Monday, May 01, 2006

Give me 100

I’d like your opinion.

A while back, I discovered that Pure Baby have a wholesale showroom in a lane behind my house. I’m the type of person who enjoys prowling about semi-industrial neighbourhoods, peering into partially-open doorways and through security door slats. I’m a Class-A stickybeak.

So when I saw the door open at Pure Baby, I stuck my nose in. Rather than shooing me away, they graciously invited me to sign up on their mailing list, which is how I knew about their clearance sale. I regret I wasn’t there the morning they opened their doors on the first day of the sale: Pearson Street is extremely narrow and one-way, and the showroom itself is on the tight side. According to a reliable source, 9 am on the first day of the sale saw the street lined with abandoned baby carriages, many of which had suspension systems superior to that of the average car.

It was a great sale. Pregnant women were throwing their weight around, bulldozing their ways through to the $5 and $8 items, piling up their male partners like downtrodden Sherpas. I’m sure that many women blew their $3000 baby bonus at Pure Baby, buoyed by the irresistible force of a really good sale.

I kept picking things up, putting them back, picking them up again. Childless, I was no less impressed that this was a good sale, and a good opportunity to stock up on baby gifts. One the one hand, however, I am partial to the handmade gift, usually of the knitted variety. On the other hand, I am way behind on the bootie production front and facing an onslaught of newborns in the next couple of months. I decided that this was a chance to take the middle route.

I bought white shirts, short- and long-sleeved, in sizes 00 and 0. These seemed small, but not too small. I bought transfer paper, the kind that you can use in an inkjet printer. I chose photos I like, and printed up some transfers. Still without an ironing board, I fired up the iron at Mum’s place and was amazed at how quickly I embellished eight shirts.

My idea was to stitch around the images with a simple running stitch. I finished two shirts, which I gave away before photographing. But I’m beginning to have my doubts about the stitching. Isaac likes them without. Part of me does too, but I also like the contrast between the slickness of the image and the wonkiness of the stitching. I’m wondering too if I’m resistant to leaving them without the stitching because it’s just too easy, and doesn’t seem like enough effort’s been invested; effort commensurate with the birth of a new baby. But then again, maybe this is just my ego talking? I’ve linked to this before, but I love the This American Life piece (Episode 192) where David Rakoff visits the craft department at Martha Stewart Living and describes how, for the craft geek, giving a handmade gift is as selfish an endeavour as a fitness freak bursting into your living room, dropping to the floor for a 100 push-ups, then jumping up yelling, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I’m usually quite clear on my aesthetic choices, but I’m feeling muddled here. What do you think? Stitching or no?


Blogger spiff said...

i think the contrast between the stitching and the slick photo-ness is really too spiffy to pass up on, plus it does have that "at least i tried to make it even more personal" feel to it, but the running stitch seems a little too plain in contrast. maybe you could try sewing some ribbon on, or perhaps using a fancier stitching?

4:29 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Unfortunately blogger is not cooperating with your photos so I'm giving my opinion without having seen the options... but I say go with some sort of stitching. It will add texture which I'm told is very exciting for little bubs.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Ampersand Duck said...

I'm with Meg, can't see the photo but I know I would have loved the stitching if someone had given my baby such a present. Personal touches are always the way to go in such a slick society.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carolyn!! Did you receive my email?

Bruce Lieber

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say keep stitching. I like the contrast and the way it raises the T-shirt above commercially-produced, printed ones. I also think the stitches draw the eye and frame the image.

Interesting ideas about hand-made gifts perhaps being selfish acts. Just recently we've been talking at home about cooking & feeding as potential control mechanisms. I think there really is a link - but motivations differ from person to person and situation to situation.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Suse said...

Handstitching definitely!

5:11 PM  

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