Christmas Gifting

I’m still as busy as ever, making gifts into the wee hours of the night! For Lynden, my knight in shining armour, I’ve made a wool-felt dragon using a pattern I purchased from Handwork Studios.

DSCN0469

The pattern instructs to hand-sew the seams with a blanket stitch, which looks quite lovely. I, however, have no time for hand-stitching seams, so I took the faster route and used my sewing machine instead. Some day I’ll make a dinosaur from the same pattern, when I’m not crunched for time, and I’ll take the time to do a lovely blanket stitch seam.

DSCN0471Here’s what happens when you attempt to operate a sewing machine with a nursing baby propped on a pillow across your lap – your lines come out all crooked and uneven. Thankfully, my child isn’t the type to notice or care!

DSCN0492Almost a dragon! Time for the wings!

DSCN0497I did opt to hand-stitch the wings, because I was tired of trying to balance the baby while using the sewing machine, and because I really do like the hand-stitched look. Now all he needs is a face!

This project took two hours or so, with multiple interruptions by the baby and several silly mistakes that needed to be ripped back. If I had uninterrupted time to give proper attention to my task, I could get it finished in under an hour with no ripping back. Such is life!

In other news, Lynden has been drawing monsters and sea creatures like there’s no tomorrow:

DSCN0507

Momma’s Workshop

Boy oh boy, have I been busy these past few weeks! Once again, I did not start my Christmas gift-making in August. No, rather than learning from previous years, I put off my gift-making, getting started only as December closed in.

Once a place for sleeping, my bed has been taken over by sheets of fabric, balls of yarn, scissors, needles, felt, and wool stuffing. Each night I push myself until I can’t stand to keep my eyes open anymore, then I gather everything and put it away so the kids suspect nothing when they wake up in the morning.

Image

While the late start means plenty of midnight dates with my sewing machine, things are coming along nicely and I think I will get all of my gifts finished in time.

Several months ago I purchased a great book of toy patterns called Wee Wonderfuls, by Hillary Lang. When it arrived in the mail one day in July, my children flipped through and enthusiastically pointed out which toys they would like me to make for them. I filed their requests away in the back of my mind, and have dredged them out of the recesses of my memory now that the holidays are upon us.

Image

My first project – a teddy bear for Robin. I crafted it from wool felt that was purchased from Bear Dance Crafts, and got the bulk of the teddy finished in one night.

Image

Image

He’s still in need of a face and clothing, but Robin’s teddy is mostly finished. The teddy bear has been joined on the shelf by two wool-felt mermaids, one with a fuchsia-coloured tail and brown hair for Lynden, and one with a lavender-coloured tail and blonde hair for Raina.

There have been several knitted projects as well, but their recipients might be reading this blog… so you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I’ve crafted!

Image

The kids each wrote a letter to Santa. I was pleasantly surprised by their very modest requests. I half-expected to hear them ramble off a long list of things they would like, but they only asked for two gifts apiece. Lynden politely requested a sword and a hamster (his beloved hamster died last week), and Raina wants a pink shirt and a skateboard. Robin wants a train. After the letters were written, we talked about how blessed we are to have such abundance in our lives – healthy food to eat, a strong roof over our heads, a warm house to sleep in, a loving network of family & friends – and the kids told me all of the things they are grateful for. They were pretty thrilled when we made the trip to the post office to drop of their Santa letters!

Another Handmade Holiday

I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again. I feel as though I was *just* blogging about my holiday endeavours, but that was already a whole year ago! Yikes!

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming holidays. I’ve got lots of fun ideas in the works for handmade gifts! My knitting needles are flying, my sewing machine is whirring, my scissors are snipping. For several years, I have given handmade gifts for Christmas, but still purchased gifts too. This time around, I’ve decided to take the plunge and make it an exclusively handmade holiday. This mama won’t be going shopping! Not only do I have zero interest in being part of the consumer frenzy, but I have better things to put my limited money toward (such as saving for a down payment on our “forever farm”).

So far, I’ve completed a little bear with moveable arms & legs for Robin, made from an old flannel pyjama set of mine. I had taken several lovely photos of the little bear to share with you, but my kids got their hands on my camera and it is nowhere to be found. When the camera resurfaces, the bear will make its online appearance!

Raina saw a picture of a mermaid doll and is begging for one of her own, and because Raina wants a mermaid doll, Lynden does too. I’ve been putting outgrown clothing aside to cut apart and turn into dolls, and as soon as I find a moment I’m going to get started. Raina’s also been asking for a teddy bear, because she lost the one I made for her two years ago and is rather heartbroken about it.

The adults on my list have some warm, fuzzy surprises coming their way, too, though they read my blog so you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I have created for them!

What are you creating this holiday season?

Renew & Repurpose

We’re always trying to cut costs around here without cutting our enjoyment of life, especially since Jae quit his job in favour of being home doing freelance work. So when we ran out of toilet paper the other day, I decided not to buy any more.

In my sewing room, I collect clothing that is looking too worn to make it back into the drawers or the donation bag, in hopes that I can cut them up and re-purpose them. There’s plenty of soft flannel piling up, perfect for making cloth “butt wipes”.

The first thing to come off the top of the pile was an old pyjama shirt of mine, acquired second-hand. It may be too worn to bother patching and fixing up now, but it’s perfect for cutting up! The remaining buttons went into my button box, and the shirt was transformed.

Snip, snip & sew, and VOILA! I give you…

Washable cloth butt wipes, quite possibly the easiest thing a mama could make! They look quite lovely, neatly folded on the back of the toilet. It’s a shame the lighting in the bathroom is so poor.

There you have it, a simple way to reduce waste, cut expenses, and reuse old materials!

Stitching

When we moved out of the city, we vowed to move toward a self-sufficient life. While we still have a long way to go, we’ve made small steps in the right direction.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how far we’ve come and where we are going, and what we can do RIGHT NOW to provide for ourselves.

Something has continually nagged at the back of my mind, something inescapable: clothing.  We’ve been so fortunate thus far to have generous and loving friends who are happy to pass along clothes that their children have outgrown, and we haven’t needed to purchase much for our little ones.  Still, I’d like to be able to provide clothing for my family without needing to go out to the store; to know that we’ll be warm and comfortable if for some reason we don’t have second-hand clothing coming our way.

While I have knit and crocheted plenty of items for the kids, there’s a lot more to filling a wardrobe than having some nice sweaters.  If I must be honest, I haven’t touched my sewing machine since I was pregnant with my first child, when I sewed some baby overalls and a little baby shirt.  The sewing machine got tucked away when those projects were completed, and between adjusting to a new baby, then adjusting to two more, the sewing machine just never made it out of the closet again.

So, when my dear husband came in from the garden a few days ago with a giant rip in the crotch of his shorts, I decided it was time to dust off the sewing machine and make things right. The rip was too big and at too odd an angle to fix nicely, so I headed out to the fabric store in search of some sales.  I was in luck – denim ends were 50% off, AND had a buy 3m, get 1m free deal going on top of that.  The kids found plenty of fabrics they liked, too, all on sale.  In a pile of clearance patterns, I found men’s shorts, children’s tops, and a few patterns that I liked for myself as well, all at $1.99 each.  I couldn’t believe my luck!

Last night after the kids went to bed, I hauled out my old Sears Kenmore, my discount denim ends, and my men’s shorts pattern, and got to work.  I’ve spent so much time spinning and crocheting lately, it was nice to change things up a bit. Time slipped away, and before I knew it, it was 2am!!

Midnight workstation

 

I managed to get the pants finished in one go (thanks for sleeping well, kiddos!).  I had my fingers crossed that they would fit Jae properly.  He’s a short guy and it’s hard to find pants that fit him well.

Success, hooray! A perfect fit!

When the kids woke up in the morning and saw my sewing machine on the table, they pestered me relentlessly to pull out the fabrics they had chosen and get started on their clothes.

I somehow managed to get Raina’s shirt made over the course of the day.  With constant interruptions from the kids, lunch and snacks needing preparing, diapers needing changing, baby needing nursing, etc. etc. it is a wonder I got anything accomplished.  But the first shirt is finished (and I have vowed never to attempt a sewing project while the kids are awake, again).  Raina put it on as soon as I finished the last seam, and fell asleep wearing it.

Raina's dino shirt. She picked the fabric herself!

I guess I forgot over the years how much I really enjoy sewing.  Now that I have a huge stockpile of fabric (thanks also in part to my dear cousin, who de-stashed on me recently!) and some great patterns, I think I’ll have to make nighttime sewing projects a fairly regular thing. Though once in a while, I may need to get some sleep.