Saturday, November 22, 2014

I've Spent the Day Cleaning Up...

... in preparation for making a mess.

Redecorating too- but only in the crafty nook.

I don't put Christmas decor up throughout the house until ~after~ Thanksgiving.

Usually the very next day, but still.

I honestly believe that the reason I have fond childhood memories of Halloween and Thanksgiving is because we enjoyed and celebrated both holidays in and of themselves.  No Christmas trees or twinkle lights went up until AFTER Santa appeared at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tradition, and every holiday in its own good time.

That's not to say that we didn't listen to Christmas music prior to December though... or maybe it was just me, after the advent of the Walkman.  Holiday music helped me get in the mood for baking and making, as did band rehearsals for a month in advance, our holiday concert a gift to our parents and community.

Now as an adult, having my children sign our Christmas cards and wrapping and addressing small gifts to mail the day after Thanksgiving (when so many are shopping and avoiding the post office) are part of my personal strategy to help make November, December and January as stress-free as possible.  But like most crafters, I need time to create gifts, and require a bit of inspiration and ambience to get in the mood.  I've been known to play Christmas music in July as I decide upon the handcrafted gifts that must be planned in advance, especially since I'm a full time teacher.  But after the leaves have turned and fallen, it's time to get serious.

So I visit holiday markets, admiring vignettes that blend handcrafted, vintage, repurposed, and new items:

It's an auto HOOD!

Sheet music artfully turned into a winter forest:

Frills, fur and sparkle:

Bulb-adorned branches are a favorite decor element of mine:

More cream and ivory:

An army of nutcrackers:

... and trees, trees, and more trees!

Finding my way to the crafty nook this morning, coffee in hand, I realized I had to spring winter-clean, and was a bit shocked to find papers, bits and baubles out from crafts I had last worked on in the SPRING.  Clover and spring bunnies just won't do this month.

Out came the snowflake and star punches:

Christmas and winter papers:

... and snowflakes, sparkles and ornaments thrown in for good measure:

MUCH better!

How (and when) do you prepare for the winter holidays?

Monday, November 3, 2014

The George Washington Wig

For our school's Book Character Parade, The Third Grader had to choose a historical figure that would also work for his grade level book report project.  The parade was on Halloween (oh yes, costumes aligned with the curriculum), so the ensemble would also have to last all day long and still be in good enough shape for trick-or-treating in the evening.

He chose the Father of our Nation, President George Washington.  Because we didn't want to rely on a purchased costume ordered from who-knows-where, AND we wanted The Third Grader to be able to use most, if not all of the pieces again, we avoided thrift stores and hit the clearance racks at Target and Walmart.

We spent:

$6 for the oversized denim button down collar shirt
$7 for dark blue sweatpants
$12 for black house slippers
$6 for a white knit cap
$2 for one bag of winter "snow" (batting)

He already owned the white tube socks and I had the grosgrain ribbon, white felt, and sewing thread and needles in my craft room.

He has jammie pants and slippers he can use now, and an oversized shirt that he can grow into, instead of a one or two-time use costume.

How did I make the wig?  

First, I cut the plastic visor out of the cap.

... and carefully cut off the knit visor covering, leaving the cap with headband:

Unrolling the "snow" carefully, I had The Third Grader hold it in place on his cap-covered head.

 We pulled the sides back, pinning them in place, and cut off the excess.

Trying to figure out how long the "snow" would have to hang in the back to make the ponytail look right, I took a length of black grosgrain ribbon and tied it in several spots until we found just the right location:

 Wanting to add low curls to the sides, I rolled single layers of the batting and pinned them in place.

After I carefully removed the hat with pinned batting from his head, The Third Grader was THRILLED to have time to practice reciting his speech.  

See the cap?

I hand stitched the batting onto the knit cap with embroidery floss:

The knit cap was extremely easy to sew through, so I was glad we had nixed the search for a white baseball or canvas cap.

 During the final fitting, we decided to give the ponytail a tapered look, by gathering the ends together and tying them tightly with white embroidery floss:

Ta da!

All in all, the creation of the wig took me an hour from start to finish, and thankfully lasted all day, and all trick-or-treating long.

For the ruffled collar, I scalloped the edges of pieces of felt, and then sewed them together across the top.  I attached a button to the back extension of the collar, and cut a slit in the opposite side.  The rectangular piece of felt was tucked under the denim shirt and the scalloped edges were fluffed out over the top.

 What kinds of costumes did you create in October?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I Used My New Sewing Machine for the First Time... Four YEARS After I Purchased It

Four and a half, five-ish years ago, the house we were renting flooded while Dear Husband was deployed.

It rained, it poured, and the entire downstairs had water damage, thanks to an eighteen inch "surge" line, a twelve inch "standing water" line, and a six inch "debris line."

It was not a fun event, but one that we thankfully were covered for with flood insurance.  My old sewing machine damaged beyond repair, had to be replaced, so once the insurance money arrived, I made sure to go right out and buy a (then) new Husqvarna.

It moved with us to a home on post, and migrated to our forever home a year later.

Where it SAT, unopened, for three years.

Last week I pulled it out of storage:

... and found the receipt still taped to the top.  Yes, yes,  IknowIknowIknow... the receipt is from 2010:

Opening the box was like Christmas:

A basic machine, and to be honest, basic because I only really ever intended to use it for paper crafting.

I had a teeny tiny panic attack when I realized that the bobbin wasn't in its usual place, hidden behind the tool storage.

Ah, THERE it is, below and in front of the sewing foot.  I couldn't believe I was going to have to read the entire instruction manual before I would be able to figure out the four-years-old-yet-still-new-to-me contraption.

Read it I did, and was sewing in no time:

Wait, that's not paper.  That's fabric:

Buck came downstairs to see what was making the odd noise, explore the Husqvarna box, and trample the pieces I'd cut out for my new kuspuk:

Sewing took place over three evenings, to create my kuspuk/storybook character's "costume" for school.  I was the "mama" in Mama, Do You Love Me?

(link here)


Even better, Mother Nature dropped the temperature here in Oz to the low 30's on Friday, making my attire ~perfect~ for the wind and chill!

As for the newly christened sewing machine, something tells me it won't be another four years before I use it again.