A Handmade Christmas

I think that handmade gifts make the best gifts. They’re just so much more thoughtful and personal than store-bought gifts. I really enjoy making them and I think the recipient really enjoys receiving them more than something that’s mass-produced.

My quilting group Seams So Easy got together a couple weeks ago for our monthly group meeting and yearly Secret Santa gift exchange and we had a lot of fun seeing what each of us made for our secret partners. At the beginning of the year, we filled out preference sheets specifying our favorite colors, fabric lines, fabric designers, quilt blocks and patterns, motifs and other things we love so that our partners would be able to make something for each of us that we were sure to love.

I had drawn Tricia’s name and she mentioned she liked stars and wonky designs. So I made her a pillow cover using Oh, Fransson’s Sparkle Punch tutorial. I had been wanting to try the design for a while anyway, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. It’s a very simple pattern and went together easily. I used Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy for the fabrics. It’s still one of my all-time favorite fabrics. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

The pillow I made for Tricia for our Secret Santa exchangeThe pillow I made for Tricia for our Secret Santa exchange

The person who had me for a partner was Lisa. She made me an awesome giant shoulder bag large enough to carry quilts. She made a similar one for herself several years ago that I’ve always admired. I’ve even commented several times that I would like to get the pattern from her so that I could make one for myself. Now I don’t have to! The great thing about this bag is that it’s large enough to transport quilts to quilt guild meetings for show and tell or lug all my quilting supplies to quilt retreats. It has a large pocket on the outside and several pockets on the inside. And the most important thing is that the shoulder straps are long enough to reach my shoulders. I absolutely hate tote bags that have short straps that I have to carry in my hands all the time.

Lisa bag2AWThe awesome bag Lisa made me

Lisa planner2AWThe matching organizer Lisa also made me

Lisa planner4AW

Lisa also made me a fabric organizer/notepad holder in the same fabrics that she used for the bag. She even added an extra personal touch by machine appliquéing my initial on the inside of the organizer. And she was so thoughtful to use one of my favorite Liberty of London Bloomsbury fabrics on the bag and the organizer. I really like her fabric selection. Thank you so much, Lisa! I love my bag and organizer.

Although I love making gifts, I just have to remember to start earlier next year. I started a table runner for my mother-in-law 10 days before Christmas and I wasn’t sure that I would finish it in time. In fact, I was just finishing it up on Christmas Eve, the same day I gave it to her. Now that’s cutting it close!

Last year I made this pillow for Darlene (my mother-in-law). This year I wanted to tackle something a little larger. She said she wasn’t interested in a quilt. I know! Crazy, right? Who turns down a free quilt? So I thought about making a table runner because we had discussed it before. But she wanted one long enough to cover the length of her kitchen table and hang down the sides a little. This one ended up being 95 inches long. This is the longest thing I’ve ever quilted. I don’t think I’ll ever make anything this long again. It was a tight fit all rolled up under the throat of my sewing machine.

BasketsTRunner07AWBasketsTRunner16AWBasketsTRunner17AWBasketsTRunner18AWI used the instructions in Gwen Marsten’s book Liberated Quiltmaking II and I was inspired by Jolene’s lovely baskets quilt. She has several other baskets quilts among her many beautiful quilts. She’s a very talented quilter and I really love her style.

After I finished this table runner and showed it to Dave, he asked me why I didn’t flip the baskets so every other one was up and and down. That way there would be no up or down when you looked at it from each side. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself! I have to admit, it’s a great idea. He comes up with them every once in awhile. Now every time I look at this, I’m going to think of that. Darn! Have you ever done anything like that?

I hope you enjoyed a nice Christmas with your family and loved ones. Have a Happy New Year!

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