In this season of joy, hope, love, and thankfulness, I find it appropriate that I am up for the second night in a row at 3 a.m. thinking about how thankful I am that I took a couple of sewing classes this year. I love that I have found like-minded friends and that we share our ideas, our struggles, and our unabashed pride in our creations. I hope this continues not just for the new year, but for many more to come. And I am overjoyed that along with those classes and my friends, I found this other world, the blogosphere. It is so full of creative people who are excited to share their adventures in not only sewing and crafting, but in life. Be it stories about raising kids or running a race in mud. It is so inspiring to me to read about what they are capable of and think that I might be capable of a little bit more. It helps that so many are moms that have the same struggles on time and energy that I have. So many people seem to find ways not only to share what they have done, but how they have done it. I hope they know how much I love those tutorials and how thankful I am that they take the time to share.
I would not be me if all this thankfulness did not come with a twinge of remorse (and I didn't share it with you). Many years ago I had a lot of free time. Before kids came along I was living in Germany with my husband, two dogs, and no job. I had hopes before I moved of taking that time to learn to cook. But let's face it: A girl who does not really like to eat will never be a great cook. I just never found the interest. I so wish that I had had this other world to inspire me during that time of my life. I also wish I had been more like Julia Child (yes, I did just watch Julie and Julia) and fought to find something that did hold my interest. I would have loved to have found sewing during that time.
Today, however, is not about remorse. It is about how thankful I am for what I have learned this year. It has been a surprisingly productive one considering Amelia just turned one. I was thinking of that the other day while trying to get the inspiration to write our annual Christmas letter. We have sent out a letter most of the years that we've been married, but this year I did not know how to share the joys of our lives with our friends. We had missed last year due to Amelia's birth, so I didn't want to miss two years in a row.
I had given up on Christmas cards when one night I was surfing through the blogosphrere checking out other sewers' reading lists. I like to do that since you can stumble upon a lot of good ideas that way and I STUMBLED!! I found this blog that had some cute pictures on it and the blogger had written how she had made her family's Christmas card this year. She even provided the link to the You Tube video that helped her. And that is when I found love for You Tube. Yes, I had used it in the past to watch tutorials, but never truly appreciated it until the man walked me through a simple edit in Photoshop. The true joy of the blogosphere though is not just copying what others do, it's making something yours. In this instance, I combined these tips with the collage maker in Picasa that I had stumbled upon earlier this year on yet another blog (that I can not link to here because I can not find it.)
So, with the help of these people that I don't know, I was able to make a Christmas card that captured, at least for me, the joys of this year. Some people will not realize what they have when they see it, but in that picture is a love for family, for sewing, for blogs. It is excitement for what is to come. There are more blogs to discover and inspiration to find!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Yes, I realize that it is suppose to be joy or cheer or peace or something, but my Christmas wish for everyone seems to be rectangles. Never have I noticed how many things come in rectangular form. Crazy! What am I talking about, you ask. Christmas gifts. It started out with the aforementioned rice bags. Then came the placemats. I decided to go for it and make all 12 of Sophia's classmates chalkboard placemats. I had made placemats back in the summer for my mom so I thought, "No big deal. Done it before." How naive I am.
Hopefully the kids like them too. I tied them using a ponytail holder that had been tied into two loops, one for the placemat and a smaller one to hold the chalk. I assumed that not many moms cared around chalk in their purse. My idea was that these placemats would be excellent at restaurants. I also used plain cotton on one side because I could only find oilcloth that looked boring.
Now that I was quite confident about bias tape, I went on to a fabric checkerboard for my nephew. I have procrastinated about his gift because truly what do you sew for an eight year old boy? I finally found this checkerboard tutorial over at I Heart Linen. I thought that even though he loves soccer and other very active games, he might find need of a quiet, sedentary distraction during a break in a tournament or even on the LONG drive from Tennessee to Missouri that his family takes several times a year. I used the soccer theme to try and make the board "manly."
Sunday, December 6, 2009
in Santa, so that I can use my new stockings.
While we are at it let's also believe that that I am humble and that I will not make all visitors to my house during the month of December stand by my fireplace and have conversations until they compliment my handiwork shamelessly. We will also say that I will take these compliments gracefully and NOT point out all the little tiny imperfections.
And while we are believing in miracles, let's believe that these FOUR stockings did not take me over TWELVE hours to sew NOT including the cutting. Unfortunately, that is where our belief would have to end because they did indeed take that long. It was MY OWN FAULT! I had three main problems: 1. I did not believe in the pattern provided for free by McCall's, 2. I am a poor visualizer, and 3. I own, and therefore I must use, an embroidery machine. Actually there was one other problem and that was that I just kept on going. I would not let myself stop and take a break and THINK. Just go, go, go. That last one is why I was up at 2 AM thinking about how I should've centered the names on the cuffs.
OK, let's review: Believe in the pattern. I made my stocking first.
Pretty good, right? Well, I spent hours trying to visualize (problem #2) how the cuffs were going to fit and how to "fix" the edge that was going to show after the stocking was done. If I would have believed, I would have found out earlier that the seam does not show. It is UNDER the cuff not inside the stocking.
Problem #2 was ever present. I tried to visualize how the cuff was going to be attached and failed. I tried to visualize where the name should be embroidered so that it would come out on the right side AND right side up and failed. Finally, I just had to go for it and 3 or so hours after I had started I had my first finished stocking. I thought after that initial time that the next three would be easy since I now had conquered the problems. I believed once again in the pattern and I did not need to visualize because I had already done it AND taken notes. HA! (Have you noticed all the exclamation marks in this post? It was an emotional project.)
The last three were supose to be easy-peasy. HA! Problem #3 lurked, ready to suck all of my Saturday time up. I had gotten lucky with my name on the first stocking. You see I own a Brother SE-350 which is a good little machine that has a 4" x 4" embroidery area. This is not big enough to embroider any of our names in one pass except for Eric's. With the others I had to re-hoop. It is not easy to re-hoop a piece of fabric so that the letters are 1. on the same horizontal line and 2. with the appropriate spacing from the previous letter. So, three tries later for Sophia and two for Amelia, I had it.
I must, now, confess a slight obsession about the side seam of the cuff. You see on my stocking when I could not visualize ANYTHING, I did not know that the one seam of the cuff should line up with the side seam of the stocking. After mine I did and this set off a whole new problem with centering because I could not just center the names on the cuff, I had to center them on the FRONT side of the cuff. Oh, man. I can be really compulsive sometimes!
After the embroidery was centered on the cuff, I had to center it on the stocking. It worked for all but Amelia's. So today, the day after my twelve-hour sewing marathon, I ripped out seams so that I could re-center it. I did so with my 2AM epiphany which is appropriate during this holiday season. I also had to (please stop reading now because this is getting painful even to write) rip out the seams that held on the loops because I did not listen to the pattern. In an attempt to minimize the bulk of the seam area, I did not place the loops in properly and it caused the stockings to hang in all different directions.
But now, all is well. We can once again believe...