Christmas gifts inspiration

November 20th, 2013

Yes, I know, I dropped the C-bomb.  Sorry, but if you are a seasoned crafter like me, or just fancy giving your loved ones gifts that are less commercial and more thoughtful, then you need to get cracking now.  Hand made gifts are lovely to make – I try and make at least a few for people.  I used to make more but they sometimes meet with mixed reactions from the recipients, so now carefully select those I make for!

Crafting takes more time than people usually allow themselves; to reduce the stress levels and actually enjoy crafting it’s best to start early.  This is advice that I haven’t always followed myself, and one year after having the bright idea of making a knitted cable blanket for a friend was desperately trying to dry/ block the blanket in time to wrap it and give her it.  Stress like that no one needs and stops you enjoying the process.

Christmas card

Sometimes inspiration comes from the people themselves throughout the year, and you may have already got cracking on your gifts (well done you!); other times you may think that you want to make something, aren’t sure what, or have an idea in your head but not know how to make your reality match your vision.  I thought I would share with you some amazing resources that have tons and tons of patterns and tutorials, and inspiration by the bucketload – all for free!

First up is Sew Mama Sew.  The site has changed a bit recently but is a fantastic resource for the crafter.  Each year it’s had a month long daily post with themed tutorials – for grandparents, for children, geeks.  You name it, there’s something there for everyone.  One of my favourites is the Dachshund pencil case

Dachshund pencil case

Dachshund pencil case

- how cute is this?  The handmade holiday posts are in addition to some amazing sewing tutorials all year round.  A nice touch for the posts this year are the extras at the end of the blog post where they post a couple of recipes for gifts too.  This Salty Caramel Sauce sounds amazing and may only get made for myself!  And you have links to printables too.  What more could you want? If you’ve not been on there yet, please go give them a visit.

Next up on the link love is The Purl Bee, by the New York store Purl Soho.  They have some seriously stylish tutorials and patterns on there, and if you’re worried about your gifts being a bit too handmade looking then this site is for you – very stylish, beautiful materials and elegant simple patterns.  It’s hard to pick a favourite pattern to show you, as they have patterns and tutorials for knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, weaving (which makes me really want to try weaving again) and general craft.

Their beautiful felt wreath: 

Felt Flower Wreath by The Purl Bee

Felt Flower Wreath by The Purl Bee

and the Every Day Tote bag -

Every Day Tote bag by The Purl Bee

Every Day Tote bag by The Purl Bee

how nice would this be maybe with something else inside like a scarf, a matching make up bag or kindle/tablet cover?  These could easily be made from the leftover bits of fabric.

There’s lots of elegant and stylish ideas there to keep any crafter inspired for hours.

Now, one of my favourite site is Tip Nut, and although unfortunately  it’s not being updated as often as it used to be it still is an amazing resource for pretty much everything.  I’ve been following this site for years and it’s a great collection of household hints (yes, I have reached the age where I can actually admit this!), recipes and lots and lots of crafting inspiration, with a round up of some amazing tutorials and patterns all arranged really nicely by theme or type.

tip nut picture

There’s sections to cover a wide range of crafts, and more ideas than you can shake a stick at.  My favourite bits are the holiday ornaments that were featured a few years ago, but since the site isn’t being updated you can’t find them, although I do have some vintage holiday ornaments to share with you that I originally got from here.

Other places to try are: How about Orange – a lovely and super stylish site by a really talented graphic designer that has tutorials, printables, how -tos, and round ups from around the web as well as showing the designer’s own amazing fabric and makes.

Martha Stewart has to be mentioned in any round up of crafting tutorials, and this lady should need no introduction!  Warning – you could spend hours on there!  Her wedding site is amazing too.

The talented  Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess also have so many resources for people to utilise, from making personalised calendars using Instagram pictures, to making coffee or cocktail syrups (what a lovely gift to make some of these up, and package them with some vintage glasses or a nice bottle of the person’s favourite tipple?  You could even print out some cocktail recipes and include some snacks if you wanted to really go for it!).  More cocktail syrups can be found here.

And last, but not least you can always follow some of my tutorials for stocking fillers:  a pillowcase shopping bag, a strawberry shopping bag, a folding shopping bag, or a knitted neck warmer.

Failing this, if you don’t find something on Pinterest, the Etsy blog, or Ravelry then I don’t know where you can!

My own tips for crafting for gifts is to allow as much time as you can so that you can enjoy the process of making and not making yourself really stressed out.  Once you’ve seen something that you would like to make for someone, think to yourself:

  • do I know how to actually do this, and if I don’t, can I realistically learn.  There’s no point in wanting to make someone a fancy bag when you can’t yet sew, and wouldn’t know where to start.
  • Do I have the equipment needed for this, or can I access it?  As with above, let’s be realistic; if you haven’t got access to a sewing machine for making something that requires one then you’re not making life easier for yourself!
  • Make a list of materials needed.  All of them.  If you have some of the things needed already great, but check what you do have as (trust me) there’s nothing more annoying when you think you have something to find you don’t, or don’t have enough!
  • Make a budget – handmade does not mean cheaper, and often to buy nice materials it can work out quite expensive, but if you have a budget it enables you to think creatively  - can you recycle fabric or yarn from something else, or can you source materials cheaply?
  • Allow time, and read the instructions carefully.  Don’t skip stages if you can’t be bothered to do them as it often affects the end result.
  • Have refreshments on hand (although wine and sewing machines don’t often mix well!) and some nice music to help the time pass.  Remember, this is fun!

I hope that this has inspired you to have a go at crafting, or to promote ideas – do share any other ideas you have with us.  And it’s all worth it when you know you’ve made someone really happy with a handmade gift x


4 Responses to “Christmas gifts inspiration”

  1. Vickyon 20 Nov 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I’m a big fan of hand made gifts and there are so many ideas here you can’t go wrong! Gorgeous post overall and I love that felt wreath xx

  2. Claireon 20 Nov 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Thankyou Vicky, I always treasure handmade gifts, and there really is something out there for everyone. Just need more hours in the day. I also love that wreath- so pretty it could stay up all year xx

  3. Helenon 28 Nov 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Lovely roundup – the dachshund pencil case is a winner! Great advice as well, there’s nothing like overreaching yourself with the Christmas crafting to bring on the stress!

  4. Claireon 09 Dec 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks Helen – I think the pencil case may need to be made at some point soon!

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