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Sewing for Operation Christmas Child

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OCC The Prudent Homemaker

I am excited to participate in filling shoeboxes this year for Operation Christmas Child! These gifts go to needy children all over the world.

I spent some time recently reading stories of those who had received shoeboxes as children, as well as those who have helped distribute shoeboxes. I took note of what gifts were most useful and meaningful to so many.

You can choose to make boxes for a boy or a girl,  in the age categories of 2-4, 5-7, and 10-14. Operation Christmas Child receives the fewest boxes for boys ages 10-14, so we choose that age. I also have two boys in that age group who gave me lots of feedback on gifts.

School supplies and hygiene supplies are especially needed.

Using fabric, zippers, and ribbon that I had been gifted (much came from my grandmother's collection, some from my mother-in-law's, and some from others), I made bags to hold our gifts that will be useful gifts in and of themselves.

OCC Pencil Bags The Prudent Homemaker

I made a lined pencil case. I chose a dark patterned fabric for the inside, so that any marks from the pencils won't be noticeable on the inside. Inside we placed 10 pencils (tied with a ribbon), 13 colored pencils (also tied with a ribbon), a black pen, a red pen, two pencil sharpeners, and an eraser.

I also sewed a little book with blank computer paper. I cut several sheets of paper in half, and enclosed it in a half sheet of cardstock. I sewed it closed down the middle. I embossed a tree on the front cover (picture of the front further down the page).

OCC Toiletry Bag The Prudent Homemaker 

I made a larger bag in the same manner for a toiletry bag. Inside I placed 2 combs, a pair of nail clippers, 2 nail files, a washcloth, 2 toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, solid lotion (like lip balm), and 2 handkerchiefs that I made from the same fabric I used to line the bag. It is a soft cotton.

OCC Marble Bag The Prudent Homemaker

I made a drawstring bag to hold marbles.

OCC Matchbook Sewing Kit 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I made a small matchbook sized sewing kit with cardstock, thin cardboard, thread, a piece of felt, 2 needles, and 3 safety pins. On one of the safety pins I included 2 shirt buttons. I stamped a design on the front and stapled the cardboard holding the thread and felt holding the pins and needles into the bottom.

OCC Matchbook Sewing Kit 2 The Prudent Homemaker


OCC Matchbook Sewing Kit The Prudent Homemaker

We also included a 2-subject notebook with lined pages. The notebook is divded in the middle with a blank page with pockets on either side. I put the blank book into one side and envelopes into the other. I think finding them there will be a fun surprise.

OCC Other Items The Prudent Homemaker

We packed a small ball and a paracord bracelet. 

We packed a t-shirt.

OCC Box The Prudent Homemaker

We included 2 bars of soap. One of these would fit in the toiletry bag, but two would not, so I packed them outside the bag. I double bagged the soap.

The toothpaste, lip balm, and bar lotion were all packed inside a ziplock bag inside the toiletry bag. (Note: These items are prohibited to ship from Canada but not from the U.S.)

OCC Box 2 The Prudent Homemaker

We also included a bag of hard candy and gum (these are also prohibited to ship from Canada but not from the U.S.) I also, per their recommendation, double-bagged the candy.



Balls (in a three pack)--Dollar Tree

Washcloths (in a three pack)--Dollar Tree

Toothbrushes (in a four pack)--Dollar Tree (They also sell a three-pack that includes toothbrush covers)

Combs (in a multi-pack)--Dollar Tree

Paracord bracelets --Dollar Tree (We were going to make these, but one of my children wanted to buy them for the boxes)

2-subject notebook--Dollar Tree

Pencil sharpeners (in a twelve pack)--Dollar Tree

Marbles with shooter--$2.99 at Hobby Lobby

T-shirt--$2.97 at Hobby Lobby. Joann's and Michael's also sell inexpensive blank t-shirts, and they hold up well.

Toothpaste--$1 on sale at Smith's

Eraser, pencils, colored pencils, pens, blank paper--Back to school sales

Envelopes--Bought in bulk years ago from an office supply store

Lip balm and bar lotion--Samples. You can find a homemade bar lotion recipe here; pack it into a closeable container, such as a tin.

Soap--Given to me from someone who was moving, but Ivory soap can often be purchased for $0.50 a bar or less with coupons.

Fabric, zippers, ribbon, needles, thread, felt, pins, buttons--Hand-me-downs

Candy--Winco's bulk bins, bought on sale before Halloween

Ziploc Freezer bags--Sam's Club, bought on sale ($0.04 each).


It's not too late to pack a shoebox! Drop-off locations are open this week! Check here for a drop-off location and times near you.

Rubberband your box closed at each end and include the boy or girl tag with the age marked that you can print here. Boxes will be taped closed around the middle at the packing location. 

It costs $7 to cover the shipping cost of your box. You can pay with cash at the drop-off location, or you can pay online and attach the tracking label to your box from here. If you choose this option, you will know to which country your box goes.

Don't forget to include a note to the child! You can also include a family photo if you like.



Tagged in: A Gift A Day Gifts
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Christmas Doll Dress The Prudent Homemaker


When each of my girls have turned 5, I have bought them an 18" doll for their birthday or Christmas. This year, I bought this doll for Elsa. Her older sister has this doll (also a Madame Alexander doll). I wanted a similar looking doll (one with brown hair and brown eyes) but one that was also distinctly different in some ways so that they could tell them apart. However, I wasn't a huge fan of the outfit that came with this one. Elsa had requested a Christmas dress for a doll, but instead of making it for her baby doll, I made it for this doll that she will get on Christmas. I'll be making some doll shoes and socks to go with this doll as well.



Christmas fabric 15" by 44" (more if matching patterns; I used a bit more to cut the bows where I wanted them)

Small amount of black broadcloth for collar

Tiny bit of fusbile interfacing to line collar

Black grosgrain ribbon 7/8" (22.2 mm) wide by 40 (101.6 cm) inches long

Velcro, snaps, or buttons to close dress

Pattern from A Closetful of Doll Clothes (note: Butterick has several Retro doll dress patterns available right now that are similar in style; pattern sales should be happening soon)


Sewing Machine


Sewing pins


Copier to copy patterns or tissue paper to trace patterns


 Christmas Doll Dress Detail The Prudent Homemaker

This is the same pattern I used for yesterday's doll dress. I used a bit more fabric to allow me to match the bows for the back bodice pieces and sleeves, and to cut the front bodice so that the bow would be centered.

For the ribbon, I pinned it in place on the center of the finished dress, and sewed it in place on the top and bottom along the front bodice, leaving the rest to hang freely. I then tied it in the back in a bow. Both ends are cut on the diagonal to prevent fraying.


2  1/2 hours


The plaid fabric came from my grandmother's stash, and so was free to me. I bought the black broadcloth, interfacing and black ribbon at 50% off. The ribbon was purchased by the roll at $0.50 for the whole roll. Michael's and Joann's have sales on ribbon like this on a regular basis and especially this time of year. The black velcro was given to me from my mother-in-law.

I cut a matching hair ribbon that I had on hand and tied it around her head. 

Total cost: $ 0.15


Christmas Doll Dress Detail 2 The Prudent Homemaker


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A Gift a Day: Day Four: Polka Dot Doll Dress

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Polka Dot Doll Dress The Prudent Homemaker


Polka dot fabric 15" by 44"

Small piece of white fabric for collar

Tiny bit of fusible interfacing for collar

Pattern from A Closetful of Doll Clothes

Bias tape or self-made bias from fabric to line the inside neckline of the dress

Velcro, snaps, or buttons to close dress


Sewing Machine


Sewing pins


Copier to copy patterns or tissue paper to trace patterns


I like the simple pattern pieces from this book that allow for endless combinations. The book is not a beginner book, however; there are patterns for several sizes of dolls but no instructions, as a basic knowledge of dress construction is expected. I chose the cap sleeves for this pattern since the doll it will go on has full plastic arms, but for a doll with partial plastic and partial cloth arms, a longer sleeve would look better. There are several sleeve length choices in the book.

All of the seam allowances are 1/4", save the edge of the collar, which is 1/8" (saving you the need to trim the collar before turning it).

Polka Dot Doll Dress Detail The Prudent Homemaker 

I lined the collar with lightweight fusible interfacing. I then turned and pressed it. I used a  little trick I learned years ago for sewing collars: butt the collar pieces together and sew them together first within the seam allowance before pinning them on the dress.

I chose to finish the neckline with bias tape. You could also just cut a piece on the bias, but I have some hand-me-down bias tape and chose to use it for the sake of time.

I cut a piece of velcro in half lengthwise to close the back of the dress. 



About 2 hours


The polka dotted fabric was given to me. I bought the white fabric and interfacing at 50% off. I bought the book years ago and have made many doll clothes from it, so I am not including the price of the book with the price of the dress. I used bias tape that was given to me to line the neckline. I bought the velcro at 50% off.

Total cost: $0.25 


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A Gift a Day: Day Three: Polka Dotted Apron

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Polka Dot Apron The Prudent Homemaker

Aprons are used every day at my house. They protect clothing from stains and holes while cooking, doing dishes, gardening, and other projects around the house.

For this gift, I made Winter a new apron in her favorite color.



1 yard of fabric 58" wide

thread to match

existing apron to copy or free apron pattern (search Pinterest for a myriad of free apron patterns)


Sewing machine



Sewing pins

Long ruler or yardstick to measure apron ties


I copied an existing apron to make this apron. I used the existing apron as a pattern, folded in half lengthwise on top of the fabric (which was also folded in half) and cut around the apron, cutting about 1/2" away for a seam allowance. I cut the ties from the remaining fabric that was left lengthwise. (I did not fold my fabric down the middle for the apron. Instead, I folded it only as much as I needed, giving me more fabric on one side of the piece from which to cut ties.)


I prewash and dry all fabric before sewing, and I don't include that as part of my actual project time. Total time for this project was about 2 hours, and most of it was spent ironing hems.


I bought this fabric on sale for 30% off at Hobby Lobby. I normally wait to buy fabric until it is 40% or preferably 50% off, but the store is new and I don't know if their sales go that low. Regular price this fabric is $10 a yard. (It is a slightly heavier weight fabric from the home decor section and is 100% cotton). I only needed a yard for this apron, but it you are making pockets, you will need a yard and a quarter. 

Total cost: $7

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A Gift a Day: Day Two: Sewing Kit in a Tin

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Sewing Kit in a Tin 1 The Prudent Homemaker




Seam Ripper


Embroidery Thread

Sewing needles




Embroidery Thread

Embroidery needle

Pinking shears (optional)

Sewing machine (optional; you can sew this by hand)

Marking pen

Sewing Kit in a Tin 2 The Prudent Homemaker

This was a quick project, except for the embroidery. It is very difficult to see through felt, even with a light table. I did my best (after going over the main outine of  a miniature print image of the bird with sharpie) but ended up freehanding most of this bird with marking pen. I embroidered the bird with a back stitch.

I cut a piece of blue felt for the cover, making sure it was smaller than the box I chose when folded in half, and two slightly smaller pieces of cream felt for the inside. I used pinking shears to cut around the inside cream pieces, but this is purely optional.

I embroidered the bird without using a hoop. I outlined the bird in back stitch.

I sewed the three pieces together down the middle with the sewing machine.

I put some sewing needles in the felt pages.

I put the seam ripper, scissors, and needle book in the tin. 



Around an hour and a half, including the embroidery.

Sewing Kit in a Tin 3 The Prudent Homemaker



I found the tin on clearance at Hobby Lobby for $1.02. It was full of pushpins, which I moved to our bulletin boards. I have seen empty tins like these at Michael's for $1 (often near the registers) and you can also buy plain tins (including ones that hinge) on Etsy.

The polka dotted embroidery scissors were $5.99 regular price at Hobby Lobby.  I used a 40% off coupon to bring the price down. They have several choices including the stork scissors that I like (my daughter pointed out the polka dotted ones to me when we went to check out Hobby Lobby after it opened here recently, so I chose those for her).

The small seam ripper I purchased from Wawak in an order I made several years ago. I knew eventually this daughter would want a sewing kit of her own so I bought a couple of seam rippers at the time. It was $0.59. You can get one at Walmart,  Joann's, Michael's, or Amazon.

I purchased the wool felt on Etsy for $2 a sheet. Prices have since changed as well as sizes for felt pieces (you can buy pieces as small as 6 by 8 inches now) so your price may vary. You don't need a whole sheet of either color, but if you have no supplies you will need to buy two sheets.

Total cost for this sewing kit was just under $7.



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Flour Sack Initial Kitchen Towels The Prudent Homemaker

Here is a gift you can give as a housewarming gift or as part of a bridal shower gift. It's simple and inexpensive. You can include a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread as well if you like.




Flour Sack Towels (You only need one for this project to cut into two towels)

Dritz Mark-B-Gone Marking Pen

White Thread

Embroidery Thread 



Sewing Machine (optional)

Embroidery Needle


Printer (optional)



Embroidery hoop


Flour Sack Initial Kitchen Towels  A The Prudent Homemaker


I purchased the towels from Sam's Club in a pack of 12 for $12.78. They are 30" by 38". If you only want to make a few towels, Target carries this four pack for $3.99 (they are 30" by 30"), which you can buy in the store or online.

These are huge towels. I wash and dry them before doing the project to allow for any shrinkage to take place, as they are 100% cotton. 

I then fold them in half and iron them. I cut them in half along the fold line. I iron and hem the sides that I cut on my machine. The twoels already have a hem on two sides, so when I cut them, I cut them in that same direction, so that it will have a hem on both sides along the length.

I then fold the towels in half again lengthwise, and I use the Mark B Gone pen to mark the middle of the towels along the bottom edge (just a short line works fine).

To make the initial, I print a letter in a font I like. If you don't have a printer, you can draw on an initial. If you don't have a font that you like, you can try a site such as to download some free fonts. (And if you don't have a word processing program, you can download Open Office for free.) For these towels, I used the font "Edwardian Script" printed at size 150.

I used a light table to trace my letter, measuring the bottom of the letter 3 1/2 inches up from the mark I made on the center bottom of the towel. However, you can simply tape your printed paper to a sunny window and trace the letter with the washable marking pen.

I then place the towels in a embroidery hoop and get to work! You can use any stitches you prefer. I used a stem stitch to do the entire letter. Where the letter was thicker, I made several rows of stem stitch next to one another. 

When you are done with the embroidery work, remove the towel from the hoop and rinse the blue marker off with clear water. It is important that you do not use soap, as soap will set the marker. 

Hang towels to dry, and iron again before gifting.



About one hour per embroidered letter. To cut towel and sew each half, about 15 minutes. Total time for 2 towels: 2 hours and 20 minutes.



$1.20 for two towels 

Tagged in: A Gift A Day Gifts
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