Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arts and Crafts in Virginia's House

I confess: for a female, I'm a terrible multi-tasker. I've somehow managed to hide this fact behind my amazing ability to plan. As in, no, I can't get several things done at one time, but yes, I can tell you how long it will take me to get several things done, usually to within five minutes. For example, one time, during my MBA program, at 7:47 am, I looked at my clock and knew I'd be five minutes late for a group meeting. I actually thought about calling my groupmates at that exact moment to tell them, but then I realized that our meeting was scheduled for 3:30 pm, and in the off-chance that they were up, they would just be furthered in their belief that I'm a bit out of my mind. Then I was uninspired at the gym, cut 10 minutes from my work-out, and showed up, you guessed it, 5 minutes early.

What does this have to do with arts and crafts?

Well, people who know me know that at any given time, I'll have a number of projects going on at one time. Right now, there are currently three projects sitting on the dining room table (I grew up in a house where the dining room was frequently the quilting room, the library, the study, the diorama planning get the picture). I also have a project hiding in the office (don't tell my husband), and a number that are still just on the to-do list.

Back to the three projects sitting on the dining room table (by the way, did I mention that my father-in-law is coming to visit this weekend, so we'll probably need to use the dining room table for dining. This the actual problem with the projects, and the tie in to my planning. None of the projects will be done before he arrives. I could time-line for my husband exactly when to expect each to be finished, but he would just think that was silly, since I'd have to spend my time making a time-line rather than just completing the projects. And no, I have not lost sight of the fact that instead of completing the projects, I'm blogging about them). The first project is an apron that is waiting my mother's arrival in December to finish. Normally, to clear the table, I would just put the apron on the guest bed (my mother can always find her to-do list on the guest bed--this way she doesn't get bored *haha like that could ever happen** and I don't forget anything that I'd like her to do). However, I can't put the apron on the guest bed, because my father-in-law will be using it (the bed, not the apron), and I'm pretty sure he's not planning on breaking out the sewing machine while he's here.

The second project on the dining room table is really just a pre-project for when my mother arrives. I had blue curtains in the office of my apartment in Oregon, which were then put in the bedroom of my apartment in California; now that I own a house, and the curtains don't really have a viable place to hang. However, all in all, the fabric is still in pretty good condition (somehow the California sun hasn't faded them as much as it's been fading my hair...ugh), so I thought I'd turn them into napkins (which goes back to my random attempts to save the world and become a hippie). The project really needs to wait for my mother's arrival because I don't actually know how to use my sewing machine. My mother taught me once, but as anyone who teaches knows, once is usually not enough, especially when combined with that wonderful mother-daughter factor in which at some point we either digress, or risk digressing, into some traumatic childhood woe that would have been completely avoided if only I had a pony, or a fabulous white communion dress (we're not Catholic, a fact that completely did not explain why I couldn't have a beautiful white dress when I was seven. However, I did have a beautiful dress at my wedding so I guess we're nearly even. Nearly.) Nevertheless, back in the land of making napkins out of curtains, I figure that I can at least cut the fabric into squares before my mother arrives. Which may actually be a risky assumption because cutting fabric in straight lines is actually harder than it seems. But I think I am well equipped! I have one of those nice green cutting mats, a big solid ruler, and one of those round cutters that resemble pizza cutters. And just in case this all goes horribly wrong, I plan on doing the actual cutting on the kitchen table, which is already scratched, and which is on tile and not carpet, in case of accidental amputation.

Wow! I just realized I'm about 7,000 words into this post before I even got to the project that prompted this rant. All through my childhood, my mother didn't have a Christmas stocking. I always thought that was very sad, but I never went and bought her one because everyone else had a handmade stocking, and I always thought that this was the way Christmas stockings were meant to be (I still think this is true). Then, when I was, ooh, 23 or 24, I went to a Christmas ball. Yes, I've actually been to a ball. Yes, it was very glamorous. And I wore a fabulous red velvet dress. Normally I don't like velvet, because the cheaper qualities don't brush well in both directions, which I just think is horrible. But this dress brushed very well. And then I never wore it again. And it was the perfect shade of red for making a Christmas stocking. It's not a true red, it's more like a maroon/wine colored red. So I made my mother a Christmas stocking. I even lined it. I hand sewed it (because, like I said, I don't actually know how to use my sewing machine).

The stocking actually turned out very well, until I tried to decorate it. Apparently my fabric-based imagination is more grand than my actual skill set. My aim was to use beads to make it appear to be snowing on the stocking. Instead, I just made a mess. My mother, good-humouredly, went along with it (I also happen to be pretty good at filling stockings, which probably helped...and my mother knows that I put a lot of effort into it...she's very good at being appreciative like that...she's always appreciative when I make dinner, although I'm only marginally better at cooking than sewing). So, a few weeks ago, while my husband was watching a football game, I sat on the living room floor and diligently cut off all of the silly beads. Now I am left with a blank slate of a stocking, and I have found that my imagination still far exceeds my skills. However, I feel like this time the results will be better, as I have at least learned that I should practice on something other than the stocking before sewing there. And I brought home some nice grid-lined paper from work, so I should at least be able to sew "Mom" in a straight line this time. And, as a back up plan, I'll be sure to fill whatever I come up with with Snickers and Oreos, and I'll probably be forgiven.

In the mean time, I need to figure out where to put it while my father-in-law is visiting.


  1. So just the other day I finally got motivated to get a bag fixed (the zipper broke). I went to the fabric store (twice), bought a zipper, and found some really nifty cheap fabric to replace the lining on the bag. Problem is, I neither have a sewing machine, nor do I know how to use one. I found a tailor (after reading tons of reviews) and took the stuff to her - and she REFUSED to do the work because there's a funny seam on the bag! I almost popped!
    I really really wish I'd paid attention to my mother when I was 7 and she tried to teach me how to sew. All I can do is fancy embroidery. [sigh]

  2. Send it to my house and I'll have my mother do it in December!