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.
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!
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,