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Rethinking Christmas Stockings

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Christmas Stocking 3 The Prudent Homemaker

A few years back, we were in need of new Christmas stockings. Our family had grown, and we didn't have enough matching stockings for the family.

At the same time, I had been seeing beautiful miniature stockings online made from vintage grain sacks. I loved the simple red stripes at the top and I especially loved the fact that the stockings were tiny. Small stockings (rather than ones that could fit an entire adult's arm) mean there is less to fill, and I can have a wrapped gift sticking out of the top, which is something I had always wanted to do. That didn't work with our previous stockings, which were so long I could fit all of our gifts for each person in with room to spare.

Chirstmas Stocking The Prudent Homemaker

I drew up a small stocking pattern and set to work. I didn't have vintage grain sacks, nor a budget for them, so I used my sewing machine to sew red stripes on some painter's drop cloth that I had previously bought at the hardware store. (Note: Our city got an Ikea store last year; they have dishtowels for $0.79 each that have red stripes at the top which would work beautifully to make these stockings).

Last year, with our new baby, I wasn't worried about hanging a stocking for him. Now that he's a year and a half, it's time for me to make a stocking for him too!

You can make your own small stockings out of your fabric of choice. Not a fan of red stripes? Try cutting up a velvet skirt or dress, or an old sweater that you find at the thrift store! Repurpose an old sheet to use as the lining.

Christmas Stockings The Prudent Homemaker


When it comes to filling the stockings, consider the simplest things.

In the toe, put a clementine or an orange. These are always on sale at Christmastime in the U.S.  (Readers in the Southern Hemisphere, please share your favorite summer fruits for stockings in the comments below!)

Include some candy and/or nuts. I like to buy some candy from the bulk section at Winco when it goes on sale right before Halloween and give that (this year I bought peppermint patties). Candy canes, purchased on sale, work well. I like to make homemade candies too, such as peppermint bark, which I put inside in plastic bags. For nuts, look at buying them in bulk from Sam's Club, Costco, Winco, or another place that sells bulk nuts. If you grow your own, whole nuts in the shell look pretty in stockings as well. If you prefer cookies to candy, a beautifully decorated Christmas cookie or two is a nice, edible gift.

For gifts, I like to keep the cost down. Most "inexpensive" stocking stuffer ideas that I see include several gifts that are $10-$20 each. Most years, that is my entire Christmas budget per person (candy and nuts come from my regular grocery budget, rather than my planned gift budget), which means I need to lower that amount considerably to keep within my budget for the year. I usually include two to three gifts per person in stockings. Here's some of what I like to include:


For my daughters:

Jewelry. I find pieces at garage sales for $1 an item. I'll make jewelry from repurposed or garage sale pieces. Broken or old costume jewelry is great for this purpose. I've also bought beads, elastic, and jewelry findings on sale to make pieces between $0.15 to $1 each.

Small toys. Garage sales are also a great place to find small toys. I found a number Legos for a total of $0.50 this year, and I'll divide these up between my four younger girls.

Art supplies. I purchase these for $0.25 to $1 at back to school sales.

Hair ribbons. I buy them on sale by the spool and cut them on the diagonal (to reduce fraying) in lengths for the girls.

Homemade barrettes.

Hair elastics. I buy these in packages of 100 from the dollar store.

Bobby Pins. I get these from the dollar store.

Hair brushes. I also get these from the dollar store.


For my sons:

Legos. Garage sales are again my source for the least expensive small Lego stocking stuffers.

More Candy and/or nuts. My boys like to have the same candy as their dad.

Ties. My boys wear a tie to church every Sunday. I find them at garage sales for $0.50 to $1 each.


For both boys and girls:

Toothbrushes. I buy them in packages of 4 or 5 for $1 from the dollar store (last Christmas I saw this same deal at Walmart too).

Chapstick. I often buy a bulk package and divide it up. I look for coupons and sales to get the price lower than $1 each.

Bouncy balls. You can buy a bag (usually of 6) in the party section of several stores.

Puzzles. The dollar store has small puzzles that fit in stockings. 

Earbuds. Again, I get these at the dollar store.

Bookmarks. Homemade bookmarks are a favorite gift at my house. My children are avid readers who always have a book going.


For my husband:

His favorite candy. At my house, this means a large bag of peanut M&Ms and/or a bag of Werther's. I can always find coupons and sales on these to get the price down considerably.

This is all I usually get my husband, but this year I'm thinking of adding a restaurant gift card using points I earn on Swagbucks. We don't usually exchange gifts between the two of us, so this would be a surprise. It also won't cost me anything at all!

Christmas Stockings detail The Prudent Homemaker

Reducing the size of your stockings makes it easier to fill a stocking and keep within a tiny budget. There's no need to feel obligated to spend money on stocking stuffers that will end up broken and unwanted before the New Year. Let your gifts be simple.


As I was writing this post, I asked my 12-year-old son what he loved getting in his stocking. He immediately mentioned the clementine, then candy, and then bouncy balls! And only then did he mention Legos. What my children have come to remember is the simple traditional items that we have included, and they look forward to them every year!


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Skirts The Prudent Homemaker

This was a sewing the inherited stash project. The plaid came from my mother-in-law's stash (a heavy fabric that was a home decorating scrap) and the pinwale corduroy came from grandmother's stash. Both women have passed away (my grandmother this year and my mother-in-law 3 years ago) and I am happy to be using the fabric that I chose from their vast amounts.

Both of these are warm skirts that should be great for everyday wear and play. I made them long enough to go just past the knee cap. 

For each skirt, I simply used the full width of the fabric (from selvage to selvage). I sewed the selvage ends together using a French seam (wrong side to wrong side, sewn together using 1/4" seam, then trimming the seam to 1/8", turning, ironing, and sewing right side to right side using a 3/8" seam).

I turned under the hem at 1/4" inch and ironed it. I then turned it under again (an inch and a quarter for the green skirt and a couple of inches for the plaid skirt; I cut the plaid one longer to allow for a deeper hem on the heavier fabric).  I pinned the hem and sewed it.

I did the same thing along the top, only I folded it over 1/4 inch and ironed, and then 1 1/4 inches and ironed it. I pinned this top seam. I sewed the top seam, leaving about 2 inches unsewn.

I pinned the end of my piece of elastic (cut slightly shorter than the child's waist measurement) through with a safety pin. I used the safety pin to thread the elastic through the casing I just made. Once I had it through, I overlapped the ends by an inch and sewed them together with a zig zag stitch. I then tucked the elastic into the skirt and finished sewing it closed along the seam line.

Headbands The Prudent Homemaker


Supplies for each:

2/3 yard of each fabric (more if you want a longer skirt, and twice as much if you want a fuller skirt)

2/3 yard elastic (depending on size of waist you may need a bit more or less)

headband fabric to match ( 2 1/2 inches wide by 16 inches long)

fabric for headband (a piece cut 2 1/2 inches wide by 16 inches long)


Sewing Machine


Sewing pins


Large safety pin

Time: Approximately 1 1/ hours per skirt, and 25 minutes per headband. 

Skirts and Headbands The Prudent Homemaker

Cost:  $0.34 each for the skirts (for the elastic) and $0.17 each per headband

My fabric was free, and the headbands were bought at a garage sale earlier this year. I removed the fabric covering to recover them to match. I purchased the elastic in bulk on sale from Wawak. The thread came from my grandmother.


Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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A Gift a Day 2016: Day 6: Checked Blouse

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My sweet little baby sidetracked my Christmas sewing completely. I had forgotten how hard it is to accomplish one's goals when there's a baby in the house!

But this week, I've got a chance to get in several hours of sewing each morning while my husband watches the children for a few dedicated sewing hours. I'm working on completing as many Christmas presents as possible during this time. Here's the first:

 Checked Blouse Detail The Prudent Homemaker


Earlier this year I came across this tutorial via Pinterest on how to use a tracing wheel to make a pattern from existing clothing. I've taken apart clothing before to make a pattern, and not having to do so to copy something I already like is so much nicer!

I copied an existing blouse that one of my girls has (minus the darts) and made it out of some fabric scraps I was given from a reader a few years ago. They were narrow pieces and I wasn't sure how I would use them at first, but they are super soft, quality cotton scraps from a shirt company.  There was just enough width in part of it to cut a back, and the other pieces were just narrow enough to cut the front pieces, sleeves, and collars of a girl's blouse. The fabric scraps were just wide enough.

Check Blouse The Prudent Homemaker


The original blouse seams were serged seams that were only 1/4" wide. Since I was not planning on serging the seams (I made the blouse with French seams instead to prevent unraveling and make for a smooth finish), it was necessary to add additional seam allowances to the pattern before cutting it out. I drew them on the tissue paper around the traced lines and then cut out my new pattern.



Fabric (I used scraps; the total amount for a girl's size 10 blouse was approximately half a yard/meter)


Tissue paper

Existing blouse to copy


Sewing Machine


Sewing pins

Tracing wheel



About 2 hours



The only thing I purchased for this gift were the buttons, and I had some in my supplies that I had purchased at Joann's for 60% off.


Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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Operation Christmas Child Gifts The Prudent Homemaker

I made a few items again this year for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. As they receive the fewest boxes for boys ages 10-14, I wanted to give to this age group. In the photo above, you can see all of the items we chose to include in each of this year's boxes.

If you've never read the stories from recipients of these boxes, I highly recommend them. Hearing how excited they are to receive a toothbrush (and no longer having to share with 25 other children at an orphanage) or what a difference school supplies made (allowing a child to attend school who otherwise could not afford to go) helps ou to see what a huge impact each item can make. Samaritan's Purse has shared stories from people who received boxes as children that are helpful in knowing what to pack. You can read some here. I love knowing how significant something such as a bar of soap or a pencil sharpener can be to someone.


Soft fabric for handkerchiefs

farbic and lining for pencil bag and hygiene bag

2 zippers for bags


Clips for bracelets


Sewing Machine


Sewing pins


Operation Christmas Child 2016 2 The Prudent Homemaker


Operation Christmas Child 2016 5 The Prudent Homemaker


The tutorial for making bags says 15 minutes, but it took me a bit longer, plus I include the time to lay out the fabric, so they took me about 1 hour of sewing per box. We filled 2 boxes this year. This is the tutorial I used for making the bags. 

Operation Christmas Child Paracord Bracelet The Prudent Homemaker

My son made the paracord bracelets. It took him about 20 minutes per bracelet.


I had all of the sewing items from my grandmother's stash, so these cost me nothing. The cost to ship each box is $7, payable on Samaritan's Purse website.

The paracord and clips were bought in bulk on Ebay, and were less than $1 each. Last year we bought paracord bracelets at the Dollar Tree.

The cost to ship each box is $7, payable on Samaritan's Purse website.

Operation Christmas Child 2016 4 The Prudent Homemaker

Other items are as follows:



Watch ($7.88)

Lined note pads ($0.88 for a 3 pack; I included 2 in each box)

Blank note pads ($0.88 for a 3 pack; I included 2 in each box)

Pens ($0.88 for an 8 pack; I included 2 blue and 2 black in each box)

Pencils ($0.50 for a 20-count box at back to school sales; I included 10 in each box)

Watercolors ($1.97 for Crayola)

Nail clippers (2 pairs), file, tweezers, orange sticks ($0.97)

Dental floss ($1.47 for 120 yards)

White polymer eraser ($1.47 for three; I included 1 in each box)

Soap box ($0.97)

Index cards ($0.25 for 100; I included 50 in each box)



Colored pencils ($1 on back to school sale)

Checkers game ($1.50 on clearance. Dollar Tree does have these in a cardboard box for $1 each if you are looking to add one to a box)

Protractor and compass ($1.97 on clearance)


Dollar Tree:

Toothbrushes with covers ($1 for 4; I put 2 in each box)

Multi-pack of combs ($1; I put 2 in each box)

Pencil sharpeners ($1 for 12; I put 2 in each box)

Hair elastics ($1 for 100; I included 2 as rubber bands ; one on the colored pencils and 1 to hold the washcloth around the watch to keep it padded while traveling).


Other items:

Soap (given to me; I put 2 bars of Ivory in each box. Ivory is recommended because it floats, which is helpful when bathing in a stream.)

Matchbox cars (My dad collects these and these were duplicates that he did not need)

Paracord and clips (bought in bulk on Ebay)

Washcloths (bought in a brand-new package at a garage sale; I got 12 for $2)

Chapstick (I bought a  13-pack for $9.98 at Sam's Club and included 1 per box)

Ribbon (from my grandmother's stash, used to hold pencils, pens, and index cards together)

Ziploc bags (around $0.04 each from Sam's Club)


Making it fit:

You can fit more in our box if you remove packaging. Also, many of these boxes go to places where there is no trash service at all.

Operation Christmas Child 2016 3 The Prudent Homemaker


 Tomorrow is the last day for dropping off Operation Christmas Child boxes in the U.S. Go here to find a drop-off location near you!

 Need more ideas? Here is what we packed in our boxes for boys ages 10-14 last year.

Here is my Pinterest board for boxes for ages 10-14.


Note: Candy and toothpaste may be included this year in U.S. boxes, but it is the last year; it will not be allowed in 2017. Only certain candies are allowed and must be double bagged as even hard candies can melt. Soap should be bagged. If you are sending a box from Canada, Australia, or the U.K., those items are already prohibited.

Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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Cloche The Prudent Homemaker

A couple of months ago, I came across a vintage-style free pattern for a cloche hat. I loved it, and so did Winter. Winter used the pattern first to make herself a hat, using the fabric from the bottom of a skirt (she turned a long skirt that I had bought at the thrift store into a knee-length one and used the fabric she cut off for the hat).  

She liked the hat but wanted a bit longer brim next time, so I made this a bit longer than the original. I made it from a beautiful brushed cotton that I ran across at Joann's when we were picking up some crinoline fabric in October. It feels like a thick flannel.



Free hat pattern and tutorial 

1/2 yard of hat fabric

1/4 yard of lining fabric (I used a bit more, using the same fabric for making the rose and trim)


1 yard of fusible interfacing


Sewing Machine


Sewing pins



Cloche Detail The Prudent Homemaker


This took me about 4 hours. The tutorial says it is a 2-hour project, and I think sewing the hat is, but when you include the time to cut out the pieces for the hat, lining, and flower, and make the flower and trim, it takes longer. 

A couple of tips: Take the time to iron every seam after sewing it before moving on to the next step. It makes a huge difference. Also, don't neglect the top stitching. Top stitching not only makes the seams lay flat, it also makes the whole hat look more finished and professional.

Cost: $4.65

I bought the brushed cotton just recently at Joann's on sale for $5.99 a yard (regular prices is $9.99). I had the black fabric that I used for lining and the trim from a long-ago purchase; it's not technically lining fabric, but actual lining fabric would be even less expensive. The interfacing I used was bought on a Black Friday sale at 75% off; they sell a thin iron-on interfacing by the bolt that day.

You could make this hat out of any fabric you have, including making it from an old piece of clothing or a flannel pillowcase. If you want to make flowers, you will need a synthetic fabric to melt in this fashion, but you don't have to make flowers. Ribbon or a self-made trim will also work just fine. You can make this hat out of a lighter material for summer; Winter made hers from linen. 

Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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Bow and Headbands The Prudent Homemaker

I'm sure you're wondering what happened to yesterday's gift.

I thought it was  2-3 hour project. I even got a head start by laying out and taping together the 28-page printable downloadable pattern the night before (a 40-minute task).

I started the project and it didn't take long to remember how frustrating it is to sew on sheer fabric and how a simple project can take 3 times as long, due to the slipperiness of the fabric.

The project is now sitting in a heap on my sewing room table, waiting for me to get back to it--with the seam ripper. 

That left me just a little time to work on some small projects today (as I was still working on yesterday's gift this afternoon).

Many of you expressed an interest in seeing my big gifts. As I look over my lists, they are almost all big gifts, and will be a real challenge to complete in a day (or even two!) 

With the time I had left today, I went through my ribbon stash  and used some to make hairbows and to cover some headbands.

I had this pretty pink idea in my head, but as it turned out, I need to replenish my ribbon box with pink, black, and a few other colors, so I'll be looking for sales on ribbon by the spool so that I can make these in those colors as well before Christmas.

 Headbands before The Prudent Homemaker

I started with these inexpensive headbands. I've bought these before at the Dollar Tree in a pack of 4, but I haven't seen them there for a while. I bought a bunch with a $10 off $10 coupon to Kohl's before, and I have several more that I bought at a garage sale to use for this purpose.

I cut off the fabric that was on them.

 Headbands after The Prudent Homemaker

 Then I cut two pieces of ribbon (the length of the headband with about an ince/2 centimeters extra left to hang off each end) to cover them. I pinned the ribbon together and sewed along the length, right along the edge of the ribbon. I then put it over the edge of the headbands, pulled it over, folded the edges down on each end, and hand sewed the edges closed to the inside edge of the headband. I hand sewed the bows from more ribbon and sewed them to the top of each ribbon covered headband.

Hairbows The Prudent Homemaker

For the barrettes, I hand sewed bows, and then ran the top of the barrette through the back center loop of the bows.






blank barrettes


Sewing Machine

Sewing pins


Hand-sewing needle



An hour and a half for the three headbands and three bows.


$0.55 for the red and cream-striped headband, $0.04 each for the other two headbands, and $0.40 each for the barrettes.

I purchased the red and cream striped ribbon, the headbands, and the barrette blanks.  I bought the white ribbon about 25 years ago. The other ribbons were given to me. The gold ones came on packages that I had received; I always keep pretty ribbons on gifts to use for wrapping gifts or for hair ribbons.

I'll be back to sewing gifts on Monday.


Did you make any gifts today? What did you make?

Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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