Do You Sew Gifts?

Or are you worried that after all your hard work, this is the reaction the recipient might have?

Ralphie's bunny suit
Ralphie’s not too keen on the bunny suit Aunt Clara made for him in 1983’s A Christmas Story

If you haven’t heard Episode 7 of the Clothes Making Mavens podcast yet, that’s the next topic Helena and I are asking you to weigh in on. Do you sew/knit/make gifts? And what reactions do you get? Ever slaved forever over a handmade gift only to have the giftee turn their nose up at it? Or spent $95 in materials and 60 hours of knitting only to have the new owner throw it into the dryer and shrink it beyond all recognition? Or maybe you’ve got a wonderful story about how a handmade item turned out to be one of the most touching and meaningful things you’ve ever given or received?

My husband is only slowly coming around from being horrified at the thought that I would make him something. (“What if I didn’t like it? I’d still feel obligated to wear it,” he sensibly reasons.) But I made him a pair of socks last Christmas which he admits he likes wearing. So this year I am of course making him a bunny suit.

Dave’s expression shows he’s a little uncomfortable about his first handmade gift from me. lol

What is your story about making or receiving handmade gifts? Leave a comment below, or better yet, call and leave a message at (1)-401-64-MAVEN so we can play your story back on our next podcast. You can also get in touch with me at frivolousatlast at gmail dot com if you’d like me to arrange a time to Skype with you so I can record your story.


I made these cute little cosmetic bags/pencil cases using Simplicity Crafts 9949 (out of print, but Simplicity 1153 is the exact same, updated pattern set). The purple fabric is linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower. If you’re not familiar with Spoonflower, it’s a site where you can order custom-printed fabric, choosing from the thousands of designs on their site or even uploading your own design. I ordered the “fishbone repeat” design by Nalo Hopkinson to use on some throw pillows I sewed recently, and still have plenty of it leftover for smaller projects like this. However, I think the fish looked better on screen than they do on the fabric. Some of the detail of the fin bones seems to have gotten lost in the printing. (So word to the wise: be wary of highly detailed images for printing on fabric, particularly slightly ‘rougher’ fabrics like this canvas.)

The image from Spoonflower’s website


I added a couple of pull tabs at each end of the zipper which the pattern did not call for but which make pulling the zipper much easier. The pattern calls for an underlining but does not specify to use any interfacing, which is an absolute must if you are working with garment-weight scraps. I used heavyweight interfacing on the purple bag, and two layers of medium weight interfacing on the cotton sateen floral bag below (fabric leftover from this mod mini-dress), which was my ‘test bag’. I think heavyweight is the way to go for this structured design.


I think these will make cute gifts for some of my girlfriends. Handmade with love…but really only an hour or two of love, which is about all the love I can spare at the moment! lol

I am having fun finding brightly coloured zippers to add some pop to the bags. More to come!


Don’t forget — do tell me about your handmade gift-giving (and receiving) experiences! I’d love to share your stories on the podcast.

Thanks for stopping by!


9 thoughts on “Do You Sew Gifts?

  1. I made a pink gingham nighty & robe for my sister when she was 12 and I was 16; she remembered that fondly the rest of her life. On the other hand, I used some pieces of my best rough linen and excellent cotton lining to make a couple grocery tote bags for my boss. She frowned at them and never used them. She still uses the stores’ paper sacks for her groceries. I wish I had that linen back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your story, Carol. The sleep set for your sister sounds lovely. Did your boss know you had made the bags?? I sometimes wonder if you should warn someone that you made what they’re about to open so they can properly prepare themselves to look happy even if they don’t love it. I also wonder if it would be inappropriate to add on the tag “if you don’t like this, please give it back”! lol


  2. I LOVE the fishy fabric for the first dop kit/pencil case–macabre but striking! =) Small, useful items like those make great gifts, not least of all because the fabric choices are so numerous: you can really pick something tuned to the recipient’s tastes. Your husband is a lucky man to get knitted socks: bring on the bunny suit!! (Or perhaps a knitted bunny ears hat?!?)

    Making gifts has become a holiday tradition when it comes to my husband: I’m going for the Fourpeat this year! xD He appreciates the time and care that go into making something special for someone else, so he is very sew-worthy (and now that I can knit, knit-worthy). I haven’t decided what he’s getting this year, so I’d better focus! Last year I actually went out on a BIG limb and made Sewaholic Stanley trees for my mom and sisters; that was a very nerve-wracking thing to do, because I second-guessed every single instinct and choice I made up until they unwrapped them. I was scared they would hate them (since stuffed Xmas trees are definitely on the kitschy side), or think I was a hack (because whip stitches are small, but definitely visible), etc. But they all really liked their trees and thought they were adorable–hooray! Even so, I don’t think I will make a habit of making them gifts for the holidays: my blood pressure can’t take it, lol!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I’m so glad all of your handmade gift stories have happy endings! I know what you mean about the blood pressure — the holidays can be stressful enough even without that kind of pressure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I accidentally posted this on the Clothes Making Mavens page – please feel free to delete it from there!

    Every year I make PJs for my daughters for Christmas. Thanks to the Jalie footed pj pattern, I can continue this tradition well past childhood; I look forward to being able to embarrass them in front of boyfriends/girlfriends in the future. I also make each one a birthday dress every year which they get to design, and I relish their drawings on construction paper just as much as they love their dresses. I used to sew hand-made pressies for their teachers (tote bags, zippered pouches, flower pins), but I never got the sense that the teachers really liked them, so I don’t do that much anymore – they seem to appreciate more something that the girls have made. I usually make something for my best friend and her children, but sometimes I gift a book instead (reading is one of my other favorite hobbies that I force on people). My most ambitious gifted project was the wool coat I made for my mother-in-law last year. Her gratitude made it well worth the effort, and she brags far and wide every time she wears it. My kids get many gifts from family members and I didn’t think they would really care about something that I made. Just the opposite is true: even when they were very young, it made them so happy to have something made just for them. They seem to understand that there’s love in those stitches. And they are starting to pass that love on to other people. Just this weekend my 9-year-old sewed a stuffed sheep for her teacher’s soon-to-be-born baby.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries, Lisa — you can post your comments anywhere you like. I’ll see ’em eventually! I’d love to see the sketches your daughters have made over the years of their birthday dresses. Any chance you might share those on your blog? 😀
      Also, big cheers on impressing your MIL so much! No pressure there! lol


  4. I love this – a bunny suit!!! I should make one for my hubby!!!! I have sewed gifts before. I made a jacket for my husband for Christmas but he was involved in the whole process as it was a big investment of time and money and I had to get it right. Otherwise, it was just little things that were practical – everyone in the family has one of my kitchen towel sets! 🙂 I should branch out into your cosmetic/pencil cases next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, a jacket! Very impressive, Linda. Did he wear it a lot? I love the idea of making kitchen towels. I know I sound like a bit of a walking Spoonflower advertisement (no affiliation or anything), but they recently promoted the idea that you could make a digital scan of a special recipe (maybe one written out by hand by your mom or your grandmother) and have it printed on fabric to turn into a kitchen towel. What a cool idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, he did wear it a lot. He wore it out over the years and I have thought of making him another but it is a lot of work and the list of “sewing things to do” is long and I have to be in the right mood for a jacket and I really should make up the one I have the supplies and fabric for myself first and… Well you get the picture! 😂. Someday! The recipe/towel idea sounds great! I saw some design/computer transfer paper at the Craft store the other day, but I guess that would not be as permanent as the Spoonflower idea? 🤔


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