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Category: Finding Time to Sew


Advent Calendar Sew-Along

November 30th, 2010 — 3:10pm

I am, at heart, a planner.  I tend to make lists and sketches and diagrams and schematics, and wrestle endlessly with ideas–talking them out loud to myself as I bring them to life–before I act on my plans.  Sometimes this looks like procrastination, sometimes it looks like too many ideas, but it’s where my best work gets done as often as not.  There are occasions, though, where I get an idea and it takes hold of me and I run with it.  This is one of those times.  Better yet, it’s one of the times when I get an idea from a plan I’ve been dreaming up, and the two have wild hairy babies and take off into the wild world, breeding huger plans that involve all of you, too.  So, I’m kind of excited about this today, and hope you’ll play along with me.

Here’s what happened:

Yesterday, I was sort of lazily looking around the (messy) studio, thinking to myself, “What should I sew next?” in the lackadasical way of someone who has something to do but has forgotten about doing it.  And then it hit me: Advent calendar.  How many days left until December?  Ooops.

Last year, I planned to sew an Advent calendar based on the one my mother had made when my sister and I were young.  It never happened.  So this year, at the Sewing Retreat, I was working through plans and deciding what I wanted it to look like, determined that I would get it done this year.  I didn’t get it done yet.  I had a vision of a patchworked and semi-quilted project that would last until my own children have children, very much in the style of the one my mother still hangs every year.

Last night, before I taught my class at the shop, I mentioned all this to Diana, our intrepid manager extraordinaire.  I lamented how challenging it would be to make this calendar in one-and-a-half days, but was determined to see it happen this year.  The design is a village path leading between houses, with a chapel at the end, twenty-four buildings in all.  A (fabric) paper doll family moves from house to house over the course of the Advent season, arriving at the chapel on Christmas Eve to await the birth of the baby Jesus.  The foundation of the whole thing, which is designed to hang on a door or wall, isn’t the challenge–it’s all those little houses!  Diana, who always says just the right single word or phrase to fire off a million ideas in my head and make the final details click, says, “You can make one house a day.”  That was all. And the light went on: What if I make one house a day?  Like, through the Advent season?  And this year, as the little family makes their way to the chapel, the village grows–and then next year and every year after, the calendar is done and ready to enjoy?  Brilliant!

But of course, being me, I continued to think about the plan, and it began to take on a larger form all of its own: what if as I make each house, I blog each house?  And share them with you, like an Advent house-of-the-day as December moves along?  Fun!  But then, I have some other really cool stuff I want to do on the blog this December, and I don’t want to pepper everyone with multiple posts per day.  So maybe the houses go on their own page?  And I link to them from the main page?  But wait!!  Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make little houses together?  Like….like…like an Advent Calendar Sew-Along!

The fabulous wreath featured on this button is available from georgiapeachez in her Etsy shop–love those vintage bulbs!

And now here we are!  I’m delighted to invite you to join me in sewing my Advent calendar this December, bit by bit, all of us together so that we can finally, finally get it completed and share it with our families.  It’s such a great tradition, and one I loved so deeply as a child, and I hear and read so much about so many of us wishing we’d found the time to make one.  In the spirit of our 2010 Sewing Goals, let’s make the time and sew them alongside one another.

You’re certainly not limited to making a calendar like mine, although I’ll be sharing details, tutorials and templates as we go along if that’s what you want to do.  I’ve compiled a list of amazing and modern and inspiring Advent calendars to sew all over the web for you to pick from–just making one while the rest of us do is enough to share the spirit!

I’ve placed a button in the sidebar to click each day and see the newest little house go up on the background.  I’m super looking forward to seeing all the many, many variations out there, and can’t wait to see this one finished and drinking in the buzz and the warmth of Christmas!

Advent calendar designs, tutorials, and inspiration:

  • The Whipstitch Village Path Advent calendar! Follow along each day starting tomorrow, and see the circa-1975 inspiration here.
  • Embroidered felt Advent calendar on Purl Bee
  • Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! shows a quilted calendar on Sew, Mama, Sew
  • Jenny B Harris of All Sorts does a pocket-style calendar
  • Wouldn’t these stacked fabric Christmas trees make a sweet Advent calendar display on a table top?  From the Small Object.
  • Liesl Gibon’s lovely mitten calendar on Oliver + S
  • Wool stars Waldorf-inspired calendar from Heirloom Seasons
  • This blanket stitch garland from Anna Maria could be a super cute Advent garland, too!
  • Super sweet felt calendar from Inchmark (via The Long Thread)
  • Teeny tiny stocking calendar from Trillium (love this one!)
  • Miniature Santa sack Advent calendar from The Mother Huddle (via CraftGossip)
  • House of many windows Advent calendar tutorial from See Mommy Sew
  • Little Birdie Advent calendar from Skip to My Lou
  • Modern quilted Advent wall hanging from Freshly Pieced
  • String of Lights Advent calendar garland from Elsie Marley
  • Updated 12/1: I just learned through Dana of MADE that Homemade by Jill has been hosting an Advent Calendar Sew-Along, too!  See all the posts here.
  • Fairytale Pumpkin has Advent calendar kits available for purchase.
  • Pocket Advent calendar from Noodleheads
  • Did I miss a really great modern Advent calendar?  Add the link in the comments and I’ll update the list!

17 comments » | Finding Time to Sew, Holiday Sewing, Sewing for the Home, Sewing Tutorials

New Beginnings

August 10th, 2010 — 2:02pm

Here in the Steamy South, school goes back in August.  I assume that’s because June is lovely and breezy and August is sweltering and intolerably hot, so why waste June in the classroom when you can while away the hottest days of August there, in the A/C?  So yesterday, I packed my eldest off with her brand-new lunch bag and sent her along to school.  Monday, I’ll do the same with #2 and #3.  And as they begin a new school year, I’m beginning some projects of my own–the reinstitution of naptime around here is about to make me a much happier mommy.

  • Off to a good start is the City Weekend lap quilt for the shop, made with one jelly roll and one petit four (the latter scored at Quilt Market in Houston).  I am over the moon over this collection, and have almost as big a crush on it as I do on designer Liesl Gibson, of Oliver + S.
  • Making solid progress on the two wall hangings I started in April (argh!) for the walls of the shop.  I’ve had some design dissatisfaction, and have basically taken every opportunity to back-burner the project.  Now’s the time to get this puppy done so it won’t be hanging over my head any longer (although, now that I think of it, it will quite literally be hanging over my head when it’s finished, so…).
  • Have washed and tumble dried all the fabulous Patty Young knits that I picked out to make back-to-school out fits for the kids (including baby #4, because why should she be left out just because she’s so little?).  Am here to tell you that the up-to-20% shrinkage warnings are accurate, but that the buttery-velvet softness of these fabrics is impossible to sum up in words–you really must try them!

I love the start of a new school year.  Fresh notebooks, clean backpacks, cheese sticks in the fridge.  The absolute breath of possibility.  The certainty that You Can Do It.

Happy school year, y’all.

Comment » | Clothing for Kids, Finding Time to Sew

On Domesticity

July 9th, 2010 — 1:43pm

I’ve been feeling domestic lately.  In a lot of senses of the word.  I feel like being home more.  I feel like tidying and being the “domestic help” and get huge satisfaction out of making my house neat as a pin.  I’ve been working on small projects for our home, like a quilt for the girls’ room and knitted dishcloths for the kitchen.  When I sat down to title images for this post, I mis-typed one as “domessticity,” which I think is much closer to how I usually function: the chaos is our norm, and we have learned how to function in and around it.  But these past few weeks, I’ve had moments of epiphany, moments of sitting with our children while we enjoy a quiet lunch and I am quietly happy.  Moments of knitting the evening away, and when the baby cries, feeling content to rock her, with no thought of anything missing.  Moments of deep satisfaction at the sewing machine, creating for my home and my family.

I’m always struck by how many women I meet who were driven to sew when they had children, or when they married and had their first home.  Something about building a life bigger than ourselves inspires us to nest and embrace the domestic.  I think there is a silent and ugly undercurrent that wants us to apologize for that, to feel lessened by it, to see it as constraint.  I don’t.  I think I did once, maybe, but there is no trace of that now.  I embrace it, am inspired by it, am spurred on by it to create and to bask in the renewal that creation brings.  I am having an extended moment, I suspect, and in it I am seeing that there is a cycle of which I am part: the feeling of wholeness brings the desire to create, which adds to the feeling of wholeness, and the warmth that comes with it makes me want to repay by creating something new, and on and on.  It’s not selling out, and it’s not giving in.  It’s something I think I’ve been searching for, and it feels deeply satisfying to have found it.

I think I might be growing up.

1 comment » | Finding Time to Sew, Sewing Inspiration

Why Bother to Sew??

February 11th, 2009 — 5:34am

Great compendium of sewists’ answers to that question over on the blog of Oliver + S pattern designer Liesl. Why do YOU sew??

Happy stitching, everyone!

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