Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pajama-rama Recap

(almost finished; that is, 8/9 finished!)
Last Christmas, as I packed the leftover fabric from making flannel pj pants into the rubbermaid bin, joining the remnants of other years' gifts, I decided to *finally* use all of them to make quilts. I didn't know how many the twelve or fifteen years' worth of scraps would make, but I decided to Make A Beginning of it. You can read about my New Year's adventure here, here, and here.

Early in the summer, Charming lost his job. This gave me "encouragement" to really get going on the project; it might be a large part of our Christmas gift stash. I figured out a way to manage the layout I had decided on, so that it wouldn't get out-of-hand for me. Just a few weeks saw nine quilt tops finished, one for each of my eight children and one for myself.

Since I had spent nothing on the fabric for the tops, I decided to make a game out of making these quilts for as little as possible. When my older six children were small, their grandmother had given each of them a set of flannel sheets. The pillowcases and fitted sheets were long gone, but the top sheets were still in fair condition. (probably because with bunk beds, top sheets are difficult to manage, and I left them off much of the time.) I couldn't actually believe I still had all six, since the children have all left home.

Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald were not yet born when the sheet sets were given, so I used the fleece throws I made for them when they were about 6 and 4 years old. That left my own quilt, but (can you believe it) I have one remaining top sheet of a set of wedding sheets, 34 years old, and still in good enough shape to use?

As the flannel sheets were of varying sizes, and all were smaller than the quilt tops, I filled in the borders with extra, larger pieces of flannel I have in my stash. (I think the stash-fairies come and increase my stash with every project I do, instead of reducing it!) So, for both tops and backs, I spent $0.

Polyester batting was $10 at Jo-Ann's. I bought seven batts with a 40% off coupon, and two of them with a 50% off coupon. Total: $52.
I used nine large spools of thread, buy-one-get-one free, $1.99/spool. Total: $9. I tied them with bright-red crochet cotton. I finished the spool I had, and bought two more at $1.97 each. Total: $4.

So: total out-of-pocket expense for nine quilts? $65. That is, $7.23 apiece. Not too shabby for a fabulous gift, eh?

Oh, wait. I forgot to include Time Spent. Hmmm. I should charge myself $10/hour or so, shouldn't I? How much would that be for Months and Months of work?

I think I'll just take it out in Love, please.

I ended up finishing eight of the nine quilts. My own top is finished, and the backing made. A little manner of a few days to finish, and the Project can be put into the record books.

The children were, of course, thrilled. A fun time was had, finding years' worth of former pjs in their quilts. An eye-spy deal, as well! Though I'm not sure I'd want to tackle such a large project anytime soon again. But think of the empty rubbermaid tubs out of my stash!

I'm sure you are wondering what is up next for Super-Quilter. On the list for 2010 are quilts for Oxford and Cambridge, both turning two. (I do baby quilts for each grand, as well as one when they turn two.) One of my children has only one Mommy-made quilt--everyone else has two (or three. or four. Except for their new Christmas one, of course.) So, Joe Hardy, you get the next one on the list. For myself. I need to finish hand-quilting one in the frame. After that? I think a project for ME, ME, ME!!!

But, very first on the list? Doing the dishes from the last two days. I think it will be two dishwasher's-full, plus hand washing...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Making

Spoiler alert: If you are a member of my family, be sure not to read this until the day after Christmas!

Okay. Here we go.

With Charming being off work for more than six months, I knew that Christmas gifts would have to come from my stash of fabric and crafty-stuff. That was Not. A. Problem. as I have more stuff than I can possibly use in my lifetime!
This summer, Lily bought a little guitar for Junior Asparagus at a garage sale. He has been carrying it around in the cardboard box it came in, so I thought it was time for a "gig bag." The green twill is a fun print with swamp animals on it. The bag is lined with bright yellow fleece.
I had enough fabric left over to make a gig bag for Charming's first instrument, a ukulele. His sister made a corduroy drawstring bag for it, which is long gone, although the hand-crocheted strap is intact. I'm glad to finally get this instrument protected. The uke was a cheap one, but it is over forty years old, and, like I said, started Charming on his illustrious "career" in music. Don't despise small beginnings!

This one is cool. I had a wool blanket that I had bought at a thrift store for $1.50 about three years ago. I felted it as well as I could (washed it in hot water and dried it in the dryer to shrink it), and waited till I had a project for which to use it.

Blueberry's favorite animal right now is the Owl, so I made one out of the blanket. It reminds me of toys my own grandma made me, sort of old-fashioned looking. But I think it turned out really well!

I have also been collecting cheap wool blazers in different colors, cutting them up and felting them. They are not so predictable, however. Some of the better wool is actually washable, and refuses to shrink!

(do you remember Farmer Boy? Almanzo's mother wove wool cloth on her loom, then washed it in hot water. She called it "fullcloth," and said that the suits she made from it were completely warm and waterproof. "not a bit of water could get through..."(nor the weather either, I'll bet!)

Cambridge's favorite animal is the penguin. The white parts are the wool blankie again.

For Oxford, I had to call Forget-me-not to get his favorite animal. She quickly replied, "the meerkat."

Meerkat? He's not even two years old! What one-year-old's favorite animal is the meerkat?

(thank you, Animal Planet...)
So, here it is, folks. The first thrifted, felted, wool Meerkat.
The tail is an important feature.

Laura Carrot is always up for a new dress for her 18-inch doll. I used a reproduction pattern of a set of 1950's doll clothes. Remind me never to make this one again--the construction was a nightmare! (Laura also wants a pair of glasses for her doll, so the outfit will include a pair.)
Sweet Pea wants a dolly quilt. She is receiving a Shirley Temple doll for Christmas, so I found a 1930's reproduction "cheater" print. This is a quilt the real Shirley could have had when she was a child.

I also made Sweet Pea a ballet bag, but evidently forgot to take a photo.

My final handmade gifts were eight (EIGHT) quilts, one for each of my children. I will post photos in a day or two when I recap my year-long Pajama-rama project.

I pray each of you has a wonderful Christmas day. Enjoy the day with family or friends, and in remembering the Wonder that God chose to come to earth and live as a man, and then die for us, to restore the relationship that we messed up in the first place.

"Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift."

Flour Power

Tuesday was Cookie Day here at the Cottage. Lily's children came in their Christmas smocks. Unfortunately, Forget-me-not's boys were not able to come. We made a big mess even without them!
Learning to keep the cookie cutters close together, to get the most out of a rolling of dough.

Cambridge preferred to supervise, rather than get his hands dirty.
Baby Nettie (Myra) watched from her perch on Lily's shoulder.
Junior Asparagus and Sweet Pea get serious, and seriously flour-y.
Laura Carrot maintains that red lipstick makes you look fabulous!
Sweet Pea agrees!

Laura is not afraid to get up on the table to make sure she gets her turn.
We must have a bit of flour on our nose, or we're not really serious about Christmas baking.
Charming steps outside to take a photo of the falling snow. Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!
Moving to the dining room for decorating. Junior's apron is up almost to his chest. I guess a new one is in order for next year!
It was so hard to wait to sample a cookie, but Sweet Pea voted thumbs up!
My beautiful Blackeyed Susan with Sweet Pea. (can't you read her thoughts: Pop-pop, I haven't finished my cookie yet!)
Big-boy Junior, almost seven years old!

We filled plates with cookies to send home with Lily and to send to Forget-me-not. It was a fun-filled morning!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I Really Didn't Fall Off the Planet...

....I just got busy! (I know, no excuse, we're ALL busy.)

I promised to tell about my sister's Happy Box. Now, in my busy-ness I neglected to take photos of everything, so sharing with you might be oh-so-boring. But I will press on, because someday you might want to make a Happy Box for somebody you love.

My sister and I grew up, a product of the '50's and early '60's, so I am always on the lookout for things that remind us of that time. First up: a teen-book from 1943, Jane Withers and the Phantom Violin. The title page has a subtitle: featuring the film STAR Jane Withers. This is a sort of Nancy Drew-like story, and, as for Jane Withers, if you are just a little older than some, you might remember Josephine the Plumber from commercials in the 60's and 70's. *That* was also Jane Withers.

Next up: two beautiful vintage hankies. One was floral, purple and green. When I picked it up at the antique store, it was beautifully starched and ready for dabbing at a teary eye at the movies. The other hankie was an apricot-colored linen, embroidered with an "A" monogram. I told my sister she needed to change her name to Anne, or maybe jAnet.

Next: a copy of the same sewing book my mother had in her home while we were growing up. It is Constance Talbot's Complete Book of Sewing. We laughed over some of the illustrations in the book that we remembered.

Finally, a cup-and-saucer in the pattern Golden Wheat. These dishes were given as premiums in the 1950's in boxes of Duz detergent. Many, many of your mothers or grandmas had these dishes in their homes, as did our mother. Of course, all of our dishes are long gone, but sometimes I see them in thrift or antique stores. I was able to score two cup-and-saucer sets, one for me and one for my sister.

So, see how easy it is? I just keep my eyes out throughout the year, to gather fun things to laugh over. It doesn't matter what they are or how much they cost. One year I had a couple of hometown newspaper articles about something special. The year that Joe Hardy worked at Starbucks, and got a pound of coffee free every week, I stuck a pound of her favorite beans in the box. Or a little cassette tape of a song we used to sing to on the radio while getting ready for school. See how it works?

I'm sad today, because Janet is going back to her home in the west (she's driving, so she's trying to skirt the blizzard that is coming through the plains) and I just want some more talk-time. But it will wait till next time. In the mean-time, I'll be scouting out items for next year's Happy Box.