the gifts of 2016

it seems all i heard myself say during the month of december was “i’m not ready”, and by the end of the month i found that i had mental lists constantly running through my head…all negative.  the lists of what I didn’t accomplish, didn’t bake, didn’t decorate, didn’t make time to visit with.  they were heavy lists, and i’ve decided to let them go.  i’m trading them in for lists of how many strangers i wished a happy holiday, how delicious the pizzelles were with my morning and evening coffee, how much i enjoyed each stitch in each gift i was able to make.  and of course the biggest list of all (and the one i usually ignore until november!)…the list for next year!!

to start the new year i want to share a few of the handmade gifts i managed to eek out in 2016.  the last of the gifts were just now opened due to scheduling conflicts, so i’m finally able to share them all.

first up….the turtles!  i had these planned for quite some time and actually had them completed quite early.  one for each great niece.  a big old floor pillow with personality.   hannah is a pink and purple sort of girly-girl who loves to dance, so for her…a pink and purple turtle with a bit of glittery fabric thrown in for fun.dscn7031

brooklynn is more of a whirlwind of action…karate kicks, ninja moves…that’s more her style.  so she got a blue and green turtle (there’s a bit of glitter…i couldn’t resist), with a surprise underneath.  the bottom of the turtle is girl super-hero fabric…super girl, wonder woman and batgirl.  no, the red doesn’t really “go” with the blue/green top, but does that really matter?  i hope it said to her “i get you…I know who you are”dscn7033you may not be able to tell from the pics, but these guys are BIG!  they stand about 10-12″ tall and from head to tail measure about 48-50″….perfect for propping you up for movie time.

my sister (turtle girl grandmother) has eyed my messenger bag for quite some time…offering to take it off my hands, so i made her one of her own.  it’s amy butler’s first messenger bag pattern…a very simple bag with a pocket flap.  i use mine all the time and it’s just right.  once i made it i decided she needed a heigh-ho laptop sleeve to match, so she got a set.dscn7046picking out the buttons was, of course, my favorite part of the project.  at one point i think i had every button in the studio spread out across the rug…and that’s a whole lotta buttons!

dscn7043sister also got a kerchief shawl.  i can’t sit and watch a movie without picking up a knitting project.  i made one for myself first to test the pattern and then made hers…after blocking i’ve decided that if i make this pattern again i’ll add an extra repeat since it feels a bit short when i wrap it around my neck.


last year elizabeth made recipe towels using a spoonflower tutorial here on the blog.  i knew then that i wanted to make some too.  instead of using a single recipe, i stole borrowed some the favorite family recipes…ones that even the grandsons would know…mostly handwritten (i think each side had one printed recipe) and had fabric printed at spoonflower.  i made towels for everyone, 18 in all!  every generation got a towel…even the great granddaughters and i have a few left that just need hemming in case there is ever a towel emergency.


dscn7041i saved my favorite project…or shall i say my latest sewing addiction…for last.  the rope bowl craze has been happening for a while now but i seem to show up a bit late at these sorts of things.  i’ve had the clothesline in my studio closet forever (planned on making a bag with it), but it wasn’t until days before christmas that i pulled it out and began my first bowl.  jeff walked in to find me forming the bottom and asked what i was making…actually it was more “what are you making NOW?” and i replied “a bowl”…he didn’t even comment, just walked out.  but nothing would dampen my enthusiasm for this project.  i’ve seen them made with fabric strips covering the rope, with ribbon accents, but i had yarn…plenty of yarn, so that’s what i used.  iI didn’t try to make the accents symmetrical, i just added them whenever i felt the urge to add color.  i also started out with the standard loop handle, but tried what i call “the casserole handle” on one and loved it!  some are lightweight rope, some are a bit stiffer…i’m still trying to find just the perfect clothesline because i’m hoping to make a LARGE basket for myself and need it to stand up to a bit of weight.  have you tried these?  OMG…you must!  the process is so easy and the possibilities are endless (unlike the clothesline…i ran out a couple of times and had to make emergency trips to the hardware!)

so that was 2016…i can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.  what’s on your list for the year?





Recipe tea towels

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were lovely and that you are looking forward to a fantastic 2016.


I wanted to share one of the Christmas projects I did this year that would be good for almost any occasion. I came across the idea on Sew Mama Sew and then a little more searching turned up Martha Stewart’s tutorial for recipe tea towels. I played around with both layouts and liked Martha’s version better.

I borrowed some recipes from my mom and aunt that were in family members’ handwriting and settled on two recipes from my great grandma (baked apples and apple pudding), one from my grandma (her signature lemon meringue pie) and my great aunt (pecan pie- my mom’s favorite). I won’t belabor the design part since I just followed the tutorials listed above and had the fabric printed by Spoonflower, but in case the interwebs need another tutorial for hemming a square or rectangle here is how I did it.*


Iron a crease around the image.


Cut off the corners at a 45 degree angle about 1/2″ from the corner of your image, then fold that corner in and iron a crease. Repeat for each corner.


Re-iron your original fold on all sides.


Turn the raw edge under to hide it in your fold and press. Repeat for all sides.


Your corners should look like this.


Pin twill tape, ribbon or ric-rack across the top left corner at a 45 degree angle with the ends in your seam allowance for a hanging loop.


Stitch around the perimeter and you’re done! (Ignore the weird tension issues in my seam above. I stitched from the top and didn’t notice the tension problem until I had finished stitching this one.)


Enjoy your finished tea towels!


I made eight (two yards of printed fabric), which was enough for my mom and her sisters, my sister, sister-in-law, cousin and cousin-in-law to have one with one left over for me. They were a hit and I am itching to make more

What were some of the handmades that went over the best in your family this year?



Kim is not the only one who is getting the fidgety-twitches as the holidays are approaching.  I spent a good hour or more this week compiling a big list of gift ideas for our friends and family for Christmas.


image here

A post by Elizabeth of Simple Simon and Company got me thinking.  She asked why we sew.  For me, homemade gifts are not so much about the gift itself, although I try to make something beautiful and useful that will be enjoyed.  While I am making something for someone I spend that time thinking about the person for whom the gift is intended and praying for him or her.  The gift itself is just a representation of the time I spent focusing on the recipient.

That’s not to say that I don’t also enjoy the process of creating (most of the time, anyway…) or that I don’t focus on the recipient when choosing gifts to buy.  But for me the hours I spent making presents and the love I try to put into each one are part of the gift.

Do you make gifts to give?  Why do you do it?