As you will read time and again here on my blog, I am a huge advocate of giving books as gifts. There is simply one out there to suit everyone. I am also keen on making your own gifts – so today’s book review fits the bill perfectly.
I have the great pleasure today to be guest posting at Bugs and Fishes. I’ve written a review of Abigail Glassenberg’s latest book, Stuffed Animals.
If you haven’t come across Laura’s work before and enjoy sewing, you will have great fun looking around. Do take a look at her Crafty Tutorials, including my favourite the Felt Blackbirds. Her felt projects are lovely and would make beautiful little gifts.
You can download these sweet children’s bookmarks today – a lion and a rabbit – at The Girl Creative. Quick to make, they are great for popping into a card or adding to a book gift.
It was lovely to be invited to guest post for Diana. I will be contributing more gift ideas over the next few months.
Diana’s site is packed with great printables, simple craft projects and recipes. Subscribe to her weekly updates to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
If you love making your own gifts, and are looking to add a new skill to your crafting portfolio this year, crochet could be for you.
Taking up a new craft can sometimes involve big up-front costs. Great news — crochet costs next to nothing to get started. A few hooks, a ball of yarn, and you are good to go for just a few pounds.
Let’s start with some lessons.
I am currently working my way through Heather’s Learn to Crochet series at Twin Dragonfly Designs. There are 10 lessons covering: yarns and supplies, slip knot, chain stitch, single, double and half-double crochet, crochet in the round, shell stitch, front post stitch, and front or back loop only stitch. Not only are there plenty of close-up, step-by-step photos, Heather has included videos, which I am finding particularly helpful.
Another helpful series of videos is available at Fresh Stitches. These include the basic stitches for getting started — including increasing and decreasing — and techniques specific to Amigurumi, Stacey’s speciality.
With a few lessons under your belt, here are some projects to get you hooked on crochet gifts…
That should keep you busy.
[Image Credits. Top picture: Meredith Crawford at One Sheepish Girl, Elise Engh at Grow Creative, Bubblegirl, Karabouts, and Twin Dragonfly Designs. Bottom picture: Moral Fibres, Crafty Is Cool, JJ Crochet, Little Birdie Secrets, and Delia Creates.]
I am not a romantic – not by any stretch of the imagination. My partner lives at the other end of the romantic spectrum, so Valentine’s Day presents us with an ideal opportunity to compromise and meet somewhere in the middle. I draw the line at grand gestures and gifts at this time of year (and rarely do I draw the line at any gift, I can assure you). But a Valentine card? To me, it is the perfect way to say something you should say every day – I Love You. So, in reverence to those romantics among you, I’ve selected some of my favourite Valentine cards.
My first selection is not strictly a card, I know, but it would be remiss of me not to include it – it is so beautiful. Handmade by Poshyarns, the linen envelope is lined with Liberty print cotton, and the embroidery on the felt note and envelope can both be personalised.
This 3D greeting card from Open Box Design is clean and modern on the outside, but bursts open to reveal its contents – “the grandest gesture of your love”.
I love all the black-and-white lino print designs from Sarah Robinson Designs. These love birds are perfect for Valentines. I purchased her Cat Tattoo and the recipient was thrilled – I was tempted to keep it and frame it, but as a good friend, passed it on.
What a brilliant idea for a card – what could be more romantic than sipping tea for two snuggled up together on a cold February morning? Post Tea’s cards contain enough loose tea for two cups and two tea filters.
Sussex-based Five Dollar Shake pride themselves on unique design and hand-finished cards. I love the sweet design and gem details of this To My Darling Wife card. Again, designed and printed in the UK, this LOVE card from Card Crush is one of the Sally Scaffardi collection. Both cards, and a lovely selection of other Valentine cards, are available from piccadillylane.com.
My final selections are from Snowdon Design & Craft, available at notonthehighstreet.com. What can I say? If someone told me I was the “Jam In Their Doughnut” or “The Chocolate On My Biscuit”, I would know it was true love. And yes, these are the ones I’ve ordered for my nearest and dearest, and my little boy. Clearly, doughnuts bring out the romantic in me.
[Photo credits. Top image: (1) & (2) notonthehighstreet.com, (3) sarahrobinsondesigns.co.uk, (4) post tea on etsy.com. Bottom image: (1) & (2) piccadillylane.com, (3) & (4) notonthehighstreet.com.]
I am a huge fan of gift wrap, but am all too aware of the waste this can create. It is easy to reuse most of the wrapping we receive – and hope that others will do likewise – but what if the wrapping was not only reusable, but part of the gift itself?
If you are wrapping a gift for someone you know likes to sew, this tutorial is perfect. The wrapping itself is made from fabric secured with colourful safety pins. The garland is a string of buttons and pendants. The label is attached with a safety pin and decorated with matching buttons. And, most importantly of all, it is all reusable. Anyone who loves to sew with have no qualms about adding this little bundle to their stash.
You will need:
- a fabric piece big enough to cover the gift, or odds and ends that can be joined
- buttons, pendants, beads, or sequins
- embroidery silk or sewing thread
- safety pins
- sewing needle
To wrap the gift:
- If necessary, iron your piece of fabric to remove any deep creases. Wrap the gift as if you were using paper, and secure with safety pins. Ensure the pins go through all layers. You shouldn’t need too many to make it secure.
- If the piece of fabric you have is large and you don’t want to cut it to size – as I have here in my example – just fold in half and wrap. It will look a little bulkier using fabric as opposed to paper. Don’t worry, the recipient will be far more interested in the lovely piece of fabric they are about to inherit than the neatness of your corners. A larger piece of fabric just gives them more options for using it.
- Don’t be put off either by small pieces of fabric. Any seamstress or patchwork fan worth their salt will find a use for odds and ends in no time. To keep the fabric useable, join with a running stitch. This will be easy to remove, strong enough for the job at hand, and leave little to no damage behind.
To make the garland:
- Join your buttons/beads/pendants with a piece of embroidery silk or sewing thread. Remember to leave approximately 10cm (3″) of thread free of buttons at each end – this will give you enough to secure the garland.
- Lock each button in place by double stitching – this will stop them sliding merrily up and down the thread.
- When you have finished, wrap the garland around the gift and secure tightly with a knot and bow at the back of the gift.
To make the label:
- Attach your label with another safety pin.
- Decorate with the same buttons or beads you’ve used on the garland.
This would be a lovely gift wrap idea for a sewing book. You could have a specific project from the book in mind when choosing the fabric and embellishments – getting the recipient off to a flying start.
Do you have any favourite eco-friendly wrapping techniques?
[Images: © It's Organised.]
THIS TUTORIAL WAS FEATURES ON
OUR SUNDAY BEST SHOWCASE
Here’s my selection of craft goodness, found galavanting around the Internet this month…
If you are looking for some Valentine inspiration, here are some lovely projects…
These animal pegs are quick and easy to make, are great for clipping to children’s gifts or cards, or why not use them to close party bags.
You will need:
- animal shapes and labels (available on the free gift page)
- craft pegs
- hot-glue gun
- Gather supplies and cut out the animal shapes and labels from the PDF download.
- Glue the craft peg into position. Apply plenty of glue and make sure the peg is nestled well into place, allowing some glue to ooze out around the sides. This will ensure the peg doesn’t snap off sideways when you come to use it.
- Make sure the opening of the peg points towards the mouth of the animal.
- For the crocodile, you can fold the teeth down. The turtle also looks rather sweet with his feet folded down and his tail folded up. For the elephant, you can wrap his trunk around the label, to give the impression he is carrying it.
- You can now attach the label to your gift, bag or envelope with the peg.
You can download the animal shapes and cloud-shaped labels here. I hope you enjoy making these and most importantly, of course, that the recipient enjoys receiving them.
[Images: © It's Organised.]
I WAS FEATURED ON…
If you are looking for a gift that is quick and simple to make, but will be well used and much loved, these little microwave hand warmers are perfect.
For the fabric, I’ve chosen two pre-cuts from Moda – the 5” square Midwinter Reds and the 2.5” square Indigo Crossing, both by Minick & Simpson. As the warmers are small, it is a great project for using up fabric scraps. You can also make the dimensions smaller if you are making them as a gift for a child.
Per warmer, you will need:
- 2 x 12cm (5”) squares of cotton fabric
- 1 x 6cm (2.5”) square of cotton fabric
- Approx 100g (3.5oz) of rice
- Coordinating Thread
- A funnel
- If you are not using pre-cuts, cut and prepare the fabric pieces.
- Place the 6cm (2.5”) square in the centre of one of the 12cm (5”) squares and top stitch into place.
- Pin or baste the two 12cm (5”) squares together, rights sides facing. Mark a 5cm (2”) gap along one side with pins or tailor tacks to remind you to leave a gap for turning out.
- Using a 1cm (0.5”) seam allowance, machine sew the two pieces together – remembering to leave the gap on one side. I reverse stitched at the beginning and end to add strength. You will find a small stitch works best – this helps avoid rice grains working they way through the seam over time.
- Snip off the four corners.
- Turn the warmer right side out. Gently push out the corners and then press to neaten seams.
- Fill the bag with rice – aim for about three-quarters full.
- Pin the hole to stop the rice escaping and then slip stitch closed.
I used a paper strip and label – which includes instructions for use – to package the hand warmers in pairs. Microwaves vary, so let the recipient know it doesn’t take much to make these hot. And, always check the temperature before giving them to children.
If you would like to use the same label, you can find it on the free gifts page.
These are a great gift, easily made in under an hour. I think I need to give these away before they make their way into my own pockets.
[Images: © It's Organised.]