Holidays by hand: celebrate the season with your sewing skills

Photo by Debbie Hill

I love how sewing has made such a comeback.  It’s one of the few traditional domestic skills that I’ve managed to learn, and I truly enjoy it.  I wish I had more time to devote to the craft.

This Christmas, I have a number of sewing projects on my docket, which made it difficult for me to decide which one to publish here for the first week of Holidays By Hand.  But since I didn’t want to reveal any of the presents I have up my sleeve, I thought I’d show you my work in progress – my Jesse Tree ornaments.

I decided after all to go with felt.  And since I purposely want the handmade look, I’m in the process of hand-sewing all the ornaments, which honestly doesn’t take much time, since they’re so small and simple.

If I ultimately publish my Jesse Tree devotional, I’ll display more of my finished project with these little guys – so far, I’m happy with the results.  I’ve finished stitching the star, Joseph’s coat of many colors, and the manger (so no, it’s not a basket of fries on a stand).  The rest are pinned together, waiting for their thread.

Many of you have published some great sewing projects for the season!  Here are this week’s submissions.

Holidays By Hand – Sewing

Gidget shows us the art-on-the-go bag she made for her nephew.  It’s inspired by one of my current favorite books.

Jodi reminds us that the beauty of a handmade Christmas is often its simplicity – her sweetly embellished seasonal dishtowels are so charming.

• I love this portable felt race track idea from Debbie!  It’s such a great idea for waiting rooms and other times when you need to keep little ones occupied.

Kate made a book bag for her sister-in-law for Christmas, and it’s darling.  I love her choice in fabric.

• Some little girl is going to be thrilled this Christmas because her grandmother, Karen, has made her a matching dress for her and her Cabbage Patch.

Andrea has not only made adorable skirts for her little girls, she has provided us with tutorials on how to make three different types!  This is definitely a post to bookmark.

Rachel has made a delightfully simple drawstring bag, and shows us how to apply a monogram.

Jen has only been sewing for a few months, but she has transformed some skirts into aprons.  I love this idea – way to repurpose your clothing, Jen!

• I definitely want to do some version of this – Alana has made holiday gift bags (eight, in fact) out of one yard of fabric.  Creative and frugal.

Kelly also made some gift bags – I love her choice in fabric on the ones she’s photographed.

Nicole’s idea is so creatively simple – she has made fabric beaded necklaces.  These would make great gifts for girls.

Chez Ouiz shows us her family’s Jesse Tree ornaments.  I’m inspired – and I love that Jonah.

Darcy has also repurposed her clothing – this time, she’s transformed an old sweater into a handbag.  Love it.  Best of all, she provides a step-by-step visual tutorial.

Breezy Tulip has sewn some adorable handmade dolls for the younger girls in her life.  She, too, shows us how she did it.

Nicki crafted an advent, countdown to Christmas calendar – simple, creative, and effective.

Betsy made her niece an upcoming Christmas gift – zebra ear barrettes.  How cute is that idea?

Monica created a desk sewing kit out of an Altoids tin!  That would make a great stocking stuffer.

• Finally, Jessica sewed some photo tote bags, and she displays a few other handmade gifts along the way.

For more sewing inspiration, I love the blogs Sew, Mama, Sew!, The Purl Bee, Soule Mama, and HELLO My Name is Heather, just to name a few.

If you have a post about one of your sewing projects for the holidays, be it a gift, a full-scale advent calendar, or a simple ornament crafted by you, we’d love to see it.  Share the link in the comments below! Happy crafting, and here’s to a handmade, simpler holiday season.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I have a confession to make – I have no domestics skills what so ever, and even if i had – sewing wouldn’t be one of them. But I must say I adore your projects, and the fact that you MADE time for them. The same goes about the cards with the family pictures, because this habit of just sending e-cards really bugs me. Sending an e-card to me is like giving into this forever getting faster and faster pace of life. Is that the reason why you started the Holidays By Hand?

  2. We do theme gifts for our girls together each year, and this year’s theme is baby dolls. I made them these rag dolls. DH is going to make simple wooden cradles, and I’m going to add a mattress pad, quilt, diaper bag and accessories for each of them. I’m an amateur when it comes to sewing, but I’m having so much fun!

    Mandi’s last blog post…Handprint Calendars

  3. Thanks for sharing all of these great ideas!

    Here’s a fleece dress I made for my 2.5yo:

    MaryAnne’s last blog post…Thanksgiving Countdown

  4. I wanted to thank you for these links and especially for the Jesse Tree. We lived in the D.R. for the last five years – this is my first Christmas back. I knew I didn’t want to lose my mind over Christmas! I LOVE the Jesse Tree. I am working on mine now and also opted for felt. I am so excited to begin this tradition this Christmas. My husband is too. We look forward to seeing your devotions.

    Holli T.

  5. I wish I could sew. I just don’t have the patience to relearn (I sort of grasped it in high school home ec). Perhaps when I’m retired. Which is to say, never.

    I do like to knit though.

    Half Assed Kitchen’s last blog post…Chicken teriyaki–a no brainer

  6. wow! I can’t wait to look at all these ideas!! So fun! By the way, Karen is my mom and I can’t wait to see my little Chiquita in the dress she made to match her dolls! 🙂

    Gidget’s last blog post…Helping Your Kids Love Food

  7. I love these cute Jesse tree ornaments! Did you design them yourself or do you have a pattern? I am sewing challenged, so I am looking for a pattern for making felt ornaments and I can’t find one. Can you help?

    Julie Jones’s last blog post…

  8. Seeing your Jesse Tree ornaments is really inspiring me … I think I might give it a try. I checked out the site where you got the biblical outline and suggested characters from and found it really helpful. Thanks!

    Nicki’s last blog post…Go Vote!

  9. I’ve had a look at the pictures you’ve posted and realized how much I miss cross-stitching… I am not a quilter, not a sewing-genius, only thing I am doing good is embroidering, actually, I can do almost any kind of embroidery and i love it… But I haven’t got to my threads and needles since my pregnancy… Missing them so much…

    Lina’s last blog post…There’s Anti-aging Skin Care Magic in Old Folk Remedies

  10. Thanks for including me! That fabric is actually a repurposed shower curtain from Ikea… so it’s ideal for use as a wet cloth diaper holder!

  11. All my many nieces and nephews tend to be a problem for me in terms of budgeting for their gifts. I have no link to it but for one of the best gifts I ever gave them (they all thought so) was to make each one a felt Xmas stocking with their name on it. I found an easy recipe for each kid and printed it out, changing the name to include their name, so for example, Toll House Cookies became Leah’s Toll House Cookies on the recipe card. Then, I put the necessary dry ingredients for one batch into separate Ziplock bags and slipped the bags, along with the recipe into the stocking. At the time, the recipients ranged in age from about 4 to 18 or so, boys and girls. They all loved this gift. If you can avoid things with chocolate in them the ingredient price will be lower!

    It was fun for me to do too. Now I’m trolling for a clever idea for this year!

    Mary@SimplyForties’s last blog post…Shock at the Grocery Store

  12. This is inspiring. I really should dust off my sewing machine and make something!

    Kori’s last blog post…Triple French Braids & Piggies

  13. These are some really fun links! I love the projects and also love finding some new awesome blogs.

    I made an advent calendar!

    Our Advent Calendar

    I’m hoping to make a lot of gifts this year. I just finished a birthday gift for my son’s friend and my craft juices are flowing. 🙂

  14. I love this! Thanks for inspiring me!

    SarahHub @ Oakbriar Farm’s last blog post…Italian Beef Sandwiches

  15. I love what you have so far for your Jesse tree! I’ve been inspired and just hopped online to print the guide so I can start putting together our collection of ornaments. My husband read about a book of Advent devotions (by a pretty fabulous collection of authors!) called “Watch for the Light.” I ordered it for us to use this year. I think I’m going to host a get together at our house the first night of Advent and invite everyone to participate with our family in our reading/Jesse tree adorning.

  16. This post was featured on today’s Simple Makes article, “Best Advent Links: Preparing for Christmas.” See it at Thanks for the great craft post!

    Lori Ann´s last blog post…Best Advent Links: Preparing for Christmas

  17. tsh! i was looking for advent calendar ideas and your site came up 1st on google! how cool!

  18. I actually hadn’t thought of giveaways for christmas but sewing would be so mcuh more appreciated especially if hand crafted. The effort and the time would definitely bring good feeling to the recipient. Closest to your hearts deserve to have it as present. We used to have a business in sewing, we have a lot of sewers and I have learned the basics. I know I could share a little more, if I have the time to do it… I love sewing as much as majority of you here.

  19. Thanks for this awesome list! And Debbie Hill’s sewing machine sewing is so adorable!!