If you’re anything like me, you’ve just shopped all the awesome Black Friday fabric sales and ordered a ton for making holiday gifts. AND, if you’re anything like me, you’ve started breaking a sweat thinking about the gazillion gifts you have to make before the USPS deadline of December 20. (Eighteen days and counting!) Here are some tips for holiday sewing I’ve learned over the years, and they’ve worked; this year I’m committed to sewing with only one shot of rum in my egg nog!
Keep a Calendar.
As a complete “procrastinatrix” when it comes to holiday shopping, I’ve found that the best way to preserve my sanity in my holiday sewing projects is to keep a schedule. I don’t have to adhere to it too strictly, but it at least gives me a visual representation of the work I have to do. It also keeps me from biting off more than I can reasonably chew; when I’m entering in fifteen projects to be spread out over nine days, it’s clear that something’s gotta give.
Assembly Line Sewing FTW!
Rather than picking a different type of gift for everyone, I try to choose projects that I can duplicate easily for different people. Last year, for example, I made classic tote bags for all the women in my family, varying only the prints and colors for each person. They each got a personalized gift, but without undue agony on my part. I got organized, did all the cutting at once, then sewed each step for all the bags. It cut down on time considerably, and I think also resulted in better products because I spent more time “in the zone.”
When I’m sewing for the holidays, the “free” time I have is spent in front of the sewing machine. There’s nothing else I can do while I’m actively sewing, so that time is precious. But binding or burying threads or cutting out patterns or feeding elastic? I save that stuff for watching TV or riding in the car. Also, if I’m having a busy day, I usually try to fit a few minutes of sewing in here or there, or spend what little time I have organizing my space for the next steps of my project. It’s amazing how a few minutes here or there add up!
Cut Corners. Seriously.
Your mother-in-law who does not sew has no clue about the difference between store-bought and handmade bias tape. And your brother will not notice that the topstitching on the handmade toiletry case you’re making him is not perfectly straight (unless you’re drunk). Simplify patterns, choose non-directional prints, machine-bind your projects. Take shortcuts. It’s okay! The most important thing to your loved one is the fact that you spent time making him or her a gift. You are seriously the only person in the world who notices that it’s not perfect, and “perfect” is the enemy of the good enough… and the done. Repeat after me: it’s handmade.
What tips do you have for us about how to make making gifts efficient and enjoyable?
P. S. If you liked this post, you'll love the Wordcraft + Right Sides Together newsletter. Get weekly blog posts and craft writing tips delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here.