Holiday Gifts: Tutorials to Get Them Done

What is it with this year?  December is going SO QUICKLY.  Hanukkah is already upon us, you guys!  Seems like usually by this point in the Christmas season, I’ve already cut out most of my projects and have set aside night after night for stitching them up–but this year, I’ve struggled to get my feet under me.  I know I have some folks to sew for, but I haven’t even really determined to make for all of them.

Assuming that I am not the only one in this boat, and that others of you are still searching for the perfect (and perfectly QUICK) project to sew for someone on your list, I’ve gone through the Whipstitch archives and compiled a handy list of tutorials for simple, classic projects that go together in a single sewing session and make great gifts.

Have fun sewing, everyone, and happy holidays!!


The snack bandolier has continued to be one of my most-pinned projects and sews up crazy cute.  (And if you don’t have the time to sew one, you can order from Etsy through my licensed seller program–like this one from CassidyThree.)

bee apron button

When the fabulous Melody Miller released her very first fabric collection, we worked together to develop a fun skirt pattern, and could hardly restrain ourselves from adding a gathered over-skirt.  That became the Ruby Star “apron” pattern, which is quick to make and can easily be adapted as a cooking apron.  Invited to a holiday party this year?  Whip up a fabulous hostess gift and be the Best Guest Evar!


Got any little girls on your list?  The 20-minute skirt really does take only a tiny bit of time, and gives you a fantastic chance to use all those novelty prints on super markdown sale this time of year that you can’t really fit into your own wardrobe but couldn’t resist putting in your cart.  Bonus: there’s a free printable guide to make your cutting easier!

Soft Toy Baby Block Tutorial

Back when I very first started selling fabric retail through Etsy, I designed a project making soft baby blocks with charm squares, and it was way more popular than I would have expected.  Some of these photos (from 2007! have I really been doing this that long??) are truly…dated, so as a special bonus, for the first time, I’ve even included the baby block pattern for you to download!

kindle cover splash

Inspired by a request from my friend Mika, my Kindle cover tutorial is probably my second most-pinned tutorial ever, and I’ve personally made a half dozen of these.  See the updated tutorial if you have a larger Kindle!

simple classic fabric headbands

Back at Easter of this year, I made a set of fabric headbands for my girls, and they have held up astonishingly well.  My girls wear them constantly, and every time I have a cute scrap of novelty fabric, I make a new one.  We have quite a collection going, and they really take just ten minutes to make!

hearts 9

While not strictly a sewing project, the framed maps I made for my husband last Valentine’s Day are still a fantastic addition to our living room, and make me smile every time I see them.  Using poster board for the matte is inexpensive, and the whole project can be completed in less than an hour.

teddy bear splash image

The re-styling of my treasured vintage-style teddy bear pattern has been super popular on Pinterest, too, and while it might take a bit longer than some of the other projects listed here, makes a great presentation and is always a hit with both kids and parents!  Plus, it uses such a tiny bit of fabric that you can sacrifice an amazing print you’ve been hoarding and rest assured that it will be seen and loved for years to come.  (Remember: for very small children, opt to embroidery the facial features rather than using buttons or beads for eyes.)

travel power cord roll up

Another Valentine’s gift for my sweet man, this manly travel power cord roll-up gets used EVERY DAY and looks great at the same time.  Plus, it upcycles a man’s suit from the thrift shop, so you can call it eco-friendly!  Simple to make, especially if you’ve taken my Intro to Sewing class in Atlanta or read Stitch by Stitch and done the picnic placemat project!  (Apologies for the shameless plug, but the roll-up really is based on that project–get the book!  You’ll love it!!)

reversible placemat beauty

Probably the simplest projects here but still very impressive are the quilted reversible placemats, based on ones I made for my children to take with them to Montessori school for lunches.  We still use the set listed here every week, and they look great!  These make another great hostess gift, and can be sewn up to coordinate with the mitered napkins (below).

mitered linen napkin corners

Make a set of mitered napkins in just an hour, and whisk them off to a holiday party as a gift!  Or sew them up to match the placemats above, and give a set as a gift under the tree.  Or use them at a holiday swap, like when I took mine to the food swap!  These are versatile and always useful.  And you can download the printable yardage chart to take with you to the fabric shop so you get exactly the amount of fabric you need for the napkins you plan to sew.


Definitely the most-Pinned tutorial I have ever posted, these nested fabric buckets work great in a huge range of applications. I use mine inside the bins of an Ikea Raskog cart, where they fit perfectly!  They also fit flawlessly between the front seats of the Honda Odyssey, making them a great car-organizer gift for the moms you know.

pot holders

Am I going on and on about hostess gifts?  It’s just that I think we should do it more often.  You get invited to someone’s home, and you maybe hadn’t planned to get them a GIFT gift, but a nice gesture is in order, and how many bottles of wine can one hostess possibly need?  An apron or a set of napkins or one of these bias-edge pot holders may be more welcome, and can be put to immediate use.  Make it in holiday-themed fabric and she’ll bring it out every year! (But the banana’s pretty cute, too.)

space toddler bed sheets

And finally, one of those sewing projects that made have an AHA! epiphany moment: a set of toddler sheets where the top sheet has elastic along the bottom edge to keep it from getting kicked off in the nighttime.  This one takes a little more fabric than some of the others, but you can always “harvest” the fabric later when the sheets are outgrown and upcycle it to a shirt or a pair of boxers–and if the gift recipient is family, make a note on the card and offer to do just that!  They won’t just think you’re crafty, they’ll think you’re MAGIC.

Whew!  I almost can’t believe I’ve made all these projects over the years, and turned so many into tutorials.  I’m excited to see them all here in one place, and can’t wait to see what you’ll make!  Be sure to add your photos to Facebook or Instagram and tag me @whip.stitch so I can share in your holiday glory.

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  • ACS Blog
    December 12, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for sharing these sewing ideas! I am also a bit behind on my Christmas gifts and I am just “thisclose” to head to the shops and buy there! I think I have a few meters of fabric left with quirky designs I can make my niece a very easy skirt with. I haven’t thought about headbands and pot holders so thanks for sharing!

    • Deborah
      December 14, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      I’m so pleased these were helpful for you!! My daughter JUST asked for something “Christmas-y” to wear to school tomorrow, and a headband is the perfect quick project. Whew!!