Tag Archives: homemade presents

Homemade baby presents; a quandary

10 Apr

Can you give my weary brain a little help this fine spring morning?

I’m having a quandary about what to make for the imminent arrival of my future niecephew (tbc) and could use some advice…

When my sister had her first baby, last summer, I put together a lovely little box full of homemade goodies: a blanket that I’d been knitting for the previous four months or so, some homemade baby trousers and some homeprinted babygrows.

In five weeks or so, my brother is having his first baby and I’d like to do something similar for them. Only problem is, in, oooh, two weeks or so, I am also having a baby (yeah, yeah, I know I’ve mentioned it a million times before) and my recent knitting has been dedicated to a blanket for him. (Which is, as of yesterday, finally finished. I’ll share some pictures after the weekend…)

So, I’ve got (probably) a few weeks of late pregnancy brain fug and lack of crafting mojo to work on something now, followed by a few weeks of new baby brain fug and, I suspect, no time at all for any crafting, mojo absent or otherwise.

So, what I’m after is a quick make, but still of something really special. Does such a thing exist?!

I trawled my Pinterest board, I could make that, to see what had inspired me in the past and this is the shortlist. Does anyone have any advice on these projects? Or any suggestions for something completely different? I’ve been pondering over this for so long now, I could have made something really nice in the meantime!

Seven homemade baby presents

Click on any of the photos below to go through to the tutorials…

1. Purl Bee big bottom baby trousers

Purl Bee baby trousers

The cutest thing ever?

These trousers from the Purl Bee are just too adorable, aren’t they? I have some really lovely fabrics in my stash so I could almost certainly make these without having to go to the shops. In fact, I think I must certainly have a go at these, irrespective of anything else I decide to make…

2.Rainbow blanket from the Purl Bee

Purl Bee baby blanket

So colourful. So perfect for a boy or girl…

I am still tempted to go for a knitted blanket, but making sure I pick something simple and quick. I’ve long admired this simple block colour blanket, also from the Purl Bee, and am tempted to try and make one with four rainbow colours (red, yellow, green and blue) and then add a border around the edge in cream.

But, two concerns: is knitting that much garter stitch going to be so boring that I can’t bear to pick up the needles? And, am I simply setting myself up for a sure and certain failure in trying to knit in a blanket in two weeks? Hummmm…

3. Fabric stacking blocks

Homemade stacking blocks

Every baby needs a lighthouse

These stacking blocks from the Shabby Home blog have been sitting on my Pinterest board for about two years now I think. I absolutely love them: the long teetering lighthouse, the nautical stripes, the hint of Italian (“mare” means sea) that every cultured baby should surely have in their toybox…

Potential issue: is this one of those projects that looks quite simple, but actually takes a long time to make? I have a sort of feeling that I could be spending hours trying to get the perfect pointed corners.

4. Squishy bunny toy

Homemade bunny

He’s squidgy, he’s a bunny, he’s red and striped. What’s not to like?

Then, of course, I could go for a homemade toy (or two). I love this little squidgy red-tummied bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe. Why haven’t I simply started making one already? I’m just never quite convinced that toys are the perfect new baby present. I know the sproglet has accumulated a lot of toys over the 21 months of his life so far and maybe it is better to give something a little more useful???

5. Little puppy

Homemade puppy

Woof woof

Then again, this little scrap fabric puppy is almost irresistible, isn’t he? And would surely keep a child company from babyhood all the way through to… …well, who knows how old?

6. Yoked knitted cardigan

Yoked cardigan

Love these big red buttons

Back to the knits though. Maybe I should still aim for something with the knitting needles (easier to pick up and put down and work on little by little when I have time and energy in the evenings) but just focus on something a bit smaller than a blanket? This cardigan is really gorgeous, and if I knit it in a neutral colour like grey, I could always add buttons to make it more feminine / masculine after the baby’s arrival. Again, I already have wool in my stash I could use for this too. And the pattern is available on Ravelry as an instant download.

7. Homeprinted babygrows

Homeprinted babygrow

Modelled by the sproglet in his younger days

This is the only one I am sure about. I will definitely be making some homeprinted babygrows, with an appropriate picture on the front, once the baby has been born. (I’m kind of hoping they have a girl and call her something like Rose or Violet, so I can use some lovely botanical images…) Check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric for more info.

Well, even as I’ve been writing this, I’ve been vacillating wildly between all the different choices so, please, any suggestions to help my indecisive brain would be much appreciated!

Related articles:

Various other baby projects I’ve made are:

A last minute present: the plastic bag stuffer

31 Oct

It was my Mum’s birthday a few weeks ago and, being the disorganised daughter I am, it got to the evening before and I realised I hadn’t yet bought her a present.

I rang up to apologise in advance that her present was going to be a bit late this year and the disappointment in her voice was tangible down the phone line.

I felt bad.

So, I scratched my little head and racked my little brain to try and think of a nice temporary present I could make her while watching X Factor that evening. Something small, quick to put together, that would give her something she could open “on the day”…

(My family are big fans of “on the day” presents: something small to tide over the birthday boy or girl til you get round to actually buying them a proper present. This chronic lateness and disorganisation is genetic, you see, I can’t fight it…)

And what did I come up with? This plastic bag stuffer!

Plastic bag holder

Utilitarian, but pretty

Not, I’ll grant you, the most exciting present in the world, but I knew that my Mum has a dark, dark cupboard in her house which is absolutely overflowing with hundreds of plastic bags, and she had admired my (ridiculously expensive) Cath Kidston version before.

The fabric was the last remnants of some glorious Japanese butterfly fabric that I bought when living in Hong Kong a few years back.

Butterfly fabric from Japan

Oooh, I love this butterfly fabric

(You might recognise it from the business card holders I made earlier this year.)

The construction was pretty simple. I cut myself two rectangles; the bigger one, at approx. 45cm x 35cm for the main bag holder, the smaller one, approx. 40cm x 10cm for the handle.

On both rectangles, I sewed the two long sides together to make two tubes.

Plastic bag holder

What a lovely tube…

For the rectangle that was to be the handle, I turned the fabric the right way round and ironed the tube flat.

On the large rectangle, I then folded a small hem at both ends, ironed this in place, before folding once more to create a second, bigger hem, of approx. 3cm. I pinned the handle into position at the top end of the bag and then sewed round the two large hems, leaving a gap to feed the elastic through.

Plastic bag holder

Elastic-filled hem

I cut two pieces of elastic, approximately 20cm long and, using two safety pins, threaded them through the holes and sewed the ends together. Finally, I sewed the gaps shut and admired my work.

Plastic bag holder

Plastic bags, model’s own

Of course, since I was also busy watching X Factor and it was night time, I didn’t stop to take any photos of anything along the way, so if you’d like to make one of these and any of those instructions didn’t make sense, do leave me a comment below and I will explain further if needed!

My Mum was really pleased with it and, as you can see, it is already in use. Now, I just need to figure out what to get her for her actual present. Hmmm…

Related articles:

A photo a day: August 28th

28 Aug
Vintage plate

Plate and image. Just waiting to be joined

I wish it would surprise you if I told you that I still have a wedding present to finish making for my sister who got married in May. (I wish it would surprise me too.)

I did give her most of her presents at the time, but I had an idea to pretty up some vintage plates for a really personal present too. Um, it’s still in the offing, but the other day I did get the plates out and take a look at them. That’s a first step right?

Related articles:

A horse for the wall

25 Jul

There’s nothing nicer than knowing that a handmade present was well-received, so I was delighted that this horse T-shirt was such a hit that the recipient’s Mum requested a bigger version for his recent third birthday…

Horse wall hanging

Another horse, what will he be turned into I wonder?

I’m such a dab hand at the iron on transfer paper by now that I actually – regular readers, hold onto your hats – managed to have the new T-shirt ready in time for his birthday party! (Okay, the party was about three weeks after his actual birthday and I had seen him in between times as well, but let’s ignore that trifling piece of information.)

As the present wasn’t exactly unexpected, I also thought I’d try and make something else as a surprise. The whole family recently moved house, so I thought an equine-related something-or-other for his room might be a good call.

Since my love for Spoonflower is yet to wane, it seemed like a good idea (theoretically, rather than financially) to get some fabric printed with a horse picture and turn it into a nice wall hanging.

And this was the result:

horse wall hanging

He’s a fine beast, no?

He’s rather glorious isn’t he?

(Please excuse the floral wallpaper as the backdrop. As I mentioned recently, we have not a single bare painted wall in the house at the moment, but this horse does look especially incongruous against such a chintzy background…)

I made a couple of other Spoonflower designs at the same time, for yet another ridiculously late birthday present, so as soon as I get them seamed and made up, I’ll write up a little how to for making a present like this. It’s very straightforward to make, but a nice idea, I think. (She says, modestly…)

I’m in a frantic making mode at the moment, since we’re celebrating the sproglet’s first birthday on Saturday and a few of the guests are yet to receive presents from me for birthdays already been (oh dear, honestly, how can I be so utterly, utterly useless?!) so there’ll be a couple more makes up here over the next few days…

Til then, happy end of the week everyone.

Related articles:

Birthday T-shirts

4 Mar

My love affair with ironing pictures onto T-shirts continued apace this week.

Home printed giraffe and tomato T-shirt

We’re off to Ireland at the weekend, to stay with some friends and celebrate their baby’s first birthday.

(We may also be tempted to betroth our sproglets to each other, ready to be wed as soon as they hit 16, if we could just find the relevant “Betroth your children” legal kit in WHSmiths…)

So, I was after a nice DIY one-year-old birthday present.

Of course, before the phrase “I’m after a nice DIY one-year-old birthday present” had even fully formed in my mind, I was reaching for the iron on transfer paper and searching my favourite vintage image blogs…

As you’ll know if you’ve perused these parts before, home-printed T-shirts were my go-to present for friends’ children last Christmas.

I was delighted, last week, when I met up with the recipient of the blue horse T-shirt (and his Mum) to be shown that he was wearing it right then. I was even more delighted when his Mum told me that he wears it at least three times a week (whenever it’s not being washed…) And it was a mixture of delight and relief to see that after all those washes, the transfer was still firmly in place.

(I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to see how well the carrot set I made for my baby has coped with being put through the wash. And it tickles me every time I put his chubby little tummy into one of the babygrows.)

So, spurred on by these successes, I thought that another outing of the transfer paper was in order for this occasion.

Knowing that the birthday girl’s favourite food is tomatoes, I found a nice old tomato image and, following my own tutorial, printed up the first T-shirt. (Of course, I didn’t actually follow my own tutorial, that would be a bit mental. I’m now imagining myself sitting reading my own blog in order to see what to do, ha ha.)

This was the end result:

Print your own images on T-shirts

Arcadia beauty brand tomatoes: yum, yum, yum

[I’m not going to share the link to this juicy, plump tomato image, I’m afraid, because I’m not 100 per cent sure that it’s free for use, so don’t sneak on me to the authorities, please…]

The second T-shirt, however, with this cute circus giraffe picture, you’re free to replicate if you’d like.

Print your own images onto T-shirts

Off to the circus with this jolly giraffe

I got this image, entirely legitimately, from the Graphics Fairy blog here: circus giraffe.

There’s a whole set of other circus animal images, so you can take your pick from a bear, zebra or even camel. (Has anyone in living memory ever seen a camel in a circus, I wonder?)

So, as ever, I’m pretty pleased with my T-shirts.

And I’ve got something else lined up, that also involves printed tomatoes. Here’s a sneak peek of it in process.

Tomatoes printed

Good enough to eat…

Intrigued? I’ve got the finishing touches to do today, so check back later this week to see all the details…

Related articles

Bibliophiles present: bookplates

9 Feb

I think it’ll give you an idea of the sort of child I was if I tell you I used to think bookplates were glamorous. The height of desirability.

Homemade bookplates

Of course, I didn’t have this sort of bookplate when I was little. Instead, I distinctly remember a purple bookplate with a little bespectacled mole on it. This one’s more my cup of tea now

Not for me a sandpit or a doll, no, I could think of nothing better than a quiet corner and a new book, with the pleasure of sticking a bookplate to the front and filling in my name under “this book belongs to” in my neatest possible handwriting.

To be honest, not so much has changed in the 30 odd years since then. That still sounds a pretty auspicious start to any Saturday.  (Not least because, with a six-month-old, there isn’t a hope in hell that I’d get to start a Saturday in that way…)

But having rather forgotten about the existence of bookplates in the intervening years, I’ve been pleased to notice them popping up all over the shop recently…

You can buy them from a few different places, but of course they’re really simple to make too.

I whipped up a few sets for my Mum and my sister-in-law (both voracious bibliophiles as well) as mini presents back at Christmas.

There are quite a few different templates available out there on the internet (oh, internet, how I love you), but I settled on favourites from three places:

Print your own bookplates

All my lovely bookplate designs, printed out and just waiting to be chopped up

From Design Sponge, these lovely snake, head and hand designs.

From Besotted Brands, these old-school profiles.

And from the Graphics Fairy, these children reading.

To see some more designs, as well as lots of other great vintage images, check out my Pinterest board Free Graphics.

Once you’ve selected your pictures, just print them out and cut them to size (I did this with a craft knife and ruler, which shows the level of care I give to my books, where I would normally just stick to good ol’ scissors).

As these were a present, I decided to make some cute little envelopes to house each of the sets. I made a basic template and then cut each envelope from cardstock and glued together.

As a final touch, I traced round the envelope tip and cut a liner out of some printed out hat images. (Which you can find here on Vintage Printable, if you’re inclined to do the same…)

Lined envelope

Little old hats to welcome you to the inside of your bookplate envelope

I then stuck a bookplate to the front, so you know exactly what’s inside in each envelope.

Print your own bookplates

Lovely big open mouth on the outside of the envelope, lovely big open mouth inside the envelope…

And held each set of four envelopes together with ribbon.

Print your own bookplates

Stick a ribbon round anything and it suddenly looks a hundred times better

I’d love to say this was really quick to make, but actually the envelopes and all the finishing touches took a little while. But hey, the devil’s in the detail, right?

Of course, you’ll also need some glue (or double-sided sellotape) to put the bookplates inside the books once you want to use them.

Simple, inexpensive and sure to put a smile on the face of any booklover (especially my eight-year-old self)…

Related articles:

Yes, if you’ve checked in to these parts before, you’ll know I have a great love of projects that use vintage images. Here are a few more:

Man present: homemade paperweights

28 Dec

It turns out, it’s really simple to make your own paperweights. Or, more accurately, it’s really simple to insert your own pictures into some pre-made paperweights for a brilliant personalised present. I always struggle to come up with good homemade presents for men, so this is particularly pleasing as you can put in any images you want and personalise it for whoever you’re giving it to…

I first tried this for my partner’s birthday and I was really pleased with the results. As was he. So pleased, that we decided to make some more for Christmas presents.

It’s a really simple and quick process, but I thought I’d share a quick tutorial, anyway, in the hope it might inspire someone out there somewhere across the online ether…

Homemade paperweight tutorialHere’s what you need and how to do it:

Supplies

  • Glass paperweights with a recess. I’ve used these 70mm round paperweights, which are the best value ones I can find online in the UK.
  • Some graphics (or photos). I am crazy on free vintage graphics at the moment and my favourite sites to find them are The Graphics Fairy, Clip Art ETC, Vintage Printable and the NY Public Library digital archives. Warning: you could lose hours of your day browsing these sites. For this set of paperweights, I’ve used some old scientific images (found on Clip Art ETC) which show the life cycle of the asparagus beetle. Love the images, love the title even more…
  • Printer
  • Scissors

What to do

1. Unpackage your paperweight kit, which will have three parts: the glass paperweight with recess, a green bit of felt with sticky back and a cardboard circle. Check whether the cardboard circle provided fits the recess perfectly. If it does, brilliant, you can use this to draw an outline for your image. But, I’ve found with most of the kits I’ve used that the circle is either marginally too small or too big. If this is the case, draw a circle round the recess under the paperweight for the exact size you will want your image to be.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

All the pieces from the paperweight kit, shiny and new and ready to be assembled

2. Print out your image onto some scrap paper. Position a paperweight over the top to check whether the image is the right size. At this point, you will probably need to re-size the images a bit to make them perfect.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

Paperweight positioned over trial image. I realise this photo isn’t the ideal illustration here as the image is actually a perfect fit, but you catch my point anyway. If it doesn’t fit so perfectly, re-size until it does…

3. Once you’ve got it just how you want it, make a final print onto some good paper.

4. Cut round the image carefully and put it inside the recess, facing outwards.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

Paperweight plus image

5. The circle of card goes on next, with the felt on top. As mentioned, the card might not be a perfect fit, so if it’s too big trim to size and put it in. If it’s too small, try and position it in the centre of the recess, but don’t worry too much, once the felt goes on top it holds it all in place. (I’m sure you weren’t worrying that much, anyway, it’s hardly a catastrophe to have a slightly small piece of card.)

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

All lined up

6. Check, from the front, that everything is lined up as it should. All being well, peel off the back of the green felt…

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

Peeling back the felt

7 …and stick it on.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

Almost there, can you take the excitement?

8. Tadaaaa, all finished:

Homemade paperweights tutorial from Wolves in London

Finished paperweight with picture in place. I’m not sure whether this part of the life cycle is the death part and that’s why the beetle is on his back, or whether this is just illustrating his underside for fun.

If you get the same kits that I did, they also come with quite a nice box to put the paperweights inside. I am all about presentation at the moment, so I love a rather swanky looking red box to display the finished product.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

Looking all swanky and professional, my asparagus beetle paperweight lies nestled in his red box

I even made a nice little label to set off the red box, using the free vintage labels from the World Label blog.

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

Great label. Even if I do say so myself

And here’s the full set, from the start of the life cycle to the end:

Homemade paperweight tutorial from Wolves in London

A to E, the whole life cycle of my new favourite beetle in paperweight form

If you have a go at making some, do post a comment and let me know how you get on and, most importantly, what excellent images you find to put inside…

Related articles

How to make your own soap

17 Dec

I have to admit, my favourite type of craft project is one that involves little more than putting a few things together. Okay, as I’ve written that, I realise that “putting a few things together” is a distillation of every craft project there ever has been, as well as any food recipes too. But, when the putting of things together is really straightforward, then you have a happy London Wolfe.

With this in mind, don’t be put off by the rather alarming title of this post. Make your own soap, I say. Make my own soap? you ask. Why on earth would I make my own soap? I can buy lovely soap for not very much money and besides, I’m no chemist, I won’t have any of the equipment needed for making my own soap… But fret not! Rather than suggesting you don a lab coat and goggles and mix together a range of ingredients to bubble away on your stove top, I’m only actually suggesting that you purchase yourself a “melt and pour” soap kit and then add some nice flavours.

(If you were thinking Brilliant, finally a chance to get out the Bunsen burner and test tubes and use all that glycerin I’ve got stored in the attic then I apologise, this article is going to be a sad disappointment to you…)

So, slight misnomer title aside, on with the actual soap making.

How to make your own soap, easy tutorial from Wolves in LondonAs I mentioned in my post on Homemade Christmas presents, lack of funds this festive season has meant that I’m making all my gifts this year and only spending money on supplies.

Okay, this does mean that it’s December 17th and I’m in a slight panic because I’ve only made three presents, but on the upside, I’ve discovered the joy and simplicity of home made soap. With some readymade soap base you can easily make up absolutely any flavour soap you can imagine. And, because it’s the time of giving, I wanted to share that joy with you…

For a really attractive, distinctive and unusual present, this is all you need to do. I’m going to talk through how to make lavender soaps, but I’ve put suggestions for lots of other flavours at the end…

Supplies

Soap ingredients

  • Melt and pour soap base. As ever, because I am frequently too lazy to leave the house and look for something I haven’t bought before in the actual shops, I got this from eBay. It cost me £9.86 for 1kg – which is enough to make about 18 small bars. I got a translucent base, which was SLS free.
  • Dried lavender
  • Lavender essential oil (other flavours suggested at the end of this article…)
  • Soap moulds. This can be anything you like the shape of: old yoghurt pots, soft cheese pots, Tupperware or cake moulds. I’ve used a 12-hole silicon cupcake mould in the photos of round soaps below and Tupperware for the square ones. Of course, you could also buy an actual soap mould if you’re so inclined.

What to do

1. Melt the soap base squares in a big jug in the microwave. Or, if like me you don’t have a microwave, use a double boiler. Or, if like me you don’t have a double boiler, stick a pyrex bowl into a much bigger saucepan filled with boiling water.

Homemade soap tutorial from Wolvs in London

My super-professional equipment: an old wok and a Pyrex bowl

2. Once all the soap is melted, add in some drops of lavender essential oil and stir round. If you’re making one batch all the same flavour, add the essence straight into the mixing bowl. If you want to make each bar a different scent, you can add flavours directly to the individual moulds. Use approximately one or two drops per bar of soap.

Adding essential oil to homemade soap

There’s something really pleasing about a photograph of a drop of liquid, isn’t there?

3. Pour the liquid soap base into the moulds to about half an inch deep, using approximately half of your total mixture.

Making homemade soap

Pour to half your chosen depth first

4. Return remaining liquid soap to heat, so it doesn’t set.

5. Add a sprinkling of dried lavender to each mould (or see below for other solid flavours you can add)

Making homemade lavender soap

Sprinkle on as much lavender as you fancy

6. Let the soap set for a minute or two, then pour the remaining liquid soap over the top (this lets the lavender sit about half way through the soap…) You may find a few air bubbles get trapped inside as well. Personally, I think this is really pretty, but if it bothers you, spray your first half with pure alcohol before adding the second batch and they should disperse.

Making homemade lavender soap

Two separate layers of soap. The lavender tends to float a bit in the second layer

7. Leave your soap to set for at least four hours

8. To release the soap from the moulds, put it into the freezer for ten minutes. When you take it back out, the difference in temperature loosens it from the mould. (If you’re using a silicon mould, you can probably skip this step and just push the soap out.)

9. Admire your beautiful homemade soap…

Homemade lavender soap from Wolves in London

Smells beautiful, looks beautiful

Other ideas for flavours

Just add a pinch, sprinkle or drop of the following flavours more other delicious smelling soaps…

Earl grey tea and bergamot oil:

Of course, being English, I’m all about a good cup of Earl Grey. Just a word of warning: once you’ve added the tea leaves, they’ll continue to bleed into the soap day by day, so if you’re making this as a present, leave it to the last moment to make, if you want to still see the contrast between the tea leaves and the clear soap. (After approximately a week, the whole thing will be brown.)

Earl grey tea homemade soap

Good enough to drink…

Honey and ginger:

Mix these together in a separate container before adding to the soap.

Honey and ginger homemade soap

I think this one looks particularly appealing

Cinnamon and clove:

Perfect for Christmas! You really only need a tiny pinch of each of these otherwise the soap turns a rather unappealing dark brown colour…

Clove and cinnamon homemade soap

Christmas in a soap!

Cardamom:

On their own, these won’t provide  much scent, but I thought they looked really beautiful. You could mix in another essential oil to provide more flavour. (Or crush some cardamom seeds and add to the liquid soap.)

Cardamom homemade soap

Is it a peanut? No, it’s the gorgeous-scented cardamom pod!

Star anise:

Another one that I’ve used more for the way it looks than its flavour or scent. But bung in an essential oil too and you’ll have both…

Homemade star anise soap

I hate the taste of star anise, but it’s certainly beautiful to look at

Or, of course you could just add any pure essential oils and have a beautiful clear soap. I tried lemon, grapefruit, ylang ylang and rosemary.

Homemade glycerin soap

Pure and clear, but still delicious smelling

Happy mixing!

Oh, I have great plans for the packaging for these soaps. If they materialise and look as nice as they do in my head, I’ll add a post on that with some templates for boxes too…

Update:

I did indeed manage to make some attractive packaging for the soaps. Take a look at some photos, along with a free template and tutorial: gift boxes.

Related articles:

  • These soaps make a great present, if you’re looking for more homemade present ideas, check out my round up of the top 20 homemade Christmas present tutorials from around the internet.
  • Or take a look at my homemade presents category for more things I’ve made. The recipients said they liked them…

Top 20 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents

7 Dec

Last year, I was in Hong Kong for six months over Christmas so I had to buy presents online for my family back in the UK. Despite the fact I was on what I cheerfully referred to as a “sabbatical” (read instead “long holiday”) and wasn’t earning any money, I felt a bit sad that I wasn’t with the rest of my family for Christmas and wanted to make sure I sent nice presents over.

So I over-compensated. I spent £800 on presents. £800! And that’s not on presents for everyone, just my family. And to clarify again, I don’t mean aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. No, I mean mother and siblings and siblings-in-law. Eeeeeep. I didn’t even buy everyone grand amazing presents, I just did that thing where you see something cool online and it costs £15 or so and you think “Oh, that would be a nice little present for x” and you buy it and then you forget you’ve bought it and you keep on going until you’ve got five “little” presents for x and accidentally spent a fortune.

Anyway, lesson learned this year, and the plan is to spend nothing at all and make presents for everyone (or at least only spend money on supplies…)

With this in mind, here’s a round-up of 20 appealing-looking tutorials for presents. I’ve only made a few so far, but I’ll keep you updated on any successes (or amusing failures…)

Top 20 tutorials for homemade Christmas presents

You can find more craft projects that I’m planning on making at my Pinterest board I could make that. Go on, follow me there, you know you want to.

Knitting

I’m normally tempted to go all-out on knitted presents, but this year I am trying to keep the selection small, as this is one of the slower ways of making presents and I have less time on my hands than normal, what with a four-month-old to look after and the past few weeks spent making presents for my partner’s birthday. Here, then, are a few quick and simple knits:

20 best homemade present tutorials, from Wolves in London

Gorgeous outfit, gorgeous baby… Photographed by Rebecca Painter of Barefoot Journey Images


1. Baby aran bodysuit
by Eileen Casey.

I absolutely adore this little cabled romper suit (and the cute baby in the photos…)

I’ve had the pattern saved in my Ravelry queue for ages and a Christmas present for my baby is the perfect excuse to get it out of the queue and onto the needles. By the way, if you’re on Ravelry too, do friend me. I’m here: Wolves in London.

If this romper suit is  just so much adorable cuteness that you can’t actually bear to stop knitting once you’ve finished it, there is a matching hat and booties to go with it too. All for free. Amazing…

2. Bella’s mittens. A free pattern by Marielle Henault found through Ravelry. These look lovely and snuggly with a big thick wintery cable pattern. I’ve already started on these, in fact, and the first mitten knitted up super-quick.  I’ll dedicate a separate post to them, once finished.

4. Selbu Modern hat. This looks so elegant and comfy. Free pattern found through Ravelry (as always!) I’ll be making this for the same sister who is getting the mittens. I’m currently trying to decide whether to match yarn or just make two completely different items. Hmmmmm…

3. Cable knit socks. Classy, woolly sock pattern from the Purl Bee. These would be perfect for wearing under wellies or boots, or just for slouching around the house.

5. Cornish dormouse tea cosy. I know, I know, it’s amazing isn’t it? Not a free pattern, sadly, but surely worth $3.99…

Bath and beauty

20 best homemade present tutorials, from Wolves in London

How appealing does this trio of sugar scrubs look? Photo and tutorial by Maybe Matilda

6. Citrus sugar body scrub. I followed this tutorial from Maybe Matilda to make up a tub of sugar scrub for a friend earlier this year after she had a baby.

She said it smelt so delicious that she had to taste a little bit to try it.  If that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is.

(Disclaimer: no matter how gorgeous your scrub smells, I don’t advocate eating it…)

7. Bath Fizzies. Simple sounding instructions from the Martha Stewart website.

8. Also from Martha Stewart, these grass soaps look amazing…

There is something about the presentation here that is so fantastic. There are lots and lots of different soap making projects on the website so I definitely plan on buying some melt and pour soup base and having a crack at a few of these.

9. Bergamot and coconut skin salve. Even the name of this sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I’m going to try and find some nice vintage tins to put it in.

10. For all my bath and food creations, I plan on printing out and attaching some homemade labels. I was inspired by this post on a thousand word’s blog. She’s made a whole hamper for her friend’s birthday with matching labels on all the products. So gorgeous. There’s a raft of great labels to download and use on the World Label blog.

Sewing

11. I’ve been planning a quilt for my sister and her husband for some time. I bought some stunning Liberty fabric a few years ago and it’s been sitting waiting to be transformed ever since. Consequently, I’ve been storing lots of quilt tutorials, so can offer a few options:

12. Lavender and cedarwood bags in matching fabric to the quilt. I met up with my sister the other evening and was gratified to see that she was wearing the snood I made her for Christmas two years ago. Less gratifying to see though, was that there were a couple of holes in it — however, gratifying again, that when I pointed this out, she was genuinely annoyed at seeing them and said they have got a serious moth problem in their new house. So, lavender and cedarwood bags are an essential. I won’t actually be following a tutorial for this as it’s pretty straightforward, but there is a great tutorial on Martha Stewart’s site that also tells you how to print your own designs onto fabric first.

Wood

I’m not entirely sure where I’d be finding big slabs of wood, but if I do I will certainly be making…

13. These amazing chopping boards by Centsational Girl and

14. The Design Sponge pencil holder

Prints

20 best homemade present tutorials from Wolves in London15. This must be one of the simplest ideas for a present ever. Print out some beautiful vintage bookplate designs and cut to size! I’ve come across a few different free graphics for these, so I’ll be putting together a combination of the ones I’ve found at The Graphics Fairy (pictured on the left), Design Sponge and Benign Objects (links take you directly to the bookplates). I think I’ll also make some little envelopes to hold them all. Will cut some to size out of card, stick one of the bookplates that is inside on the front and embellish the insides using the Guardian’s guide to making envelope liners. It’s a really simple idea, but hopefully will be appreciated  by the bibliophiles in my life…

16. I’m going to have my first crack at grown-up potato stamp printing, inspired by the tutorial for this stunning feather-printed gauze blanket. I think I will try and craft mine into a scarf, however.

17.  I’ll be following my own tutorial for transferring printed images onto fabric to make some more printed T-shirts, this time for friends’ children. I’ve been storing cool free graphics to use for this. The advantage of doing this is you can make the perfect T-shirt for their tastes. One friend’s son is crazy on horses, so he’ll get a horse T-shirt and I am already excited about how much he’ll love that…

Food

20 best homemade present tutorials18. I’ll be making some more of the delicious apple and sage jelly that I cooked in September.

This is a really perfect homemade present: hard to find in the shops, a bit unique, looks beautiful and, best of all, utterly delicious…

19. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Turkish delight. I’ve never tried to make it before, so I don’t know how well it would turn out, but this turkish delight recipe from the Guardian sounds pretty simple.

20. These peppermint hearts from Flossie Teacakes blog (love that name, don’t you?) originally got on my radar as a potential Valentine’s Day present. But I think they’d be great for Christmas too: all wrapped up in a nice box, with a jolly ribbon tied on. I think I’ll make up a couple of batches of these to use as “back-up” presents, just in case I forget to buy someone something…

So tell me, what have you got planned for your DIY Christmas presents? And what amazing tutorials have I missed off this list? Please share anything fabulous you’ve seen or created by posting a comment below…

Happy Christmas-crafting…

Update:

I’ve made a few of these projects now, so I’ll add links here to anything I’ve tried out

soap square

Lavender soap

 

My favourite of the completed Christmas presents was definitely the homemade soap. It went down really well with the recipients and I made so many I’ve used a fair few myself! Read more about it: how to make your own soap

 

Knitted hot water bottle cover

Hot water bottle

 

I managed to get a fair few things knitted in time, including the lovely Bella’s mittens, along with a hot water bottle cosy and a nice slouchy cable hat. See more photos and details of all at  Christmas knitting

 

Printing on fabric

Printed T-shirts

 

After printing more T-shirts, I put together some tips for transferring images to fabric, along with photos of some that I made

 

Homemade bookplates

Bookplates

 

The bookplates were certainly one of the simplest but most appealing of all the homemade presents. See the finished bookplates and the cute little envelopes I made for them (ahem, even if I do say so myself…)

Three secret projects

15 Oct

As well as my homemade Christmas, I’m working on some other homemade presents too, these for my partner’s birthday in November.

This is proving trickier than it used to be, as my time for making anything during the day is a bit limited. Somehow, looking after the baby, taking a walk and remembering to get washed and eat lunch seem to easily take up 12 hours. So I really only have the 30 minutes or so between putting the baby to bed and Jamie getting home from work to actually get anything done.

Still, as ever undaunted by the genuine lack of time to finish what I’m planning, I’ve got three secret projects that I want to make him by the time his birthday arrives in the middle of November.

The first is a knitted scarf, smart enough for him to wear to work when the winter starts to get cold. I’ve found a free pattern for the appropriately named “His (Birthday) scarf” (pattern found through Ravelry, but I’ve linked direct to the blog it appears on). I’ve splashed out on some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn – normally I’m too mean to buy Debbie Bliss yarn as I do think it’s very expensive, but since this is for a special birthday present I thought I could give it a whirl. And oh my goodness, having knitted the first four rows, I am amazed at how gorgeous the yarn is… Really soft, but it doesn’t split while you’re knitting at all, and it’s lovely and solid on my bamboo needles. I’m using a 4.5mm needle, though the yarn calls for 5mm and the pattern for 4mm (I thought I’d take the middle road, sounds sensible, no?) So far, it’s looking gorgeous, will update on progress…

The second project is to go with some bento boxes that I’ve ordered him through Amazon. I thought that the boxes are all well and good, but he’ll still want a bag to put them in, rather than just sticking them straight into his rucksack. So, at the moment, I’m torn between two different patterns that I’ve got pinned on my Pinterest boards. The first is a bag from the long thread and the second is a similar version but made with oilcloth by Tonya Staab: handmade lunch bag. Ordinarily, I’d go for the oil cloth version without thinking, but I do know that I want to make this for him with my Spoonflower fabric, so I’m umming and ahhing over this.

The final project is the most fun: ironing on some sort of awesome old-fashioned marine related picture to a T-shirt. Something like this, from the New York Public Library archives.

Octopus image from New York Public Library digital archive

Love the vintage marine vibe going on here

Awesome? Awesome.

If I get these all finished, I’ll update with more info and pictures.

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