Stuff Your Stocking: Stockings, Pillow Mattresses and Sunglass Cases

As one of our daughter’s says on the 4th of July, “Christmas is tomorrow!” Pretty close, anyway. Use the week of July 26-30 to knock out a bit of your Christmas list. Or maybe just a gift list for any time of year. Or maybe just some fun stuff for yourself. Either way, each day is packed with multiple projects, and lots of fun!  Pick which projects you want to do each day, or make one of each- it’s all up to you.  Click here for the full calendar.

Up first- Tuesday, July 26- Stockings, Pillow Mattresses and Sunglass Cases


I have made lots of Christmas stockings over the years, and have had a lot of fun each time.  I recently found this method onlie, and I’m pretty excited about it.  Check out Sew Like My Mom for details and supplies needed.  I have a plexiglass stocking pattern that you can use if you would like to cut yours out in the studio.

I love the idea of our grandkids being able to use these at our house when they spend the night or are watching television.  You can easily pull the pillows out for washing, and they can be used as chairs as well as sleeping mats.  I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and while I can find lots of pictures, there are not so many clear instructions.  Bring a twin sheet OR premade pillowcases OR 3 yds of 60″ wide fabric.  Of course, you could make your fabric… just sayin.
How fun are these?!?  I especially love that the tutorial at Thread Riding Hood offers several different finishing options.  If you choose this project, make sure to go to the tutorial page and check the supply list for the case or cases you would like to make.  If you need magnetic closures or button cover kits or the like, just let me know and I can order them for you.  Remember, 15% off for The Green Apricot members.

In order to make the most of your time, I suggest having fabrics chosen and as much cutting as possible done ahead of time.  Think of this time in the studio similarly to a retreat.

Don’t forget all of your goodies- machine, projects, and maybe your favorite snacks and a sack lunch.  (Or we can order out for lunch- no problem!)

Nonmembers- $36, Members- 6 hours (each day) Click here to register for Tuesday, July 26

Then. And now.

I have had an amazing life.  A remarkably full life.  It’s been just as full of happy as it has sad, and I am grateful for every minute of it.

Spring, 1999- I think.  I had taken my four kiddos, ages 6, 4 1/2, 2 1/2, and 6 mos, to pick strawberries.  We were living in Washington at the time, and I had been learning how to make jam.  The summer before I was so excited about the abundance of blackberries- they grew everywhere- on the side of the road, by the park, in common areas around base.  And they were huge.  And free.  But the strawberries were not free, so they were especially precious and couldn’t be wasted.  I packed up the four kids and went to the grocery store to buy what we needed.  Sugar.  Pectin.  Citric acid.  I got to the counter and didn’t have quite enough money, so I handed the citric acid back to the cashier, turned to the kids and said “Our jam is going to taste great, it’ll just look kinda dark.”  The older ones grabbed the grocery sacks, and I grabbed the younger ones.  Before we got to the car, a man hurriedly headed in our direction with a small bag hanging from his extended arm.  He had bought the citric acid for us.  Did we really need it?  It would have been edible without it, for sure, but the real need that day was just a little bit of kindness.  I don’t know his name or remember his face, but I will never forget him.

Summer, 1999- pretty sure it was the same year.  The older two kids had been in Kindergarten and a financial need based preschool program, and school was now out.  We had enough food in the house because I had learned to use the resources we had pretty tightly.  I bought cheap, in bulk, and as close to raw as possible, and kept the pantry as full as I could.  I didn’t need to take advantage of the free summer lunch program offered down the street from our house, but reality was it made my life a little easier.  The sack lunches weren’t always that great, but if we got there early, there was plenty to choose from, and the kids could play on the playground and I visited with my neighbors.  We didn’t go every day, but we went a lot of days, and I was grateful for it.

Fall, 1999- we needed a lot of help that year.  It was time to get the kids ready for school.  It was all excitement for first grade and Kindergarten, until I started getting supply lists.  Then it didn’t quite feel like excitement.  The preschool that we had been enrolled in was amazing for making sure we as parents had access to a plethora of resources, and gratefully we learned of a program for helping families get ready for a new school year.  We stood in line for quite a long time.  I remember kids in front of us playing with Pokemon cards while we waited.  And I remember it was miserably hot.  Once inside the gym, the kids were all given free haircuts, a bookbag with school supplies, and each child was allowed one garbage bag full of used clothing.   Even the two littles that weren’t in school yet.  Relief.

So.  This is a quilting blog.  What on earth does my trip down memory lane have to do with anything?

Well, memories have a purpose.  They shape us.  They remind us to be grateful.  They remind us to be someone with a small bag of kindness hanging from the end of our extended arms.  They remind us that gathering is half of giving.  They remind us that it can be something really simple that relieves a mother’s anxiety.  So, with gratitude, let’s have another semi-annual food drive.

Kids are out of school, which means many of them are not getting the one or two meals a day that they qualify for during the school year.  Families that are working to make ends meet get hit hard at this time of year.  Almost harder than during the holidays, when most people think of contributing to their local charitable organizations.

With that in mind, let’s have a WIP Week at the studio.  From June 21-25, 9 am to 4 pm, bring your Works In Progress to The Green Apricot studio.  The fee?  Two pounds of nonperishable food per hour, or in other words, twelve pounds of food for each day you come to sew, knit, crochet, paint, talk, eat, or whatever.  No, I am not going to weigh your food.  You will have to read labels or weigh it yourself, and it is on an honor system.  Space is limited, so please register to reserve your seat.  We are notorious for ordering a little something for lunch, so be prepared for that, or bring a lunch from home.  There is a small fridge in the studio, as well as a microwave.  Food donations will go to United Food Force– a food pantry in McDonough, GA serving Henry and surrounding counties.

I hope you can come and hang out where the makers meet, but if you can’t, I still hope you can contribute to your local food bank.  It will make a difference.

If you build it…

I am so very grateful for my life.  It feels like I say that a lot, and I’d love to be more eloquent and be able to convey the feeling that rises up in the very center of me- so twisted up in sinews and soul that I can’t tell where the heat and energy have originated from.  Gratitude.  Such a heavy word with wings.

Why did my husband and I build a studio?

A couple of years ago I had a moment.  I had been working at a quilt shop for several years, and one day while at work I was standing talking with the owner of the shop.  While we were talking the words “It’s time for you to go” came to my mind clearly- like an announcement on a loud speaker in the middle of a mall.  It caught me off guard so hard that I was distracted, even somewhat disturbed.  Why?  Why was it time for me to go?  I wrestled with the question for a couple of months before I whispered a word of it to anyone other than in prayer.  I thought I knew the answer.  I thought it was to help my husband in his expanding business.  It was a logical explanation, and wouldn’t a prompt like that be followed up with a logical explanation?  I put in my 30 day notice at the shop, but still couldn’t actually let go.  Maybe just fewer hours and more balance.  Thirty days turned into several months.  Maybe I didn’t really have to go.  A relationship that was over, but I didn’t, couldn’t let go of it.  After all, I wasn’t working at my husband’s business at all, so certainly I had been wrong.  Maybe the whole thing was just in my head.  The year wore on, and then suddenly on a very sharp day in August, it became clear that it was no longer working for the shop or for me to continue there.  Such mixed feelings.  Including a loss of direction.  The kids were all leaving home, one by one.  My life had been such a rapid cyclone of change over the last several years that I hardly noticed the winds anymore, and it felt like it was all suddenly slowing down and I didn’t know what to do.  A year of ideas, awakenings, peace, joy, and never-ending change came and went.  But still no solid direction.  Just a stirring that I needed to do something.  To borrow an idea from the movie Phenomenon, I felt like a pregnant woman who couldn’t deliver.  My husband began plans for renovations at his auto repair shop, and as he looked over the building asked the question- “Why don’t we build a studio for you?”  No self-respecting maker could possibly look that opportunity in the face and say “I’ll pass.”

And so it began.

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Sounds like a dream come true, right?  But if it was a dream come true, why didn’t I remember having the dream?  It’s one thing to feel like that you are meant to be a part of something, but what if you can’t define what that part is, or even what the something is?  Ideas had come and gone.  Some really good ones, some not so good ones. Now I had this very real thing happening right in front of me.  Tangible.  Concrete.  Wood.  Dry wall.  Paint.  And still not quite sure what to say when someone said “So, tell me about the studio you’re building!”  They were full of excitement and intrigue.  I was full of horror and pin pricks.

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It takes a while for a room like this to be built.  Building codes.  Circuits.  Tables.  Flooring.  Paint color.  Chairs.  Cabinets.  Ironing surfaces.  One thing at a time.  Agonizingly slow.  Not the building.  Just my understanding of what I was actually supposed to be doing with this.  I married this man that believed in me so much that he was willing to make an actual investment in my own unknown.  Not just in word, but in deed.  Probably one of the most terrifying facts of my entire life.  And that is saying something.

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As the weeks anticipating opening the studio were bearing down on me, I still didn’t really know how to answer the questions.  How to explain what I was doing, or even why.  It came together so slowly- one little bit one day, then another bit the next day.  Never all at once, and certainly never complete.  Like a 3,000 piece puzzle in shades of blue with no picture on the box.  Even with events advertised and on the calendar, I still didn’t know what I was doing.  The final plan for how the studio would actually work didn’t come into place until a week before opening night.  And I still didn’t know why.  Why was it time for me to go?  Why did he believe in me so very much?  Why was this happening?

Then this happened.

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Opening night.  People actually came.  And laughed.  And smiled.  And connected.  And got inspired.  And really excited.  They brought flowers and cookies and chocolate.  They traveled really far.  They stayed late.  They were happy.  And at the end of the night, I finally knew why.

For you.  So you would come.