Sew, What's New?

Curating sewing and quilting talent, techniques, and tutorials, since 1997.

If things are a bit tight this Christmas, why not drag out the sewing machine and make your own Christmas gifts. It doesn't have to be a complex piece of clothing. The suggestions below are all simple and easy to make. The biggest cost will be the fabric, so shop around for remnants and discount fabrics.

Elegant Table Runner & Placemats When you think about it, the simple table runner is just a long rectangle, and placemats are just smaller ones. If you buy some nice organza or patterned satin material in festive colours, you can whip up a unique and beautiful gift in a matter of minutes. A good size for a table runner is 60" long by 13" wide (or 160cm by 34cm). A good size for a placemat is 17½" by 12½" (or 45cm by 32cm). So for 6 placemats and 1 table runner, you'll need around 2 yards of fabric (2 metres). For each item you will need two pieces of fabric, so fold your fabric in half (right sides together) and draw up your pattern pieces using tailors chalk and a ruler (don't forget to include a seam allowance). Cut out, then sew together leaving a small gap in each piece (to turn the right way around). Turn right side out and iron (ironing the unfinished seam in place). Now run a seam around the entire outer side as close to the edge as possible. Voila!
Ladies Evening Wrap (or Day Wrap Summer evenings are great, but sometimes they can be a little cool. Why not make this easy evening wrap - a quick and easy gift idea for Christmas too! Or, if you have a friend with Lupus, why not make them a daytime wrap so they can be shielded from the sun. Great fabrics for this include silk or shot silk for an evening wrap, and tight weave cheesecloth which blocks the sun but still allows for air circulation for a day wrap. The wrap is 31½“ wide by 63“ long (or 80cm by 160cm). However, our preference would be to have both long edges of the wrap as a selvedge edge, so if you find suitable fabric in a roll with a width just slightly larger than these (say 36" instead of 31½ “), go ahead and buy it - a little extra width won't hurt. Before you buy your fabric, you need to decide what embellishment, if any, you want to put on the ends of the wrap. You can leave the edges as just a straight edge, you can attach some fringing or other decorative ribbon, or you can make your own fringe (if you are using a fabric than fringes easily). If you are buying decorative ribbon or fringing, you will need 63" or 160cm. If you decide to make your own fringe, don't forget to factor that into how much fabric you will need. An average fringe is 2½“ long (or 7cm), so you will need to buy 31½ “ wide by 68 “ long (or 80cm by 174cm). Then just stitch those edges that need to be stitched. For the sides (if you have to stitch them) I'd use a really tight zigzag stitch (test first on a scrap piece of fabric). For the ends, if you are just hemming, use the same stitch. If you will be attaching ribbon or fringing, sew a normal hem. If you are fringing the wrap yourself, start unpicking the material at one end, and continue until the fringe measures 2½“ long (or 7cm). Now grab bunches of the fringing about 1/4" wide (1/2cm), and tie in a knot so that the knot is as close the edge of the solid fabric as possible. Repeat every 1/4" until you have knotted the entire edge. Now repeat with the other end of the wrap. So, start sewing – hopefully these ideas will inspire you!
About the Author:
Diane Ellis has been sewing since she was very young and got her first sewing machine at 6 years old (albeit a miniature one!). She sews purely for friends and family, and enjoys making her own patterns, and using her skills to decorate her home. She is the co-author of the website where you'll find other great free patterns for Christmas Gift ideas. Also, for a limited time, you can sign up for a free 6 part sewing course called Easy Fun Sewing Projects.

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Comment by Gloria Allender on November 18, 2010 at 12:55pm
Great idea. Thanks for reminding me that all gifts do not have to be elaborate.
Comment by iluvmysix on November 18, 2010 at 9:01am

I love this idea. You could also start with fabric and make a potholder if you don't love the potholders you find. Also, if you make your own potholder you could make it larger and use larger plastic bags. I have seen this idea used for emergency kits to have in the car with bandaids, aspirin and such things. I thought about making one with camo fabric for my hubby to take snacks and supplies with him when he goes hunting. I'm sure there are many more creative possibilites for using the concept.
Comment by christine on December 22, 2008 at 7:42pm
Thank you, what I do for christimas presents is make patch quilts for everyone..all my left over fabric I cut into 8x8 squares and sew together to make a quilt , I add batting in the middle and a solid piece of fleece for the backing, embroioder the kids names on them and whalaw its a christmas prent the kids love.
Comment by Cathy on December 5, 2008 at 2:53pm
Thanks, certainly like the idea of making a simple, but elegant table runner and napkins. A sure can-do project even this close to Christmas.
Comment by Pauline Neeser on November 30, 2008 at 11:16pm
Very interesting. I may try to make a table runner. Thanks to all!
Comment by Jo on November 30, 2008 at 3:22pm
I looked at the quilt photo with the large blocks. Would certainly work up fast and lots of neat open space for machine quilting. I also enjoyed her baby booties and hopefully she will share the pattern with us.
Comment by Jo on November 30, 2008 at 3:07pm
Thanks for the ideas. I am working on table runners for everyone, although a different, but easy, pattern. Hope some others will share ideas with the list.
Jo in Montana
Comment by miriam on November 30, 2008 at 11:35am
Nice ideas

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