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Holiday Tips: Bake, Sew and Wrap Ideas from Threads Readers

I love the thought of a fabric-wrapped gift, suggested by reader Jean SmilingCoyote.

With Christmas just – gulp! – 9 days away, I thought about the many tips Threads has shared between sewers over the years. Inspired first by a cute baking tip in the next Threads issue, no. 153, I took a look back to find reader tips with a holiday connection in materials or mood. Here are a few:

Thread spool cookie press
“I try to be as ‘green’ as possible by using many items more than once before disposing of them, so an empty thread spool called for a new purpose. I washed it and used it to imprint the peanut butter cookies I made – after dipping the spool’s end in sugar to prevent the spool from sticking to the dough. The baked cookies look like snowflakes or flowers and are an easy, creative twist on the traditional use of a fork to press peanut butter cookies prior to baking them. The cookies make a wonderful conversation piece, especially when I bring them to my quilt guild, and the spool press adds a clever ‘sewing’ touch to my baking.” – a tip by Gail N. Rowles of St. Augustine, Florida, in the new issue, no. 153, on sale 1/4/11.

Baking paper pressing aid
“Parchment paper, typically used to line cookie sheets, makes a great press cloth. It’s especially useful when pressing fusibles, appliques and the like. It’s inexpensive, highly heatproof, transparent, and any excess adhesive stays on the parchement paper. It’s impenetrable, however, so it’s not good when your task requires steam.” – tip by Nancy Macaulay of Micanopy, Florida in issue no. 150.

Fabric gift wrap
“If sewing and quiltmaking were as common among the populace as they should be, nearly every gift could be wrapped in a piece of fabric usable by the recipient in some project, instead of paper, which gets discarded.” – idea from Jean SmilingCoyote of Chicago, in issue no. 125.

Handy ribbon pressing
“The next time you need to press a length of ribbon, don’t head for the iron and ironing board. The table lamp next to you may be all that’s needed.
Simply run the ribbon over any 60- to 100-watt light bulb (turned on and warm-hot to the touch). Be certain the bulb is dust-free. This also works on narrow lace trim.” – advice from Carol Curtis of Bellflower, Illinois, in issue no. 79.

That old Magic tape has me in its spell
“I’ve just discovered a new product that’s quickly becoming one of the most useful items in my sewing room. It’s 3M Scotch Removable Magic Tape, available with office supplies. I use it to make pattern adjustments or to repair ripped pattern pieces. I also stick it directly on fabric for temporary markings or notes or to affix pattern pieces to fabric to avoid pin marks during the cutting process. (The tape can easily be removed for up to two months with out leaving marks on the fabric.) And it’s a great tool when I trace Celtic knotwork patterns onto Irish linen.” – tip from Luci Young Blood of Little Falls, Minnesota, in issue no. 76.

If you have any sewing tricks with a holiday link, please share in your comments. I think we all could use some last-minute ways to make things easier!


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  1. rgrallnick | | #1

    get your serger out use a rolled hem three thread stitch
    and put wire on the edge of fabric to make a ribbon

  2. fabricgal68 | | #2

    As an avid upcycler, I'm always researching ways to re-purpose and re-use items. I love the thread spoool cookie press. I will also have to remember the now for using with kids playing with play-dough.

  3. Sewkitty | | #3

    I use my curling iron when I have ribbon that needs pressing.Love the idea of the parchment paper as press cloth will use it from now on!!!!

  4. DorothyC | | #4

    Even my non-sewing friends make enthusiastic comments when they see my spool garland. Wrapping each spool in red print fabric (stripped & metallic are especially festive), I strung them along 1/4" gold cording with a knot at each end of the spool to space them out.

  5. YktJane | | #5

    For the last 16 years, we have used fabric as gift wrap. We have a variety of bags I made as well. I have used antique doilies and trips. Almost all the fabric and bags are reused. My collection shows a trend in designs.

  6. dreamie | | #6

    I really love the parchment paper idea, I wish I'd known about it a long time ago.

    It reminds me of another idea for saving patterns which you know you'll use again and again; heat-seal pattern pieces to freezer paper with a warm iron and they'll last almost forever. {This means they'll take up a little more storage space when put away.}

  7. User avater
    JoJo15 | | #7

    I needed a new (bigger) tree skirt this year, but didn't have time to sew. So, I went to Joann's fabrics and bought 2 yards of 58-inch red, stretchy, holiday-dress fabric. It has glued sequins and doesn't ravel. Draped around the tree base, it looked great in about 60 seconds.

  8. freemaka | | #8

    I have always made seasonal bags with drawstring for presents in bottles :), but recently tried something that will work for oddly shaped gifts too.
    Furoshiki- the art of Japanese Fabric Folding.
    This is a fantastic way of upcycling and reusing fabric. I have used polyester scarves, and sheer/solid combinations of Holiday fabrics, with varying degrees of success.
    The background- the Japanese fabric used is printed/finished on both sides, "reversible", allowing for a contrast of colour or texture, and elegant bows, but the price is prohibitive.
    The pattern is simply a finished square. (36"+)
    When given along with a simple set of folding instructions, the fabric can be used again, and again, or returned for the next season of giving.
    The cons- Using anything but delicate fabric creates a lot of bulk especially if using two pieces of cotton sewn together, and turned inside out. Using just one piece of fabric, may "expose" the "wrong" side , when the corners are twisted and tied together.
    It's worth the challenge to reuse/upcycle more often, rather than purchasing one-time-use consumables. I wouldn't recommend leaving it to the night before though- experimentation takes time but is worth it if you have the motivation and patience. Here's to making the world a more beautiful place one metre/yard at a time ;-)

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