advent dreams

Dec 3, 2011

advent dreams

I have longed for an adorable advent calendar for years. Decades. On top of that dream, I added the cherry of wanting to be the one to actually make it. I have scoured the internet for the last many years looking for one I loved AND could make.

I have found a few, but they have never materialized. I have tried making a few, but they never turned out. A few years ago I bought a set of pictures of Jesus in a mini-size and mounted them on cardstock and hung those up with clothespins on a piece of rick-rack. It drove me batty. I loved the idea, but it turned out so much different than I had envisioned that it was hard for me to even enjoy it. The pictures didn’t hang straight and any breeze through the house would send them all twisty-turvy. It was hard to tell which ones had been turned front-facing and which ones were backwards because they were always so skewampus.

This year I decided I would try once again to make one. Myself. By the grace of God…literally…and the help of my sewing mentor and dear friend, Katherine, I did it!

We started the project a couple of weeks ago and made it this far. Then Thanksgiving and the gnome party happened, so no progress was made. All of a sudden it was December 1st and I needed it to be done. Kat said I could come over and she would help me. Thinking it would take four or five hours I set out in the early afternoon hoping to be home in time for a late dinner with my family. What was I thinking? I didn’t leave Kat’s house until 1 a.m.! (Then I had to be up at 6 a.m. to get my family ready to go teach gymnastics all day.) Craziness!

Sewing the top together was fairly easy, but a little frustrating. The first two rows went smoothly, but I think we unpicked the third row (or was it the fourth?) several times. I was ready to scream at this point. The stupid, simple, straight seams were taking far longer than they should have because my skills are so, SO lacking. Kat could have whipped it out in no time at all, but she insisted I sew every stitch. I’m glad she did, but at the time I was none too thrilled. As the hours wore on, I just wanted to hand the whole thing over and yell “let me throw some money at you and have you finish it!” But she wouldn’t let me give up.

After the top was finally finished, we started the binding. Binding! Can you believe it? She made me do the binding! Never in my wildest imaginations did I think she would make me do the binding. Binding is a separate thing. A thing for experts.

She taught me what to do and because I had paid close attention when Jessica sewed my binding on the quilt I made for Natasha this spring, her directions made a teensy bit of sense. I sewed all the binding fabric together, then pressed it in half and then quite trepidatiously started sewing it on. I thought to myself (prematurely!) “This isn’t bad at all. I can do this! Look at me. I am sewing binding on. I really should start saving $20 a month for a better machine, I could never do this on my machine, but if I had a machine that worked like this one (I was sewing on Kat’s), I could do this. I am figuring this out. I can do this.” After the first side of binding was sewn on, Kat taught me to clip the corners, press the binding to the back side, and make lovely mitered corners.

This is where the real trouble began. I thought I followed her directions exactly. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t. I clipped holes in the corners. HOLES! Holes in my almost finished, just-spent-the-last-11-hours-sewing-and-unpicking-and-sewing-and-unpicking-and-sewing project. (Not to mention the hours I spent picking out the fabric, cutting it out and sewing all the trees together a few weeks ago. Not to mention the years I have dreamed of hanging up my very own homemade-by-me calendar.)

It was too much.

I burst into tears. Gut-wrenching sobs. I buried my face in my hands and started spouting off some nonsense about how this is what always happens…I ruin my sewing projects. What was I thinking? Why on God’s green earth did I think I could do this. Why didn’t YOU (meaning Kat) stop me months ago when I started talking about this? I will never, ever sew another stitch. I will never get some insane idea about creating ANYTHING. I am going home. You can have my fabric if you want it. You can burn it or whatever you want, but I am going home. I never want to see it again. No, No, you cannot make me open my eyes. I am leaving. Yes, I am giving up. Why? Because I can’t do it. It’s just too hard and I am not good enough to make it turn out the way I want it, so I am leaving.

Yes, I said all those things. With snot running down my face and tears pouring out of my eyes and sobs wracking my body.

And Kat? She listened and she cried and she grabbed my face in both of her hands and she said “NO! You are doing this. We will fix it. It will be lovely. You will see. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.” She was amazing. She loved me right through years of fears and heartbreak and unrealized dreams.

She also said I should pat myself on the back for not being scared to use my scissors…I guess some people are so hesitant to cut that they don’t get their corners trimmed down enough. Yeah, I think I will be one of those people next time (will there ever be a next time?) because I don’t ever want to see holes in my almost finished project again.

After I calmed down and wiped all the snot off my face, she showed me how to fix it and by show I mean she basically did everything but push the pedal and guide it through. She made me do those two things, but really I had NO CLUE what I was doing.

Then I pressed the binding to the back, made my mitered corners (which turned out a gazillion times better than I ever imagined they could) and sat down to sew it on.

Can I just say sheer terror. The last step and it felt like everything was on the line. It felt like I was going to ruin my project one step from the finish line.

But I didn’t. It worked. I worked. Kat sat and watched and we had a wonderful gospel discussion about covenants and God’s promises and faith and motherhood and we both cried some more. But not because of sewing. Because of God’s love for us.

Here it is…I still can’t believe it.


Thank you Miss Katherine. You saved my dream and brought it to life. I cannot thank you enough for walking through the path of fear with me. Maybe someday, if you hold my hand for long enough, I will conquer it.

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  1. Kat

    I learned a lot about myself that night. Tracy I love you. You are worth every minute of lost sleep and every tear drop. I am so proud of you and so grateful to call you not only friend, but dear friend. (((hugs)))

  2. jessica

    Wait! I still don’ t get how it’s an advent calendar – it is very cute but in the picture it looks like a quilt wall hanging, can you show us how it works?