I saw a poll recently that asked "How will the economy affect your Christmas shopping this year?" Seventy-two percent said they will be spending less money for gift buying in 2009. With the national unemployment rate at almost 10% and with many fulltime workers now having hours cut to part time -- it makes sense this year to take advantage of your sewing and craft skills.
As I write this, there are 96 days until Christmas. If you are planning on making gifts or decorations for the holidays, it's time to get started!
Create a gift list. We all know not all gift recipients appreciate homemade gifts, no matter how many hours of love and labor we put into them. But many people do appreciate them, and these are the people you want to include on your "Homemade Gifts" list.
Be realistic. You will not be able to create a queen-sized bed quilt for every person on your gift list in the next 90 days, and if you plan on it, you will be disappointed, frustrated, and left running around at the last minute to purchase gifts to replace those you didn't get completed. You do, however, have time to create two or three lap quilts, two or three throw pillows (perhaps created from those orphan blocks you have laying around), baby quilts for the next generation, and then a few smaller gifts/crafts for others. How about tote bags for your childrens' teachers? Or heatable lavender neck rolls for the older set? How about a set of novelty fabric pillowcases for the "tweeners" on your list? A set of placemats for the newlyweds? The possibilities are endless.
Inventory your stash. With the economy in mind, it doesn't make sense to go out and buy new fabric for every gift project on your list. We all have a stash - make use of it! Those batiks you've been hoarding will make lovely purses and wallets, the novelty prints will make great pillowcases or crayon carryall's for the younger set, and those oversized floral prints can be used to create fast lap quilts. Pre-printed panels make for very quick toddler quilts by adding a simple border or two. Make it your goal to use what's in your stash and match the fabric to the gift recipient.
Schedule creative time. It's all well and good to create a list of gifts to make, but if you don't actually have time to sit down at your sewing machine, what good does it do? Pull out your calendar and schedule actual hours each and every week for your creative endeavors. If necessary, explain your schedule to your family so they know the time is set in stone with little flexibility. Then, stick to your schedule!
Cut corners. Now is not the time to begin detailed hand applique'd and hand embroidered tea towels. It is, however, the time to pull out the fusible web and learn how to blanket stitch on your sewing machine. Look for simple patterns of leaves, hearts, initials, etc., on the Internet, and use those to embellish your projects. Quick, simple, yet personalized!
Get organized. If you're about to spend the next 90 days at your sewing machine and cutting table to create amazing homemade gifts, take a day or two to get organized before you start. Make a list. Find suitable free patterns on the Internet and print them off, then choose the appropriate fabric to match the pattern and place it all in a basket, box or ziploc bag. Take a day or two to organize your sewing space. Fold fabrics, clean up debris, organize your tools, get all your pins and scissors and threads back where they belong. You will find it easier to be productive if you don't have to spend time hunting down your favorite ruler or pair of scissors!
Come back to QOB. As in the past, I will be posting many fast, stash-busting holiday gift and decorating ideas in the next few months. So come back to QOB often and find "just the right gift" for those lucky recipients on your homemade gift list.