Saturday, March 20, 2010

End of an era

This is the Clock Tower in my town of Hudson, Ohio.  It's a famous landmark locally.  It was paid for by our town benefactor, James Ellsworth.  I grew up in a another small town with a benefactor.  Redlands, California was the pet project of the Smiley Brothers.  Smiley Library, Smiley Heights, Smiley School, etc.  Hudson is much the same.  Our downtown has underground utilities, thanks to Mr. Ellsworth.  Many of the houses sport red Spanish tile roofs.  My understanding is that Mr. Ellsworth was so enamored with the roofs after a visit to Spain that he offered to pay for anyone in town to re-do their roof in Spanish tile.  That's the kind of small town story I love.

Hudson is a GREAT town for raising kids.  Small enough that you know lots of people but big enough to have a downtown.  People help each other in Hudson.  I had some ankle surgery about 18 months ago and was on crutches for 9 weeks.  For six of those weeks, I had meals delivered to my house 3 times a week.  Unbelievable.  The same drill happens if you have a new baby or some other sort of family crisis.  I really can't imagine living anywhere else right now.

The schools here are excellent.  My oldest son (HS freshman) goes to an all-boys school about 20 miles away.  We're big fans of single sex education.  Next year all three of our boys will be going to the same school.  This means 2010-2011 will be the first year in ten that we don't have a son in the Hudson schools and, to me, that is a Big Deal.

You may remember from previous posts (search Small Gifts) that I like to make things for teacher gifts.  I usually have about a dozen Small Gifts for secretaries, music teachers, coaches, etc.  I like coming up with a different project each time and, I think, everyone likes seeing what I've come up with.  Since this June is our last in Hudson, I wanted to do something with a Hudson theme as my end-of-year goodie.  So, I came up with the Hudson Tape Measure.  Silly, I know, but that's kind of the point.

I love these little push button tape measures.  If you find the right source, they're about $1 each.  You see them on Etsy and other venues dressed up as sheep (you KNOW I have 2 of those!), clowns, snails, etc.  I've turned them into flowers and penny rugs.  Well, this spring, they're going to be Hudson Clock Towers.

I started with red wool plus some black and white plaids.  I made a small cardstock pattern of a tower.  The tape measures are just 2 inches in diameter so you have to really watch your sizing.  Here's a shot of my wool circles (4 inches in diameter) and my little pattern.  The red will end up on the inside of the wool "sandwich" so I traced my pattern onto the red.  I am doing a reverse applique on these.  I stitch onto the red then turn it over and cut away the plaid to reveal the red Clock Tower.

Here's the two pieces of wool ready to be stitched.  For the other half of the sandwich, I have two more circles.  After this side is completely finished, I stitch them together almost all the way around, insert the tape measure, and finish with a zipper foot.  In the final stitching you pull out some of the tape so it doesn't end up sewn inside the circle.  I also take a scrap of fabric and cover the plastic end of the tape measure.  It's easy to sew right through the tape.  Just take a small rectangle, fold it over the plastic end, and sew on three sides.  Cut away the excess.

Here's the finished tape measure.  I'm using a heart-shaped button in place of the clock face.  These buttons are not quite right.  If found some perfect buttons on Etsy and I'm hoping those are with the postal service as we speak.  I ordered a small flat circle button with a heart carved in the center.  These shank buttons sit up too high but the flat buttons will be perfect and will look more like a clock face. 
When you make tape measures, give some thought to the button that you push to retract the tape.  I am careful to put that little button on the undecorated side of the finished tape measure.  That way it's easy to find.

I'll post a new picture with the final button once they arrive.  I have 11 little clock towers all ready and waiting for buttons.  I'm hoping my gift recipients will love their little taste of Hudson.

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