I am feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment today, and I wanted to share. I didn’t do anything huge, or absolutely amazing, I just finally crossed a project off my list. One that has been on my list for a little under a year. One that I wanted to get done by the end of this month, but kept putting off because I wanted it to be perfect and I didn’t want to mess it up.
In a previous post, I shared that I can’t stand to throw away old cards. I’ve found ways to make banners, framed collage art, and wreaths. I’m a sucker for snail mail and the effort and love that goes into sending it, so I’d rather box them away until I figure a good repurposing project.
Why we repurposed
Last June through July we were inundated by an outpouring of love and shared sorrow over Millie. The card greetings and hand written sentiments mirrored our feelings, and I was comforted to read those cards. I still find comfort in revisiting and rereading them.
I knew I couldn’t throw them away, and I didn’t want to box them away. I also didn’t want to cut them like I had cut cards in previous projects. So online I searched for ways to assemble the cards into a collection that would be subtly displayed, and accessible for years to come.
The DIY greeting card book project I found
I stumbled across an Austin, Texas wedding photographer’s blog, with the most amazing idea and step-by-step tutorial on how to make a book of cards. She takes orders and will make the book for you – if I could have, I would have definitely entrusted her with these cards. She has a lot more practice with this endeavor, and I am sure she would have turned it around quicker than my personal procrastination timeline that I followed.
The project seemed daunting, labor intensive, and time consuming. I kept the cards in a stack in my sewing room and the link to the tutorial bookmarked on my phone. I waited and thought about it. I dragged my feet some more. I reread the directions. I said, “Tomorrow.”
This is not a time to deviate from directions!
Then I tried to get started and I cut a corner. A huge corner. A “what were you thinking?” corner. I decided to get out my Bernina one day and machine sew the cards to another piece of card stock.
“With my zipper foot I can make this work!,” I incorrectly assumed.
Also, I began the project without referring back to the directions first. HELLO? What was I thinking?! I wasn’t. I was in a hurry to get it done.
If you decide to do this project, just follow Emily’s directions. Seriously. They did seem daunting. It was labor intensive, but in a mindful, calming way when you focus on your art. It did take time. Because I procrastinated. A lot. I finally got all the cards sewn together correctly, as per the tutorial directions.
[One thing I did do differently: I took the canvas, marked the sewing lines, then I did machine baste the lines with colorful thread so that I could see the sewing line on either side of the canvas.]
I had cut the backboard pieces (I recycled heavy cardboard from a family pack of Wegman’s fruit cups). I had my paper to cover the book. And then I procrastinated some more. I bought the white card stock I needed for the end leafs. Then I realized I needed PVA glue. I ordered it. I received it. Then I procrastinated more, because I didn’t want to mess it up.
Today, during Mon Cœur’s (MC) nap, I finally decided to finish this project. I grabbed the tutorial, saw what I needed to do with the card stock to make end leafs, and completed that step. MC was still asleep. Okay, I decided, let’s finish the cover.
So I got out the materials and I finished the cover. I was a little heavy handed with the PVA at first because a. I was scared the glue would dry too fast (it does dry fast, but not so fast that you have to throw it on quickly and carelessly), and b. I’d never worked with it, so I was figuring out the consistency of it. There are a few places where there are ripples.
That’s life, there are imperfections no matter how hard we try to make things perfect, and that’s what adds to the beauty of my book.
I am glad to have the weight of this project lifted off of my shoulders, and I have already flipped through and read through the cards again. I anticipate in this month I will be looking back on this a few more times at least, and I am glad that it is assembled nicely so that I may do so.
If I had one thing I would have changed about the final product, I would have custom made a page (somehow) from a sheet protector to create a “pocket” for those items we kept (such as cards from flower arrangements, etc) that were not sewn into the book. A quick fix to that would be to glue a paper envelope to the back inside cover.
Bottom line, I’d do this project again, in a shorter time frame, with more confidence, and according to the directions.
Words of comfort
I wanted to end this post by sharing just a few of the words that were helpful to me.
- A quote from Anderson Cooper about his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt (passed on as a wish for me): “She was the strongest person I’d ever met but she wasn’t tough. She never developed a thick skin to protect her from hurt. She wanted to feel life’s pleasures, its pains as well.”
- “Always remember that you have the love and concern of family and friends.”
- On life: “[It] truly just does not make sense sometimes. The love, though, that you had for that little one, and the love you have for MC and with your husband always will remain and sustain.”
- About Millie: “She will always be remembered and cherished even if our only introduction was while she was in your belly preparing to meet us.”
- “Millie is such a beautiful name. It makes me think of warm summer evenings, fireflies, freckles, and daisies.”
- For Chouchou and me: “I hope you will find a group of like minded souls who alone know what you are suffering”
- “…are finding a way to begin to heal and I wish only the best as you find your way forward.”
- On grief: “Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith…It is the price of love.”
Although these are personal and private exchanges from friends and family, I want to share them. At a moment like a stillbirth, I think most people are at a loss for words.
If for any reason you have found your way to this post and blog because you are experiencing the same loss, or you are looking to support a friend or family member grieving, perhaps something above speaks to your heart and helps you find the words of comfort you were looking for.