2022 Handpicked Gifts to Nurture CreativityHandpicked items to nurture creativity
Each year, the holiday season presents a chance to splurge on the pastimes we enjoy. The editorial staff and contributors consider the superb materials, practical tools, advanced machines, and interesting new books we came across during the year. We share our favorites to make a collective list of useful and exciting options.
This year’s gift guide selections share a theme, the promise of inspiration. There are items and opportunities to learn something new or complete aspirational projects. The selection is available at a range of costs for different spending levels.
Enjoy the season and the gift guide, and indulge your creative side this year.
Kits to Make
Let the professionals put together the supplies you need to complete worthwhile and beautiful finished projects.
Bags by Klum house workshop
Create a durable, chic bag from leather and waxed cotton. Kits include precut materials, high-quality hardware, and access to a PDF pattern; extended straps are available to fit a range of body sizes. Choose from many styles including backpacks, totes, and bucket bags (Naito full maker kit shown). All bags can be made with a home sewing machine, so there’s no need for special equipment.
KlumHouse.com; from $70.00 to $225.00
Assemble your own kit to sew a pair of traditional pj’s, based on the Closet Core Carolyn Pajamas pattern. The pattern is available up to size 32, and includes shorts and long pants, and short or long sleeves. The print version is packaged nicely to give as a gift. Pair the pattern with separately purchased crisp cotton poplin and piping, flannel, or silk charmeuse, depending on the recipient’s lounging preferences.
Stitch your climate memories
Tempestry knit and crochet kits are custom-made to depict the daily high temperatures for the year and place of your choice. They include all the yarns and a guide for creating a wall hanging. Extra accessories available include needles, needle wranglers, and decorative beads.
TempestryProject.com; $90.00 for the Original Knit Kit
Jessica Long’s embroidery kits offer options for beginning to advanced stitchers, and focus on charming scenes of flora and fauna. Her double-hoop styles (Year of Birds shown) are especially fun. Kits include floss, needles, fabric, hoop, instructions, and a stitch guide.
JessicaLongEmbroidery.com; kits from $21.50 to $60.00
Books to Inspire
Sustain your making habits with new references and journals.
Stories of creation
Melanie Falick’s Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live (Artisan, 2019), connects the reader with makers around the world, involved in different types of handwork. Explore their unique environments, habits, and perspectives along with the author, a well-known writer and editor in the world of crafts. Melanie traveled extensively to build this collection of thoughtful profiles. Each artisan’s story, accompanied by stunning photographs, draws out facets of our human fascination with creating by hand. Buy a copy for yourself, or for someone else. Here is inspiration to rediscover and bolster the inherent joy found in making.
Stitch by Stitch
Make, Sew and Mend: Traditional Techniques to Sustainably Maintain and Refashion Your Clothes (Page Street Publishing, 2022) by dress historian Bernadette Banner combines practical sewing information and exploration of how and why we make garments. To a large YouTube audience, Bernadette is known for hand-sewing historically authentic garments. Yet her book not only includes step-by-step tutorials for her favorite hand-sewing and mending techniques, it offers advice for finding your personal style, and encourages enthusiasm for creating a more sustainable wardrobe.
Sewing through the Seasons
For a touch of beauty and wardrobe inspiration, look to A Year of Sewing with Nani Iro (Zakka Workshop, 2022) by Naomi Ito. A best-selling Japanese sewing book now available in an expanded layout and English translation, this title includes 18 full-size patterns plus instructions. Though the sizing is limited (S through XL, for busts 32 to 43 inches), the designs have generous design ease and may equate to larger sizes. The simple silhouettes are also potentially easy to grade up. The clean and elegant garments creatively deploy volume and ease, and they work together in cohesive groupings.
Curated Quilts, a journal that focuses on modern quilting, has brought together a selection of 12 postcards representing patchwork quilts featured in recent issues. The cards make a beautiful array to decorate your sewing space, or the ideal stationery for sending words of inspiration to your friends. If you’re not a quilter, these cards may convert you—and if they do, consider a subscription to the magazine or a membership to the site.
CuratedQuilts.com; postcards, $12.00; single issues, $18.00
Classes and experiences abound, offering chances to develop or refresh skills and make new friends. Find an experience that explores your interests or gift a class to a maker you care about.
The ultimate gift of inspiration is a trip to an artisan village in the French countryside, to explore embellishment techniques. Rae Cumbie and Carrie Emerson of Fit for Art Patterns invite a maximum of 10 students to join them at La Cascade, August 2 through 9, 2023. The weeklong workshop includes studio classes in the mornings, followed by tours of the area in the afternoons. Rae, a frequent Threads author, shares many creative techiques, for stitchers of
all skill levels.
FitForArtPatterns.com; estimated price $2,950.00
Indulge your favorite stitcher in expert instruction they can enjoy at home. Online memberships and classes vary: Some offer interaction over video conference; others provide anytime access to tutorials, patterns, and discounts. These are just a few of the options.
Cashmerette Club: Inclusive sizing for stylish, contemporary apparel. Base membership includes a new pattern every month, plus access to an online forum. Higher levels offer master classes, live events, and discounts. Cashmerette.com; from $9.00 to $12/month.
Sew It! Academy: Mimi G’s online school has a continually growing curriculum of video lessons, for all skill levels. Choose from a women’s wear or menswear focus, or both. Sew-It-Academy.Thinkific.com; from $11.97 to $17.97/month.
Looking Good Together: Image coach Nancy Nix-Rice guides you in creating a personalized, versatile wardrobe via ongoing virtual training, support, and community. NancyNixRice.com. Price $299.00/one-year membership.
Charm Artist Collective: Vintage designer Gretchen Hirsch shares projects, live events, an exclusive online hub, discounts, fitting videos, and more in her three-tiered Patreon subscription.
CharmPatterns.com/Patreon; $7.00 to $16.00/month.
The latest sewing machine and serger models have features that are sure to boost your creative options.
Baby Lock Allegro
If you’re getting serious about quilting, or even just getting started, Baby Lock’s Allegro model can enhance your experience. It offers a 12-inch bed space for handling large projects, 200 built-in stitches for maximum creativity, and a sewing speed of 1,000 stitches per minute. A hands-free, presser-foot lifter means you can maintain control of your work as you stop to pivot the fabric. The two alphanumeric fonts make it easy to sign your projects, too. You’ll find the built-in needle threader and six LED lights reduce eye strain for comfortable sewing.
For garment sewers, the machine includes 11 one-step buttonhole options, 10 presser feet, and a free arm for sewing small items.
BabyLock.com; MSRP $1,599
Bernina 770 QE Plus Kaffe edition
Fans of Kaffe Fassett’s fabric and quilt designs will adore this combination sewing/embroidery machine, and not just because of its pretty face. You’ll find hundreds of decorative stitches, as well as exclusive Kaffe embroidery designs. The Bernina Stitch Regulator ensures consistent stitch length in free-motion stitching to give your quilts a professional look. The machine is available with or without the embroidery module, so you can invest in what matters most to you.
Art-t0-wear and home décor creators can indulge just about any stitching idea with this machine— even mending will feel special.
Bernina.com; $7,999.00; $10,499 with embroidery module
Brother AIRFLOW 3000 Air Serger
Serger threading frustration is history with a modern air-threading model. The Brother Airflow 3000 Air Serger uses small blasts of air to guide thread through the loopers for fast and easy thread changes. Additional ease-of-use features plus a range of creative functions make this 2/3/4-thread machine a prudent choice for a first serger or an upgrade. Use it to trim and overlock edges, and explore the functional and decorative flatlock, overlock, rolled hem, and lettuce-edge finishes. The differential feed ensures the desired stitch quality on stretch fabrics, and the accessories kit includes a trap to collect trimmings, a gathering foot, a blind-stitch foot, and a piping foot.
Brother.com; price on request from dealers
Tools and Notions
These helpful items bring fun and function to any sewing space.
Share an important message of unconditional love and support with the Going Places label collection, designed for children by digital artist Brook Gossen for Kylie and The Machine. The 18 embroidered cloth labels feature colorful art and affirmations chosen by children, including “You Are My Sunshine,” “Be Yourself,” and the classic “I Love You.” Kids know how to say things simply, don’t they?
KylieAndTheMachine.com; $25.00 AUD
A tiny pair of snips—barely 1-1⁄2 inches long—can accomplish big things in your textile practice. They’re made by Hasegawa Cutlery in Seki, Japan, and come with a leather sheath and silk tassel. Keep them in your hand-sewing kit or knitting bag for clipping threads and yarn ends. They are packaged in an elegant box from Cohana, ideal for gift-giving.
Cohana.style/en; Etsy.com, $20.00 and up
For your favorite tailor, seamstress, or quilter, there’s a handmade maple clapper laser-engraved with their name or initials. Choose a length from 6 inches to 12 inches. Smooth and hefty, this pressing aid is a joy to use.
Etsy.com, OSSQuiltWorks; $27.50 to $40.00
Corral small sewing and crafting supplies with the Poke-A-Dot Organizer. The plastic storage container, in black or clear, comes with eight movable dividers to create custom compartments. Each divider’s pegged bottom fits securely into the container’s rows of holes. More dividers can be purchased separately. A tight-fitting lid keeps everything in place if you need to take your notions on the road—or into the next room.
Textiles Recycling Service
Scraps from your projects could be broken down and used to create new textiles or other useful materials such as insulation, through Retold Recycling’s convenient service. For a fee, the company mails you a bag, which you stuff with scrap fabrics or old clothes and mail back. They separate the textiles into donatable, recyclable, and scrappable categories and send them to the right entities. Try out the service with the 5-pound capacity Solo Bag and go from there.
RetoldRecycling.com; $14.50 per bag, subscriptions start at $24.75
Micro-serrated duckbill applique scissors
Rainbow-colored and useful for a spectrum of trimming tasks, this little pair of applique scissors is a versatile addition to your sewing tools. At 4 ½ inches in length, the mini pair fits nicely into a small sewing kit for travel. Pamela Leggett, of Pamela’s Patterns, recommends these for trimming fabric close to stitching, especially for silky and knit textiles. The microserrated blades grip the fabric for accurate and clean cuts. For larger tasks, choose a 6-inch pair.
PamelasPatterns.com; $16.00 (4 ½ inches), $25 (6 inches)
A rainbow of FriXion pens
By now, most sewers know the delights of the FriXion pen for marking fabric: Draw on your fabric, sew, then erase your marks with the touch of an iron. A multipack set with eight colors comes in handy for marking fabrics of different colors. At the same time, you can use them for patternwork and fit adjustments. Choose a different color for each iteration of the pattern, and when you arrive at the final version, draw over the lines with a permanent marker. Then iron away all the stages that came before for a tidy final pattern.
Gutermann thread assortment
At Threads, we love thread. We recommend keeping an assortment of neutrals and basic colors that can blend with most fabric colors and prints. This way, you don’t need to match the thread for every project. This set of 10 spools of Gutermann thread includes hues that work with a wide range of common materials. Even better, the general-purpose thread is made from recycled plastic, and the packaging is all recycled, too. Give a set to a new sewer, and keep on yourself: Lack of thread should never stop you from sewing!
Amazon.com; $15.39/10-spool box
Step one when you’re sewing a knit garment is choosing fabric with the correct amount of stretch. With this ruler, you can check a fabric’s percentage of stretch quickly and accurately—no math to do while you’re standing in line at the fabric store! The 10-inch-long, 1-inch-wide ruler also has dots for marking a ¼-inch-wide seam allowance (typical of many patterns intended for knits), and a line for makring 5/8-inch-wide allowances. You may want two of these: one to take with you when you shop, and one at your sewing table.
Fashion Multi Tool
If you’re a budding designer, or just want to do accurate pattern adjustments, you’ll find this ruler/curve tool indispensable. It combines straight and curved rulers, a point for mitering and turning corners right side out, plus slots for easily adding seam allowances. The total length is small enough to fit into a handbag or modest sewing kit, unlike full-size French curves, so it’s suited to carrying to classes and workshops.
Hands-free neck light
This clever accessory is fondly known in the sewing community as “boob lights.” We suggest you not Google it by that name, however. Instead, look for the Vekkia rechargeable book light. The flexible light wraps comfortably around the back of your neck; you can position the lights to point in any direction. For handwork, it reduces eyestrain and increases accuracy. Sew, knit, crochet—even in dimly lit spaces, you’ll have a clear view of your work. The light has three different beam strengths, and is rechargeable via micro-USB cable (included).
TheSewingWorkshop.com: Gift cards, from $50 to $425, are available and may be redeemed for membership in Linda Lee’s Sew Confident! wardrobe-building club. Additionally, your giftee can purchase patterns, fabric, and garment kits to bring their wardrobe plans to life. Ideal for sewers looking for hands-on inspiration.
SusanKhalje.com: Susan Khalje, a Threads contributing editor, offers a range of classes, in person and on video, private and in groups, as well as week-long intensives, and trips to London and Paris. For those seeking to expand their skills in couture sewing, time with Susan is worth every penny.
KennethDKing.com: Contributing editor Kenneth D. King teaches classes through Zoom, as well as Sit and Sew classes at Susan Khalje’s Baltimore studio. The Sit and Sew classes have a flexible format, so they are well suited for someone with a specific project in mind. You can work on a muslin for fit, have a design consultation, learn techniques for handling unfamiliar fabrics, and more.
SewingAndDesignSchool.com: Ryliss Bod, owner of the Sewing and Design School in Tacoma, Washington, offers in-person classes on a range of topics, from beginning sewing to advanced techniques. She teaches many herself, and also brings in guest instructors, including Kenneth D. King, Lynda Maynard, and Anne Whalley. Some students go on to fashion school and careers in the design industry. Others enjoy enhancing their skills for their personal sewing.
ThomasVonNordheim: If you know someone who is ready to embark on a bespoke tailoring education, a five-day intensive course with the British tailor Thomas von Nordheim would be a meaningful gift. Visit the website to find out when he’s offering classes in the new year.
LoveCoutureSewing.com: Barbie McCormick and Linda Homan, members of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, offer classes in couture sewing (tailored jackets, Chanel-inspired jackets, fitting); in 2023 there’s a selection that will take place in Palm Springs, California. Both instructors have many years’ experience in designing and fitting jackets to a range of body types, and will help you create a jacket that looks and feels wonderful. Couture expert Claire Shaeffer will make a guest appearance to share couture and bespoke garment examples for inspiration.
SewingProfessionals.com: The Association of Sewing and Design Professionals has a number of membership levels, including student level ($40). The association provides networking; training and education at the annual national conference; chapter events; vendor discounts; advice from industry experts; business guidance; online learning opportunities; and much more. Aspiring designers and custom clothiers will benefit from joining this group of seasoned and successful professionals.
Compiled by Threads editors and contributors.
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