a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Frugal Gift Ideas ---- Making Priceless Gifts for Next To Northing

Memories that last a lifetime can be made of scraps.

Jennie, my wonderful mother-in-law, made lots of clothes for our children when they were small.

And, having lived through the Depression and other hard times, she was very frugal and had learned to save all the scraps, even the teeny ones which I deemed unusable.

In later years Jennie decided she wanted to learn to quilt. Being very brave, she tackled an intricate pattern which I think is called “cathedral window.” I’m quite sure it wasn’t what would be considered a beginner’s pattern. With urging of friends, she entered it in her local county fair and took second place.

She was so tickled with her award she placed the white award ribbon and the 50 cent piece prize money in a small dime-store frame. When she passed on in 1988 we discovered a surprise treasure secured on the frame’s back. Jennie had taped the congratulatory postcard I had mailed to her when she won the prize, and a handwritten note saying that upon her death the quilt was to go to me. For years the quilt adorned our bed, and the award hung by it. At this time it graces a guest room bed.

I still love to look at this quilt and allow the flood of memories its tiny windows evoke----the tiny windows created from what I perceived as useless scraps. When the time comes, our only daughter will share this heirloom with her only daughter.

What Jennie didn’t make our kids, I did! I can actually remember the only dresses we bought for Heidi– a charcoal colored corduroy sailor-style when she was a year old, a red, white and navy plaid, cut on the bias, when she started kindergarten, and a white eyelet Easter dress when she was 14. (What is it they say about long term memory?)

I think I can safely speak for others in saying that when we are young and in the thick of demanding and daily now things we don’t see beyond the immediate. Sadly I didn’t keep the scraps from all colorful clothes I sewed and how often, now in my later years, have wished I had.

I would never have had the patience to make an intricately hand-pieced quilt but I could have "painted" a scenic wall hanging with my fabric snips or cut them into simple shapes and appliqued them on a small bed topper. Today we are not even limited to hand sewing. There is even fusing web if a sewing machine is not your idea of fun.

Years ago I tore two pages from a quilting magazine I happened upon. Each quilt was made up of a series of fairly large squares with appliqued figures. One was a simple, and repeated,  sitting cat silhouette, each cat  cut from different fabrics. The second consisted of the large simple outline of the old-time wooden spool of thread, with the “thread” section were cut from different fabrics. 

Either of these projects could have been done---one at a time---over time. How easy to make memories when you use pieces of fabric from your past projects cut into the shape of something you or the intended recipient loves.

Years ago I was desperate to bring life to a windowless basement room. Using fabric scraps I created a cheerful scene to fit a inside a second-hand window frame. I even hung curtains on it. It did the job but would have been so much more had I had personal scraps to use.

The summer before our youngest granddaughter started kindergarten I helped my daughter-in-law make her school clothes. And, finally, I saved the scraps! Not long after, I came across an article about pioneer women cutting their fabric remains into strips and rolling them into balls to save for making rag rugs. The article suggested doing that and filling a basket with them as a decorative piece.
The Christmas "scrap" balls laying on top of the wonderful
"cathedral window" quilt
The following Christmas I cut the school fabric in strips, bought six Styrofoam balls, and covered them to replicate fabric balls. I coated them with Modge Podge, a glue-like coating that dries clear and is available in craft stores, and added narrow ribbon as trim and as a bow on top. With a gold marking pen I wrote the year on one of the ribbon sections and gave them to her to hang on her tree.

Each year, as she helps decorate the tree, fading memories are brought back to life. Now she is learning to make her own clothes. 

I need to remind her to save the scraps!

Hopefully the above has sparked ideas for scrapping your own memories---and motivated you to find your way to do so---before it is too late!

Modified from "Scraps of Memories" which originally appeared in the July 2007 of Desert Saints Magazine.

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