Saturday, 2 January 2010

A handmade Christmas

I managed to sew almost all the Christmas presents I gave to my family this year.  A handmade Christmas felt good and very much in the spirit of these frugal, crafting times.  It also felt very good to reduce, though admittedly only slightly, my scarily tall pile of beautiful and unused fabrics.  Now there's some room I can buy more!  Very frugal.

I made these stationery wraps for my mother, my sister and my sister-in-law.  The pattern is a free one on Amanda Blake Soule's site - she calls it a gratitude wrap. I was appropriately grateful for the pattern.  It was straightforward and the end result looks lovely.

The wrap holds a small moleskine cahier, a packet of postcards, or other 6x4" notecards, and a book of stamps.

I made great use of the reinforcing stitch on my new machine.  Each stitch is sewn three times, making for a very strong line of stitching.  Perfect for defined folds like these.

I bought some great cards from Etsy to go in the wraps.  These knitting ones for my Mum were from Local Gringos - she has an Etsy shop full of fine and quirky knitterobilia.

I also made an adapted version of the stationery wrap for a good friend, with just two pockets - one for pencils and another for a bigger notebook.  But then I posted it without photographing it, so there is no proof of my creativity with that one. 

Next were some cushions for my niece and two nephews.  My niece, Alex, who is six, got my favourite cushion - the one I would have most liked to keep for myself!

I think this daisy fabric is so pretty, and a field of flowers would definitely have some butterflies in it.  Did you spot the secret pocket?  After making O's cushion last autumn, I decided that all cushions for small children need secret pockets in them.  And of course secret pockets need small, secret things to go in them. 

Alex got two tiny felt matryoshka dolls to hide in her cushion pocket.  Unrelated to a field full of daisies and butterflies I know, but I was in love with these little Russian dollies.  Originally I planned to make her a felt butterfly to go in the pocket, but when I made the matryoshka, their sleeping faces suggested night-time friends to me, and in they went instead.

The pattern for these matryoshka comes from Felties by Nelly Pailloux - a really lovely book full of small, quick, felt projects.

Will, who is three, had a bird cushion.  With a not-so-secret bird pocket, and a felt bird to go inside.  I hope he likes birds.

And baby brother, Ben, who is just two months old, got a cushion made from the most tactile, soft, cloud covered flannel fabric imaginable.  Ben is a happy, cuddly sort of baby, so I'm sure he will appreciate this snuggly cushion.  He didn't get a secret pocket, but did get his name embroidered on the air balloon basket instead.

For my brother and my brother-in-law I made some coasters, like the one I made for Mum when she was recuperating from her operation.

My mother-in-law's present was not a surprise.  She had asked me to make her a jewellery roll, incorporating the colour purple, and with some antique lace she had inherited.  Frankly I was terrified.  It has confirmed that I would be no good making commissions for a living - it is far too stressful.  But although it cost me many weeks of angst (which design? how to use the lace? purple - how?), I was very pleased indeed with the end result.

I decided on a simple, pocketed design in the end - a little like a knitting needle roll or a crayon roll, but with shorter, fatter pockets.  In the picture above you can see the three pockets (and the velvet ribbon for a tie - yet to be sewn on), and the picture below shows the beautiful vintage lace in more detail.  The lace was very old, very precious, very fragile, and extremely worrying to work with!

And below is another picture (after so much fretting, this jewellery roll had MANY photos taken of it once it was finished).  You can see the lace peeking out, even when the top is folded over.  I sewed the ribbon onto one side so the whole thing can be rolled up and secured with a bow.

And finally, on my last, quiet sewing day alone (the final day of term), I made G and the children house trousers or pyjama pants (you can read my discussion of what to call them here).

G's were made from some William Morris fabric (and in the picture above you can see my masking tape temporary labels saying 'front' and 'back', 'left' and 'right' - it's very difficult to tell with these trousers until you sew the label in).  The children's were made from some Amy Butler fabric.  I think I love C's acid blue ones the most.

The children's are made from Simplicity pattern 3669 and G's are the pyjama pants pattern from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross

Next Christmas I'll throw in a soft white t-shirt with each pair to make a complete lounging about outfit.  For more inspiration on handmade pyjama pants from wonderfully eccentric fabrics have a look here and here.  It seems to be an American Christmas tradition that I was not aware of.

I really should have made myself some as well for the full Von Trapp family, weird trousers look, but I ran out of time.  I think that was enough sewing.  Even for me.


  1. I LOVE my stationery wrap and its contents. It's a perfect size to be handy. And now that I know you do commissions.....well!

  2. gorgeous gifts!
    I know what you mean about front/back in pj's - I forgot to mark the ones I made for Miss K, so she just pulls them on whatever way round they are..... xxx

  3. I've always loved the Soules holiday pyjama trousers, love yours as well. I keep meaning to make myself some too.

    The jewellery roll is beautiful.

  4. You incredibly productive bod! What wonderful gifts! I think you have earned yourself a pair of lounging trousers after all that work.

  5. I just LOVE my jewellery roll. Sorry it caused such angst. It will have its first real outing in just under 3 weeks time. Thank you so much for making it.

  6. You are quite possibly the cleverest lady I know. WOW! I am so impressed by your projects, what a wonderful sense of achievement you must have from having made all of your presents yourself!
    I love the stationery wraps, truly gorgeous!I am sure they will come in very handy indeed ;)

  7. wow, thats good. I will try that wrap

  8. That's such an impressive list of handmade gifts! I had good intentions, but didn't get much done myself. I particularly like your coasters - the handstitching is a lovely touch.


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