Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Piecing Together Something Wonderful!

This is the first of a series on Christmas gifts.  I'd use the term "Christmas Crafts" but then I might throw up because that just sounds so TACKY and pathetic.  So I won't!  Hopefully the items I intend to show you fall short of being tacky and pathetic.  Or rise above tacky and pathetic.  Or are just plain BETTER than tacky and pathetic -- however you want to say it!  Let's hope!

I am basically a Scrooge through and through -- to the point that I wire a stuffed Grinch onto the front of my car every December!  He rides around through wind, rain, mud, and snow, his skinny arms and legs waving frenetically in the wind.  I think he actually likes the continual wash and blow-dry repetition he goes through on the front grill! 

The only thing I like about Christmas is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and, my VERY favorite day of the entire year, December 26th, in all it's relaxed, post-event, my-time-is-my-own glory -- when it's all finally OVER and I can breathe again!

I am not good with gifts.  I'm insecure and wishy-washy and never want to give anyone a gift for any reason unless it is absolutely PERFECT and I know they will ADORE it.  This is why I am often known to send gifts a month late, or later, or never.  This may seem massively rude and inconsiderate but it's my warped sense of appropriateness -- to my insecurity-skewed mind, nothing is worse than something that falls short!

Christmas is hell for me because it compounds the whole gift-giving thing to encompass, potentially, EVERYONE I KNOW!  Ack!

That said, when it comes down to it, I LOVE making Christmas presents.  You may have noticed that I have this little thing about liking to make something out of nothing!  I love being creative.  I think handmade gifts are the best because they are usually sincere, heart felt, and artistic.  They encompass the very best someone has to give of themselves because they put their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into them.  That is what Christmas gifts were, traditionally.  I guess I watched too much Little House On The Prairie as a kid where everyone plotted and scrambled to make gifts for each other with whatever meager resources they had available.  Homemade gifts are what I, personally, prefer to receive as a gift.  Second would be something that I bought for myself and had my girls give to me!  Third would be cash (just practical!).

It's kind of a relief not having a big budget to spend on Christmas because then I have no delimma about whether or not I should inflict homemade Christmas gifts on people -- its homemade or nothing!  This year, if I had my way, everyone on my list would get a big Starbucks gift card.  That being impossible on my budget, everyone gets the best that my creativity can stir up! 

Ok, I'm about to shut up with this whole ramble that is really just an attempt to cover up the fact that I'm terribly nervous that people might hate all my homemade gifts.  But, too bad, that's what I have to give and, if you can't appreciate it, that's your own shallow rudeness, right?  Well, maybe.  Hopefully, the recipients appreciate how hard I tried!  And will discard said items discreetly.

When I was a kid, my grandmother crocheted ponchos for the granddaughters out of multi-colored yarn.  I hated them.  I remember Katie wearing hers but I don't think I ever wore mine.  But I DID make sure to act appreciative.  40 years later, I would dearly love to have one of my grandmother's ponchos!  And I am so touched by all the time and love she worked into them.  My lens is so different now.

Let me start my next ramble -- the one about the actual gifts that can be made. 

I bought this quilted table runner (that Holli is admiring in the above photo -- or maybe she's just planning a comfy nap!) many years ago for A STEAL!  I think I paid $25 or $30 which I still feel guilty about because I know it was more labor intensive than that!  I'll say that and then, in the next sentence, I'm here to encourage you to embark on just that exact same labor!  Here's a close-up of the detail.

To my optimistic creativity, it seems like you could just take a bunch of dumpster clothes (gathered over time for their prints and 100% cottony-ness), cut long strips, sew strips together, cut sections of strips into blocks, piece them together to achieve the above pattern, back, edge, and quilt and VOILA! 

If you used really LONG strips, or lots of strips, you could make several table runners at once.  Or you could make smaller runners, place mats, baby quilts, or throws (if you're ambitious).  And, of course, you could use your own colors.  This method could be made more sophistocated if you'd like.  This one is a little country but I think it's artistic enough not to fall completely into the bumpkin category!

I've meant to embark on this project for years and just never gotten to it.  I wish I had a version of my own creation to show you (and show off to you!) here but maybe that'll happen eventually.  I've got my dumpster diving eye out for cotton prints so I can make the totally dumpster, all FREE, spectacularly freesourcefull version of this!  But that will have to be AFTER Christmas!

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