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!

(click on the picture for the full post)

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: Sarah and Duck cushion

Have you ever heard of Sarah and Duck? Chances are no if you don’t have a small child in your life. But you should watch it, small child or no. It’s a really sweet little short cartoon (each episode is no more than about 5 minutes) about a girl called Sarah and her friend/ pet (?) Duck. It’s narrated by Roger Allam (of Cabin Pressure and many, many other things fame) and Sarah and Duck have other friends like Scarf Lady and Bag, Scarf Lady’s knitting bag. They go on adventures and do fun things.

Sarah & DuckIt is my nephew’s favourite show – it’s pretty much the only thing he watches on tv. For the kids in my life (one nephew and an honorary niece and nephew) I like to make presents for Christmas, and then I generally buy them books for their birthdays. My nephew is about 2 years younger than my friends daughter, for whom I made the Norman Wall Hanging and the Travel Match Game (which my sister has already requested one of, which I’ll make next year when he’s a bit older). I thought about making a wall hanging of Sarah and Duck, but then I decided to make is a cushion instead.

I copied the above image, drew it out myself (although I can’t draw, I am quite good at copying – anyone else?) and then traced my drawing to make pattern pieces. I ordered a load of felt from ebay, cut out all the pieces and sewed them on by hand, using the case of threads my friend bought me for Christmas last year.

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Once I’d sewn all of the felt pieces on, the big job left was to embroider all the edges and features in black. They look a bit creepy without eyes and such, don’t they?! With the ebay felt, I bought some black embroidery thread – it took me back to my cross stitch days!

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-3Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-4One of the things I’m most pleased with, is managing to pretty much copy the font for the title. I did this in chain stitch, which is one of the only embroidery-type stitches I know how to do apart from running stitch and back stitch!

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-5This is it in its entirety. The fabric I used for the front was part of the same sheet I used to underline my Striped Laurel dress and I backed the front piece and the cushion with calico – in retrospect I wish I’d backed the back with the sheet too, as now it’s white on the front and cream on the back. Never mind. At least calico is durable. Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2I tried to take a photo of my nephew with the cushion – it’s so hard to photograph a toddler and they’re always moving! This is the best one I managed to take!Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-6And here he is alseep in the car on the way home from our Christmas get together, cuddling the cushion – aaaahhhhhhh. (sorry the picture is so small, my sister sent it to me on my phone).

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-7Does anyone else really like making things for small kiddies?

 

GBSB Baby Dungarees

As I mentioned in my review of the second Great British Sewing Bee book, I’ve made the baby dungarees for my nephew using the pattern in the book. I used some cute spotty cotton in suitably non-girly colours (my nephew is so cute he frequently gets mistaken for a girl!).

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Because he wears cloth nappies, my nephew has a larger bum than babies that wear disposable nappies do, so I made a practice pair to check that the dungarees would be big enough to go around him. I made the biggest size, 12-18 months as I made them for his first birthday and he’s quite big for his age. I stuffed them with pillows to see the full size and they were luckily plenty big enough – I feared I would have to work out how to do a FBA – Full Bum Adjustment! Don’t they look creepy?

P1020228-PS-largeP1020230-PS-mediumThe dungarees came together relatively quickly, because they’re so small and there aren’t too many pieces. I think like the patterns in the old book, this one could have been drafted better. The straps are sewn into the hem a the back so they look like this:P1020517-PS-mediumP1020519-PS-mediumSo I decided to sew them again, so they they didn’t fold back the hem.P1020520-PS-mediumP1020522-PS-mediumThe other part that wasn’t clearly explained or well written was the button tabs on the sides. The way it was written, there would have been some raw edges and I’m a bit too anal about things being neat on the inside and outside, so I fudged it a bit. You have to cut the seam allowance at the top of the side seams here:

P1020651Then the instructions tell you to just fold the tabs back twice to hem them, which would leave a raw edge at the bottom of the tabs on the outside:

P1020659P1020662So I turned the bottom edge over before sewing it:

P1020664I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. When my sister unwrapped them, quite a few people at the party assumed I’d bought them, which is possibly the highest compliment you can get for homemade garments! I sewed one of my name tags in the back, but forgot to take a picture.

I also added a little pocket on the front in a matching shade of orange, which was just some polycotton I had left over from when I made my sister’s apron. I used the pattern for the pocket from the first Sewing Bee book’s Boyfriend Shirt.
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P1020693P1020696The only other change I made was to sew on normal poppers instead of the stronger snap things that the pattern suggests, the ones you put on with that clamp thing.

P1020695This seemed like a fine idea until I realised they all undid as soon as my nephew moved around in them! Oops. He did look cute though.

IMAG0218First one leg undid….IMAG0221Then he was basically wearing a weird-shaped dress…..

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They didn’t restrict his movement, though – he still managed to make a bid for freedom!

IMAG0220I’m tempted to make more kiddies’ clothes as they’re small and therefore quick to sew up and they’re so cute!

Travel Matching Game

So yet again it’s been aged between posts. I haven’t been feeling enthusiastic about sewing, or blogging recently, but with the long weekend just finishing, I have got loads done and I hope to finally catch up on telling you about all the old things I’ve made! Speaking of old, today’s make was a Christmas present for my friend’s daughter. Yes Christmas. In April. Slightly in my defense, this was for Christmas 2 in January, but still it’s a while since I finished this! In totally unrelated news, I signed up to Photoshop, so hopefully my photos will improve slightly from now on – though I don’t know how to do many things so far!

So, back to the Travel Matching Game. It’s from the book Stitch Savvy by Deborah Moebes of Whip Stitch fame. I like to make presents for people, but this year (unlike last year), I only made this one – I think because last year was before I had discovered making my own clothes, so my sewing time was spent less selfishly – which cannot be said of the last 12 months! Last year for the same kid, I made the Norman the Slug with a Silly Shell wall hanging and this year I wanted to do even better, so when I saw the patter in Stitch Savvy, I couldn’t resist!

In the first instructions, she says to fussy cut some fabrics you have lying around into squares of 3 1/4″, in pairs, to form the remember remember pictures of the game. I didn’t have any such fabrics and I thought it would be nice to make the game a little educational too (the kid is almost 3, so was 2 1/2 at Christmas), so I made life hard for myself! I came up with numbers and fruits for my boards – I also made life difficult by making 2 boards instead of one. I thought about letters, but since you can have only 8 pairs, it would have been weird just to do the first 8 letters – it’s a bit weird to do the numbers from 1-8 and not 1-10, but c’est la vie – that was apparently a compromise I was willing to make!

Here are my amazing sketches of my ideas:

P1020221P1020222I planned which colours would go on the backgrounds and which colours the numbers would be, to add an extra dimension of learning.

I even made pattern pieces ( so I could make this again some day):

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Time for a slightly embarrassing confession. Because I was making 2 different boards, I totally blanked on the fact that I had to cut out 2 of every number/ fruit and twice the number of backing pieces. So I cut out one of each number and one of each fruit and then realised what I had done and was very sad because it took aaages and I was only half done!

So the next thing I did (which is an extra step to the instructions in the book), was assemble all my squares:P1010768-PS-mediumP1010772-PS-medium

This is how I laid them out to sew together, too. I sewed them together in rows, then I sewed the rows together – simple! Also, it was good that I had these photos to refer to when I jumbled up the pieces by mistake! You then back each board with your main fabric (in my case pink gingham) and insert some really stiff interfacing, so that the board has enough body for you to get it in and out of the frame. I used the thin cardboard from the insides of my Christmas wrapping paper as I had forgotten to get any interfacing, and I figured card would work just as well! It was a bit tricky getting it in because I left myself too little of a gap in one corner to turn the board, and insert the stiffening.

The next thing to make is the frame of windows that go over the board of shapes. This was a little fiddly and the instructions weren’t totally clear, I didn’t think. It was only by looking at the photos that I knew what I had to do. So you have your main fabric cut out in a square 15″ x 15″ (you actually have 3 squares of the main fabric cut to this size) – she says heavier weight fabrics are good, but I knew the kid’s favourite colour was pink, and what could be better than pink gingham?! You also have a square of backing fabric (in my case calico) cut out to the same size, and you sew squares 2 3/4 in, marking from the middle of the big square, and having gaps between the squares of 1/4 in either side of the centre mark – so there’s 1/2 in between each window. I hope this makes sense! You also need to sew all the way around the outside, leaving the same gap at the edge as between each internal window.

You can just about make out the stitching below.

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So once you’ve sewn all the squares, you then cut out the windows, first cutting diagonally across the whole square up to each corner of stitching. Then you cut out the sides, leaving 1.4 in inside the stitching. The next bit was the bit I got confused about – you then cut in between the stitches for the windows on the backing fabric side – you kind of separate each window from its neighbour – you can just about see the cuts above, but it’s clearer below:

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You need to snip the outside corners of each window as well as the inside ones – you can just about see below there are diagonal cuts both sides of the stitching:

P1010919You then flip the backing fabric behind the main fabric to make the window look all neat – this is very nearly impossible to explain, but makes sense when you have the thing in front of you! A small word of advice, though – all the edges of the backing fabric that you have just cut will be exposed on the back of the frame, so if you want it to look neat and not fray to shit (like calico does), you might want to zigzag or neaten the edges before you flip all the windows through –  didn’t have time to do this because I left it a bit late to do all this sewing!

So this is what the windows look like when flipped through:

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You top stitch each window once you’ve flipped it. And there are 16 of them!  The other 2 pieces of fabric that you had cut out at 15″ x 15″ are sewn together, leaving a gap to turn it through, and stiffened with the same thing as the boards. The you top stitch the window piece onto the backing piece. The other time consuming thing is to make all the covers for the windows – 16 at 4″ x 4″, which are sewn right sides together with a gap for turning them through, then each one is top stitched, which catches in the gap. Then all that’s left to do is sew on poppers to each little square and to the top of each window.P1010930-PS-mediumP1010932-PS-mediumP1010935-PS-medium

And here it is in action – she’s just about the right age to play a remember remember type game and she knows the numbers and the fruits, so it’s a pretty good present! I’ve already got a request for one from my sister for my nephew – but since he’s only coming up to his first birthday, I think he’s still a bit little for it!P1010950

Make It: Appliqued Baby Grows

I realised once I’d posted my post about 2013 that when I said I only made one present all year I was completely lying and had forgotten some stuff. I think I was thinking just of Christmas, when I’ve actually made 2 aprons, for my sister and my friend, and I personalised some baby-grows for my nephew. I guess this might not count as ‘making’ the present, but I still figured I’d post it/ them here.

My (very cute) nephew – is it weird that it’s still weird to say ‘nephew’ even though he’s over 6 months old?! – anyway, he’s growing a lot. And he can pretty much walk already, which is insane! It seems like 2 seconds since he was teeny tiny and new. Anyway, again, I bought him some new threads for Christmas as I didn’t have time to make anything from scratch. And it turns out baby clothes are kind of expensive, so I figured the most economical way to get him some baby grows was to buy a pack of 3 plain white ones from Mothercare and sew some little animals on to make them a bit more interesting.

Luckily I had some felt in my stash, so I didn’t have to worry about hemming/ fraying. I pretty much picked what animals to do based on the colours of felt I had. The Boyfriend wanted me to do a pig because I had some pink, but I had already decided on an elephant because I had some grey left and I thought an elephant and a pig might be a bit random. So I decided to do a jungle animal theme, making an elephant, a lion(ess – because I didn’t know how to make a mane) and a snake.

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I sewed on the eyes and tails, lion’s nose and snake’s stripes with various bits of wool from my stash. I considered cutting the little bits out of felt, but figured it would be way too fiddly to sew on.

And here are the 3 together. With a couple of little stripey t shirts, not a bad present if I say so myself!

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