Since the day Robb and I got engaged, people have been asking us if there is anything that they can do to help. Loved ones, dear friends, drunk strangers in bars...you name it. People find out that you're getting married and something in them A) knows that you're probably in way over your head, and B) wants to pitch in and help. I don't know what this phenomenon is. Let's call it the "spirit of the barn-raising."
To tell you the truth, over the course of this year-and-a-half long engagement, I could rarely think of anything that I needed these good-hearted people to do. I'm a terrible delegator, and everything on my to-do list included things like pick out cake designs or collect 100 antique bottles. A few times I had to fight the urge to answer, "would you like to plan my entire wedding? Because that would be very helpful." It wasn't until it came time to make wedding crafts that it finally became clear how to put these lovely people to work. Which culminated in yesterday's official Wedding Craft Day Barbecue and World Cup Viewing.
Here's the deal: Robb and I decided that we wanted to make fabric napkins, fabric triangle streamers, and seed packets to give away as favors. (Mercifully, candle-making was dropped...what a pain in the arse that is.) We bought all the materials, picked our fabrics, assembled our tools and rolled up our sleeves...and then suddenly we felt very tired. And overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the whole thing. Making ten napkins is one thing. But making 115? That's quite another. And, well, that's when we decided to take up all those offers of help that we'd been showered with over the last year. We dialed up our kick-ass Brooklyn-based wedding party and bribed them with barbecue in exchange for them to come over and rescue us from the craft-a-lanche that we had brought onto ourselves.
What we did was break it down into stations. Julie arrived first and therefore claimed the position of "ironer," as she could set the ironing board real low, sit on the ground, and park it right in front of the US vs. England World Cup game. Kelly took on the job of "fabric marker," which is really a terrible job. It involves crawling around on your hands and knees with a steel T-bar ruler and a piece of chalk and marking out 100+ 14-inch squares. Morgan heroically took to the rotary cutter with its pinking sheer attachment, which started to go dull on us around the 19th yard. Kate became our official napkin ironer-and-folder and set up station next to Morgan on the floor. Here is a montage of Kate folding a napkin!
Meanwhile, Chris was busy sorting seeds. Since Robb and I love to garden, we decided to make little packets of seeds to give away as favors. We designed labels for them (which look oddly like Monopoly cards...oops) and cut them out. After some confusion about what the hell we were doing, Chris, Robb, Nick, and Julie stuffed 100-something glasine envelopes with tiny little tomato or pepper or sunflower seeds. Incidentally, due to aforementioned confusion, some gardeners may "think" they're planting a habanero pepper, but instead find that they are growing an heirloom tomato plant. We're calling it "Surprise Garden!"
Once the seeds were stuffed in their envelopes, Kelly took the helm at the sewing machine, stitching the envelopes to their cardstock backing.
I think Kelly REALLY liked this job. (Also, why do I keep the maracas behind the sewing machine? I've really got to find a better place for them.)
We chain pieced all of the seed packets, not cutting the strand between each packet until they were all sewn together. Which makes the whole thing go really fast, plus means that you get to hold up a cool strand of seed packets and wave it around in the air once you're done.
At some point we all started to lose our minds a little bit. Here is Morgan wrapped in the very last length of fabric. This was after about 5 straight hours of cutting.
And some of us (read: me) had the goddamnit in our eyes when the rotary cutter blade went dull and would no longer cleanly cut through a piece of fabric, no matter how hard you pressed down. This is me at 9pm, knowing that I should stop cutting, yet unable to stop. My mouth is smiling, but my eyes are not.
At the end of the day, what we wound up with was absolutley beautiful. And done in one day rather than in a series of weekends and weeknights where Robb and I would surely wind up cursing and throwing things at each other, wondering why-oh-why we took on this much work.
The napkins are made from the floral prints in the Denyse Schmidt Hope Valley fabric line. I thought it would be hard to pick out fabric for our napkins, but the moment I walked into Purl Soho, my eye went to this range of fabric. Nothing else could even come close. It had all the bright summer colors, the hint of country without being gaggy. It feels like classic Americana with a fresh, modern palette. Not to mention--and yes, this part is a little cheesy--I love that the name of the fabric has the word "hope" in it. For what is more hopeful than a wedding?
I loved this fabric so much, in fact, that we decided to scan the fabric and use it as a design element on the seed packets...like fancy old-timey Monopoly cards? Each card, it's important to note, comes with a little story on the backside about why we like this variety so much as well as growing instructions. We will leave no gardeners in the dark!
And you know what? I think that people had fun at craft day! And further to that, I almost suspect that people were glad to help. And that when they come to our wedding, they will see the napkins and they will see the seed cards and they'll see the streamers and think, right, I MADE that. In my opinion, days like this add another layer of enjoyment to it all--to my appreciation of these great friendships, to the loveliness of the finished products, and to the sensation that we all, as a community, made something together. And that is a pretty good feeling.