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A Gift a Day 2013: Day One: Bow Barrettes

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For the first day of A Gift a Day, I chose to make bow barrettes. Most of these are for Ivory. The flowered ribbon one in the back of the second photo will go to Wren and one of the pink ribbon barrettes will go to Elsa.

Bow Barrettes




40 and/or 50 mm snap clip barrettes (I bought mine here); for a young toddler you can buy 40 mm barrettes

alligator pinch clips (do a search on Etsy under supplies for bulk sellers)

felt (you can use wool or acrylic felt; I used wool felt; check Etsy sellers for this as well)


Fray check or clear nail polish (optional)


sewing needle

For the felt bows, I followed the instructions here. The I simply  slid the back section of the barrette through the center part of the back side of the bow.

For the ribbon barrettes, I tied a bow with ribbon and trimmed the ends on the diagonal to slow fraying. If you desire, you can put fray check or clear mail polish on each end to stop tit from fraying at all.

I then sewed a few stitched by hand through the knot on the backside, and then sewed it on to the barrettes.


The total time for one felt barrette is 6 to 10 minutes.

The total time for one ribbon barrette is 5 to 10 minutes.

Today I made 11 barrettes.



The felt barrettes made with wool felt cost $0.23 each, and the ribbon barrettes will vary, depending on the ribbon, but will be around $0.15 to $.20 each.

I bought barrettes in bulk on Etsy for .08 to .10 per barrette last year  in packs of 100, so I have plenty leftover for birthdays and Christmases to come, as well as for gifts for my children's friends.

If you use purchased wool felt ($2.00 a sheet), your cost will be higher than if you use acrylic felt bought on sale (.20 a sheet). Each barrette used 1/16 of a sheet when I cut the pieces 1/2" wide.

Ribbon costs will vary; I bought most these on 50% off sales at Joann's over many years when they were sold by the spool, and some cost more than others. The flowered ribbon was one from my grandmother and the pink satin ribbon I have had for many years. The next time I want to buy ribbon, though, I will order online from here. Notice the first time customer discount as well. If they don't have what I need I'll check this place that I found, too (they have velvet ribbons!). You don't need a long piece of ribbon, so you can use some ribbon that you may have received on a package. If it needs ironing, just iron it before tying it into a bow.

I already had all of the materials on hand, so this year these didn't cost me any money out of pocket.

Did you make any gifts today? What did you make?
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A Gift a Day 2013: The List

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This post contains affiliate links.

After several requests to post the list of gifts that I'll be making (like I did last year), I've decided to go ahead and post one.

First, though, I want to talk about a few gifts that I'm giving that aren't handmade.

I found several things at garage sales this year. I went two days to neighborhood garage sales this year; one day in April and one day in October. I found several great things that I will be giving to my children for gifts.

I also have a few things that were given to us by people who were decluttering (a leather moccasin sewing kit, which will go to the child who will fit it then--most likely Liberty, and a spy kit, which is for Ezrom), and some American girl books that were passed down to us.

I found a lot of books ($0.25 and $0.50 each). Most will be shared by all of the children so I gave them to them right away (and some went to Ivory for her birthday) but others have been saved for specific children for Christmas.

I found a game for my 3-year-old ($1), a necklace ($0.50), a bracelet ($0.10), two scarves ($1 for both), a 1500-piece puzzle with dragons on it (perfect for my 10-year-old) ($3), some vintage handkerchiefs ($0.25 each), some American Girl cards and stickers ($0.50), a few small tools ($0.25 each) and a small tool box ($3) which I am thinking of painting black with the same paint I used on my garden bench.

If there's something that you cannot make, try looking for it used, whether on Craig's List, at garage sales, at thrift shops, or online. This may make the gifts possible that your children really want that you cannot make.

Also, look for the sales. Right now Michael's has bead 50% off. If you're planning on making jewelry, this would be an ideal time to buy some beads. The least expensive strings are $3.99 full price, so for $2, you could get enough beads to make several pairs of earrings for people (your mom, coworkers, daughters, etc.) or you could get some to make a bracelet. I purchased a few new beads and some clear beading elastic to make gifts this year.

Black Friday sales on fabric, embroidery thread, jewelry supplies, and interfacing are ways to keep the cost of your homemade gifts down. Here are my suggestions from last year.

Also, don't forget Etsy for craft supplies! I've found many things there for very little. This year, I have been saving some money I earned from online surveys over the last month and a half ($15) so that I can order supplies on Etsy. Some will be used this year and some can be used in years to come.

I am also giving a few new gifts. I used my Amazon credit that I have earned from this site to purchase a few items during the year. From Amazon, I ordered this doll for my 5-year-old (I have seen it fluctuate in price by as much as $20, so when I saw it go back down I ordered it; it is at the lowest price again now), these green Lego building plates for my 5-year-old and 7-year-old,
this Lego book and this MP3 player for my 8-year-old,  this knitting book for my 11-year-old, and these Greek-style blocks for my 11-year-old (whose birthday is near Christmas).

My boys are each getting a dragon figurine from my mom's store (when she let me have my pick of things when she retired this year).

I also purchased this watercolor palette with a 50% off coupon at Michael's and a pad of the least expensive watercolor paper that they had for Winter's birthday.

I purchased a coloring book and a puzzle from the dollar store, and a lip balm for Wren.

I won't be buying anything else other than the supplies from Etsy to make gifts. All other supplies will be things I already have on hand.

I'm including everything that I am hoping to make for the children on this list, including larger projects that cannot be done during one day. With that said, here is what I am hoping to get made this month:

Winter (who will turn 12 before Christmas, so this includes birthday and Christmas gifts)

green necklace and matching earrings
charm necklace
decorated bobby pins
church dress
possibly another dress
bracelet and matching earrings
library bag
faux leather barrettes
faux leather headband
green scarf
turquoise bracelet

Cyrus (10)

purple apron
library bag

Ezrom (8)

black apron

Liberty (7)

pink scarf

Wren (5)

felt doll house
pink doll dress
purple bracelet

Elsa (3)

embroidered pillow
felt doll house
doll dress
Eiffel tower purse
bow barrettes
red bracelet

Ivory (1 1/2)

doll dress
finger puppets
bow barrettes
flannel pajamas

This list is subject to change. I might add some things and I might subtract some things, depending on the time that I have.

It usually takes me all of November and all of December to get the presents done. I don't want it to take that long this year. My goal is to see what I can get done in November and hopefully be done then. That might mean eliminating some gifts from the list. If I'm nowhere close I might keep sewing into December.

I want to do some more cookie making with the children in December. Also, the week before Christmas will be the time when those 700 bulbs that are in my refrigerator are ready to be planted. I expect that will take several weeks to get all of those in.

Now to start getting some things made today!

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A Gift a Day: 2013

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As the holidays approach, the lack of money sometimes seems overwhelming. Not only are many of you struggling to keep a roof over your head, but you want to have good family experiences and memories. You want to give good gifts to your family. You want to serve nice holiday meals and even some treats.

Take the time to sing holiday songs together as a family. During the month of December, we sing Christmas songs every night. Each child gets to pick a song before we have family prayer. The happiness of being together as a family will bring joy.

Plan special treats from what you already have in your cupboards. Plan your cookie and baking recipes around what ingredients you may already have on hand.

If you're wanting some ideas for Christmas decorations, homemade gifts using items you have on hand, and ideas for celebrating Christmas on a zero-dollar budget, check out my Christmas Inspiration board and my Christmas Crafts for the Children board on Pinterest. Also be sure to check out what I made for Christmas gifts last year and what I have made for birthdays in the past.

Above all, remember that children want our time and attention. That is worth more than anything else. Consider making some date with mom coupons or cooking lesson coupons as a gift to a child. That time together can be more valuable than any other gift.

Don't forget to tell them that you love them. Here's how I did it last year.

Each weekday in November (except for Thanksgiving and Black Friday) I will be making one gift a day for my children and writing about it. I am focusing on quick gifts during the weekdays, that can be done during afternoon naptime or at night after the children are in bed. If your children don't take naps, give them some quiet time to read and play in their rooms each afternoon while you make their gifts. It's okay to let them know that you are making gifts for them during that time and that you need them to play quietly while you do so.

Be sure to check back each day, starting tomorrow, to see what I've made!

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For the twentieth day of A Gift a Day, I made diamond bobby pins.

Diamond Bobby Pins

Using wire cutters, I cut apart a broken cubic zirconia necklace. I used bobby pins that I already had on hand.


broken necklace
bobby pins
E6000 Glue or super glue


wire cutters
toothpick for applying glue

Ahh! A paper towel! (yes, I do occasionally use them. This is one of the ways I use them--when there is glue or paint involved).


This entire project took me about 10 minutes to make. I let the bobby pins dry for several hours before moving them.


These cost me $0 out of pocket (a few cents for glue) since I already had everything on hand.

My daughter had been really wanting some bobby pins like these, and a few days before her birthday she asked me what she should do with her broken necklace. I asked her if I could use it. I gave these to her for her birthday and she was thrilled.
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Felt Paper Dolls

For the nineteenth day in the Gift a Day series, I made felt "paper" dolls. I had not been planning to make any toys at all this year, as we have plenty of toys, but when I saw these I was smitten! This did require a cost for supplies, as I did not have the felt for these. My hope is that this will be a quiet toy for the girls to use during naptime/quiet time. I also like that they don't take up a lot of space or have lots of tiny pieces.

I made 3 dolls and 12 dresses (4 for each doll). I wanted to make the houses for these as well, but I ran out of time. I hope to still make the doll houses for these for my girls, but it will have to be after Christmas.

After looking all over for the right color felt, I was unable to find skin-colored felt (sourcing the felt is the reason I didn't post this gift a month ago). I contacted the designer of the dolls, and she told me that she dyed white wool-blend felt (from Joann's) to make the skin-colored felt for the dolls.

I cut the wool-blend felt into several squares. Following Charla Anne's suggestion, I boiled a pot of water on the stove and added a small amount of pink and yellow dye to the pot. I tested a small strip of the felt to see if I liked the color. I did, and I dyed a couple of pieces. It was very quick; I dipped them in the water using a pair of tongs and pulled them out straight away. I put them on a towel to dry. After doing that, I decided that I wanted a lighter shade, so I dumped out part of the water and added more  fresh water to the pot, and dyed 2 pieces again. I liked these, but I thought I would like a slightly light color, too, so I dumped water again and added more fresh water, and dyed two more pieces. I used the lightest pieces to make these dolls, but I have plenty to use to make additional dolls or other felt dolls (I am thinking that I will make the other dolls that Charla Anne has with the scraps from these pieces). Only the wool-blend felt can be dyed; polyester felt and 100% wool felt cannot be dyed. After I was done dying the felt, I hung them up on a drying rack to dry. You will need 2 bodies per dolls (a front and a back).

The faces are embroidered on the fronts of the dolls before they are stitched together.

For the dolls' dresses, I cut the fabric and sewed it on the felt as close to the edges as possible. I put fray check along the edges to stop them from fraying. I added collar, belts, cuffs, buttons, and floral embroidery afterwards.

The clothes stick to the dolls just because they are felt.


  1 sheet of white for dresses, collars, cuffs and underwear
  1 sheet of white for undershirts. You will only need a small fraction of this.
  1 sheet of brown for hair (or other hair color). You will only need a fraction of this.
  1/4 yard white wool blend fabric for bodies
fabric for dresses
Rit Dye in Lemon yellow and pink
matching thread
pattern (optional; you can draw your own). I did not purchase the pattern, but instead adapted the pattern from this doll from the same blog.
Fray check for edges
embroidery thread
  dark brown for eyes
  pink for mouth
  other colors for flowers, leaves, and buttons on dresses (optional)


sewing needle
hand sewing needle


It is possible to make one doll and 4 dresses in a day. The total time for a doll and 4 dresses was about 2 1/2 hours, plus some time for drying the dyed fabric.

I made 3 dolls and 12 dresses over several days, grabbing bits of time here and there.


The cost of these can vary considerably by what kind of felt you use. Polyester felt can be .20 a sheet. Wool felt is $2.75 to $3 a sheet. There are also wool blend options that are less expensive.

I was able to fit 12 dresses on one sheet of felt. I used 100% wool felt for the hair, bodies, dresses, and collars. I have plenty of brown and white left over for other projects. Since I ordered these online from Etsy, I also paid shipping. I needed to buy 3 sheets of wool felt, plus wool blend fabric for the dolls, but I also have left over felt. I bought the Rit Dye for $1.71 each. You could make the doll dresses and collars from the white wool-blend felt.

The fabric from the dresses cost me nothing, as it came from pieces of fabric from my grandmother's collection, scraps I already had, a piece from an old dress that belonged to my mother-in-law, and a piece from a thrifted shirt.

I bought the Fray Check from Wawak. You can get it at Walmart or Joann's as well.
I purchased the wool blend felt and Rit dye from Joann's with coupons and sales.

I used just a tiny amount of embroidery thread.

Buying the supplies that I did was about $15.00 for 3 dolls and 12 dresses. I have plenty of leftover felt as well as leftover dye.


This giveaway is now closed.

Would you like to make these dolls with the same dresses? I am giving away the fabric ( as pictured in the photo above) to make the exact same 12 dresses to TWO readers! You will need to supply your own felt, embroidery thread, fray check, etc.. I have cut the fabric in rectangles to make dresses the same size as the ones I made.

If you would like to win, please include the words ENTER ME in your comment in capital letters. I will choose two winners. If you just want to leave a comment but you don't want to enter the drawing, just comment as usual.

The giveaway ends on Monday, December 31st, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. PST. The winners will have 48 hours to respond, or  I will draw new winners. Make sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win in your comment.

This drawing is open to readers worldwide.
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For the eighteenth day of A Gift a Day, I made slippers. Last year I made 4 pairs of slippers, all very similar to these ones. I made a few changes to these this year, including zigzagging the seams to keep the satin from unraveling, and making the elastic longer than called for in the pattern to accommodate wide feet and high arches. Last year I glued beads to the center of the flowers. This year I used embroidery thread and made several French Knots in the center instead. Last year I used polyester felt (which is also washable--and yes, I did wash the slippers, but I hung them to dry) to make leaves next to the flowers. This year I made leaves using lining fabric. I finished the edges by heating them just like I did with the flower petals.



fabric for outside (I used a hand-me-down girls' shirt that was given to us)
fabric for lining (I used fleece)
matching thread
elastic cord (I found mine here)
satin for flowers (optional)
embroidery thread for flowers  (optional)


sewing needle
sewing machine (optional; you could sew these by hand)


The total time for one pair of slippers was 3 1/2 hours.

Today I made one pair of slippers.


$0.40 per pair. These were a bit more than my other slippers, since I used buttons that I bought from Wawak instead of buttons from my button jar.

Would you like to win your own slipper pattern to make slippers from size newborn to adult? I contacted Arlene from Winter Peach and asked her if she would be willing to give away a pattern to my readers. She said yes!

The Prize: Vintage Flair Flats pattern size newborn to women's size 11

To enter:

Leave a comment below with the words ENTER ME. Be sure to include a way to contact you.

As this is for a pdf pattern, it can be emailed to the winner anywhere in the world, which means readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to win.

Winner must claim her/his prize within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

If you do not wish to enter the drawing but still want to comment, please feel free to do so!

This contest ends on Tuesday, December 18th, at 8:00 pm PST.

If you would like to buy the pattern, you can use the coupon code PEACH25 and it will give you 25% off at check out.
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