...of the Henry Glass Very Merry Holiday Party, that is.
I hope you've had fun so far, visiting my good friend Shelly Comiskey and the talented Wilma Sanchez yesterday - and if you missed them the first 2 days, you should go back and visit the amazing Linda Lum DeBono, Little Quilts, Dawn Heese, and Jill Finley. These talented ladies have all got some supercool special treats for you and it's definitely worth dropping in!
As for me, ohmygosh, I've got so much to share with you here today! This is sort of like three blog posts in one, so I recommend you settle in with a lovely beverage and let's get started:
1. Favorite Holiday Decoration and Tradition
If you're a regular here at the Artstuff blog, you may know a little something about my family. How we tend to never throw anything away, ever. How we love holidays and getting together. How my grandparents collected and created just about every funky thing you could imagine, and some you probably couldn't.
I wish, oh how I wish, that I could hear my Granddad's high-pitched giggle if he ever heard the word "upcycling" and it was explained to him how trendy the concept is. Granddad was the original upcycler. One example: all the years he worked for the power company he would scavenge old motors from scrapped utility meters to mechanize his own Christmas decorations. Every inch of their big house, where we would gather every Christmas, was decorated, and beneath the Christmas music, laughter, talking over one another, and jingling bells was always the buzzy hum of hundreds of tiny motors.
to what, looking back, I realize were simply areas between the beams in unfinished sections of walls (Granddad designed and built their 4-story, 18-room house and it was a "work in progress" for the entire 50-some years he lived in it).
I can't say there was one particular favorite decoration out of the whole mess. It's the overwhelming kitschy mechanized excess that I loved so much; my Granddad's over-the-top style was a running theme through everything he created.
My grandparents both passed long ago, and that big crazy old house is gone. Christmas day is still spent with a big, loud bunch of family, laughing and talking over each other. The decorations are spread between grandkids' and great grandkids' homes, a good portion of them residing here now with us, although no one really knows how to keep those salvaged little motors running like Granddad could.
2. Favorite Family Recipe
Every family has them: those deep dark secrets, those terrifying controversies.
Mine is no different.
Yes, I said it. Jello salad. Specifically, a sweet-savory molded red salad filled with vegetables and canned seafood. The dreaded Shrimp Aspic. The name itself strikes fear in the hearts of cousins, nieces, nephews, and close family friends. True, deep-seated fear.
For generations this dish has horrified unsuspecting guests, scared away possible suitors, and torn at the very fabric of an otherwise close and agreeable bunch of folks. The words "Shrimp Aspic" are uttered in hushed, fearful tones, staring with hollow, darting eyes. They run, but they can't hide. It reappears every time we get together. There on the buffet among savory goodies much more appetizing to the modern palate. Goodies that don't jiggle creepily when they're touched. Goodies that you don't have to ask "what in the world is that?"
The Shrimp Aspic eaters of the family are a stealthy bunch. Laughing along at Shrimp Aspic jokes, comforting those who are frightened by the jiggling terror on the buffet. Then quietly taking second, even third helpings, and filling old cottage-cheese containers to take home to eat later.
You may notice there is written evidence of even more family controversy here: "Shirl adds black olives and hard-boiled eggs, I don't!"
To be fair, my Aunt Shirl's own signature Jello salad, also still making regular appearances on family get-together buffet tables, goes by many names: Ambrosia, That Pistachio Salad, or most often, simply Green Fluff. It is, undoubtedly, Shrimp Aspic's most deadly nemesis. Those who fear Jello can often be subdued by marshmallows and whipped cream. It's a scientific fact.
3. Free Project Download:
For my project I wanted to make something using my One Crazy Christmas Eve fabrics.
Now you probably already know, I do not claim to know how to sew. I did, however, make my husband's and my stockings several years ago. For those I laid out some pieces of velvet and cut them freehand into stockingy shapes, hand-stitched them together, then stitched random trims and tassels onto them. You throw enough trims and tassels on any lumpy, odd-shaped sewing project and you're golden. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
They're ridiculously lumpy, though, because they are both lined with super heavy velvet from an old coat of my grandmother's that we found (already disaseembled, pieces folded neatly and ready for projects) in her sewing cabinet. Reaching for goodies on Christmas morning has never been softy-er.
Click the picture of the patterns for your downloadable PDF. This pattern shape will end up making a cute stocking, whether you know how to sew or not - as the following tutorial proves. And I do use the word "tutorial" loosely here.
First, I'm so excited about my new fabric-and-large-paper-cutting area. I know, it's nothing fancy; technically it's just the laundry area with a cutting mat on it - but the new front-loading washer and dryer add so much new surface area to our tiny house that I'm beside-myself-giddy about it. I bought the new cutting mat to fit, and last week I spent a few days doing nothing but putting up pegboard panels and shelves and organizing the space.
Again, giddy. Seriously.
So. The stocking. First, I taped together and cut out the pattern pieces. You'll see mine are empty (no writing) because remember, I'm inventing this as I go along; I wanted to make sure the sizes and shapes worked before finalizing the pattern-page design.
Then I trimmed the pattern down to the red outlines, and cut the lining. The lining is a smidge smaller so it will fit nicely inside the body, and the toe doesn't go all the way out to the point - I'll show you why in a minute.
Then the cuff. I designed the cuff pattern as one long piece to wrap around because I thought it would make a more rounded, nice opening. I really wanted to use one of the stripes for this but realized that because of the curve of the piece, if I wanted the stripes to all be at a uniform angle, I would have to piece lots of small sections, and you will see more and more as we go along why that wouldn't have been a good idea for me. You, however, might want to give that a try, I'm sure it would be very cute!
For my first step, I made the only part of this that I was confident in both my plan and my ability. The loopy hook.
I thought that reinforcing it with something stronger inserted inside would be smart. Here I used a piece of heavy hemp ribbon folded in half lengthwise.
With the fabric facing inside, I sewed around the main body, then cut notches in the curved parts; the idea is that it lays down more neatly when turned back around right-side-out. I am not sure if my notches did this.
I ironed down the top edge to run an extra little seam along there, so no raw edges show. You will see I went a little no-raw-edge crazy with this project which ultimately left me with a pretty lumpy finished product. You may want to skip this step, or go about it in a more logical and sensible fashion, as you were taught in Home-Ec or something.
I never had Home-Ec; we were allowed a total of 2 electives per semester and Art and Band filled my schedule. I may not be able to sew well, but if the need arises, I can play piccolo while marching in-time. Oh, and the time-spent-in-art-classes thing has worked out alright, too.
20+ years ago my puppies destroyed some throw pillows. I safety-pinned them together to keep the stuffing mostly-inside, threw them in the washing machine to remove any residual puppy-chewing-goo, and I have been using the stuffing ever since in random projects.
You won't need to turn your lining back out again like the other pieces, because you want it to face inside. Sort of like the top sheet on your bed.
I turned mine for a few minutes though, so I could add my little signature.
I know, it's sort of dorky, but I like to add a little piece of the selvedge as a "tag" when I make stuff with my own fabric.
Next, assembling the cuff. Now, this is where I got scared, because my brain has trouble wrapping itself around 3-dimensional engineering-type projects. You know, how stuff fits together. I pulled out my notes to make sure I was doing it as I had planned.
And to heed my own warning. You may or may not remember my swim-trunks adventure, and how after sewing the lining together, they went from practical swim-trunks to "unlined-lounging boxers".
At least I understand my limitations.
For the cuff, first I sewed the end seams of each piece together. I turned one inside out, and laid them together with the fronts facing each other, seams and points lined up. Then I sewed the bottom seams (the pointy part!).
I thought that it might be clever to sew the pom-poms on while I had the pieces open at the top, before I attached them to each other.
This way the extra thread could just live untrimmed on the inside part.
As clever as I thought this was, it did make some of the assembly and final ironing more difficult than it had to be. It's probably smarter to wait until you are finished with the rest before deciding on and adding your pom-poms, jingle bells, or I thought even cute buttons might be a neato addition to the points.
And again with my inability to wrap my brain around 3-dimensional assembly. I thought it would be very neat and tidy to insert the ends of the hangy hook (which is stitched together a crazy amount there inside this thing, in case I ever want to put something very heavy into this stocking) inside some hem or other, and the cuff seemed like the logical choice, since it would be the outermost piece.
I imagined that this piece would be wrapped around over the top of the stocking, thus this weird extra tucking-under and sewing-down thing that's going on here. Don't do this.
This could have worked if my upside-down and backwards assembly that I had worked out in my head was not the wrong flavor of upside down and backwards. I am still not sure what the right flavor of upside down and backwards is, and I'd kind of rather not hurt my brain thinking of that now.
After sewing together and ripping out the seams on more than one version, I decided to loosely tack my new attempts at engineering how this thing goes together rather than pinning, so I'd have a better idea what it would look like before actually sewing it. Oh, and, this version was upside down, too. Don't do this, either.
But the one pictured below worked. I turned the stocking inside out, and sewed the cuff on like so
then when the whole thing is turned back around, that whole seam-on-the-underneath-side concept actually works. Although my obsession with tucking seams under at every edge helped create a really bulky, lumpy end product. Well, that, or my sloppy sewing. You decide. Either way, I am guessing you will figure out a more sensible way for your own stocking to be assembled. I mean really, what are a few raw edges on the underside of a cuff, anyway?
The spoils of the day:
about a mile of thread ripped from wrong seams, and one broken sewing machine needle. That hangy loop ended up being folded over itself way too many times in order to face the right direction after being so dramatically and severely attached to that cuff in such a weird way. Like sewing through a stack of hot-press illustration board.
It's a stocking with stockings on it: a stocking stocking. What could be more stockingy?
You made it through the rest of this epic post, you deserve a prize. So I'm having a name-drawing for a fat quarter bundle of all 21 coordinates from One Crazy Christmas Eve! You saw the fat-quarters all stacked neatly on the corner of my cutting area - this is what they were waiting for.
To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Jello dish. Are you afraid of Jello? That's alright, just say so; that will enter you in the drawing just the same, and I promise the Shrimp Aspic Monster will not visit you in the night and steal your appetite. Really.
You have until Thanksgiving to enter (yes, that's the next time I will be seeing Shrimp Aspic myself) and I will announce a winner on Black Friday.
Now be sure to swing by the Henry Glass blog every day this week to enter the BIG contest there, for a big fabric bundle PLUS small gifts from every one of the designers participating in the blog hop! Wow! All you have to do is match us to our childhood holiday pictures. Ok, you don't have to guess correctly to win. But I think you'll have fun trying!
Have fun at the rest of this party! Today hop on over to my Day 4 partners, Leanne Anderson and Margot Languedoc for their super fun goodies, and tomorrow make sure to go visit Kari Ramsey and Heather Mulder Peterson! And check here (or just take a peek at my last post, right below this one!) for links to the rest of your fabulous party hostesses, cheers!
And finally - if you're looking for One Crazy Christmas Eve - you can still find it out there if you look, although it was last year's pattern so it may be a little few and far between. But I do have some yardage available in my Etsy shop, while it lasts!