Friday, September 4, 2015

Stocking Filler Ideas - Christmas Shouldn't Cost the Earth

This week I decided to look at Stocking Filler ideas for 

I had planned to do a round up of lots of stocking filler ideas that I'd found. There are so many great handmade ideas out there for small gifts. 
But then something happened that made me stop and think a little more about what I was doing. There are so many round ups of ideas out there and I want to look at things differently - to think a little more about the whole idea of gift giving!

So, I was thinking about the novelty gifts we get at Christmas time, and wanted to show an example of a bought one - then show a handmade alternative - one that is more eco and budget friendly!

I got a game out of our cupboard that I knew we'd had for a while.
We got this a few Christmases ago. I've seen the range of these games in the shops - simple, traditional games that have been 'modernised' and packaged up prettily as a novelty gift.
Inside there are plastic football boots to put on your fingers, small plastic balls, plastic straws, small plastic strips to fix together to make goals and mini plastic goalies. That's a lot of little plastic bits!

When I got this game out to photograph the contents of the box, I lifted out the insert and found a mini packet of special cereal - Shreddies, that we get sent out from the UK every now and again as a treat (you can't buy it here in Australia!).
This packet of Shreddies was 5 years out of date!
(my parents like to use every bit of space when posting things from the UK as it can be expensive! In case you're wondering why there was cereal in a game box!)
Which means that we got this novelty Football game gift over 5 years ago...and have never played it!  A fun gift that we probably were happy to get at Christmas time and said it would be fun to play - but it has since sat in the cupboard, unopened. And as a result we've missed out on a bowl of tasty cereal too!

This made me think more about novelty Christmas gifts. I have to admit that love them. I like the over the top gifts and excess of Christmas - a time when we have silly and fun gifts, too much rich food and a generally decadent time. But how can we do this but still be eco and budget friendly? Of course anything hand-made  most likely fits the bill - but in particular, I want to find alternatives to the store bought novelty gifts.

So - I thought about this football game gift in particular and thought about how I could make a better alternative.
After all - just recently at our younger daughter's birthday party we had a game not unlike this one - using straws we had in the drawer, corks with blue tack to hold them in place and jaffas (chocolate sweets). It cost nothing but was awesome fun!

Then I remembered that as a kid - our Sunday lunches were always spent eating as a family at our dining table all nicely set up with a tasty Sunday Roast dinner.  For dessert we used to have chocolate biscuits. My favourite was a KitKat - which used to be wrapped in foil under its red wrapper.  After we'd all eaten, the foil was scrunched up into a ball and we'd flick them across the table, using the salt and pepper pots as goal posts - playing our own kind of table football.

So here's my Eco and Budget friendly Novelty Stocking Filler Gift:

The Original Table Football Penalty Shootout

I printed the following instructions on a piece of scrap paper:

Cut it out and stuck it to a piece of scrap card.

I wrapped a couple of home made cookies in foil

Then wrapped them all up, tied a ribbon around it an attached the label.

No little plastic bits. Home made cookies which would be eaten for sure and not left in the cupboard. And the game itself is part of the packaging - so you're encouraged to play the silly game when you eat the cookies rather than put it away for another time......years later!!
(And since it's Fathers Day in a couple of days time here in Australia - my girls now have a ready made gift for Dad!...shhh!!)

What do you think? Would you give a novelty gift like this? Or would you prefer the store bought one with all the coloured plastic bits?

So there you have my story about starting to look at Eco and Budget friendly stocking fillers.

No round up of lots of ideas this time - more thought about novelty gifts that are cost nothing except supplies you have on hand!

Two other stocking filler ideas I shared this week are:

Perfect for giving money or gift cards in! Tutorial here.

Novelty game in a little travel bag. Tutorial here.

Even if if was one of those games that sat in the cupboard (which hopefully it wouldn't be) - it cost nothing to make and has no little plastic parts!

There are endless stocking filler and small gift ideas out there - so rather than restrict them to one week, I'm going to add at least one new Eco and Budget Friendly Stocking Filler idea each week.

If you have your own ideas to add - then please do let me know with a comment plus link, or an email. Closer to Christmas I will do a couple of round up posts with lots of ideas together - so if you've like your ideas included in this, just let me know!

I've also created a 

where anyone can come and be a contributor and pin ideas for an eco and budget friendly Christmas.  Please do join us and pin away as many ideas as you like - it's all good inspiration!

I'll be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons can be found on the bottom of this page and direct links on my linky party page.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Upcycled Denim Tic Tac Toe Tutorial - A Noughts and Crosses Game

I've seen a few pictures of this game made from denim, and thought they looked really nice, so I decided to make one for myself with my denim scraps. I'm currently working on my 
and thought this would be a good stocking filler.

Here's how to make one of your very own.

You will need:
Denim scraps of 2 or 3 different shades or colours, and a little stuffing. I used jeans offcuts and stuffing from an old cushion, but you could also use cut up fabric scraps.

First cut your board.
Mine is 18 cm square (7"). I cut it using pinking shears to prevent too much fraying around the edges. You could sew a small hem around each edge instead.
Mark out the lines on the fabric for the board using a white pencil and ruler, then stitch along those lines using a tight zig zag on your machine.
And that's your board finished!

Make your game pieces
For each piece cut 2 squares of denim. Mine were 5 cm square (2").

Then cut the circles and squares from a lighter denim. For the crosses I cut two strips and just laid them across each other.  I did not use a template, but just cut all of these freehand.
You need 9 circles and 9 crosses.

Using a tight zig zag or the appliqué setting on your machine, stitch these circles and crosses, one to each square of denim you just cut.

Now take one square with a circle on and one with a cross on. Sandwich them together with the appliqué shapes facing outwards like this:

Stitch around 3 edges of each of these square pairs, then push a little stuffing inside each.

Then stitch the final edge closed, and trim all 4 edges with pinking shears.  You could also snip the edges after you stitch to create a ragged effect which looks really nice too but is a lot more work.

Repeat this for all 9 game pieces - and that's it, you're finished!

I decided to make a small drawstring bag to keep the game in - using this tutorial here. The pieces I cut for the bag sides were about 17 x 20 cm (6.75 x 8").

The game board and pieces fit nicely inside.

So now I have my very own travel set of Tic Tac Toe - or as we call it here in Australia - Noughts and Crosses.
It would make a great little gift.

If you liked this tutorial, why not check out some of my other free sewing tutorials. There are over 100 for making all kinds of things and for all levels of sewing abilities.
Go to My Free Sewing Tutorials page to see more.

I shall be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons can be found on the bottom of this page and whose direct links can be found on my linky party page.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Magic Flip Wallet - a tutorial

These cute magic flip wallets are a great way to give money or gift cards. They are fun and easy to make. Here's how they work:

To make your very own Magic Flip Wallet.

First cut your pieces
 2 rectangles of outer fabric  11 x 9 cm (4.5 x 3.5")
2 rectangles of inner fabric  11 x 9 cm (4.5 x 3.5")
2 pieces stiff cardboard 9 x 7 cm (3.5 x 2.75")
4 pieces ribbon 15 cm (6") long

Take one of your inner fabric pieces and lay one piece of ribbon across the top, around 2 cm (3/4") down from the top. Then lay another ribbon the same distance up from the bottom of the rectangle. it should look like this.

Place one of the outer rectangles face down on top and pin around the top, bottom and left side.

Now take your other inner rectangle and place the other two ribbon pieces and lay them in a cross in the middle of the inner fabric like this.
IMPORTANT: the outer edges of the ribbon cross at the edge of your fabric, need to be inside the two horizontal ribbons on the other piece, as shown by the arrows in this picture!

Place your other outer rectangle on top of this inner piece and pin around the top, bottom and right side.

Stitch around the edges where you have pinned. Then trim close to your seam and clip the corners.

 Now turn both pieces right sides out - make sure and poke those corners right out using scissor or a chopstick/pencil. Then press flat, with the ribbons flat on the inner fabric sides like this.

Slide your cardboard rectangles inside each piece. You may need to trim them a little to fit and allow space to fold the raw edges in.

Take the rectangle piece with the straight ribbons and fold the raw edges in on themselves like this.

Now lay it flat and push the crossed ribbons from the other rectangle inside this un-stitched seam. Make sure your other rectangle is lying with the outer fabric facing upwards. 
The gap between the two rectangle pieces should be the same width as the finished rectangle piece itself. Pin the seam closed and the ribbons into place. Then top-stitch the seam closed using your machine.

Finally, tuck the other rectangles raw edges in to form the final seam. 

Flip over the rectangles so they are both inside fabric facing up with the ribbons across them. Push the horizontal ribbons into the other seam and pin into place. 

You can then flip the right side over to the left, then lift the right edge again. Your pinned seam will now be on the right hand side and so now easier to top-stitch that final seam closed.

That's it! You're done. Slip in some money or a gift card and admire your magic flip wallet!

I just love these wallets and they are both a scrap buster and a perfect little gift!

I couldn't resist making a few more.
One from an old necktie.

Another with a printed and appliquéd quote on.

A couple of Christmas ones.

And some more with nice fabric from my stash.

I'm sure I'll make use of these Magic Flip Wallets for Christmas or other gifts!

Why not try making your own.
They would make a great novelty stocking filler!

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
For more sewing tutorials - you can visit 

There are over 100 free tutorials to make all kinds of things and for all levels of sewing ability.

I shall be linking this post to many of the fabulous linky parties whose pretty buttons can be found on the bottom of this page and whose direct links can be found on my linky party page.