Welcome to the second entry of my series of craft projects I made for people this Christmas. Part I featured coffee cozies, which turned out to be the golden gift this Christmas: the gift that exists in the sweet sweet intersection of efficient to make, easy to personalize, and actually useful in real life. This entry is all about small crafts I made for people. The crafts are probably actually a little bigger than “small,” but still pretty easy and actually useful. One thing I’ve observed about myself as a crafter is that, as I’ve gotten older, it is increasingly important for me to make things for people that are actually practical. If the gift isn’t something useable for some purpose I feel vaguely guilty that I’m foisting my crafting wankery on a patient subject. I prefer to foist useful cute and adorable items on folks.
There are a lot of pictures coming up so feel free to get yourself a beverage and a snack before scrolling on through.
First up, a set of sewing accessories I made for a crafty girlfriend of mine. She has recently gotten into embroidery so I figured a needle book and a pincushion would be handy. Being impatient little mad scientist me, I decided to design my own thing rather than bother with following a pattern. For a prototype of something I dreamed up out of my overstuffed brain and created within 24 hours of facing the U.S. post office, I think they both look pretty darn sharp.
I used fabric from Laura Gunn’s collection for the cover, pictured above. One of the many plans I have floating about in my head is to make a tutorial of how to build this needle book and in the process I will make one for myself. Cackle cackle.
The interior of the needle book is a green cotton fat-quarter and the “pages” are brown Eco-felt stitched down to the spine using blue embroidery floss. I thought it looked too plain as just brown felt, especially since I don’t have pinking shears, so I embroidered the flower. I have no idea what kind of a flower I was trying to do. I made it up. I am just glad that for as dilatory a stitch artist as I am the flower actually looks recognizably flower-ish.
The yo-yo pincushion featured above is wonderfully simple to make. Quick directions: sew a jumbo yo-yo (I used a Clover brand yo-yo maker), stuff it with poly-fiberfil, knot it tight, stitch a large yo-yo (I used a Clover brand yo-yo maker) over the center, and then stitch a button over the center of that. You can add ribbon or other embellishments as you choose. The key is making sure your knots are tight so the whole thing doesn’t pop and get poly-fiberfil all over your lap. Yes, this did happen to me.
Now we are going to look at some purses I made for friends and family this Christmas. First up are pictures of a NY,NY purse I made for a friend. I used the same pattern I showcased in an earlier post which is available for free online from All People Quilt called the “sew simple purse.”
Once again, I made some alterations to the “sew simple purse,” pattern. I didn’t have enough fabric for the 21″ square they recommend in the magazine so I made a 19″ square. I also put it together a little bit differently. I zig-zagged the two squares together, right-side to right-side, then turned them right-sides out through a little hole I left. Then I folded this napkin-esq square in half, interior fabric facing out, to sew up the sides. By doing it this way I fancied the purse was overall a little more sturdy but it meant that I had more fabric to sew through when I attached the handles. This necessitated basting the handles to the purse and then hand stitching the handles to the fabric using matching blue thread. You would think this would be a painstakingly long process but it wasn’t. I found hand stitching less stressful than trying to negotiate the whole kaboodle through my machine. The product looks a lot more smooth and professional as well.
This year, I went where I have never gone before and made coin purses. Zippers intimidate me something awful and I have been fascinated by kiss-lock purse hardware since playing with an old evening bag of my mom’s when I was a child. This year I decided I would try making coin purses for two of my favorite ladies. I used Everything Mary brand hardware and I used their PDF how-to for drawing my pattern. After some initial hiccups I found my way. I used my machine to stitch the side seams and then I hand stitched the fabric into the frame. I used about three layers of stitching to make sure it was secure.
Next up, we have some fashion accessories I made. I have kind of a thing for scarves. Luckily lots of other people I know do too so it makes a handy gift.
Above you can see what I like to call my knitting experiment. It is very soft and fuzzy which is really all a scarf needs to be.
Below you can see another crafty experiment of mine. I kinda sorta made this up. I’ve seen project ideas in the crafting ether for years involving stitching colorful cotton to various other fabrics to make a scarf. I never saw this exact combo of fleece and cotton which surprises me. I made up the measurements as I went. They are about 10″ wide and about 60″ long. It was easy and I think they look pretty sharp. I used fabric from my stash. They are light to wear, warm, and washable which is great considering how snot-covered scarves get in these Midwest winters. The recipients were super excited to get these which is my favorite part.
For the exciting conclusion of this post, I bring you some kitchen and dining accessories I made. At Jo-Ann’s a while back I picked up a yard of this great fabric featuring ~8″ squares of birds. This screamed easy-quilting project fodder so I snapped it up. For some friends I made a pair of chickadee panels into potholders. I quilted it simply using a double layer of batting. The backing is that silver heat resistant fabric you make ironing board covers out of. You can’t really see it but the hanging tab is holly berry fabric.
Below is my magnum opus for the season: a set of six matching placemats I made for one of my Grandmas-in-law. She is a really special lady and an accomplished crafter so I was very very nervous about my own abilities being sufficient to make something she would like. I kept the design very simple, just using a daisy fabric for the sides and a simple blue print for the back. My fabric box closes every so slightly more easily now. The only sticky point was the fact that I discovered each bird panel was not exactly the same size. This necessitated some rather unorthodox piecing and measuring to create the approximate illusion of consistent dimensions. I quilted the mats very simply with white thread. I outlined each bird, quilted around each square, and then quilted around the outer edge. They turned out really nice overall and I’m ecstatic to report that my Grandma-in-law really likes them a lot; she even used them for her dinners this week. Victory!!!
Now after looking at all these pictures and pondering the fact that there is a Part III post waiting in the wings you might be thinking to yourself: ” Criminy! This woman is craaaazy!”
Well, maybe I am a little odd. The thing of it is though that you must remember is this: I did not do all of this in a day. All of these things were finished over the course of a month. I planned. A lot. I also worked in stages. If you work in stages, stay organized, keep the project simple, and have a couple Saturdays devoted entirely to crafting, you can achieve this. Remember too the important caveat that I don’t have kids yet. As a childless gal with a plan, a sewing machine, and an endless supply of tea I can get a lot done in a day. The placemats were really easy because I could chain piece them, there was no appliqué, binding was unnecessary, quilting was simple, and I had nothing but straight seams to stitch. I have also developed a rule to which I adhere, a rule which will scandalize many a crafter. The rule is this: Ellen shalt not rip a thing. My favorite seam ripper, you see, is in a box in a location I cannot reach. This enables me to be free to let things be. I have discovered that if I do not tell people what is “wrong” with a thing that I made they don’t notice it themselves, especially if they are not crafty people. Now this doesn’t mean I just give people stuff that’s crappy and will fall apart. It just means that I’m not going to obsess about stitches most people won’t ever notice or care about. For Christmas, I did receive a seam ripper so now I probably will bend my rule a bit but I’m glad I can relax and enjoy the sewing process more. Do any of you have any “rules,” or habits of crafting that help you finish projects and enjoy the process? I’m always keen to learn more.
Stay tuned for Part III of my series and have fun crafting in the meantime, dear readers.