Holiday Crafting

We’ve taken about two weeks off for the holidays, and other than a whirlwind 3-day tour of the various grandparents’ homes, we are staying put and enjoying long, slow days with nothing planned. I have been using the time to indulge myself in various projects.

Before I get to the photos, I have to point out that my “camera” is actually a crappy old cell phone (RIP Nexus 4, which suffered an untimely death 3 weeks after I got it). The colours don’t do any justice to the pieces, so you’ll just have to imagine them brighter and bolder!

I managed to whip up a couple of gifts before Xmas. The first was a quilted wine bottle tote for my mother. Mum loves her wine, and she enjoys bringing bottles when she visits with her friends. This handy tote will allow her to carry her bottles in style, and the handle ensures they won’t be dropped. I used this tutorial from Needle and Spatula.

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I also made a set of Xmas-themed potholders for my Mother-in-Law. These mini tumblers were too cute to resist. If I’m going to make any more of these, however, I think I’ll treat myself to a tumbler ruler to make the cutting job go faster. I used this pattern from Fons and Porter. Honestly, I regret paying over $7 (it was in US funds) for such a simple pattern: I just needed to know the dimensions of the tumbler and from that point on I could have done it myself. But it was so close to Christmas and I panicked. I felt a bit better when I realized the pattern was made by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company, who is also a Craftsy instructor, and one of my early inspirations for quilting (they have great instructional YouTube videos for quilting from pre-cuts).

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That was all I managed to get done before we left for Xmas visiting and gift-giving. Our “big” gifts for the grandparents (we have three sets of them) were framed family photos. We did a professional family photo shoot and had them printed up. It has been years since anybody has had shots of the whole family, or good shots of the kids (both smiling, no goofy faces, everyone in focus). They were much appreciated.

Coming home it was wonderful to know I had 10 days of NOTHING ahead of me. No plans, nowhere to go, nobody to drive around. Just pure, stay-home, indulgence. We’re a family of homebodies so to us, this is a great way to spend the holidays. Me, I’m using it to indulge in lots of sewing projects and finally cross some of them off my “wish” list.

I’m super proud of this one: it’s a zippered pouch with an inside pocket and detachable strap for Miss Em. She loves to ride her bike to the store 2 km away, buy some treats, and check our mailbox (we have a rural mailbox; it does not get delivered to our home). I give her my cell phone in case she needs to call. She used to put it all in a plastic ziploc bag, but now she has this lovely pouch that she can attach to her bike basket so it doesn’t fall out.

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I got the pattern from Dog Under My Desk. At first I had planned to just make something using a freebie pattern, but when I saw her Essential Wristlet I knew this was what I wanted to make. I have to say it was excellent and worth every penny. Wonderful illustrations and very clear instructions made the whole process smooth and frustration-free. I am so happy with how it turned out – it looks great and Miss Em was so happy with it. Needless to say I’m spending some of my own Xmas money on fabric to make a few more of these.

Another project I’ve been wanting to try is this Drawstring Bag tutorial from In Color Order. I often need a bag for bringing my knitting along with me, tossing in some fabric scraps and bobbins to match thread at the fabric store, or any other little bunch of things that need a bag. It’s so much nicer than using plastic and these can easily be made in any size.

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The instructions were clear and easy to follow (and free!) but it’s a very simple project so even a total beginner should have little trouble with it. This would make a lovely (and useful) gift wrap as part of a present for someone. It’s a great way to use up orphaned fabric, too. I’m going to make some bigger ones for putting laundry in when travelling (not that I do much of that), storing excess fabric, and anywhere else I currently have plastic bags in use.

The next project I want to try is making fabric baskets. I have found a number of tutorials online and am looking forward to having some lovely storage options around. I’ve just purchase a very inexpensive shelving unit for the bedroom to deal with the overflow of sewing and quilting supplies, and having some pretty fabric baskets to store things in would look so much nicer than a jumble of plastic bags.


I can’t find a pattern or tutorial for these, but after I’ve done a few simpler ones I think I could pull off something like this.

I’m really enjoying sewing functional items that I can whip up in a day, that use relatively little fabric (unlike quilts), and don’t need to be stored in a trunk or hung on a wall. But rest assured, I’m not done with quilting. I ordered a bunch of wonderful patterns and when they arrive I will get started on them. One thing about small sewing projects: I find them hard to put down so I need a fair amount of free time to make them. Quilting is easier when time is short because it’s done in small steps anyway.

Enjoy the holidays!