Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturday  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

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One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

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For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!

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You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

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For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover 😉

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.

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If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.

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For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

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If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

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Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!

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Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!

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Make It Yourself

As you may have noticed (or not!) I have had a bit of a rearrange of my categories and menu. I’ve made a new category (and archive page) for posts where you could make the things yourself – like my tutorial for making a tote bag and how to make a running armband: Make It.

I thought I’d write this quick post to let you know all the ones I’ve written before, which are now in the archive. I’ll be checking through them to make sure they all have comprehensive enough instructions for you to follow. Let me know if you spot anything that needs better instructions.

I’m hoping to add new posts of crafty, and thrifty things you can make yourself. I love sharing things I’ve made, but I want to encourage other people to make things too.

You can make food shopping/ planning less painful (well, I find it less painful!) with this meal planner pinboard.

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Make your very own Doc Brown costume from Back To The Future – though it might be too late now it’s not 2015 any more 😦

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One of my favourite ever makes, A Beautiful Mess’s Felt Allotment, could be made for any kid in your life – and, in fact, I kinda want one myself!

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Do you know a kid with a favourite show or book? Why not make them a cushion with the character on, like my Sarah and Duck cushion?

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Have you set a New Year’s Resolution to take up jogging (or another kind of exercise)? Make yourself an armband to hold your phone so you can listen to chunes while you work out!

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Ah, the tote bag. If you’re living in the England, then what better way to avoid the new plastic bag charge than by making up a bunch of tote bags?

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I made these tea cup candles a while ago, and I plan to make more as they’re so cute!

Tea Cup Candle

If you know someone who recently had a baby, but don’t really know what to get them, why not applique some animals or flowers or letters or anything at all on some babygrows? Clothes are always a useful gift and this way they’re a bit more personal!

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I made this Polaroid camera case for a friend of mine a while ago, and the principles could be transferred to any camera. Of course, not everyone will probably like an anatomical heart adorning it…….

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This has to be one of the easiest makes ever – you just need a clock kit from ebay! And a vinyl record, of course.

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For one of my many friends who likes BBC’s Sherlock I made this Kindle cover – it’s got silhouettes on one side and the purple shirt of sex and John’s cabled jumper on the other side!

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If you don’t fancy making a cushion for a kiddie, you could make a wall hanging instead, like this one of Norman The Slug With A Silly Shell!

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Best Makes of 2015

So since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do the obvious thing of looking back over the last year and seeing what I’ve made and done. This was inspired in part by the Instragram #2015BestNine hashtag.

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I’ve made myself 14 garments, which isn’t really that many – I have felt like I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I would have liked.

I particularly like my BHL Victoria Blazer, and definitely feel smarter when I wear it instead of a cardigan.  I like my Merchant and Mills denim Dress Shirt, too.

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I made a few things with knits, for the first time this year: a Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi Dress; a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress; and a Breton-style Deer and Doe Plantain Tee.

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I have also refashioned 7 things, so I’ve been a bit more productive than a first glance might imply!

My 3 favourite refashions were my ugly skirt to Grainline Scout tee (which I unfortunately shrank in the wash, boo!), my Refashioners Dear Creatures rip-off and, probably the one I’m most proud of, my ugly coat which I remade into a Freemantle Coat.

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I’ve made 6 non-clothes things, including my first (pusheen) and second amigurumi (a Minion), and my first scrapbook, for my Dad’s 65th Birthday.

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But my very favourite non-clothes thing (and probably favourite out of everything I’ve made) was the felt allotment I made for my friend’s daughter for Christmas 2 (which happens in January so this was made this year). This was one of those things that I saw on A Beautiful Mess and knew I had to make it, and then was super excited to see my friend’s daughter open it! I was almost too excited to wait until the present exchange, and wanted to open it as soon as I arrived for Christmas 2!

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This is the anniversary of this blog, too – I had an old one but transferred the content over and focused just on sewing and crafty things (I had previously written about food and books too), and I’ve introduced a couple of new regular posts – style inspiration and fashion history. I’ll continue with these I think, as they help me to cement my personal style and guide me what to make next! I’ve also reviewed some books, events and shops. You can see the archive of all these posts here.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year and I hope you’ll come back in 2016. xx

Homemade Christmas Presents

Usually around this time of year (i.e. after Christmas) I start posting about all the homemade gifts I’ve made for people. But this year, for the first time in about 6 years, I haven’t made anyone a present. I found this year that the run-up to Christmas was a bit stressful and it went really quickly – I had only about 4 evenings and 2 weekend days off in the month running up to Christmas! So instead of posting this year’s makes, I thought I would round-up the things I’ve made in previous years. Maybe if I start having ideas now, by next year I’ll have made a couple of things!

I’ll list these from quickest to longest to make (roughly), so you’ll have an idea of what you can complete in time if, like me, you start too late!

You can easily, and quickly, make a bowl out of a vinyl record for someone, like I did with this one for my brother-in-law.

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Or another idea for a vinyl record is to make it into a clock.

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Tea cup candles are pretty and can be flavoured – I gave mine a chocolate smell! And they’re not as scary to make as you might think!

Tea Cup Candle

You can always make clothes for someone else (and not just for yourself!) as I did with this Grainline Scout Tee for a friend, out of Strawberry fabric – Strawberries are her favourite thing!

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A good alternative to clothes is an apron, which you can customise depending on the taste of the person you’re making it for – this one is cake themed for my baking friend.

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An easy gift for any new babies in your family or friendship group is to applique some baby grows. You could do flowers or trains or other animals, or whatever the kid is into (if they’re old enough to have interests).

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If you fancy a bit more sewing, you could make a tote bag for someone, using this tutorial, with their favourite thing on – in this case BBC’s Sherlock (who’s excited for New Year’s Day!?).

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Or, also requiring a bit more sewing, you can make some baby clothes.

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If you’re not into sewing, or if you fancy a non-sewn gift, you can make a scrapbook, like this one I made for my dad’s 60th birthday.

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If you know how to knit and know someone who likes lego, what better than this knitted lego brick doorstop (with an actual brick inside).

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Again for the kiddies, maybe for older ones than the baby grows, why not make a cushion or wall hanging with their favourite book or character on?

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Probably the first thing anyone makes when they learn to knit is a scarf, so why not knit one (or more) as gifts?

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If you’ve got a bit more sewing time, and an older kid than for the cushion or wall hanging, you can make a felt allotment or a (travel) matching game. This both take a while because there’s lots of bits to make (and lots of squares to sew for the matching game!), but you can make then as complicated as you like or have time for.

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Finally, if you have lots of knitting time (in front of a boxset, perhaps?!), then you could make a rug like this one, which was based on a cushion pattern).

Round, stripy rug

Do you make Christmas presents for people? If so, how early do you start and what have been your favourite makes?

Make It: Felt Allotment

OMG you guys, this might be my favourite thing I’ve ever made (how many times have I said this?!)! You know how I like to make presents for kids? Well, for Christmas this year I decided to make my friend’s daughter (who I made Norman and the Travel Match Game for), a fabric allotment, which I saw on A Beautiful Mess. She is now 3 1/2 (and with a brand new, very cute little brother) and this seemed like an age appropriate gift. Also, my friend has been teaching her daughter where food comes from and they’ve grown some things together, so this seemed like a brilliant indoors version of that. Just so you know, this is going to be a really long, picture heavy post! Sorry, not sorry!

Planting-Game-37This is my ‘before’ picture: a cardboard box (from Oxford University Press to be specific), lots of colours of felt (mostly left over from my Sarah and Duck cushion) and some brown jersey.

Planting-Game-1I decided to trim down the box as it seemed a little deep for small arms. My box was 47cm x 34cm x 14cm. A little bit of trial and error – i.e. making one soil ‘sausage’ wrong – told me that the size of my rectangles of jersey had to be 40cm x 42cm. The 40cm was to fill the 34cm width of the book, with some extra length for the seam allowances and the depth needed on the ends. The way I worked out the other measurement was to work out the length divided by 4, as that’s how many soil sausages I was making, (11.75) and make a mark. Then I used my tape measure to make a loop to fill the space up to the mark at 11.75cm, to find out the diameter of the sausage, adding a little more for seam allowance – I hope that makes sense?!

Planting-Game-2I then sewed the 40cm sides together to make a tube and then ran a loose running stitch around both ends, pulling it tight and tying it off. I did have to sew some extra hand stitches in each end to make sure it stayed closed and was tightly sealed, ready for the stuffing. I used a whole bag of stuffing (from John Lewis) on the soil, so beware that unless your box is a lot smaller than mine, you’ll probably need 2 bags of stuffing.

Planting-Game-4It looks like that episode of The Simpsons when Homer eats a really sour sweet!

Planting-Game-3The ABM instructions tell you to paint the box to make it look like soil, but I had loads of jersey left over – I bought a metre and only used a small amount for the soil sausages – so I decided to cover the box with the rest of the jersey as I knew I wouldn’t use it for anything else.

Planting-Game-5I found I didn’t need to stick the jersey down at all as it just stayed on its own in the middle.

And this is what the garden looks like with all the soil in!

Planting-Game-6Out of the veg (and fruit) in the ABM version, I made the beetroot and carrots. You can read on their post how they made them – I basically copied them, but with a couple of things I altered, such as the sizing. I also had a think about other root vegetable and decided to make leeks, radishes, onions and potatoes.

Beetroots

I made the beetroot from 5 1/2″ circles as dictated by the size of felt I had. I drew around a mug I had because it happened to be the right size.

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I also couldn’t find any pipe cleaners in any of my local shops, as ABM suggest for stiffening the leaves, so I had the brain wave to buy some bendy hair rollers. It’s fairly easy to slip off the little hats on each end of the roller and slide the wire out. They came in 2 lengths, though I used only the long ones in the beetroots.

Planting-Game-7I copied Katie’s instructions on ABM and stitched the contrast stitching on the leaves and I enclosed the wire in the beetroot coloured felt. I realised my beetroots are a bit rounder than they maybe should be.

HINT: The closer you cut out the triangles into the middle of the circle, the more pointy the shape ends up – if you don’t cut deep enough into the middle, they end up quite round.

Planting-Game-11I made 2 beetroots, again dictated by how much felt I had.

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Carrots

My carrots were 5″ long and 5″ wide at the top of the triangle. I copied ABM for how to make the carrots, so you can have a look there for step-by-step instructions.

Planting-Game-10Planting-Game-9I made 3 carrots in total.

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Leeks

When I made my Sarah and Duck cushion, I ordered a load of felt from ebay, including a pack of lots of different greens as I was planning to put some trees on the cushion (but ran out of time and space!). It was a good job I had so much green, as well as other colours, when it came to making all the veg.

I gathered 3 shades of green which I thought matched a leek – each of the pieces was 5-6cm x 22cm:

Planting-Game-12Then I sewed the 3 pieces together, then cut it all in half to make 2 leeks, so each leek was 11cm wide:

Planting-Game-13I decided to make the leeks looks like actual leeks, with those layers at the top which are kind of loose and peeling off.

I cut some little rectangles (1.5  -2cm x 5cm) and placed them on the top:

Planting-Game-14The I sewed them on, continuing the stitching down to the white layer, to show the lines/ veins on the leek:

Planting-Game-15I then added another layer of rectangles on the top and more stitching.

Planting-Game-16I then sewed the long sides together, right sides together and turned them right side out, to make 2 leek tubes.

Planting-Game-18Once they were sewn into tubes, I could measure the diameter of the circles needed for each end – one green for the top and one white for the bottom. I sewed the green end on, underneath the loose layers at the top, so it was a bit fiddley, then stuffed the leek and sewed on the white end, by hand.

Planting-Game-21I have to say, the leeks are possibly my favourites.

Potatoes

I felt like potatoes were a necessary addition to any allotment.

I made these in a similar way to the beetroots, but with an oval instead of a circle and I used 2 per potato, kind of like a tailor’s ham. I divided the piece of felt I had into 4, making them 10.5cm x 14.7cm, and rounded off the edges.

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I then snipped a triangle out of each corner of each oval:

Planting-Game-23I got the feeling that these were not going to look super like potatoes, so I got a potato out of our cupboard and noticed that they have all kinds of marks on them. I got out one of my felt tips and tried my best to make a piece of felt look like a potato……

Planting-Game-24Kind of successful.

I then sewed each of the little triangles, right sides together:

Planting-Game-25Then I put two of these halves together, right sides together and sewed them together all around the edge, leaving a gap to turn it the right side out and stuff it through.

Planting-Game-26They kind of look like potatoes, when finished – enough that the kid knew they were potatoes, anyway!

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Onions

The onions started life like several of the other veg – as circles, this time 14cm in diameter.

Planting-Game-28I then cut the triangles out in 4 places, cutting quite close to the middle.

Planting-Game-29Like on the leek, I sewed lines of stitching to look like the veins/ lines on onions. I sewed several likes into the centre, on each chunk of felt. This took a while!

Planting-Game-30I then sewed together each triangle, right sides together, and then ran a line of loose running stitches around the top to gather it. I stuffed it, then gathered the stitches, tying it off and sewing a few stitches through the ends to make sure it was really secure. They ended up quite small, but that kind of fits with the relative size of all the vegetables.

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Radishes

The radishes are pretty much the same as the beetroots, but a little smaller. The circles I cut were 10cm in diameter, with the triangles cut out and then sewn together.

Planting-Game-32The leaves on a radish look a bit different from the beetroots and are a different shade of green. The stalks also don’t have the coloured part on, so I cut extra strips of green to cover the wire I threaded in to make the stalks stand up.

Planting-Game-33I slotted 2 stalks into each radish and then sewed the top shut, sewing through the stalks to secure them in place. I made 2 radishes in total.

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I had plans to make some parsnips and maybe some other root vegetables, but ran out of time and also, you know, forgot.

But the number of things I made was perfect to fill the box.

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I made this over about 3 weekends, working on one vegetable at a time. It was quite nice to work on small things that don’t have zips or buttonholes! Also, this was pretty thrifty as I had the felt already and got a box free from my old work, and only had to buy the jersey and the stuffing.

This is probably the present I’ve been most excited to give away! My friends and I always get together in January to have a second Christmas, and this year we all flew to Aberdeen, where my friend with the daughter now lives. I decided to courier the box up as I wouldn’t have been able to take it on the plane and it took more days to arrive than I feared – I thought at one point it had gotten lost. But then it did arrive and I almost opened it myself I was so excited! I definitely like making and giving presents to small people! Do you like making presents for kids? Or for other people?