Today I’m sharing a couple gifts I made before Christmas. These were mitts I knitted (knooked) for my mother. They were for her birthday in November, but as is occasionally the case with handmade gifts they were a couple weeks late. (Because nothing says, “I love you Mom!” like exactly one knitted glove, right? Oops.) Mom was gracious about the wait. I made these out of sock yarn though the pattern called for heavier. I find that my gauge in knooking is often a little large when the pattern calls for ribbing or something with a lot of stretch. But these worked up quite nicely in the sock yarn, and they’ll be warm and washable. I used the Vineyard Lace Fingerless Gloves pattern and thought it was a good one, but wasn’t sure my choice of yarn showed off the design to its best advantage.
This is a long sleeve shirt I painted. I did one for each of my two nieces, personalized with their initials. I sketched the laurel wreath design on freezer paper, then cut it out to make a stencil. To make the letters I just printed off the lettering I wanted and traced them in good light. As always, I used Martha Stewart craft paint, which works very well and knit shirts and washes quite nicely.
I made printed napkins this year as holiday hostess gifts and gifts for friends. I bought several dozen cloth napkins from an eBay seller because I could not have made such nice napkins so affordably myself. I carved several simple Christmas tree and star shapes out of carving rubber, used a brayer to apply fabric paint to the stamps, and then transferred the stamps to the napkins. Stamping the napkins took a little longer than I’d envisioned, in part because I had to find space all over my house for several dozen painted napkins to dry and in part because the paint was messy business and I frequently had to stop to wash the stamps and the brayer, but I was pleased with the results. They are uneven and blotchy and very homemade looking, but I kind of like that about them. I kept a set for myself too!
I also helped the kids make reindeer napkins for their grandparents. The reindeer face is made by the side of my son’s fist, the eyes are Dorothy’s fingerprints, and red nose is Daphne’s thumbprint. I carved the date and the antlers out of carving rubber. Actually, because I’m an idiot, I first carved the date exactly as I wanted it to appear on the napkin, which of course makes it appear backwards when printed. Oops! But the second time I got it right. These napkins were a big hit and I will enjoy using them at my in-laws’ home during Christmas celebrations of the future.
This is Daphne’s birthday gift. I bought a collection of pretty bows for her from an Etsy seller, but decided to make her a holder for them myself. I painted a piece of canvas board, using a cork to make the white dots. Then I glued ribbon on it for hanging it and for clipping the bows when they come in. Daphne has the greatest hair ever (I’m not biased!) and doesn’t mind wearing things in it, so I think this will make a fun and useful gift for her.
Now that my family room has a new color scheme I needed to change up some of my seasonal accents too. My old fall pillows weren’t going to look right in the new space with all the bright green. Actually, I wasn’t sure what kind of autumn fabric was going to look right so I decided to improvise. I bought bright orange home dec fabric of a similar intensity to the green in my curtains and I cut a tree and leaves out of freezer paper. I free-handed the cutting with my X-acto knife, but was using several images I’d printed from the internet as inspiration. I just searched for “fall tree graphic” to get ideas.
If you’ve not used freezer paper stencils, it’s very easy. You cut out the image you want, press one sheet of uncut freezer paper (always shiny side down) to the BACK of your fabric with a hot iron to stabilize it, then press your stencil to the front. Then just dab Martha Stewart Craft Paint (or some other fabric paint) into the cut areas of your design and let it dry.
This is the mess you will have after all the cutting.
Then after the paint has dried, carefully peel off the freezer paper. Usually the stencil can be reused a couple times.
This is what my new pillows look like on the sofa. The stencil turned out well and the colors are perfect, bringing in fall without trying to overthrow my punchy bright green.
I also cut leaves out of scrapbook paper and made a leaf bunting for windows on each side of the room and one to go over the fireplace.
To cut the leaves I just printed some leaf templates off the internet and used them as cutting guides. It didn’t take long.
After I got my pillows and my leaf swags done I lit a pumpkin pie candle and then felt sort of pissed off that the weather was still very summery! I’m not one to rush the seasons, but my shorts just weren’t working for me after I cut out all those leaves. Fortunately, Mother Nature seems to be cooperating with my seasonal decorating scheme now and has cooled things off a bit. Then I dug out my pie spice from the back of the cabinet and made spiced applesauce muffins and everything felt just fine.
This year my boy Worth started kindergarten. Somehow going from homeschooling one child while I had two littles at home, to homeschooling two children while I have one little at home felt like a real shift. Now that I’m lesson planning for and teaching two children the job of “homeschool teacher” feels more like a vocation than it ever did. I feel very satisfied in this roll, and I wanted to do something special to signal our shift to being a household where two of the children are officially learning at home, and their mother isn’t likely to see a paycheck in this era. So I enlisted a designer on Etsy to create a homeschool logo for us. We call ourselves DeWees Academy. We sent the designer some ideas (like including our beloved blue sofa, where all the action happens!) and she sent back her ideas, which she patiently revised until our family reached consensus on this nice design. Then I had the logo digitized for my embroidery machine, and I stitched up sturdy canvas school supplies for all my kids. Though not-quite-2-year-old Daphne is still a long way from needing a school bag herself I didn’t think she’d appreciate being left out. Each kid got their supplies in a different color for ease of sorting, and each got a canvas tote for taking work in the car when necessary, a pencil case, and a composition book cover.
On the first day of school I posed Worth in this big t-shirt, which (inspired by Pinterest) I fabric-painted with the year he will graduate. If I’m really organized, I will take a picture of him in it every year on the first day of school. Or maybe I’ll just have this cute picture of him in a big shirt. We’ll see…
Then we took our own version of the “first day back” picture, of our bare feet propped up on our chalkboard sofa table, where all the magic (and the work, and the crying, and the success, and the complaining) happens. Here we go!
I needed a cute outdoor-friendly salt and pepper set for our new patio area. I bought an inexpensive set and personalized it.
Whoa! Bad head-cut-off selfie! Maybe it was better before I had the phone, when I could only post about projects for myself that warranted enlisting husband’s help. Anyway, I used fabric paint and more freezer paper stencils on a t-shirt. I felt really brave doing this one because it was a shirt I kind of liked as it was, but thought would be improved with a design. Painting on a nice Eddie Bauer shirt requires a lot more fearlessness than painting on the cheapy Costco tee, but it turned out well once I braved it.
And I was just experimenting at this point. I sleep in this old pink shirt, and now I’ll sleep in it more often!And my husband bought a new (to him) car, and to surprise him I quickly painted shirts for all three kids so they could wear them when we went to pick it up. Fabric paint dries quickly and freezer paper stencils are reusable, so I got them done! It’s fun to make a big fuss out of a little family deal. This is what they’ll remember when they are grown, right?
My front porch was looking a little dingy. My chairs were getting rusty and my pillows were starting to fade. I put fresh paint on the old chairs and made new pillow covers, and now my house looks much more welcoming and colorful. My flower pot contains parsley and cilantro just a few steps from my kitchen. Spring is so nice!