Managing a Tight Holiday Budget: Homespun Projects that Build Tradition


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A festive Yuletide spirit can still fill your home or apartment, even if it seems all of your spare cash is being pumped into your car's gas tank or your home heating bill this year!

Old socks . . . pieces of fabric . . . home-made baker's clay . . . felt and old buttons . . . torn and tattered table linens . . . stored Christmas cards and wrap . . . bits of ribbon and lace and bias tape . . . with a little imagination and time, you can turn a ton of ordinary household items into enduring Christmas treasures. Here are three family-style projects to get you started - two easy garlands, and an quick and lovely quilt!

* Garlands galore

If you think that crumpled but still-shiny foil gift-wrap is just too pretty to toss away, you're right! Cut it into strips about an inch wide and three inches long. Use any colors you have handy, and mix in other less-than-perfect wrap as well. When you've got a bagful of foil strips, glue the ends together to form a glitzy new garland for your tree!

For homey appeal, trace your hand, mitten-shaped, on a piece of cardboard and cut out the pattern. Transfer the pattern to pieces of red, green, brown and burgundy felt, then cut out. Decorate the felt with snowmen . . . button figures . . . glitter-and-glue designs . . . gingerbread people . . . angels and stars. Do a primitive straight stitch in a contrasting color, all around the outer border of your felt “mitten. " Turn your creations into a sweet and simple hanging garland by securing the felt designs with old clothespins to a length of raffia or twine . . . the effect is charming in the kitchen or laundry room!

* Make a Faux Christmas Quilt for Hanging

This is a great family activity and can even be framed for seasonal display!

Gather up all the bits and pieces of fabric in your sewing basket, or the old clothes in the closets . . . the more colorful, the better. Cut out color-based fabric squares about six inches square and set the stack aside, sorted into solids and patterns. Make a separate stack of pieces from solid whites, yellows, pastels and other light colored materials and trim them to about five inches square.

Keep any smaller or odd-shaped remnants separate.

Use pieces of cardboard to draw and cut out a variety of simple holiday shapes about three inches high - trees, angels, candy canes, hearts, stars, whatever says “Christmas" to you. Trace the patterns on the backside of the smaller or odd-shaped pieces, and cut out. Stitch the Christmas shapes onto the five-inch white or pastel squares, then center that piece on a complementing color panel and stitch.

When you've completed a dozen of these panels, line them up three across and four down, approximately 18 inches wide by 24 inches long. Stitch them to a piece of plain unbleached muslin, leaving three inches of space at the top. When your panels are sewn onto the muslin, fold the top over and stitch across to form a pocket, through which you'll slide a plain wooden dowel or even a sturdy hickory stick.

Hang and enjoy!

Kate Sheridan is a Michigan freelance writer, photographer and homesteader whose writings on the fun and foibles of country living may be found at .


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