Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Handmade Christmas Gifts

First up I'd just like to say a big thank you for all your helpful overlocking tips on my last post. I'm really pleased with my Coppelia Cardigan and it's had a fair bit of wear already but I've definitely got a lot to learn about knits so any tips to make that process a bit easier are being warmly welcomed! For my next stretch project I'm tempted to make another Coppelia because I love it so much, or I've also got the Sewaholic Renfrew calling me which, if Tasia's instructions are anything like her other patterns, should help my knit skills no end.

Anyway, today I thought I'd show you what I had my head down sewing in the lead up to Christmas. I chose to make quite a few gifts this year and after the chaos of last year started nice and early too!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Art Deco Fabric Knitting Needle Roll Gift

I made my Mum a knitting needle roll, the same style as my Nan's last year. Mum uses one of the bags I made her last year to keep her 'knitting projects-in-progress' in so I thought it would be nice if she had a needle case to match. I had just enough of the art deco style fabrics I ordered from Spoonflower for last years gifts left over (which was perfect as it's Mum loves a bit of art deco!) and combined them with a grey polka-dot cotton I bought in the local market. It was a really enjoyable make and I highly recommend this tutorial as it produces a really professional finished article and even includes a little pocket for your stitch counter and markers.

Diary of a Chainstitcher New York Kitchen Gifts

One gift that definitely went down a treat was my Sister's. She's recently moved in to her own little flat so I really wanted to make her something for it. She's got a bit of a New York theme going on in the decor throughout and a few months ago sent me a link on Pinterest to this fabric. Isn't it gorgeous?!


I ordered 1.5m of the fabric as I wasn't sure what I wanted to make and in the end managed to make a whole kitchen gift set! I used the 'Cook's Apron' pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee book as I liked the ruffled hem for her. I wasn't overly impressed with the pattern, I didn't like the way some parts were finished and the bib and bib lining pattern pieces were labelled the wrong way round so I ended up having to recut them when I got to that part of the construction. Very annoying. It took me a while to work out what was wrong and if I'd been a complete beginner, like much of this book is aimed at, I think it would have put me right off altogether!

Diary of a Chainstitcher New York Fabric Tea Towel and Apron

For the tea towel I simply cut and hemmed a rectangle of the fabric, using this tutorial for mitred corners, and added a loop of double fold bias tape in one corner to hang it from. The oven gloves were probably the gift I was most pleased with and were the most satisfying to make. I made my own pattern, using my oven gloves as a template and sandwiched thick cotton batting between layers. I bound the edges with plain white shop bought bias tape and I love the little label I added as an extra touch!

Diary of a Chainstitcher New York Fabric Oven Gloves

I also made my Nan a pair of oven gloves to go with her cookbook but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of these. I used some beautiful purple polka-dot cotton and matching purple binding for hers. I also forgot to grab a picture of the handkerchiefs I embroidered for my Grandad, which is a shame as I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I just embroidered his initials in different colours in a corner of each.

I find men a lot harder to think of home-sewn gifts for so I only made for a couple of the men in my family this year. I didn't want to leave anyone out but I really enjoy giving thoughtful gifts that the recipients will love so I didn't want to make something for the sake of it being hand made, when actually a bought gift would have been much more appreciated.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mens Pyjama Bottoms from the Great British Sewing Bee

I made pyjama bottoms for my Uncle and Step-Dad as a bit of a joke, they were both a huge hit though and were immediately changed into and worn for the rest of the day. My Uncle works in a quarry and buying him 'digger related' presents has become a bit of a tradition in our family (he'll kill me for saying digger and not shovel, or excavator!) so I bought some kids construction site fabric for his. My Step-Dad is a Manchester United fan which is also a bit of a running joke as my siblings and I are big Chelsea fans. I actually think I was very kind not making him some with the Chelsea logo all over, the Man U fabric nearly got thrown out in the street when my boyfriend (a Liverpool supporter) spotted it in our flat! Ha!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mens Pyjama Bottoms from the Great British Sewing Bee

These were also a Great British Sewing Bee pattern, which my lovely Nan very kindly got for me using the vouchers in the paper a while back. This pattern was much more straightforward to sew up than the apron but I found the sizing really confusing as there were no measurements, just S, M, L, XL. I measured the pattern pieces of the waistband to get an idea but as it was a drawstring waist I had no idea how much ease I should allow for. I took a stab in the dark and it seemed to turn out ok in the end!


The final gift I'm ashamed to say didn't get finished in time for the big day...and I'm even more ashamed to say was my boyfriend's shirt which I bought him the pattern for last Christmas! Ooops! I didn't want to rush it and do a less than perfect job though so I'm still chugging along and it's been a very enjoyable and challenging make so far.

Our tree came down last weekend so that's it for Christmas this year sadly, although I'm sure it will feel like no time at all before we're planning all our gift giving all over again!

12 comments:

  1. These are brilliant gifts - you must have been sewing like a maniac to get them done in time! And I love all of your models!

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    1. Haha! Not sure they are loving being models on the blog but tough!

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  2. great gift. i love that spoonflower fabric - would be really pretty as a dress! glad i didn't buy the sewing bee book now - i saw it on sale and was kind of regretting not buying but it sounds like the patterns aren't great!

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    1. Yeah I'm not overly impressed but I've only used two of the patterns so maybe I've just had bad luck!

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  3. Wow, these are lovely gifts! You're so sweet! I bet the recipients really appreciated them!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! I really enjoy sewing little crafty projects as a break from an intense dressmaking project. And seeing their happy faces is pretty great!

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  4. Gosh! You did a great job! You must be so organised to have made all that on time! I am so impressed! They all look brilliant! Really well finished, very professional, and really lovely fabric choices! What lucky family members you have!

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    1. I luckily didn't have too much crazy work going on in the run up to Christmas, but my sewing machine was going a fair bit! I was really pleased with how everything turned out!

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  5. My goodness, so productive! They're all lovely gifts & so thoughtful. That New York fabric is amazing!

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    1. It's brilliant fabric isn't it! I'm sorely tempted to buy some more so I can make myself something out of it! I almost kept those oven gloves...

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  6. Good Lord! You are a machine! Such lovely gifts. I tell myself every year I am going to do this but completely forget how manic it gets after October! Maybe this one?!

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    1. Definitely! I did start pretty early as I was determined to enjoy the making of them this year instead of feeling panic!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!