Thursday, 14 January 2010

Made for Christmas

I made five different things to give people this year.

1. As usual, virtually everyone on my list here in England got a spice cake.

2. Two people (Steve, the only person I know who doesn’t like spice cake, and Martin, who only had 3 gifts when others had 4) got 4-5 dozen cookies: chocolate chip, vanilla crisps, chocolate crinkle and peanut butter; if anyone wants recipes, leave me a comment.

3. Sixpence boxes

I was pleased with these fabric covered boxes, but they took ages to make and they were surprisingly difficult to do well, especially considering that I started with an actual box, cut it up and sewed it back together again. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take pictures of two, I was in such a hurry to get them in the post.

For the men, I did them in blue fabrics and because I didn’t want to use floral prints, for a couple I ended up making a patchwork (my first ever) of blue and white fabrics for the linings. Bill thought this was particularly effective, being a bit of a surprise when you opened an otherwise ordinary blue box.

I call these sixpence boxes, because 3 two pence coins are fastened inside the front of the lid to make it close. I enjoy making them, but only managed to do half the number I’d planned.

4. Scrap-covered hangers*
When I realized how long the boxes took to make, even after a bit of practice, I decided to do covered hangers for Bill’s kids. However, it was in making one for Vivien’s birthday that I came up with my ideas for the tag's text and it was the tag that I particularly liked. I figure if I don't smile either while making it or at the finished product, it's not worth giving. I also discovered that making a specific hanger for a specific person somehow produced a better product. Vivien’s hanger was in shades of pink.

Sarah got a semi-goth hanger in black, pinks and purples.

Martin and Simon needed more masculine colours. After looking at pictures on Simon’s Facebook, Bill suggested blues and browns. Helen has decorated her house in taupe, brown, teal and blue, so she got a hanger to match. The tags had a hanger-specific variation of:

This hanger is a closet essential with colour and texture to amuse and delight, or perhaps baffle and bewilder. Texture prevents clothing from slipping off. Owner may be smug about environment due to all re-cycled content. Carefully constructed to exclude out of colour scheme threads and crafted whilst holding fond thoughts of recipient.

Size: Medium
Colour: Manly blues and browns

Type: Moderately tame. Using only genuine yarn and laundered fabrics knotted around a wire hanger from Red Hanger Cleaners, a distinguished dry cleaning firm in Salt Lake City.

Care: Non-washable. Trim as desired. Groom stray fibers as needed.

[Note: Our wilder items contain reconstructed yarns made from threads and sewing snippets, producing a more adventurous, interesting product, more likely to shed.]

30% discarded knit tops
25% shortened garments and curtains, plus linings

25% sewing scraps of retired, professional sewists (RPS)

15% your father-in-law’s discarded shirt
5% eyelash yarns from incomplete projects of RPS

We have a no-return policy. Re-gifting or contribution to charity, if desired, is the approved method of disposal.

The hangers (*I've gone off the name hairy hangers ever since Bill made a rude joke about it) were dead easy compared with the tag production, which included: figuring out how to get the print on both sides of the page in the right places, arguing with the printer when it told me the waste cartridge was full, changing the colour of the print according to gender of the recipient, remembering the sources of fabrics and estimating a percentage; and, of course, checking the math to make sure the percentages added up to 100.

Sarah was clearly delighted with her hanger; Helen seemed to like the tags as I noticed she read everyone’s. Simon remembered seeing these hangers on Etsy via this blog (bless him); Martin put on a brave smile but I think he registered me, once more, as ‘mental’.

5. Photo CDs Bill has shoe boxes full of photos taken on the weekends and holidays he had with his children after he was separated. Many are remarkably bad pictures of someone’s mouth eating a sandwich or a child making a face. One or two are really excellent, either of a person or the scenery. In the pictures I see Bill looking very young, his mom wearing her characteristic scowl, his kids looking happy.

But mostly I see a patient father that loves his children and wanted to spend time with them.

I scanned about 100 photos and made 3 CDs, one for each. I wanted a tag – a cover -- for it, one that explained what was on the CD, but I’m hopeless at writing poetry.

So I settled for writing several soppy haiku, thinking that as unbelievably bad as the resulting verses, the photos would make up for it.

They did. When all the gifts were opened, my laptop came out and one by one Helen, Sarah and Simon clicked through the pictures laughing at themselves and each other, remembering the places and events for nearly an hour.

Simon made and carried out his threat to put them on his Facebook, much to Helen’s chagrin. I’m not responsible for that…it’s just what brothers do, right?

What did you make for Christmas?


Frugal Scholar said...

Sadly, nothing. I am not handy. My husband made some frames for my daughter's artwork. Does that count? Loved the tags for the hangers!

Shelley said...

FS -- I think frames are a brilliant gift, particularly as your daughter already had what to put in them. Very useful, that.

Anonymous said...

As I am going through your blog late, we had computer problems, I'd like to add I made a blanket out of some of the new fuzzy warm material with a washable satan backing. And a beaded braclet, which was fun, but I wouldn't try it again.
Your hangers remind me of a wreaths I made years ago out of hangers and the plastic from dry cleaning bags.

Shelley said...


Computers dontcha just love/hate em?

Wish we need a blanket; we have too many as it is. There is a rose coloured one that I'm waiting until I don't have red hair to make into a nice warm jacket (fingers crossed my sewing gets good enough).

I remember making an Indian style beaded bracelet on a loom made on a cigar box. Whatever happened to nifty old cigar boxes? For that matter, what ever happened to all that plastic from the dry cleaners? Oh yeah, I quit buying clothes that had to be dry cleaned...too much like paying rent on something I thought I should own.