I'm not one of those people that makes it a full time hobby, but mostly because I don't have the discipline to really see those types of projects through, and I haven't really had the right conducive environment (college was sort of a crazy time, and in Italy there are like zero craft supply stores that aren't ridiculously expensive), so my lack of will/materials/time is sort of a hindrance. But every once in a while, I manage to throw something together. Remember my Halloween costume? I totally downloaded that pattern online and then sewed that cape myself, in one afternoon. Which was pretty snazzy, if I may say so myself. And I've made some pretty sweet earrings on occasion. I even made whipped coconut body lotion once. And those moments just serve to make me think of all the other amazing things I could be making.
My mother is a sculptor, so I grew up in a super artsy household - always taking art classes, having all kinds of craft and art supplies at my disposal, making Christmas cards, Halloween costumes, and all kinds of other fun things from scratch. It was tons of fun. But I never really missed it until I started coming across the dozens of amazing craft/fashion/vintage blogs, and of course, Etsy, and I started seeing all the amazing things I wanted that people were making... with their own two hands... at home. And then I started thinking, "Hey if they can do it, I can do it too."
Pretty Things On Etsy That I Want
Thanks to the combination of my parents - my mom the artist and my dad the crazy eccentric Italian scientist/professor who insists on fixing/making everything himself - I was raised thinking "why buy something when you can make it yourself?"
Ok, before you let your imagination get carried away, let me just clarify that we weren't that crazy family you're thinking of that uses cloth diapers and makes its own soap and grinds its own organic almond butter at home in a mortar and pestle. No dice. I had whatever awesome cartoon character diapers were in style in 1985, I've had a life-long obsession with store-bought beauty products - no home-made hemp soap for me, and on the odd occasion that we did grind our own organic peanut butter, it was totally in that awesome peanut grinding machine they have at Whole Foods. Rather, the theory applied to things like greeting cards, or Christmas ornaments (or fixing VCRs). Why spend $12.95 on 8 identical generic holiday cards, when for about $4 of supplies you can make 20 unique Christmas cards that are so much cooler? Why buy those tacky, glittery, green and red Christmas balls, when you can make delicious peanut butter cookie ornaments (that your dog will totally eat off the tree, littering the house with the little gold threads)? (Or why buy a new VCR when you have eight old broken ones sitting around that you can take apart for pieces?) Well, aside from the fact that the end product is much nicer, and the original supplies are cheaper, the process is more fun!
The only downside to this is that now I generally assume I'm capable of making anything. Ok, not anything. There are a lot of lovely things on esty that I'm perfectly aware of being unable to recreate (like the pretty things I showed you before). But still. That doesn't mean I can't at least try. Worst case scenario I'll make a crappy change purse which I'll try to pass off as a coaster, and no one will ever have to know how badly I failed...
"Why yes, there is an explanation for why you have a zippered compartment under your wine glass, Sir..."
Best case scenario I'll end up making some pretty awesome stuff that I can give away as Christmas gifts - also because this holiday season my finances are a little "economically challenged," so to speak, so necessity, and not just unbridled enthusiasm for all things hand-made, is the deciding factor in my decision to try for a crafty Christmas.
I already have some ideas, like this adorable Buttercup Bag:
from How About Orange
(original pattern by Made by Rae)
(which I actually found at Whims and Inconsistencies)
And this only requires me to learn to use a sewing machine, which, let's be honest here, with my inherent crafty skill? Pshhh, easy. as. pie. (I hope). And I can mix it up for different people using different fabric.
Or I could knit some stuff. One time I knit my friend Molly a 10 foot long fuzzy orange scarf that ended up being used as a sort of wall hanging - when she wasn't using it as a full-body wrap to fend off those icy Chicago winter winds (note to self: versatility is good). (By the way, I'm really sorry I don't have a photo of it - it was pretty awesome). But that means I have to remember how to knit.
Or I could make some more jewelry. I made these last Christmas (as a little gift for yours truly):
Earrings with cut crystal beads
Necklace with milky glass beads
Cute, yes, but there's room for improvement. (I also have a new found respect for people who photograph their own creations and do it well, because this photo sucks).
But those aren't enough ideas. And it's no guarantee that I'll successfully sew a Buttercup Bag my first time seriously using a sewing machine. And what about the men? They can't wear pretty earrings or use pretty purses.
So this is where you come in. Have any ideas or suggestions for me? What gifts have you made in the past that have been well received? Not a crafter? How about just answering this question: if you were to receive a handmade gift, what would you want it to be, and what would you definitely not want it to be? This way I focus on things people actually want/need,
"You crocheted me potholders again? Oh you... you shouldn't have. Really."
And steer clear of presents that are easy to make, but make crappy presents,
"How did you know? Of course I needed a painted rock that doubles as a paperweight!"
So there you have it. You have your homework, I have mine, and together, we can make my Crafty Christmas a success! And maybe, when I finally get my act together (which probably means not before I leave Italy), I'll actually do that giveaway I talked about! Maybe I'll even give away something I made myself! Aren't you just the luckiest readers...
*Kate - I know what you're thinking, and no, I don't plan on making "working with my hands" my livelihood, and no, I don't think you're a "leech" on society. (Can you believe the number of ridiculous conversations we were part of? Oh man. Good times.)