Every Christmas I try to do a little crafting. Usually an ornament for the tree. I generally make the same style for everyone, with different colors or whatnot. Sometimes I throw in a few other handcrafted ideas- if the mood strikes- but generally it’s just the ornaments. This year I decided to change things up. For reasons I can’t explain, I felt the loved ones in my life deserved more than just an ornament. Maybe it’s Pinterest or maybe it’s the fact that I have 5 free hours each day to do whatever I want with (you know, after the laundry, errands, and other housework is done). Or, maybe I am becoming more confident in my crafting abilities to venture a little out of my comfort zone. Whatever the reason, it made this Christmas a little hectic, a little stressful, but also a little more fulfilling.
I apologize in advance for what is sure to be a lengthy post. I have a bit to say about each of the projects, both good and bad.
First on my list of Christmas crafts were yoga bags for my Aunt and Uncle. My Aunt had talked to me a while back (months and months ago) about making a “manly” yoga bag for my Uncle. When she asked me I didn’t have the time or the space to take on big sewing projects. We were living with my husband’s grandmother and had 1 room that served as our bedroom, the hangout spot, crafting spot, etc. I never wanted to make large crafting messes and didn’t have the space to leave projects out for longer than I was actually sitting there to attend them. But, I digress…
This year, I remembered I had a yoga bag pattern from Amy Butler. I also decided that if I was making 1 yoga bag, why not make 2 (birds and stones and all that). My Aunt and Uncle do yoga together (aww, isn’t that cute!), so I thought making them each a yoga bag would be a nice idea. I started on my Aunt’s first. She’s a very earthy person – not a crunchy granola type, but more of a down-to-earth kind of person while still being fun. She wears a lot of neutrals and earth tones so I wanted a bag that reflected her style.
My machine had a lot of trouble sewing through some of the thicker parts. I thought it was maybe because of the interfacing (it couldn’t possibly be my amazing machine!!), so when I made my Uncles I didn’t use interfacing. My machine didn’t have an easier time sewing his, so unless you don’t mind a floppy yoga bag, I would use the interfacing. I sent ouf pics of both bags to a dear friend of mine to get her opinion. She asked me if there was such a thing as a “manly” yoga bag. I wasn’t sure. What do you think?
The outside is a micro-suede type fabric in grey. The lining is a darker grey (not the purple it looks like here) cotton. He loved the bag and declared it manly enough. In fact, they both loved their bags so much they enrolled in some classes for next month! I couldn’t be happier! My Aunt even suggested that I make them to sell. I’m not completely sold (ha ha get it?) on the idea, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Next up on the crafting agenda was clothing for my daughter’s American Girl. Standard 18″ doll clothes fit the AG dolls really well so I checked out my local craft/fabric stores and saw that Joann’s was having a 5/$5 Simplicity pattern sale. I ran right over and picked up 10 patterns – 7 of which were for 18″ dolls. Apparently I had great aspirations for making an entire wardrobe for my daughter’s doll, but that just didn’t happen. I ended up only using 2 of the patterns. I used different fabrics to make 2 similar outfits.The pattern is Simplicity 2458, view A (in case you were wondering).
I got lazy towards the end and only made 1 vest. I told myself I would jazz up the tiger print by making a headband with cute little cat ears. That never happened. I did find this tutorial over on Three Sisterz website for an easy AG headband, but making and adding the ears proved to be too much for me and I scrapped the whole idea. I may go back to it at some point, because the headband itself is very cute. I’m still not sold on the vest/bolero thing.
Next up was a matching apron set (pattern Simplicity 1936, view A again). I debated for quite awhile on the fabric, but since I have a very limited stash, I grabbed one that is my daughter’s favorite. I didn’t have enough bias tape to even come close to trimming out both aprons, so I did have to go to the store and pick up a few packs. My daughter loves to help me in the kitchen, so helpfully she will love wearing her new apron also!
I did lose the pocket piece for my daughter’s apron just before I started sewing it, but hopefully she won’t mind. I’m not sure what the pocket is for. I don’t store extra food in my pockets while I cook, do you? in any case, I did find the pocket (after presents had been wrapped, of course) so if she decides she wants a pocket, I can easily add it.
That’s what’s great about these doll clothes. Sure, they are tiny and sometimes fiddly and awkward, but generally they are easy to whip up – possibly easier than “normal” sized clothes. Don’t get me wrong, they were time consuming, taking hours for each outfit, but I would definitely make more. In fact, I was thinking about making doll clothes to sell on Etsy. But, let’s not get ahead of myself. I have to at least finish this blog post.
The next item I made was actually inspired by a Craft Fail. I found a pattern online for a Santa hat at Fleece Fun and decided to give it a try. I picked the Children’s Large, printed it out, cut pieces and sewed it up. I used some corduroy and some faux fur stuff I had. It was fairly simple, but when my daughter tried it on… it was … well, tiny.
She did manage to squeeze it on her head though and wore it to school for a week. I decided her AG needed a hat, too. I searched for a pattern and came across a tutorial from Puppy52Dolls. It was made for Blythes, but translates really well for 18in AG dolls too. Fit perfectly, and looks pretty darn cute.
And last but not least, I made a zipper cuff for The Boy. I found a great tutorial over at A Lemon Squeezy Home. I kept trying to be sneaky about measuring my son’s wrist, but I guess I was too sneaky and couldn’t remember the measurements when it came time to sew. I just went with the measurements on the tutorial and hoped for the best. The cuff does fit, but it wouldn’t have hurt to add a little length. I’m not even sure how much my son likes it. He’s not very vocal about these things – something you think he hates he could secretly love but be embarrassed to show it. I tossed in $10 before I wrapped it, so even if he didn’t like the cuff, he would like the cash! He’s 12 now, so it’s hard to craft for him. Boy sewing projects are few and far between and even fewer and farther between for the pre-teen group.
I did manage to get some good crafting in this Christmas – even though I was forced to sneak in craft time while they were at school and after they went to bed. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped (I never do). I would have liked to make more doll clothes and maybe seen if I could find some other boyish things to make. I never did make ornaments with the kids. I didn’t even bake cookies for Santa. Thank goodness a friend of mine is a teacher and his students gave him too many sugary goodies so he passed on some of the bounty. He gave me some cookies and I found them just in time to put out a plate for Santa (and some carrots for the reindeer).
All throughout this, I was working on a gift for my mom. I had seen the prefect idea on Pinterest (of course) and was rushing to complete it in my short time frame. My mom and I play Scrabble-likes games online all the time. Sometimes she wins and sometimes I win, but it’s always fun. I decided to make her a wall hanging that looked like a Scrabble game. I found some good information over at Child Made Tutorials. I loosely followed the instructions… I started with wood blocks. Lots and lots of wood blocks. A friend helped me (and by “helped me” I of course mean that he did everything) cut down two 1×8′s into 1.5-in squares.
I took those little blocks and sanded down all the sides. The original tutorial calls for handmade stamps. I didn’t have time for things like that, so I used an old-school carbon paper trick to trace out and hand paint the letters and numbers. I did end up repainting some of the letters after I arranged them.
Was it actually faster? Who knows. Next time I would go with the stamps, for sure. They’re at least neater than my shaky paint job. But, I did manage to get all the letters painted. I think it came out to 60-ish. I had originally thought 75, but forgot to account for the shared letters.
I spray varnished them then glued them together. Let me repeat that, just to be sure you heard me. I varnished, THEN glued. Please, if you try this, do not follow my example. Glue, THEN varnish. The wood glue did NOT want to stick to the varnish, so I was faced with the dilemma of how to get these darn letters to stick together. I didn’t want to sand down all the pieces… again. I started thinking about ways to brace it on the back. My Aunt suggested paint stirrers, but I wasn’t sure how that would work. Looking back it may have been the easiest solution. Instead, hubby suggested getting “metal strips that have holes every inch or so” to screw on the back. Great, I thought, metal is sturdy, but how will I cut it? He tells me he can cut it. I ran to Home Depot and grabbed something similar to his oh-s0-accurate description. When I got it home he says “oh, that’s thicker than I was thinking. I don’t know how to cut that.” Great. I call my awesome buddy (also known as The King of Everything) and he describes some other stuff that would work, tells me which aisle it will be in, and even says if all else fails… here’s a type of glue that will bond it forever and ever. I run back to Home Depot, return the other metal things, grab what turns out to be plumbers wrap and some screws. I thought about grabbing the Mega Glue, but was afraid it wouldn’t glue the varnish, and what I have should work, so I didn’t buy it. I kind of wish I had. BUT!!! But, in the end it all worked out. My mom looked like she loved it and Christmas was a success.
[Note: Pieces are not affixed in this pic. It took me so long to complete this project, I didn't have time to snap a pic of the final thing]
The whole piece wasn’t as secure as I would have liked, but hopefully secure enough to hang on the wall. I included the word “family,” my mom’s name, her husband’s name, his 4 kids’ names, their 2 husbands, my name, my husbands name, and our 2 kids. The entire thing measures approx 15×23″. Oh! I almost forgot to tell you… when the original metal strips didn’t work and the glue wasn’t holding as well as I would have liked, I decided to try a staple gun. I borrowed one from a friend. I thought maybe if I tossed a couple staples at each joint, it would hold well. I loaded some staples, and lined up the first one. When the staple hit the wood, it not only didn’t embed itself fully, it actually BLEW APART pieces that had been glued together. Yeah, staple gun is a no-no. Also, pilot holes are important. I did split a couple pieces a little bit.
I always say that I will start crafting earlier next year, but lets be honest… it won’t happen. But I do hope to carry on the tradition of handmade gifts for my loved ones. Plus, all my Christmas crafting cost me around $25!! What about you? Did you make any gifts by hand this year? Did you receive any handmade gifts? Do you wish you did?
Do you want more information about any of these crafts? Ask in the comments below, or message me. I’ll do my best to answer. If there is interest, I can do a separate blog about any of these crafts. Also, stay tuned for a (much shorter) part 2 post. It will feature the crafting I did that wasn’t for gifts.
Hope your Holiday was merry and bright!