Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparations for Christmas

I was startled yesterday to realize it was one week - one week - til Christmas Eve. Where has December gone? It seems like just last week we were looking forward to Thanksgiving. When I was a child, the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to last forever. Now, they are gone in the blink of an eye.
The tree is up, and each day the mailman usually delivers a Christmas card or two from dear friends and beloved family. Each card is duly admired and read and then hung upon our mantle with the others, til Christmas Eve, when they will be taken down and replaced with our stockings.

The boys admire the tree and the lights but have no idea about the presents they will find beneath it on Christmas morning. In some ways, I envy their innocence. They aren't anticipating piles of gifts and when we go to the store they don't even look at the new toys stuffing the shelves. For them, the pretty lights and the fact there is a tree in the house in enthralling and interesting enough. This year, they are old enough to begin to understand about the baby Jesus who was born to save mankind from their sin. We have a sturdy ceramic nativity set that they enjoy playing with very much and the baby Jesus is of course their favorite piece!

As the years of our marriage have brought us children in quick succesion, David and I have not had much time to think about how we want to have Christmas for our family before the babies themselves were in our arms. Some traditions we have done away with (Santa Clause, for example, who is traditional in David's family), some we question and some we embrace. Some we would like to begin but have not done so yet.

This year, we have a tree, though which, perhaps, has it roots in pagan practices, symbolizes to David and I the tree upon which our dear Lord was nailed. His sacrifice was indeed the Greatest Gift, and the Christmas tree, overshadowing all the smaller gifts beneath, is a lovely reminder to us of this fact.

We are not giving slathers of presents to each other. I have mentioned before that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I do not like the whole modern atmosphere of Christmas because of the focus on finding the "perfect gift", spending large amounts of money and impressing people with hosting grand Christmas parties. So David and I are giving a few toys and gifts to each of the boys and they have gifts from their grandparents as well. For each other, we set a small limit on spending funds and have got each other a few meaningful, useful gifts. We both know what we got for each other but the rule is that we will not be able to see or use our gifts until Christmas day. :)

I have been working on a few homemade gifts for other family members. Here is a sneak peek of a few of them:

"Victorian Roses"
"Autumn Colorsplash"
I have also been slowly working on my dress for Christmas Eve. It is going very slowly as I keep having to postpone work on it for some reason or the other. It is an 1820's style and I think this is the last dress I will make in this style for a little while. It is getting - old. I still really like the overall look, I'm just tired of making dresses with this overall look at the the moment. The process gets so monotonous. Here is the bodice. It is made of a cream and cranberry check cotton with a darted bodice, scoop neckline and piping. The sleeves are bishop sleeves, based on a drawing of different sleeve styles in Patterns of Fashion 1.
Here is the point of construction that I am at now. I have the skirt pinned to the waistband but not sewn on yet. The folded up fabric you see laying on the neck will be an 8" wide ruffle all around the hem. The skirt is made from one 45" wide rectangular panel in the back and three gores in the front. To make the gores I folded a 45" wide rectangle, cut to my preferred hem length, in half and drew out a gore that was appx. 15" wide at the top and 35" at the hem. The two pieces left over after I cut out the center gore I used as side gores. This gives maximum fullness at the hem but a smooth line at the top. I did lightly gather the front of the skirt in case I ever wear this if I am pregnant again. Room to grow is always a good thing!
To finish it, I plan to add the ruffle and trim the top of the shoulders with cranberry taffeta bows with perhaps another bow at the center front neckline and a cranberry taffeta sash or belt. I also just got the Sense and Sensibility Regency Underthings pattern and would love to make a turn back collared chemisette to wear with it from some sheer voile I have.

Once I finish my current projects I hope to make David a few suprise gifts for Christmas. He has asked for a nice handkerchief and a woolen night cap so I think I can get those made for him before Christmas Eve. I recently saw a beautifully hemstitched hem on Sarah A's blog that she is working on a ruffled collar edge. I would love to try out that technique on David's handkerchief. I've been reading online about how to do it but it seems there are at least several different ways to construct this stitch. Does anyone have any tips, advice or links? :)

Have a lovely weekend dear ones!




  1. I have absolutely no tips whatsoever! However, I'm singing your praise in the gates, are doing a beautiful job with your Christmas dress~it is lovely.
    We too, have struggled off and on over the years with how to celebrate, what to incorporate, what to leave behind. Even now, I seem to not have many answers.
    But blessings nonetheless...enjoy your evening under the lights.

  2. I think your dress is going to be very lovely, though I do understand about getting tired of sewing the same things. I am currently very tired of sewing baby pants.

    I am somewhat awed that you have a tree on the floor with Mr. Malachi. Ours is going on the dining room table.

    We are not doing Santa Clause, either, not ever. We do not have any gifts for Maria this year because she does not need anything and she is not expecting gifts. When she is older, we will do three gifts (and maybe small things in stockings). Three symbolizes the gifts the baby Jesus received from the Magi. I like that it is religious symbolism and also a limitation so you don't get carried away with gifts. Of course we can set no such boundaries on grandparents.

    Your house looks lovely! I am decorating mine on Monday.

  3. Your tree is beautiful! And it IS amazing that those same weeks that took an eternity to pass for all of us as children slip away in what seems a matter of hours to us as adults!

    I am no longer shopping for gifts for others. Can't afford it, and I think something hand made is so much more special.

    I made my gifts for my little Sophie and Milla...for Sophie, a gold silk cottage bonnet with silk velvet lining and a dress. For Milla, who's growing too fast and will inherit all Sophie's period dresses anyway...a topsy-turvy sleep-awake baby doll. For the two of them, doll clothes for the Sasha doll they inherited from their mommy; reproductions of all the dresses I have made for them to keep forever in miniature.

    Had a blast doing it, and it sure was a whole lot more 'Christmassy' than running the gauntlet at the mall.

    There's something about sitting by the tree, with a cup of tea, listening to Christmas music and sewing. So calming.

  4. I have no tips on that stitch. It is one that I saw on Sarah A's blog also, and I want to try it someday. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I adore seeing your creations. God Bless!

    Love Lauren

  5. Kathy, it makes me feel a little better to know that others too don't know for sure exactly what traditions to keep or do away with. It is so hard to know at times if a certain thing takes away from the beauty of celebrating Christ's birth or detracts from it. I guess praying and being open to guidance from the Lord in these matters is all we can do! Praise Him for the wisdom He promises us if we but ask Him. . .

    Emily, I too wondered how the tree would fare with Malachi on the floor but honestly our cat knocks off more ornaments than he does. He has received a few swats for yanking on the brances and uncoiling the lights but for the most part he leaves it alone. I like the idea of 3 gifts very much. I told David about it and he also was intrigued.

    Robin, the gifts you are making sound GORGEOUS! Wow, what timeless, priceless keepsakes for your little girls! How wonderful for them to have to play with now and also to keep as precious heirlooms when they get older. I feel so ashamed now that we went and bought some gifts for the boys, now I wish I had made everything homemade. :) The gold silk cottage bonnet sounds so beautiful.

    Ah Lauren, I guess we will have to learn the hemstitch as best we can on our own! I love how it looks. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too!

  6. Editing Oops: I should have said "takes away from the beauty of celebrating Christ's birth or adds to it". :P Sorry!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!