Book Review: Between Friends

Some years ago, when my oldest two were in school but my third had not yet been born, a friend mentioned a group she got together with to work on craft projects and invited me to join them. I’m not sure how all the ladies knew each other or how the group started, but at the time I attended, it was maybe 5-8 or so ladies at a time. They took turns meeting at each other’s homes and bringing snacks, everyone would bring whatever craft project they were currently working on, and we had quite an enjoyable time talking while making progress on our projects. It always reminded me a bit of the old quilting bees or the sisters from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women who, in later books when they were grown and had their own families, would meet together periodically to visit while doing their mending. The only other experience similar to this I’ve had since was when ladies’ groups at church would gather to work on something to send our missionaries, our college students, or for an upcoming event. I always enjoyed the fellowship with hearts and mouths while our hands were working and the inspiration gleaned from each other’s ideas.

Between FriendsI recently rediscovered a book on my shelf called Between Friends: Craft Projects to Share by Charlotte Lyons. She begins with a story of her family having moved to Chicago and, during a walk, her children spotted a group of other children playing and ran up to them. Her daughter noticed one of the moms nearby, sewing, and said, “My mom does that too. Will you talk to her so we can play with your little kids?” And that, says Charlotte, is how she met “one of [her] best and dearest friends” (p. 10). That led to a group of women meeting like those I described in my first paragraph, and Charlotte goes on to tell how sometimes something handmade would spark a conversation with new friends or lead to new endeavors together.

Between Friends explores the bond that exists between women as friends–a bond that is richly intensified by creative endeavors. Whether a project is made for a friend or with a friend, the joy in doing so gives resonance and inspiration to an ordinary hour, day, or weekend (p. 11).

Charlotte has grouped the craft projects and instructions in the book into categories based on how long they take – an hour, half a day or so, all day, a weekend, or “as long as it takes.” Every chapter also contains a vignette about a particular real-life friendship as well as activities and suggestions for forming a club around a particular type of craft. Sprinkled at the bottom of several pages are a variety of quotes, like “Happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy. – Gretta Brooker Palmer” and “Happiness walks on busy feet. – Kittie Turmell” and “Little house, you are so small, Just big enough for love, that’s all. – Anonymous.” There are even a few recipes here and there.

This is a delightful book, both for the craft ideas and the exploration of friendship.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday)

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Finished Projects!

Some of you who have been here for a while may remember some years ago my showing this fabric that I had gotten for curtains and asking advice about them.

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I am ashamed to say how many years that has been, but it was before we moved to this house {blush}. Thankfully the family room here had the same number of windows similarly sized.

My biggest holdup in any kind of project is deciding what to do. My inspiration for using toile and check came from seeing the combination at a friend’s house years ago. I knew I wanted a valance that used both but had trouble deciding how to do it: toile on top, check on top, which pattern to use, trim or not, etc. After thinking about it every which way I possibly could, I finally decided on what I was inclined to do in the first place.

First I’ll show you the valances that were here when we moved in:

BEFORE: Old Valance

BEFORE: Old Valance

BEFORE: Old valance

BEFORE: Old valance

I apologize for the lighting in all of these. It was an overcast day, and even with all the lights on I couldn’t get the lighting right, then my phone camera kept wanting to focus on the window. These valances were all right – in fact, up close they had a lot of nice detail. But it was lost there on the window, and the beige valance on beige walls was pretty blah.

So this is what I came up with for the new valances:

AFTER: New valance

AFTER: New valance

AFTER: New valance

AFTER: New valance

IMG_0008(1)Eventually I want to make curtain panels as well. But I need to make a date with my husband to hang the rods for that. 🙂 This was a good stropping place for now.

I used this McCall pattern. I gave some thought to just adding a strip of the toile to the bottom of the check fabric rather than making the double valance that was called for, and in some ways I wish I had: even though these were attached, it was like making four valances rather than two. I did lengthen them a couple of inches from what the pattern specified.

When my dear husband was helping me hang them, he asked if I had ever thought about making them professionally. I thought to myself, “Oh, my dear, if you only knew….” I make way too many mistakes to sew professionally. I tend to do the dumbest things when I sew. For instance: the pattern called for a 1/2 inch seem. So instead of placing the fabric to the left of the 5/8″ guide mark on my machine, I placed it to the right, and then thought that seemed like an awfully wide seam allowance that was just going to be cut off. Then I realized my mistake, thankfully before I had gotten too far. There is a pretty major mistake with the lining on one, but since it was the lining and not in front and not obvious, I left it. But I did know what to watch for when I made the second one.

Seam ripper

I won’t bore you with all the flaws, but there are plenty. Thankfully they came out looking relatively well for all that.

At one point I wished I had the buffalo check that’s so popular these days, but since I already had this on hand, I felt like I should use it instead. But then, I told myself, if the buffalo check is trendy now, it might not be a few years from now, and the regular toile and check combo is fairly classic. Yet when I got these done I thought they looked more country-ish, which I am trying to get away from, rather than classic. But I am telling myself that’s just my imagination and they do look classic. 🙂

I also wanted to make a couple of pillows, mainly to tie the room together but also because I have a couple of old ones that are about ready to be retired. I got the idea for this one from here as well as instructions for making an envelope pillow.

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I really liked doing an envelope cover rather than stuffing  a pillow! I went back and forth with whether or not I liked this as much as I thought I would, but it does accomplish its purpose in tying the room together, I think.

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I also made the front and back for another one, based on this one seen on Pinterest (I found the other one originally on Pinterest as well). I was originally going to add lace like that one has, but decided I liked this design:

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I’m trying to decide whether I want to put cording around the edges or not. I’m going to see what Hobby Lobby has and then decide from there. But it shouldn’t take to long to finish up either way.

I love the trim, which I learned is called gimp, and thought it would be the easiest part to deal with, but I found it’s a little hard to keep in place – it kept wanting to pull over while I was sewing. And I did learn not to stretch it while sewing! I did that in a couple of places on one pillow, which made the fabric look a little puckered, but thankfully it evened out with pressing.

There’s one more I’d like to do, as well as the longer curtain panels, but this is a good stopping place for a week or so. My oldest son is coming in this weekend, and a very special grandson is having his first birthday next week, so I need to turn my attention to other pursuits just now. 🙂 With trying to get these done I haven’t been to visit you all like I normally would, and I hope to catch up soon.

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a while since I shared with you some of the interesting things I’ve seen around the Internet lately. I keep thinking I need to do this more often so as to have a shorter list. I enjoy these kinds of posts on others’ sites, though of course I don’t click on every link. I don’t expect anyone to do that here, either, but I just wanted to share some good things you may not have seen.

Nancy Wilson’s post on taking offense was convicting. We often focus on not giving offense, and we need to do that, but sometimes we take offense too easily. I Corinthians 13:5 says love “is not easily provoked.” There are Biblical ways of dealing with a legitimate offense, but I know I can all too easily take offense where none was meant.

David Hosaflook at MissioMishMash shared some great thoughts in Let the Singles Singly Serve concerning awkward things we sometimes say to single people. I asked and received his permission to share this in our ladies’ ministry newsletter booklet, and my oldest son, who normally only reads the funny section, saw this and thanked me for it. One quote:

Married folks, don’t look at the singles like the undergrads of the church, just hoping that they will “graduate” to marriage. Don’t treat them as if there’s something “incomplete” about them. If they continually get that impression at church, how will they ever learn that we are complete in Christ? How will they ever not appear “desperate” to would-be suitors who are not “in” to the desperate type?

Challies has had a series going on Sexual Detox. All of the posts are good, but if you can only read one, read A Theology of Sex.

I think the rest of these I am just going to list instead of saying, “So-and-so had a great post…” Obviously I think they are all great or else I wouldn’t be listing them. 🙂

The Heart of Her Husband Safely Trusts in Her, HT to Melissa.

Studying Love.

Looking For That Secret Recipe for perfect parenting.

Help! Mommydom leaves me no time for God.

I don’t remember where I first found a link to the ElderCare site, but I’ve been encouraged and helped by much there since I discovered it. Two articles especially helpful were Caregivers Listen Up about how to listen to people with dementia and Straight talk about sibling help.

Jesus is NOT nicer than the Father.

Procrastination in housework.

The ten commandments of entertaining.

On the craft front:

A really cute way to embellish hand towels.

Armrest pincushion.

Floral brooch tutorial.

Lace jewelry frames.

Stencil masking technique.

Hope you have a good Saturday!

Show and Tell Friday: Lampshade

show-and-tell.jpg Kelli at There’s No Place Like Home hosts “Show and Tell Friday” asking “Do you have a something special to share with us? It could be a trinket from grade school, a piece of jewelry, an antique find. Your show and tell can be old or new. Use your imagination and dig through those old boxes in your closet if you have to! Feel free to share pictures and if there’s a story behind your special something, that’s even better! If you would like to join in, all you have to do is post your “Show and Tell” on your blog, copy the post link, come over here and add it to Mr. Linky. Guidelines are here.“

I’ve mentioned that I don’t have many of the things I have made, except things for our boys’ room made when I was expecting. Most other things I’ve made have been for gifts. But this caught my eye (it should — it’s right beside my bed!! But sometimes we get so used to our things we don’t really “see” them any more) and I thought it would make for a fun show and tell.

I made this lampshade some 20 years ago at a little adult ed class at a Christian college.

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This is a “cut and pierced” design. The teacher taught us how to cut out an arc out of special paper (I don’t remember what it was called. It’s firm but pliable), then center and trace a pattern onto the back side. Then we took Exacto knives and cut around the outer edges of the leaves and flower petals, then bent them back just a little so the light would show through. We had a little instrument with a wooden handle and what looked like a big needle on the end to pierce little holes in various places in the design. The we attached the arc to a top and bottom circle and glued — and we had a lampshade!

Here’s a closer look:

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I’ve seen some where the designs are painted. I like those, too, but I like the simplicity of this one as well.

At the time this kind of craft was going around and we could find all the supplies at a local craft or hobby shop. I don’t know if that would be the case now, but I just did an Internet search and found kits and patterns available.

I did go on to make a couple of other lampshades as a result of this class, but this was the only cut and pierced one. I’m glad I kept it and I am enjoying it all over again.