Monday, December 24, 2012


I thought I'd share how our Christmas tree looks this year because it's weird.  Nicole has developed an penchant for undecorating the tree.  And, well, we knew it would be a draw, so all the more fragile ornaments are clustered at the top of the tree.  She also loves pulling bows off and moving presents from the back to the front of the tree.   Jared says that she's opened a few presents at home, too, for the sheer joy of ripping paper.

It's been a weird year for decorating.  Usually, the day after Thanksgiving, the manger scenes go up, and stay up until New Year's.  The Christmas tree, well, it's up at least the week before Christmas.  This year, the tree went up first.  And I wish it had been the other way.  Those stockings piled up?  Well, they're usually hung with the 3M hooks.  I have burnished pewter colored ones to hang them from.. or I did.  This year, they're nowhere to be found.  The creché on the bottom is a Little People one, because Gracie kept trying to get her hands on the others.  Mom painted the wood one to the right, the one on the left is a glass one that was a gift (the face is missing off the sheep) and the middle was from a kit in the 70s.  My dad painted it, with "help" from my then three-year-old older brother.  The angel that hung from the front of the dowel and "plank" (more like thinner, square Popsicle sticks) got lost years ago, so I printed star fields with a central star from my computer and taped them to a backer board.  The rest of the set is battered, chipped, and broken in places and the stable is rickety.  But that creché has been with us for as long as I can remember.  The one thing I didn't take pictures of is the candles in the window--fake ones so we don't have to worry about burning the house down.  (We usually only have one, but, well, we found the one we lost two years ago)  It's to let Christ know that there's room in our inn and that He's welcome here. 

This is our Christmas.  It's not about the presents, though there will be presents aplenty, but about family, spending time together, and the birth of a special child millennia ago.  So Merry Christmas... or Happy Holidays if you celebrate something different.  And perhaps, for once, we'll have peace on earth for this one night a year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas presents, wrapping, and other seemingly endless things.

Christmas for 14.  This year.  Next year, it'll be Christmas for 16, because my sister-in-law is pregnant with little Alex and my sister is pregnant.  (I just hope it's not a girl, because she's said that she'd name it Liberty.  Poor kid.)  I spent 15 hours wrapping yesterday (arms hurt!) and we're almost done and cleaned up.  15 hours, might sound a bit excessive, but I'm chief wrapper here.  Which means that I'm not just wrapping up my give-away presents, but my mom's and grandmother's as well.  And, well, Christmas for 14!  That's only a little over an hour apiece, right?  And when you have huge presents, like a new travel system for Alex (Grandma is a big believer in useful gifts and Nikki and Grace wore out the old one) they take more than one person and almost a whole roll of wrapping paper to wrap!  I thought about taking a picture of my tree with the packages piled around it, but my house is a huge mess right now still!

Handmade gifts are king in my house.  Above is Ricky's present--he's into trains, and has been insisting on wearing his outgrown railroad stripey overalls, so I made him new ones.  The picture isn't exactly what the finished product looks like because I made an oops cutting.  See, McCalls 6592 is insanely short.  I made a child 4, but cut it to the length of 6.  And somewhere in there, I cut the back piece wrong.  Not only did I find out after it was all sewn together, but I didn't have more ticking to recut, so I fixed it, but made the fix into a design feature... which is a post for another day!

Gracie asked for a "pink dinosaur" so I raided my scrap bins and bought a copy of the Melly and Me Dilbert pattern because it was the cutest I could find.  And I'm telling you without my smallest tube turner, I never could've turned those spikes!

Lizzy's favorite animal is giraffes, so I bought Simplicity 2613 on a dollar sale and the gold fringe for it's mane.  The fabric was a donation.  It's some sort of upholstery fabric that came to me in a huge box of "I was cleaning out a sewing room and can you use this" fabric.  It's a velvety, heavy weight stuff that looks like it's backed in some sort of canvas.

For Nicole, well, her current favorite book is Anna Dewdney's Roly Poly Pangolin to the extent that I can easily recite it!  We bought her a copy of it to take home for Christmas, but there weren't any commercial pangolin toys, so I dug around the internet and found an anteater pattern.  See, pangolins look quite a bit like anteaters--the ears are different, and they have armor plating.  Rather than sew on individual scales, which I was pretty sure wouldn't be baby proof, I found some quilter's cotton with a scale pattern on it.  I wish I had taken a picture for you, but with everything going on, I forgot!    Joanna got new pjs--I let Grace choose fabric for it, as well as for Uncle Geoff's new jammies (Nikki chose one, too, because when he's at home, he practically lives in his jammies), as well as her Uncle Shane's and Dad's pj bottoms.  Mom got an IOU, because I was running short on time, and I also made fleece blankets for presents out of more donated fabric.  (Fleece blankets were made out of donated fabric, too which = free present)

To finish Geoff's and Grace's last Christmas request, I had to borrow a sewing machine.  (This was how I discovered that I don't like drop in bobbins!)  I knew my machine was overdue for servicing, but I didn't expect it to slow to a crawl.  It's happened before, so I know what it means--it's dirty and needs cleaned and oiled!  So I'll take it in sometime in the next couple weeks.

Grace's final Christmas wish was for "Aunt Laura, will you make me a warm nightgown for Christmas?"  With flannel 60% off and mom in tow for senior citizen discount day (which made it 80% off), how could I say no?  And if I'm making something for her, I have to make something for Nicole, too, so that's how they got matching nightgowns made from the Peekaboo Pattern Shop's (it's offline for maintenance, so don't worry if the link doesn't work) Sugarplum Nightgown pattern.  I made it in both girls' favorite colors--pink and purple!  So that's my gifts this year.  What are y'all making?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One Piece At A Time dresses!

Both hanging together with matching hairbows, including Nikki's "bow hat"

Well, they're done.  I thought I'd post the lyrics from the song from which these dresses are named!  Because they really are completely frankenpatterned.  The only patterns that matched were the late 60s-early 70s patterns that the sleeves came from.  The dress shells are from two different 50s patterns, Nikki's pinafore is modified from  40s pinafore dress pattern, and Gracie's is from a 30s Hollywood pattern.  The collars and cuffs are finished with Victorian faggoting stitching.

 The red and white ribbon is hand dyed, bias cut silk ribbon and a sort of a nod to candy canes. :) I wanted a bit of longevity, so I avoided things like Santa, Christmas trees, and the like.  Yeah. it's red, and it's covered with stars, but...  :)  Remind me to never do entredeux with a lined bodice again!
That was a biiiig mess and I ended up redoing the finishing on the inside of the pinafores.  Grace actually helped design the dresses--she wanted a dress with a big skirt (I have crinolines from last year to go underneath, and the hems are done with CRIN again because it helps them stand out.), no puffed sleeves, and an apron with ruffles and no itchy collars and cuffs.   I learned something about working with CRIN--use a 70 needle because the 80s and 90s are too big to sew through the mesh easily.
 ;) There went my half formed plans for using up some of the lace collars in my stash!  She did, however, consent to lace on the bodice, and the lace on the skirt conceals the fact that I, um, cut the skirts a titch too short.  More than a titch on Nikki's, actually!  I didn't have the fabric to recut the skirts, so I just used more lace and silk ribbon to cover the join.
 Grace informed me that she wants to wear Nikki's dress, because it's cuter.  And here I thought I'd made them match!  The collar looks a bit crooked here, but I swear it's not.  :)

 The sash is necessary, especially on Nikki's, because she's still a tiny bit smaller than a size 1/2 (like 1/8"), but on her way out of infant patterns.
 The lengthening was considerably more on this one!  I went for tea length on both simply because they'll last the winter that way.  I like knowing that if  they grow an inch or two, they won't be too short.  Surprisingly, in Nikki's case, with a ten minute alteration, her crinoline still fits and Gracie's does, too.  At the last minute, I added an extra line of lace on Nikki's bodice because it just needed it to my eyes.  Tomorrow, after school, we're going to the Sears portrait studio to take pictures.

White tights, the dresses, shiny black shoes, crinolines, and coordinating bows are the order of the day. 

 And speaking of bows...  Nikki has a "bow hat".  It's really just a bow attached to a stretchy headband because she doesn't have enough hair in front to hold one.  Predictably, Grace wants one, too, but I've only got one headband right now!  More silk ribbon here, with the red and white in the centers.  (I wouldn't really recommend doing silk ribbon bows.  They're just too limp.)  

We've tried things on, and they fit, so I'll iron them tonight and I'll post pictures when we get them back!