Saturday, November 12, 2011

100 Days of Making

Anna Fuhs: Seamstress, Gibson Girl
This is my maternal grandmother, Anna Fuhs Ehrhardt’s 1912 engagement portrait.  She was a dressmaker in Newark NJ at the turn of the last century. I love this dress and need to figure out those sleeves so I can make a copy for myself.  

She often lived with us as I was growing up to help with all the kids. (I got a new baby sister just about every year until I was 9--including the year I got a baby brother too) 

Every night after the littlest ones were bathed and in bed, Grandma would settle into her rocker in front of the tv with us to crochet.  She was always making afghans for her grandkids to take to college or for the new baby great grandchildren as they came along.

She let me help her wind balls of yarn from the groovily colored skeins in her knitting bag.  She taught me to finger-crochet yards and yards of chain stitch which she would sew together into little doll rugs.  Once I developed the coordination, I graduated to using a crochet hook and learned to make granny squares, which were quite fashionable during the initial runs of That Girl and The Partridge Family. (Though Grandma preferred Lawrence Welk.)

As a true Edwardian, Grandma passed on to me the needlework skills that any proper lady should know.  I can embroider, needlepoint, cross-stitch, crochet, knit and sew. Thanks to Grandma, I am fully prepared for the life of an upper class spinster living at Downton Abbey. Sadly, it’s been 100 years and those skills aren’t much called for these days.  I have to make a living and haven’t had time for leisurely daily drawing room embroidery and gossip sessions. 

Downton Abbey's spinsters and the Dowager Countess. 
As I near my own half-century mark, I find myself at a crossroads trying to figure out, (yet again) what I want to be when I grow up.  

I realized toward the end of my most recent job, that I wasn’t using any of my talents, gifts or skills there.  I was basically pimping out my neurosis--Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I do take some odd comfort in knowing that I can only get by on OCD for a few years.  

Considering my undergraduate majors in Theology and Theater, I am rather proud that I made it almost 4 years in a Personal Property Tax Department.

I stand here today bloody, but unbowed. (And the OCD only finds an outlet when I am in Marshall’s or HomeGoods feeling compelled to straighten the shelves and put the matching dishes all together.) 

Princess Leia Cupcakes for former co-worker, Nate
 After nearly 4 years of stupid Excel tricks, battling the property tax database and endless filing, I desperately need to use my actual talents and skills. I have been trying to remember what I am good at and what I love to do.  People tell me I am creative (and I even believe this about myself.) But I don’t feel like I have been in touch with that part of me in a while. The closest I came in my last job was making birthday cakes for co-workers.


One thing I know for sure is that no matter how depressed I feel, I can always get a rush from fabric shopping. I look at my stash now and see things I bought with specific projects in mind. I just didn’t have time or motivation to put them together. I feel like there is creative energy stored in each piece of fabric and project I planned.  If I can just motivate myself to do them, I will be able to unlock that energy and find my way to the next job, or better yet,  what I want to be when I grow up.

There are piles and even bolts of fabric meant to be curtains, slipcovers, dresses, pajamas, stuffed animals…They are begging to be released from their stacks and storage cubbies. So I decided today is the first of 100 days in a row that I will make something. With a challenge like this, I should  be able to make a nice dent in that collection.  Hopefully I will gain momentum and retrieve the lost bits of my self.  By the end of the hundred days, I should be back to my regularly scheduled fabulosity. Even if it will be the bleak midwinter by then.

I predict there will be lots of sewing, but “making” is broad enough to include all sorts of things.  It could be a “mix cd” or a Christmas ornament or even traditional German springerle cookies. I have lots of things in mind, but if you have any suggestions or requests, please let me know.  I feel I should warn you that there are a lot of pajama bottoms waiting to be made.  Hopefully I will get it together and plow through them in a few days, mail them out to their intended recipients and then move on to some more varied projects. 


Raggedy Lily and Raggedy Maggie

At the very least, I will post photos of my accomplishments.  Hopefully I will even have a story to tell to go along with the pictures.  I am considering putting together tutorials if I cook up something that would be fun to document step-by-step. So that’s the plan.  

Here is today’s creation. 

Day ONE. 99 days to go

I have been working on these on and off for the last couple of weeks.  I have a raggedy Raggedy Ann doll that was given to my parents for me before I was even born. So I made Raggedy Lily (the blonde in pink) for my niece Lily and Raggedy Maggie for my brown-haired niece Maggie who loves BLUE.

Tomorrow I intend to experiment with something new for me—polymer clay….See ya back here then! 

Here are all the dollies together.


  1. 100 days of crafting = BRILLIANT!

  2. Bravo, That Girl, for opening yourself to the challenge, for opening your creative energies to the natural gifts that you already possess. Looking forward to your creations!