Thursday, December 29, 2011

Using Every Scrap

Whew, I made it in the nick of time for Christmas. The last sewing project for Christmas was the grand daughter's dresses, and I finished them Christmas Eve.

BUT, for me, the push isn't over as we've four birthdays within the the first eight days of January to get ready for. With a budget stretched beyond comfortable due to unforeseen bills, such as a major repair needed on the pickup truck, I've turned to skills to fill in for the lack of money.

How terribly grateful I've been this holiday season for the talents I've developed.

We had just such a conversation at church just before Christmas. It was between some ladies from my generation and a little older and a few young gals. The question was posed, "What do you do when Christmas is coming and you haven't the money for gifts." Luckily, it was hypothetical. The younger generation admitted they would have to rely on the generosity of others for their gifts came from the store. 

 We assured them that that wasn't necessary if one had just a bit of imagination and a few skills. With a few dollars or a resourceful gathering of free items, a variety of gifts could be made if one had taken the time to develop a some basic skills. Skills considered unnecessary in this day and age when you can just run to the store and pluck it off a shelf.

I started the conversation rolling with a comment about how unnecessary all these charities at Christmas would be if only one took the time to learn to take care of oneself.

Those of the older generation piped in with things they'd made when their budgets had been tight. We spoke of taking a wool sweater and unraveling it for the yarn to them make a smaller sweater, mittens, a hat, or a scarf or of felting it to make pot holders, a purse, or mittens. Others spoke of items made from second hand clothing. My mind wandered off into woodworking, jewelry making, and many other areas of creativity. 

 The Toys For Tots programs and other charity organizations would all but shut down because recycling, and creativity would take its place with people providing for themselves and only the truly needy would be left in need of service. 

 Maybe instead of Toys For Tots programs, we need build it yourself centers where people could come and learn a skill while creating a gift. It would be akin to the feed a boy a fish and you've fed him a meal but teach him to fish and you've fed him for a lifetime kind of thing.  
 It was with this mindset that I took my sewing skills I gained making almost all our children's clothing from their underwear on out and began making Christmas presents. I took some factory bolt ends, (material left over from the bolt at the factory, sold at discounted prices) and sewed the little girl's dresses. Not all the fabric was my favorite but the price was half that of the other selections on the bolts surrounding it.

 With birthdays nipping at my heals to get ready for, I haven't stopped there. To add to the clothing item gift for our oldest grand daughter that was badly needed but not terribly exciting, I made this small, lined project bag from a small scrap left over from our youngest granddaughter's dress. The dress that sprung up from a jumper pattern that I added sleeves to along with a few other design alterations so I didn't have to spend money on a new pattern.

This project bag for our oldest will hold the crochet hook and yarn her Aunt gave her for part of her birthday present. She was pretty excited about that present that she opened early for it promises many hours of enjoyment in the future.  

It is time we teach our oldest grand daughter to crochet so that she can create gifts for herself and others just as I taught her mother and Aunt years ago. The hope is to inspire our grand daughter to create gifts for herself and her siblings.

Who knows maybe she will be like her Aunt Toni and take this love of crochet and turned it into a career. Our oldest daughter is editor of Crochet Me, an online crochet community for Interweave Press.  Our oldest daughter's skills in crochet and knitting now far outreach mine, not that that was too hard. I am thrilled that she is now the teacher and I'm the student.
 But I'm not stopping with the project bag. I'm incorporating the "Waste not, want not." theory and taking the yet smaller scraps of fabric from our youngest grand daughter's dress and ....
adding some more scraps of fabric from other projects, years past, to make a baby doll blanket. The fabrics maybe don't match quite  adequately for a dress but they will work for a doll quilt. Add some scraps of white fabric sewn into doll diapers and our youngest grand child will be thrilled.

The best part is this Grandmother won't feel guilty that she hasn't gotten her three-year-old nap quilt done. I haven't even started it.  You see when each of our grandchildren reaches two I make them a twin size quilt for their bed and at three years of age, they are presented with a nap quilt I've made. The top of that quilt will also be made from scraps of fabric left over from past sewing projects.

With a little know how, gift giving need not bankrupt you, and who doesn't want something crafted with love and the most precious gift of all—time.

What home-made gifts did you create for Christmas? I'm always looking for new ideas. 

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