I felt like a real holiday elf last year as I sewed and baked gifts for friends and family near and far. Granted, I didn't get some packages in the mail until December 23, but they still arrived Christmas weekend.
Way back in November, I started transforming fabric scraps into sachets. Some featured embroidery work; others were log cabin quilt squares or fabric "houses" machine sewn onto muslin squares. I went to a local boutique, Maggie's Pharm, for sweet-smelling lavender, cedar chips and cloves, and put a little bit of stuffing into the corner of each pillow before adding the herb mixtures and sewing them closed. I printed the gift tags, found here.
Next, I took some of my favorite fat quarters, and cut them down to make dishtowels. I combined two sets of instructions from Beeper Bebe's tutorial, Cloth Napkins Five Ways, embroidering the faces onto muslin triangles while I watched my favorite holiday movie, Christmas in Connecticut, and then folded, ironed and sewed the dishtowels a few days later.
Note: when embroidering a lot of small projects at once, I find that it's easier to draw the patterns on a bigger piece of muslin, then cut each piece down to size afterwards. It cuts down on the mess (especially when you're embroidering next to a frisky dog on a dimly-lit couch), and the embroidery hoop has less of a tendency to slip and slide. After I was all done, I realized I should've added stabilizer to the muslin, or used linen, so the brightly-colored cotton dishtowel doesn't show through. Next time...
Finally, I baked lots of mini-loaves -- white sandwich bread, banana bread, cranberry bread, and this fantastic Martha Stewart recipe for pumpkin sage bread. I also had some cookies stashed in the freezer that Amie and I had made -- chocolate ginger cookies and pecan tassies -- that I stuffed into cellophane bags, then put inside coffee cans for mailing. Bands of pretty paper completed the look. Unfortunately, the bacon fudge recipe we tried was a total bust.
Even with all of the supplies I already had on hand, sewing and baking so much stuff cost more than I'd originally intended. That said, I couldn't wait to give, give, give this Christmas season...