Friday, December 30, 2011

Handmade Christmas

Every year for the past few years I have tried to make a majority of my Christmas gifts for my family. Partially because it saves me a lot of money, but also because handmade gifts are more personal, thoughtful, and made with love. Making something with my hands requires time, effort, and a lot of thought, which I think makes a great gift. Also, it's a lot of fun to do! This year my family made it official. Family members were asked to make gifts instead of buy them this year. The result was amazing. Not to brag, but I have an incredibly talented and creative family! Check out some of the treasures below:


My sister in-law made these awesome flower pillows out of felt, berries, and buttons. She also made a map cork board for tracking vacations and places visited.

My dad made my sister, sister in-law, and I wrapping stations inspired by a Pottery Barn tear sheet. My sister was so excited when she saw them she literally jumped up and down. It was a sight to see, but well worth the excitement. I am still trying to decide what color to paint mine...

The picture of the white wrapping station above is from the Pottery Barn catalog, and served as inspiration.

My mom made everyone these adorable ruffly scarves (also sold at Ruthie's Paint Shoppe), winter hats, and "Dobrewha" signs. (Want to understand this reference? Read this post.)

Here is a picture of the flower pillow back home on my bed. It looks awesome!

What did you all make as Christmas gifts this year?
More on what my sister and I made everyone in a few days...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pillow Party

Yep, I titled this post pillow party. And I don't mean of the pillow fight variety. I mean of the "I made a few pillows as Christmas gifts this year" type of party. I also made myself an easy to switch out holiday pillow earlier in December I want to share. Let the party begin.

This first pillow, which I call "The Felt Poppy Pillow," I made for my mom. I was originally inspired by this pillow on Pinterest, but put my own spin on it. To start, I bought a pillow form and cut my brown background fabric accordingly (I added 1/2 inch to each side for a hem allowance). Then I got to work cutting circles out of felt. I found some at Joann's and Hobby Lobby that I thought would match my mom's living room/couch (turns out it matches my own living room pretty well too... mom almost didn't end up getting this for Christmas!). I just traced the bottom and top of a tapered glass, and the top of a shot glass onto the felt to get the different sized circles.

I laid all the circles out where I wanted them (I doubled and tripled some of them up to add dimension) and picked out a button to serve as the center of each flower. I varied the colors and when I sewed the buttons onto the felt I just sewed all the way through so they were also attached to the pillow.
These few steps so far took a surprisingly long amount of time. I wanted to get the placement just right. The final step was sewing on the "stems." I just used a bigger needle and embroidery floss to do this. I drew straight lines with a ruler from the bottom of the pillow to the center of each flower with dressmaker's chalk, which I knew would easily rub off when I was done with the lines.

The last step was to put right sides together and sew all around, leaving an opening to stuff my pillow form through. I turned it inside out, stuffed in the pillow form, and whip stitched the hole back together. Viola, Christmas gift!

As for the blue snowflake pillow... when my sister and I were Black Friday shopping at Joann's she spotted a super cute button snowflake pillow. She thought it might make a nice Christmas gift and that she might want one for her house. The one at Joann's was made of felt (too scratchy) and the buttons were just hot glued on (too easy). Also, it was red. She is more of a blue kinda gal. So I got to work. To make this design I just used a ruler to draw a cross, then diagonal lines on the flannel blue fabric I picked for the background. To draw the lines I used dressmaker's chalk (like I did above) so the lines would go away after I was done with them. I picked out a slew of white buttons in various sizes and went to town. I used a quilters hoop to make sewing them on easier... but it still took a very very long time. I can see why Joann's would be tempted to hot glue them on instead!

Then I did the same thing as above: right sides together, sew all around leaving a couple inch long hole, inside out, stuff in pillow form, sew up hole. Done!

Last but not least, the most fun and easy pillow I made this season was for myself. I found this fabric at Hobby Lobby (for around $4 a yard!) with the intention of using it for my Etsy store, but decided I couldn't part with it. I have enough left so I may make matching stockings out of it next year.
For now, I have this pillow though. It is a big thing on Etsy to sell pillow covers, rather than whole pillows. That way you can reuse the pillows you have, and when you get sick of it you can just take the cover off. It is brilliant. Especially for holiday pillows that you have to store until next year. Its much easier to store just the fabric in the form of the cover than a bulky pillow.

So I made my cover just like I made the shams for my bed. The back piece is actually two pieces that overlap. This technique is even easier than the regular way because there is no hole to sew up when you are done. The flaps just overlap and look nice. When spring comes, this baby will just go in the closet with the other winter decorations and I will have my old yellow pillow back (which was really just waiting underneath the whole time!). Brilliant, functional, and easy! What could be better?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Gift Reveal - Card Cases

Christmas 2011 was the year of the card holders. Nearly everyone on my  list got one of these this year. I found them fun to make and absolutely adorable. I love all the options of fabrics and color combinations. I felt like I was really able to be creative when making them. I was able to make each one personal by picking fabrics I really thought the receiver would love. And they aren't just for business cards! I keep gift cards and appointment cards in mine. You could also keep cash, credit cards, or pictures in them.

This one turned out to be my favorite... the one I made for my sister. I tried to pick colors that would look good with her business cards (shown below).

This is the one I made for me. I call the striped fabric "almost chevron."

These next two are actually for sale in my Etsy Store.

The brown and green one matches the one I made for my mom for Christmas, which was also inspired by her business cards.

Do any of you all tend to do this? Find one thing you like to make and then make a gazillion of them for everyone on your list? Personally I think it is a smart plan!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Y'all

To all of you out there in internet land, I hope you are having a wonderful day of family, fun, joy, and peace. And maybe even a little relaxation if you are lucky. My parents, husband, long-lost brother, and I are off to see Sherlock Holmes at the movies (our Christmas day tradition) after we open our presents! I will leave you with our lit up shimmering tree, and Lola guarding a pile of presents while chillaxing in our Santa bag.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmases Past

The holiday season is a great time to look back and take note of changes and growth. My husband and I are coming up on our 5th anniversary (since we started dating) so I thought it would be fun to pull pictures from each year we have been together to compare trees and living situations. 5 years seems like no time at all, and at the same time, forever. So here we go.

Starting with this year... our tree, and our tree before we cut it down
(which is also our Christmas card pic this year). 

This was our first year as a married couple on Christmas, and we didn't even have a tree - so I included the closest thing we had, a palm tree downtown Charleston that was decorated in lights. I found it ironic and charming - and our Christmas card pic from 2010 (below).


This was our first Christmas in Charleston, and our first real Christmas tree. We had fun bringing Lola with us to the tree farm (which we had to drive 45 minutes into the country to get to) - we did not even have Lexi then. Our Christmas card was just Lola that year. Notice the weird needles on the tree. They do not have "normal" Christmas trees you can cut down in South Carolina.


This was our first fake Christmas tree, which we set up in T.J.'s apartment. This was also the year I made our Christmas stockings.


In 2007, T.J. and I were living in our fraternity and sorority houses, so our tree this year belonged to Sigma Phi Epsilon. It was a pretty cool big tree though. And a ton of fun to decorate. His fraternity had my sorority over every year to make ornaments and spread holiday cheer. :-)


Christmas of 2006 we weren't even officially dating, but we did go to a December semi-formal together and someone snapped this picture in front of the Sig Ep tree. It isn't one of my favorites, but it is pretty cool that we have a picture from Christmastime that year. We look so incredibly different! Look at that boy's tie/shirt/cuff combo!

I think our tree this year takes the cake, mostly because it is in our very own house. It's kind of funny how we can mark time just by looking back at pictures and memories of what our lives were like at different Christmases. Time flies, make sure to take a few minutes this Christmas to remember where you have been - wait until New Years to focus on where you will go next.
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