Prepare yourselves, because I’m going to be honest. I am terrible at choosing gifts for people. Every freakin’ holiday or birthday is a chore for me. In addition, putting forth the effort to drive to the Hallmark store to simply pick out a card is too much for me to handle. Most of the time, I don’t handle it at all. I sit in my house and pretend that I don’t know anyone. Now, that having been said, I love going to the Hallmark store, and I prefer going there over the grocery store, drug store, corner store, what-have-you, I just really dislike giving people mass-produced items that I can’t stand by. It’s not the [for example] cards themselves. I like to think that, when necessary, I pick cards from the wall that mean something to my relationship with the recipient. I just don’t feel like spending money on cards that may make a repeat appearance in a year or two (yes, this happened…twice). Taking another step back, the reasons special occasions make me cringe are easy to rattle off:
- Gift cards are wonderful, but awfully impersonal to some people, and I don’t want to be the insensitive jerk that got you one. I, personally, love them in place of things that I would prefer to buy for myself (like jeans). As a homeowner, Visa gift cards are the bee’s knees, as are home improvement GCs. As a craft junkie, store-specific money for fabric-vending glitter-holes makes me squee.
- I hate seeing your face when I get you that [insert item] that was on your Amazon wish list. You know, that [insert item]that you just knew you were getting, and maybe got from that other person who chose not to follow the “I bought this” link (yeah, this happened, too). Again, I, personally, love my wish list(s) and load it(them) up daily with stuff that I could, but probably shouldn’t buy all willy-nilly, but it’s like cheating. I’d much rather see a genuinely surprised happy face.
- I can’t read people. If I have nothing to go on and forget your birthday until two days before, you’re going to get whatever I can find at the Not-A-Department-Store Store. It won’t be worthless, but it won’t be thoughtful, and I feel like an awful friend.
With those reasons in mind, I prefer to give home-made or hand-made unique gifts. If it’s not a geek-centric item, and I can’t make it, my preference is to find it from a world trade store or a local vendor. I want both of us to feel good about the gift giving process. Luckily, I don’t have any friends that would turn his/her nose up at a home-made gift to my face. I appreciate that.
Now, if you read this the way that I originally intended, you would notice that I don’t like putting effort into running down to the mall and picking out a gift, but I will spend hours upon days, pouring my blood, sweat, tears, and spit into a home-made gift. It will probably be late, but you will also probably like it. I enjoy all types of crafting for myself, but when I can make something for the people I love, I feel like I’ve found my purpose in life. I’m an amateur across the crafting board, but I am enthusiastic about my hobbies, if nothing else. So, onto the point of this post…the gifts.
The first was for my mother, but I don’t have a picture of it because my computer ate it. She received blue linen placemats with machine embroidered flowers. I made four mats, and each one had a different flower. The embroidery was all done in white. My mom has a thing for hostessing and tea pots, so this gift was (IMHO) great for her.
Gift number two was a messenger bag for a very good friend. She saw a similar bag in a shop, but it wasn’t quite right and something else caught her eye. I found a tutorial online, made creative adjustments, and, voila! A bag. This project worked out really well for me because I had been hanging on to the primary fabric for a couple of years. Now, I want one, too.
Next up was a sort of novelty gift, but it plays to another friend’s interest. I made him a pair of spice holsters. Yes, that’s right–monogrammed pouches that allow him to take his spices where ever he chooses. They hang from standard size belts and were custom fitted for Penzey’s regular size spice bottles. The original design was a pirate-style bandolier (more like Rambo), but I couldn’t get it stop sliding to the hip with all of the weight from the bottles. I have a tutorial written up for this, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to post it. I may have to make a living off of these some day.
The final gift of the holiday season sparked my interest in “stitch recipes”. This is an embroidered blue linen scarf for my step-mother. There wasn’t anything special about the construction (Note: I really need to learn how to do a mitered corner), but the machine embroidery was something of a conundrum. I wanted the scarf to be simply pretty, and overdoing the stitching was a concern. I’m used to adding piles of trim to costumes, so this was a challenge. Apparently, I didn’t think it through enough beforehand, because choosing three complementary stitch patterns took almost 45 minutes. At one point, I entertained the idea of creating a custom stitch (I love my machine), but came to my senses. In the end, I went with a scalloped, wiggley satin stitch, two parallel straight stitches, and a loop-de-loop near the edges. I love the way that it turned out, but I vowed to plan my next decorative stitch portion of a project before I start cutting fabric.
Regarding the “stitch recipes”, I plan to use them in place of heavy trim and ribbons on my faire garb. They will do very well on undergarments, accessories, and some working class items. The plan involves combining a number of different stitch patterns (hopefully lined up correctly), making them look like one embroidered trim section. My goal is to mimic the repeating black and redwork that is seen in so many portraits from the time period. More on that later this year, I’m sure.
I love the people in my life, truly, and I hope that I can have dedicated at least one needle-pricked finger to each of them when all is said and done. I’d better start planning this year’s gifts, so that I can be on time.
Thanks for reading!