Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas Sewing

I got up bright and early. I pushed, pulled and tugged my way through my fabric collection. I amassed a pile of flannel to be pre-washed. I pulled some pretty lovelies for doll dresses...and I pulled pj patterns and 18" doll clothes patterns from the formidable pattern stash...and I stalled! I just stalled!

Why do you ask? Because every year, I get to this point and then have to talk my way past it! You know the point I'm referring to...the question we all ask ourselves when we sew for family members and strangers..."Will they really appreciate my efforts?" "Will they really care that I've poured my heart and soul into these pieces?" or "Will they think I'm just being cheap because I didn't purchase something from the store?"

Some years I successfully make it past that point...and some years I just give into the lure of retail...last year I gave in! This year, I am trying to be more economically reasonable and make what I can...but again I can hear the questions...always the questions...asking me if my efforts will be appreciated!

Now I know I will have to give in and make one very limited trip to ToysRus...my grandson loves pjs but he loves the latest new action figure so much more! My niece will love the doll clothes but my nephew will need something that whirls and makes noises to complete his gift! And that I totally understand ~ they are small children and Christmas is suppose to be about wrapping paper and gifts and all the things that you don't normally get during the year!

I know my mom will appreciate the silk organza apron I'm going to make her...especially because it will have the bracelet she's been lusting after stuck into the apron pocket...but it's those other gifts...the luscious cut velvet scarf, or the silk charmeuse nightgown...or the really funky lace and ribbon nightgown for my niece that I worry over...will they be appreciated?!

I've pulled out all my materials...patterns, fabrics and notions...they are all piled and ready to be used...and instead I'm working on my red jacket! Because hey, I know I'm gonna like it! *LOL*

So the "Question of the Day" is "Do you sew Christmas Gifts?" And if you do, who do you sew for? Are they appreciated or do your family members, friends, co-workers prefer gifts purchased from a retail outlet? Or do you not subject yourself to the fact oohh's and aahh's, instead guarding your precious sewing talent waiting for a better moment to share?

Do you sew gifts for Christmas?

52 comments:

  1. This year I will sew some Christmas gifts. My neice and nephew picked out their patterns and fabric a couple months ago. My nephew wants jammies and my neice a dress. And my brother-in-law is obsessed with John Deere tractors (and I ean OBSESSED, to the point that he has a set of dishes with tractors on them), so since I found fleece printed with John Deere logos, he'll be getting a fleece robe for Christmas. I also have some John Deere cotton in the stash to make a laptop bag for him for whatever holiday I may need it for!

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  2. Yes, I sew for grandchildren and my mother but I have long given up hearing compliments or even thank yous. I sew for my spirit, to create, to produce lovely heartwarming things that no matter whether people appreciate them or not....thay are damn well going to get them....ha ha My mother has given away everything I have ever made for her, even a gorgeous wool coat with piping that she says does not fit (it has raglan sleeves and fits everyone).One year you will not be able to steal time to make things but while you can you should make an effort and think maybe just maybe these things will be handed down...buy some labels with your name and stitch them on just in case.

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  3. I used to when money was tighter and there were so many gifts needed like teachers and such. I am much pickier about wasting my limited sewing time these days especially for anyone who would prefer retail. As for me I cannot buy rtw without remaking it (have a load of alterations that need to happen on new rtw I have purchased out of desperation). The answer is for me this year is no sewing for others. I have grandsons and make pjs, boxers, fun pillowcases,etc for happies during the year but these are done during less busy times or when I want something special for them. mssewcrazy

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  4. I make all my Christmas and birthday gifts, and I have a BIG gift list. Here's how I do it now: throughout the year, as I make birthday gifts, I make an extra thing I think that person will like. At the end of October, I post photos of everything I've put away for Christmas on a flickr site and ask my family members to pick what they want. My goal is twofold: to give people gifts they want and like (obviously) but also to learn more about their individual tastes. It's actually rare that anyone picks the gift I'd made with them in mind, but hopefully everyone's happy with what they end up getting. You can see this year's "Christmas Boutique" here: http://tinyurl.com/6ljh4a

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  5. I make presents for Christmas, but I have become wiser over the years and now only make things that I enjoy making. This year I am making smocked dresses or tops for my 7 nieces, and although I hope they are appreciated, I have already gained enormous pleasure just in sitting down to smock and sew them. I usually also make something for my mother, because she never likes anything from the shops!

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  6. I have done both, before. I cross-stitched alot in the last few years when I would be on bed rest and pregnant, so one year, both my mom and mother-in-law got home sweet home pieces that were in their colors and decor since they were both in their new homes. I have also made wallhangings that were handquilted. This year, my daughters and sons are getting pj pants if they are able to be finished in time. Beyond that, the girls' Christmas Mass dresses will take up my time. Teachers may get crocheted scarves since I already have 2 done & I need 3.
    And, yes, I do get stalled by the insecurity of whether they will like it or appreciate it. Sometimes, finances are such that I don't care and just do it.

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  7. If you're getting anything from me this year, I made it!

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  8. I know what you mean--I knit and sew loads of stuff every year. SOME of it is appreciated. Some not.

    I bought some Simpson fabric for PJs for my nephew this year only to find out he does not like the Simpsons. Ugh. What now?

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  9. I used to sew for the kids in the family and i sew for my home daycare kids,swirly dresses for the girls and shirt pants and tie for the boys.One year i made floor length nightgowns for the girls and then each year after they aked for the same thing but it wasn't always easy to find nice(cheap)fabric.
    I sometimes think i like the planning stage the most ,sometimes i avoid the trickier sewing bits for way too long!

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  10. Hashi's idea is brilliant! I make a lot of my Christmas gifts and always have. Some years it's all retail because of my work schedule. One thing I have learned is that people enjoy the simple gifts (fleece blankets, pillows) as much or more than the complex gifts. I think people feel that they have to take special care with the complex gifts. I make things that I think the person will use. This year there's going to be a lot of tie dye under the tree!

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  11. I normally don't, but this year, I decided to make more gifts. There were a few patterns that I wanted to try out that I thought would make great gifts (good excuse to try the pattern out) and also because I found a pattern that I loved making so much, I couldn't help myself - so every woman in my family is getting one, like it or not!

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  12. I do sew gifts and have an embroidery machine, so that makes it really easy to personalize a gift. Sometimes I make the whole gift to embroider, like fleece jackets, and then sometimes I buy blanks and just embroider something fantastic on it (that counts as semi-homemade, doesn't it?) I knit everybody scarves one year because I couldn't stop knitting them. I am getting into felting now, so next year will probably be the year of the slipper! Other crafter's appreciate the love you put into your gifts. Mary

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  13. I'm making my mom an outfit and that's it. Maybe something more but I'm not sure.

    We will see how it goes. But I understand your reluctance. It's hard when people don't appreciate it.

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  14. I do sew Christmas gifts for my immediate family members. This year, I made one gift for each member and included a store bought gift. I'm actually done with my Christmas shopping. I just need to go to the post office.

    I enjoy making something and giving it to the person and seeing their expression.

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  15. yes, i sew (and knit) christmas presents, though nothing really complicated or involved. i've done aprons, pj pants, bathrobes, scarves, etc. only for family also (well, that's all i exchange gifts with anyway).

    i do make quilts as presents, but i don't think i've ever done one for christmas. only new babies and birthdays.

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  16. I've made Christmas gifts for people, but only if I know they'll appreciate the effort. Last year I made pj pants for my sister and she loved them! I also made some smock aprons for her friend who had Lou Gehrig's disease. She also appreciated them since she had difficulty swallowing ande need a cover up to eat. I really got more from that gift than Carla did, since I knew it was something she really needed to maintain her dignity.

    But if I make you a gift and you don't appreciate it, I'm done. No more handmade stuff for you! Maybe not even stuff from the store.

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  17. I made some gifts last year for two co-workers. They truly appreciated the framed embroidery pieces I made.

    I use to sew more gifts in the past. Particularly when my Mom was alive. She always appreciated her gifts very much and I always loved sewing something special for her.

    I have made things for my MIL. But they are always hit and misses with her. So now I give her a gift card so she can buy what she wants.

    I made a few gifts for our ASG Christmas party that was yesterday. Those seem to be good items.

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  18. I use to sew several gift for Christmas. This year will be the first year I will not sew anything for gift giving. I did help dd#3 make several gifts but my sewing time is limited right now so I am sewing for me. Good luck with your gift making.

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  19. What a good question. Every year I make a lot of my gifts and so far all have been appreciated. My friend still talks about the pj's I made her son one year and he'll be 18 in Feb. but this year my friend told me she didn't want "no damn apron" she wants me to make her the McCalls 5758 fleece jacket but I can't do that and not give one to my other two friends so she's getting an apron and maybe a jacket after the holidays. I think homemade gifts are always better and people do appreciate your efforts.

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  20. I knit and sew gifts. Like the camera strap in a favorite teams fabric. :) I also make the girls flannel PJ pants in a cute print and things for friends' dogs.

    I mostly do it because the fabric reminds me or them or for feeding the soul. With Abby being in the vet's and everything up in the air - I'm sewing to soothe my soul right now more than any other reason. g

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  21. I sew pjs, luxury pillowcases, wraps, scarves and sometimes shirts and quilts, They have all been appreciated. But I sew only for family and close friends who I knwo will appreciate what I make. I have learned the hard way that some people just don't get it.

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  22. I sew for my co workers and also for my nieces. Their mother has requested aprons. My co workers are getting (if I get my act together) oven mits in Christmas fabric.

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  23. I make a variety of gifts, especially for my sisters. They always love what I give, but the items are easy to please items like knit scarves, handmade jewelry, pj's, gowns etc. I probably would not put all the effort in a garment, due to the personal differences in taste, fit etc. Right now I am making 4 kimono robes for me and my three sisters. We will wear these when we go to a spa for pampering after the 1st of the year. I have also made a lot of items like ornaments, handmade Christmas stocking and jewelry bags. I enjoy these kinds of items and they always seem appreciated.

    Karendee

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  24. I like to sew gifts, but I don't have time for many. My sons are at that age where they want video games rather than shirts. They always love PJs and bathrobes, but I get really tired of making those every year, so I'm going to pass on it. I made a top for my niece.

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  25. no sewn gifts here unless I'm gifting it myself, which is always, lol

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  26. Carolyn, gurl … I feel your pain!

    This year I made "personalized, custom made sleepwear" for several family members. That means I bought t-shirts (personalized with favorite sports teams or alma maters) and sewed matching pajama bottoms. I know some family members will appreciate them and one family member in particular will not. At times, sewing the pajama bottoms seemed like a chore. I can get myself into a real Scrooge mood and resent the whole process. But, I try to focus on the people whom I know will appreciate the time and effort put into the gifts. It ain't always easy!!!

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  27. No sewing for others. I bake cookies for gifts. Last year, I put together a huge tray of cookies and everyone got to pick the cookies that they wanted. This frees me from the stress of wondering if I made something that they wanted or running out of time due to my work schedule.

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  28. I think only other crafters/knitters/sewers truly appreciate the effort that goes into handmade gifts. I know it's supposed to be all about the joy of giving, but I say bah humbug! Unless it's for economical reasons, I'd only use my precious sewing time for those who will appreciate it - and that would mainly be ME! LOL

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  29. It depends on my mood and my schedule. A couple of years ago I did aprons for the females in my family. We all live far apart so, if they didn't like them I have no idea! This year I'll make a couple of skirts for my daughter. If I get inspired another year I may sew for others but overall, I'm a selfish seamster, lol!

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  30. Hi Carolyn:
    I have, on occasion made gifts for my brothers and husband; specifically, vests and shirts. I know they were appreciated because I observed them being worn again and again and again. I sometimes think that men appreciate that extra personal effort of a custom gift more than women. If I had more time, I would be sewing their gifts this year....they, also, appreciate my baking because they did not marry bakers! This year my five year old son and I are making a small dove sachet out of fabric, velvet ribbon, and dried lavender from our garden. I wanted him to have a chance to "help" make something for his teachers, grandmas, aunts, etc.--This gift will be from him and will likely include a photo of him in the process along with a card that he makes for the receipient. There will be fabric, a pattern, and a small amount of machine sewing; he can hardly wait. I may be wrong, but coming from him, I do think these gifts will be appreciated! Linda

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  31. I stopped after I foundation pieced a small-scale Amish quilt with 3/4" triangles in colors to match my sister in law's livingroom. Of course, I only used quality quilt-store fabrics with high thread count.

    The next Christmas, I saw that she had tacked it up over a window with NAILS driven right through the quilt. It only represented 20 or so hours of my time. (That would be thousands at my PhD billable rate.)

    This woman has filled her home with cheap imported stuff and wouldn't know quality if it bit her. I am on strike. My husband is in charge of shopping for his family. My family has called gift detente.

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  32. I do some gift sewing, but only for those who I know will appreciate it. I don't have the time or energy to create for those who would really prefer something less nice, with a store label on it. To them, hand made doesn't mean made with care and thought, it means "you were too cheap to go to the store and buy me something."

    Co-workers get wine and/or cookies, depending on the level of gift-giving involved; with most friends, we just agree to take ourselves out one night after the holidays are over. BF and his family get a mix of me and RTW, depending.

    If it makes you feel good to sew for others, then go for it. If you think it's going to cut into your "sewing for Carolyn" time, when you don't have enough of that to begin with, then go shopping and sew the stuff that makes you happy.

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  33. I sew gifts for those who really appreciate my sewing: my kids, my parents, my Grandmother... I also am sewing teachers gifts and my step-siblings kids.

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  34. YES! I sew for Christmas. My youngest grandson 4-1/2 gets space themed shirts and matching pants. Last year all the women in the family got their choice of two chiffon scarves; the year before I made covers for composition books, we offered a choice of book types and the pens were color coded to the colors of the fabrics I used. This year everyone is receiving pencil bags and our newly discovered grand-daughter (it's a long story) is getting artist's pencils and brushes to put inside her case. I am also making an elderly, much loved Aunt a reversable shawl (and probably one for our daughter-in-law) using the Sensational Shawl, a L.J. Designs/The Sewing Place WWW.TheSewingPlace.com; and my husband wants a smoking jacket. Only my sister-in-law seems not to appreciate hand work. So what? We often give other gifts also, but I always make something for everyone. Sew--do what your heart tells you.

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  35. I do not make gifts anymore. Not after getting several nasty comments from my mother about the gifts. And no thanks from other people, either. It's not worth my time or effort or even my heart to give like that anymore. I was burned burned burned. I have decided not to gift any gifts at all, to anyone. They can buy what they want that makes them happy, something they've reminded me that I can't do for them. So be it. I gave up on christmas several years ago. It's good that I don't have kids, they'd be miserable because I just can't find it in my heart to have the spirit of the season any more!

    But it's nice that so many other people are so giving. I wish I knew you all personally!

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  36. My standard gift for years for my mom, MIL, and aunt-in-law was a nightgown of some kind. Usually it was a sleeveless, yoked and gathered knee-length gown. I did a marathon cutting session, then assembly line sewing so everything was done at the same time.

    Now that my mom and his aunt are gone and my time frame for sewing is much different than it used to be, I haven't sewn gifts for anyone for a few years. (Although I may finish a jacket for my daughter after Christmas when she is here for me to finish fitting it on her!)

    But I can say that all three women looked forward to the new nighties every year. His aunt especially was bemoaning the loss of one nightie due to an emergency health situation where the emt's cut off one of her newer gowns to take care of her. I made sure she got a new one sooner than Christmas that year. And I used up a lot of cotton blend fabric from my collection!

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  37. For the most part I do a lot of sewing for Christmas. And as far as your question goes... sure I suppose there are a few that may not appreciate all the work. But, if I'm happy with the effort and the results... and I've made it with love. Then I've done my part! The rest is up to the receiver! Even if you buy something... it's no guarantee that someone will love what you bought them. So, put the time, talent and love into what you want to do (whether you make or buy) and if they aren't happy... at least you gave it your best effort. Hang in there... you would be surprised how often people will think about all the effort you made to make something you know that they will love.
    That is the most important part... you are giving of yourself... you made the effort. Don't let anyone tell you different! Happy Sewing!

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  38. I sew for some and not for others: I made an apron for a moms' group gift exchange - it was greatly appreciated... especially when they discovered I'd made it.

    I've given up sewing for my ILs... not a bit of appreciation (but that's the way it is with them for most things!).

    I do a combo of handmade/store-bought for others.

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  39. I am a "selective gift sewist". I love doing it but at this stage know clearly who appreciates my efforts. They are the only ones who get my creative gifts. Everyone else is the retail surprise. Time has its advantages!

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  40. Wow, I'm number 40 but I just had to comment!!! :) I have hand-made all non-kid presents for the past 5 years, and no, my family does NOT appreciate the stuff I make for them. Jewelry, crocheted scarfs and afghans and accessories, really time-consuming and fairly expensive stuff (I usually end up spending more on supplies than if I'd just run to the Walmart and buy them a whatever). I've actually had the "not a scarf, please" more than once. I've NEVER seen anything I've made for anyone after Christmas day, most of the time they don't even take it out of box to look at it!! But I still do it, every year. Kinda like the little kid who keeps trying to get A's so someone will say "good job!". I keep thinking one of these years I'll get it right :)

    AND it has soured me a little, I must admit. For instance, the fur vests I'm making now- I debated underlining because the lining against the wrong side of the faux fur is a bit unsmooth. Then I remembered it's not going to see the light of day so I skipped it. When I make my own vest, the underlining is going in!

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  41. I only make gifts for those who appreciate them. I was hurt very badly by a family member one year over a very labor intensive and time consuming gift. Needless to say, I had to learn my lesson the hard way.

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  42. Yes. Always. For the select few who appreciate it. So this year it's little boy Hawaiian shirts, and knit shirts and embroidered kitchen towels and bags. Large roomy, tote-the-kitchen-sink sized bags. With interior pockets!

    Like Summerset, I too had the bad experience of doing couture work for a family member, only to have things not work out. Those folks get gift certificates.

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  43. I do make Christmas gifts every year and enjoy it. When we used to do a family exchange they would fight to have me draw their name- they wanted fleece stuff I made.
    This year, I lost my job. So I will be making a larger share of the presents. We just can't afford to buy them all.

    My mom makes my teen boys stuff every year. They love it. She does pj bottoms and boxer shorts. Flannel and cotton. They brag to their sports team friends in the locker room about their grandma boxers. One kid even asked our grandma for his own. She sent them, of course. Making something for the grandkids is wrapping them in love. Don't sweat it. They will love it and it will last longer than any action figure. And they know you care.

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  44. I have pretty much decided that my hand made gifts are not appreciated. I remember making a dress for my mom and a skirt for my aunt that they really liked. What was the difference? They both sewed and knew the love that went into hand made gifts.

    On the other hand, I LOVE hand made gifts. I rarely get any, however.

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  45. Carolyn and all, making gifts is a "greener" option than buying a bunch of stuff because the receivers cherish them so much more. In that regard, even if it's a small thing, I know that they won't end up in a landfill any time soon. I read a statistic that 90% of the junk people buy as Christmas and holiday gifts will end up in a landfill within six months. That's scary.

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  46. I sew Christmas presents, gun held to my head (ok-plastic squirt gun), because my mother can't find the kind of long, natural fiber shirts she loves (Louise's Perfect Blouse), my sister can't find RTW replacements for her favorite nightgown (I cut it up and made a pattern from it years ago) and my DD wants a custom-made duvet, dust ruffle in a non-standard length AND an upholstered headboard that would cost $250 to purchase (and $25 to make). So yes, dammit, I sew gifts. Merry Christmas. :-(

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  47. Hi again to all,
    Like most - time is a factor. If there was one thing I want as a gift is more time.

    I have found if I'm really creative and put some thought in what the person wants I can always come up with good gift ideas. I always tell my students if they make their gifts people will appreciate them much more than if they buy them. It's been my experience anyway...when I'm creative.
    Some things I've made in the past: My daughter loves Hannah Montana so I printed up some t-shirt transfers on online Hannah pictures and made her a shirt. When my children go to birthday parties I make pillows for their friends and put their picture (also t-shirt transfer) with a saying that the child would love. I've made ticket holders to hang around the neck for those who air travel a lot. Ipod holders, camera holders. I've told you in the past about my felt games I made for my kids (hangman and tic tac toe). One thing I love making every year is a lap quilt for my mother. I again iron on transfer pictures on squares for each month of my children with the year on it. Their Nana loves getting this every year. My husband is a finish carpenter. We've made my daughter a stage for her room (I made the curtains and dress up) This year my son is into making movies and putting them on YouTube. I'm making him backdrops for his lego movies. My husband is making his movie stage. If you don't have a lot of time you can make a letter/card holder and write a nice letter or card to your loved one. Give them the best gift of all...your love.

    Ok, I'm writing my own blog entry here :) sorry. Be creative. Making gifts are the best when you give someone what they want.
    Enjoy your sewing moments!

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  48. I kinda alternate from year to year. Year before last I made everything I gave but it not only consisted of sewing, I actually used several craft abilities. I made a nice selection of cookies and put them in a round cardboard container, on the lids I used white felt to embroider the family name in gold and I decorated the embroidered Christmas tree with little seed beads, I put the cookie boxes in a bag made of Christmas fabric & a pretty ribbon. I also made my sister-in-law and other close lady friends earrings after learning beading. They all enjoyed their gifts, the cookies were a big hit with each family and the ladies enjoyed wearing the earrings and it's really nice to see them being used. In years to come I'll probably incorporate knitting. The little ones get toys, I don't think they understand the effort you put into something.

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  49. Last year I made a vest for my brother and a glitzy jacket for his SO, both of whom are in a R&R band. They both seemed to really like them, but I don't know if they ever wear them or not! I made PJ pants for DS and I know he wore the death of them last year. I made a purse for DD. This year I am planning on making the camisole, tap pants, and robe from December's BWOF for DD. DS wants SILK pjs this year, but I haven't ordered any fabric yet. I've been sick a lot this season, so I doubt I will get much sewing done for gifts this year. Thankfully, we have a small family and not to many to get gifts for. I almost never sew for DH, it's easier to buy

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  50. I love to make hand made gifts, always for those who I know will appreciate them and treasure them. I am also selective though as I have had a comment from a family member about 'another wallhanging!!' Thankfully most of the time the recipients do appreciate them - and my biggest fan is my Mum who can just about sew a button on and is so proud of anything and everything I make her!

    Next year I plan to start early and save some $ by making as many gifts as I can - I will buy fabric in the sales and make pj's etc for nieces and nephews and write a list to work through gradually.

    Merry Xmas everyone :-)

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  51. My MIL gave me a supremely ugly, uncomfortable, scratchy, hand made quilt in colors I don't like and that don't exist anywhere else in my house. It lives in a closet and comes out for guests to use when they stay over on cold nights. I always say "my MIL made this, it's nice and warm." I am probably not sufficiently appreciative of that gift, according to you all, and frankly, I could use the storage space a lot. I appreciate the effort that went into the quilt, and I would never ruin it by hanging it up with nails or letting it get really dirty or anything, but what it really shows me is that my MIL has no idea what I like and that means she can't be bothered to pay attention to me or ask me questions about what I like or need.

    On the other hand, my roommate made me socks every year I lived with her and i LOVED them because she made them in colors I liked (which she knew I liked) and she knew I liked to wear warm socks around the house at night when it got cold. That handmade gift I really did appreciate because it was appropriate and showed she had thought about me and what I liked and wanted and went to the extra effort to make them for me.

    So, I'm always really careful, if I am giving someone a handmade gift to think really hard about why I am giving it. Gifts I have made, I made because I saw a fabric and knew my friend would love it as a pillow and it went with her decorating style, or because I saw her admiring a fashionable scarf and knew i could do a good replica of it, or because my sister cooks all the time and she loved this one of a kind apron I made from a retro fabric. That's thinking of them and those were appreciated. But when I used to give things because "hey what a great idea, I'll make everyone an XXXX" or "I think this is a cute fabric, but I don't know if it suits other people's style, but I'm going to make it for them anyway" and then felt insulted if people weren't appreciative "enough", then my giving was more about me and my needs and not the gift and the person I was giving to -- I've learned to take a step back and not make those kinds of things. I make them for the Church Bazaar instead where people can buy them if they want them.

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  52. Though I think Christmas isn't about the presents, the presents are certainly on our minds.

    I sew for Husband and Sister. I have to discuss the details with Sister or she won't wear it.Extremely picky, she is, to the point I stopped sewing for her for a year. But we've come to terms now.

    I make surprises for Husband, about 2/3 successful. Last year I make two shirts for him, one with applique and embroidery of his favorite objects. He wears them Every Day in season, so I guess they were a success.

    Merry Christmas!

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