29 December 2010

handmade gift roundup: throw pillows for Mom

Mom also got pillows for Christmas. It was a pillow kind of Christmas. Now, I have to confess, I actually gave Mom an IOU for new covers for the throw pillows in her den last year. But I never followed up, and she never picked out a fabric, so it never happened. Happily, just a few weeks before Christmas we went on a family trip to NYC and Mom and I got to spend a whole morning roaming around the garment district. There are not many things I miss about New York, but the garment district is a big one. We went to B&J, where Mom got me yardage of a beautiful blue wool to make into a skirt AND some Liberty tana lawn (EEEEP!) for a shirt. (Wait for it--you'll see these appear in the New Year.) We went to M&J Trimming for buttons and ribbon. And then we went to Mood where Mom picked out this awesome wool boucle for her pillows.

I wish you could feel this material. It is the softest wool I have ever felt. It must have some angora or something in it as well, because as I sewed, tiny bits of white fluff floated all around me. I was so happy with the way the piping turned out--I love how the striping runs perpendicular to the piping. (Trust me to get giddy about piping.)

Mom got four of these pillow covers for her den. And she didn't even call me out for what was basically a re-gift, since I promised her these a year ago.

In some ways, Mom is as hard to shop for as Dad--simply because she is so generous that she's always thinking about other people instead of herself. I guess that's a common maternal trait, but my Mom does it exceptionally well. She has taught me so much about sewing and fabrics, and her encouragement over the years has been the biggest driver behind my creativity. How do you thank someone for that? Handmade pillows is a start I guess.

28 December 2010

handmade gift roundup: VW pillow for Dad

I actually got all of my handmade Christmas gifts completed before Christmas! This is quite a feat for me. I tried to scale back my expectations as the day approached, which helped a great deal. I also postponed completion of all of Matt's handmade gifts as he has a birthday in February (very convenient).

The first project I completed was a pillow for my Dad.

All through my childhood, my Dad took us kids on a three- or even four-week long camping trip every summer. On these trips, we traveled all across North America, as far north as Newfoundland and as far west as the Pacific. We saw most of the biggies among the national parks--we camped in Yosemite and Yellowstone, we hiked around the Grand Canyon, we touched Mt. Rushmore. We spent countless hours driving across the country, watching the landscape change before our very eyes, puttering up mountains and across wide plains. As a kid, I took these trips rather for granted. But now, looking back, the sum of all those trips--the impact they had on my childhood--is amazing to me. I have seen so much of this beautiful country and spent so many wonderful times with my Dad. There are a lot of reasons I think my Dad is the best father in the world, but the fact that he took three kids (often unwilling, ungrateful children who whined about "why we had to camp so dang much") on these amazing trips tops the list.

This pillow commemorates the last big trip we took. The summer Twin and I graduated from college, she, Dad, and I went all the way to California in my Dad's VW Vanagon. All along the trip, I collected iron-on patches from gift shops. These patches have been sitting in one of my memorabilia boxes ever since, so I pulled them all out before Christmas and made a pillow for Dad. I used Heather Ross's awesome VW bus print and embroidered some Arlo Guthrie lyrics on the front. (Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Simon & Garfunkel and the Beatles made up the bulk of our soundtrack for these trips.)

In terms of specs, the pillow also sports snazzy striped piping and a lapped zipper (thank you Erin for the tutorial!).

My Dad is a tough one to shop for, but I think this was a hit. It certainly brought back a lot of wonderful memories for me as I made it.

16 December 2010


Everything is looking very cheery in our little living room. This is our second year with a live tree and I love it so very much. Last year I was a bit heartbroken because I dropped my beloved blown-glass treetopper as I was putting away the Christmas decorations. It was smashed beyond repair, so we didn't have a tree topper when we put up the tree this year.
Then one evening, Matt noticed my little angel figurine on the mantel and said "well, isn't she a tree topper?" Yes, yes of course she is! I inherited this angel from my great-aunt and I never realized (duh) that she is made for the top of a tree. So now she is sitting atop the tree, looking just perfect.
I made the stockings for us last year from Alicia's wonderful pattern. I have her new book on my Christmas list, and I am looking forward to some embroidery in the new year. I also want to hone my knitting skills. Honestly, there are so many things on my crafting to-do list that I don't know where to start. And that's not even to mention the long list of gift crafting I had planned to do, and which I am quickly running out of time to complete. Oh well. My family is very accustomed to receiving IOU's from me for homemade gifts. I usually deliver at some point.

I am feeling extraordinarily blessed this year. And very grateful. I don't know if I'll get another post in before Christmas, so I'll go ahead and wish everyone great peace and joy, however you celebrate this time of year. Go have a cookie and some eggnog right now! Cheers!