Archive | December, 2010

The Homemade Christmas Gift Predicament

29 Dec

Being crafty is a double edged rotary blade.  We don’t create because we have to, but simply because we must.  I can’t explain what compels me to stress myself out at Christmas in order to make a gift.  It’s not as though there is any sound reasoning behind it, it’s just a feeling you have.  It certainly isn’t that making something is more cost effective.  I can assure you, it is not.  Let me give you an example:

My oldest daughter, Capri, has seen commercials for Lalaloopsie, The Rag Doll Come to Life.  “Mom, can you make me one of those for Christmas?!”  She’s a simple rag doll with button eyes, reminiscent of Coraline.  She looked simple enough to make.   I wondered what the dolls looked like in person, after all, they were only $19.95 on the day after Thanksgiving sale.   It turns out the doll isn’t a rag doll at all.  She is made of molded vinyl, including the “button” eyes.  But, she has a cute story and a  little fabric pet.  I was able to replicate a face for this doll out of fabric and buttons, and planned to get back to it to finish for Christmas.  I completed many other projects before I got back to this doll on the night before Christmas.  I had no idea how to finish this doll, all I had was a face. As it happened, many craft bloggers were doing Christmas giveaways, and one of the crafters I have befriend on Facebook won a doll from A Bit of Whimsy.  Her patterns were exactly what I was looking for, and down-loadable!  I was up until 6AM Christmas morning making this doll.  Granted, I hadn’t started until 2AM.

Is this doll more valued than one I could have purchased at a store?  It wasn’t necessarily less expensive to create than it would have been to purchase.  Hell, one click buying, ships right to the house, arrives gift wrapped…maybe I’m crazy for wanting to make things!


I also made the girls pajamas for Christmas.  The doll’s skirt is the fabric Capri chose for her Pajama bottoms.  Not that making pajamas is cost effective either.  The day after Thanksgiving I bought pajamas for $5 at Target.  Tops and bottoms.  I can’t even buy fabric for the pants for that price on sale!

So, I tell myself that I made this doll because it would be treasured, and an heirloom.  But really, who am I kidding?  I still have all of my Cabbage Patch Dolls, Barbies and My Little Ponies.  And they are special to me!  Am I forcing myself to believe that this doll will somehow be more special because I made it?  Does it really matter to anyone but me?

I made my youngest a puppy as well.  It isn’t any more special to her than the Geoffrey Giraffe or Pillow Pet she received.  So, really, what is it that compels me to make stuff?  I think it’s how it makes me feel to give these things.  Every item I create is a piece of me.  It’s my time, effort, patience, frustration and thought.  It may not be conveyed, as I know most people believe a hand made item is somehow more cost effective than store bought (not by a long shot), but I know it gives me satisfaction of giving.  It’s more than the standard Christmas Giving Obligation, but the-thought-that-counts feeling I get from giving my own product.  Here are some of the other Christmas items I made this year:

Capri's Binder Cover

A checkbook cover and pen for my sister

A thread Catcher for my mother

Owld for Selina's kiddos

I know the Parisville bag is loved!

I will never stop making gifts for people I love.  You may ask me for a gift card, but I’m going to make a little pouch to put it in.  Why?  Because I have to!


Happy New Year, everyone!



Christmas Sewing in Full Swing!

11 Dec

Sorry for being M.I.A. so much recently. This month is completely getting away from me. I can’t believe we only have 15 more days until Christmas! In between sewing gifts I have also been sewing items to sell. I’ll be in the middle of cutting some pajama pants and I’ll spot some fabric out of the corner of my eye. So, I stop making the jammies and start on something totally different. I have no idea why I do this, but it is really distracting!

I have many knit hat for kids, more latte cozies, and some new mug rugs to list. I’m trying hard to stay focused on gift making though so that I have things to give my family. Taking photos of our items and editing them takes a lot of time for me. Especially now that the weather is so gross. I love taking my photos outside. The natural light makes everything look its best. Having to take my pictures inside is not fun. It takes so many more photos before I get one that I am happy with.

I’ve decided that my best bet is come up with a plan of action and write it down on my white board. My plan is this: sew gifts all weekend (and don’t get distracted by pretty fabrics while I’m doing it), take all of my photos for listing on Monday, and put my items for sale on Etsy on Tuesday. I think I can stick to that plan. I feel like taking photos on the same day every week, and listing items on the same day every week might help me be more productive.

Does anyone else that sells items online have a system that works for them? Up until now I have been very sporadic about my listing habits. I’m now at the point where I feel like I need to be a little more consistent.

I’ll share my photos on Monday after I spend the day obsessing over the perfect shot. One post for gifts I made, and another post for items I’ll be listing for sale. Perhaps even a tutorial for an item that can be quickly made if you need a last minute gift and have been slacking like I have!


Star Quilts!

3 Dec

Lizze here.  I wanted to share a link to Quilting Gallery,  mostly for selfish reasons. =)  I have entered my favorite quilt into their Star Quilt Contest, it’s the one named “A Hunter’s Star”.  This quilt is the one I challenged myself most with.

I had been searching for a pattern for a quilt I would make “one day”, and came across this one while at my mother’s.  She has the Better Homes and Gardens, Quilter’s Favorites books.  They are spiral bound and sent quarterly.  They are gorgeous books with lots of very traditional patterns.

I kinda stole the image. Sorry!

I came across the Hunter’s Star pattern and just knew it was the one!  Not only was it beautiful, but the significance of the title meant a lot to me.  I asked to borrow the book and set off to find the perfect fabric.  It is a two fabric quilt, and I didn’t think finding “the right fabric” would be difficult.  The criteria I had was: Batik, blue and/or green, contrasting colors.  I found two beautiful batiks that worked, kinda, but my heart didn’t leap when I saw them.  They were going to have to do since I had committed to the purchase.  I had to buy three or more yards of each color, so it was a bit pricey.  The fabric sat on my table, uncut, for a few days.  I was not anxious to start just yet.  As it happened, I needed to take my mom to a quilt shop she had not yet been to to find her “perfect fabric” for a project,  (The Quilt Barn in Puyallup)  and there it was.  They have an incredible selection of batiks, and after cruising the aisles, I found this…Now, I don’t know about you, but this fabric strikes me as the night’s sky.  I fell in love, and I needed this fabric.  Which of course meant I also needed a new coordinating fabric.  This fabric spoke to me, it was “the one”.  I bought it and started the project that night.  What I was undertaking was more of a challenge that I expected it to be.  Hundreds upon hundreds of pieces needed to be cut.  Sewing on a 60 degree angle, pressing, matching points…but it was worth it.  I had made something that I was proud of, and that I loved.  It came together after the course of about a month, which is relatively quick considering the complexity of it for me.  I was able to use some of the batiks I’d already purchased for borders.  I’m kind of a border queen.  I love adding the extra size and having a canvas for my quilting.

I knew I wanted to quilt constellations into the quilt, and I was very selective about the ones I chose.  They all have a good story, or are significant in some way.  I quilted them into some of the square blocks.  I quilted a freestyle helix into the first border, and song lyrics into the outer border.  I chose  a variegated thread for my quilting so it would blend, yet also show up, if that makes sense.  The outer border fabric is darker to highlight the quilting.  The song lyrics I chose are from songs that are meaningful to me, and also star or sleep related (I like music, so it wasn’t hard to find lyrics.  It was hard to choose which ones!)  I chose 10 songs in all.  The binding was another fantastic find.  It is a blueish batik with gilded stars, and was perfect! 

As if I didn’t love this quilt enough, I backed it in Minkee.  You know, the ultra plush, super soft fabric that makes you want to rub your face in it?  That.

Would you believe after all that, I gave it away?  There is seldom a quilt I make that I don’t want to keep, but this one…*sigh* went to a good home.  I know it is loved, and that is really all I can ask for.

the finished Hunter's Star Quilt


So, there you have it.  You now know why I love this quilt, and I hope I have earned your vote for “Star Quilt”.  Thanks for reading!