Making a List

Making a List

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Checking it twice. Gonna find out if gift-making this year will be nasty or nice…

It’s time. Time to take the work of our hands, minds, and hearts seriously.

Last year we did a 100% handmade Christmas. It was a huge success: we found making things to give challenging but ultimately rewarding; people loved getting the gifts; and we inspired many of our friends to create more of their gifts. Our plan this year is to not impose a strict rule about handmade, but to encourage it and yet have recourse to the shops if the fancy strikes us.

Rainer and Tias had the hardest time, mostly because in their minds they aren’t as crafty as Sandra and I. I had put a lot of work into brainstorming a list of possibilities and that helped. It also helped that I tried to steer Tias towards gifts that had a bit of a 1-2-3-Presto! workflow. Big effects for little patience. The freezer paper shirt stencils, for instance.

You can see what I made here. And here is what the others made. Frankly, the memory game of our trip to Europe that Rainer made is probably the biggest hit of them all. Sure, the shirts are worn more often, but the game makes us talk, makes us happy, lets us share our trip with our friends.

I’ve got my knitting about half done for the year. It is a very good feeling. I started in January and have been stockpiling little bits here and there. The drawer the things are in is a nice place to visit – reassuring and squooshy.

Can you help? Let’s work together this year to make the list of gifts even more extensive and useful. Do you know of a few gifts that kids can make that people love to get? Do you have tutorials or pictures of finished items on your blog? Do you have great ideas knocking about in your brain?

And while I’m asking questions, how hard are bathrobes to sew? I’ve done a bit of sewing, but nothing too adventurous. Should I try to sew up a set?

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21 thoughts on “Making a List

  1. Jen says:

    Re: bathrobes. It all depends on the fabric. A slinky satin bathrobe would be hard to sew if you are not experienced with slippery fabrics and your machine is uncooperative. By the same token, the super-thick cotton terry ones might be hard for a regular machine to handle as well. If you stick to a nice, midweight fabric you should have no problem. Bathrobes are really just a bunch of rectangles sewn together–no fiddly zippers or darts or other fancy tailoring involved.

    I will put on my thinking cap regarding tutorials and such…..

  2. GailV says:

    I’ve been steering people to your blog to find out about real life handmade Christmas, so it’s exciting to see that your going to have even more resources.

    Not that I can think of any suggestions at the moment.

    As for the bathrobes, my kids sewed a flannel bathrobe for my dad last year. Bathrobes tend to be fairly simple patterns — a bunch of rectangles put together. Flannel or lightweight fleece are fairly easy to deal with.

    Which reminds me, flannel or fleece jammie pants are pretty forgiving also. The kids made a pair in flannel for Rick last year and he loves them.

    (We share sewing projects here, with certain tasks and sewing-of-seams assigned according to ability.)

  3. Melissa says:

    I have been making bags a lot lately, my Ellie always using hers for a drawing bag. I think this year we are going to do up a few bags, for big and small as you should never stop drawing. There are a lot of tuts about crayon rolls and book making. Kids can decorate the fabric, book covers and such. I wanted to make the cookies in a jar gifts last year. Never got around to it though. Flour, choc chips and what ever other dry ingredients with instructions on the jar and neatly packaged. Would be nice to think i will have the time this year to make a lot of our gifts. Fingers crossed

  4. Kandyce says:

    We also are doing a handmade Christmas this year. In the past we have only done handmade gifts for each member of the immediate family and cookies for everyone else. This year we are branching out and doing handmade gifts for a select few. I am very excited. I like the idea of bathrobes. My daughter is planning to make these for the toddlers in our life:

    http://www.spoolsewing.com/blog/2008/05/16/bird-mobile/

    Not the whole mobile, just the birds. Perhaps with a bell inside…

    I have yet to make any decisions. Thanks for lighting the fire!

    BTW, what did you think about the Milkweed Project?

  5. Kika says:

    Last year my (then) 8yo daughter sewed up a purple fleece throw pillow for her little sis, with the name blanket stitched onto the front. It was very inexpensive and not too hard for her to do all alone. This year she’ll make pj bottoms for her big brother (I’ll need to help a bit with this). We’ll be using the pattern from “Weekend Sewing,” by Heather Ross. I’d enjoy a few homemade cloth napkins (or tea towels) paired with baking or homemade jam as a gift – that could work for a friend or family member. We love scarves and for those who crochet they could be whipped up fairly easily, in fun or beautiful yarns, couldn’t they?

  6. Lisa says:

    Bathrobes are not hard! Kids ones can be made out of towels.

    I LOVE the calendar and those JUDO sheets just plain ROCK!!! Well done Sandra!! No one teaches Judy here–it’s all Karate, MMA or Tae kWON do. The Memory Game has to be one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. I love the creativity your family has and the passion with which you all approach it.

    How about a special stencil for running shorts? A “family logo”? Or stencil it on family warm-ups for your competitions–everyone in same gear for “unity”

    A family “yearbook” or dvd of the year. My daughter obsesses over her 5th grade video yearbook so it must be a fun thing!!

    [Sandra for Grandpa–dried flowers mounted, labeled in Latin and framed in natural frames made from twigs, etc]

    Or a Memory album of special things each person has done– kids esp could do this for Dad.

    Tias–a father/son training journal.

    A recycled tied quilt or lap robe? Sew together pieces of favorite past projects or beloved clothing and “tie” them with leftover yarns?

    A shadow box filled with favorite photos, objects, quotes, small watercolors or pen/ink drawings.

    A quilt with favorite drawings transfered onto cloth.

    Water bottle “carriers” stenciled or embroidered or whatever, with a nice re-useable bottle.

    For little ones “recycled” sleep pants. Use a soft old flannel shirt, cut out the simple pattern, sew with odds/ends of thread, use elastic from a ruined pair of panty hose [tights] and, if you prefer knit cuffs, use the “good” tops of old socks. Then stencil or embroider a thermal shirt for the top. [Pants idea [minums friend’s sock idea] comes from Tightwad Gazette–which has a GREAT idea for orange juice can “armour” too–I go thru my copies of these for ideas all the time]

    Jeans recycled into book bags go over very well.

    Recycle jeans or towels into oven mits–decorate as desired.

    Most ambitious–a braided or simple woved rug. These are great ways to use up yarn and fabric or old jeans! You can also weave simple scarves that look really cool with fabric and yarn woven in.

    I honestly am looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with. We’ve discussed doing some gifts, and usually do, but nothing as ambitious! I think we’ll steal your calendar idea for Grandma–I can “scrap” a few pages, my son’s photographs and drawings on another, my daughter can draw on some. She’ll really like it. I can leave March blank for new ggrand.

  7. JoVE says:

    My mom has done bathrobes before. Just a bunch of rectangles. Drop shoulders. She often does them out of lightweight materials and then makes an envelope bag of the same material that they can be put into for travelling. Good idea if you have someone that travels a lot on business or something on your gift list.

  8. Jen says:

    Hi! We’re doing the same thing…in fact, we’re ironing on embroidery transfers in about half an hour. All the men in our family love to get hankies…with a small bit of embroidery in the corner as the kids’ touch. Flour sack tea towels, embroidered, are a nice, kitchen-y gift, too.

    P.J. shorts (sewn) in flannel…especially something Christmassy…are great for guys or gals.

    Press and dry some flowers and leaves now to laminate for cards, notebook covers, gift tags, etc.

    Of course, I’m partial to knitted things (gloves, fingerless mitts, socks, hats, slippers, scarves), but I’m biased. :)

  9. Kika says:

    Hi Jen, when you say “flour sack teatowels – embroidered” does that mean you purchase simple tea towels and then embroider them?

    • Jen says:

      Yup, Kika. The towels used to be something that everyone made from the cotton bags that flour (and sugar) used to come in. But of course we can’t get our flour like that anymore. So unless you find a stash from someone’s house that were saved from years gone by, then you can purchase “flour sack tea towels” at the store. They are made from a finely woven white cotton (so that flour wouldn’t have been able to readily sift out) and are fabulous for dish-drying towels. (As opposed to terry cloth towels which are better for hand-drying.) My grandma and my great-aunt used to embroider these all the time (and they were the real McCoy…flour sacks that they had saved, cut up and hemmed and washed), so they are a bit of a “tradition” in our family.

  10. nicolaknits says:

    My kids love to make earrings with hooks and pins and glass beads from Michaels. Good gifts. Or beaded bracelets with that stretchy clear cord.

    The best things I ever made for my kids were elasticated towels. I had one when I was a kid and they are like a changing tent and towel in one. I bought yardage of terry towelling, but you could just use two towels, sew them together down the sides, hem the top and run elastic through it. My boys have used these to death – they can put them over their heads to change on the beach, or just to keep warm, and often pull them down under their arms and run around like that!

    Your children could give their artwork. Buy those dollar store canvases and let them run amok with their paints – family members love those.

    Jars of cookies of course always are welcome!

  11. carrie says:

    I just clicked the link to the list of possibilities. WOW! That is fantastic. I tend to make the same type of things each year (for friends. It is a bit easier to change things up for the fam.) I love all of your ideas.

    You can totally do a bathrobe. And if it gets messy and…er…less than fabulous, that’s ok. I mean you wear them at home around people who love you, right?

  12. craftandfound says:

    you’re already half-done with your holiday knitting?! that’s tremendous! i find that i have ten things going at once, present-wise, and so it’s hard to feel like i’m getting anything COMPLETED. but the list looms, and it’s less than 100 days until christmas!

  13. Chrissy says:

    What great ideas! I cannot wait. I have also started to think about Christmas as well. I would love to do a homemade Christmas. We will have to see just how far I can get with it.

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