Sewing Christmas gifts seems like a great idea… until it’s a week before the holiday and you haven’t settled on what to sew, who to sew it for, and what patterns you’re going to use.
The time between Halloween and Christmas passes in a blur, and it’s all too easy to fall behind on holiday sewing projects.
The goal of this post is to help sewists better plan their holiday sewing so they don’t stress about the time crunch or fail to complete their handmade presents. Let’s get into:
- Why you should even bother sewing Christmas gifts
- Why sewing clothes for a present is a bad idea
- 10 popular (and free!) Christmas-themed gifts to sew
- The most efficient ways to plan your Christmas sewing so you won’t lose your mind
You’ve got this, you super sewing elf!
Why Sew Christmas Gifts?
The way I see it, you’ve got three good reasons to sew Christmas gifts:
1.) They’re made with love.
This might be a little cheesy, but when you make a gift for someone, you put a little bit of yourself and your intention into that item. A handmade gift always will be more personal than anything you can buy.
2.) It’s another way to enjoy your sewing practice.
We love to sew, yes? And any opportunity to sew should be taken, yes? So, sew something for someone you care about and get in those glorious stitches.
3.) It saves you money.
There’s a good chance that by sewing Christmas gifts you can spend less money than if you bought a similar mass-produced present (because margins, man!). Fabric and notions in your stash represent money already spent, and many sewn Christmas gifts help use up scraps that otherwise would be trashed.
Why You Shouldn’t Sew Clothes as Christmas Presents
Sie Macht is a blog for peeps who sew garments, but I am suggesting ZERO sewn garments as Christmas gifts. Why? I’ve got a few reasons:
1.) The issue of fit.
If you want a handmade garment to be a surprise Christmas gift, you have to accept that it might not fit in a way that pleases the recipient. And we all know what a bummer it is to sink time into sewing clothes that end up NOT fitting.
2.) The issue of fabric.
Quality garment fabric is expensive. Do you really want to make a garment with spendy fabric that might not fit (see reason No. 1)? Um, heck nah.
3.) The issue of suggestions and requests.
Once people know you sew clothes, I guarantee you will hear at least one of the following comments:
- “You should have an Etsy store.”
- “Can you sew me a bridesmaid dress/prom gown/Halloween costume/etc.? I’ll buy you the fabric.”
- “Have you thought about trying out for ‘Project Runway’?”
- “Do you want to be a fashion designer?”
- “Can you hem my jeans?”
You can politely decline or deflect all of these questions and comments, but if you want to avoid them altogether, DO NOT sew clothes as a Christmas present.
Popular Christmas Gifts to Sew
Obviously ANY sewing project can be a Christmas gift. I’ve decided to focus on non-garment, Christmas-themed sewn gifts in the spirit of the holiday season. These Christmas sewing projects are appropriate for almost anyone, regardless of age or gender.
Full disclosure: These are tutorials and patterns I discovered via Pinterest and web searches; I haven’t made these Christmas gifts myself. They looked like things I would sew as Christmas gifts.
Deck the halls with handmade ornaments. Ornaments are easy for your recipient to store and don’t call for a lot of fabric on your part as a sewist.
1.) Mini Christmas Tree Quilt Ornament Tutorial
2.) How to Make Fabric Birds
Santa’s needs somewhere to go with stocking stuffers (duh). Stockings are easy to personalize with a recipient’s (nick)name and (usually) don’t have many seams, making them fast to stitch.
1.) Elf Christmas Stocking Tutorial & Pattern
2.) A Christmas Stocking Tutorial for Beginners [+ FREE Pattern]
Am I the only one who thinks a little forest of fabric trees is mighty charming? If you choose the right fabric, sewn evergreens could sit out as decor all winter.
1.) How to Make Fat Quarter Stuffed Christmas Trees
2.) 12 Days of Christmas: Day 5 Christmas Tree Pillow Decoration
Store-bought tree skirts can be an expensive present, especially tree skirts made with luxe materials. (Sidebar: There are a lot of cheap AND cheap-looking tree skirts out there, and I don’t think you’d want to be staring at tacky nightmare all holiday season).
1.) How To Sew a DIY Pom Pom Tree Skirt
2.) Fur Christmas Tree Skirt Sewing Tutorial
Like fabric trees, if you’re thoughtful about pattern and fabric choice, you could sew a table runner that’s displayed all winter long.
1.) Free Project – CIDADE – Table Runner
2.) Sugarpum Table Runner Quilt-Along – Week 1
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Check out these books for sewn Christmas gift ideas. Goodness knows I have a hard time saying no to a lovely sewing book!
Half Yard Christmas: Easy sewing projects using leftover pieces of fabric
Fat Quarter: Christmas: 25 Projects to Make from Short Lengths of Fabric
Half Yard Gifts: Easy sewing projects using leftover pieces of fabric
Crafty Little Things to Sew: 20 Clever Sewing Projects Using Scraps & Fat Quarters
One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Projects; Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric! – I have this book (bought with my own money), and it’s a good one.
Half Yard Heaven: Easy sewing projects using leftover pieces of fabric
Half Yard Vintage: Sew 23 gorgeous accessories from left-over pieces of fabric
Half Yard Home: Easy Sewing Projects Using Leftover Pieces of Fabric
Half Yard Bags & Purses: Sew 12 beautiful bags and 12 matching purses
A Guide to Drama-Free Holiday Sewing Projects
The key holiday sewing success is… plan your work and work your plan. The following questions will help you get your head and sewing supplies in order.
1.) Who am I making gifts for?
Identifying recipients gives you a product count. If you know how much you must manufacture, you can calculate total time needed.
2.) What am I making each person?
Consider the list of handmade gifts above, or do your own thing. What will delight each of your special peeps?
3.) What do I need to make these gifts?
Examine your intended holiday sewing project and list all the supplies you need to bring it to life:
- Stuffing/fiber fill
- Trim, beads, buttons, zippers, etc.
- Iron, ironing board, and press cloth
- Scissors/rotary cutter and cutting mat
- Needles (machine and hand sewing)
- Presser feet
- Stabilizer (for embroidery/decorative stitches)
What about fabric?
Most important to the sewing project (besides the sewing machine) is fabric. Where are you getting your fabric?
If you’re ordering online, do it ASAP; many online retailers get backed up around the holidays. If you’re buying from Joann, I suggest Googling “joann” and reviewing Popular Times to discover when your nearest store is busiest — and avoid that time! Watch this 40-second video to see EXACTLY how to find the best shopping times at Joann. Usually the first hours of the day and the last hours of the day are least busy.
RELATED: Amazon Tricks for Fabric Shopping: The Ultimate Guide for Sewists
4.) When do I want to be finished?
Get out a calendar and make note of your intended completion date. Don’t forget about wrapping and shipping when identifying this critical appointment!
5.) Where can I find efficiencies?
Ooooh, baby, I love finding efficiencies in projects! Efficiencies help minimize movement, which reduces fatigue and time, plus the more you do one type of activity in a row, the faster you become at it. Try to batch every step — cutting, stitching, pressing, etc.
To expedite construction, use the same thread on all gifts. Changing thread in your sewing machine slows you down.
When it comes to choosing fabric, hit the easy button. Select solids and scatter prints. That way you don’t have to worry about matching patterns, pattern direction, and matching across seams.
Also: DO NOT DISMISS sewing duplicate Christmas gifts! You always can spice up a pressie with a monogram or custom colors. You really could roll through your sewing projects by making the same one multiple times. Just sayin.’
6.) How long will each step take?
Break your sewing projects into steps, and estimate the time requirement for each step; I suggest using 15 minute chunks — not too long or too short to crush a step. And it’s OK to give yourself a little more time than you need for each step.
7.) Working backward from my deadline, when do I need to start sewing Christmas gifts?
Start filling out that calendar! You might surprise yourself by how late you can start your projects. I like using Google Calendar for blocking project time. That way I can have a visual for how much of my day I need to spend on a step, and I can set notifications for myself that it’s almost time to start stitching.
If it’s a pattern you’re not confident about, you also could block time to sew a muslin. That way, you’ll have a better sense of how long each step will take and your time blocking will be more accurate.
Over to you, my fellow sewing machines: What’s your take on sewing holiday gifts? Yea or nay? Have you received a handmade Christmas present? TBH, I’m a selfish sewist and I don’t usually sew for other people. But, I still stand by this paradigm for project planning. Please share your thoughts in comments! Thanks for reading!
P.S. ICYMI, here are the previous posts:
- Work in Progress: Sewing a Jumpsuit BTS
- Riva Jumpsuit: Every Mistake is a Lesson Learned
- Work in Progress: A New Sewing Video Series
- The Fastest Way to Assemble PDF Sewing Patterns [VIDEO]
Top photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash