I’m always looking for ways to personalize my holiday gifts each year. One easy way to do so, is to choose a themed fabric that is meaningful for the recipient. I want to share a few gifts I made this year for Christmas, because all of these gifts could be used for most any occasion throughout the year. Some of them have free links to free patterns. Here are a few gift ideas to consider:
You can achieve some interesting variations depending on whether you fold the fabric to the front or the back when sewing the final end points as shown in the following photo.
Have a good time choosing your fabrics and customizing your table runners. This is a great beginner pattern and can be somewhat addictive!
Hopeful Hatchlings (Stuffed Animals)
There is a darling new book called Hopeful Hatchlings by Jessica George from the Sweet Brian Sisters. The book that has patterns and instructions for 10 adorable baby animals. Each of the animals will fit inside a Zipper Egg and a pattern for the egg is also included in the book.
Our granddaughters were very quick to point out their favorite animal in the book. I told them their selections would be part of their Christmas gifts.
Choose a fun fabric for your eggs to complement the little animal who will live within.
These really are a lot of fun to make and the girls were thrilled to get theirs as you can see.
I think there were be other Hopeful Hatchlings hatching around our house for future occasions. They really are quite charming and somewhat addictive!
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and will be able to try some of these gift ideas.
It’s always fun to repurpose a piece of clothing and, at the same time, do something that personalizes it for someone special. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of watching our granddaughters, Belen and Eloise. When I was asked what “project” we were going to work on that day, I suggested that we decorate some jean jackets. They loved the idea and we went to a second-hand store and the girls each found a jacket that fit them.
B’s jacket was originally trimmed with some lace appliqués and a lace trim, which were pretty worn. She asked if she could help me remove these trim pieces before we washed the jackets.
I showed her how to use a seam ripper to remove the lace trims and she was eager to help – she did a great job and in no time at all, her jean jacket was clear of trims and ready for the washer.
The girls thought about what and how they wanted to embellish their new jackets. They chose various fabrics to use to in an appliqué for the back of each jacket.
Eloise wanted to assist too, so she helped me pre-shrink and hang fabric to dry.
After the jackets had been laundered, we were ready to begin stitching.
Eloise also tried on her fairy Halloween costume for a fitting.
Eloise found a fabric with animals from the Quilt Crossing that she fell in love with. We decided to appliqué it to the back of her jacket. I backed the fabric with a piece of batting and quilted around the design and stipple stitched the background, to help bring out the animals in the design.
Meanwhile, Belen was busy drawing a design for the back of her jacket. She decided to draw a koala bear. While I was stitching Eloise’s jacket, the girls took a play break and had some fun on the swings and played with Toby.
We finished Eloise’s jacket that afternoon and she was thrilled to model it. We decided to add a small elephant on the front of her jacket, for a little added interest.
Belen and I discussed how she wanted her koala appliquéd onto her jacket. I found the perfect piece of fabric in my stash for the inner ears of her koala. For the body and tree, I used various shades of gray grunge fabric and a piece of black grunge for the koala’s nose.
I enlarged her drawing about 20% and traced each of the appliqué pieces by placing her drawing, wrong-side-up, onto a light box. I left ample room around each piece so that they could be easily cut apart and then fused to the back of the relevant appliqué fabric.
The light box made it easy to “fussy-cut” the ear pieces so that I could take advantage of the fabric’s design. I rotated each ear piece to take advantage of the spherical design on the fabric.
It was fun to see her bear come to life as each piece was trimmed. I shared a photo of the project with Belen and she was excited.
Next, I fused the koala bear and tree appliqué pieces to the back of Belen’s jacket.I began with the tree in the background and carefully placed the koala paws in the appropriate place, so that it looked like the bear was holding onto the tree trunk. I also fused the little paws from the right side of the trunk that B had drawn.
Next, I free-motion stitched the perimeter of the bear with a gray thread and stitched so that the bear looked like he had a furry fringe around it. Once that was complete, I outlined the bear again with black thread, to highlight the features of the bear’s face, arms and legs, etc. The final stitching was the bear eyes and a sweet little smile and the bear was done! Next, I stitched the tree with a gray and brown variegated thread.
The highlight, of course, was to show Belen her finished jacket. She was thrilled and said, “Oh Nana, I’m so proud of myself!” She said she didn’t think her drawing would look as good as it did in an appliqué.
Here the girls are modeling their jackets. This was a very fun project that you too could do. It was especially fun to have the girls so involved in the process. Best of all, they loved the finished project and it sure was a lot of fun to spend time with them.
What have you been busy sewing? I would love to hear about your projects!
Now it is time for us to get focused back on Halloween. I’ll share some ideas and what costumes we’re creating in a future blog.
When school adjourns for the summer each spring, I look forward to the extra time I get to spend with Belen and Eloise.
Friday before last, I was pleased to spend the day with them. While we were running a few errands together, Belen found a painted rock that had been planted for someone to discover.
The front of the rock had been painted with a camping scene and the back was lettered with instructions, “Boise Rocks – Post pic, keep or re-hide.” The girls were fascinated by this little gift and we too thought it would be fun to leave some little gifts for strangers.
I told them about the Giving Bunny I had seen on Urban Threads. If you go to Urban Threads’ website and click on their “Freebie” link, you can download either a machine or hand embroidery design for The Giving Bunny. Under the Instructions link for this design, there is an explanation… “Here’s how it works: Download the FREE Giving Bunny design, available in two sizes for machine embroidery, as well as a PDF pattern for hand-stitchers. Stitch up as many bunnies as you please. Dress ’em up if you like, give them names, attach a tag to each to introduce them to the world, and then leave them in public spaces for someone to find.”
The girls and I thought it would be fun to make some bunnies to give away, so we stitched several bunnies out of an ivory polar fleece. Both Belen and Eloise had fun printing the names for each of their bunnies on little tags that told the story of the Giving Bunnies.
We printed off a template for the tags that Urban Threads provides and attached one to each bunny with small safety pins. Belen added an additional note to the back of her tag that read, ” Hope your bunny finds a nice home! Belen.
Once we finished making several bunnies, we packed them up as it was time to take Belen to her Writing Camp at the Cabin Writing Center near downtown.
After we dropped off Belen, Eloise and I thought it would be a good idea to hide some of the bunnies near the Ann Frank Memorial grounds. Eloise was very particular about where she wanted to place each of her Giving Bunnies.
Initially, she wanted to put a bunny in the hand of the Ann Frank statue, but later decided to relocate this bunny. Next she tried a couple other spots around the Memorial grounds.
She was so excited to see who would be the first to discover one of her Giving Bunnies, so she hid behind a grove of trees to watch.
While she was watching, she did not see anyone find one of her bunnies. We decided to leave and go and get an ice cream cone and check on her bunnies when we returned for Belen’s reading at the Cabin.
When we returned, one of her bunnies was gone. She was thrilled and decided to relocate the remaining bunnies in a place where they would be a little more visible.
We put out a few more bunnies and went to watch Belen read one of her writings from Writing Camp.
Belen did an amazing job and we were so proud of not only her poem, but also how confidently she read it in front of a large crowd of people. Alecia and Andy joined us to watch Belen too. She was the first presenter.
After Belen was finished, we told Mommy and Daddy about the Giving Bunnies and Eloise helped Belen hide a few of her bunnies.
The girls had such a good time finding the “perfect” spot for each of their bunnies and talked about who might discover them. It really was a very fun and exciting adventure.
What projects have you been working on? It is so much fun to be outdoors with all this beautiful weather.
I hope you are having a great summer and look forward to hearing about any projects you have been working on.
Our Mother, Hazel Margaret Johnson, was a registered nurse. A profession that she was extremely proud of and one she was a very good at. As a child, I loved to watch her prepare for work, putting on her white dress, white nylons and starched nurse cap. It was a site to behold – she looked so professional and I was so proud!
One of the things I inherited from her was a monogrammed pair of her bandage scissors, which I was very pleased to own.
A couple weeks ago, our niece and Goddaughter, Morgan, finished her nursing school. There was a traditional pinning ceremony scheduled in Fargo, ND to recognize Morgan and her fellow nursing graduates. We would have loved to attend, but due to weather and road conditions, we were unable to do so. Instead, I decided to gift Morgan my mother’s scissors. It seemed like the appropriate time to pass them on and I’m pretty sure my Mom would be pleased with this decision. I also felt that Morgan would recognize and appreciate this gift as she has many fond memories of Grandma Johnson.
In order to present the gift appropriately, I felt I needed to make a case for the scissors and also wanted to make an apron, now that she should have a bit more time to spend in the kitchen.
We recently received a beautiful nursing print at the Quilt Crossing and I felt it would be the perfect fabric for her gifts.
I also found a “love and hugs” fabric for the trim of her apron. The designs are batiked, so a little off grain, but it worked well to trim the nursing fabric and had the right sentiment.
I purchased an “in-the-hoop” scissors case embroidery design online. This design was for a 4″ scissors, so I stretched the length of the design 3″ in my embroidery software to make it longer to accommodate the bandage scissors. I hooped the stabilizer, then floated the front of the scissors case on top of the stabilizer. Next I carefully positioned the lining fabric in place.
I embroidered Morgan’s name to the flap of the scissors case and found the perfect button for the loop closure in my collection of antique buttons. The case was finished!
Now it was time to make the apron, using my Anna’s Apron pattern. I loved how the trim finished the edges of the apron and made it “pop”! Soon the apron was complete!
Last, but not least I wrote Morgan a letter telling her about my mother’s bandage scissors and congratulating her on her accomplishments.
The items were packaged up for shipment at UPS and they were on their way, with a guarantee that they would arrive in time for her pinning ceremony.
A few days later, I received word the package arrived safely. There was a wonderful celebration for Morgan and I felt like we were a part of it, although remotely. The next day, Morgan called to thank me for the gifts – she was delighted and touched! A couple days after that, my brother sent me this picture of beautiful Morgan in her apron.
We’re so very proud of Morgan and so pleased for her… and I think that her Grandma Hazel is also smiling and that too warms my heart.
Hope you had a wonderful New Years and “Happy 2017!”
A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to participate at our granddaughter, Belen’s, school. Wendi, the school counselor was helping to plan a sewing project where the children would help to make pillowcases for the Ryan’s Case for Smiles organization (formerly ConKerr Cancer) and to celebrate the delivery of the one millioneth pillow case. This is an amazing organization that began when Cindy Kerr began making pillowcases for her 12-year-old son, Ryan, to brighten up his hospital room and put a smile on his face during his cancer treatments. Currently, they have over a hundred chapters and thousands of volunteers who provide nearly 50,000 hospitalized children with pillowcases every year. Yesterday was National PJ Party and Pillowcase Delivery Day to hospitalized children across the country.
Students wore their PJ’s and sewed pillowcases on Wednesday. I agreed to help and recruited Becky Roberts, a colleague from Quilt Crossing, to help sew the pillow cases. [For many years, Quilt Crossing has served as a hub where folks can donate their left over or stash fabrics to a Fabric Bank, where, in turn, charitable organizations can pick up the donated fabric for projects (like Ryan’s Case for Smiles).]
Our jobs were made much easier, thanks to the Girl Scouts of the Silver Sage Council Troops 444 and 826 who raised more than $200 and helped to collect materials to sew the cases to benefit Ryan’s Case for Smiles.
Becky and I were part of “Station 1” where we sewed the initial seams for each pillowcase.
The first step for the children was to pick up a pillowcase kit that was already rolled and pinned at the “Step 1” table. There were such a great variety to choose from and the Girl Scouts had rolled and pinned each pillow case so it was ready to sew.
There were 2 other ladies at Station 1 and we readied are machines so that we could establish a sewing production line. As children were released for noon break, they picked up their pillowcase kits and headed our way for Step 1 of the pillow-making process.
Students were paired up and together would bring his/her pillowcase to us to sew the first seam. We would take a few seconds to explain what we were going to do and then invite the students to take turns stepping on the foot pedal of the sewing machine, so they could be a part of sewing process.
One of the bonuses for me was to get to sew with my granddaughter, Belen. She and her classmate did a great job of helping me to sew their pillowcase as you can see in the picture.
Many of the children really got in the sewing process. A number of them asked if they could sit down and sew the seams, which we were not able to allow as there were just too many children to teach each of them to sew at this event.
I was able to capture one little girl who was in awe when Becky helped to sew her pillow case.
It was fun to see some of the children I have met in Belen’s class. Keakua was very interested as his pillowcase was being constructed.
From Station 1, the next step was to go to Station 2 to “Turn, Iron and Pin the pillow cases. In no time at all there were long lines forming at this station.
The children got very excited at this point because they could really see that their pillow cases coming together.
The final Station 3 was where the last two seams of the pillow cases were sewn. This completed the construction for each pillow case. Once we finished all the Station 1 pillow cases, we also converted to another Station 3 to help finish up all the cases.
When the cases were finished, they were hung on long clotheslines in front of the school. It really was a site to see!
I loved how colorful the cases were and there were color schemes and themes for both boys and girls. They are definitely going to light up some children’s hospital rooms!
I felt honored to be a part of this worthwhile and fun event for Ryan’s Case for Smiles. If you would like to learn more about this amazing organization, visit the website for Ryan’s Case for Smiles. They have information on how you too can get involved to help make the world a little bit brighter!
A couple folks sent me links to the KTVB news article that aired on Tuesday’s 6:00 news. You can view it at their website at KTVB.com.
P.S. – There were a lot of folks involved in putting together this incredible project. I have pictures of only a few as we were busy sewing most of the time. Thanks to all of you who contributed to make this such a fun and successful project, including the Girl Scouts and their leaders for all the prep work.
It’s hard to believe that we have completed our first ever quilting class at College of Idaho. It was so much fun and I had a great group of delightful ladies who completed their quilt tops with much enthusiasm.
It was so much fun to work with everyone as they constructed their strip quilts. For some, it was their very first time ever at a sewing machine and for others, it had just been awhile since they had worked on a sewing project. Irregardless, they all were so excited to be there working together towards a common goal. The majority of the quilts were made as gifts for other people, which was very special indeed.
There were 2 mother/daughter teams who worked on quilts together. It was fun to watch them share ideas and opinions as their tops evolved.
We spent a lot of time reviewing the fundamentals of quilt making and during the final class the students created their own custom binding and learned how to bind a quilt with mitered corners.
There was also plenty of time to visit and get to know one another.
As well as time to be creative and explore new ideas…
For the last class, the College of Idaho Newsletter asked to visit the class and interview some of the students. We were asked to wear our purple t-shirts. Justine Daime, a staff photographer, took several photos and some of them are included in this blog post (Thanks, Justine). If you would like to read the newsletter article, you can do so at this link to the College of Idaho Newsletter.
The class was also proud to share their completed quilt tops as you can see below…
This pattern is so much fun to make because each and every quilt has its own personality. Letitia and Lindsey even began the class using the same jelly rolls, but their quilt tops were very unique because of their unique layouts and choices for borders and bindings.
The room and facilities at the College of Idaho were wonderful. We had lots of space to work on our projects and enjoyed the incredible light in the Shannon Library. It really was a wonderful class and best of all, everyone seemed to have a genuinely good time.
I am so very proud of my students’ accomplishments and really enjoyed working with each and every one of them. It was a privilege to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to my next paper piecing class that begins next Monday, July 20th. If you would like more information about this class, you can read more about it at the Summer Program page.
I hope you are enjoying your summer and would love to hear about any sewing projects you have been working on.
It’s always nice to be able to personalize a gift. Our granddaughter is a Girl Scout and last weekend they had a Mother/Daughter tea. My daughter, Alecia, asked if I had any ideas for a small gift to exchange with 25 other girl scouts. I suggested sewing some pencil toppers and since our granddaughter is in the “Daisy” group, came up with the idea to make a bouquet of felt daisies that she could exchange.
One of my favorite embroidery design companies for children is GG Designs. They make a lot of cute designs, including various pencil topper designs. I went through my design files and came across one that I had purchased a few years ago (I think it was from GG Designs, although it is not in their design collection currently).
I brought the daisy design into my Designer Plus software and modified it a bit in order to fit 14 daisies in a jumbo hoop layout as shown.
Next, I chose thread colors for the various components of the daisy and hooped my first layer of white felt.
Then it was time for my Bernina 830 to do its magic. I still get a kick out of watching it stitch out the various thread colors. It’s fun to see the final designs come to life.
Once the first set of pencil toppers were stitched out, I reloaded my jumbo hoop so I could begin the second set of toppers.
While the machine was stitching the second group of daisies, I was busy trimming the first set of toppers and slipping the daisies on top of a variety of multi-colored pencils.
When the second set of toppers was complete, I repeated the trimming process and added the completed pencils with daisy toppers to a small glass vase.
Belen was very pleased with her exchange gifts and after the tea, was anxious to tell me that they were a hit at her Mother/Daughter tea.
Pencil toppers are a fast and easy gift idea if you have an embroidery machine. There are so many cute designs available and its fun to use your software to personalize them.
I designed a special quilt for our granddaughter, Eloise. At the same time, I developed a pattern for this quilt as you may recall in an earlier blog, introducing the Princess and the Pea pattern.
After I made the original sample for the pattern, I created another one, just for Eloise. I changed the second quilt and used a variation suggested in the pattern. Instead of bias trim for the vine that winds around the quilt’s border, I used a large rickrack.
I’m very pleased to share that last night I gave Eloise her quilt and she was delighted and could not wait to put it on her bed. The first thing she wanted to do, of course, was to find the pea!
For the last several weeks, whenever we were together, she would ask about the status of her quilt.
I was committed to finishing this quilt as it was made especially for her and had some unique features. First of all, her mommy, Alecia, had asked me to make the quilt using fabric with the 1930’s vintage look. I also had to incorporate Eloise’s favorite color, purple and began collecting fabrics and rummaged through my stash to come up with a good collection for her quilt. I also used rickrack for the vine that twists around the border of the quilt. I love the bit of whimsy that this added to the quilt. I found a darling background print with little purple flowers that served as the perfect backdrop for the princess’ bed. It was so much fun to see this quilt come together and watch as the anticipation built from Eloise.
She was particularly tickled when I added the crown with her name on it and she loved to search for the little pea under the bottom mattress when the quilt was on my design wall.
Once the top was finished, I had it quilted by Yvette Ebaugh, who did an incredible job on my original Princess and the Pea quilt. Once again, she did a beautiful job as you can see in the following pictures…
Finally, I made the label for Eloise’s quilt. I always consider this the finishing touch for a quilt because it tells a bit of a story of the quilt, as in who it was made for and when, etc.
I’m so pleased to have this quilt finished and tickled that Eloise loves it. That’s what really makes it all worthwhile.
What quilt projects have you been working on? I would love to hear about them.
Note: If you would like to make your own Princess and the Pea quilt, it is available as a pattern that can be purchased locally at the Quilt Crossing or online at Craftsy.
Our niece, Mandy, is expecting and recently found out that she is having a baby boy. As you can imagine, everyone is anxious to welcome a new bouncing baby boy to the family.
Last Sunday, her mother, Romy, gave her a baby shower and it was fun to make a few baby boy items, as I usually am sewing for our two granddaughters. I found out the baby’s name is going to be Wyatt and the nursery has a “Whale” theme. I was in a time crunch to make a baby quilt, so thought instead I would purchase a cozy blanket and add a whale appliqué with my embroidery machine. Below is the baby blanket I prepared for our new nephew.
To make this blanket, I was so fortunate to first find an adorable chevron patterned plush baby blanket in the exact colors I wanted to use. In addition to that, there was a really cute whale bib that I determined, with a few minor adjustments, would make an adorable appliqué for the blanket. After purchasing the bib, I carefully cut away the long blue straps and pinned the body of the whale to the blanket.
Then I sewed an edge stitch around the appliqué to attach the whale to the blanket and was pleased with the end result.
Next, I focused on a few more items for Wyatt. While shopping, I found a set of cute onesies that had a nautical theme and one of them even had a print with tiny whales.
It’s always fun to personalize a few items for a baby shower, so I embroidered another Onesie with Wyatt’s name.
Since there are usually a lot of baby items that include a comment about Mommy, I thought it would be fun to personalize a little shirt that Daddy would like too. I added “Daddy’s Helper, Wyatt” to a cute little Oshkosh T-Shirt that I had purchased – it was fun to choose the designs to complement this cute little shirt.
The shower was a lot of fun and Romy did a great job with the “whale” theme, including an adorable whale cake.
Best of all, Mandy received so many wonderful gifts and seemed to really enjoy herself. I was tickled that she also enjoyed the items I had made for her and Wyatt.
Have you made any shower gifts lately? If so, I would love to see them. It seems with Spring around the corner, there will be more shower invitations for bridal or baby. Such a fun time of year.
In April, 2007, we took an amazing two week trip to China to visit Andy and Alecia. To commemorate our visit, I made a quilt that I gave to them as a Thank You gift.
When we arrived, it was my birthday, so Alecia greeted me at the airport with beautiful flowers and also surprised me with a lovely birthday cake when we arrived at their apartment. It was very thoughtful. The best gift of all was seeing her and Andy!
While we were in China, we spent time in Shanghai, where Andy and Alecia were living.
It was quite a change from their home in the North End in Boise as you can see…
We also toured Beijing and climbed the Great Wall and saw the Ming tombs.
We attended Kung Fu theatre and the Peking Opera. So many sites to see and we hiked into the Forbidden City, Tinanmen Square and the Summer Palace.
Of course, there was some shopping at the pearl, jade, cloisonné and fabric markets.
We also visited the water town of Suzhou…
and hiked through the Administrator’s Garden.
It was an incredible trip and when I made their quilt, I found fabric that reminded me of some of the birds we saw in the Administrator’s Garden. The pattern I used for the quilt was called BQ from Maple Island quilts.
After the quilting, the finishing touch was the label that summarized our most excellent adventure!
It was a trip of a lifetime and we had so much fun. The best part of the trip was spending time with Alecia and Andy and seeing how well they had adapted to their new home in Shanghai. They were very comfortable in China and did a great job as guides during our visit.
Quilts are a great way to commemorate a significant event in our lives. What quilts have you made to help remember a special time or a special someone?
I hope you are enjoying this beautiful August weather.