Monday, December 26, 2016

Handmade Holidays 2016

Every year, I consider making less gifts for the holidays, and then I rethink it. There have been times where I've been rushing to the last minute to finish up just one more gift, or a big quilt for someone, but I've gotten better at managing my holiday season. One way to be better is start before November, but usually, I'm still planning at that point.


Anyway, I love to give gifts, but I'm really *not* a big fan of the consumerism that rises up around this time of year (for example, shopping anywhere on Thanksgiving... no thank you). I'd much rather make gifts, and now that I've been sewing for six years, I'm confident that my gifts will be alike or better than store quality (hopefully better). So, I make more and more handmade gifts every year, and they are well-received. This year, 75% of the gifts from my husband and I are made (though this did not come without lots of effort)!

Plus... when one of your nieces can't stop hugging her handmade pillow, you know you've done something right. I have no regrets.


One of my favorite gifts to give is a double sided table runner. I bought the wintery fabric for the Christmas side years ago at Pennington Quilt Works, and it's not quite my taste anymore. However, I thought (and hubby agreed) that my mother-in-law would love it. It will look perfect in her warm, predominately brown kitchen. Plus, the other side is simple strips of fall fabrics, so she can easily use it for half the year if she wishes (fall and winter, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas). :) She loved it!


What do you make or give a 1 year old boy? This year, I made fabric balls for the first time using this tutorial and template from Stitches and Love; the first one took 10 minutes, so I made a second one! I gathered up my Cotton and Steel fabrics, Poly-fil, and some jingle bells to add to the inside. My husband thought they were from the store, and I was pleased to tell him that I had made them myself. They are sewn together tightly and accurately, so I'm not worried about anything getting out (and if it does, it will be a quick and easy fix). I hope my nephew enjoys playing with them at home; he definitely enjoyed them yesterday at Christmas. For reference, they fit right in my hand!


I also made some scarves out of knit fabric for my nieces, using Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin with Stacie Stukin. Thanks to Maggie @squishythings, my guild friend, for lending it to me. Two things about these scarves: they look adorable (if I may say so myself - see below), and they were entirely made from scraps, including several t-shirts.

Bonus: I have an old Snuggie that was never used, so I cut it up - it's so soft and warm as a scarf! That's the bright pink layer in the side two scarves. I will DEFINITELY return to this project, and they were well-received!





I made scarves for my coworkers out of of voile and knit (left and middle), according to their tastes. I almost kept the Anna Maria Horner one from myself (it's SO WARM) but I resisted (I could always make another). The right scarf was made for my sister out of metallic voile by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton + Steel. She's going to be a world traveler this summer so I thought it was appropriate to have such a luxurious, long scarf. Plus, she'll have a piece of me the whole time. By the way, this tutorial by Sew4Home is my favorite one for infinity scarves.


I made the ever-popular stuffed oblong pillow (again, with Poly-fil) for one of my nieces, who didn't yet have a birthday to receive one. I'll probably make her a scarf for her birthday next year. I also made a couple of these in red and purple for my other nieces' recent birthdays, but forgot to take pictures. This is my own pattern and it's always fun to make.


One of my older nieces, who lives nearby, is VERY interested in learning how to use a sewing machine. I promised her that she could come over soon and we would work together.

I made her this little bag, a smaller Ellie Travel Case by Fabric Mutt, filled with notions and fabric for her to use. I passed along a special pair of scissors and a seam ripper from my own collection. She's 9 and she's going to be a fabulous sewist; I can tell already. :)


This was the first year I made ornaments for all of the families within my family. I hope to do this every year. I used this tutorial by Devoted Quilter (Free Motion Quilted ornaments). I collect ornaments and many of my family members do, too.


Finally, one or two people receive a custom handmade quilt from me (one day, all of my family and friends will have one, I think), but this year, I only made one. It's a joint Christmas and birthday present for my younger brother, and he is really excited about it (hint: it combines improvisational piecing and a large beer bottle). That piece has yet to be quilted but there's no pressure to finish it for Christmas. He still got to open it, though, and he very much approves. More soon.

Did you make gifts this holiday season? Either way, hats off to you - we made it through another holiday season. I'm ready to relax and start 2017 with a fresh outlook. How about you?



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10 comments:

  1. Jess, those are beautiful and thoughtful gifts. I'm sure they will be loved by all. The fabric balls with the bells in them are perfect for several children in my family next year - great idea.
    Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and wishing you and your family a Healthy and Happy New Year!!

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  2. You are amazing and I'm feeling so guilty right now that quilts for each my teen and 20's boys are still NOT done. I adore those fabric balls so much. I'm thinking i'll make them with my elementary school sewing students. They keep "zipping" quickly through each of my projects and asking for more and more. Some of them want to make teddy bears but I'm thinking the balls would be so much more fun!

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  3. You made a bunch of AWESOME gifts, Jess!! I made a small batch of 4 ornaments. My 1st EVER!! I also made a dozen mini quilts/mug rugs for my Quilt Bee. The ladies were amazed (because I led them to believe these were for my in-laws.) It was SEW much fun!!!

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  4. What beautifully heartfelt gifts to create and gift this holiday season, Jess. I can tell that the items will be well loved. :) <3

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  5. I discovered waxed canvas and top stitching thread this year. Bramble bags from Red Rabbit Mercantile were popular for 18 - > 60 yr olds and they also helped me with hardware and leather straps for double wine totes. And then I used waxed canvas for Noodleheads open wide zip pouches - I make them all year and they appeal to many. Waxed canvas for men and waxed canvas base with canvas for the girls. And improv potholders... I so enjoyed giving this year! I will be adding those balls next year.

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  6. I also love to give quilts as Christmas gifts. One year I did 9 of them...so thankful for a longarm and knowing how to put on binding totally with my sewing machine!! I would always rather have a gift someone made for me then something they bought (except jewelry cuz I don't know anyone who makes "my" kind of jewelry LOL).

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  7. Handmade gifts are the best! I love the personalization you added to the ornaments. What a great idea!

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  8. You have made some lovely gifts, handmade is always so special! Quite unexpectedly, I gave 3 quilts away this Xmas, and am overwhelmed by how excited the recipients were!

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  9. Oh what beautiful gifts - the ornaments especially are such a simply but brilliant idea!

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  10. Excellent article! As always, the articles you publish give me inspiration and help me to

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