When you assume your husband can help you sew DIY Christmas bows.
take the full holiday house tour here!
My original idea for how to make this bow was a simple piece of red ribbon… Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Ribbon– a product that you can buy at the store that you do not need to craft in your workshop of craftiness?
But since I’m me, I decided to make my own! So I could give the bow contrasting red stripes! Fun! Like a Christmas tuxedo! It’s harder this way!
If something will take me 57 times longer, but be 1% nicer, I am all for it.
Besides, why do something quickly that you can actually finish– if you have the option of getting involved in a project that will spiral out of control?
On top of my self-assigned task of winning Christmas, I was scheduled to have surgery… Nothing serious, but definitely inconvenient and I wanted to get this stuff done beforehand because I was not sure how much I would be able to use my arm.
So I casually mentioned to my mother that I was planning a few simple Christmas decorating projects… With total awareness that she would come over and help me keep my brain inside my head rather than exploding out all over the place.
Paul said he would help too, which surprised me in the best possible way… until later, when that surprise turned out to be warranted for different reasons.
I used duckcloth for the bows— it’s the same material I used for the pillow covers. It’s not exactly a fabric you think of for festive home decor, but I wanted the bows to feel comfortable and homey and not fussy.
And then, because I lied about not wanting it to be fussy, I used red satin for the trim.
The sashes I made are 4 yards long. (No, that is not a typo) and 6.5 inches wide. However, I only bought one yard of red satin. My (fatally flawed) plan was to cut three-inch-wide strips and sew them end-to-end until they were 4 yards long.
If you’re wondering why I did not just use red ribbon, that is an excellent question.
At the time, I thought the answer was because I found the perfect-color red fabric… But now, I can say for sure that the answer is because I am an idiot.
As I planned the Christmas assembly line, I assigned Paul the task of cutting the strips of red fabric. I figured he would be excellent at this because he is so precise. But I was wrong.
I was BEYOND wrong.
It turns out that Paul cuts fabric like a meth-addled chimpanzee: not straight.
I haven’ t had enough time to process this yet, so I cannot even take a stab at explaining it… If I didn’t know better, I might think he was not invested in the end product.
I’m sure you’ll think that I hacked at the fabric extra, to emphasize Paul’s “work,” but no. These are totally untouched. Exactly the way they were delivered to me.
When I said – Gaaahrrrgghh!
Paul said, with no remorse at all – well, it was my first time doing this.
Then he went and started making a snack.
Let me tell you, this is an excellent strategic move because it leaves the wronged-party with zero options. They cannot screech at you – what are you doing? are you making a snack? now is not the time for snacks!
What kind of crazy person would object to you eating when you are hungry?
Furthermore, I had to experience my outrage alone, because I have never once gotten my mother to see any flaw in Paul… in fact, I am pretty sure that he could light me on fire and then dance around fanning the flames and singing, and she would think he was trying to keep me warm.
So I had to wait to have my fabric-rage vindicated in print… I gritted my teeth and said – you will read about this on the blog. I am going to tell them everything.
Paul said – good. Be sure you lead with the part about 4 yards of fabric.
I said – guess what? They already know. And they think it’s fine.
At this point, faced with a pile of chewed-looking, unusable scrap, and the bafflement of how my husband could slaughter an entire yard of fabric without once stopping to think – this does not look like what Victoria is expecting.
The obvious choice was walking away.
But since my mom was there, instead of setting fire to this plague of Christmas decorating that I had brought upon myself, we went to get more fabric. To do it again.
It’s a Barnes specialty: perfect solutions, requiring only the small compromise of giving up your will to live.
When we got to the fabric store, they only had half a yard– rather than the full yard I needed. And I am not sure if it will surprise you that I did not like any of the other red fabric that they had.
I was standing numbly at the cutting counter, wondering why all the reds were so hideous, but also why I am so derailed and paralyzed by three degrees of too-much-orange-not-enough-blue. When my mother said – you know, we could sew together two of Paul’s unusable strips to make one usable strip… then the half-yard will be enough to do the other bow.
If this sounds sensible, allow me to translate: each sash for each bow is 4 yards long. If you need a piece of trim on either side, that is 8 yards of trim, per sash. If you have to sew two pieces of hacked-up trim together to form one useable piece, that is what? 16 yards of fabric. Which means sewing together 48 feet of fabric. For just one bow.
Writing this out makes me love my mom so much. But also – what is wrong with her?
When we got home with our new, half-yard of fabric, and our mutual agreement to continue steering directly into the iceberg, Paul said – did you get what you needed?
As though my mother and I simply enjoy touring local fabric stores, and this entire debacle had nothing to do with him.
Plus, since he had so convincingly persuaded me that he was incapable of assisting in the bow-making assembly-line, his services were no longer required and he was permitted to go and do something not-miserable.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he stood in the doorway and performed a stand-up routine about Christmas in North Korea. He started saluting me and calling me Supreme Leader and saying things like – who knew Kim Jong-il was so into Christmas decorating?
He also noted that I had given my mother the significantly-crummier-task of sewing together his meth-chimpanzee strips and had taken for myself, the new and unmolested fabric.
So he made my mom a badge to identify her as “The People’s Worker.”
Then he said – where is Elvis? I need to identify her as “The People’s Cat”
In case you think I’m kidding:
take the full holiday house tour!
index of all holiday posts.
how to make a perfect holiday bow
PS! I’m reading and LOVING A Little Love Story: A Novel… I randomly checked it out of the library, and it’s GOOD!
December 18, 2013 @ 4:51 pm
Your blog caught my attention because I happen to work at an 1890 Victorian style Lighthouse on the central coast of CA (check out the website). And now I read and read because I love your writing and your wonderfully crazy ideas! Keep up the good work, you put a smile on my face daily!
December 18, 2013 @ 5:58 pm
Thanks for the chuckle. I hope your minor surgery goes smoothly.
December 18, 2013 @ 6:05 pm
This was so funny I read it twice (both from Facebook and Feedly). While I am not as clever or talented as you are, my kids will be happy to tell you I am nearly as picky… I mean particular (because it sounds better).
December 18, 2013 @ 6:08 pm
I loved the part about your Mother loving Paul so much that he could light you on fire. WOW she really does like him. He is a lucky man.
December 18, 2013 @ 6:34 pm
Sort and sweet due to the school Holiday program mass chaos happening tomorrow…but,
A. Paul needs a rotary cutter and cutting mat if he is going to help you with anything fabric involved, and
B. how on earth did you get a ribbon on Elvis? If I even THOUGHT about doing that to Flash or Percy they would read my mind and hide until Christmas was over! However, Big Red, my sweet Golden, would be happy to model a gorgeous ribbon!
December 18, 2013 @ 7:07 pm
I totally hear you on all the wrong red fabrics! My wedding colors were red (about the color of your fabric) and butter yellow. There were SO MANY wrong colors of red and NOBODY had the right color of red! My husband still thinks I’m crazy because of all the time I spent looking for the right color of red blouses for the bridesmaids!
I love your pillows! They are lovely! And I’m in love with all the garlands you have draped everywhere! It’s all just beautiful!
December 18, 2013 @ 9:43 pm
I’m beginning to think that something might be wrong with me – I seldom ever go into a ‘full’ laugh when I read your posts… unlike many others who reply with tears in their eyes from laughing so hard. I sit here wondering.. “what did I miss that was so funny?” I must be wayyyy too serious minded. However, I do smile often when I read your blog posts, and I did chuckle out loud at Paul putting ‘working’ labels on your mom and the cat, because that was indeed cute and funny. I totally love every word you write, (yet sad to learn it takes so much work for you to write them…) and I love your bows on the pillows! I’d say, lesson learned – from now on, whatever it is, always get a couple extra yards more than needed for any future projects. And of course, don’t let Paul do anymore cutting.
Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife
December 18, 2013 @ 10:27 pm
I think Paul has just proven that you are in desperate need of an assistant. Qualifications: can cut straight lines out of ribbon, will not randomly make snacks.
December 19, 2013 @ 4:44 am
Jennifer; this job is mine…. 🙂 🙂 🙂
May I ask you a question? I would like to add a picture to my atavar but can’t – how did you do that?
Thanks for your reply (or anybody’s help ….) – I tend to comment regularly on several WordPress blogs but I haven’t a blog – is THAT the catch?)
Merry Christmas to you, Kiki
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
December 19, 2013 @ 7:57 am
can’t wait to see you.
December 19, 2013 @ 8:56 am
Thanks a mill VEB…. done and dusted – Don’t I look GREAT? LOL…. (Believe me this is so much better than the ‘real’ me!)
Still need to know about the Duck Cloth though… 🙂
December 18, 2013 @ 11:33 pm
“then he started making a snack.” ~ perhaps my favorite line in the piece.
I have shared the post with my mother.
Keep at it with this important sparkly stuff. By that I mean I love that you prefer to do things the hard way. I can feel in my bones that the red needs to be the correct red for Heaven’s Sake. We (collective “we” representing all readers because some people don’t comment) are laughing so hard we can’t breathe as we read about your undertakings. (Some people can’t comment because they are laughing, I think. Otherwise you’d have about a million comments.)
December 19, 2013 @ 12:16 am
…. This post left me in tears… laughing so hard at your ability to both amuse and confuse me at the same time… you lost me in the mathematical formula of using the half yard of satin… great blog and your pain in the making of the bows was my gain of seeing a dramatically beautiful couch!!!
December 19, 2013 @ 12:36 am
Despite being home sick all week with the mother of all viruses, I need to inform you that I went haring off today 45 minutes from home – one way – on my own quest for a Kingdom Mirror I found on craigslist (alas, a pale facsimile that I recognized but purchased anyway). No, I don’t know why, except even a dismal wannabe version gets me (somehow) that much closer to the real thing?
I digress. The other thing I wanted to tell you is that I love you. Never having met you, you might consider this a strange sentiment, but nevertheless, it’s true. Your posts have me gasping out loud at how akin we are. If you could see my projects I’ve accrued (in various stages of beginning – most of them in my imagination only) you would hit me over the head and make Paul steal several. Well, Paul and his four closest friends, because did I mention my poor husband married a woman who loves large antique cupboards, mantels, windows and doors? :0)
It’s late and I need to go find the next available box of tissues. Just had to succumb to the need to share (my first post ever – don’t you feel special?).
December 19, 2013 @ 12:48 am
I realize now that I merely exist between your blogs; stoically sucking life-giving oxygen while wandering aimlessly through the fields of gray and dark corridors of life, until once again, the sun breaks through, and angelic beings burst forth in heavenly song, as My eyes alight on your next installment of love, laughter, and psychiatric ward creative adventure! <3
December 19, 2013 @ 12:58 am
P.S. Hey! Just remembered that I too have a white duck cloth sofa. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if I could add these beautiful pillows to this years ensemble of Christmas decor? Was already contemplating my visit to the fabric tomorrow (it’s almost 1am here), when I suddenly considered they would likely call attention to the stains. Threw the “throw” back over it and going to bed where visions of crimson and duck cloth will undoubtedly dance through my head.
December 19, 2013 @ 4:40 am
oh BOTHERATION….. (that’s what Chummy said in the series The Midwives…) – I posted a long comment and it went AWOL – and I subscribed to the comments and of course got nothing either….
I woke the whole neighbourhood yesterday night when I howled, snorted, giggled with delight over this best ever, ever post, dear friend. This really takes the biscuit (another expression I adopted from my English friends)….
But first of all, what is a DUCK CLOTH? It looks amazing with the very glamorous satin trimmings. I know all about the pain in the neck about this – have been doing (no thank you, no longer….) huge bows for years to decorate the cushions & banisters of my English Victorian home – now I haven’t got the space for anything too big (except for my Hero Husband (HH) and my tiny (ha ha) self…. and about a half dozen friends anytime throughout the year. But I never ever would be able to count on HH’s help in anything domestic. I therefore have a pinch of compassion for Paul who, even w/o cutting straight strips of fabric, seems to be pretty darn good at most things 🙂
It’s the way you describe your adventures which makes your posts so delightful – I have a similar streak of madness in everything I do and my friends often say they never laugh more than when being with me – I am thankful for this God-given gift, we are OBLIGED to share it with peeps all over the world. And I officially declare you Queen and Empress of the Victorian-Decorating-And-Blogging-About-It-World.
Sweet VE; I wish you and darling Paul a blessed, hilariously happy and cheerful Christmas and many, many more dramatic, funny and health-inducing posts in the New Year! Oh STOP; that 2nd wish is a wish for us not for you…. OK, just a VERY GOOD NEW YEAR then – and if you could throw in a few more posts, I’m sure we wouldn’t mind…
Fresh greetings and hot love from Switzerland and France to you, my UEBER-COOL ‘creatrice’ (can’t think of the English word right now)
January 4, 2014 @ 12:01 pm
Duck cloth is basically white blue jean material, a heavier canvasy-cloth. Great for making slipcovers for chairs, sofas, whatever. Wal-Mart carries it and it runs about $7.99/yard and it is 60″ wide!!! Joanne Fabrics has it, too, but it runs $9.99/yard there.
If you end up making slipcovers (okay, mine are more like really tight, fitted slipcover replacements for original covers that have deteriorated over time due to use and sunlight in CA), use heavy metal zippers for closing over sofa cushions as the plastic zippers pull apart.
Happy sewing! You might also like working with drop cloths from the box stores as they are really heavy canvas and look great once washed a few times fashioned into curtains, etc. All of these cloths get softer over time with washing, too, like linen. 🙂
January 4, 2014 @ 3:22 pm
Dear Barb; you are TOO kind – thank you so much…. I started wondering if I was the only one reading all the comments and actually didn’t hope any more to get a reply to my question….
Now, the thing is – I DO a lot of sewing but being Swiss (AND living in France) – your duck cloth has been totally unknown to me – I was thinking of a sort of cheese cloth rather than a white jeans-material…. interesting! One learns something every day.
Am just now having several ‘duvet covers’ to readjust from French measurements (200x200cm) to my Swiss eiderdown which measures 160×210 (OK, let’s forget about the missing 10cm in length, it’s the 200cm which are FAR too large). The French use ONE 200×200 duvet for two, we luxury people have one 160×210 EACH…. 🙂
Thanks again; it’s a joy to share little things of no importance at all – kisses
January 4, 2014 @ 3:46 pm
Altho’ I grew up in Canada, my folks are from Germany. I too have always thought a king sized bed had two personal sized duvets! This ONE king sized duvet makes no sense to me at all-especially if one (me) has a spouse inclined to hoarding the said duvet! Being a seamstress, I have always chosen to make my own duvet covers, complete with inside corner ties to secure the duvet(having sewn ‘loops’ to the duvet itself!)’ and an envelope button bottom!
Mary Lou Christy
December 19, 2013 @ 8:48 am
Your posts make me laugh out loud. But this one is over the top hilarious. Thank you for bringing laughter and fun to my mornings! (And GREAT IDEAS also… although maybe a little too demanding for this week in December!)
December 19, 2013 @ 9:24 am
“It turns out that Paul cuts fabric like a meth-addled chimpanzee: not straight.” I have been laughing at this line all morning. You and I would be great friends. I am sure of it.
December 19, 2013 @ 4:27 pm
I love you! I would have used actual ribbon. The edges are finished. Just measure and sew. I love satin ribbon. Esp double faced satin ribbon. Nice weight, easy to use. I have several colors hoarded in the closet, including a beautiful Chtistmas red.
December 20, 2013 @ 11:49 am
I love your blog. I love your house. I love your Christmas (and every other holiday) decorations. But your pillows are scrumptious beyond words. Not only because of your genius in creating them but because they look just like the Christmas candy we used to savour as children. Gorgeous look, gorgeous candy. Win-Win:) Thank-you for treat of seeing your most Christmassy ever sofa pillows, and for the reminder of a very happy time many years ago!
December 20, 2013 @ 3:37 pm
Ok you do realize Paul was doing such a BAD job so you would never again ask him to cut fabric, ribbon, etc for your craft projects. How do I know this; because I too have had “help” with projects and they looked a lot like Paul’s cutting of beautiful red fabric. Too funny.
Merry Christmas and the sofa looks wonderful.
December 20, 2013 @ 6:19 pm
Pillows: delightfully festive.
What I really want to know is what is the rectangular framed hole in the wall (to left of vent) in the photo with ironing board? For laundry? For the ‘People’s cat’?