Saturday, 20 September 2008

Santas in September - Continued

Here's the other couple of santas.

An Early Christmas Gift

My mother was such a sweetheart ot help me finish all of the tote bags that I thought I had to make something for her. I've only just started it. I think I will make it into a small wall hanging, but wanted to share it to see what people though. Would your mom like it?

Christmas in October

Do you want to create a hand made Christmas? I do, so I start early every year. I want my projects ready to hang on 1 December so I can enjoy them the whole season long.

After touring around Europe this summer, I was so delighted at all of the different versions of Santa Claus I just had to design a quilt.

There’s Pere Noel from France, Kris Kringle from New Amsterdam, Father Christmas from England, Grandfather Frost from Russia
Sinter Klaas from Holland
I was intrigued when I heard about all of the traditions in the different countries – some children hide candy in their shoes, others play practical jokes at Christmas time, and others fear being whipped if they’re naughty by one of santa’s helpers. So I did a bit of research about each Santa and found loads of delightful stories.

When I show-and-telled my project to my sewing group and I had requests from fifteen of the twenty gals for the pattern, I had to make it. I’ve loved seeing how so many of them have made my quilt their own by adding embellishments and fancy stitching.

So I thought I would offer this to the sewers out there who want to make a one of a kind quilted wall hanging. It will be available for purchase soon (when I figure out how to add this to my web page) and includes the applique patterns for all six santas, easy to follow instructions, and fun facts about the santas from around the world.

Go on an European Christmas tour without ever leaving your sewing room!

Doilies Gone Mad!

Having just been cut open and stitched together twice hasn’t stopped my mother from stitching up an explosion of color!

Are these dog toys?

I was not amused.

After spending hours stuffing and hand stitching these cute bears to give as a freebie with a matching bag, (I would’ve loved these as a child!) I had one man approach my stall and ask whether they were dog toys. No, I should think not! Has this town gone dog mad? He had no soul.
A teddy a bag.

The teddy bear bag pattern will be featured in one of the upcoming issues of Extremely Crafty Ideas.

Hand made or die?

Another reason to buy handmade – at least you know you haven’t used lead paint on your children’s toys! Or put chemicals in their milk.

Being new to blogging, I just realized I never included all of the photos of my crafty projects. Here are some of my doggie bags:

I'll add the teddy bear photos tomorrow!

Crafty Virgins at the Fair

My competition.

Back at the fair, I had plenty of time to contemplate the other craft stall holders. Almost all of the other stalls were selling mass produced goods made overseas and all of the products could be sold in home parties. So many of them were those pyramid schemes – one for Memory Books, one for board games, another for wickless candles (they seemed to be the only ones who were doing any business! Why do people come to a craft fair to buy mass produced candles?! Go to Michaels. Why pay more for a candle that doesn’t even have a wick?) Besides myself, the only people selling anything handmade was the stall next to me. By noon, they’d made $12. I’d made -$1.25 (I bought a pop.)

I thought their craft stall was brilliant – hand cut wood Halloween lawn ornaments. Their stall was gorgeous – bales of hay their husbands and children had helped set up. The two ladies were wearing matching black outfits with "Trick or Treat" emblazoned across their chests in orange rhinestones. Eerie Halloween music played from behind their table and yet only two sales – a bat for $7 and a trio of candy corn for $5.

Like myself, having never set up stall at a craft show before, they too were Craft Stall Virgins. We didn’t know we were competing with stall owners who brought tents, walls with shelves, and five tables. We didn’t know we were going to get the worst position at the end of the fair near a building site (see background behind my table). We didn’t know we were competing with mass produced rubbish from overseas. Why come to a craft fair for that?

By noon in the hot Michigan sun, we were all sweltering. They gave up at 12:05. Hubby #1 threw the pick up truck in reverse while Hubby #2 removed the police wooden barricade. I’d like to say craft show participants had to run out of the way, but we were the last booths and no one had dared walk that far, so no one was close to being run over. Their cheerleader twins and their boyfriends helped throw the wooden pumpkin lawn ornaments and Frankensteins into the back and they sped away for a "beer in the backyard".

I wanted to yell "Goodbye! At least you’d made $12! But I only waved."

And I was left alone. The last booth in a long line, now an empty gap away from all of the others.

My rescuer, Heather, helped me pick up the lead weighted table and move it close to her booth. I gritted my teeth and began my sales pitch.

"Go Green with a tote bag!"

"Say no to plastic!"

"Buy handmade! Sewn in a living room down the street!"

"Made with the strongest upholstery fabric so it won’t tear or rip. Guaranteed!"

Countless people told me how lovely my bags were, but they’d just bought a reusable shopping bag from Meijer… Target…Kmart. . .Kroger (hello, Kroger is out of business) for $1. How much were mine? I’m sorry people, but I just cannot compete with $1. These are the same people who would say they’re against child labor! Who do they think is going to make something for $1?

Craft may be dead in Plymouth, but I’m so glad there’s a revival internet community.

We need a craft fair revolt!
p.s. - I'm pleased to say that in a rush of pedestrian traffic starting at 3 p.m. (is there a magic fair selling hour?), I finally had a flurry of sales which continued the rest of the evening! Hurray!

Operation Hand Made

The crafty ideas had been brewing in my head even before my mother and I went to stay at the hospital. I had signed up to have a craft stall for one day at the Plymouth Fall Festival. My mom was supposed to be in the hospital for three days maximum, so I thought that would leave us plenty of time to prepare. I hadn’t planned on ten days.

I had a stack of half finished bags, some earrings, and bears whose bodies needed sewing. Plus the day after we returned home, I had to start working from home again – modified London hours – 5:30 a.m. Thank God for telephones and the internet which have allowed me to work from home.

I had signed up for the stall because I had visions of my mom and I leisurely sewing together preparing our handmade goods. Yeah right. By the time she got out of hospital, I only had four days to prepare. Not two weeks. After working a full London day, I was appliquing, hand stitching teddy bears, and sewing. Seeing as I was struggling, my mother (only just out of hospital) took control of the sewing machine (didn’t I say she was strong like an ox) and left me in her dust of her old Singer. We finished everything Friday night.

Saturday morning 8 a.m., my stall was ready for the annual sunrise pancake crowd. I waited. . .

and waited. . .

and waited. . .

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

You Know You're Working Too Much When. . .

You look forward to a ten day stay at the hospital as a vacation.

My crafter extraordinaire mother had to have back surgery. She had the first operation which resulted in more pain than before the surgery. The doctors then discovered my mother had a major blood clot resting on her spine, so they had to do a second surgery. I knew she must have been in terrible pain when she didn’t object. My mother is strong like an ox and would deny ever being sick, so for her to agree with no objection, I knew it must have been worse than she was letting on.

Hospitals are no place for sick people. After the second op, she caught pneumonia from one of the nurses. Why does the hospital let sick people look after other sick people? Surely hospital staff must have sick days?

Hospitals are also no place to get any rest. Who can sleep through the night with assistants coming in every hour to check vitals. Why this is necessary when she has one of those red lights taped on her finger that feeds vitals to a monitor, I have no idea.

I know about this every hour wake up routine because I stayed with my mom – night and day - the whole ten days in her room. I became quite used to the pull out sofa couch and left it permanently made as a bed. For the first day, my mother had to lay flat on her back for 24 hours (and that’s after having back surgery – how excruciating!) because the doctor had nicked her spinal sack and spinal fluid leaked. Well, the nurses hardly ever came in to give her ice cubes. If I hadn’t have been there, I don’t know how she would have had anything to drink.

The only time I left her room was to eat (I could not possibly eat another Taco Bell Nachos Bell Grande for the rest of the year. . .well, maybe in November.) and use the internet. This is the waterfall next to the public computer where I surfed.

Taking time out from my normal work life made me realize I really missed working on the crafty projects my mother and I used to do together and that I have the very best teacher (a retired tailor) from whom to learn to sew, so I’d better get started.

Sew long for now and don’t get sick!