OK, our Sundays are never really lazy, but today was rainy, and rainy Sundays feel like they should be lazy. And what better way to spend the single 90 minutes of downtime I had between putting Bitsy down for her nap, baking brownies for the parish picnic, and shuttling all three kids to said picnic (rain or shine!) in order to socialize while they practiced for a tough mudder, than to teach Sally to sew and start some Christmas crafts?
The picnic was rain or shine.
Anyway… I know, I know, it’s September! But I have already determined that this will be a homemade Christmas for us. I am not as crafty as I am cook-y, but I have such great ideas this year! In order to get them done I will need time. The craft we finished today is actually one I meant to do last year…hence me starting in September. And it’s not for Christmas, it’s for Advent.
Sally has been begging me to teach her to sew for the last few weeks since her First Grade read The Quiltmaker’s Gift, which based on her vivid reenactments seems an engaging story. And of course I remember the day in First Grade that my mom taught me. I made a shirt for myself that looked remarkably like a pillowcase with an unhemmed neck hole. But I have to hand it to my mother. She knew I was proud of that pillowcase shirt. She let me wear it in public. Twice.
I am old enough and wise enough to know that, no, we can’t start learning to sew on a queen-sized patchwork quilt, no matter what Sally says. So I rummaged around in my sewing organizer and discovered among 300 buttons and 500 pins, a single needle… and the purple felt I bought last year to make an Advent wreath mat.
Advent is actually my favorite Liturgical season, and the wreath is one of my favorite Catholic traditions. I have been making one since I moved out on my own, singing the refrain of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” every night as I lit the candles. Last year I finally treated myself to a wreath form–I got tired of bending pine boughs into a circle with floral wire. And I have learned since getting my first grown-up dining table that pine wreaths aren’t friendly to wood finish. It made sense to put the wreath on a mat, but it didn’t look good on a placemat. Then I thought, “The tree has a skirt, why can’t the Advent wreath?”
But I thought this in A.C. Moore on December 15th, so even though I bought two sheets of 9-by-12″ purple felt (approx. $0.30 each) I didn’t do more with them than sorta-kinda slip them under the wreath, staggering them because one was not big enough.
So I found the felt this weekend while Sally was pestering me again to teach her to sew. And I decided that a single seam is a pretty good place to start sewing, and a project so readily completed is great for nourishing a First Grader’s sense of accomplishment.
Sally wanted to use the bright pink thread she found. This was perfect, because Advent’s colors are purple and pink. I taught her to pin the good sides together, to hold the needle, and to give a gentle tug. (I cut the rectangles into a rough oval. Mommy’s Fiskars are for grown-ups.)
Half-way through we stopped to tie-off and re-thread, because making the thread too long is a rookie mistake. She sewed patiently and diligently.
I am so proud of my baby.
Honestly, I don’t even know if the mat will fit, because since we moved I have no idea where anything is and I can’t pull the wreath form out to test it. But the result is so cute that if it doesn’t fit we’ll just make another one and put this on the kids’ table.
After she finished sewing the seam I knotted the thread for her, opened the mat, and ironed it flat.
So did I also mention that when it comes to Christmas, I love glitter? This was our finishing touch.