Anyway, I managed to somehow get it all done (not without a few major meltdowns on my part) and most everything arrived before Christmas. Here are the fruits of my labor.
My niece casually mentioned a few months ago that she loved peace signs. I instantly knew exactly what I was going to make for her. This is the Farbenmix Bandito pattern, which I've been dying to try for some time. Great pattern, but I do feel the arms are rather gorilla-ish. I wish I had taken off a few inches in the arm length.
Pattern: Farbenmix Bandito
While we were in Disney World, my oldest son and his 7 year old cousin bonded over endless games of Mario played on the Nintendo DS. When I asked Shane what he thought his cousin would like, the obvious answer was, "Something with Mario on it." This is an Ottobre sweatshirt, also made from bamboo french terry. The actual sweatshirt is about 1000X better in person than it is in the picture. For some reason, I cannot for the life of me get a good picture of a sweatshirt. Anyway, it is so wonderfully soft and cozy. When I talked to him on Christmas day, he very diplomatically said it was one of his favorite presents.
Pattern: Ottobre 1/07
Fabric: Periwinkle Bamboo French Terry from Bamblue Fabrics
Mario fabric is from Ixat on Etsy
And finally, during our Disney World trip the eldest of the three innocently asked if I could make her a Vera Bradley-type backpack. I stammered out a positive reply even though I was not at all sure I could manage it. First, we're talking about woven fabric here, something I usually don't do. Second, the zippers! Lots of zippers! And god only knows what else. I was petrified of this project. But I don't get the opportunity to do very much for these kids since they live across the country from us, so I bravely decided to give it a try.
The only backpack pattern review I could find was from Cindy Taylor Oates. Luckily, it was a positive review, and since I've used her patterns before with much success, I decided to go with it. Despite all my massive trepidation about making a backpack, it really came together very easily. Time consuming, perhaps, but the instructions are very clear (at least in most parts. I think she kind of leaves you hanging a bit on the last part, the interior binding). I was totally ecstatic when I finished it (only had to use my seam ripper once!). It seemed to go over pretty well with the recipient, too, so everyone is happy.
Having made something for the kids, naturally I had to make something for their mother, too (my husband's sister). I eventually settled on an infinity scarf and a zippered pouch; the latter is made entirely in the embroidery machine. Once I got the hang of those pouches (which took a lot of trial and error), I became addicted and made a ton of them. Actually, the same can be said for the infinity scarves. And with those, I finally had to get over my abject horror of hand sewing; once you turn them out, they really need to be hand-stitched closed. I hunkered down over YouTube to figure out how to do a simple slipstitch. This is pretty embarassing to admit, really, as your average 10 year old can probably hand sew better than I can, but in the end I think I made it past a huge mental hurdle.
Here are my zippered pouches. As you can see, I made several. The top row (for my nieces and nephew) are filled with Target gift cards; the bottom row (for my sister, my SIL, my mom and my nephew's wife) are filled with yummy scented soap.
Pattern: Zippy Bags In The Hoop by www.stickbaer.com
And here are the infinity scarves. I actually got the idea for these from Suzanne of Sewzanne's Fabric, who had posted on her Facebook page a YouTube tutorial. Once I got past the handsewing part, these are soooo simple. I made myself one of the zig zag ones, and got a million compliments when I wore it. I made the zig zag ones for my sister and my SIL, and the bamboo jersey ones for my nephew's wife and my other sister.
My middle sister taught me how to sew, so I always feel a little weird giving her sewn gifts. But many months ago, she commented on a top I'd made for myself out of this fabric, saying how much she loved the design. I very quickly de-listed my remaining bit of it and saved it for her. I decided to use Simplicity 3918 because it was cute and seemed pretty fool proof. My sister is much bigger in the, ahem, bosom than I am, so that's why it looks rather large on me. Overall, I'm happy how this turned out and will be making many more versions of this pattern in the future.
Fabric: Floral Rayon Jersey from Bamblue Fabrics (now sold out)
Pattern: Simplicity 3918
Here is a baby set I made for my cousin's first baby. I'm a little embarassed that the child was born in June but I hadn't gotten around to making an outfit until now. I've made a dozen of these baby sets, but none gave me the trouble that this one did. Absolutely everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I won't bore you with the details; sufficeth to say that the binding reduced me to tears (I learned the hard way that neither bamboo jersey nor bamboo french terry can be put through the binder on my CS machine. A very sad discovery, I assure you). Anyway, it turned out ok in the end.
Pattern: Ottobre 5/06 (hat is NCBE)
I needed something handmade for my MIL, but it is so hard. What to make for the woman who has everything? After consulting my husband, we settled on this, a little wallet done in the embroidery machine. These are pretty easy, and I had envisioned making more of these as gifts but ran out of time.
Embroidery Design: Purses in the hoop from www.stickbaer.com
My mother also falls into the category of a woman who has everything. But I began giving her journals about a dozen years ago, and now it has become a tradition. Not seeing anything spectacular during my journal shopping trips this year, it finally occurred to me that I could just buy a cheap journal and embroider a cover. If you ignore my lousy stabilizing job, it turned out pretty nicely. I love this embroidery design.
Embroidery Design: Emblibrary
Journal Cover Tutorial: Urban Threads
Am I finally on the last gift? Well, you see why I was so crazed for the last few weeks. My nephew's adorable little girl is now 2, so therefore is finally able to fit into Farbenmix patterns. Had to make her an Olivia.
Pattern: Farbenmix Olivia
Fabric: Turquoise velour + Stenzo print
Embroidery: Janea's World
Actually, after looking at all this and having nasty flashbacks, I think I'm going to begin sewing gifts for Christmas 2012 next week.