Gifts for People Who Love to Sew

by Erin on November 27, 2009

If you know someone who loves to sew and are stumped for a suitable holiday present, this list might help …

Books: Sewing books are always a good idea, and you really can't have too many. There's always more than one way to accomplish any given task or technique, and the more sewing instruction you read, the better the odds of you finding the way that 'clicks' with you.

First on the list this year is a lovely new book from Ruth Singer (whose blog you may know):
The Sewing Bible
It's called, in full, The Sewing Bible: A Modern Manual of Practical and Decorative Sewing Techniques and it's really a lovely book. Clear, well-illustrated, and helpful, with a range of projects from the very simple (envelope-back pillow) to the more elaborate (handbag with pockets, circle skirt).

Fashion Geek
A book that is probably on a lot of internet-enabled sewists' list this year is Diana Eng's Fashion Geek: Clothes Accessories Tech. I know that there are projects in this book that I've been eyeballing for some time …

And it's not quite in the "books" category, but either a subscription to Threads Magazine, or, if you're feeling really Santa-like, the new giant all-the-issues Threads DVD.

Fabric: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sewist in possession of some fabric is always in want of MORE fabric. However, if you don't sew, buying fabric for someone else can be a bit tricky. What do you buy? How much do you buy? I think you can never go wrong with high-quality natural fibers (or, of course, Liberty). My advice? Either buy four yards of something gorgeous, or try a gift certificate to one of the posher online fabric shops.

Notions: Go. Nuts. Seriously. Wander into a chain sewing store and hit the notions aisle with a basket and an open mind. Don't know what a bodkin is? Dump it in the basket. Throw in whatever little tools or gadgets or thingamagigs take your fancy, put them all in a nice covered basket, and call it a day. If your recipient already has one of whatever it is you picked up, she could probably use another, newer, sharper one, and if she doesn't, she'll have fun figuring out how to use it. Wandering in a store is more fun, but if you don't know where to go (or, cough, have ridiculous problems with going to a "girly store"), try Clotilde's or Nancy's online or even Amazon.

Patterns: This, surprisingly, is less fraught than buying fabric, IF you already feel confident when buying clothes for the same person. You just choose a pattern that looks like something your recipient would wear, IN THE RIGHT SIZE. Remember, pattern sizing is different from "normal" sizing, so go by measurements and not the size number. A better strategy is to get a fancy vintage pattern in an approximate size (or even a couple of patterns) so that you have some redundancy in the system. Bonus points for saying "These were so beautiful, they reminded me of you," when you give them.

And if your budget is tight this year (and whose isn't?) one of the best gifts you can give to someone who loves to sew is time. Offer to run a weekend's worth of errands, make dinner, answer the phone, watch the baby, walk the dog, or anything else that would allow for a four- or five-hour uninterrupted block of time. (And make the sewing time real time — no interruptions, if you please, unless someone is bleeding or on fire.)

Do you sew and have a gift wishlist of your own? Leave a comment!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

wundermary November 27, 2009 at 9:52 am

Wow! That Threads DVD is intense! I think I was salivating as I clicked through to the description.

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Lee-Ann November 27, 2009 at 10:13 am

I already own the Ruth Singer book and cant recommend it enough. I havent been sewing for long and every time I start a new project I go to that book for help and advice. Im going to email this post to my boyfriend now and see if he gets the hint!

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Heather November 27, 2009 at 10:30 am

There are a ton of good suggestions here. Patterns I think are especially a good idea. You might pick out one theyd never have picked out for themselves.And who knows it might have at the very least something interesting or a basic shape to it they can modify to work into what they like to wear.Though when it comes to buying fabric I think most people would be better off sticking with the gift certificate.

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Caitlin @ Clutter Cubed November 27, 2009 at 10:45 am

Time is definitely on my wish list this year!Even time spent helping the person who sews tidy up their sewing area – organizing thread, patterns, etc. Id love it if someone helped me out like that as a gift!

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Claudine November 27, 2009 at 11:20 am

on the pricey side, a subscription to Selvedge magazine is on my list. http://www.selvedge.org/

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Anonymous November 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

If youre buying modern patterns from one of the major sellers (Simplicity, McCalls, Vogue, Butterick), NEVER pay full price. They often go on sale for a dollar or two, (a bit more for Vogue), so you should never pay the $15+ cover price. I once gave 10 costume patterns to an aspiring costume mistress. She was thrilled.

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Joni November 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm

This is timely advice. I got my younger sister, who is an aspiring sewist, in the Family Christmas Name Draw and it took me approximately 6 seconds to decide what to give her. I went down to my local Big Box Fabric Store and picked out some patterns (for 99 cents – I agree with the above poster, I NEVER pay full price for current patterns) that were pretty vintage-y looking, and now Im on the hunt for the perfect fabric, thread, and notions to go along with. Ill box the whole thing up (along with a vintage slip with my sisters first name I found on it that I found at a church sale) and mail it to her and voila! Christmas is taken care of.You could argue that by selecting the patterns and fabric *for* her, Im imposing my own personal style choices on my sister. I say that if she didnt want to have my personal style choices imposed on her, she should have had the good sense to be born first.

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Theresa November 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Great advice. Id love any of those gifts. I do sew some of my gifts.

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Packrat November 27, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I sew. Or, at least I used to. I made all my grandmothers clothes, most of mine, and most of my mothers.I have a huge wish – my own sewing room. I want room to have several machines set up. It must have tons and tons of storage space, a huge cutting area. It must be warm in the winter, cool in the summer. It must have natural light. I dont want much, do I? lolDo you know that I dont really know anyone else who sews?

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Anonymous November 28, 2009 at 12:07 am

This is a great list, thanks. Doris Chan did a similar one last year of gifts for people who crochet–cant have too many hooks, just as you cant have too many sewing tools (and my husband took her advice). For specific sewing tools, I highly recommend the magnetic pin-holder. I wish Id had that years ago–love it! Also all kinds of cutting tools, measuring tools, marking tools, extra machine needles, –and bodkins are a must-have.The Threads DVD–wow. I have many many back issues, some very early. They are still inspirational. Id love to have the complete set and all easily accessible.

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brocadegoddess November 28, 2009 at 7:25 am

I just saw that Sewing Bible book at the bookstore last night and I want it!I also saw – for those of us who are both sewists and Jane Austen fans: Jane Austens Sewing Basket – and really reasonable priced! I already have a friend Im thinking of for it, and would love to receive it myself!Im also seriously eyeing the Threads DVD and will be dropping hints to appropriate persons tout suite!

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Anonymous November 28, 2009 at 7:35 am

Name labels! I would love to get some Handmade with Love by . . . labels. Somehow, buying them myself seems self-aggrandizing. As a gift, theyd be perfect.

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Eirlys November 28, 2009 at 8:19 am

Lovely, thoughtful ideas. I too can vouch for the Sewing Bible (have had the UK version for a while and find it both deeply practical and deliciously inspiring. And did you know that the author credits you in the acknowledgments as key inspiration, Erin? There is no end to your influence!). The time gift is cute too. Oh, and can we all consider using the word bodkin more in 2010? Would make the perfect term of endearment for a cat, say, or buffed significant other. Happy Holidays!

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Erin November 28, 2009 at 9:09 am

Oh, my goodness! No, Eirlys, I didnt see that in the Acknowledgments! How kind of Ruth!(I am quite overwhelmed. I think this is the first time Ive been thanked in a book where I wasnt the editor!)

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Jen ~ MOMSPatterns November 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

And dont forget Gift Certificates for those who sew but you arent quite sure what theyd like.. I know I offer them at MOMSPatterns and am sure there are other vintage pattern sellers who have them!I like the idea of TIME.. to be able to hand someone a pattern and fabric and have them stitch it all up for me? AH. Thatd be great!

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Jen ~ MOMSPatterns November 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

And dont forget Gift Certificates for those who sew but you arent quite sure what theyd like.. I know I offer them at MOMSPatterns and am sure there are other vintage pattern sellers who have them!I like the idea of TIME.. to be able to hand someone a pattern and fabric and have them stitch it all up for me? AH. Thatd be great!

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Allison November 29, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Oh, the TIME gift is the best! I have a baby now and it is unbelievably challenging to get sewing time in … I am thinking of asking hubby for this for Yule now!

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Melissa November 30, 2009 at 9:05 am

A cordless iron has been on my wish list for years, but they can be pricey. One of the best Christmas gifts I got was a big standing pincushion with a heavy base, that I can use to weight down the patterns while Im pinning. Storage. I always need more!

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Sara November 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I love your whole last paragraph on the gift of time. Thats always first on my wish list, but I never get it. Sigh, pout.I asked for 9 skeins of yarn to make a crochet skirt with. Think Ill get it??;)

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Anonymous November 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm

I want to be your friend and have you buy gifts for me! They would be wonderful! :-)

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