Mary is nearly always portrayed in a loose blue tunic and a flowing white head dress. Occasionally this is reversed, so a white tunic and blue head dress. If you stick to these colours you won’t go far wrong!

In most of the plays I’ve seen involved Mary ‘travelling’ to Bethlehem, and then mostly sitting down for the arrival of Shepherds, Kings etc. This is important because you need to make sure that the costume isn’t so long that ‘Mary’ doesn’t trip up on the hem as she walks and stands back up again.

 

See all of While Shepherds Watched Nativity Costumes here

 

 

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9 Top Christmas Gift Ideas – a Guest Post

As a small, independent business While Shepherds Watched tries to be supportive of other similar traders. If you live in Wiltshire and are looking for locally sourced and produced gifts then you can do no better than to head over to the Pop Shop, in the Emery Gate Centre in Chippenham. They stock our costumes as well as an amazing range of goodies, both edible and other wise, and I highly recommend them. I posted about them last year here.

If you’re not lucky enough to live in Wiltshire, or if you prefer to shop online, then you can still support small independent producers. Dawn, who runs Funky Dory Party Bags, has written a brilliant blog post about 9 Top Christmas Gift Ideas, which I’ve copied below (with her permission!)

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George Gingerbread

Here at Funky Dory Party Bags, we like to bang the drum for the small independent retailer.  When Christmas shopping, we all automatically turn to the big brands, department stores and Amazon, but with small businesses, you are most likely to get a very personal service, a good bargain, and will have less departments to wade through if you have a question.

So, here are 9 fantastic Christmas present ideas for all the family from a few highly recommended small businesses.  They all trade online too, so you can order from the comfort of your own home.

1.  I can’t talk about Christmas gifts without banging my own drum, so let’s get that out of the way first.  Personalised Santa Sacks.  There.

2. We absolutely love this range of traditional rag dolls and accessories from Knot Just Jigs. Your doll can be personalised too with an embroidered name tag, making it a unique and treasured gift.

3.  For younger children, learning is fun with these Jolly Phonics reading aids, stocked by our friends at Education Takeaway.  We particularly like the Letter Sound Poster.

4.  Boutique to You have a huge range of personalised Christmas gifts for all the family, including baby’s 1st Christmas baubles,  and we are particularly fond of this  Christmas Rules Personalised Print.

5.  Can you keep a secret?  These beautifully made, hand carved Secret Lock Boxes are the perfect place to hide one.  They’re fair trade too, as are most of the lovely items stocked by More Than Gifts.

6.  Delicate Dreams stock a lovely range of 925 sterling silver jewellery for women and children, so of course, they are likely to be very busy this Christmas.  If you know a  fan of Taddy Teddy, you might want to check out their range of Me To You Jewellery, before it’s too late!

7.  Medical ID Jewellery can stylish as well as functional, as demonstrated by our friends at Ice Gems.  They supply a massive range of ID jewellery that you will want to wear, as well as needing to, if you have a serious medical condition such as diabetes or epilepsy.  They have some great offers on right now, on ladies medical ID jewellery.

8.  One of the best parts of Christmas is the Nativity Play, and we know where you can find the best, fair trade nativity costumes.  Pop along over to While Shepherds Watched to see their full range.

9.  Take your child to the most magical of places this Christmas with a personalised portrait from Enhance-me.com.  As well as portraits, they also do a lovely range of personalised Christmas cards – you can even turn your house or workplace into a Christmas scene!  Take a look.

 

 

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New for 2013 – KINGS!

For the first time since I launched While Shepherds Watched, I am delighted to announce a new costume – Kings Cloaks. Keeping to the While Shepherds Watched ethos of simple, comfortable costumes, our King’s costume is a regal cloak in a choice of three colours. The fabric is beautiful 100% Cotton velvet, which of course is Organic and Fairtrade Certified.

The Cloaks have a stand up collar, and fasten at the neck with ‘hook and loop’ (like Velcro). This makes them easy for a child to put on, and also safe (if someone pulls the back of the cloak, or steps on it, the cloak will unfasten safely rather than pulling tight around the neck). They are decorated with gold braid around all of their edges.

The cloaks are One Size, and will simply have a longer fit on a smaller child. The length is approximately 75 cm. The shoulders are gently shaped to avoid too much heavy fabric swamping the wearer. The ‘King’ can then chose what to wear underneath the Cloak, either one of our Tunics or  just plain trousers and top.

 

Green King's Cloak

Green King’s Cloak

Blue King's Cloak

Blue King’s Cloak

Red King's Cloak

Red King’s Cloak

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New Styles For 2013

I’ve just uploaded the new costumes for 2013. There are new Innkeepers, Shepherds, Joseph a slightly different Mary costume and, very excitingly, Kings costumes!

Pop over and have a look, and make sure you’re ready for when your little darlings rush home with their ‘part and costume needed’ letter!

Grey and Pink Shepherd

Grey and Pink Shepherd

For the girls who like pink I have 2 lovely outfits which should please the pickiest Shepherdess, one in Grey and Pink, and one in Pink and Blue. A fantastic Innkeepers outfit in the most beautiful Turquoise Stripes, and a lovely Joseph costume in Beige check.

I also have a variation on my Classic Mary costume as well. I now have a Darker Blue version of the tunic, in a beautifully textured light denim. Still with the same, long white head dress of course.

* The links are to the Medium size (age 4 – 7 years old) of each of these costumes. All are also available in a Large size, for 7 – 11 year olds. Just look under the appropriate section of the website.

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Sneaky Stock Update!

So after a very busy weekend, and the busiest Monday that While Shepherds Watched has ever had!) stocks of some of our costumes are running very low. In fact, 6 of our Large costumes are now completely out of stock.

However, I have a cunning plan! I am just about to set off to the Pop Shop Wiltshire, which is stocking a selection of my Costumes, in order to retrieve a few to add to my stockpile.

Wish me luck, and smoke me a kipper. I’ll be back for breakfast!

 

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