Thursday, December 20, 2012

Week 50 or (Teacher) Goodie Bags

We're heading off for a few days, including Christmas, in the mountains. Not that we're necessarily going skiing or hiking or snowshoeing. Or really anything involving the outdoors. The hotel has a fancy pool, with big and little water slides and a hot tub. There's an indoor water park at another hotel in town. And there are outlets. Shopping as well as electrical.
That's an 18" ruler. I cut the round piece freehand.

Ready for a roller skating sleepover.
With gifts like these, you need a fancy bag.
Before we leave, we need to get through one more day of school, though. Which means I need to kick it into gear with the goodies for the teachers. Most people stick with a small something for their child's teacher. But I was raised by a teacher and a crafter/student. And my husband was raised a giver. He always overspends on gifts and he'd rather err on the side of generosity, be it in sending MP3's, tipping waitstaff or giving to teachers. So we get something small for every person who has contact with our kids. This year that's 12 people. Make that 14, but it's too late to make another 2 bags, so gift certificates it will be for them.

My dad gave us some lovely shiny material a few years back. Maybe he wanted me to make him a vest out of it. Maybe it was for a dress for the girls. In any case, it has been sitting and now it is going out. Last weekend, I made a gift bag for a birthday party my younger daughter attended. I dare say, I would not have minded getting that bag with my own birthday present in it. (It's not the same when you make it for yourself.) A simple not quite perfect circle as a base. A rectangle for the body. A bit of satin cord. An hour later, there was a bag.

The gift tags are this free printable.
Crazy detail: teacher's names used to finish the drawstring casing.
(Zoom in if you need to see it for yourself.)
The other material lent itself better to flat, square bags. More random pattern. More easily cut randomly. Which is what you need when you want to just slice across and down and not worry about whether you cut a giant motif in two different directions. I meant to get more ribbon for drawstrings on Monday. Luckily I had ribbon lying around waiting for a project.

Four larger bags for the teachers in the homerooms and 9 small bags for the rest of the staff. Yes, 9+4=13. One bag went to the younger child before I realized my miscount. Note to self: make the gift list from the staff list, not from memory, next year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Week 49 or Double-Upcycled Super-Fancy Gift Bag

Some time in college, I thought it would be fashionable to cover the yoke of a dress in shimmery black buttons. They were in the nickel bin at Windsor Button. (Ooh... shiny.... buy now, find purpose later...) I made a simple green/black iridescent sheath dress. I sewed 40 black buttons on around the neckline. But only in front. It looked fine lying flat on my bed, but the weight in front couldn't be overcome. And nobody but a stick-thin model with a padded bra will ever look good in a sheath dress. So I wore it once or twice and then packed it away. By the time I got it from the basement of my parents' house 20 years later, it was musty smelling and had mysteriously gotten holes in random places.

Fast forward to Sing Along Mary Poppins 3 weeks ago. (Time flies. I thought it was months ago, but Thanksgiving weekend really was just 3 weeks ago.) Older daughter simple MUST have a costume. She goes rummaging through her stuff and finds nothing. Then she hits my closet and finds The Dress. Which she is astounded to find I am willing to cut up for her. So I do, taking the bottom 8" to make a ruffle at the hem and shortening it to girl length. Except I made it TOO short and now she needs something else to wear. Grr... we need to leave for the movie in minutes and she still doesn't have a hat! Take one mom-sized white Oxford cloth shirt. Turn button-down collar into Peter Pan collar and do some fancy buttoning on the cuffs. Add Mom's sleeveless dress that's maybe too short for a proper mom but is below-the knee and really drop-waist on a 9 year old. Run like heck to the hat store downtown to find the perfect flat-brim blue felt hat. Make it to the movie in time for the costume parade!

All this left me with a completely unwearable shiny green dress with 40 buttons on it. Not even the little sister will wear it. So I cut off all the buttons, along with the top of the bodice. Which happened to be where most of the mysterious holes were. (Perhaps there's some silk in there and some weird decomposition happened. The holes don't follow perspiration or wear patterns. Some are at the edges and others in the center. You may even be able to spot the patches in the top photo.) I sewed it shut roughly along the line of the armpits. (No potential for perspiration-driven decomposition now!) A strip from the lining became a casing for a drawstring. The end of a roll of black ribbon left over from... some craft project from the turn of the century. And now we have a very shiny drawstring gift bag to fit somebody's Christmas present in.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Weeks 47 & 48 or Fancy Wino Bags

Uh. Oops. I got swamped and then I got sick. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

The craft fair I've been dithering over is coming up this weekend, so I got down to business. I finally called the organizer and got the correct date. Thankfully it wasn't last weekend, because I don't think passing out, coughing raucously or sneezing on the merchandise is all that good for sales. Especially when they're also holding a luncheon in the same room. So if you're in the area, stop by Grace Church, across from the library, between 10 and 2 on Saturday.

After making the call, I promptly got sick. Yet another perk of having kids. Although they do force you to get "better" a lot faster. Or at least to get out of bed. There went the weekend, Friday noon to Monday noon, pretty much stuck in bed. Luckily I was able to bookend it with trapeze classes because the other thing going on this weekend is my superhero-themed show. Saturday night, 7:30, at Jordan's. And if you can't make that, the staff is putting on a more comprehensive holiday show, with several very talented performers putting on additional acts, on the 15th at 8:00. There are some serious professionals among them, so it's absolutely worth the price of admission, which is nothing beyond putting up with SRO accommodations and the horrendous acoustics of the Jordan's lobby.

Once I recovered, I had to think of something I could make, and sell, en masse. So I decided to make wine bottle gift bags. I still had large sections of a wine-red gown, so I dug that out. Then I saw a hideous sparkly green velvet shirt that I had thought might turn into a winter church dress for one of the girls. They never bit and I never pushed, so now was its time. Target had some little spools of ribbon in otherwise useless lengths, so I got those for drawstrings. Who else needs 18" of ribbon? Seriously, that is just rude. You know some poor kid found that in the dollar section and was all excited to wrap things in it. Then they got home and it ran out before they even got it off the roll. Grr... great for me, though.

I didn't want to go out and buy fabric to line the bags with, so I folded over a large section at the top. I figured the chances of anyone ever looking below the neck of the bottle were pretty slim. The bags look fully lined when they're tied up, and presentation is what it's all about anyway.

So, the super quick, not for beginners tutorial. Cut a rectangle of fabric 14" wide and 21" long. If you're using material with a finished edge, put that along the 14" side. Fold it right sides together and sew along the 21" and now 7" edges. Make box corners on the bottom. Fold over (to the inside) about 4" of the finished edge and sew it down close to the edge. If there's a wide hem, use that as a casing. Otherwise, sew about 3/4" from the first seam to make a casing. Turn the bag right side out. Use a seam ripper to make an opening in the casing and insert your aforementioned otherwise useless 18" snippet of ribbon. Insert bottle and you're good to go for a party on Park Avenue or in Park Avenue. It's the world's classiest paper bag. And I've got 10 of them, 6 red and 4 green. But only one has the sparkly buttons.