41 crafty Christmas present ideas
Goat's Milk Soap
A goat's-milk formula and a beguiling bird mold -- along with thoughtful packaging -- result in bars that seem like they cost a fortune. First, melt the soap according to package instructions ($3.30 for 1-pound M&P base; brambleberry.com). Pour the mixture into the silicone mold ($18.85; vendio.com/stores/chaseho). Let it set for four hours, then pop out your bar. To wrap these soaps, we used unbleached coffee filters, rectangular cardboard boxes ($4.50 for 25; 2¾"W x 3¾"L x 1¼"H; sunshinecontainer.com), and paper color-copied from a vintage bird guide.
Tip: Enclose each oval soap in a coffee filter before boxing -- the ruffles gather neatly around curves.
An inexpensive score at flea markets and on Etsy -- usually less than $5 -- a vintage thimble can become a playful pendant in no time. Just use a small hammer and a two-penny nail to punch a tiny hole in the center of the thimble's top. Insert a flat head pin through the hole from the inside, so the pin's head remains inside the thimble. Twist the pin's exposed wire into a closed loop with needle-nose pliers, then use the pliers to attach a 6-mm jump ring to the loop ($1.27 for 10; consumercrafts.com). Thread the pendant onto a chain necklace ($7 for 18"; brooklyncharm.etsy.com), and count the lucky recipient charmed, for sure.
Leather iPod Case
This leather pouch gets its picture-perfect looks courtesy of iron-on transfer sheets intended for regular fabric (Dark T-shirt Transfer sheets, $7.99 for three; junetailor.com). You can scan your own photos or use our woodland imagery (left), cribbed from a vintage postcard.
Step 1: Download our templates for the case's front and back, sized to fit an iPod Touch.* If using the woodland imagery featured on the templates, print each template onto a transfer sheet and cut out, then skip to Step Three. Otherwise, print each template onto a piece of regular paper and cut out.
Step 2: If using your own images, resize them, if necessary, to fit the templates. Then print each image onto a transfer sheet. Place the template for the case's front atop one image; trace and cut out. Repeat for the back with the other template and image.
Step 3: Following the package instructions for the transfer sheets, iron each image onto the smooth side of a leather scrap that's at least 3"W x 5"L (leather remnants, from $9.95 for a 5-pound mixed bag; leatherunltd.com). Cut the leather to the exact shapes of the images.
Step 4: Using a sewing machine, and our photo as a guide, stitch a decorative seam along the top of the front and back pieces, leaving a 3/16" edge. Align the pieces, right sides facing out, with a 3/16" seam allowance, leaving the top of the pouch open. To end on a high note, pair it with a new set of earbuds.
*See how to make custom cases for different devices
Bring a bit of earnest irony to a pair of gloves with this hilariously tender riff on tough knuckle tattoos. Borrow our intentionally sweet phrases above, or come up with your own eight-letter expressions. We chose wool-blend gloves ($24; carolinaamato.com), but any knit version will work.
Step 1: Slide one glove onto your hand. Using a pastel chalk pencil ($11.99 for eight; amazon.com), mark each knuckle with a horizontal line at the bottom of each finger (the first joint) and another just below the second joint. Remove the glove, then repeat for the other hand. If needed, enlist a friend to mark your dominant hand.
Step 2: Lay the gloves, marked sides up, on a flat surface. Working within the horizontal lines, and using the chalk pencil, spell out the phrase you plan to stitch across both gloves. Try the gloves on to check that your letters are positioned to satisfaction.
Step 3: Using six-strand embroidery thread that contrasts with the color of your gloves, sew directly over the chalk letters with a basic stem stitch, making sure to sew through the top layer only. (Get a quick stem-stitch tutorial here.) Remove any stray chalk with a damp cotton swab -- and spread the word!
The trick to transforming plain glass votive holders ($1 each; pier1.com)? Humble upholstery webbing (80 cents per yard; onlinefabricstore.net). Simply cut a piece of webbing to the same length as the holder's circumference; then trim the webbing a tad bit shorter than the holder's height. Coat the webbing's raw edges with Mod Podge to prevent fraying; let dry for 20 minutes. Next, affix the webbing around the holder with thin lines of hot glue and let dry for five minutes. Package a few of these beauties together with scented candles inside and cross someone off your list.
Memory Card Game
For this clever project, CL contributing editor Cathe Holden's already done most of the hard work -- assembling a slew of vintage images (courtesy of The Graphics Fairy) into four easy-to-print PDFs: 1, 2, 3, 4. Print out two copies of each PDF onto 8 1/2" x 11" card stock. With a foam brush, apply Mod Podge to the back of each card-stock printout before adhering it to colored mat board ($3.50 for 20" x 32" board; dickblick.com).
Let dry for two hours, then top with an additional coat of Mod Podge (test your printer ink to ensure it doesn't smudge before applying glue). Allow another hour drying time. To keep game pieces from sticking together when stacked, lightly wipe both sides of the board with baby powder and a cloth. Finally, cut out the game pieces with an X-Acto knife, then stash them in a cute catchall, like this toy truck.
Chandelier Prism Neckace
A dime a dozen at flea markets and antiques shops, cast-off prisms make for stunning pendants. First, use pliers to remove any existing wiring. Then tightly wrap 22-gauge gold craft wire ($5.95 for 20 yards; amazon.com) around the top of the prism, as shown below. Form a wire loop for your necklace chain; then, using pliers, cut the wire two inches past the loop before securing its end inside the wrapped wire. String a length of gold-plated chain (for similar, from $4.50 per foot; tohoshoji-ny.com) through the wire loop. Attach a gold S hook ($2.79 for 20; amazon.com) to each end of the chain. For a fanciful finish, present the necklace inside a velvet pouch (for similar, $2.99 for 10; pouchmart.com).
Spark a trip down memory lane with an old family photo and cool printer-friendly fabric. To begin, scan and upload the photo to your computer, then place the image in an 8 1/2" x 11" Microsoft Word document. Adjust the image as desired, leaving a half-inch border around it for seam allowance. Print onto an ink-jet fabric sheet ($9.99 for five 8 1/2" x 11" sheets; amazon.com). If necessary, trim the fabric, then cut a same-size piece of backing fabric, like linen or broadcloth.
Pin the two pieces of fabric together, right sides facing. Stitch around the pillow along the seam allowance, leaving a four-inch-wide opening on one side. Use small scissors to clip the corners, then turn the pillow right side out. Push out the corners, iron out any wrinkles, and stuff the pillow with loose fiberfill stuffing ($4.33 for one pound; amazon.com) before blind-stitching the opening closed.
Postcards, matchbooks, and coins tell the stories of our travels, but back home these trinkets tend to get lost in a junk drawer. Instead, give vacation souvenirs -- as well as snapshots -- a more fitting home with this project adapted from Paper + Craft ($19.95; Chronicle).
Step 1: To source the geographical shape of your travel destination, type its name (Hawaii, Africa, Manhattan, etc.) and the word silhouette into Google. Print out a resulting image and use a copier to resize it to fit on the lid of a small white box
($.99 each, 4½"W x 6"L x 4½"H; containerstore.com for stores).
Step 2: Cut out the silhouette, then trace it onto the prettiest section of a colorful map of your destination.
Step 3: Next, cut the shape out of the map and use a glue stick to paste it onto the box's lid.
Step 4: Finish by affixing a label on the lid and writing in the location and dates of your journey.
(Download the labels shown at left from chroniclebooks.com/papercraft).
This time of year, pinecones and acorns are free for the taking. And in less than an hour, you can cast your findings in 18-karat gold -- spray paint, that is.
Step 1: Gather or purchase acorns and hemlock pinecones (acorns, $8.75 for bag of 40; amazon.com; pinecones, $4.99 for three quarts; save-on-crafts.com).
Step 2: Use hot glue to affix a jump ring ($2.99 per 120 pack; joann.com) to the top of each acorn or pinecone, near the back.
Step 3: After the glue dries, carefully spray the objects with one coat of Krylon's 18-karat gold paint ($3.99 for eight-ounce can; dickblick.com).
Step 4: Let paint dry for 20 minutes, then spray the charm with clear finish (Krylon Make It Last Clear Sealer, $3.63; misterart.com); allow 10 minutes to dry.
Step 5: String the charms onto gold chains.