The festive season is coming around again, and for many, if not all of us, this means a frantic search for great, thoughtful presents for our loved ones…that are different, possibly even better than the ones from last year or the year before.
Buying gifts can be really expensive if you have a lot of people to shop for, not to mention that ‘plain’ bought gifts will sometimes not look very thoughtful. A wonderful alternative are handmade gifts! Who doesn’t love a personal gift? And what is more personal than something you spent time and effort on for that person.
So, below are 3 cute sewing ideas for presents for your loved ones!
1. For the Bookworms – Ribbon Bookmarks
This one is a simple yet amazing idea. One variation is the “no slip ribbon bookmark,” which we’ll discuss below. It uses elastic to make sure your bookmark never falls out. It can be customized to fit any taste, and isn’t hard to make at all! All you need is some cute decorative ribbon, a button, a book, an elastic, scissors and needle and thread (or a sewing machine).
The ribbon should be at least half an inch to an inch wide, and the button should be a little wider than that. That way, the ‘ugly’ end of the ribbon is covered completely!
First you need to take the book you prepared to measure the length of your ribbon. For a normal-size book, you will need approximately 18inches of material, but that may vary depending on the book you chose.
Be sure to always leave an additional inch or two of extra material when cutting the ribbon. When you have your fabric strips, fold over one end of it twice, about half an inch each time, and stitch across.
You can make this a decorative stitch if you’d like – I usually use cross-stitches to give it a little rough feel. When that is done, you need to do the same thing to the other end of the ribbon, however before you start to fold the fabric, add the elastic so it is securely fastened to the end of it.
Choose an elastic that isn’t too ‘strong’, or else you could damage the book or break the bookmark when you first use it. The elastic needs to be so soft that it can be pulled apart with two fingers easily. When you have sewed across the other end of your ribbon, all that’s left is to add the button to the first end.
Make sure to sew it on securely, but not too tight, otherwise you won’t be able to pull the elastic over it. 2-holed buttons tend to be the most suited for this, though 4-holed ones’ work as well. When the button is secured, you are done – simply put your new bookmark into your book. The elastic will stretch as you read more and more of the book.
And voila, these make wonderful Christmas presents! You could make them Christmas themed, or, depending on what button and ribbon you use, any other theme you want. Be as creative (or funny!) as you’d like!
2. For the Home Decorators – Button Picture
This idea will be especially popular with interior decoration fans. All you need is a piece of linen or cloth for the background of your picture, a pencil, a frame and a lot of buttons and patience!
There are no rules when it comes to button picture projects. Some fantastic ideas can be found on pinterest if you need a bit of inspiration.
First of all, you need to make sure that your fabric is wrinkle-free and placed on a flat surface. Then, with the pencil, lightly outline the shape of your image. Now, the options here are nearly limitless, but be careful not to overdo it. A simple bit of text (in pen or embroidered) and a simple image like a heart or perhaps a tree or house will work well, however, if the image gets too complicated, you will struggle to make it visible, or rather recognizable in your finished work.
Unless you are aiming for an abstract picture (and why not?) try to keep it simple. Once you have penned down the outline of your shape, you can start by placing the buttons where you want them to be. Depending on how big your buttons are, you may find it useful to mark your fabric with an x where they need to be placed. If you don’t want to do that, you can always take a photo of them in the correct position and work off of that.
Once you are happy with the position of your buttons, it’s time to start sewing! Don’t be afraid of placing your buttons slightly outside of the outline you drew – you want the pencil marks to be covered after all! Be careful when you sew on the buttons to not strain the fabric too much. After every button, check that the fabric still lays flat and does not wrinkle.
Once you have done all the buttons, erase any leftover pencil marks that may still be visible, and add any text you’d like to have. If it’s a birthday or holiday gift, a simple holiday wish might look good. Depending on your skill and time, you could either embroider the writing, or simply use fabric pens to write. Both can look equally good. And here’s a tip: if your text has an ‘i’ in it, make the dot with another small button!
When you are finished, place the fabric in the frame, trim the edges if necessary, and your gift is ready.
3. For the Playful Ones – Tic-Tac-Toe Game
This one is a particularly sweet idea for travellers. While Tic-Tac-Toe isn’t exactly an evening filler, it can definitely spice up boring train journeys or flights, and with this gift idea, it’ll be good for a laugh! All you need is some form of drawstring (ideally linen, never polyester!) bag, some fabric tape and 10 buttons in two different colours.
See the Tic Tac Toe game here, along with a step-by-step tutorial.
Alternatively to the fabric tape, you can also embroider a pattern onto your little bag, but the quicker version is the tape. All you need to do is to cut the fabric tape into strips about a half-inch shorter than your bag, and to lay them in the typical tic-tac-toe board shape. You will need four strips of tape for this.
Depending on the fabric tape you chose, you will need to either use additional fabric glue, or you will be able to get it to stick with just an iron. Remove the back of the tape, place it on the bag, cover it with a thin cloth, and lightly iron it for 10-15 seconds. If the tape does not stick after that, iron it for another 10 seconds.
Be sure to let the glue dry and the bag cool down before you handle it. This should only take about 10-15 minutes. Then, when it’s finished, you can put your buttons in the bag, draw the strings closed, and voila, your gift is ready.
Here’s some more ideas to spice it up: use more than one kind of fabric tape for a more patchwork-y feel, or use different kinds of buttons (just make sure there’s only two colours so nobody gets confused), for example different sizes, different shapes or different shades of colour.
If you decide to embroider your bag instead, you can choose different kinds of colour thread, or different stitches. A personal favourite for this present: A simple but elegant chain stitch to outline the board, and a few lazy daisies (a variation of the chain stitch) for decoration.