red flannel pantry

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graduation gift ideas–part III: gifts you can sew

I have saved the best for last. I love to sew, so here are my favorite ideas for gifts to sew for graduates.

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personalized pillowcase–pillowcases are a go-to gift of mine to make. They are easy to sew–I’ve made dozens for birthday and graduation gifts. You can read more about how I personalize them here. I sew on the recipient’s name, but you could put on a graphic design, sorority symbols or a monogram–there are lots of directions to choose.

floor pillow–large pillows can decorate a bed and provide additional seating. I use 24″x24″ or 26″x26″ pillow forms, but you can make your own oversized pillow forms like Amanda Jean of crazy mom quilts (check out her technique here). She makes beautiful stuffed reading pillows that I find irresistible. I plan on giving her design a try someday.

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For a boy graduate, I made this pillow from old jeans. I had a friend embroider the recipient’s name with her machine.

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For a girl graduate, I made this pillow from interior design fabric samples.

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sprocket pillow–I wrote about these pillows in an earlier post. You can find the link to the Cluck Cluck Sew tutorial here. By choosing fabric that reflects the graduate’s favorite colors or interests, you can make it extra special.

t-shirt pillowcase–a friend recently asked me if I had any suggestions on how to make a pillow from a t-shirt. Great idea, especially for a young man! I looked online and found this quick tutorial that I think would work beautifully.

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doorstop–I know, this sounds like a totally bizarre gift, but it is perfect for an incoming freshman. For firecode safety and security reasons, most dorm room doors now have automatic closing mechanisms, which is good; however, with all of the doors closed, the opportunity for random passing-by-the-room getting-to-know-you encounters is nil. With the door propped open, the student can give the signal that drop-in visitors are welcome and friendships can begin. When Daughter #1 was a freshman, she requested a doorstop for this very reason. I hopped online and found this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman–perfect! You can personalize it with fabric choices. I made the body of this doorstop for D#1 out of upcycled jeans for the sake of durability.

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picnic blanket–students love an excuse to be outdoors, and a picnic blanket gives them a cool place to hang out with friends. I have used this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew to make picnic blankets for both D#1 and D#2. This blanket is a very basic tied quilt, so it is easy to assemble, but you could certainly quilt it if you wanted. For the daughter in college it does double duty: when not being used for an outside place to sit, it is draped over the chair in her dorm room to hide the dirty upholstery! For my younger daughter, her blanket has gone to the beach and has been handy for sitting on cold stadium seats.

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Rather than tying it, I do a close zig-zag stitch to tack the layers together. Because this blanket gets lots of wear and tear, I use busy fabrics that won’t show stains readily.

Two other riffs on this same idea to check out, both from Sew Mama Sew: a stadium blanket made with t-shirts and a fleece backing and a picnic quilt made with fat quarters.

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garland–I have used this tutorial to make fabric garlands to decorate a dorm room. This scalloped shape is pretty, but I have also seen them in a pennant shape, which I like too and would work better for a guy grad. Again, I personalize through fabric choices. I fussy-cut from US map fabric to show their hometown and the location of their school, and I use fabric that represents their interests and their hometown sports teams (Go Cards! Go Blues! Go Rams!).

lanyard–though I haven’t made a lanyard yet, this idea has garnered the approval of D#2. My kids and their friends like to hook their school IDs and keys on lanyards that they then have hanging out of their pockets–it’s some kind of fashion statement, I suppose. I found two tutorials I like (here and here), which have straightforward instructions and easy-to-follow photos, and I plan to make several this year. I am thinking about bright modern fabrics for girls and upcycled men’s dress shirt fabric for guys. (I have read that this particular style of lanyard should not be worn around the neck for safety reasons since there is no break-away closure. It would be easy to modify this design and add a Velcro or magnet closure if desired. Since my kids just shove them in their pockets, I will make as instructed in the tutorial.)

eye mask–another untested (by me!) but clever idea is an eye mask. My college kids have no trouble sleeping day or night, but sometimes roommates insist on turning on the lights to study at 2 am. What is an exhausted college student to do? I came across this pattern and tutorial from The Red Kitchen and think it would be a terrific gift for a college student. Once again, fabric choices can be tailored to the tastes and sense of humor of the recipient. Packaged with foam earplugs, it would make a great sleep-themed gift.

Well, that’s that. If you have any ideas to share, please do. I am always looking for more!

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5 thoughts on “graduation gift ideas–part III: gifts you can sew

  1. Thanks so much for sharing my T-Shirt pillowcase link in your post! Have a wonderful week.

    Mary Beth

  2. I love your pillow idea and this is the perfect place to try out the chenille product. There are two seven year old girls that I tutor (reading skills) and I wanted to give them something at the end of the school year. Didn’t want to go over the top in expense or time, and a pillowcase with their name on it would be perfect! I was thinking of piecing the names before I read your post today. Chenille will be faster and give a great tactile accent. Thanks for the idea.

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