All I want for Christmas is some sewing time…

Ghosts of Christmasses Past


I haven’t, in the past, felt a huge urge to make stuff for Christmas presents. Time is one reason. The necessity of finding out the person’s measurements and even fitting is another. The furthest I’ve gone is an occasional card extravaganza. This year of all years is not the year to start.

Predictably, this is why the list of presents I’d like to make this year keeps getting longer and longer.

I’d like to finish Mr. Isis’s Frock Coat (no modeled shots required). This is the one I’m most likely to actually do, I think. Although it feels a bit cheesy because he knows about it—but I asked him and he seemed to think it’d be an awesome Christmas present. I have a shirt cut out for him I could finish up, too. (Begun and then abandoned in my snit-fit when he declared he’d rather go without than have to model something I made him for the blog. So the real Christmas present is me forgiving him for that…)

Tyo's Too-Tight Shirt

I’d like to make Tyo a version of this shirt that actually fits. This would require actually paying for a Lekala pattern, but y’know, considering all the mooching off their freebies I’ve done, I shouldn’t begrudge them a couple of bucks. Of course what Tyo really wants is a kimono-style housecoat, with lotus applique, like, STAT. (This pattern is in stash; my MIL made it for a Hallowe’en costume for Mr. Isis c. 197) And a chemistry set. Do they still sell chemistry sets? Do I really want my 11-year-old blowing up the kitchen? (Or covering it with green goo…)

My Dad is coming up for Christmas again this year (bonus of being the only child in the country), and while he is perpetually the single. hardest. person. to. buy. for. EVER, it occurred to me that he wears dress shirts all the time, and I could totally make him one of those.

And THEN my brain went crazy. You can’t just make your father a plain dress shirt. No. He’s an archaeologist. He totally needs a Spoonflower fabric shirt, with an arrowhead or pottery or rock painting print. AND THEN I realized I need to trawl through his old publications to find some illustrations he’s published that I could use as the basis for a design… and…

Yes, it’s already almost a week into December. Odds of getting all this pulled together are, like, nil. Although maybe instead of fully printed fabric I could do a stencil or something…

But seriously, it’s the first, only, ever good idea I’ve had for a Christmas present for my Dad in my life.

Of course, I’d still need to find out his measurements…

And Tyo wants to make rice bagsย (you pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and they work like a heat-pad)ย for everyone (and the definition of “everyone” gets longer every time I talk to her), and something for her cousins (which I should probably do, too) and and

And and and

You may all now officially tell me I’m insane.



Filed under Sewing

46 responses to “All I want for Christmas is some sewing time…

  1. Lucy

    Yep. You’re insane. THESIS, woman! You can make your Dad an awesome printed shirt next year!

  2. How about if you make a shirt for your dad out of regular shirting as a wearable muslin and buy yourself some time for the spoonflower fabric idea (AWESOME idea btw). Men’s dress shirts usually have neck and sleeve measurements on the tag, so if you can get someone to sneak into his closet you can keep the surprise. Rice bags are fantastic and easy, but do try to keep them under a dozen. And forgiveness is the best idea of all.
    Good luck! (you crazy lady) and thanks for blogging amid the madness!

    • Hmm, I’ll have to think if I can have someone sneak in to steal his sizing info.

      I am seriously hoping not to break a dozen in the rice-bag department. At least they’re something the kids can do a lot of.

  3. Sue P.

    You speak for many! And it’s SO entertaining! I have a good 25-30 years on you, and I can tell you that you will ALWAYS be doing this at Christmas time. It’s part of the disease of knowing that you CAN make great things.

  4. If you are insane then I must be too, because this sounds remarkably like what goes on inside my head…!
    Here’s what I do – write a list and rank them in order of priority, I suggest you put your thesis as #1!
    If the truth be known, I usually end up ignoring the list, but it feels good!

  5. I do this every December. I promise myself starting in October that I refuse to do any holiday crafting, and then one thing after another… But I can make it so much better!!!

    I feel your pain/insanity.

  6. Yes, you are insane. Buy Tyo a chemistry set (they still exist and they are awesome, and girls don’t get enough encouragement to go into science). If you get her one that makes actual stuff — like candy — that might be even better. Getting some Pyrex kitchenware and measuring cups/spoons she can use ONLY with the chemistry set so it doesn’t cover your kitchen stuff with goo is also a good idea — mom of a budding scientist here.

    If you can get a Spoonflower print in time, or just a good print, make your dad a travel kit. If he’s an archaeologist, surely he has to travel even if it’s just for the occasional lecture. Travel kits don’t require fitting and there are patterns all over the place — even the Big 4 companies have them.

    Leave the frock coat for Mr. Isis until after the holidays, finish the shirt if you can, and if you can’t — get him a gift card for some books or coffee or whatever it is that he likes.

    Goodness, I’m bossy, aren’t I? While I’m on a roll, sit down, write your thesis, drink some hot chocolate and RELAX. Or, I could write your thesis and you could come over, put my tree up and wrangle my kids through the annual holiday photo session. We are so far behind at this point, we might have to have Christmas in February.

    • OK, I think you’ve talked me into the chemistry set. I’ll think about the travel kit.

      Kids and I put up the tree last weekend, which is an early record for us (usually I’m a week-before-Christmas kind of gal.) Good luck with the photo-session, though… ours will be next week (I know, LATE).

      • Lucy

        Holiday photo what? (Seriously, I’m intrigued. Is this a North American thing?)

        • I don’t know if it’s a North American thing (you tell me ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). We generally include family photos in our Christmas cards—often just the kids, but if I can wrangle the whole family together we’ll get the whole family. My extended family has made it pretty clear that I risk family excommunication if I skip the holiday photos (not really but they are definitely valued.)

  7. I went to a talk last night about managing life’s dissatisfactions (acceptance, apparently). What you are describing is what I do too. In my case I could see a pattern running through my life, not just at Xmas, but always having more good ideas than time. In the end, it comes down to filtering, simplifying, and passing on some of the creative energy. There’s no fun to be had making everything in a mad rush.

  8. Sewista Fashionista

    I feel for you. My husband asked me what I REALLY wanted for Christmas and I said either to spend an entire day sleeping, or … eating. Either would be good as nursing and the new baby is taking it out of me. Spending a day sewing sounds so far away right now, but I hope you get your wish! Don’t worry about all of those other folks. Sew something for yourself! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • SF, I you are in the hardest stretch now—that time when self recedes in the distance and everything needs to focus on the little one (and the slightly bigger one who suddenly has a sibling to deal with, too.) It’s so hard. Take little breaks as you can—even a few hours or a few minutes—and let go of everything that isn’t absolutely essential. I wasn’t even thinking about sewing when I had new babies (heck, I wasn’t even thinking about watering the plants). Everything else will still be there when you’re ready.

      Gee, it’s so easy to give the advice to someone else, isn’t it? /sigh. The trick is always taking it yourself…

      • Wise words.

        I approached having a little baby to take care of like a meditation exercise… It kind of helped some of the time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I thought of her as a very precious and demanding extension of myself and for some reason that made it much easier to deal with… Maybe I’m a rank narcissist…

        • LinB

          Agreed. You and the baby are the important things, right now. This time will pass so quickly — enjoy every minute of it. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Drink lots of water. Take brewer’s yeast to increase milk flow. Remember: dust does not worry about you; and your baby needs some exposure to dirt to develop its immune system. If you can sneak a few minutes to look at pattern envelopes, or thumb through a fashion magazine, you can put off the hunger to sew for a little while, until you feel up to tackling a small project or too.

  9. This sounds so familiar!. I write a list, which shows me how crazy it is to think I will get all this done in 3 weeks, then I mostly ignore the list, but forgive myself for not reaching the end of it.
    I vote for the Chemistry set. You don’t have to sew a Chemistry set.

  10. Definitely nutsy banannas. Let me know if you manage to invent a time machine.

  11. Shams

    I’m tired reading your plans and then all the replies!!! I do not have that sort of energy!

    But I sure do get the excitement of a new idea…

    How’s that for a non-helpful response! (But if it were me, I’d probably do the plain shirt this year and plan something more special for dad next year. Also, I did get my DD2 a chemistry kit when she was into that sort of thing. Chemistry kits these days are sooooo safe that they’ve taken much of the fun out of them, but still…

    • Yeah, this is kind of how I’m leaning… I think Tyo will be a little disappointed if her chemistry set doesn’t include explosions, but she’ll just have to deal…

  12. I told myself that I wasn’t going to sew any Christmas gifts this year and then my brother told me how much he loved his chef pants last year (yes, he is a chef) so …. Also have a laptop bag in the works. And some baby things… ack!

    I have total faith in you that you will get it all done. You are superwoman.

    • My brother-in-law is a former chef and still loves his chef pants… I am trying so very hard not to go there.

      I think it’s the changing-mind thing that’s annoying. If I were going to sew Christmas gifts, I should’ve been planning and starting back in October, dammit. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Your faith warms and terrifies me…

  13. Instead of rice, I use flaxseed (GREAT last minute gifts, BTW). Flaxseed retains moisture longer due to the oils in the seeds, so they hold heat longer AND you don’t get that cooked food smell after multiple uses. Also good when you drop in a few drops of essential oils, mmmm mmmm a la peppermint or evergreen! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s a neat idea! I don’t mind the warm-rice smell, but longer heat would definitely be nice. I’ll have to give it a try… sometime after the 15lb bag of cheap rice I just bought is used up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I also really like the essential oils idea, although I’d be afraid to give that as a gift unless I was sure the person didn’t have scent issues.

  14. Sandra

    At least you have a choice to make or buy. The thought of hauling 3 girls under the age of 5 through all the Christmas shops “I want that and that and that!” is giving me heart palpitations. So its either make or shop online. Which is dangerous cos I just end up buying more fabric!

  15. I know it’s really hard to “back burner” a project you’re excited about… But… I find the ones I place on the back burner and come back to later are ultimately VERY satisfying… Because if the idea is a good one it still appeals to me a year later, then project is bound to turn out well.

    Or, you know, you could bribe your husband into going away for a few days and have a stay-cation.. It works in our house?

    Also- GET TO WORK ON YOUR THESIS! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING? (Sorry, I got so used to saying that, and now I don’t have anyone to say it to… ;))

    • Unfortunately, this is the Hubs’ busy season at work, so his chances of going away even for a weekend are nil. Back in the summer I could send him off fishing, but we’re not really geared up for ice-fishing (and the weather hasn’t been cold enough anyway). And I’ve been working most weekends, too. >_<

      As to the thesis… I am, but I'm also treading the fine line between working hard and total nervous breakdown. A little therapeutic sewing is better than weeping every time I turn on my laptop…

  16. I love reading your posts, and all the replies. I am currently in total denial about Christmas. But you elder daughter has wanted a chemistry set for at least the last couple of years, so that is probably a good idea. Your father wears (or used to) a 15″ neck and 34″ sleeve (although his neck may have expanded recently, and the sleeves were just barely long enough). I can’t suggest any miraculous remedies for the great time crunch. Just hang in there and give yourself, the girls and the mister hugs!

    • Thanks, mom! I was wondering if he had the family ape-arms as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will totally sew you Christmas presents as soon as we’re in the same city and I can figure out how to fit you!

      Hugs to you as well.

  17. Amy

    Yay for your daughter wanting a chemistry set for Christmas! Good luck on everything this December. It’s just such a crazy month. Take it all baby step by baby step, and do allow yourself to enjoy things you really want to do while pushing off what’s stemming simply from procrastination. (For example, my husband’s step mom learned to play the violin while she was supposed to be writing her thesis. She hasn’t played at all since!)

    • Yeah, I suspect a disturbing chunk of my sewing productivity the last couple of years has been procrastination-related. Although I loved sewing before the thesis, too, so I don’t think it’s just that. (I hope it’s not just that, sewing has way too many benefits!)

  18. So you should totally do the rice bags. I did them for my kids last year as an afterthought and it is about the only gift for last year that still gets regular use. My only recomendation would be to put some lavendar or something that smells good in it with the rice, my kids complain about the heated wheat or rice smell. I also think all the stuff we want to make we need to start it the next January so we are completely ready for the next year:)

  19. you could grade the free pattern. That’s what i’ve done with all of mine. Sunni from did a good post on grading and even provided a scanned page so you know what it looks like.
    One thing i have noticed with lekala of late is that you can’t seem to get the free sizes anymore… I wonder if i’m the only on having that issue

    • Hmm, you’re right, it’s definitely missing from the initial pages. I can still find the sample sizes they were offering last month on pages further back (Burda size 44, 46), but not the old standard free size (more like Burda 36). Poop. I’ll have to keep an eye on that. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      • I did email them and they said that they’ve stop releasing the free size for new patterns and only for certain patterns (#’s 5000-5753) have the free burda size.

  20. Amy

    It seems like I always come up with the greatest ideas ever for sewing gifts just a week or two before said event (birthday, Christmas, etc.). Just an instinct of love, I guess! I second/3rd/5th the chemistry set–what an awesome gift. Christmas has too much pressure as it is. (Although my mom still sews most of her gifts and still for me. Last year it was a flannel pj set. She must start in July. She is totally insane! But semi-retired… that’s the secret.)

  21. ElleC

    Yes, you are nuts. Next year, when your life (hopefully) has calmed down re read this post and promise yourself that most Christmas presents will be made before December, that way you may actually get to enjoy the holiday season. Brilliant, aren’t I? This year, lower your expectations and if you can’t get everything done that you want to get done, give gift certificates for whatever it was that you wanted to sew/make. Except of course your children, that won’t cut it for them (like you need me to tell you). Oh and you could also make shoe bags for your Dad for Christmas (great for travelling), Martha Stewart has good instructions, you may have to make the bag a little larger for men’s shoes.

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