By Di Ellis
If things are a bit tight this Christmas, why not drag out the sewing machine and make your own Christmas gifts. It doesn't have to be a complex piece of clothing. The suggestions below are all simple and easy to make. The biggest cost will be the fabric, so shop around for remnants and discount fabrics.
Elegant Table Runner & Placemats
When you think about it, the simple table runner is just a long rectangle, and placemats are just smaller ones. If you buy some nice organza or patterned satin material in festive colours, you can whip up a unique and beautiful gift in a matter of minutes.
A good size for a table runner is 60" long by 13" wide (or 160cm by 34cm). A good size for a placemat is 17½" by 12½" (or 45cm by 32cm). So for 6 placemats and 1 table runner, you'll need around 2 yards of fabric (2 metres).
For each item you will need two pieces of fabric, so fold your fabric in half (right sides together) and draw up your pattern pieces using tailors chalk and a ruler (don't forget to include a seam allowance).
Cut out, then sew together leaving a small gap in each piece (to turn the right way around). Turn right side out and iron (ironing the unfinished seam in place. Now run a seam around the entire outer side as close to the edge as possible. Voila!
Ladies Evening Wrap (or Day Wrap)
Summer evenings are great, but sometimes they can be a little cool. Why not make this easy evening wrap - a quick and easy gift idea for Christmas too! Or, if you have a friend with Lupus, why not make them a daytime wrap so they can be shielded from the sun.
Great fabrics for this include silk or shot silk for an evening wrap, and tight weave cheesecloth which blocks the sun but still allows for air circulation for a day wrap.
The wrap is 31½“ wide by 63“ long (or 80cm by 160cm). However, our preference would be to have both long edges of the wrap as a selvedge edge, so if you find suitable fabric in a roll with a width just slightly larger than these (say 36" instead of 31½ “), go ahead and buy it - a little extra width won't hurt.
Before you buy your fabric, you need to decide what embellishment, if any, you want to put on the ends of the wrap. You can leave the edges as just a straight edge, you can attach some fringing or other decorative ribbon, or you can make your own fringe (if you are using a fabric than fringes easily). If you are buying decorative ribbon or fringing, you will need 63" or 160cm.
If you decide to make your own fringe, don't forget to factor that into how much fabric you will need. An average fringe is 2½“ long (or 7cm), so you will need to buy 31½ “ wide by 68 “ long (or 80cm by 174cm).
Then just stitch those edges that need to be stitched. For the sides (if you have to stitch them) I'd use a really tight zigzag stitch (test first on a scrap piece of fabric). For the ends, if you are just hemming, use the same stitch. If you will be attaching ribbon or fringing, sew a normal hem.
If you are fringing the wrap yourself, start unpicking the material at one end, and continue until the fringe measures 2½“ long (or 7cm). Now grab bunches of the fringing about 1/4" wide (1/2cm), and tie in a knot so that the knot is as close the edge of the solid fabric as possible. Repeat every 1/4" until you have knotted the entire edge. Now repeat with the other end of the wrap.
So, start sewing – hopefully these ideas will inspire you!
Diane Ellis is the owner of www.Sewing4Dummies.com. Learn more about her on our About Us page.
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