Archive for February, 2008

Reusable Wrapping

Posted by laura on Feb 04 2008 | Reusable, Sewing

I’m pretty bad at throwing things away, so I have bins of old fabric scraps and clothes waiting to be turned into new and useful items. Problem is, I keep adding to the stash without doing any major damage in terms of using it up. This Christmas I finally started to make good on my plan to use some of the fabric stash to make reusable gift wrappers.
handmade reusable bagSo this one uses the pocket from the nicest old pair of mens’ pants – soft but strong and a perfect brown. There’s something nice about having some wrappers that aren’t overly seasonal or specific to one occasion. Also – pants pockets are fantastic for gift bags, since the pocket is a great detail and a perfect place to slide in a gift card or a part of the present. 

handmade reusable gift bagThis little bird bag used to be a sweater. Now it’s a cross between a gift bag and a purse – a small branch makes a nice handle. No fancy sewing here, but I was hoping to make a few bags that were just a little out of the ’sack’ family of cloth gift bags. (Not that I’m above sacks, as you’ll soon see.)   
handmade reusable gift bag.jpg Here’s the bird again, with a t shirt wrap. This one isn’t a bag – I just stitched up a rectangle out of the neckline and torso of a toddler-size t shirt and added a flap along the inside back of the collar. You fill the wrapping from the neck of the shirt and tuck the flap over the contents, inside the neckline.The tag just gets wrapped around the flower.

handmade reusable gift bag
These wintery bags are made from leftover costume material. The top one is also more of a parcel – it has a velcro closure up the back. Note the sack underneath! Very handy for large format picture books or those odd shaped gifts. Like an armadillo.
The next wrapper that I’ve gotten into is little wallet-sized ones for gift cards. I like to work off the colors of the gift card, but I hope that won’t mean they’ll be harder to reuse. Here’s one from this week -
reusable gift card walletreusable gift card wallet
Just a simple felt wallet with a felt applique on the front.I really should have lined the inside of the front to hide my sloppy stitching, but I ran out of time. I think it does the trick, though.
This scrappy sewing is really fun. It’s great to use up clothes that have tears or stains and can’t be given away. I love picking through the bins, looking for just the right shade or material. Storage is always an issue, though. Our ‘art’ room doesn’t have a closet, so I need to figure out some built-in or standing storage option. The blue plastic tubs are just not doing it for me somehow.
One of my favorite storage solutions is featured in a Living magazine spread on Martha’s workroom. Somehow her scrap fabric is all really nice and square and flat and easy to look through. I think mine needs a good talking to.
At least I can have most of it in one room – that’s a real luxury. We’ve consolidated most of the art supplies into one area and it’s heaven just rummaging around for scraps of paper or ribbon or cloth or that perfect pen  in one room instead of all over the house and the garage. Now I just have to find a way to make it look a little nicer!

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Coming to America

Posted by laura on Feb 01 2008 | Tasty


 Today the entire second grade in our school participated in a mock immigration day exercise that simulated the experience of entering the US through Ellis Island at the turn of the century. All the kids developed personal histories for their characters and came dressed to look the part.

There were some fantastic interpretations of early 20th century dress. In our house there was extensive lobbying for a beautiful colonial dress we have that my mother made when my sister and I were this age, and utter disbelief that it could make a difference that it was over a hundred years off in terms of style. Once the final outfit came together, though, it was ridiculously lovely – particularly with the perfect pair of ankle boots borrowed from our neighbors. At that age, I would have worn an outfit like this to school Every Single Day if I could have. 

Along with the outfit, the kids were required to pack a ‘bundle’ filled with a reminder of their homeland, something to do on the journey, something useful for the new land, a family picture and a snack. So what did the young immigrant from Ireland take in her basket to snack on? Nope, not a potato.  


A nice big slice of Irish bread – Mum’s recipe, of course – all wrapped up in a cloth. Yum.

I wonder what my Nana had in her case on that journey. I can tell you one thing, it wasn’t Pearl the Cloud Fairy or a pink polka dotted pencil.

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