Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boomer Ponders the Joy of Gift Making

For the past couple of weeks I've been attempting to make a homemade gift for a cousin. I say attempting because the process has been anything but smooth. It has called into question whether a personally crafted gift is really worth all the effort. I am not particularly good at crafts. Lack the patience or the imagination. And I don't possess any artistic talents that I could apply to a gift, like photography or painting. But when I put my mind to it, I can at least complete something. And this particular gift recipient seems to appreciate the effort.

Last year my homemade gift was a purse. It turned out pretty cute, not that I expected the item to get used. My daughter received one too and I've never seen her use it. So my expectations on usefulness are appropriately set. I started out buying various project books. What I learned in the process about craft books is that there is usually only one to two projects you would really ever consider doing. The rest are either too difficult or too useless even for my lowered expectations.

I finally settled on an idea that I found in a sewing magazine. So much for all the books. It looked pretty cool and for a moment it even seemed like something someone could use. It's a scarf that calls for 5 layers of fabric, 3 straight seams and trimming the fabric with pinking shears.

Now let's examine this seemingly simple project more closely. First, I did not own pinking shears but $25 bucks later I did. The fabric was inexpensive, roughly $5-$8. But the fabric needed to be cut to a particular size and a rotary cutter was highly recommended. I did not own a rotary cutter. But another $25 bucks later I did, plus I also had a special cutting mat to go with it. Let's just call the spool of matching thread free. The directions also suggested temporary adhesive spray, but I figured straight pins would do just fine. So now I am highly invested in this gift. Granted the scissors and rotary cutter can be used on future imagined projects, but until then, the cost is all wrapped up in this one gift.

So I began my project with high expectations. Cut the fabric with my new rotary cutter. First problem: one of my fabric choices insisted on curling on the edge. But, hey, I can iron it flat later. I pinned the 5 layers of fabric together and managed to keep everything in line while I completed sewing the 3 seams. No problem. Then I began trimming the fabric as directed with the handy dandy pinking shears. The first fabric to be trimmed had a straight line design running through it. Easy to follow that line to cut the fabric. The next fabric did not have such a handy line. No sweat, I can eyeball a 1/4 inch! Problem two: I cannot eyeball 1/4 inch. My zigzag line was zigging and zagging all over the place. Problem three: I am not patient. I mentioned that before right? I learned, if you try to pink your scissors too fast, (is that something I made up?), you can accidently pick up the fabric below and cut a hole in it where you don't want one. Problem four: that curling fabric would not lay flat, even after pressing. When I was all done, I had a sort of interesting looking but not gift-worthy scarf.

So I wrote that scarf off as good practice and went to the store to buy 5 more pieces of fabric. This time, I was careful to pick out some that would not curl. And I invested in a disappearing pencil for marking the fabric's cutting lines, approximately $4. I started this version with great confidence. Cut my fabric then pinned it together. Only this time, I got a bit of a slip when making my 3 seams. Oh well, I can fix that problem later. Then I began the careful process of measuring my pinking scissor lines. Pain in the you know what, and not so great on dark fabic, but have to admit my lines were much straighter. I was on the last step, pinking merrily away, but my hand was hurting and my neck was hurting. Who knew crafting could be so painful? I was getting a bit impatient. Remember, not my strength. And right in the middle of that final trim? You guessed it. I picked up a piece of the underlying fabric and 'pinked' it, leaving a hole right in the middle of the scarf. Now I was not only in pain, I was beside myself with frustration and now heavily invested in a scarf that once again was not giftable. But I won't give up. I've bought another round of fabric and I'm going to try one more time after I buy that temporary adhesive, approximately $12 and a pencil for marking on dark fabric, another $4.

Yesterday I saw some beautiful colorful, ready-made scarfs on sale for $15 and wondered about the choices I sometimes make.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Thing of Beauty

Today I put away my laundry. I had been admiring it for several days before actually putting it away.

When Hubby took over most of the household duties, it became clear that there are things he believes must be done right and things he believes don't need to be done at all. Laundry is one of those things that must be done right. First each item is inspected for spots and sprayed with spot remover. Then if there's any cat hair on the item, and with two cats that's pretty much a forgone conclusion, he runs the lint roller over it. Once the item is washed and dried, he folds it. That's where he is truly an artist. Me? I just quickly make a couple of tucks and I'm done. Hubby places the item flat on the table then with each fold he creases the item flat with his hand. He even has a special tri-fold that he uses for his shirts so that they fit perfectly in his drawer. Those piles of clean laundry are a thing of beauty when he's done.

And he does it day after day and never complains.