Family Handmade Christmas: How Our Family Did Christmas Presents This Year

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to make things.

However, this can make Christmas a little bit troublesome.  I want to craft a treasure for each person on my gift-giving list, but (in case you haven’t noticed) I’m terribly busy with growing and educating my family.  Crafting time is a bit hard to come by at times.  As a result, we haven’t sent out Christmas presents in years because I didn’t want to send handmade gifts to some people and generic store-bought gifts to others, just in case it caused hurt feelings.

That all changed this year.  I delegated the Christmas gift-giving list amongst members of our family and allowed everyone to partake in the joy and anticipation of giving to our extended family.  I think it was a smashing success and plan to continue with the practice for next year’s Christmas.

Unfortunately, this idea of delegation came to me in October, which didn’t allow for extravagant crafting, but it was fun nonetheless.  First, I wrote up the list of the people we I wanted to give gifts to and then we had a family meeting and everyone took turns choosing a name from the list and accepting responsibility for making their present.  I put a “handmade gift only” rule into effect because I was not about to open the gates of allowing a 7, 5 and 3 year old to run rampant through the mall, choosing any gifts they desired for their recipients.  I’m OK with spending a few dollars to purchase fabric and odds ‘n ends for projects; I am not OK with forking over $50 for some novelty monstrosity that my 3 year old thinks would make a good gift.

Our list of thirteen gift recipients was divided amongst five people, which meant the girls each made three gifts each and Michael and I were each responsible for only two.  A “Handmade Christmas” has an actual shot at success when you’re only responsible for making 2-3 gifts!

The girls LOVED making their gifts.  Bluebird put her newfound sewing skills to use and sewed up little lavender-stuffed heart sachets for two of her recipients, and I took her and Penguin to a ceramics studio to make a gift for one person on their lists.  Bluebird chose to paint a cappuccino mug with matching saucer for her Aunt Sandra and it turned out so incredibly cute that I would possibly have thought about keeping it for myself had Bluebird not painted a gigantic “S” on the saucer.

Penguin used her ceramic studio experience to paint a gift for…well, I can’t exactly say yet because I’m not sure if that particular family has received their box yet (I’m glaring at you, Canada Post, for this infraction).  We were at the ceramics studio for THREE hours as the two of them diligently tended to their projects.  I was so proud of their commitment to producing “good” presents.

Penguin also painted a picture for Granny and helped make a basketball-themed hair ribbon for her cousin Amber, who recently made it onto her high school’s JV basketball team as a freshman.

Junebug…knows what she wants to do and will allow nothing to distract her from accomplishing what she decides she is going to do.  She wanted to paint pictures for everyone on her list.  Period.  I tried to talk her into other ideas, but she was adamant–she would paint pictures for all three of her recipients.  So she did.  And I packaged them in gift bags with a big bag of Ghirardelli chocolates as a way to sweeten the deal.

Michael had big plans for his people, but a last minute business trip to Hawaii made it impossible for him to make his ideas tangible.  He ended up purchasing some thoughtful gifts for the people on his list.

I knitted for the people on my list.  (Shocking, I know.)  As luck would have it, I ended up with my mother and my father as my intended giftees and I made both of them hats.

My mother’s hat was hard to give away.  The pictures turned out terrible because lavender purple does not look cute when photographed in a lime green-painted room.  The pattern is Leafy Rosette Beret, by Amy Jansen and I enjoyed knitting it very much.  I used Berrocco’s Ultra Alpaca yarn in colorway 6283 “Lavender Mix,” and I’ve already used up the leftovers in a project for myself.  It’s a gorgeous shade of lavender.
My father’s hat was super soft and warm.  I made him a Turn a Square (designed by Jared Flood) from some charcoal Ultra Alpaca (#6289) and the leftover forest green yarn from the scarf I made for his wife a few years ago.  I have only one picture of it, and it’s while it was on the needles.  In my haste to get the packages out on time, I neglected to take photos of just about everythingHopefully I can avoid this error next year; or, better yet, hopefully the recipients of each gift will email me a picture of them enjoying their gifts, which I can then add to this post.
With Junebug’s insistence on sending pictures to people on her list, I “stole” one of her recipients and made him a hat.  He’s 17 years old and I’m quite sure the cuteness of a 3 year old’s painting would have minimal effect upon him.  He received the first Turn a Square that I ever made.  I made it earlier in the year because I felt prompted to make one to have on hand “just in case” come Christmas-time.  Awesome.
And that was that.  🙂  The day after Christmas we “chose” our names for next year.  With the success of this year’s gifting, we decided to expand our list to twenty-something people and changed up the selection process a tiny bit:
  1. Everyone got to hand-select one name up front.  We all get “perfect ideas” for random people, so I wanted to allow everyone a chance at creating at least one of those “perfect” gifts.
  2. We then drew the rest of the names out of a bowl to assign the remaining names.
  3. Each person had the opportunity to “trade” one of the names they drew for a name on someone else’s list, if the “owner” of that name was willing to trade.
  4. You could not have a name that you had last year.  (And, in future years, this rule will extend to the last two or three years…I’d like to avoid monopolies.)
Now we each have 5-6 names we are each responsible for and an entire year to work on the gifts.  I’ve sectioned off the next year and set up deadlines for gift-making–if they want to take advantage of this idea, then all their gifts will be completed by the end of September, thus allowing them total freedom in Halloween costume design and any other last-minute gifts they may wish to make for members of our immediate family during November and December.
So watch out Family, we ALL have our eyes on you in this next year…

Creepy Little Gingerbread Man

We’re experiencing a bit of the Winter Doldrums around here.  In an attempt to buck the gloominess of one particularly gray day, I spent naptime sewing up a little stuffie friend for Junebug.

Pattern:  Gingerman, designed by Cathy Gaubert, found in Fa La La La Felt by Amanda Carestio

Materials:  Eco-Felt, Embroidery Floss

We didn’t get to do a lot of Christmas crafting around here this past holiday season, so I think we’re making up for it by crafting in January and February and making big plans for this next Christmas.

I originally started this project with the intent of it becoming a little decoration for our home, but Bluebird and Penguin both exclaimed that Junebug would love it, so I figured…”Hey, why not?”  (Her blog codename really should be “Gingerbread Girl,” as she loves anything with a gingerbread person on it.)

When she woke up from her nap I presented her with the doll and the two has been inseparable ever since.  Another crafting success.

WIP: Space Blankie

I just realized that I haven’t done much reporting on my various creative pursuits in a while. Truth be told, summer doesn’t find me doing much crafting simply because we’re just so busy with all the various outdoor activities that accompany good weather. Crafting hits its stride in the colder months.

However, when I do find a spare moment, I have been working on this little blanket for Monkeyboy. You may remember that I posted about getting the fabric for it months ago, but actual construction has been very slow. I’m actually taking great pains on this particular project and binding the raw edges instead of my usual sew-the-edges-and-turn-it-right-side-out approach. Binding raw edges requires a once-around with the sewing machine and then a once-around with good old-fashioned hand sewing. I just like how it looks, so I do it that way sometimes. I’ve been running a timer while working on it to see how long it takes to do it this way and I’m up to five hours so far. I think it will take another six hours of work to finish it. Good luck coming up with that anytime soon!

Lazy Day Hat

You know how you’ll sometimes wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I’m going to accomplish something today”? I awoke today in such a mood and now Rabbit has a hat to show for it.

Pattern: Make It Perfect’s “Lazy Day Hat
Fabric: I know it’s still available in stores, but my particular cuts of both do not have the fabric information printed on them. Sorry!

There is a mistake in the pattern at the end–turn fabric B RIGHT SIDE OUT in order to match it up with the brim when you’re making the huge hat sandwich.

A quick project that is reversible and downright cute! There are moments where you just have to trust the pattern and go with it…it’s gets a little “Wha…?” at times.

Bluebird now wants a hat made from the sock monkey fabric and some random American Flag print I’ve got in the stash. I told her she needs to wait until I make an apron and a shoulder bag for myself. It’s time to reward myself for all this sewing I’ve been doing for everyone in the past week.



Rabbit’s Monkey Apron

I had hoped to complete this during last week’s “Super Homemaking Week,” but fell short by a few days. We just finished it this evening–me sewing, Rabbit standing by my elbow and cautioning me to “Watch yo fingahs…”

Pattern: Apron B from “Little Retro Aprons for Kids” by Cindy Taylor Oates
Fabric: Sock Monkey by Erin Michael #15071 (Moda), Red Gingham and some random piece of red with colored dots that I’ve had for forever, Canary Rick-Rack

I love little people in aprons. This is a size 4 (the smallest size in the book), so it’s a teeny bit big, but she’ll grow into it soon enough. I have enough Sock Monkey print leftover to do something big with…perhaps someday I’ll don a sock monkey apron myself, very fun.

Rabbit LOVES her apron! The first thing she said when I was fitting it over her head was, “Huwway! Now I can help Mama make some pancakes!” She loves her pocket and is convinced that there is a “liddle spoon” somewhere in the kitchen that she can carry in the pocket and whip out in a baking emergency. Oh, to be two years old and the proud owner of a brand new sock monkey apron…



Portabello Pixie "Claire" Peasant Top

Ignore the pants, it was an impromptu modelling session.

Pattern: Portabello Pixie “Claire” Peasant Top
Fabric: Dots–from the “Smores” collection by Me and My Sister Designs for Moda, Gingham–from my stash, more than likely bought at JoAnn’s some years ago.

This cute little top was pretty easy to make and a great way to break in my serger. Bluebird thinks it’s so funny that we made her a shirt from the scraps from her apron…I hope she doesn’t get it into her head to wear the two at the same time.

Shirring with elastic thread is fun stuff. Just be sure that you wind the bobbin without stretching the elastic at all–there’s a part where the elastic was stretched a teensy bit when I wound it and there’s a part where I was careful to keep it loose, and the loosely-wound stitching does look better. I don’t know what makes it look better, but it does look better.

I really want to make the dress that comes with this pattern, and Bluebird wants me to purchase the pants pattern so that she can have something to match her shirt. (Personally, I think it would be a little too much pink gingham on one little person.)

Amber’s Apron

My cousin, Amber, turns twelve this week; and she likes to help her mom out in the kitchen, so I thought an apron was a good birthday present choice for the dear girl. She’s one of my favorite people, and she’s named after me to boot (same middle name). You gotta remember the ones that are named after you! (I was even present at her birth…quite the experience for fourteen year old me!)

It’s Apron A from Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates and I used fabric from Sandi Henderson’s Farmer’s Market collection.

I am completely smitten with the fabric and I’ve been racking my poor, worn-out and exhausted brain trying to figure out a way to use the scraps in something else, but there aren’t too many scraps leftover. Wah.

Happy Birthday Ambone!

Cupcake Apron

Yes, I am slightly disturbed that she knows how to pose like that.

Pattern: Little Retro Aprons for Kids, by Cindy Taylor Oates, Pattern A-2
Fabric: Cupcakes–I’ve managed to discard all the selvage from this except for one piece that says “Robert Kau…”; Dots–from the “Smores” collection by Me and My Sister Designs for Moda, Pattern #22074

I am loving this apron, and Bluebird has warmed up to it since her lacklustre reception upon its completion. I am totally looking forward to making more of these babies! The pattern is very well-written, except for one tiny mistake that tells you to put the wrong sides together near the end, but it’s easy to catch and correct. I’ve also purchased the designer’s other two apron pattern books for adults…mwahahahaha, aprons galore!

Patching Up the Blankie

If you have a child who carries a blankie, you’ll totally understand the necessity of tending to whatever injuries the coveted item encounters. Rabbit’s blankie has had this ouchie for a while, but then it caught on something the other morning and tore some more and she seemed rather distraught about it–so I decided to do something about it.

I located some random pink gingham flannel (which isn’t too terribly random when you consider that this a house with three young girls living in it!), cut out a heart, hefted the sewing machine upstairs and started some intense blankie surgery, while Rabbit anxiously looked on.

End result: