Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Gifts Given and Received

We are in Fort Myers, FL, where we spent a very pleasant and quiet Christmas. One of the downtown restaurants, The Twisted Vine Bistro, had a nice holiday buffet dinner, with all the traditional flavors. I enjoyed pinot grigio, prime rib, turkey, potatoes au gratin, shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, coffee, pumpkin pie and sugar cookies without lifting a finger to cook or clean. The food was quite good and the servers were upbeat and pleasant.

The restaurant's cute logo features a cork screw and grapes, which leads me right into today's post!

This set of nine napkins, and the eight placemats at the top of the post, were made as a holiday gift for friends. They entertain quite a bit, filling their home with food, laughter and wine. I had decent sized scraps of lots of wine-themed fabrics and was able to stitch up this set following this tutorial video for both placemats and napkins, very straightforward.

Here are two of my favorite placemats. I really like the tumbling wine glasses fabric. To make the placemat tops, I simply cut 19" long strips of the various fabrics, in widths from about 4" to 8", and mixed them up to maximize contrast between the fabrics. 

For the backs, I used all the same fabric. I thought this pretty apple design with gold metallic accents could be used in the autumn if my friends wanted their table to be more matchy-matchy. Solid color napkins would look nice with this side. And if you're wondering why there are 8 placemats and 9 napkins, well, one of the napkins is all beer bottles! I usually prefer beer over wine, so that napkin was selfishly made for myself to use when I visit them.

DH and I don't exchange gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, preferring to celebrate those days with meals in fancy restaurants. But occasionally one of us will splurge on some item, claiming, "This will be my birthday/St. Patrick's Day/Winter Solstice present this year!" Earlier this month I was very excited to receive several big boxes containing my similarly self-appointed Christmas gift.

I've been storing my scraps strips, sorted by color, in recycled Kleenex tissue boxes. They sit on the small bathroom counter of the stateroom where I sew, stacked haphazardly. I was satisfied with the size (and price!) of the boxes, but they don't nest or stack nicely. I tend to cut my scrap strips on the fly as I'm cutting for other projects, and this system didn't make it easy to just pop one or two strips into the right bin without shuffling the whole stack.

So I treated myself to a set of multi-color Akro bins. Oooo! Aaaah! So pretty! So sturdy! So stackable! So open in the front for easy access, no matter how high the stack!

Each bin cost about $4-$5, with price varying by color. That's a bit odd, but the most odd thing is that an orange bin costs $18!! Even though it pained my rainbow-colored soul to leave the orange one behind, it just bugged me to pay THAT much more for a single color. Besides, I've been grouping yellow and orange together in a single Kleenex box anyway.

Here they are, stuffed with scraps and sitting on the bathroom counter. I'm using the taupe one for light colored neutrals, the black one for dark neutrals, and the clear one for bright multi/rainbow scraps. 

The two extras, another clear and a light blue, will be used for various other scrap projects. Right now they hold 4.5" squares and 2.5" four patches. Meanwhile, I'm keeping my eyes peeled on eBay for a used orange bin to make my set complete.

Now if I can only figure out a good system for the other side of the bathroom counter, where I stage larger scraps and FQs to be filed, and general miscellany. Sigh. Hey, Akro makes a wider, shallower bin that might work, stacked 3-4 high...


  1. I totally oooohhh and augh over your new storage bins! Soooo funny my hubby and I do the same exact thing for the year worth of celebrations. And yes....we each splurge sometime in between them all for a big purchase for ourselves...exclaiming the same thing. No wonder we are bloggy friends! SMILES!! Oh and thanks...now you got me thinking of collecting wine fabric...I love wine and I loved your placements. (And chuckled that you made yourself a beer napkin for your own visits) Your use of napkins is ingenious!

  2. Oh nice storage bins Louise, love that they stack neatly together. I should follow your example and cut my strips as you do whilst working on other projects. This should save time by not rummaging in huge bins! I agree with you on the extra cost asked for an orange bin, not worth it and good luck with collecting the larger size storage bins!

  3. What a nice idea for a gift, and making them reversible is so helpful. I had to chuckle about your beer napkin. Haha. Oh, those bins are lovely! Too bad about the orange. I hope you find one. I like to use those kleenex boxes as make-do thread catchers. When it's full, I can toss the whole thing, or I can open it, empty it, retape and reuse. Sounds like you had a lovely Christmas, Louise! We'll be in the Fort Myers area in March, so I'm going to keep that restaurant in mind.

  4. Sigh. My comment seems to have disappeared into the ether. If this is a repeat just delete it please. My rainbow coloured soul LOVES your boxes. I have had a niggling voice telling me to make some fabric ones for my smallest scraps which are currently all crammed into one fabric pail but that would take time away from other projects… Those are terrific placemats and napkins, what fun fabric and sweet gift.

  5. So pretty, colorful and useful all in one, great present to yourself! We don't exchange anymore either, but we usually just each pick one big thing we want and that is Christmas. Mine this year was a new computer.

  6. I love the wine fabrics and they worked into such nice gifts.

    I can't imagine what it must be like to find good storage area for fabrics in a small space like you have. I tend to spread out throughout the house myself.

  7. Wow, love your new strip/scrap system!!! So colorful, fun and practical. But that orange!!! What's up with that??!

  8. What a colorful and practical solution to your scrap storage problem. Happy stitching in the New Year!

  9. You always come up with such unique solutions! Happy New Year!

  10. How clever to use the stacking bins and sort by color. I'm sure you have to stay really organized with such limited space. Clever, too, providing your friend with just the right placement for when you visit! :-)


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