Thursday, December 2, 2010

Little Quilts

While the Handmade Holidays movement is appealing to me in terms of resisting consumerism, teaching my children the "real" meaning of Christmas, and showing off my crafty self, I'll admit that this year I'm handcrafting my children's gifts because I'm flat broke. There is really nothing left at the end of the month, with mortgage and childcare payments, and part-time pay. Often there's nothing left in the middle of the month, either. Things are about as bad, financially, as they've ever been. It's time to put snow-tires on the van but there's no money for that. Each month we wonder if we can hang on a bit longer (till I go back to full-time work) or if we should think about selling the homestead.

I don't think I would be alone in acknowledging the fact that choosing to live simply is based in large part on our income. It would be much easier to just go out and buy gifts, pyjamas, etc. for my kids for Christmas. And I know that a day might come where the little handmades I offer don't seem like "enough". But my mom mentioned the other day how lucky I am that my kids don't watch TV the way we did when we were kids. They really have no idea what's out there in terms of toys. When I asked them what they'd like Santa to bring, they were kind of stumped. So, anything new-to-them that's wrapped and under the tree will bring as big a thrill as some shinily-packaged, plastic-wrapped, store-bought gift.
I'm trying to kick the Facebook habit that has begun to absorb much of my "spare" time. Last night, instead of sitting there like a crackhead, chatting with friends and looking at other people's photos, I sat at the kitchen table and sewed these two quilt tops. We plan to repaint a small bunkbed, crib, and rocking chair for the girls, and present them with a little doll nursery, complete with colourful little quilts. The nine-patch is one of the easiest of quilt patterns: just cut out five squares of one colour, and four of another, and sew them together to create a checkerboard. Lots of these blocks will use up your scrap stash, and could turn into a quilt of any size you wish!

You can find a tutorial for log-cabin blocks here.

Every year I plan to send Christmas cards. "Plan" is the operative word, here. As a schoolteacher, December is particularly busy for me: with the normal decorating/baking/gift-making/etc. that goes into preparing my home, I also create gifts for my students, plan and rehearse our Christmas concert performance, transform the dramatic play centre into a Toy Shop, and so on. But with my rediscovered, Facebook-free time last night, I stitched this little patch, which I will glue onto cardstock. To keep things within reason, I've decided to send cards only to friends and family I see/talk to regularly, instead of to everyone in my address book. I know the ease with which I get overwhelmed. I love the word "peace"...and dream of really feeling it in my heart this holiday season.


  1. Although I can't see the quilt tops (did you post pics?) I'm sure they are beautiful. Perhaps they will show up when I look from the home computer.
    Being broke at Christmas leaves you no choice but to remember the real meaning behind it all. Your handmade gifts are treasures and even after your children start to want the things their friends will be getting, too, they will cherish the things you made/make. I applaud your FB free time and that you are using it so well.
    Wishing you much PEACE, my sweet sister.

  2. The quilt tops are beautiful. Things are tight over here too. I have been buying my girls gifts all year. Mostly at yard sales and second hand stores. There are a few handmade projects I'm going to try to get done for then before Christmas.

  3. I sure can relate, Stephanie. With my husband out of work (unless you count our Etsy shop!) this Christmas is very lean for us too. But in a way I'm glad, because it FORCES us to slow down and keep things simple and handmade. Almost every year I say I'm going to cut back on gifts, but somehow it doesn't happen. This year, our Christmas morning really will be pared back with only a few books as gifts, some handmade things, and a special breakfast. I'm looking forward to it!

    Don't worry about handmade gifts not being enough as your children grow--you'd be surprised. I'm making a doll quilt for my almost-12 year old that I know she'll love, and dh is making her a doll bed. For her upcoming birthday I'm making her a decorative banner for her bedroom out of quilting scraps and an old blanket. Actually I think anyone at any age, unless they are really used to consumerism, would love a handmade gift.

    I wish you all the best Stephanie. I hope things get better for you guys and that the possibility of selling the homestead becomes a distant, laughable memory. :)


  4. My favourite Christmas gifts that I received as a child, were the ones my mother handmade for me when things were tight. There was a wonderful wonky dinosaur stuffed animal, and some knitted Barbie clothes. I treasured them. And, for what it's worth, even my 11 and 13-year-old STILL love receiving handmade and new-to-them gifts.

    Your quilts are gorgeous! What child wouldn't be excited about that set of gifts you are creating? You could go into business crafting such all of that spare time you have.

    *Peace*, love, and light...

  5. I love all your creative ideas to create magic for your children with your own homemade talents and love. I think this is a reminder to all, to search out the gifts we can offer with out running out and shopping our heads off. I am inspired. thank you.
    Peace. xo

  6. Your handmade gifts and time spent with them will be the things your kids remember. The shiny plastic toys mass-produced for those of us drawn into the consumer Christmas flow too easily through little hands into the wastebin! Keep up the good fight, try not to be dismayed (or worse yet, guilty) and love your family this Christmas!

  7. Crackhead. You're so funny. I know the feeling though. I, like you, am a Facebook addict. I love your little quilts. I really want to try quilting but am scared. I think I could manage a top but binding and quilting leave me shaking in my crafty boots. Your girls will love it :)

  8. You're so creative Stephanie! I feel for you and your financial woes. Things aren't too bad here on our homefront, but they've been better. That's why I've decided to get a second job, and can barely find time anymore to check Facebook and haven't blogged in over a month (sniff). Looking forward to your postings throughout the holidays!

  9. I love your post. As a Momma with a 28-year-old (can it be?? I am just 28, too... ) the best Christmas he said he remembers is the year I only $30 to spend. He had a few "precious desirables" under the tree (I believe it was a few books, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and a game), but most were from my hands. And, we did something every day to celebrate the holiday -- bake cookies, make cards, gather natural items to decorate, go to for walks to look at lights, make ornaments from handmade playdough and go to the midnight Love Feast and walk home in the snow together, his hand in mine. I treasure that holiday and, as Mary, I ponder its magic in my heart.

    Your chldren know you love them. And, unless you tell them differently, they will think themselves favored Christmas morning.

    Hang in there! Things will get brighter!



  10. Handmade gifts are special in a way that store bought can't really compete with. There is alot to be said with keeping things simple. My favorite gifts were the handmade mittens my granny used to knit me. They were made like animal characters, and there would be eyes and a tongue that would stick out when you opened your hands. I haven't seen those mittens since the mid 70's...should check to see if my little sis has the pattern.
    This year my favorite gift is my army guy is home soon, and all in one piece/peace.

  11. Those little quilts are the gifts your little ones will remember years from now, not anything you could buy in a store, regardless of whether you had the money to spend or not. You are so very talented, in not only what you create, but in how you are making it a way of life for your children. I get that it may not always be easy,but I admire what you do.

  12. Steph, just think when your kids are 30 years plus and they think back to those Christmas mornings and the joy of receiving those beautiful handmade gifts while other kids where receiving mass quantities of commercial "stuff". They will be in awe of their Mother for finding time to make their special day so special and treasure those gifts and the thought that went into them. The other kids probably won't even remember what they received.
    I recently re-stocked the jewelry making cupboard and plan on making all my gifts for the girls. Wish me luck, its been a long time! xo Cousin Chris.


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