Tag Archives: handmade gifts

Curtains for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  I will be celebrating next weekend because my husband is in the middle of a big work thing right now, but I did get flowers.

For my Mother’s gift this year I made her some new curtains to replace the old, faded ones above the kitchen sink.

Pretend that strip of fabric up top is gathered into a nice ruffle…

My Dad gets some of the credit for this gift.  A while back he noticed how faded the old curtains were getting and he asked if I would be interested in making some new ones as a gift for my Mom.  When the curtains were originally made my parents bought the whole bolt of fabric and a lot of it was left.  He and a friend were going to be driving down from Seattle to Reno to bring me some furniture I was inheriting, so my Dad smuggled the leftover bolt of fabric into the car and brought it along.

Later, when I was visiting my parent’s, my Dad and I took the curtains down when my Mom wasn’t around and measured them.  I also studied the construction a bit.  They are very simple curtains with a ruffle above.

In addition to the new curtains, I made my Mom some matching hot pads since she liked the ones I made for my sister so much.  Hot pads may be my new favorite thing to make!

Matching hot pads.

I changed the pattern a bit from the ones I made for my sister.  I cut them a bit smaller, but the biggest change is with the loops.  I did them totally differently, copying some hot pads I own.  I like this new way a lot better!  I am thinking of doing a tutorial on making these hot pads.  Is there any interest?

Finally, I also made some Lemon-Almond Biscotti, which I gave to my Mom, as well as my Grandma and sister.  They are really tasty!  I got them from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Lemon-Almond Biscotti

Did you make anything for Mother’s Day?  Did you enjoy some good food?



Filed under Sewing

Yet Another Apron Not For Me

I seem to be on an apron kick lately.  I have made three in the last eight months, and not much else.  I guess making aprons is an easy way to satisfy the itch to sew without having to bother with all of the pattern tracing/fitting/etc. involved in garment sewing.

I really like the fabric I chose!

The latest apron apron is a (belated) birthday gift for my sister. I used the same pattern as the apron I made for my Grandma at Christmas:  the “Short Pleated Apron” from Amy Butler’s book In Stitches.

I love this pattern!  It is fairly quick to make and very satisfying to sew, plus you get to use fun prints.  I really must make one for myself one of these days!

Me modeling the apron.

I had a fun experience buying the fabric for this apron.  We have a great local yarn shop here called Jimmy Beans Wool (they also sell their products online – check them out!).  They recently moved to a new location and started carrying fabric.  I decided to check out the new store and buy fabric for the apron all in one trip.  When I got to the shop, I was disappointed to find that they only had the yarn and related knitting/crochet paraphernalia on display.  No fabric to be found!

When I asked a salesperson if I could order fabric online and pick it up at the store (I can), she said I could go back to the warehouse and shop, as long as there was someone back there to help me.  I had the place to myself, and the woman working the fabric orders was very helpful and friendly.  It felt like a private shopping experience!  No line waiting for my fabric to be cut!

Hot pads!

In addition to the apron, I also made my sister two coordinating hot pads.  The hot pads pattern came from the book One-Yard Wonders.  Making the hot pads was a revelation!  So easy to create custom hot pads or oven mitts.  I may never buy hot pads again!


Filed under Sewing

Hot Cocoa Mix

For teacher/aide/bus driver/therapist gifts this year I made homemade hot cocoa mix and marshmallows.

The hot cocoa mix was fun and easy to make!  The hardest part was finding all the ingredients.  The key to making good cocoa mix is to use whole milk powder.  That was the hardest ingredient for me to find.  I ended up with Nido Fortificada, which I found in the Hispanic food section at Walmart.  It is also available on Amazon.com: Nestle Nido Instant Dry Whole Milk Powder.

The flavor of the hot cocoa is delicious!  Very smooth and chocolatey and not too sweet.  Usually when I drink hot cocoa I end up with a sickly, sweet taste in my mouth and that did not happen with this cocoa mix.

Making the marshmallows was quite an adventure!  It took me three tries to get it right (I would not have made a fourth attempt).  The problem was my candy thermometer.  Apparently if the liquids are not deep enough, it does not read accurately.  I ended up burning my sugar-syrup badly!

I packaged the hot cocoa mix and marshmallows in little bags, with enough of each to make about 4 servings.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Adapted from Alton Brown of The Food Network

(click here to print)

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2½ cups powdered whole milk (I used Nido brand)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly.  Can be stored indefinitely in an air-tight container.

 To Serve:

Fill a mug about a third full with the hot cocoa mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine.


Filed under Cooking

Short Pleated Apron

I have been very busy with cooking and sewing projects so I have a lot to fill you in on!  You will hopefully be seeing a flurry of posts from me in the next few days.

First up is this cute apron I made for my Grandma.  When she asked for an apron for Christmas this year, I jumped at the chance to make her one!

The pattern comes from Amy Butler’s book In Stitches.  It’s a great pattern!  It is pretty quick to make and has some wonderful little details.

I love that the apron is pleated instead of gathered:

It has a cute little pocket:

And I love this little pleat where the tie meets the waistband:

I had to give up on a couple of the sewing gifts I had planned to make this year because I just ran out of time.  The fabric for these items is already cut out, so soon after Christmas I hope to sew them up and then I will have a couple of gifts ready to go!


Filed under Sewing

Hand Made Gifts 2011: Knit

Welcome to my next installment of hand made holiday gift ideas!  This time we’re doing a roundup of gifts you can knit.

Rick Rack Scarf

Let’s get one of the more obvious choices out of the way: a scarf.  It’s pretty much one-size-fits-all.  I really like the texture of this scarf from The Purl Bee.  It’s fresh and modern.  You can find the pattern here.

Rick Rack Scarf

Neck Warmer

If you don’t have time to knit a whole scarf, how about a cowl or neck warmer?  This one I found at Jimmy Beans Wool looks quick and easy!  Here are the instructions.


Crown Hat

These little hats are really fun to knit, and kids love wearing them!  I made this one for my niece last year.  The pattern isn’t free, but you can purchase and download a copy here at KnitPicks.

Crown Hat

Bell Ornaments

Finally, a super-quick little pattern for some Christmas bell ornaments (I saw someone do these with silver yarn to make Wedding bells).  These would be a great first knitting project!  Or use them to decorate a wrapped gift.  I made these for my Gran many years ago.  I found these instructions that look very similar to the bells I made.

Knit Bells

Christmas Bells

Hopefully my next gift-related post will about an actual gift that I have made this year!

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Filed under Knitting

Hand Made Gifts 2011: Sewn

This time of year my mind turns to the idea of making holiday gifts for friends and family.  I always have more ideas than what I actually have time for, but I do have a few hand made gifts in the works this year (more on those as they get finished!).

To get your creative juices flowing I will be doing a series of posts with lots of ideas for gifts to make and give.  This first one will focus on gifts that are sewn.  Most of these are ideas and images I have gathered from around the web.  Let’s get started!

Zippered Pouch

This cute little zippered pouch can be a gift on it’s own or be used to hold a gift card, special lotion, or other small gift.  Made by Skip to my Lou, click here for the pattern and a tutorial.

Tote Bag

Tote bags are a fun and practical gift.  Make one to match the zippered pouch or showcase a cute fabric.  The tutorial for this bag can be found here at Skip to my Lou.

Shoe Bags

Shoe bags are another useful gift.  I made these ones for my husband several years ago and he uses them every time he travels.  They were made using a heavyweight flannel, shoe strings, and plastic toggles.  I don’t remember which pattern I used (if any), but here are a couple good tutorials:  Shoe Bag Tutorial and Martha’s Velvet Shoe Bags.

Felt Ornaments

From The Purl Bee, these adorable felt ornaments don’t require a sewing machine. I can see them in a rainbow of beautiful colors!  Use them to decorate your gifts this year!  Click here for instructions.

Embellished Dish Towels

Made by Aesthetic Nest, these dish towels are another simple way to give a personalized gift.  Buy some plain white dish towels and sew on rick rack in your loved one’s favorite colors.  See how to make them here.


If you have a little more time, pajamas are always a nice gift to make and receive.  For men’s pajama pants I highly recommend Kwik Sew 2257, which I made last year.  For women, Kwik Sew 2811 is a great pattern for classic pajamas.  Both of these patterns produce very professional results.  You really can’t go wrong with Kwik Sew for children’s pajamas too!

What gifts are you making this year?

Edited 12/7/2011 – to make it more clear that most of the items pictured were not made by me.  🙂


Filed under Sewing

Kwik Sew 2257 – Men’s Pajama Pants

I mentioned last month that I was making two of my Christmas gifts this year.  The first was a knitted “crown” hat for my niece.  The second was a pair of pajama pants for my husband.  He asked for a robe for Christmas this year, so I decided he needed a pair of matching pajama pants. I somehow managed to get these made without him knowing I was sewing something for him.  I even worked on them while he was home one day!

Pajama Pants

To make the pants I used Kwik Sew 2257.  What a great pattern!  Easy to sew with very professional results.  This is the third time I’ve used this pattern.  I first made these pants back in 2002 when I had been sewing for only a few months and they were a big hit.

Pajama pants make a great gift because they don’t require a lot of fitting.  All you need to know is pants size, and you will get a good fit (at least with this pattern!).  I purposefully left these pants unfinished so I could refine the fit after Christmas.  When I made these before they were a little long, so I wanted to get the length just right this time.

For the final touch, I added one of my personalized labels:


See my original pattern review here (note: you may need to be a paying member of PatternReview to view this since it’s such an old review).

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“Loved” Crown Hat

Crown Hat

Teddy "Modeling" the Crown

The first Christmas gift I made this year was the “Loved” crown hat for my niece.  I used KnitPicks’ Comfy Bulky yarn.  I first saw this pattern last spring and I immediately thought it would be perfect for my niece.  I even used the same colors of yarn that were featured by KnitPicks because I thought the colors were perfect too.

This was a very satisfying project to knit, at least until I got to the end.  As a pretty new knitter, this pattern provided the opportunity to practice some skills I haven’t had much opportunity to use, and it was quick to knit.  This is a great pattern for an advanced beginner looking to practice increases and decreases!


The Inside of the Crown

Now we get to the unsatisfying part of the project…  The hat is sewn from the bottom, up to the crown tips, and then down the inside to where the colors change.  It is then bound off and the inner “lining” is seamed.  Well, my bound off edge wasn’t stretchy at all!  It affects the fit of the hat, and will reduce the amount of time my niece will be able to wear it.  I’m sure the problem was caused by my inexperience, but it is disappointing.  I also did not enjoy the seaming because I have never seamed before and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing.

All in all I enjoyed this project, and the finished crown sure is cute.

Any knitters out there know where I went wrong with the bind off?

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Filed under Knitting

Handmade Christmas Gifts

Every year about this time I get the urge to make many of my Christmas gifts.  I have a lot of ideas of things I’d like to make for various people.  My ideas range from sewing small items like toiletry bags,  to sewing clothing items, to making food gifts.  In fact, I have more ideas of things I’d like to make than I have time to actually make them.  I know I could start earlier in the year, but that’s just not how I operate.  With a little planning I probably could start in early November and have time for a few more gifts.

This year I have settled on two items I am going to make as gifts.  I can’t reveal what they actually are until after Christmas, but here are a couple of hints:

Knitted Gift

It looks like I might be knitting something...

Sewing Pattern

Preparing a Pattern for Sewing

What, if anything, are you making for gifts this year?


Filed under Knitting, Sewing