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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book a Day, or an Exercise in Flexibility

So how are the holidays going for you?  I think for we crafty, DIY people, the holidays can sometimes be daunting.  We want to lovingly hand-craft everything, from gifts to decorations to food, and it's just too much all at once.  Each year I force myself to do less, and to be less exacting about the things I choose to do, and while it's still a busy, stressful time, it's gotten better.  It's always a conscious exercise for me, though, it doesn't come naturally.

My sister mentioned at Thanksgiving that one of her friends had a tradition of wrapping up one book a day for her children during the month of December, so they could open a book each day and read it.  Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of Christmas books to display and read, but I liked the idea of wrapping the books and making a special deal out of one each day, a literary advent calendar.  Books are really important to us, so I decided this was a project worth doing.  I don't really do wrapping paper though, so I decided to sew little bags for the books that we could re-use each year.

I try really hard to not just knee-jerk run to the fabric store every time I start a new project, so I investigated my stash, but nothing promising turned up.  I was really, really tempted to just go out and buy some burlap, add some red ribbon, and call it good.  But as a last ditch effort, I rifled through a bag of clothes a relative had given me, and found a huge, cuddly, fleece sweater.  In red.  Now I was getting somewhere.  Further investigation turned up a man's button up shirt in a bright solid red, and one in a red plaid.  To contrast with all the red I found a long brown linen dress, and a beige and white check gingham piece of fabric that I've overlooked earlier in my stash.  I laid the books out on the clothes as you can see below, and cut out my fabric:

For the sake of conserving fabric,and  for cleaner lines, I didn't want to do drawstring bags, so I just made a simple fold-over flap witih a ribbon closure.  I don't have a tutorial because it was first of all, very basic, and second of all, pretty down and dirty sewing.  As you can see in the pictures, some of the bags I didn't even turn, just left the raw edges facing out- for artistic effect, of course.  I planned to add numbers to the books by just glueing on ribbon- Roman numerals instead of Arabic ones, since the straight lines of the Roman numerals are easier, but when after three or four days I hadn't gotten to it, my eleven year old daughter volunteered, and get this- I let her do it all by herself.  A personal triumph for a mom who tends to micromanage everything.  It's not the perfectly polished job I would have done myself, assuming I ever got around to it, but it's done, and she's thrilled with it, and in years to come I know I'll feel very sentimental every time I look at them and think about her doing that for me:

Are these as pretty and polished looking as I imagined them in my head?  No.  But are they done?  Yes.  Do they look cute all in their basket if you don't get close enough to notice dangling threads and wrinkles?  Yes.  And most importantly, are my children enjoying opening their books each day to read?  Yes.  Numbers and all, the project wasn't even finished until the 10th day of the month, and to tell the truth, we haven't caught up yet, but I'm okay with that, too.  It's done, so next year it will all be ready to go right on time, like a little gift I've given my future self.

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