12.20.2008

The Fruits of My Labor

As the holidays approach, I often start thinking about craft projects to undertake.  I love being crafty, but sometimes this is my only craft "season". So as my family knows, from often being the recipients of my efforts, there tends to be one creative crafty project I actually complete per year.  This year's inspiration:  

The Pottery Barn fabric fruit set my son has.  And you thought organic produce was expensive!  This small pile of inedible produce was almost $40 after tax and shipping.  But it's been used and appreciated way more than anything else I could have possibly gotten with that $40 gift certificate to Pottery Barn.  I decided to make fabric fruit of my own for Turtle's cousin, who will be receiving a play kitchen for Christmas.  (It's so great that they are so young I can post what they are getting for Christmas on the internet and they'll still have no idea!)

A trip to Jo-Ann's scored me two $4.99 stacks of fabric squares in produce colors and a bag of stuffing.  I started drawing patterns for fruit sections on paper based on examining the fruit we already had.  I winged it, looking at the purchased fruit for help and realizing that the degree of curvature, length, width, and number of sections are what makes the difference between a fat tomato, small orange, and a slim banana.  

A little while later, I had an orange, banana, and tomato!  A bit lumpy, yes. Some accidental square-ish corners.  But I had the hang of it.  And, hey, I haven't used a sewing machine in about 5 years.  To make the fruit better than this, you have to sew very smooth curves with no angles in the seams from lifting the foot up and turning the fabric like I did.  And if I did it again, I would stuff them more so they would fill out and be firmer.  If I have time later, I plan to add leaves and stems and such, too.  But I was excited to move on and tackle strawberries.  

I found this great red fabric with black dots on it that reminded me of strawberries, some green for the leaves, the green ribbon the fabric squares came tied in for stems, and a little leftover quilting batting (from the last sewing project 5 years ago). I drew the pattern by thinking about a strawberry and decided it would need 3 panels.  Pottery Barn does not have strawberries, so I am very proud of myself that I did this one with no model.  

Here's the sewn and stuffed strawberries, awaiting finishing touches.  To make the leaves, I cut star shapes out of batting, then traced it onto the green fabric with one of those white sewing pencils.  Then I sandwiched the batting between two layers of green fabric, stitched along my tracing and cut just outside the seams.  It would be way easier to just use felt, but I was determined to not go back to the store.  So, this worked to make leaves that keep their own shape.  

Next was hand stitching green ribbon to the center of each star and then stitching the star to the top of the strawberry, closing the strawberry as I went.   

Here is the first finished strawberry!  It was labor intensive, but totally worth it.  I had so much fun and was so happy with the result that I made 5 more, 3 for each boy.  It took most of my day today to sit around doing 6 strawberries, but it was really relaxing for me as I almost never get to just focus on working with my hands. And, I could talk to my family while I did it, so it was better than doing almost any other type of work that I usually find myself doing that requires brain power and my full attention.

Aren't they cute!  Turtle and his cousin will each receive a delicious basket of strawberries for Christmas.  His cousin will also receive all the other fruit I make over the next few days.  It's a lot of fun to make the kids their toys instead of just buying them and to know how much fun they'll have playing with them.  This was also a great craft for a busy person like me who doesn't often get to take the time because the items are small. You get to design, plan, and sew, but you can finish one piece of fruit in less than 30 minutes if you know what you are doing. So there is a great feeling of satisfaction and no danger that you will leave the project 80% done for years like there would be if I tackled trying to sew myself a whole outfit or something.  

I also picked up some colorful doggie themed fabric squares and was thinking the next small items I could easily make would be bean bags for the kids.  Rectangles stuffed with rice or beans- how easy is that?!  And I was even thinking of trying to create a dog chew toy out of some old jeans denim for my brother's new puppy.  But I have to figure out how to sew the seams super strong so it won't fall apart right away.  I have some old jingle bells that maybe could go inside...  


2 comments:

Lisa said...

How cute!! That's the type of stuff I see on Etsy. I wish I had the motivation to do more crafts. My sis and I used to get together and do crafty stuff. It was so fun. We made our own holiday wreaths and stuff.

Remember when we pasted our cut out recipes on colored paper to organize them and put them into a recipe binder??? I still use that, except it's back to being stuffed full of loose paper again!

I was never taught how to use a sewing machine though despite the fact that my mom had a tailoring business of her own.

You'll like Turtle's Xmas gift this year. It might give you a new craft idea!!

The bean bags are a really good idea. If you set out some buckets a few feet away for them to toss them into it helps them develop their visual motor skills.

I hope you are having a nice break from work and enjoying some time with your family and friends as well as to yourself.

Miss you. Have a great holiday!
Love, Lisa

Chelsea said...

You'll be sad to know that in a fit of frustration, I got rid of that whole recipe notebook a few years ago. I wasn't cooking at all and just doing the Dream Dinners thing and the notebook sat there making me feel guilty about not cooking, so it had to go. Stupid move. I wish I had it back now. But I started a new one recently. This time, I'm only putting recipes in AFTER I try them and actually like eating them and making them. Less intimidating for me.

I actually took Home Ec in high school. I think it was like required in Texas at that time. And my mom sewed a fair amount, so I did learn. It's her machine I've inherited and I at least remember the basics. I'll never forget the god awful ugly rainbow stripes 80's knit dress I made in Home Ec for the end of year fashion show. I also had spiked hair at the time. Scary!

I always had fun doing crafts with my sister, too and also wish I had more motivation and time to devote to it. But these infrequent spurts are still fun. Remember, I'm a year ahead of you mom-wise, though, so maybe you will feel you can get back to it in a year or so. I could have never done this last year because he wouldn't have been able to keep himself entertained safely for long enough for me to get anything done. Now he plays trains or glues collages while I sew and is interested in "helping" me and watching, too. I think each year it will get better and we can do these things together until he's old enough that he thinks it's all too dorky.

I miss you, too! Wish we could sit and be crafty together while the kids played...

Chels