red flannel pantry

creative pursuits in the kitchen, garden, library and sewing room

Archive for the tag “easy to sew gift”

getting a grip


Lori Kennedy, of The Inbox Jaunt, is presenting a quilt notebook series to offer help in taking control of unfinished projects. I’m guilty of starting more projects than I finish, so in channeling Lori’s message, I set my most recent unfinished projects on my sewing table and have begun knocking them out.


I had meant to make a pile of these suitcase handle wraps as stocking stuffers, but I succeeded in getting only one finished in time for Christmas as a gift for my daughter. That’s what happens when I dish too much on my pre-holiday gifts-to-make plate.

I thought today I’d sew the rest that I had cut out. I always feel silly when the task I put off takes so little time to complete–and indeed, this batch took me less than an hour to finish up.

Now that I have a feel-good mini-finish, it’s on to the next.

birthday blankets


For a couple of Daughter #2’s friends turning another year older, I made lanyards and fleece blankets.

MKs bday tea 1.2014

What better way to celebrate than with high tea?! Happy Birthday girls!

love and wabi-sabi


When Daughter #1 and I were discussing gift ideas for her family-stay hosts, she thought she’d like to also bring a gift for the program director. Mervyn has coordinated this program with her college for many years. He lives in Northern Ireland, and every year he journeys to her college to meet with the students a couple of times before the study-abroad semester begins. He’ll be working closely with the students while they’re on the program.

At first I thought, well, I’ll make him a table runner too. But then I remembered a mini-quilt tutorial and knew it’d be the ideal gift. You see, Mervyn’s last name is Love, as in Dr. Love–isn’t that the perfect name for a professor of peace studies and conflict resolution?! So I located this true love mini-quilt tutorial by kelbysews on Sew Mama Sew and got to work.

It’s a paper-pieced project, and I had never paper-pieced before. My visual-spatial abilities are sorely lacking (to my architect-husband’s bemusement), so working in reverse is hard for my mind to grasp. I learned quickly to generously overcut each piece to allow for error (and I made a couple). Once I got the hang of it, I managed. If you’ve never paper-pieced before, this tutorial is a great first project.

I made the mini-quilt full size (finished dimensions: 15″ x 20″).


As well as embracing the challenge of a paper-pieced quilt, I also stretched myself on the quilting. My impulse, given the time crunch, was to do a quick overall pattern. But I saw another love mini-quilt, admired its pebble quilting and thought, I can do that! So I did. I straight-line quilted the letters at 1/4-inch intervals.


In my stash, I found the best fabric for the back. I bought it at least 4 years ago–snips of it continue to find their way into my quilts. The words embrace the nature of the study-abroad program–and the term wabi-sabi defines my creative approach.


I pinned a hanging sleeve in place on the back before I sewed the binding in place on the other side. Then when I sewed the binding, the top edge of the sleeve was sewn in place too–one less thing to hand-sew.  I am all about easy.


If it weren’t for the binding and the hanging sleeve, I think the entire piece would be camouflaged in the snow!

hometown gifts for out-of-town hosts


Daughter #1 will be staying with a family during her Northern Ireland semester, so she wanted to bring along some gifts for them. We thought a table runner would be a good idea: easy to pack, useful and decorative. Of course, I meant to make it before Christmas–oops. Her departure date is fast approaching, so I needed to get a move on. I have an apothecary jar filled with 2 1/2-inch squares, so my design began there. I sewed five rows, seven squares each, and then cut six 14 1/2-inch x 5-inch solid panels and pieced as pictured above–easy as could be (finished dimensions: 14″ x 37″). The runner could be made longer by adding additional rows/panels and deeper by adding additional squares to the rows and adjusting the size of the solid panels accordingly.


Despite my attempts at gently shooing, Hobbes insisted on being in the pictures (note tail above).


For the back I found this great bit of nuts fabric in the stash.


I quilted it with organic lines using the walking foot–again, easy and looks lovely.


Because I wasn’t sure if I’d get a gift made in time, I bought a back-up: this cool dishtowel from catstudio. It comes in its own decorative fabric envelope, perfect for gift giving.


You can get them for every state–so here’s our home state, Missouri. Although the design is printed, the cross-stitching is sewn.


And here’s an unexpected bonus: this wonderful card with a quotation from Nelson Mandela. Since D#1 will be studying international conflict resolution and mediation, it couldn’t be more perfect.

another sewing machine cover


Don’t tell my sister-in-law, but I’ve made a sewing machine cover for her too.


I found the perfect fabric from Moda (Mama Said Sew). Terrye is an artist who makes quilt-like paper collages, so this quilt-square name fabric fit the bill.


This time you can see the handle!

Venus and a sewing machine cover


I decided to make a practical gift for a practical friend who sews: a sewing machine cover. A tutorial at sewdelicious was my guide.


Although I love the pieced look of Ros’ cover, since I had this great Keep Calm fabric, I used it as panels rather than piecing charm squares per the tutorial (front and back panels: 10 1/4″ x 18 1/2″; top panel: 8″ x 18 1/2″; side panels: 8″ x 10″). I joined the front, top and back panels and quilted it as one unit. I then assembled as in the tutorial. I used muslin as a backing when I quilted the panels, so I skipped making the lining.


It’s hard to see, but I added a handle on top. For the first time, I machine-stitched the binding down following Rita’s (of Red Pepper Quilt) tutorial. I figured since no one would see the other side of the binding on this project, any wobbles would be safely hidden. The front side of the binding looks great and it took a whole lot less time. However, the back isn’t as nicely finished as I like–I need more practice with that technique before I’ll try it on a quilt.


Since Venus photobombed my first picture, I thought I’d give her a close-up. She’s showing off her holiday garb.

birthday warmth


Some of Daughter #2’s friends turn a year older soon, so we thought fleece blankets would make cuddly gifts. They can be left in the car to be available for soccer games and picnics or brought inside for use while TV watching and studying. Their high school colors are blue and white, so we chose fleece with some blue for the top layer.


For the bottom layer, which wraps around to make the binding, we went with the usual heather gray for its ability to camouflage lint.


These double-layered fleece blankets are easy to sew, wear like iron and are extra warm. I love when I get these mitered corners right–it’s so much easier with fleece than cotton! You can read how I make these blankets here.

pillowcase for Paulina


My youngest daughter is lucky to have a nice set of friends. This year their circle grew with the addition of Paulina, a foreign exchange student from Sweden. At a recent sleepover, Paulina asked D#2, “What is it with all of the pillowcases with names on them? Is it an American thing?” D#2 replied, “No, it’s my mother’s thing!”

With Paulina’s birthday approaching, we knew what to make her, of course: her own pillowcase. D#2 decided on a hipster Dear Stella print with a cuff of green retro floral fabric I had in my stash.

You can read how I make these personalized pillowcases here.

lanyards for friends old and new


I pieced 20 lanyards about a month ago. Over the past couple of days I have begun finishing them up. They will be gifts for Daughter #2’s old friends and gifts for Daughter #1’s new friends when she studies abroad next semester. You can read how I make them here.

micro mini-quilts


I have been scouting for quick Christmas gifts to make. When I saw this easy potholder design on imagingermonkey (follow the link to her Sizzix blog for the tutorial), I thought it could fit the bill. After making one, I can say it does–it’s fast and easy. I used 3 1/2-inch squares to make it larger so it can double as a trivet. The grommet and the twill tape are a fun touch.


On the back, I used a scrap of retro teacup fabric. This same fabric appeared on a tea cozy I made Jill for Christmas last year, so now she has a matching potholder!

Other potholder tutorials can be found at Fresh Lemons, Oh Fransson (with a nifty pocket to slip your hand into), and a double potholder tutorial at The Boy Trifecta–that’s one I’d really like to make and keep for myself! A potholder would also be a simple quilt-as-you-go project. I think I might use up some leftover orphan blocks to make potholders–after all, potholders are really micro-mini-quilts. I lack the discipline to regularly practice free-motion quilting as I should. so practicing and experimenting with quilting techniques on these little guys can only help me.

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