May would be the end of me


I've mentioned it here before, but May is a rough month for us. Birthdays, anniversaries, mothers, toss in a race or two, and you've got a great month to break any good habits you may have built up over the course of the rest of the year. Like that whole photo project that had begun its decline into mediocre Instagram slideshow. So that's done, now. And maybe the things I do manage to post will have a little more substance than the shoes I happen to be wearing at the time I manage to whip out my phone to take a hurried shot before my self-imposed midnight deadline.

All the event-ness of May does offer opportunity for making, though. And when we were through with nearly everything on our calendars, and there was just the matter of The Boy's very first birthday party to resolve, I finally pressed all my tools — sewing machine, Gocco, designy computer apps, piping bags and every single measuring utensil — into service.

Really, it was just a goodie bag, some cupcakes and a little paper soccer game I devised, but cram it all into a week that also shares calendar space with work and volunteer and racing commitments, and every clockable moment turns into crunch time.

The goodie bag was a simple, exposed seam design. Gocco-printed muslin on the outside and a laminated cotton lining, with a handle snipped and reinforced into the design. I figured once the bags made it home and were no longer official party accoutrement, they could be turned inside out for a generically owl-decked carrier of small items that six-year-olds are wont to tote around.

I didn't go crazy making the fillers this year, and, at any rate, I suspect that the pre-tween crowd collectively scoffs at the idea of fiddling with something so baby-ish as play dough. So I made it easy on myself and rolled the cart into the dollar aisle at Target and stocked up on shwaggy amounts of kazoos and novelty pencils. 


But, mostly to justify the purchase of a perforating tool, I went ahead and drafted up a card-stock soccer board (PDF here, on the off chance you want to give it a whirl) to fold and bend and cajole into GOOOOOOOOOOL-worthy play. You know that thing where you fold up a scrap of paper into a wedge that in no way resembles a football, and then fling that at a friend idiotically holding his fingers in a field goal formation in front of his face? It's exactly that, but without the inherent facial trauma. 

Anyway, I haven't heard back from anyone who tried to play with it, though The Boy was plenty keen on starting up a pick-up game. And it was a nice tie-in to the party venue, which was our neighborhood indoor soccer joint. So it had to be done. And now May is done, so a round of relaxation is in order.

Bag of goodies

Full of the handmade wares of a now-five-year-old.

The goods

Made entirely from the junk filling up my drawers and pantry, with the exception of the fancy food dyes I picked up at the hippie grocer down the street. Although, admittedly, my crafty stash of odds and ends is probably a little more diverse than your average household. But just a little.

Some soft things & one antlered


Here's an embarrassing fact about Mr. New Media: In his dream home he will have carved out a sizable nook just for pillows. A pit, if you will. This space would be floofy and cushy and, I imagine, I Dream of Jeannie-like. He imagines possibly falling back into it, perhaps from a second floor landing. Maybe he lazes in it, sipping red wine. Maybe he browses the internet, enveloped in velvets and damasks and silk brocades. Maybe he takes in a football game on his appropriately man-sized flatscreen. I don't know. I do not share this dream. But nothing gratifies quite as instantly as a simple pillow project. And really, when your completed product is as soft and yielding as something to populate a pit of pillows, there's also very little that's as forgiving. 


For a good stretch there I followed the self-instigated tradition of crafting up a pillow as part of every gifting event for Mr. New Media. Birthdays, anniversaries, father's day, etc. Most were sewn, some with a simple envelope closure, others outfitted with zippers. At least one was knitted in an atrocious display of color theory. Some required new fabric, chosen off bolts or salvaged from the remnant bin, or worked from a napkin picked up on clearance. There's the one cut from a favorite t-shirt and fringed in bobbly orange. There's the one that sits as homage to Mondrian. One was made from velvety scraps left over from our re-creation of a favorite book. Two are giant felt carrots. One is just plain giant.


We have yet to find that dream home, the one with the pillow-lounging corner. Hell, we're not even in our dream-state. Home ownership and serious commitment to decorating will have to wait. Right now, it's really just a pillow hole, spilling out of the tent my mom made The Boy for his second birthday. Still, I'm about to stitch the first seems of a dress, a huge, daunting project, and am in serious need of some quick-return craftyness to build up my energy and self-steem. 

So, pillows. In starting the dress project, I had cut out pieces to construct a muslin, a most unthinkable act. My bright idea was to use the scraplets from to piece them together in a jagged, strippy fashion to make a pillow front, and then back it with flannel left over from the throw I made at Christmas. Easy enough, but the resulting panel evoked mummies and wrapped bandages. And, as Mr. New Media pointed out, we're a family prone to laying down stains wherever we sit, with sticky chocolate and ripe-strawberry remains grinding into everything. The fine art of napkin usage, despite constant gentle reminders, has not quite stuck with the three-year-old. And the muslin panel, as it was, was just too blank a canvas. A little embellishment was in order, so a second unthinkable act was initiated. I did some appliqué work. In the shape of Texas. Which really accounts for a third unthinkable act. But as they say… When in Rome, adorn your home goods with the likeness of your nation-state. I set a zipper in and called it good.


I've been in a state of mind the past few weeks where I've been very down on this state. There are, of course, many stereotypes about Texans. You know, the whole gun-totin', hickish, loud-mouthedly conservative bit. Lately, it feels like certain citizens of this state have gone out of their way to validate these stereotypes. But there was something rather therapeutic about making this pillow. Maybe it was all the pinning and needling the shape took, like a Texas voodoo doll exorcising its likeness' demons. Maybe it's just that it's fun and cuddly.

In the background, there, is the first piece we took in to commemorate our then-new Texas-ness. Our own deer bust in cardboard and decorative paper. I tasked Mr. New Media with this project once we were settled in this house. He predictably objected to the paper I had picked out. Too girly, of course. But what could be a better antithesis to your archetypical taxidermized trophy than patterns you might decorate a girl's baby shower with? Another Texas corner funned and cuddlied up.


Our Texas abode

Scrappy, quilty muslin pillow, at home on the not-quite-the-right-color-for-the-living-room couch. Read about me at

Pillow, done

Tex, at rest on the couch. Read about me at

Muslin quilted

Stitched near the ditch with gray thread, my favorite color for sewing. Read about me at