... pins and sewing needles;
... thermal underwear;
... a spice rack full of flavor;
... hand-tools for the kitchen;
... Forager's cooking kit;
... a Diva for the ladies;
...canning jars with rings;
... a cast iron skillet;
... a French coffee press;
... black turtle beans;
... and a sapling apple tree.
Every year, for many years now, I've spent the last few weeks before the holiday sewing. One year, I went all out and I made a couple of lap quilts. Last year, I made a poncho for each of my daughters - along with the requisite "Holiday pajama pants." It's become a tradition that I make a pair for Deus Ex Machina every year, too, and it's not a surprise. The surprise is the fabric ;).
I've been collecting fabrics for many years. Whenever I see a sale at Goodwill, I'll snap up whatever I can find. One year, I found this awesome black flannel with a rose pattern on it. I spent $4.99 on what was probably five or six yards of fabric. It went a really long way, too, and I made all sorts of fun things out of it, including a knitting needle holder and backing for one of the quilts I made.
The other day, I had a very nice conversation with my dad. I love when he tells me stories about his childhood, especially when the stories center on the creative solutions they found to do every day things. I've known for years that my grandmother was very creative in clothing her many children, but I didn't know how much so. My dad told me that he didn't have new shirts when he was a kid. Back in those days, feed sacks were made of cotton cloth, because it was a cheap and abundant material. Most people, including my very frugal grandmother, saved the material from those sacks and made everything from quilts to shirts. My dad said, as a kid, he would go to the feedstore and pick out the cloth he liked best ;).
I wonder what my grandmother would think if she knew that her old "feedsack" clothes and quilts were collector's items these days?
Unlike my grandmother, I'm not a terribly talented seamstress. In fact, the most complicated thing I can sew are pants, and these are not complicated pants, mind you. They're pull on pants with an elasticized waist.
Mostly, what I do best is cut a bunch of pieces of cloth and put them together into something that, mostly, resembles some useful thing. I made up the poncho pattern, loosely based on a new-sew poncho pattern we had. I've never sewed a shirt, and if it's not "simplicity", it's probably too complicated for me.
I don't sew well, but I sew well enough that, if I had to, I could keep our clothes repaired well enough, or altered adequately, that we would stay clothed for quite some time. And I could also take old cothes and stitch them together to make blankets, so that we won't freeze.
It's not something I'm terribly skilled at, but that doesn't stop me from doing it, and I want my daughters to also be comfortable stitching. For her birthday a few years ago, we bought Big Little Sister a sewing machine. While a machine might be a little extravagant of a gift for most of the people on our lists, something more simple, like some sewing needles, thread, pins, or even a cute, little, homemade pin cushion would be really nice.
Learning to sew is a very valuable skill, if for nothing else, than to do simple clothing repairs, like having the confidence to sew a button on a jacket. I mean, what's the alternative ... get a new jacket? In these difficult times, throwing away a piece of clothing because it's lost a button may no longer be an option, and even the non-preppers in one's life will appreciate the gift of a little sewing kit ... and for the real novices, perhaps a gift certificate for the local Adult Education sewing class ;).
If the gift recipient is already a sewing master, there are still a lot of wonderful options for sewing-related gifts, like a cute little sewing basket in which to stow all of those notions or several yards of a really lovely fabric.
And if the giver is really savvy, perhaps a really neat pattern ... in the giver's clothing size ;).