Category Archives: Handmade Gifts

8 Awesome Handmade Shops for Holiday Gifts

I always try to do the bulk of my Christmas gift shopping with small and handmade businesses.  It’s fun to support artisans and local entrepreneurs while giving a truly unique gift that won’t be found in the mall. It’s an added bonus that, with strategic shopping, you can avoid the mall altogether!

So here are a few handmade gifts that I enthusiastically recommend.  You can find even more recommended shops here and here.

I’ve met all of the following handmade business owners either at local art shows or through friends, and I vouch for the quality of their products!

Unique Handmade Jewelry:

Handmade Jewelry Gift Options Clockwise, from top left:

Zebra Wood and Feather Earrings by Onetribe Organics. They also sell handmade, organic body jewelry.   (I went to school with Jared, the owner and designer, and he runs an impeccable company and gives so much back to his community.)

Ombre Earrings in Copper by HattieRex on Etsy

Gold Aura Quartz Long Necklace

Compass Rose Whitman Quote Silver Necklace  – I’ve purchased this exact necklace as a gift in the past.  Great service and top quality product!

Awesome Screen Printed Gifts

Screen Printed Handmade Gifts

All are designed and printed in the USA by small handmade businesses.  Clockwise, from top left:

Chevron Printed Jersey Scarf by Flytrap on Etsy – I have one in a different design and love it!

Dinosaur vs Robot Tee by Gnome Enterprises.  They have a huge selection of wacky designs.

Guitar Print Tea Towels by TinyPeepers on Etsy – I’ve given these as gifts Another

2014 Tea Towel Calendar with a Rooster – also by Flytrap.

Finally, my favorite item from Gifts in the Galleries, at the University of Pennsylvania, a show I recently attended:

Mustard Knit Neckwarmer by Wise Owl Shop

These fabulous knit neckwarmers / cowl scarves by Wise Owl Shop.  Ashleigh also makes similar neck warmers from vintage materials – and I have been wearing mine nonstop since I bought it. It makes it easy to stay warm when you keep the temperature low in your house to save energy. :)

I hope you’ll consider supporting handmade and small businesses when you shop this holiday season.

Are there any other handmade businesses you’d recommend?

Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gift: Fabric Scrap Bookmarks

I’m trying to get an earlier start than usual on making a few little holiday gifts. One idea I had was to make some fun fabric scrap bookmarks for people who still read from real, paper page books.

DIY Fabric Scrap Bookmarks Tutorial

I gave it a try and it was just as easy as I’d hoped it would be!  This project can be done in under an hour if you have the supplies ready to use.

Supplies Needed:

  • Fabric Scraps – at least 2″ x 5″ in size
  • White card stock paper
  • Ribbon or Yarn – pieces at least 4″ long
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Fray Check – optional
  • Old newspaper or a drop cloth
  • Scissors – or a rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine optional

How To Make Fabric Scrap Bookmarks

Here’s the basic overview:  You’re going to use spray adhesive to adhere the fabric scraps to both sides of the card stock. Next you’ll cut it into bookmark strips – about 2″ x 5″, or larger.  Then you’re going to cut a little slit near the top of the bookmark.  Slip a piece of ribbon through the top slit.  If you sew, finish off with a decorative stitch around the entire bookmark, and also where the ribbon attaches. Voila!

1.  Figure out what scraps you’ll use.  I decided to use scraps that covered the entire 8 x 11 sheet of card stock, so my bookmarks would be 8″ long.  Some of my bookmarks have the same fabric both sides, others are different on each side.   DIY Fabric Bookmark Supplies

2.  You’re going to spray adhesive, so you need to cover the space.  Spray adhesive seems to get all over, so I always cover a much larger surface than the actual spot that I’m spraying.  Lay out your drop cloth or newspapers.DSC_0119_edited-1

3.  Set out your card stock pages and spray one side with adhesive.  Set your fabric scraps on them, and smooth out any wrinkles.  I usually start from the middle and smooth out to the edges.  It’s easy to reposition the fabric if you need to.

4.  Flip the card stock over and figure out what fabric you’re putting on the other side.  Spray the adhesive again, and smooth fabric over it again.DSC_0122_edited-1

You may want to trim the excess fabric off the card stock before continuing. DSC_0123_edited-1

5.  Cut your bookmarks out of the card stock.  I cut mine in 2 inch strips, so that they were 8″ long.DSC_0129_edited-1

6.  Cut a small slit near the top of the bookmark, then slip a 4″ ribbon or piece of yarn through the slit.

DSC_0131_edited-1 DSC_0133 7.  Use a zig zag stitch to sew the edges of the bookmark.  Fold the ribbon out of the way so you don’t sew over it, then start sewing at the top, where the ribbon will be. DSC_0137

8.  Use a zig zag stitch to sew over the ribbon and the slit .  This will hold the ribbon in place.  Then use a straight stitch to sew the ribbon to itself at the top of the bookmark.

DIY Fabric Scrap Bookmark-01

10.  Seal the edges of the ribbon with Fray Check or some clear glue.DSC_0141_edited-1


Some thoughts if you don’t sew:

If you don’t use a sewing machine, you could still do this project.  You may want to use extra strong spray adhesive, or mod podge, or you could get some mid weight double-sided fusible interfacing and use that between the two fabrics instead of the card stock. You just want to be sure that the fabric is well-adhered to the middle piece, whatever it may be.

For securing the ribbon at the top, a drop of glue or hot glue would work fine.

Happy scrap-busting!

PS: Here are some easy handmade gift ideas I shared in the past.

Our Wedding Quilt & A Bedroom Update

This Christmas Ryan and I received an amazing wedding gift:  a king-sized quilt made for us by Ryan’s mother.  The jewel blue batiks are pieced together in a wonderful modern pattern, so perfect for us that I can’t stop admiring it.

Wedding Quilt 3

She chose a wave pattern for the actual quilting that was done to it, because we got married on the bay.  How awesome is that?  (I know the pattern is a little hard to see in my photo below.)

Wedding Quilt2

And on the back corner she included a sweet message.

Wedding Quilt1

Right now we keep it on the foot of the bed when we make the bed, because the cats sleep with us at night and we don’t want it to get hairy just yet.
Wedding Quilt 4

Are you surprised to hear me say that?  I’m usually a firm believer in using something rather than saving it – but we want this to last for the rest of our lives, so we’re not ready to let it get hairy just yet. :)

Showing you the quilt, however, means that you now see how we’ve undressed the bedroom quite a bit.  It looks so naked to me.

Once the most “finished” room in the house, our bedroom is now naked.   It’s hard to explain, but it started when we removed the too-dark nightstands that we built.  Then I reluctantly removed the curtains that I had sewed, because without a headboard for the bed, the curtains got tangled on Ryan as he slept.  (He’s a very active sleeper.)  Then I removed the wall-mounted lamps, and replaced my wine crate nightstand with one from my parents’ house, simply because I wanted to use that Ikea lamp :)

What drives me craziest is the lack of curtains.  Ryan’s finishing up plans for building us a king sized bed with a headboard.  Once that is built, then we will add curtains back in and go from there.

February is filling up, but the bed needs to be built by the spring, so we’ll be building the bed and tackling the bedroom re-makeover in March and April.

In the mean time, I’m open to your thoughts on quilts.  To use them or save them?  How do you like to store them and wash them?  Have you ever had issues with pets messing up quilts?

My “Stuffed Clutch” Bridesmaid Gifts

Today I’d like to show you how I made a {hopefully} useful and {hopefully} reusable bridesmaid gift for the girls in our wedding party.

Bridesmaid Clutch Filled With Toiletries as Gift

My first plan, inspired by Jeannine at Small Chic Home, was to give the ladies each a pretty satin or silk robe (made with fair labor, of course).  After much searching I found some in the Worldstock Fair Trade section of  However, when the silky pink robes arrived, I didn’t love the ridiculously short length of them – there was no way I could envision ANY of my friends wearing them again after the big day.

I immediately knew what I’d do instead – give them each a pretty clutch purse to carry on the big day.  Not only would it provide some coordination with their purposefully mismatched dresses, it would hopefully take the place of bridesmaid bouquets – something we’d chosen not to do.

After much searching – and moments of thinking “maybe I should sew them myself” – I found these summery, floral clutches made by NeenaBags on Etsy.  (Psst:  check out these adorable clutches she now has in her shop!)  Sidenote:  They were very, very well made.

Floral Clutch Purse Bridesmaid Gift NeenaBags on Etsy

(I tried to do as much wedding-accessory-shopping on Etsy as possible, because I know that I’m supporting handmade / small business owners as well as getting items that were more likely made with fair labor than if they were mass-produced in factories overseas. )

I filled each clutch with items that I thought would come in handy:

  • Little packs of tissue
  • Chapstick with sunscreen
  • Disposable tooth brushes
  • Mini deodorant
  • Pieces of fashion tape
  • Safety Pins
  • Hair Pins / Bobby Pins
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Hello Kitty band aids. These ended up coming in handy for me, actually!

Useful Items Bridesmaid Clutch

We’d have our hair done up – so what if it started to come undone and we needed bobby pins?  I made cute little cards using store-bought tags and washi tape, added some safety pins in case those were needed, and then slipped the bobby pins on the end, writing “Put a pin in it!” on the tag just to be silly. :)

Bobby Pins and Safety Pins

I loved how it turned out.

Bridesmaid Clutch Filled with Toiletries

Each clutch got wrapped in tissue paper, then nestled into a little brown paper gift bag. To dress up the plain gift bags, I cut long strips of decorative scrapbook paper and glued them to the front center of the bags.

Decorate Plain Gift Bags with Scrapbook Paper

When I gave the clutches to my friends, they seemed to like them.  Of course, being the wonderful friends that they are, they probably wouldn’t have said anything if they didn’t!  It was for the wedding after all. . .   :)

On the day of, they all looked lovely, and I was pretty pleased with the use of pretty floral clutches in place of “disposable” flowers.   If even one of them reuses their bag in the future, then I consider the mission a success!

Bridesmaid Clutch Wedding