Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Handmade Christmas (Part 1)

This year I decided to attempt to make all the gifts I gave. While I was mostly successful (I ended up buying three people's gifts, lol), and learned a lot, I think I mostly learned how I could have done it better. :) I'm going to be doing a post each week on how to have a handmade Christmas, including some of the best tutorials I found (or created myself!), but I thought I'd start this off with a quick recap of the biggest lessons I've learned!
  • Start planning now. Start a folder on your computer, create a Pinterest board, or start clipping inspirations - trust me, you'll want all your ideas in one place, and nothing is more frustrating that knowing you saw a tutorial for the perfect gift but being unable to find it, or having to waste a lot of time tracking it down. Also, having a list of gift ideas reduces the panic of choosing a gift for a recipient - you already have a whole list of ideas!
  • Start creating early. My original plan was that I was going to try to make a few gifts a month, thus relieving the stress of trying to finish gifts last minute. This didn't happen, but I sooo wish it had. :( Trust me, you'll enjoy the creative process much more if you're not rushing to finish things last-minute! (And just a note: plan on spending more time that you think it will take, especially if you're learning a new skill or trying a technique for the first time)
  • Invest in good materials. Your gifts will only be as good as the materials they're made of. I think part of the reason that some people shy away from making their own gifts is that they're afraid they'll look tacky or "holly hobby." Using the best materials you can afford really helps avoid this - think about it: a simple hand-crocheted scarf in cheap acrylic yarn is one thing, but that same simply scarf worked in a more expensive cashmere yarn is luxe. And if you're going to put all that hard work into it, you want it to be something the recipient will love and really use!
  • Take your time and do it right. This is my downfall... I tend to be a "forest" person (i.e. not very detail-oriented), but I learned that this is kind of in the same vein as "use good materials"... Taking the time to do projects "the right way" is what elevates handmade projects from "holly hobby". If you're refinishing furniture, take the time to properly clean and sand it before trying to paint. Use the appropriate glue. Let the paint dry before moving on to the next step. Etc. (yes, I do have a story for each of these!)
  • If you can, start "stashing." It's easier to create when you have a stash of materials to draw from. My stash was only a Rubbermaid bin, but just having that rubbermaid bin to stick stuff away for later saved me a ton of money. If you're going to be making a lot of sewing projects, start hoarding scraps of material, buttons from rag-bag clothes, etc.
I'm going to do some more posts, including my favorite tutorials, some gifts I created all by myself (lol, tutorials to come), tips, stocking stuffers, etc. So stay tuned! :)

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