Thursday, January 07, 2010

Handmade Holidays

This year was the first that we endeavored a completely Handmade Holidays. Except the kids... We'll work on that for next year. I've long given handmade gifts to those closest to me. It only seemed natural that I would give something beyond monetary value-a part of me, an expression of appreciation and affection. This inclination for handmade gifts has increased over the years so that it has become automatic. My first response to an event or gift-giving occasion is, "What can I make them?' The thing about giving these things away is you have to actually surrender them to the recipient. This is a sweet anticipation always with a tinge of reticence and humility. You really put yourself out there. Some creations are more personal and intimate that others depending on the item and the time and involvement that went into it. You always hope the intended recipient loves it like you do, but sometimes I don't think that's possible. You grow attached. But like I said, part of the gift is surrendering it after you have completed it.
I tried to adequately document all of my Handmade Holiday creations this year for reference and ideas for the future-However, I am usually working into the wee hours trying to make a 'deadline', then I hurriedly snap some obligatory photos before I send it off. Hence, most of these photos are bad. But at least the bad photos got taken, while there are several creations that never got documented. Alas, blurry and dark indoor photos are sometimes better than no photos at all.

I made this Advent calender for Timm's oldest brother Matt's family. (We rotate names every year in their family which works well since there are 5 siblings.) Matt and Tara also have a large family and it was hard for me to imagine an appropriate gift for adults and wee ones alike that I could also make. An Advent calendar seemed like a great solution-one of the only solutions I could think of actually. The problem was in order for it to arrive on time I had to make it in 2 days. Turned out it was a day late anyway...
An added bonus, I had all the supplies on hand. Wool felt, ribbons and notions, embroidery floss.

Okay, this is the project I mentioned in November that I was so excited about. I couldn't contain my excitement. I can't help patting myself on the back because this was one of those times that my finished creation completely matched or exceeded my vision. I made this different Advent calendar for Molly's family and had it delivered on time for them to start December 1st! I haven't worked with paper in so long in lieu of fabric and it felt so good, so right. Again, I had all the supplies on hand.
They are small tins (in 3 sizes) that I glued strong neodymium magnets to the back of so they go right on the fridge. Then I filled them with M&Ms.
I want to remake this next year for myself and maybe others as well. Of course they would all be completely different owing to the supplies I happen to have at the time.
I do hope it is loved. I think so :) Can you tell by how many photos I posted?

This one was for Eva. For my own uses I named him Ferdinand, or Frankie.

This was another one I was really happy with because it was a first attempt. When I make a new little friend it usually takes many attempts to refine the pattern since I don't actually have any idea what I'm doing. I drew up the pattern and sewed it up without any difficulties (or only minor ones at least-) He turned out slightly bobble-headed, but too far off of my vision. He is a combination of cottons, felt, fleece and embroidered face.
Okay, this is another one that I was pleased with. However I forgot to take a picture of the actual item. This is the lap quilt I made for myself over the summer at Michelle's. When I planned it out I bought enough fabric to make another one for my mom for Christmas. See, I had good intentions- I planned this in July! Anyway, I made one similar using most of the same fabrics that turned out much better in execution than mine did. Luckily. There was one egregious error that I think was kind of cute, if it were for me. My mom's not quite as casual as i am however...) Apparently I didn't adequately trim the selvage edge and one corner of the binding has just enough room to neatly spell out 'Copyright Protected.' Woops.I made these notebooks for Michelle, Hannah, and Erin. First I compiled a ton of different papers that reminded me of the recipient in some way or was significant or personal in nature. I used a ton of magazine pages with articles, images, messages or art that was specific to the person. I used a few fun things like receipts, folders, photos, book pages etc. and then interspersed the whole book with various blank pages for writing. I used graph paper, lined notebook paper etc.
For the front and back covers I used various mediums including some thick pages from a children's book, complete with flap. Oh yeah, I put a label on with a monogram sticker as well, not shown. Finally they were bound at OfficeMax, who I will not use again for the record.
It was so fun because I got to use all kinds of pictures I always admire in magazines but inevitably throw away. Plus I enjoyed thinking of them the whole time I worked on it.
For Marc and my dad I made these Reader's Digest frames. So simple. Perhaps too simple. the old Reader's Digest covers are so cool in so many colors. You can often find them at any thrift store, but my library was selling a ton of these. I snagged a few for myself too. I think my favorite part is the magazine photo I put in Marc's. My dad's came with more sentimental images of family.
For Bella's teachers I gave some of our homemade applesauce prettied up with a bow and a tag. To our neighbors on either side of us I also gave applesauce with a loaf of bread. I made Hannah's amazing ginger cookies and wrapped those up for friends at church as well.

For Molly I made this button wreath. I made one for Linda that I think was beautiful but I forgot to photograph it. Linda's was all white and clear buttons featuring mother of pearl, vintage, rhinestones, fabric covered buttons, etc. It seemed almost luminescent. These were really fun to make, as I love buttons so, but quite time consuming and tedious. I originally planned on making like 10 of these for various people. Then I made Linda's and decided to make one more for Molly.
Items not pictured, dangit:
Wooden Memory sets for Mya, Kaylee, and Sebastian. I used scrapbook papers and modge on thin 2" wooden squares. I will photograph these later.
Quilted Coasters- also a bit tedious. In hindsight, maybe everything just seemed tedious because I was making so many things in so little time on so little sleep. I gave these to Hannah, Shell and Diana. I also planned about 10 more sets of these. Ha.
A fleece blanket for Mia that just reminded me of her.
Dice Puzzles. These are super cool. Timm created an interlocking puzzle with Tetris-like puzzle pieces that form a cube. Make sense? A photo would probably help, eh? I can take another one. We gave these to Ryan, Miles, Max, Lucas, Sam and Lincoln. What can I say- it was a good guy's gift! I don't know what to sew for men! He's made 3 different designs and there is one that I have tried to solve in vain for months, to no avail. Unfortunately the ones we sent to Max, Lucas and Lincoln came broken into individual dice cubes. Time to remake those. I'm not sure if anyone thinks there as cool as I do however.
I had many more ideas and people I wanted to give to that simply had to go due to time, money, and sanity constraints, but I'm going to get a head start for next year! Famous last words!


Jill said...

Welcome back to posting Jessie!

Your creative-genius powers are something to behold, I'm so glad you posted all these photos of your wonderful projects!

I think stitching the number on the advent stockings was a stroke of genius. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the advent tins, what a fabulous idea!! You could sell those!

Anne said...

These are all amazing! You are so talented! How lucky are those recipients?!

paws said...

I am blown away! I was loving everything until I came to the button wreath, and then my jaw literally dropped, and I immediately began plotting how to get one for myself and how much I would be willing to pay for one if ever I were to find one in a store, which, of course, I suspect I wouldn't. I LOVE IT! (Just out of curiosity, how much would it take for you to consider making one for me?)

The stocking advent calendar is also fantastic, and the blank books are a great idea. Out of all your amazing gifts, those look like something I could pull off.


Kim said...

Fun projects Jessie! I have been wanting to make an advent calendar of some sort for my own family but I can't decide which one to make- there are too many cute ideas to choose from. Both of yours are darling!

Natasha said...

I am totally blown away by all your talent in so many areas!

Diana said...

You are so amazingly talented my friend!

michelle said...

Oh, leave it to you to improve upon my projects! The embroidery on the stocking advent is genius for sure, and I'm thinking maybe I should make that for Marc's sister's family next year -- it is so hard to come up with a family gift.

The tin advent is absolutely darling as well! Love it.

We love Ferdinand. Although Eva insists he is a dog. She sleeps with him.

I have been wanting to make those button wreaths for years. I think I will finally do it, and I love the way you hung it.

Pure genius, all!

Petey said...

I wish I could be so creative!
I loved the button wreath and the m&m tins!

Anonymous said...

This all has me oozing with that good kind of jealousy. It all looks amazing, but damn- you have a way with follow through. I need to harness that. LOVE it all.

ttanner said...

Jessie, You're so creative! Everything is so cute. And, we definitely enjoyed the advent stockings! The girls always looked forward to their day of getting the candy! Thanks again!

JessWilson said...

You are so amazing! Perfect that I came across your blog today, as I have been dying to "create" something. Think I just might try the cute button wreath. Thanks for sharing!!

Robin said...

Jessie, you never cease to amaze me with the incredible things you create. A talent I could never hold a candle to!

And...I really need to call you one of these days...I'm a horrible friend. I hope you know I think of you so often though! (:

linda said...

How fun to see all that you made. Howmany times can I say, I want your talent!!! It is January and I still have my button wreath up! I would so love to have a few of those gifts, so I guess I will commission to you make me some!

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