DIY Book Page Garland and What Twilight Has to Do with Love

DSC_0280This Valentines heart garland cost me a $1 trip to the thrift store and about 15 minutes in front of a sewing machine. Not bad for a whimsical seasonal decoration.

I’ve never been a fan of non-Christmas holiday decorations. Something about a mantle covered in stuffed animal scarecrows for fall seems like a public declaration of one’s over-the-hill-ness. That same cynical voice hates the Walmart “seasonal” aisle. (Do not let my inner-Grinch ruin your fun if you in fact love such things.) There is something about getting a card or a box of chocolates that hundreds (thousands?) of other people are going to receive on the same day that feels impersonal and almost fraudulent. That being said, the handmade aspect of the book page garland appeals to me (not to mention there’s no pressure to store it in the off season since it cost a dollar).

Materials Needed: 
Paper (a book, bonus points for an atlas, or cute scrapbook paper)
Scissors
Sewing Machine (and thread, of course)

IMG_6139While scouring the book section of Salvation Army for a book for this project, I knew I wanted a book I had read before to avoid an awkward “oh my gosh, what does that heart say?!” inappropriate moment. Unfortunately the only book I knew on this particular day… was Twilight. Yes, there was once a time where I poured over each and every book in this series. Yes, I blew off hanging out with people to spend time with imaginary vampires. It’s embarrassing. But as I was cutting out paper hearts and reading half-sentence segments of the story, I began to remember why I couldn’t put this book down.

My college mentor and professor (in English) questioned me when he saw me reading it one day. It was something to the effect of: “What is so romantic about an undead, flesh-craving, 100-year-old guy appearing in a desperate, awkward, lonely, unredeeming teenage girl’s bedroom night after night?” And when you word it that way, sure, I can agree that I’ll never encourage my daughter to read it. But that description sounds ridiculous to most who have read the series because there truly is more to the story.

The Power of Pursuit
If most readers find these books, where a vampire falls in love with a girl he half wants to kiss and half wants to eat, romantic and noteworthy even in the face of such creepy plot points, then Edward must be doing something really right to overcome that. Upon the commencement of Eddy (we’ll call him Eddy, that’s cute) and Bella’s relationship, Ed’s affections are steadfast. His pursuit is continual. Gentlemen, if this unwavering pursuit (read attention and commitment) is enough to make Bella forget that Eddy wants to kill her, perhaps it is worth considering how such romance could outweigh danger? Let Stephanie Meyer’s book sales attest to the fact that there is something extraordinarily attractive about Edward’s love for Bella.

The Relatability of the Ordinary
Twilight critics cannot help but notice that Bella Swan is clumsy, awkward, anti-social, bitter, pessimistic, down-and-out, and overall just unredeeming, not to mention utterly helpless. Here here. As much as I’d love to throw up a feminist fist and cheer for all the heroines who make things happen for themselves, I have to say I was still enthralled by these books. The fictional character of Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit from The Lord of the Rings) comes to mind. Bilbo is a hero to the reader in that he is the protagonist, the person the reader roots for, but in any other sense of the word, he is no hero. He has no special skill set or physique that makes him the savior of his story, which for Tolkien was exactly the point. He wanted a character whose victory was found outside of himself as a portrait of the Gospel. I’m not sure I can go as far as saying that Twilight paints a picture of Christ, but I find it far truer to read about someone who is incapable of saving himself than of a hero that is completely unlike me.

The Love Caricature
Bella’s quest from uninteresting human to (spoiler alert) powerful vampire could be seen as a caricature of the incredible journey of being loved, the ultimate Cinderella story, if you will. We are (or feel) undeserving of love, as reason would suggest Bella is of a Cullen’s attention. But to any who have found romantic love, you might agree that just the fact that the person we love could possibly love us back–that the odds might be so ever in our favor–is a remarkable miracle. Many claim to change their ways under the influence of love (my mother always told me that it’s best to fall in love with someone who brings out the best in you). In the case of Bella, we see it tangibly. She goes from being delicately mortal to being resilient, even unbreakable. She is outwardly the most beautiful version of herself. And her clumsiness is transformed to utter grace and athleticism. It’s fantastical and even ridiculous, but isn’t that exactly how new love makes us feel?

Having reflected properly on this guilty pleasure of a book series, I am pleased with my book selection for this craft. Now, onto the how-to:

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Rip out a few pages, 5-10, fold in half, and cut your heart half on the folded edge. Other shapes work beautifully as well.

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Using a straight stitch (I went with a neutral thread, but a bright color would be fun), just sew through the middle of the heart, with a few stitches between each heart.

You can see a video of that here.

I made each strand with 22 hearts, which made them all within a foot of each other in length.

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So dainty, so lovely, and sooo easy. Have fun!

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