16 Simple Handmade Christmas Gift tutorials

I’m having a hard time believing that December is really here. Which means, time to start brainstorming ideas for Christmas presents. So I put together a quick list of easy crafts and gifts you can make yourself. Many of these are my own tutorials, others are tutorials by others that I’ve personally tried and tested. Almost all of these are relatively simple projects that don’t need a lot of past sewing experience.
Sometimes these gifts were born of lean years where I needed to use my available resources (i.e. fabric) to create gifts for not only friends, but my kids. And nothing shows real love like a gift you’ve made with your own hands. I’ve got a few new ones up my sleeve this year. Good luck with your own creating!

Christmas Projects
Felt Snowflake Tutorial
Peppermint Pinwheel Easy Dresden block
Simple Gifts:
Jedi Robes by Degraeve.com
And my favorite non-sewing quick gift is Make-it-Do’s stove-top potpourri mix.  It’s effortlessly pretty and easy to assemble in mass quantities.
image from Make It Do

Stove-top Potpourri kit

If you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration, you may want to check out HGTV’s 31 Countdown to Christmas projects.
image from A Glimpse Inside
Good luck and happy gift-giving!

PS If you have links to other great go-to gift ideas and tutorials, leave the links in the comments!

Summer Crafts with Kids Report

I always start the summer with grandiose plans. This is the summer I was going to teach my girls to sew, do all kinds of craft projects, make humanitarian quilts, as well as have thoroughly organized job charts and routines, lots of cultural experiences, and an abundance of peace and harmony. 
And then reality hit. 
We accomplished some of those things with more success than others.  We didn’t craft-up a huge storm, but we had a few successes I thought worth sharing.  Above are a set of pillowcase skirts we made. My 11-year-old and her friend arrived one afternoon with the old pillowcases from her friend’s bedroom. They wanted to make them into skirts. It turned into such a great project!  All we basically did was cut off the closed end-seam and rolled the raw edges down to make a casing for elastic. So easy and the girls felt so proud!
The 11-year-old made a little stitchery project.  I was gung-ho to get her making a bunch, but one seemed to suffice. And I should just feel good about the fact that we finished that one.
Another crafting endeavor that worked out super was making glass pebble magnets.  This was perfect for my girls.  The glass pebbles are really easy to find at WalMart, Target or any craft store and cost me about $5 for a bag of 100 or so.  ModgePodge scrapbook paper to the back of the glass and let it dry. We glued the magnets with E6000 glue.  I used rub-on letters as well.
A neighborhood mom had a brilliant idea.  She coordinated 10 moms with 11-year-old daughters for a craft group that met once a week.  Each mom took one turn to host the girls, provide the craft supplies and a treat for a couple of hours and the rest of the summer my daughter had a free, fun craft group to attend. This was the project we did when they came to our house.  The whole thing was great!  Next year I’m motivated to put together a similar group for my 9-year-old daughter.
One last craft that seems to be all the rage at the moment but is SO EASY to do with kids. Tissue paper flowers.

I’m sure these tutorials are all over the blogosphere, but someone asked me how we did it so here’s a quick explanation. Tools needed: tissue paper (this package cost $1 at Walmart), wire and a pair of scissors.

Cut the tissue paper to the desired size – I used six sheets cut in half for this flower since the package came with twelve sheets.

Accordion-fold the tissue paper, wrap at the center with wire.  Trimming the ends in a point or a scallop will help the flower look even prettier.

Separate each sheet individually and fluff the flower. Voila- that’s it!  It’s a quick, satisfying project for kids. My 9-year-old did two big flowers in as little as 10 minutes this afternoon.

And lest you think my boys were ignored, we had Legos, Play-doh, and rock-painting projects going on too – with varying degrees of success depending on which TV show I had to negotiate them away from. I am also counting opportunities to make ‘armor’ out of packing supplies as successes.

Addendum: It’s funny. My original intent was to write a post lamenting the stuff that didn’t get done – but in looking at the things we did accomplish, it feels like a successful summer.  A good lesson for me. (And perhaps I’m not the only one.) I’m pretty good at looking for and totaling my deficiencies.  Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that finishing a few small projects is a really great thing. I feel better now.