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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!

Tagged in: A Gift A Day
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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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For the seventeenth day of A Gift a Day, I made embroidered handkerchiefs.

I printed out initials for my children on my computer. I print the letters at a minimum of size 72. I then choose fonts that look best for that particular letter. I chose fancier fonts for the girls.

You can tape the paper with the letters to a window during the day, and tape the fabric over it for tracing. If you have a lightbox, you can use that instead.

Trace your design using a water-soluble marker.

When your drawing is complete, embroider your design. I used 2 strands of embroidery thread. I embroidered it with the stem stitch. I then covered some of the letters with satin stitch (the "W" is stem stitch).

When you're done embroidering, rinse the fabric with water to remove the blue marker. You can mist it with water as well, but sometimes a little blue reappears when you do that. Do not use soap! Soap will set the marker brown, permanently into your fabric. If any blue reappears after your fabric is dry, just rinse and repeat :)

I usually hang my embroidery to dry over a towel on the towel rack in my bathroom (this also prevents the children from seeing the present!)

When it's done drying, iron the fabric. You can fold in the edges, do a rolled hem finish, or sew a scalloped stitch and trim them, like I did on the handkerchiefs that I made earlier in this series.

Embroidered Handkerchiefs


soft cotton fabric ( I used edges of old cotton sheet and also some muslin)
matching thread
embroidery thread


sewing needle
sewing machine (optional; you could sew these by hand)
Mark B Gone pen or a pencil
lightbox (optional; a sunny window works too)
printer and paper


The total time for one handkerchief was 45 minutes, doing a simple letter in satin stitch and a simple hem. If I add extra embroidery, it was be as long as 3 hours for the embroidery work. The scalloped hem edge took some additional time for sewing and trimming; it was another 30 minutes each.

Today I made 4 handkerchiefs (I embroidered the girls handkerchiefs in October and the boys today). I sewed the hems today on all 4.

The "L" is a free design from a Dover Sampler, and the flowers around the "W" came from Jeannie Beaumeister's Best Embroidered Baby Clothes pattern.


$0.05 each

What did you make today?
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A Gift a Day: Day Sixteen--Purse

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My original plan was just to post gifts during the month of November. However, I have decided to continue this series for a while into December as I continue to make gifts for my family. I thought that you might like to see what else I'm making!

For the sixteenth day of A Gift a Day, I made a purse for my daughter. I made it per her request in black and without any interior pockets (though the pattern I used had a pocket, so I just omitted that step).

I have posted a lot of gifts for Winter so far, but that is because I am making both her birthday gifts and her Christmas gifts, as her birthday falls before Christmas.

I wanted a shiny black fabric, so I used lining material for both the inside and the outside of the purse. I am really happy with how the purse turned out.

When I give it to her, I will be including the change purse that I made on day eleven in it, as well as some Carmex that I was able to get last night for .24. (Right now CVS has Carmex for .99 on sale. I hear Target's regular price is $.97, but I haven't confirmed that. I used a .75 off coupon to get it for her from Sunday's Smart Source. I don't get the paper, but my mom does, and she gave me the coupon).
This pattern was a little intimidating at first, but it all came together nicely, and I would certainly make it again! It was a very rewarding tutorial, especially when I saw the price of a purse the same size for $56 at a store last night. (Wait until you see my price!)



fabric for outside (a fat quarter or 1/4 yard)
fabric for lining (a fat quarter or 1/4 yard)
matching thread
snap (I used a snap instead of a magnetic closure)
pellon (less than 1/4 yard)
iron-on interfacing (about 1/4 yard)


sewing needle
sewing machine
marking pencil
hammer or mallet
seam ripper (for poking holes for the snap prongs)


The total time for one purse was 2 1/2 hours.

Today I made one purse.


$0.20 per purse.

I used black lining fabric for both the inside and the outside of the purse. This was from a piece that was given to me in a bag of fabric from someone my mom knows (it was part of what appeared to be leftovers from several projects, and I have made a lot with it!)

I bought the snap from Wawak.

I bought the iron on interfacing in a bolt on sale last year on Black Friday. I bought the pellon on sale then as well. The only thing I paid for this year was the snap. It cost me approximately .20 for the pellon, interfacing, and the snap. Your cost will be slightly higher if you need to buy fabric.

This would be an excellent purse to make for a teenage daughter to take to a school dance. You could make it to match her dress by buying 1/4 yard more of your dress fabric. You could also make it out of a fancy fabric as well, since you only need a small amount.

What did you make today?
Tagged in: A Gift A Day Sewing
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