Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Making gifts in 2018 - let's begin...

I mentioned after Christmas that I'd been inspired by Annabel to become serious about stocking a gift box this year with a variety of handmade presents, and this past week I made a good start.

I'll share a tutorial with you today for one of them, but first of all let me show you the pretty bookmarks I made using some of the small motifs from my new 'Simple Pleasures, Life's Treasures' design.

Here's the large stitchery (for January's issue of The Stitchery Club).

Before the hand quilting...

...and during hand quilting.

Now if you look closely you'll be able to see the three motifs I have taken from it to make my bookmarks...

Bookmarks are lovely gifts because most people read, and I'm always looking for a bookmark myself due to the many books and magazines I am reading bits and pieces of at the same time.

You could use any small embroidery to feature on a bookmark, but what about raiding your fabric and lace scraps for a simpler but just as lovely one.

Add a final touch of creativity by using ribbon, buttons and beads for the top and you have something very special indeed.

Bookmarks can be posted in a card or with a letter, or placed inside a book for gift giving.

I spent a couple of evenings stitching the three embroideries (the tennis is on, yay!) and about 2 hours making all four bookmarks. These were the perfect kick-start to my 2018 Gift Box!

Now to other simple gifts...

This morning I headed into the sewing room while it was still cool enough to play without the air conditioner. With the few rain storms we've had during the night lately the trees outside my window are lush and full of foliage so it's very shady in there...which isn't the best for taking photos but not awful either, so I'm sure you'll still find them useful.
Of course, an hour later and I was swimming in perspiration so with a flick of a switch I let the air conditioner cool my brow and continued making this...

I have two little granddaughters turning 4 this year, and a grandson turning 2, and they all live a long way south in another state where the weather is cool in autumn and cold in winter. 
As their birthdays are all around late Autumn and mid-Winter I thought a useful and warm present would be best, so I have made the first of three Cuddly Heat Packs.

It's larger than a heat pack you'd make for an adult because it's meant to be cuddled in small arms like a hot water bottle, and because it hides a microwaveable wheat pack inside it's much safer for our precious munchkins too. 


My plan is to make as many gifts as possible this year from my fabric scraps and stash as we're saving for a house deposit and every dollar saved is a dollar toward a home of our own.

To make this heat pack I used left over cotton quilt wadding, a scrap piece of Tasha Noel's 'Red Riding Hood' fabric, pale pink homespun of which I'd bought 5 metres @ $3 mtr last year when Spotlight had a big sale, and some local raw wheat berries. 

The Heat Pack:

I began with fabric pieces about 8" x 12" and after placing the cotton wadding behind each piece they were machine quilted with straight lines.

Then I trimmed them both to 7 1/2" x 11" before laying them right sides together and sewing around three sides, one narrow end and both long sides, with 1/4" seam and then turning the heat pack right side out.

Keep the heat pack right side out to complete the project.

The Ties & Binding:

I cut four, 2 1/2" x 17" lengths of fabric from the pale pink homespun.
Fold one in half lengthwise and sew along the raw edges with a 1/4" seam, gradually veering off to a point to close one end in but leaving the other end open.

Make three more.

Turn them right side out, press flat and sew a 1/4 line inside the edge with the seam.

Cut one 2 1/2" x 26" piece of contrast fabric to make binding.


Pin two of the pink ties across the top front of your heat pack, about 1 1/2" apart, and pin two to the back the same distance apart.
Sew them in position with a scant 1/8" seam.
Attach the binding around the opening of the heat pack the same way you would for a quilt, raw edge to raw edge. Pin the ties out of the way while you do this. 

Press the binding away from the heat pack and turn it over to the inside. Hand stitch or machine stitch in place. The outer cover is now complete.

The Insert:

Cut one piece of homespun or calico 10 1/2" x 14".
Fold in half so that it measures 7" x 10 1/2" and sew across both narrow ends with a 1/4" seam.

Press a 1/2" hem inside the edge of the open side but do not sew it down.
Turn right side out and press. 

Sew a 1/4" seam 2" in from both ends of the opening of your insert bag, still leaving an opneing in the middle for filling later.
Sew around the outside of the insert with a 1/4" seam to encase the inside raw edges (like a French seam) but still leaving the small opening untouched.

Fill the insert with about 3 - 3 1/2 cups of raw wheat berries or uncooked rice. You want it about two-thirds full, no more than that.

Carefully machine sew the opening closed. I went over the closing seam twice just for good measure as I don't want any accidents with wheat berries falling out or holes in the seams. This is also why I enclosed the other seams earlier.

This insert now slips inside the heat pack cover.
The insert is the only part of this gift which goes in the microwave. Remove it for heating and then slip it back into the cover before giving to the child.

Make bows with the ties...

...and your gift is ready!

One down, two more to make.

And I'm going to take Janita's advice, who left a lovely comment on my blog before Christmas about the gifts she gives her grandchildren each year - pyjamas and a book. Lovely cosy, snuggle up gifts.

So along with their cuddly heat packs I'm going to include a pair of warm flannie pjs as well - purchased, not made. LOL! 

I'll regularly share simple ideas and tutorials for homemade gift giving this year, plus my friend Fee is going to join in as well. 
If you pop over here to her blog she has a wonderful tutorial for tissue pack covers, another gift that can be posted easily or gifted with something else. So pretty!

One of the ladies in our Gentle Domesticity group shared a link to this tutorial recently. 
These soup bowl cozies are fantastic and have made it onto my to-do list. 
As a gift they'd be lovely teamed with a few good soup recipes or a set of soup spoons if they're for a family.
Perhaps for a single person you could include a pretty bowl with a cozy?

Enough for today, we'd best not get overwhelmed with too many ideas straight away...if you're like me you're more likely to make something if there's just a few choices, whereas if I have too many I tend to feel overwhelmed and don't make any at all!

What I like about the four ideas I've given you today is that each one can be made from what's already in our craft/sewing supplies, and that's a bonus in my book. It means no running around town or all over the internet looking for bits and pieces. 
Just walk in to your sewing space and make a start with what's on the shelf.

It's like making meals from leftovers.
The sense of satisfaction is sublime, not to be underrated.

Speaking of leftovers, that's what we're having tonight. I baked a huge Shepherd's Pie for last night's dinner and it was so good we're going to polish it off with slices of today's fresh baked bread.

May your evening (or morning if you're on top of the world) be joyous and generous in every way,



Meg said...

Such sweet gifts you are making, Jenny. I made one of your bookmarks last year to give to my Mum and it was so easy and pretty. These bookmarks look lovely too. Meg:)

Kay said...

I love these ideas, the bookmarks are so pretty and a fabulous way to use up precious scraps. x

Glenise Magnano - Gold Coast said...

Beautiful gifts and ideas Jenny. Thank you. You must have the absolute most beautiful fabric in your stash. Your designs always feature such pretty fabrics. Love them all. I need to get my motor running and into gear and start sewing. Your gifts are so lovely and would be loved by all. Thank you. I will follow your example and start sewing some gifts to stash away. As you said bookmarks are so lovely and still in demand in this day and age.

gracie said...

Fantastic ideas.

Annabel said...

Thank you so much Jenny! I just love wha you have come up with. Just exquisite to me. I love soft colours and the way you do everything. This is a joy to me... which the world needs! And we really can give gifts to others without great expenses just thought and effort. Also some of these ideas are wonderful to post and this is often a consideration for me. Thank you! xxx

Janice said...

Great ideas for gifts and stocking fillers and also great they can be made from stash. Thanks for the ideas.

Nanna Chel said...

Jenny I am sure you and Annabel would get along like a house on fire :-) Thanks for those lovely gift ideas.

Tammy said...

Great ideas. And easy on the pocketbook too. thank you Jenny

Unknown said...

Great ideas Jenny, never thought of bookmarks like yours. I am thinking I could make some with a stitched design of our church on them to sell, for much needed funds.

BarbaraS said...

Every morning there is a new post from Jenny is a lovely day, sets my mind on a gentle pathway. Thank you.

allthingzsewn said...

Some great ideas Jenny. Love the little book marks,these are a must do. Grabbing the bowls too. Been meaning to find a pattern, thanks for making that easy.
Blessing to you

Little Penpen said...

These are all so lovely! Thanks for the ideas.

Farm Quilter said...

I have always had a box filled with things to give as gifts...not sure where I got the idea from, but it really works. How smart of you to be starting on gifts for the grands early so you are not burning the midnight oil trying to get them finished the night before! Love the idea and the way you made the heat packs. I'll have to hunt around for the raw wheat berries. I wonder if I could use something like lavender oil on the heat packs to encourage sleep?

Allie-oops Designs said...

That heat pack makes me want to snuggle right up - so darling! And the bookmarks are just gorgeous. I'd love to make gifts this year too - but I have the attention span of a gnat and keep forgetting, lol!

Sharm said...

I love your little bookmarks Jenny! Do you have wadding in them or just sew the fabrics together? I haven't made bookmarks in years and remember the last time I ended up in quite a pickle overnight something that would appear to be quite simple! How big do you make yours? Im so happy to hear you guys are working towards a deposit on your own home - very exciting, and yes, every dollar counts!!! Take care my friend and Thankyou for the lovely ideas

Brenda said...

Hello Jenny: These are all such special treasures you have made! Right away, I wanted to put away the quilt block I am quilting and go and find all of the supplies I need to make each and every one of these gifts! They will all be so perfect for gifts for Christmas and actually throughout the year! I keep forgetting about the Gentle Domesticity group, darn it! Thank you for these wonderful ideas and for sharing your love! I will be praying for your finances to grow as quickly as possible for a new home! I wish you a fantastic day!

e l i z a b e t h ♡ said...

Oh, Jenny, these are so beautiful! The bookmarks you made are just lovely, and the way you added such sweet details is so charming. The heat packs are great, too, and so practical! I know we have one that we use all the time in the winter...it gets so much use, a second would come in handy! I'm going to keep your tutorial on hand to make at some point :)

Thank you for yet another encouraging and beauty-filled post! Your blog is a favorite of mine ♥

Joy to you,

Winifred said...

What great ideas you have Jenny & so useful too. I love that Little Red Riding Hood material. The soup bowl holders are really great & such good ideas for other uses too. Thanks for these.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, I'm not much of a commentor but wanted to say how much I love your blog. Your photos and words bring me such joy, especially during dreary winter days when I am missing my Grands who are far away. My spirit is calmer after I read your posts. I found you through Annabel and I feel the same about her blog. Mimi Shele in Georgia

Anita said...

I also love you blog. I read it everyday. I made 19 of the soup bowl cozies to give to my family members for Christmas........they loved them. Now I will have to make some book markers because we are all readers. Thank you for you wonderful blog.

Createology said...

Life and too many options tend to definitely overwhelm me and I find I do nothing...so I like your style of just a few ideas and choices. I adore your bookmarks and how mailable they are for gift giving. I also love the warming pillow and see it in fabrics appropriate for men, women and children of all ages. Who doesn’t love a warm hug! Thank you Sweet Jenny...xo

Tania said...

Jenny, you always post the most prettiest items. I love them all especially the heat pack. That is such a lovely gift idea.

Annabel's idea of a gift cupboard has really taken off. These ideas are definitely going to make a great addition to our "gifts to make" list. Thank you :)


Gretchen Weaver said...

I often make my grands pillowcases. They are easy to make; google magic pillowcases. They also make a nice gift for someone starting their own home.

Jude said...

Thank you Jenny, I enjoy your posts, your beautiful designs and projects have provided me with many ideas and inspirations. This one to make a fabric bookmark each (in fabrics relating) for my daughter, SIL and gorgeous grandies who are heading off on a week's holiday at the beach tomorrow, all are avid book readers a great idea, thank you. I will use some heavy iron on for stiffening, joining the two sides in straight stitch and use pinking sheers around the raw edges, making them quick to make and simple so if get lost it is not a lot of work lost. As you say numerous bookmarks are handy to have, yours look beautiful, wonderful gifts. Thank you for all you generously give. Also all the best wished for Blossom and her expected baby, and her gorgeous daughter Cully, grandies are the light of our lives for sure. Thank you, Jude :) xo

Jude said...

Hi again Jenny, I have just seen another great gift and for own use idea of sewing shopping bags/totes to replace the use of plastic bags, can use up fabric stash as well as seek out in op/thrift shops suitable fabrics which is also recycling in itself. These can also be used to wrap a gift. Can never have too many of such bags, many ideas on line. Your wonderful blog and others has inspired me to get back into crafting in the new year.Thank you,Jude, :)

the girlfriend gap said...

Oh dear Jenny, Your little warming pouch is the perfect extra touch for your jammie gifts! So excited for you to gift them to your littles. The bean bag effect is perfect because kids like things that move when they squish them. I'm thinking they will be perfect for little ones who don't always like to go to bed! The bags will provide some warm comfort. I think I will join the fun and make some for my littles! Wish I had some of your cute fabric ! Thank you for your kind words and for the link to my blog. I've had lots of new visitors to my blog. : ) Happy Sewing. I've been trying to get a jump start on Christmas as well while the days are cold and blustery! Janita

Joolz said...

Such beautiful gifts, anyone would be pleased to receive them!

Ondrea said...

How gorgeous are those bookmarks! The heat pack is a great idea . Such lovely gift ideas.

Jillquilter said...

your remark, "we'd best not get overwhelmed with too many ideas straight away...if you're like me you're more likely to make something if there's just a few choices, whereas if I have too many I tend to feel overwhelmed and don't make any at all!----That's what happens to me too!

Mom my is coming to Arizona (from Michigan) next month for 5 weeks. She and I both quilt. I think making the bookmarks will be a lovely sewing day for us. THANK YOU FOR INSPIRING ME!