7 Years of Homemade Christmas Gifts

For several years now I have been making Christmas gifts and that is what I am spending a lot of time doing right now. I can’t tell you what I am making this year because it would ruin the surprise (my daughters do occasionally read my blog) but I thought I would tell you about some of the gifts I made in years past.

Making something for the girls (our daughters) has always been my first priority, but now that we have grandchildren and sons-in-law they are also recipients. The growing family is really challenging my creativity. 🙂 Since we have four girls I usually (but not always) make four gifts, the same – but different, for them.

My very talented sister K.C. inspires my sewing projects and is always on stand-by ready to counsel and console me when I call about sewing projects. Some of the things I have learned from her are:

  • Fleece and flannel are forgiving fabrics (I am thankful for this because if there is a “sewing sin” I will undoubtedly commit it.)
  • Use LOTS of pins.
  • Press seams.
  • When you get frustrated take a break and come back later.

My Mom is my inspiration when I crochet. She taught me the basics of crochet, but she was the one that always had crochet projects going for the whole family. She passed away in 2011 and now when I crochet I feel connected with her.

Some of the gifts were made before I started blogging and taking photos so there are no pictures to show but I will do my best to describe each.

 

Fleece Bath Robes – I think this was the first year I decided to make Christmas gifts for the girls. I had an old sewing machine that I decided to learn how to use. My husband saw me struggling and decided I needed a new sewing machine. At least this one came with directions – LOL.

This was a fun project because there are so many colors and patterns of fleece to choose from. The bath robe pattern that I selected was a simple wrap around with a tie closure, so I would not have to deal with buttons or zippers. I then selected a  different fleece for each of the girls.

Most of the girls were still living at home at this point which meant I had to schedule my sewing time when they were at school; it also meant that I got to see them wear their gifts often. 🙂

Flannel Pillow Cases – Notice I again choose a “forgiving” fabric to work with. The pillow cases were made with a solid color for the main part and a complimentary pattern for the trim.

Each girl or couple got a set of two pillow cases and I purchased new bed pillows for them as well.

Sister Shirts – This was one of my favorite projects and it involved neither sewing or crochet.

Here is a little background on sister shirts – I have 3 sisters, and like my parents, I have 4 daughters. When my sisters and I were growing up my parents, especially my dad, often got our names mixed up. One year when we were teenagers my sister J.B. and I (jokingly) decided to give dad a hand with that problem. We had t-shirts made for each of us. We each had a different color shirt. On the front it had our name, on the back it had the year we were born and our DD# (darling daughter #).

Several (more than 10) years ago I decided to have our shirts remade as sweat shirts this time (yes, Dad still gets us confused). I wear my “sister” shirt often, not necessarily for dad’s benefit, mostly because it is comfortable.

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One day one of my daughters, I can’t remember which one, said “we need sister shirts” and that got the wheels spinning. I had to come up with a “sister shirt” design for them. Even though I do have the “parent with too many kids to keep straight syndrome” I decided my girls needed something different. The girls are very close and I wanted to make something to express how they feel about their sisters.

At this point I was well into the DIY Christmas gifts so I had to figure out how to make them instead of having them made. I found printable iron on transfer paper at the craft store and purchased plain hooded sweatshirts for each of the girls. I found a picture of all four girls together and printed it as an iron on (4x). I also printed the words “SISTERS ROCK!” and ironed that message under the photo on the shirt.

I have seen each of the girls wear their shirt many times over the years and it always made me smile. 🙂

 

Slippers – This is a pattern very similar to the ones my mom used to make. Her pattern called for two strand of worsted weight yarn held together and she would usually use two different colors to give the slippers a variegated effect. I began using heavy weight yarns (only one strand required) to make these.

The year my mom passed away I made these for everyone – all of my daughters, sons-in laws, sisters, mother-in-law and even my husband now has a pair. I wear mine in the house throughout the cold seasons and like to keep a couple of pair made up incase I (or someone else get a hole) in one. 🙂 I will be making more as soon as I finish this years Christmas projects.

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Fingerless Gloves and Ear Warmers – This was the year I realized that all of the girls had smart phones and were spending lots of time swiping their phones for one reason or another. Fingerless gloves seemed a practical gift since they were probably swiping even when they were out in the cold.  I found this beautiful, free crochet pattern online.  http://www.beatriceryandesigns.com/2015/02/09/amazing-grace-fingerless-gloves-free-crochet-pattern/

I also made the matching ear warmers using the same stitch pattern.

Incidentally, when the girls were over for Thanksgiving, Kara mentioned that she lost her ear warmer. She said she wore it all the time and asked if I could make her a new one in the same color. I happened to have one (a different pattern but same color) already made up and she was wearing it when she left. It is a wonderful feeling when you know your gifts are used and appreciated. 🙂

Memory Quilts – This was a challenging but super fun project. The idea came to me after my youngest daughter, Lindell, moved out and I discovered that she had left behind all of her t-shirts from high school. When the girls were in school they had t-shirts from every activity that they participated in; homecoming shirts every year, sports shirts, band or choir shirts, drama club shirts, there was a whole stack of t-shirts that she hadn’t worn in a while an apparently didn’t plan on wearing again. They didn’t seem like the kind of thing you would want to donate to a charity since they wouldn’t hold any meaning for the person wearing them, yet they held too much meaning to my daughter to just throw them away.

While looking through the pile of shirts I discovered that there were two separate piles, one belonging to Kara and one belonging to Lindell. I decided to make them into keepsakes for the girls.

Below are the girls with their “High School” memory quilts. There are many online tutorials for these. Lindell’s (on the left) was made as a rag quilt with flannel  backing and Kara’s (on the right)was made with a fleece backing. Perhaps their smiles in the photo give you an idea how much the girls liked these blankets.

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T-shirt Bags – Last year I was in a quandary about what to make for the girls. I thought I would like to make them market bags or tote bags. It seemed like a practical gift that could be used for so many purposes. I looked at several crochet patterns but realistically I knew I did not have time to crochet 4 of them. I  started searching for other ideas and found this https://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/. It was super simple.

I had used all of the girls t-shirts for their quilts the year before and I did not want to buy new shirts for this project, so I went to the Salvation Army resale shop. I was able to find shirts that matched each girls personality for only a couple dollars each. There is one for the Disney lover, one for the MSU fan, one for the musician and one for the girl who loves to visit the Aquarium. 🙂

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This was a quick easy project and I filled the bags with homemade treats – banana bread, honey or jam, and soaps and balms.

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I am not certain if the girls use these bags but I am sure that they enjoyed the contents of them. 🙂

I am certainly not a master crafter and I admit that some of my projects have flaws but there is much to love about homemade gifts

  • There may be a cost savings, though this is not necessarily the case.
  • I find joy in creating things and especially for those I love. (I rarely find joy in shopping.)
  • The gifts can be one of a kind and tailored specifically for the individual.
  • They are always made with Love or TLP as I like to call it – Tender Love and Prayer.

Thank you for reading. If you have ever thought about making Christmas gifts I hope you have found some inspiration here. If you are a crafter who makes Christmas gifts please tell me about your favorite project that you have made, I am always looking for new ideas.

God Bless.

39 thoughts on “7 Years of Homemade Christmas Gifts

    1. Thank you Carol Anne. Do you do any crafting? Perhaps you could find a craft that you enjoy and begin making things for yourself and others. Crafting can be very therapeutic and giving homemade gifts is like giving a little piece of yourself. 🙂

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  1. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. As a runner, you can imagine all the extra T-shirts I have. I usually donate them several times a year, but maybe I will try to make something with them. Love the sister shirts too. Maybe I will give this a try for my sister!

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  2. Handmade is best, and I treasure anything that someone takes the time to make for me. I do love sewing and it is not necessarily an inexpensive hobby. I have always admired yours and Mom’s talents for knit and crochet, and I just wasn’t able to get my mind ( or my fingers ) wrapped around the techniques. Every project is my new favorite! Right now I’m loving circle loom knitting and all of the free tutorials on you tube. ( and all of the pretty yarn that you can buy is almost as addicting as fabric)

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  3. These are such great homemade gifts, I love that they’re made with TLP! The sister shirts and blankets are my favourites for being so thoughtful & sweet =]
    Thanks for sharing these with us, you’re very talented for I couldn’t knit, sew or otherwise make even an inch of a fingerless glove let alone any of these goodies!
    Caz xx

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    1. Thank for such a nice comment Caz. The sister shirts and blankets were certainly the best because they meant a lot to the girls. I am not sure that I would consider my sewing ability “talent” but I will keep at it because I do enjoy crafting. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. 🙂

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    1. You are very welcome. Thank you for such a nice comment. Did you check out the fingerless glove pattern link? It might be worth saving for the future. It is much nicer than some of the other free patterns that I have found.

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  4. You are very talented Ruth. I used to sew all my clothes in high school because I was tall and in those days pants did not come in tall sizes and I looked like I was waiting for the floods. So made pants, blazers, skirts and dresses – it was a nice hobby and luckily my mom finished off my hems and set it sleeves so that it looked more professional. I’ve not made any clothing in many years as stores like J.C. Penney started selling blazers, pants in tall sizes. My boss had tons of tee-shirts and went through a company called “Campus Quilts” to have all his shirts made into different sized quilts. They did a nice job so I can picture how yours looked! You are versatile all the way around. 🙂

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    1. You must be talented as well Linda – to sew your own clothes. I find that to be the most challenging of crafts. I am sure it would get easier if I practiced enough. I think the t-shirt quilts are a great way to preserve the memories of those special events or things the shirts represent.

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      1. Well, I was okay with sewing the clothes but not hand finishing them to be honest Ruth, so my mom was much neater at hemming sleeves and hems and even basting/setting in the sleeves so she did that for me. After J.C. Penney came out with tall clothes it was a day of joy. I remember making plaid wool shorts when they were all the rage – I liked them with penny loafers and couldn’t find them long enough. My mom used to knit and I may have mentioned that when you did your crocheted tablecloth post, so she liked making sweaters, vests and baby outfits. She made some afghans as well but later in life and she developed carpal tunnel syndrome from not only knitting four afghans in a row, but also from holding her cane a certain way. The Campus Tee Shirt Quilts were nice and I had never heard of that concept before. My boss is a labor attorney and he had about 35+ years of teeshirts from various unions he negotiated with, plus he bought teeshirts as sourvenirs whereever he visited, and for various runs he participated in. So he made different comforters with different themes. I think he was going to use the labor-related one as a wall hanging in his office – it was not done before I stopped working on site.

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      2. My sister is the one in our family who can sew anything – she makes a lot of clothes for her grandkids and great nieces and nephews. She joined some kind of pattern group when she has access to a lot of new patterns. She did a competition where you submitted photos of your finished project and then was judged by the public. She didn’t have too many people vote for hers but her design was judged best by the people who were holding the contest. That was better than having everyone you know go online and vote for you. She used to work a kmart but since they closed the store this spring she has been putting a lot more time into sewing.

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      3. That’s great your sister can do that Ruth. I always had to use a pattern and one time I wanted to make a black velvet six-gore skirt for the holidays. I couldn’t find anything like it anywhere so I decided to sew one because a flippy gored skirt seemed a cinch to sew. But I had to use a Vogue pattern as that was the only style pattern I could find. I had always used Simplicity or Butterwick. I got my usual size and made the skirt which had an invisible zipper and no waistband (my first for both) and went to try it on for hemming and it was way too small. I was so disappointed. No use adding more panels in it because chances of matching the velvet were slim and the nap might have been the wrong way … so that was my biggest boo boo I guess. The pattern must have been sized wrong.

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