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Conversational Threads

What is everyone sewing for holiday gift

sewslow67 | Posted in General Discussion on

It is about time to start sewing projects as Christmas gifts, and I was wondering if anyone else does the same thing, and what you might have on your idea list for this coming holiday?

I’ve decided to do “table” accessories, i.e. place mats and napkin sets, using that wonderful book by Threads publishers, and also tea cozies and casserole carriers for those friends and families who like to do a lot of potlucks.

Any thoughts?


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    OMG! You're starting Christmas gifts?! I won't get into holiday mode until October!

    1. sewslow67 | | #2

      LOL!  Good comment.  But here's the deal:  I'm still working very long hours and ...check out my screen name; i.e. truly ...I'm a very slow sewer - even though I have been sewing for years.  ;-)

    2. GailAnn | | #3

      My sister has a long standing habit of having all her Christmas shopping, sewing, wrapping, everything but the decorations and baking done by the last day of August.  Gail

  2. User avater
    VKStitcher | | #4

    Christmas!?!  I'm just starting on my summer wardrobe! :-)  I always have thoughts of starting my holiday sewing early, but it seems that the inspiration never comes until November or December.

    Actually, I have been thinking about what to make for gifts this year.  Your "table accessories" are great gifts; I have done placemats and runners in the past.  I recently got the Handy Heart Potholder pattern, and will probably make a bunch of potholders for gifts this year.  Maybe I'll tuck in some recipe cards or a cookie or soup "mix in a jar" as well.

    1. sewslow67 | | #5

      Hi Vickie:  Thanks for sharing your ideas and the web link.  I really like your idea of those cute pot holders and adding recipes and/cookie mix in a jar, too.  I think I'll add that to my list this year as well.

      BTW, I made a mistake re the napkin book I mentioned.  It wasn't published by Threads, but is entitled:  "Simply Napkins" by Gail Brown and Mary Mulari, and is published by Krause.  If you haven't seen it, you might want to take a look.  It's full of lovely ideas and has many other projects other than napkins in it.

      Here's a link in case you want to check it out:  http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Napkins-Mary-Mulari/dp/0873495837

      1. User avater
        VKStitcher | | #6

        Thanks for the link to "Simply Napkins"--such lovely pictures and ideas.  I love the look of beautiful cloth napkins, but alas we don't use them on an everyday basis.

        1. sewelegant | | #7

          In response to your view that we do not use cloth napkins every day... I had that view for so many years and when I got my serger decided to go ahead and make a dozen everyday napkins.  The only time we use paper anymore is when the meal is too messy, like BBQ.  I took one of my dishes to the wall of quilt fabrics and matched one of the colors in the pattern.  Later on I wanted some nicer finished napkins and pulled thread to get a straight cut.  Made the napkins as big as I could to get 4 from one yard of cotton fabric.  This straight cut may look weird as the fabric has been ironed off grain, but I iron a 1/2" (3/4" to 1" if the fabric is wide enough) hem width all around then fold it again and sew down.  The corners, I found, look just fine if I sew around just sewing the new folded edge over the previous one.  I like these napkins so much I have given a set of 8 or so as gifts to my children and others I felt worthy of them.  They wash beautifully and fold up perfectly because of being cut on the grain.  I rarely iron them because when they are folded and put away they kind of press themselves.  I find sewing this hem as easy as serging and I like the look better.  My first napkins were only 17" square but now with so many of the fabrics being made wider I have 18" and even 20" ones.  I love them!  

          1. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #11

            I remember going to my older cousin's house for lunch when I was in my early teens, and she used cloth napkins.  I thought oh how elegant, her table looked like a photo from a magazine.  I tried to be dainty and not make a mess. 

            There's a messy one at our table (my husband!), so I've never used cloth napkins because I was afraid that they would become permanently stained and not look clean, even after washing.  You've inspired me to pull out the napkins that match the placemats and use them this week (no BBQ or spaghetti on the menu!)  Maybe this will be an incentive for him to be a little neater?  ;-)  Come to think of it, when we go to restaurants that use cloth napkins, he doesn't make such a mess....hmmm...

            I have some fabric for quilted placemats to coordinate with our breakfast room curtains.  I think there is enough for a couple of napkins, so I think I'll give it a go.

            P.S.  I see from your profile that we share the same birthday--I hope yours was a good one, too! 

          2. GailAnn | | #18

            When they go on sale, buy a dozen or so terry cloth hand (guest) towels.  They make dandy everyday napkins, and go right in the washing machine.  No muss no fuss.  I've been using them for years, since long before I ever thought about whether or not I was "green".  Gail

          3. sewslow67 | | #19

            Oh, Gail; what a great idea.  And they would be perfect even when we have bargeque or spaghetti.  LOL!

            You could even embroider on them too, (possibly monograms along with a design) to give as gifts.  I guess you were "green" and didn't even know it!  ;-)

          4. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #20

            Using towels is a great idea.  And SewSlow's idea for embroidering on them is clever--I'll monogram one especially for "Messy Marvin"!  :-D

          5. SewFit | | #21

            Hand towels also make great "bibs" for seniors.  Years ago when my Grandma was in a nursing facility, I made her several by cutting a half circle shape from one end and binding with bias tape which extended into ties. (or you can use wider strips with velcro tabs for closing)   I appliqued a small design and added her name to the front so that after laundering they made their way back to her room. 

            They could actually be made out of larger towels to use for wheelchair bound persons.  

          6. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #22

            Another great idea.

          7. GailAnn | | #34

            In our family I'm the "Messy Marvin".  Gail

          8. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #38

            :-)   You are funny!

            Last week we used the cloth napkins that matched the placemats.  Hubby thought it was a great idea to use them, and I must say, he has been on his best behavior.  Hasn't ruined one yet.  :-)

          9. sewelegant | | #25

            I love it that we have the same birthday!  It isn't often you find that.  I went to our garden club meeting on the 11th and because it was my birthday I was sent home with the most beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers.  It's still beautiful after one week.

            Back to the napkins... my husband took to cloth napkins like a duck to water and I do cringe a little watching him use them!  I think he feels "elegant" using them!  Since he retired he has also taken to washing the clothes if he can't see the bottom of the hamper.  It wouldn't help to hide the bleach bottle because he's the one who buys it, but there are a few bleach spots on my napkins we use everyday.  They're not so noticeable if I just fold the spot inside.  I have used the little hand towels for napkins.  They are great for an outdoor meal or picnic and I always take one or two cloth napkins with me when we go on a car trip.  I used to love them when we would go on the airplane but that is a moot point nowadays.

            I too like the potholder and would like to make some for myself.  I did notice that in my copy of the qult magazine when it came and may have to order it!  Most anyone can use a potholder or two so I think it's a great gift suggestion.

          10. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #27

            There are a lot of June birthdays in my family.  My brother-in-law's birthday is June 10 (we were born the same year), but I don't think I've ever known anyone whose birthday is the same as mine.

            How sweet that your fellow gardeners gave you flowers for your birthday!  I love fresh flowers.  Our gardenias are blooming now, and we have purple petunias in pots on the patio.  that's too many P's! :-)  My husband occasionally brings home a bouquet, "just because".  Of course, the cats think the flowers are their special tasty snack, so we have to put the vase on top of the TV armoire.  The cats will sit and stare, with tails swishing, as if plotting a way to get up to the flowers.  They are so funny!

            As for the potholders, I have been collecting sets of coordinating fat quarters that will be perfect.  It's way too early to start sewing them for Christmas presents, but at least I have an idea of what I want to make.  Usually I don't get "inspired" until after Thanksgiving.

          11. User avater
            Becky-book | | #42

            cloth napkins for everyday use... we do! the everyday ones are a very busy print so the occasional stain that won't come out doesn't show much, and the kids don't care how they look as long as they are clean.Becky

          12. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #44

            Hi Becky,We've been using cloth napkins this week, and so far so good--no permanent stains.  I really do like the feel and weight of the cloth, instead of the thin paper napkins.

        2. sewslow67 | | #9

          You are most welcome.  BTW, where do you find good recipes for your cookie and soup mix in a jar?  I love the ideas and was wondering if you have a source you could recommend.  I just checked the Internet and there are literally hundreds ...but I'd rather go with your suggestions.

          Also, since you liked the napkin book, there is another one that you might enjoy, which is:  "Finishing Touches: Sewing Decorative Accessories for the Home", and is published by Chilton.  This is a link for it, but alas, it has no inside photos and no reviews:  http://www.amazon.com/Finishing-Touches-Sewing-Decorative-Accessories/dp/0801983606/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213556611&sr=1-1


          1. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #15

            About 5 or 6 years ago, I got a set of recipe booklets from Nancy's Notions.  There were 3 or 4 booklets, each with different "jar" recipes--one for cookies, one for soup, one for cakes actually baked in a jar.  The Kahlua Cake in a Jar was a real hit with the guys at work.

            I have looked the house over this afternoon, and can't find those booklets.  It really bugs me that I have misplaced them!  And I didn't find them on the Nancy's Notions website just now.  My Mom may have borrowed them; I'll check with her tomorrow and get back with you.

            Also, thanks for the link to the home accessories book.  I have made a lot of things for our house--pillows, drapes, duvet covers, slipcovers, table runners, wall hangings, quilts, etc, etc.  I enjoy having custom one-of-a-kind things that suit my style.  For photos of a wall hanging that I made last year, see post 7269.1.

          2. sewslow67 | | #16

            cc: from my post re your wall hanging:  Vickie: This is absolutely stunning ...and I echo everyone else's comments.  Truly outstanding.  Thanks so much for sharing it with us ...and for giving me the link so I could enjoy it as well.  Bravo!

            As for the recipes:  Thanks so very much for looking for them, but please don't knock yourself out.  I wonder if I called Nancy's Notions tomorrow when the customer service office it open it, perhaps, they might be able to help us.  Sometimes they keep these booklets around in storage and, if they do, we could get copies.

            I'll see what I can do tomorrow - it's a work day, so hopefully I'll remember.

          3. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #17

            Let me check with Mom re: the recipe booklets.  It's not a bother, she just lives across the road.  She wasn't at home tonight, or I would have walked over to look for them!  :-) 

            Thank you for your compliments on the wall hanging.  It was a long time in the making, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

          4. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #23

            Well, I asked Mom about the recipe booklets, and she said she didn't have them.  Now I'll have to turn the house upside down to find them, because it really bugs me that I don't know where they are!  Funny, I know exactly where they were in our old house before we moved!    We are NOT moving again!!

            Sorry that I couldn't share the recipes with you, but there are lots to choose from on the internet.  I know that you'll find some good ones.

          5. sewslow67 | | #24

            Please don't knock yourself out for me, Vickie ...although I appreciate you trying.  I do  hope you find them for you, though.  It is so frustrating to try to find things after a move.   And I know what you mean when you say:  "we are NOT moving again"! 

            Thanks again; and your booklets will probably show up when you are looking for something else.  At least, that is usually what happens to me.  LOL!

            Edited 6/18/2008 10:51 am ET by sewslow67

          6. sewelegant | | #37

            I was intriqued by the kahlua cake in a jar and finally found this.  Is this the same as in the recipe booklet you mentioned?


          7. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #39

            This sounds like a great recipe, especially with the chocolate Kahlua syrup drizzled over the top.  Yum!  But 4 servings from a pint jar?  You've got to be kidding!  That's just a single serving!  :-D

            From what I recall, the recipe I used started with a chocolate cake mix.  There may have been pudding mix added, not sure if Kahlua was in the batter or only in the glaze.  It's been a couple of years since I made it, and I don't remember the details.  Sorry!  I'm still irritated that I can't find those recipe booklets.  The recipe you found is made in the same way, and will probably give you the same tasty results.

            Writing about this is making my mouth water.  And tonight is weigh-in at Weight Watchers....

          8. sewelegant | | #40

            And THAT is supposed to be the light version.  Oh my. 

          9. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #45

            I sent you some information in a private email through the forum, did you get it?  Just curious...

          10. sewelegant | | #49

            I checked my e-mail and got your message, thank you.  I sent one back.  This next bit isn't just to you, but to all... that rum cake recipe was from the Bacardi Rum ads.  I saw a different recipe that added orange juice to the sauce and if you like the hint of orange you will never make this cake again without it! 

            ORANGE RUM SAUCE

            1... Combine in a saucepan ............... one and a half cups of orange juice and three fourths  cup of sugar.

            <!----><!---->2... Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.<!----><!---->

            3... Cool slightly then add ................... one half cup rum (one fourth to one third OK)

            4... Poke holes in the cake with a skewer and slowly ladle the sauce over warm <!----><!---->

                  cake until all is absorbed.  Alternate method: Cut cake into 3 layers...place <!----><!---->

                  first layer on a serving dish at least 1" deep ... pour one third of the sauce over <!----><!---->

                  this layer.  Repeat with the remaining layers.<!----><!---->

            (To get back to sewing... This really goes well with my citrus fruit patterned APRON!)

            edits:  I can't seem to get my edits to make the fractions so spelled it out.

            Edited 6/26/2008 12:12 pm by sewelegant

            Edited 6/26/2008 12:20 pm by sewelegant

            Edited 6/26/2008 12:24 pm by sewelegant

          11. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #50

            Now my mouth is watering with thoughts of this orange glaze on a warm cake.  :-)  Reminds me of years ago, there was a gentleman in our community who would bake a "Harvey Wallbanger" cake that had Galliano (orange liqueur) and vodka in it.  The good Baptist ladies loved it, and thought they were being quite naughty because they enjoyed it so!

            Your citrus patterned apron...oh yes, we were talking about sewing.  <giggle>

          12. Ralphetta | | #41

            I came in on the middle of this conversation and only read something about a pint being 1 serving. Yes! I want to come eat at your house. My friend and I are always laughing about things that say they serve 4 but don't. I bet you agree with her favorite rule that there is no recipe that can't be improved with the addition of either bacon or chocolate.

          13. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #43

            SewElegant found a recipe for baking a Kahlua cake in pint jars to give as gifts.  The recipe said that each pint jar was supposed to be 4 servings.  Really now, who would stop eating after just one itty-bitty half cup of that moist, sweet, chocolate cake? or share it with anyone?? :-D

            I like your friend's idea.  I love chocolate, and being a Southern girl, I grew up with bacon seasoning in just about everything my grandmas cooked.  Mmm mmm good!


          14. sewslow67 | | #46

            Well ladies, I don't know if this is anything like you are looking for, but you could adapt it by changing the kind of cake mix and whatever alcohol you wanted to add.  Anyway, I love it and have made it for years.  I think I got the recipe at least 48-49 years ago from a friend.  I simply call it my Favorite Rum Cake.

            1-box white cake mix

            1-box instant vanilla pudding mix

            2/3 cup light Bacardi Rum

            1/3 cup water

            1/2 cup vegetable oil

            4 eggs

            Pre-heat oven to 3520-degrees.  Grease a heavy Bunt pan well and put 1/2 cup of chopped pecans in the bottom.  Beat eggs well.  Add liquids and mix in pudding.  Add cake mix and mix until smooth.  Bake for 55-minutes. 

            When cake is almost done baking, mix the following sauce:

            1 cube butter (i.e. 1/2 cup)

            1 scant cup sugar

            2 Tablespoons light Karo

            1/4 cup water

            Let dissolve and then Add 1/4 cup light Bacardi Rum and boil for 3-minutes.  Pour over cake as soon as it is removed from the oven.  Let stand one hour before removing from pan.

            Be sure you have friends around to restrain you now, because if you don't, you will "Just try one slice while it's warm" and proceed to eat the whole cake yourself!  ;-)


          15. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #47

            Thanks for the recipe, it sounds like a keeper.  I've printed it out to add to my collection.  "Just try one slice while it's warm"--that can be dangerous!  :-)

          16. rodezzy | | #48

            ummmmm.  mouth watering.......ummmmmm......I may need to make that over the holiday while in Ohio with my best friend.

            Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    2. GailAnn | | #8

      Soup mix in a jar is one of MY favorite gifts to RECIEVE.  Gail

      1. User avater
        VKStitcher | | #12

        They are yummy, especially on a cold winter night!  :-)

  3. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #10

    I've been fullering some wool sweaters. I plan to make house slippers from them. Some simple hand embroidery on the toe will be done while "watching TV" with DH.

    1. sewslow67 | | #13

      What a terrific idea; I'm sure many will appreciate you sharing it.  Like many of us, I've also got some old sweaters that would work great for this "recycling" project.  And the embroidery on the toe of the slippers sounds charming too.  My machine does embroidery too, although I don't use it as much as I thought I might.  This would be a good reason to "dust off" the designs.  Thanks, again!

  4. Ckbklady | | #14


    I sure won't start sewing my holiday gifts yet, but I have started planning them. So many fabric stores in my area put holiday fabrics on clearance this time of year that it's good to have an idea if you see a sale. I got my ideas yesterday when I saw a great episode of Sewing With Nancy (Nancy Zieman, public television). Her guest was Diane Dhein, the author of the new little book called SIP N'SEW: 20 HOME-SEWN GIFTS AND REFRESHING DRINKS. Together they demonstrated three of the projects in the book - a tortilla warmer, a table centerpiece/wallhanging and a tea cosy. All three looked fun and stylish, so I'm going to get the book and plan my holiday projects from it. In reds, greens & golds the projects could be gorgeous.

    :) Mary

    (A fast sewer, but a seriously slow planner)

    1. sewslow67 | | #26

      I've been looking on Nancy's website and finally found the SIP N'SEW: 20 HOME-SEWN GIFTS AND REFRESHING DRINKS booklet.  What great gift ideas; thanks so much for mentioning it.  The booklet along with the DVD is now on sale, too.  Thanks again for sharing!

      1. Ckbklady | | #28


        Oh, that's cool - I didn't know they were doing a booklet version of the SIP N'SEW book just for Nancy's show. On her show they did three projects out of probably 20 from the full-sized book by the same name. If you look it up on Amazon you'll see the full version. The other projects are fun and a bit more "cocktail oriented" - picnic kind of items.

        It's one of a small series of books. The other one I have in the series that's useful for gift planning is SEW EASY AS PIE (different author - I think the last name is Malone). Same theme as the SIP N'SEW book, but this time it's useful and pretty kitchen and table items with pie themes like apple, cherry and chocolate. Rats- I'm making myself hungry!

        The third book is QUILTING THROUGH THE SEASONS, and it's full of wall-hangings, table runners and such by season. The projects all seem bigger than the ones in the other two, so I'll stick to the first two for holiday giftmaking this year.

        Happy sewing!

        :) Mary

        Edited 6/18/2008 6:03 pm by Ckbklady

        1. sewslow67 | | #29

          Wow ...lots more goodies to sew.  And ...I think you are right, in that it was a book, not a booklet.  I went through the information pretty fast, so probably missed that.

          My grandchildren also love all the "fuzzies", i.e. mittens, caps, scarves, and "hot socks" (slippers) made of fleece ...so I'll probably make some of those for stocking stuffers as well.  I'll do some kind of monogram on them to individualize each gift.

          The girls also like those little handbags with lots of pockets in them, and the "over-the-shoulder" water bottle holders that also have a place for sun glasses and house keys.  I did those using different prints from quit fabric that they quite enjoyed last year.

          My daughter-in-law loves all the little cases for travel, i.e. make-up, skin care, jewelry, etc. as well as medium sized bags for special clothing and shoe bags, so that is another idea.  Whatever ...this is going to be a "sewing Christmas"; last year I just pretty much made jewelry for everyone.

          1. Ckbklady | | #30

            Ooooh, that all just sounds so fun! Lots to do, huh?

            You might also like to look at a book called QUICK AND CLEVER FLEECE by Lynne Farris if you might be making fleece gifts for the grandkids. It has lovely projects including a striking tote bag with a bamboo decoration made of fleece. I can't describe it sufficiently - you have to see it.

            I'm a book nut - can you tell? I just picked up a book yesterday in a used bookshop called GREAT SEWING ACCESSORIES TO SEW by Carol Parks. I'm going to make the serger cover and the sewer's waist apron over the weekend. If you have crafty folk on your gift list, you might want to make them things from this book.

            And of course, so you don't overload on books, you can also hit the library and place holds on the ones you want, then collect them, work out of them and return them. I've done that with ones that are hard to find or are really expensive.

            And it's only June, right - loads of time to look at books, even if we sew slowly! :)

            :) Mary

          2. sewslow67 | | #31

            What great ideas, Mary!  I just checked out: "QUICK AND CLEVER FLEECE by Lynne Farris " that you suggested and I really liked the ideas.  Amazon had it set up where you could look inside (I wish they'd do that with all sewing and craft books).  I'm working today ("supposed to be"), so this is it for now.  Have fun with your projects as well. 

            I've got my 50-year class reunion to sew for too (it's in September), so need to get going on that too.  I've kept up with many of my friends from both high school and college, so it won't be too much of a surprise to see the changes.  There are several that will be there from primary school, so that should be a hoot! 

            Thanks again for the book ideas.  I'll check out that other one this weekend.

          3. Ckbklady | | #32

            Oh, goodie - that reunion sure sounds fun! It can be a giggle to see how everyone has turned out!

            Happy sewing!

            :) Mary

          4. sewslow67 | | #35

            Thanks, Mary.  I'm looking forward to it too ...and yes ...it will be a giggle, no doubt!  Now then ...what to sew ...?

          5. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #33

            I just celebrated my 50th reunion. I, like you, keep in touch with many of them. The pounds, gray hair and wrinkles disappear from consciousness within a few minutes. We invite people from several classes either side of ours. Wouldn't matter, they'd crash the party anyway..... We were close in high school and remain close now. Hope you have as much fun as I did.

          6. sewslow67 | | #36

            You are so right, JQ; old friends a just the best ever.  What a great idea too, to invite others from classes close to yours.  Since I've never been to one before (which was unavoidable, but regretful), I'm not sure if this happens with mine as well.

            It's funny to my husband though, because I still refer to one of my girlfriends that I've known since I was 9-years old, as "my little girlfriend from ...".  He cracks up every time I say that!

            Thanks so much for your good wishes too, JQ.  I'm really looking foreword to it.

  5. mktguru47 | | #51

    Reuseable grocery tote bags. Make them from your scraps or get some of the new eco materials like hemp or bamboo fabric. I need to make my mom some because she is using the ones that you can buy from Stop and Shop or Big Y supermarkets and have you SEEN those? They are SO UGLY!!!
    She goes to such efforts to coordinate her outfits and her pocketbooks and then lugs those ugly green bags around.

    1. sewslow67 | | #52

      What an absolutely terrific idea!  And they would not only be much nicer, but you could also use machine embroidery on them as well for those gals who have embroidery capabilities on their machines.  And ...great for the environment.

      You know, your idea could also be quite a nice little business for those who have "Saturday Markets" in their villages, as we have.  Thanks so much for sharing.  I suspect there will be a lot make for gifts this year ...and I will be one of them.  My daughter-in-low will love them, that's for sure.

      Edited 6/30/2008 3:18 pm ET by sewslow67

  6. Teaf5 | | #53

    Holiday gifts?  For 2008?  In our family, summer sewing often consists of finishing up the gifts and projects we started for the previous year!  

    Based on experience, we have a long-standing tradition that there must always be at least one "coupon" gift and one gift that needs to be finished later; we don't really complete them all, but "the thought that counts" stays around for years sometimes.

    1. Ralphetta | | #54

      Your opening statement made me chuckle with recognition...sounds a lot like my family.

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