Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What we're making for Christmas, part one

In years past I have not posted about things we've made for Christmas until after the fact, but this year I really want to do it now. Jordan and I are not skilled craftspeople in any area, and we used to say "oh, we'd love to make gifts but we CAN'T." Now I know with a little creativity and patience, that is just not true. Everybody can make something! I wanted to share ideas in case some people still want to do this but are stumped.

This also means that I am running the risk of telling people what they are getting for Christmas. That is why, if you are a friend or family member and we exchange gifts, I want to ask you to STOP READING NOW!!! If you keep going, you might see what you are getting for Christmas.

Just wanted to let you know.

I warned you.

I'm going to start posting pictures now.

Love you and see you at Christmas.

1) First up is the upcycled wool stuffed animal. These are quite popular at the moment and the professionally made ones sell for a lot. The owl on the left is made from pieces of two different sweaters, both purchased at thrift stores. There are all sorts of resources on the internet explaining this, but basically you buy a WOOL sweater (I prefer 100%, but some say 80% will do) and wash it on hot in the washing machine. It becomes felted as the fibers bind and blur together and should not unravel when you cut it. Some sweaters felt up nicer than others. Sometimes you can find them in the thrift store already felted.

The little bluebird is from a boiled wool vest, so I didn't have to do anything to prepare it. I used fabric from a wool blazer for the eyes, and some felt I already had for the beak and feet. It's a good idea to sew a little sack of flax seeds or something similar and place it in the bottom of your animal to weight it. I stuffed the rest of these with polyester stuffing. It's probably obvious how the front and back are cut, and the bottom is a football-shaped piece. If you need more info, I used a lot of the instructions from this Martha Stewart project and then got inspiration from pictures on Etsy.

2) I love using wool sweaters--you can make so many different things from them! Using the same sweater I used to make part of the owl, I made this hat for Suzi.

I literally held the sweater up to her head to measure it, cut straight up in what seemed like a good place, and then held it up to her head again to see how far to sew down on the top. Cutting a little high on the sides, one side being the already-sewn side of the sweater, and then closing with right sides together (inside out) in a u-shape will give you these sassy-looking little ears. There is no hemming necessary because the bottom of the sweater was already finished. Suzi loves her hat and it only took me about five minutes on the sewing machine.

From the same sweater, I made this pair of wrist warmers. I always wanted to make some wrist warmers because they look so cool and cuddly, but I can't knit as of yet. I don't know if I'll ever learn. This sweater felted up perfectly, and didn't give me any trouble when I carefully cut a thumb hole. That was a matter of snipping and pulling at one thread, as I did it on the seam, and then I sewed a little above and below the hole to keep it from going any further. I turned it under at the top and hemmed it. Done! There is still a little sweater left. This one is my favorite. I'm going to be sad when it's gone!

A couple other things I've learned about using upcycled wool: For a great deal, shop the clearance section of Goodwill, preferably year-round. The other day I found a gray cashmere sweater with a hole in it for $1. It's so buttery soft, even after felting, and the hole can easily be worked around to make a yummy pair of wrist warmers for someone with skinny arms (that would be me). I don't pay full price for secondhand sweaters, because that could get pricey, and also because someone might really need that excellent condition $7 sweater to keep themselves warm. That would be the better use for it. The other thing is that these things can get quite pilly after felting, and not only will you have to clean your washer and dryer out, you will also have to remove fuzz from your finished products to give them a more polished look. Right now I use a pair of fabric scissors to snip off excess fuzz, and then I lint roll them.

3) I'm not sure how you'll feel about this one, but at our house we love to avoid using disposable products, including tissues. Regular hankies seem like a good idea, but the storebought ones I've had have been neither soft nor absorbent--not to mention way too large. Small cuts of soft flannel in fun patterns can be found in the remnants section of a fabric store for really cheap. I bought some and sewed these. The corners are mitered, which is really easy with an iron and a little starch. A sewing machine makes short work of the rest. There are not many people on our list getting these. I wouldn't want anyone to faint, so crunchy/frugal family only. I did sew a couple for Suzi and she loves them.

We've still got lots of things to make and I'll try to post about them soon. We're making "man baskets" of edible items for a few of the guys, some polymer clay ornaments, and more. The girls' gifts are going to be almost all handmade this year, because Suzi asked for one expensive thing we can't make. Actually, it should be arriving today. I'm glad we were able to find a good deal on it. I've got to stop leaving the Nova Natural catalog lying around!

The little girls are getting antsy. I'd better go fix them lunch.


Anonymous said...

I love everything, Jenny!! You are so crafty. I don't know how you do it!

Scott is making most of our gifts this year. And he uses the Nova Naturals catalog for many of his ideas!

I was happy to leave the presents to him this time. :)

Megan said...

Beautiful. I can't believe how adorable those stuffed animals turned out. Too cute.

Anonymous said...

My 5-year-old has asked for a Pentatonic Kinder Lyre this year. You know she didn't learn about that in the Toys R Us catalog. ;)

PS - LOVE the hat, so cute!