I love to give gifts, so Christmas is a fun time for me. The main trouble is that it is physically impossible for me to make as many things as I would like to. So many grand ideas that in order to get them done I would have to abandon all other pursuits for the rest of the year. As it is, I am already behind with making the females of my clan purse-like bags for this last year’s birthday gifts. It’s not that I feel I must sew every single gift I give, but I like to sew so I might as well satisfy the sewing bug and the gift giving bug at the same time, if I can.
With this in mind, I have a list of relatively simple gifts that can be sewn. They can mostly be made out of scraps, some needing larger pieces than others. They generally fit in the practical, but pretty category (or at least visually appealing for the men in my life). The idea is that a gift does not need to be expensive or time consuming to make in order to be appreciated and useful.
1. Cotton handkerchiefs or napkins – The beauty of these is that their exact shape and size is not that important. No pattern needed. Just try to use a cotton or cotton blend that is absorbent. Then, all it takes is a bit of hemming. I have even made some of these with hand stitched hems because they are so easy to carry and work on without much brain power. Not like crocheting or knitting where you have to be constantly counting. It can be nice to add a quick embroidered monogram or outline in a corner, but you don’t want it to be too big or it will irritate the nose! I have made all of my hankies from scraps of fabric and they are just fun.
2. Polar fleece ear warmers – There is a variation of a polar fleece headband, with larger sections around the ears on my blog here. Everyone I have made these for loves them.
3. Convertible mittens – If you want to take a little more time, and you have big enough scraps of polar fleece, it can be fun to make matching mittens. I have used this pattern here to make many pairs of convertible mittens. The first time making a pair can seem a little abstract, but after that they can be sewn pretty fast.
4. Bread warmer bag - All that needs to be done is sew a round bottomed drawstring bag that fits in a basket. Either buy a basket or stealthily measure one of theirs. Or if you make a round bottomed bag as stiff as shown here, maybe a basket or dish is unnecessary. Use some thick cotton or towel fabric. This should be good for both keeping rolls and such warm on the table or toasty for travel to share a meal.
5. Potholders – I have received some of these as a gift. They are very nice medium weight pot holders that I use a lot. These made out of old denim are fun. This is the kind of project that I save old mattress pads for.
6. Swim caps – I like to use swim caps made out of regular swim suit fabric, but colors you can buy them in is very limited or they tend to run small for my head/hair. Fabric.com has some fun polyester swimsuit fabrics (polyester swim fabric lasts longer than the more common spandex), so some one-of-a-kind swim caps can be made. You can see how I used an old swim cap to make a pattern for my own leopard print swim cap.
7. Rice buddies- These are non-electric heating pads, for those of you who might not know. Just sew a pillow, leaving one end open, of whatever size you think will be useful and heat well in the microwave for less than 2-3 minutes ( 4 by 8 inches is a good place to start). Fill the fabric with rice (some people prefer to use flax seed) and sew the end closed. When a body doesn’t feel good, a pretty rice buddy is more portable, softer, and safer than an electric heating pad.
8. Rice buddy cases – We like to make special slip covers, like open ended pillow cases for rice buddies. This helps keep the rice filled bag clean, and also means that you can have covers that have different feels. For instance, we often include a pretty cotton case and a flannel case with rice buddy gifts.
9. Fabric shopping bags – This could be two flat pieces of fabric sewn together, with a handle somewhere; or it could be similar to the drawstring bag mentioned above; or it could be insulated (think quilt batting or old mattress pads again) with a zipper. There are several good ideas for reusable grocery bags here. Or you could simply upgrade the thin fabric bags they sell at grocery stores.
10. Baby sling – This takes 2 and ¼ yards of fabric, but if anyone in your family has a baby, this is a fast project to sew up, especially the second one you do. If there are little girls with dolls they love, it wouldn’t be too hard to down size this for them. Just measure like a loose beauty pageant ribbon is hanging on one shoulder and across to their waist. Add about 18-24 inches and you should have about the right size sling for a doll. The width of fabric would probably need to be closer to 20-24 inches, too. Start good mothering habits young and it’s much less expensive than buying a play stroller. :-) This is how I make baby slings.
With projects this easy, using left-over fabrics you probably have at home, you can relax while other people are out fighting the shopping crowds. It can also be nice to get together with a couple of friends to sew a bunch of things all at once. I’m already thinking of more possibilities, but you’ll have to wait and see if I come up with another list. ☃