December 9, 2011
Categories: Family, Home

I’ve been on a bit of a sewing hiatus since we’ve lived in Mexico. Though I did bring my precious my sewing machine with me, she’s been parked on a shelf for quite some months, only uncovered for the occasional pant hemming or knee patching.

It isn’t that I haven’t been inspired here. On the contrary, I’ve never felt so inspired in my life – but not to sew. I needed a break. I needed to sort my priorities.

The months leading up to Christmas have historically been the most imbalanced and stressful of the year for our family. Every November/December for the better part of 10 years, I would sew tirelessly, stopping only for the most essential parenting tasks and housework (hey, the kids had to learn to cook sometime), knit every chance I got (often while sitting in traffic) and embroider one-handed while nursing my babies (I can do a lot of things while nursing a baby, I assure you). With one holiday show after another for which to create inventory, orders to fill for last-minute customers and 30-some-odd gifts to make for family and friends, I was a one-handed, one-woman holiday making factory. And for what? Oh, I don’t know, I guess I usually made about $1500. Just enough to buy our way through the season.

Looking back, it was almost like an illness. As if sometime in late October, someone slipped me a crazy pill that prevented me from deciphering essential from non-essential, important from unimportant and holiday cheer from hell in a hand basket. Now that I’ve come to my senses, my December to-do lists of old seem downright ridiculous. For the life of me, though, I couldn’t seem to let go of the thought that I had to hand-print the craft paper gift wrap or intricately decorate gingerbread houses (despite the toddlers sure to destroy them) or knit gloves for someone I barely knew who’s name I had drawn from a hat.

Quick tangent: Christmas gift exchanges are a nice idea, in theory. For example: If you’re a single chick at company party full of interesting twenty-somethings sharing dynamic conversation, exotic tapas and good wine, a gift exchange sounds pretty swell. But when you’re the mother/homemaker of a family of six committed to swapping gifts at three family get-togethers, morally opposed to buying useless crap and barely able to cover your monthly utility bills? That’s eighteen handmade gifts of obligatory nonsense.

Last year was different. Last year, I made absolutely nothing short of Christmas dinner and it was glorious. Not that we didn’t miss our big old family gatherings and crazy holiday parties dripping with kids (because we totally did). But for the first time in my adult life, Christmas felt reasonable. We weren’t racing down the highway on Christmas Eve, minivan packed with presents. We didn’t buy a load of stuff that no one really needed nor did I lose sleep making things for other peoples’ kids. We cooked delicious food, we warmed ourselves by the fire, we opened a few gifts and took a long walk. More than anything, I remember laughing until my sides hurt. Christmas was simple for the first time.

This year, I’m feeling delightfully decompressed and proud to announce that I’ve straightened my priorities. I’m making presents for my girls and my man and that’s it! What a concept.

Better yet, I’m using some of my favorite fabrics that I’ve collected over the years and old clothes that need repurposing. Here’s a peek into a few of my projects…

I’ve used bits and pieces of this old table cloth for all kinds of things. I love it so much that I can’t bare to part with the whole thing for one project.

This is quite possibly the sweetest vintage children’s fabric ever. I only have about a square foot, but my girls won’t be into it much longer, so I figure it’s now or never. It feels a little debauchurous cutting into it!

I am SO excited about this one. The green linen is a granny-style shirt and pant set that I found at a thrift store in Junction, Texas with my beautiful friend, Megan some years ago. I LOVE the color and it’s the perfect amount for Estella’s dress. The sugar beet print is a vintage apron that I’ve been holding onto for the perfect project. I’m going to alter this pattern a bit and then incorporate the velvet ribbon.

And last, but definitely not least is Eli’s dress, now nearly complete. This one’s got a story. At the top of the page is a dress I made for my eldest daughter, Sigorni, 10 years ago. It is the only item of clothing that all four of my girls will have worn, as it is now too short for Eli and being passed down to Estella. So, I am making another one like it because Eli was sad to let it go. The stripped Guatemalan print is an old wrap skirt that I’ve made into piping. And the flowers? I taught Eli to embroider last spring and this was the piece I sewed along side her. It’s now a pocket on the bodice.

This feeling I have, making simple, useful things for my very favorite people with my most precious stashes? This is more like it. This is my kind of Christmas.

As for the finished products?  The coin purses ended up being too big a pain in the ass to complete, but the dresses were a big hit and are well-worn a year later! Check them out here: What a Sweet Christmas 

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  1. I miss you very much and all of your wonderful, thoughtful handmade gifts!!


  2. Your family is so blessed to have you, you beautiful-crafty-soulmama!!


  3. Oh Beth
    This is by far my very favorite post so far!

    Wishing you and yours a most glorious Christmas this year!

    Judy, or simply known as juju by my little ones


  4. Love this post full of warmth and creativity


  5. I can’t even find the words to say. I admire you and your creativity so. And I love how you see the preciousness in so many things. You have a gift. Love you


  6. I am so inspired by your post. It’s never too late – right? – but do I need to leave the country?


  7. Reading this again & I love it just as much the second time around :) Did you ever post “after” pictures?


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