On the Side: Homemade for the Holidays

Mom's Singer Sewing Machine - Photo by Taste As You Go

Hello, friends! As you've probably noticed, Taste As You Go has been quiet over the holidays. After leaving my job in New York and finally ending my commuting adventures on the bus, I jumped straight into into writing my first contracted freelance piece. Throw in some time with family and friends to celebrate the season, and, well... You know how it goes.

The good news is, I'm back and ready to take on 2013!

Pinning the Pattern - Photo by Taste As You Go

This past Christmas was the first that Stephen and I shared as husband and wife. To make the holiday more special, I agreed to make a new skirt for our Christmas tree and new stockings to hang on our mantle. Ones that we'd take out of storage year after year that would remind us of the "early days".

Front of the Christmas Tree Skirt - Photo by Taste As You Go

This project was an extremely meaningful one, so I budgeted a full week to get everything done, factoring in the time I'd need to get reacquainted with my mother's sewing machine.

(I learned how to sew on this machine, and it was the same machine I used to make my childhood Christmas stocking. With my mother's help, of course.)

Adventures with Fusable Fleece - Photo by Taste As You Go

Unfortunately, a series of delays severely shortened the time I had to finish sewing all of the pieces. By the time Stephen and I managed to get to the fabric store to consult on pattern combinations and pick up materials, I only had 48 hours to complete everything.

Back of Christmas Tree Skirt - Photo by Taste As You Go

Adventures with Piping - Photo by Taste As You Go

I transformed our kitchen into a sewing room, and, before you knew it, there were scraps of fabric and bits of thread all over the place. Not to mention stray pins on the table and on the floor. Attaching the piping was a frustrating experience that resulted in me babbling incoherently under my breath as I positioned, pinned, unpinned, re-positioned, and re-pinned the piping all the way around the edge of the skirt. I was experiencing a mini-meltdown and wondered whether I had foolishly taken on too much.

The Rittler Family Tree Skirt - Photo by Taste As You Go

But everything changed when I placed the finished skirt around the base of our Christmas tree. It had come out beautifully, with the chosen patterns representing us so perfectly. I could hardly believe that I made that tree skirt with my own two hands and silently prayed that the stockings would come out just as nicely.

Stocking Pattern - Simplicity 4842 - Photo by Taste As You Go

I didn't waste any time and went back to the kitchen to start cutting the pattern pieces for our stockings. When I saw how large they would ultimately wind up being, I burst out laughing.

Delirium must have set in while we were in the fabric store because, somehow, Stephen and I chose the 25-inch stockings and purchased all of the necessary materials for them. After a quick consultation, we decided that the "medium-sized" 19-inch stockings would provide more than enough room for Christmas presents, and I set to work

Brown-and-White Stockings - Photo by Taste As You Go

Sewing the Stockings - Photo by Taste As You Go

As a tribute to our Alma Mater, we opted against choosing traditional Christmas colors for our stockings and chose brown and white fabrics instead. Lehigh is such a rich part of our history as a couple -- we met there, we fell in love there, and he proposed there -- that it just made sense.

Stocking Cuff - Photo by Taste As You Go

Because we didn't want to add jingle-bell trim, I modified the pattern slightly and made some stylistic changes that fit in better with the modern, clean aesthetic that we were going for. Things were progressing nicely until I had to attach the stocking cuffs.

My inability to visualize what the instructions were telling me to do had me throwing my hands up in the air in frustration. Thankfully, Stephen helped me complete that step, and I was able to power through to finish the stockings just before we ran out the door to go to the Christmas Eve service at church.

The Rittler Family Stockings - Photo by Taste As You Go

Michelle's Christmas Stocking - Photo by Taste As You Go

Stephen's Christmas Stocking - Photo by Taste As You Go

Because we were in such a rush to leave the house, we had to wait until we got back from spending Christmas with Stephen's family to see what the stockings looked like hanging on the mantle. I think they're just as beautiful as any expensive stocking one might order from a Pottery Barn catalog, but they're infinitely more valuable because they were made with loving hands.

Even though the tree skirt and stockings have been packed away with the rest of our Christmas decorations, I'm already looking forward to taking them out and putting them on display in December!

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