Tag Archives: handmade

Christmas shopping and making ideas

With all of the seasonal promotion happening on and off the web it occurred to me that I really do need to get my own act together. Last year I made all the gifts for my family and friends. This year I am being realistic that I won’t be able to achieve that, given that I have committed to having a stall at the Christmas markets so am sewing for that, along with working, caring for my children, etc! I will still be able to make a few things, but need to think about other ideas. I have already started on a few things – and have been sharing them with any unwitting soul who I come across, so thought that I would share with you too!

The ideas below include some suggested Etsy shops, some online craft kits and ideas, and some ideas for unique gifts made for very reasonable prices. If you have any other suggestions to add – please feel free to add them in the comments below!

My first approach has been to take advantage of my vastly increased knowledge of other Etsy sellers. Over the year, through being part of teams on Etsy who promote other artists work, I have been able to see some beautiful pieces. Now I have decided that it is time to buy some of them. I can’t show you all I have bought so far, as some of the recipients are readers of the blog, but I can share some of my suggestions and some great stores!

First of all, I used a gift voucher that the very generous Michelle from Factotum of Arts gave me earlier this year, to buy myself a necklace that I have been admiring for a long time. It is beautiful, so I can recommend the craftsmanship of Yulia from Petals Design.

Pearls, Leather and Wood Necklace. Sterling Silver Wood and Pearls Pendant Necklace on a Leather Cord, Unique Gift Idea

I also worked on a custom order with Deepa from Tunic Botik to have a glass-carrying brooch made for my Mum as a thank you for helping us out. The detail in it is exquisite and working with her to pick colours etc was so easy. Mum is using it daily and loves it.  Deepa has beautiful pieces in her shop – so do consider her as a source of Christmas gifts!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have also bought some brooches from Lovely Sparrow and Co that are just delightful, and am having some Christmas ornaments made by Candy of Candykins Crafts, in this style, but with the words of my choice!

Joy Christmas Tree Ornament Hand Embroidered - 3" hoop

A purchase from Gillian at Eclectic Moi has also arrived and is beautifully made and packaged!

There are so many other beautiful Australian Etsy artists – I will be buying more and will share my finds as I go!

In addition to buying handmade I have decided that gifts that enable handmade are also good!  No sponsorship here – but I did some buying in the moving sale at Craft Schmaft – beautiful kits for making sock softies and hot air balloon mobiles.  Another Australian artist, so more support of local, and for the art of handmade! (I think her sale ends this weekend, so get in quick!)

My other big tip for this year (and again this is not sponsored!) is to use the services of ARTSCOW – a service that prints your photos or images onto a huge range of items.  They have a great range of discount codes on their ‘special offers’ page which means that you get free international postage and good prices.  I have received memo pads from them, with my ‘little bird’ logo on them and they are beautiful quality – the paper is a nice weight.  I also had a photo of our camping sunset printed up on a memo pad for Miss N as a souvenir before she departed.  For Christmas I have ordered more memo pads printed, using drawings by the artist-in-residence, and some other images and photos, and personalised them for each recipient with their name.  A great stocking filler!  The chicks also designed images to be printed onto a present for their Dad (who I am pretty sure doesn’t read this blog, but just in case, I will just give you the clues that he is addicted to hitting little white balls around with sticks and walking a long way, and this gift will keep him dry if it rains while he is doing that!).    They do small fold up umbrellas – I have visions of having some made up as presents for grandmothers, with kids drawings on them, or playing cards with the kids artwork on them.  So many different options!  Let me know if you do order anything – I am keen to hear about the quality of other products so I can keep them in mind for future gifts!

My other tip for this season?  Make gifts using your own fabric designs, printed at Spoonflower!  And if you don’t think you are up to designing your own – you can always buy fabric designed by an independent designer – such as my own artist-in-residence!  Her samples arrived yesterday and we are very happy with them, so they are now available for sale at Spoonflower!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Fruitastic Collection

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Menagerie (in white)

For now I am back to the sewing machine.  I have produced a few new things this week, in between the usual round of appointments, children, etc.  Some of them are even Christmas presents!   Photos will follow later on the weekend!

Don’t forget – if you have great tips for presents to share, leave a comment so that we can share the love!

Advertisements

Friday finds – a list of Geeky gifts to make

While I was reading the Gifts for Geeks list of Handmade Holiday gifts posted at Sew Mama Sew I realised that the chicks and I like a lot of geeky things! Which prompted me to pull together the following list of ideas that I have collected for gifts to make for the people in your life who love geeky things! Our geekdom stretches beyond Dr Who, Star Wars, and Lego but I have stuck to our favourites!

Dr Who
Being a woman-of-a-certain-age I remember watching Dr Who in my teens, when it was a BBC production, when Tom Baker was the Doctor and when, having a choice of only 2 television channels at the time (it was North Queensland in the early 80’s) we regularly were in trouble with the nuns for being late for dinner, as Dr Who finished a few minutes after the dinner bell went. Now my eldest chick watches it and it is slick and shiny and has a much bigger budget, but the basics are still there! Time Lords, TARDIS time machines, travelling companions, and the occasional Dalek. Luckily the resurgence of it’s popularity means that there are piles of tutorials on how to make things for fans!

Although I haven’t had any luck finding ‘licensed’ Dr Who fabric, there are quite a few “police box’ designs available through Spoonflower that can be used to make great gifts, like the messenger bag I made!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dr Who snow flakes tutorial

Free Printable Doctor Who Stencils

Printable Colouring Pages – Doctor Who

Tardis Garden Shed – Build your own – Gadgetizer
Tardis Garden Shed

DIY Tardis Bag – Quiet Nerdy Thing

How to Paint the inside of a glass ornament – Hey Hey Heather K

DIY Tardis Shoes – PS

Dr Who Sewing Kit – Craftster

Dr Who Free Crochet patterns – Moogly
Doctor Who Crochet Patterns - all free! Grab your hooks and allons-y!

Star Wars

Once again my age is an advantage in understanding Star Wars.  I remember going to the cinema to see the first movie.  We went into the city, and it was very exciting.  When the next two movies came out we were living on an island in the Pacific that didn’t have a cinema with proper movie releases (although there seemed to be an abundance of Kung Fu movies available to watch in a shed near the beach!).  When the next three were released I was busy with babies and didn’t see them.  Despite that I have developed a great knowledge of all the movies as my son is quite taken with them, and all things related to them!

If none of thesetutorials grab your fancy, there is a great range of Star Wars fabric available and you can use it to make bags, hats, skirts, pillowcases, etc!

DIY Star Wars Christmas Ornaments – DIY Geekery

Soft cuddly Chewbacca – Draw Pilgrim

Star Wars Stencils – Grrl

Star Wars stencils

Star Wars Snowflakes – Matters of Grey

Stormtrooper snowflake templates!

Star Wars Egg Ornaments – Instructables

Lightsabers made from pool noodles – Bit Rebels

DIY Star Wars Pillow – Craftiness is not Optional

Star Wars Peg Dolls – Pink and Green Mama

Free Star Wars Crochet Patterns – Moogly

Free Star Wars Crochet Patterns - Roundup on Moogly!

Lego

Lego was an important part of my childhood.  My grandmother would always bring some back from any trips to the Netherlands (there were only a few grandchildren at that stage – now it would break her bank!).  My mother still has all of our Lego and it has been used by all the grandchildren too.  Now my children love Lego.  They have the themed sets – Star Wars, Chima, Harry Potter, City, Ninjago, Pirates of the Carribean, the Hobbit (not ALL of them obviously) but they also have just general bricks and it is rare for them to use the patterns – they build using their imagination.  The tutorials below include ideas to store Lego bricks, ways to use bricks to make things, or making other items that look like Lego bricks.

Lego Earrings – Coupons Are Great

make-Lego-earrings

Lego Key hanger – Felix Grauer

LEGO DIY Key Hanger by Felix Grauer in style fashion home furnishings  Category

DIY Lego Beanbags – One Artsy Mama

Train table to legl table – Over the Big Moon

Lego Ninja hat – We lived happily ever after

DIY Lego Storage Solutions – All Things with Purpose

Lego Cufflinks – Instructables

DIY Lego and art travel boxes – Repeat Crafter Me

DIY Lego magnets and necklace – She’s Called Claire

Lego Tray – That’s My Letter

Lego Spice Rack – Instructables

And finally – not a tutorial – but a lovely way of bringing all three themes together, this great picture from The Dalek Hugger

Stormtroopers and the TARDIS.

I hope that you find something suitable to make for the geeks in your life!

Feeling lyrical

I have been finding myself with lyrics of songs running through my head over the last few days. I made a treasury on Etsy yesterday called “Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to….” (followed of course by “Strawberry Fields.) As I sat down tonight to write this post the first thought in my head was “Do you ever stop and wonder…” which is the first line from Gomez’ Sound of Sounds. I read many years ago that if you listen to the lyrics that you find yourself singing absently, they will give you a good indication of your where your subconscious thought is. Now the first song I can work out easily – not so subconscious really – I saw a picture of some felt strawberry food, the song came into my head and away we went. But I do like the lyrics too – “Living is easy with eyes closed” and “There’s nothing to get hung about”…. quite psychedelic for a sweet sounding song really!

The second song? Ah. That is a little more complex. That shows that I am trying to work out how much of the last few days/weeks I share, and how much I make veiled references to, and how much I just don’t write about. Part of me wants to pour my heart out and completely overshare, but the sensible, logical part of me knows that this isn’t just my life I am writing about. So my compromise is to say that it has been a tumultuous couple of weeks, dealing with my boy and the issues that travel along with him. I have had to take time off work again, as I am worn out and worn down. I hate walking away from my team and not being a consistent leader, but I also know that I have to put my chicks and my health first. Miss N is leaving us earlier than expected, which is a shame, but means that she is home for the snow that she is missing. The best part of all of this though? My amazing mother, with the blessing of my father, flew in today to stay with us for a little while to help support all of us. The house feels lighter already. The boy loves her. He is insisting that she sleep on his trundle bed tonight, as Miss N is still in the spare bed. And bless her – she has agreed to do it. I am so lucky to have such wonderful parents, and that they are still fit and healthy enough to be able to do this.

The chaos of the week was added to when the washing machine decided to stop working mid-way through a cycle on Monday night. Of course the extended warranty finished a few months ago. I have never loved this machine – it has leaked and was noisy and no amount of service calls have fixed either problem. So, with the powers of internet research at my fingertips, the new one arrived today and has been put through it’s paces and we LOVE it. It is quiet! So quiet that we have checked several times to see if it is on! I feel more relaxed already!

But amongst the chaos was also joy. I awoke this morning to a notification that I had sold one of my bags, and that it had sold to someone in Arizona! The chicks have been waiting for the day when, in their words “some random person from overseas” buys one of my pieces. The middle chick announced “You are big in America Mum!” I laughed and enjoyed their joy and celebration! The bag is all bundled up, with a couple of extra gifts added, and ready to mail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The part that I really liked though, was that the purchaser has asked me to include the story of the fabric, and my philosophy in making it, etc, with the bag, as it is a gift. What a lovely idea! I am thinking that it might be a nice touch to add to other pieces that I sell, to personalise the sale even more. He also gave me some feedback about my search phrases, and other information on my Etsy shop, so it was a lovely exchange on all levels.

The other joy is the support that people offer when you least expect it. After a relatively public incident with the boy earlier in the week I have had lovely texts, random hugs “just because”, long late night phone calls to discuss craft, kids, and life, and quiet smiles of support over the heads of children being picked up from school. My community is amazing. My chicks and I are loved and supported – all four of us.

Other lyrics that have stayed with me this week include “It’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spend it with you” and of course, “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, Shaved her legs and then he was a she” but that is because I heard the news that Lou Reed has passed away. I was horrified to hear that Miss N (22) had not only not heard of him, but didn’t know his songs! Sacrilege! So I tormented the chicks and her with Lou Reed songs over breakfast and had a beautiful walk down memory lane. The best article I read about him was called “13 reasons why you will never be a cool as Lou Reed.” Says it all really.

With a bit more sleep under my belt, I hope to get back to sewing in the next few days. I have realised that with Mum here I can make all the Christmas presents for the family in New Zealand for her to take home. Which has focussed me on Christmas a little earlier than planned – which may mean that I am organised earlier this year. But let’s not hold our breath on that one! I am thinking of some Christmas gift lists I might put together for you all to help with handmade gift ideas – which as usual seems like a nice idea but is really my completely selfish way of working out what I want to make for my friends and family! I do have a head start though – I am a guest contributor on Sew Mama Sew as part of their Handmade holidays series for November, with my eco friendly gifts being featured on 10 November! (To say that I am excited is an understatement!!)

My final lyric that has been running through my head tonight is from Steve Earle’s ‘Every part of me’. “I love you with all my heart, all my soul, every part of me”. Sums up how I feel about my chicks really. No matter how much heartache I go through for them, I still love them with every fibre in my being. I am lucky!

I hope that your week is going well, and that the lyrics providing the musical score for you life are wonderful ones!

Friday finds – a list of gifts to make for a 7 year old boy (with links to free tutorials)

In a few weeks time the boy will be turning 7. Oh my! My baby is really not a baby anymore. And then it is a month until Christmas. (Now I need to lie down!) So it is time to start thinking about gifts. Again! I do love handmade gifts for my kids. Last Christmas the boy was very upset when he opened his Christmas Eve present and found a pair of pjs I had made him. “A fabric present?” he spat in horror. Once I had him calmed down I explained that I had made the pyjamas for him with my love, so that when he slept in them he was surrounded by my love. He has embraced the concept with relish and joy and is so excited to wear or use things that I have made him now, and reminds me that it means that he is carrying my love with him. But…… there is a limit to the number of gifts that you can sew for a boy, even one as gorgeous as mine, as they get older. And to be honest, for a girl too! But I am determined to find special things to make for my special boy, to complement the Lego I will no doubt give in and purchase for him……again.

This list is designed to work in the same way that the one for 9 year old girls worked – to help me filter through ideas and distill some of my own to suit my boy. (With the girls list I took the concept of a reading nook and adapted it to make curtains for the middle chick’s top bunk to give her a space of her own.) And hopefully it will help some of you with the holiday season creeping rushing up on us!

My boy may be extra energetic (truly hyperactive!) but I think that all boys this age need the ability to run around and make noise, and burn off energy.  So I have been thinking of gifts that will enable that.

Skateboard sling – The boy Trifecta  (You can tell that she is the mother of boys!!)

Water gun holster – The Boy Trifecta

I also think that a satchel, with an adjustable strap to be worn across the body, with lots of external pockets would be great for carrying Nerf guns and bullets, or going on an adventure, or a variety of other outdoor activities.  There are a number of patterns you could adapt to this by just adding pockets, but here are a couple of suggestions.

Toddler messenger bag – Kyle and Renae Hill

Messenger Bag – No Time to Sew

Of course if they are going to be outside, then a hat is a must.  Being able to personalise it will help.  (I am thinking that a Star Wars hat might be just the thing to encourage my boy to keep his hat on!)

4 in 1 Bucket Hat – Sew Much Ado

Sun Hat – April Cobb Designs

At 7 is he starting to think that he is a bit grown up, and to want control over his own ‘things’.  So it is probably time for his own wallet.  Both of these patterns look just right!

Basic Boys wallet – Noodlehead

Summertime wallet – The Purl Bee

wallet

Some games for indoors are required too.  I need to accept the reality that my chicks are going to play with their electronic games, in the mix of all the things that they do.  So a cover for a DS, and/or an iPod touch are always useful.

This one is in French – but you can translate it using google!  DS Wallet – By Gabs

Electronics cozy – Make it – Love it

He doesn’t have an iPad or Kindle, but if he did I would be using this pattern DiY Harry Potter Kindle Cover – Skip to the Details

to try and emulate this picture (which despite much searching I cannot find the originator of to give credit to.)

If I ask my boy what his favourite games or Lego are at the moment he will answer with one of the following – Star Wars, Ninjago, Chima, Spiderman, or Minecraft .  So this pillowcase might go down well!

Ninjago Pillowcase – Crazy Little Projects

Or I could get away with a soft toy if it looked like this!

Chewbacc Softie pattern – Draw Pilgrim

I could probably also get away with this!

Boyville tutorial and download – Lil Blue Boo

DIY superhero peg dolls with free download via lilblueboo.com

For when he has a group of mates over and they all need a light saber I love this concept!

Havoc and Mayhem

DSC_4780

Given the sheer volume of Lego that he already has, perhaps this is actually what is called for!

Lego Storage – Freshly Pieced

For quieter times (we can but hope) I think that these games would be great!

Take along games – Dana Made It

A place to sit and read (or in our case to wriggle and squirm) all of his own would also be good.

Bean Bag Chair – Alderwood quilts

Bean Bag Chair - Free Pattern.  www.AlderwoodQuilts.com

He does love his bath – joined by many action figures and Lego “guys”, so maybe his own bath stuff could be good too!

Boy Bath Bombs – Design Dazzle

Homemade Bubble Bath – eHow

Homemade Bubble Bath for Kids thumbnail

I also found this great idea on Pinterest – but cannot find the source.  Under the photo it says

“Science Experiment Tool Box! Made an 8 year old boy birthday gift with ingredients, supplies (all from the dollar store), & instructions for 4 experiments: make a lava lamp, balloon inflator, foam fountain, & gak (dragon slime).  I had some 7 year old help with the labels ☺. Thank you Science Bob!”

Science Experiment Tool Box! Made an 8 year old boy birthday gift with ingredients, supplies (all from the dollar store), & instructions for 4 experiments: make a lava lamp, balloon inflator, foam fountain, & gak (dragon slime).  I had some 7 year old help with the labels ☺. Thank you Science Bob! #scienceisawesome

In addition to the links that I provided in my post on the Science Party, the site referred to, Science Bob has a great list of experiments!

Ideas that have already been successful for him, but might be useful for you to consider:

Super Hero Cape – Ann Kelle

Fort Kit – Saltwater Kids

I have also previously made him a Jedi Knight cloak – and it is the source of much envy by his friends who visit.  I didn’t do this from a link, but used a pattern that I had already purchased and used to make Harry Potter robes (of course!).  Oh – that is another idea, as he does love his HP robe.  The pattern I use for these and other costumes is Simplicity 1583 – I just adjust the sleeve width depending on the character!

And finally, many of the ideas that I used for his sister in this List, would also work for him – just with different colours or fabric.

So – I hope that you can find some ideas in here for the young men in your life.  Now to narrow down the options for my boy, in time for his birthday!!