True Confessions – Bah Humbug to Christmas Creating!

True Confessions

Now, don’t look at me like that. It’s my prerogative. I can choose to make people gifts for Christmas or I can choose … NOT TO! And this year, I am firmly coming down on the side of not. Why?

I Can’t Be Arsed

This is becoming the leitmotif of True Confessions. Time and again in these posts, I’ve written the words ‘can’t be arsed’. And so it is around this year’s Christmas.

I’m Not Convinced People Even Like What I Make For Them

So often, I hand over a gift that I’ve slaved over. So often, I never see or hear of it again. Why? Why don’t people send me snaps of them wearing their scarf/mittens/apron? Didn’t they notice the begging look in my eyes: You will like this, won’t you? It’s just so stressful, wondering if all my hard work has gone straight to the charity shop.

At Some Point, All The Joy Goes Out Of Making

I start to feel as though I’m working on a factory line. Must, must, must complete that third make-up bag. Why? No one’s forcing me to do this.

I don’t want to spoil anyone else’s fun as they make their piles of home made gifts. Let’s face it – you’re probably nicer people than me. But this year, I’m determined to take the festive season easy. Really easy. The only problem is, I spotted and bought some fun cotton down Walthamstow market (see below). Monkey print for the cheeky monkey in your life? A nice little wash bag or make up roll or ipad case. Stop it, Karen, stop it! By all that is holy, no one is finding this under their Christmas tree. I’m absolutely determined…

What about you? Are you making for others this year, or rolling around in a pit of unapologetic selfishness like me?


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122 Responses to True Confessions – Bah Humbug to Christmas Creating!

  1. punkmik says:

    Oh I understand what you are saying. I used to make people jewellery and then you never see it being worn. so frustrating. I am however using my sewing to make a couple of things this year. One negroni shirt and the recipient has a lot of input so he will like it and it will fit eventually. lol
    the other is a bathrobe. my dad is very very tall and wears xxxl due to his height not waistline and never finds a proper long bathrobe. so this is my challenge next week! haha! wish me luck!
    But otherwise I totally agree and cannot be arsed! lol

  2. Sam says:

    I totally understand where you’re coming from Karen! I rarely make gifts as I’m never sure they’re appreciated. I’ve never seen the scarf I knitted for my mum 2 Christmases ago for instance.

    The only person I do make for is my sister, who genuinely thinks everything I make is wonderful and DOES use the things I make her. This year she’s getting a machine embroidered picture. Her hubby is also appreciative of handmade presents, but he likes wooly hats with ears on that I don’t find fun to make!

  3. Szarka says:

    Bravo! I think I (almost) never make people things for presents because I was the recipient of things I didn’t especially care for growing up. Think of the pink bunny suit in the movie A Christmas Story, only meant to be worn in public. Exception being *when I am asked*, which is a nice feeling.

  4. Jo says:

    totally agree on the bottom line – YOU decide what you will and won’t make! And that the moment it stops being fun is the moment it should stop altogether. I’ve mercilessly culled my Christmas making this year, despite a multitude of ideas that I quite liked. LIfe’s too short, and most of the ideas were for babsies and can thus be recylcled for their birthdays or something if I feel like it at the time. That said, I can’t quite bring myself to make NO presents this year – but it’ll only be bathrobes for the kids, who are still young enough to love stuff I make, and who I know will use them (because woe betide them if they don’t. That’s the spirit, no?).

  5. Zoe says:

    Are you sure they are monkeys? They look like mice to me. Whatever the beasties are, that fabric is ACE.

    I’m making just the one Christmas present – knitting a cowl for my sister. Cast on at long last, and a mere six thousand stitches to fit in between now and Christmas. No problem …

  6. Lizzie says:

    Definetly not making for others, I agree far too much stress for something they may not even like. I have a top for my mum that I started last Christmas which I have completly gone off and am convinced she’ll never wear (wrong material/style/possibly wrong size) still I’m going to force myself to hem it this weekend as its making me feel guilty. Having said that, I did make a bag for a friend that she used everyday for about 2 years so sometimes you do get lucky.

  7. vivjm says:

    The only people I like to make gifts for are the ones who are also crafters, and can appreciate the hard work! But I don’t make gifts for people who don’t, cos the stress-to-appreciation-ratio is all wrong. Thanks for this honest post :-)!

    • Sarah says:

      Totally agree with this!! Though it amazes me that only fellow crafters appreciate the time and effort!!

      S x

    • Lou says:

      Agreed!! Except for baked goods, which for some reason I find people are much more willing to think if me as a culinary queen. The crafted/sewn/knitted variety of things just makes people look at me a bit funny as if thinking I really, really *should* be doing something better with my time! Sigh!

  8. Heather says:

    I decided to make thigns for christmas this year – mainly because I can’t afford to buy everything and have a massive stash of stuff to get through, with never any real purpose to making anything. but I know how you feel as I am feeling like a christmas elf! I feel that from now on it will be for people who I know will appreciate it only. otherwise its chocolates for them!

  9. Joanne says:

    Totally can’t be arsed! Well said Karen. Also agree with Vivjm about the stress to appreciation ratio. It rarely matches, not does work/resources cost against perceived value!

  10. Ann says:

    I agree with you this year! Although it can be lots cheaper to make gifts…last year I was so proud of how much money I saved. Oh well. I’m knitting a hat for my brother this year because I only have to make a present for one adult in my family, but for the kids I’m just going to buy stuff. They really don’t appreciate handmade, that’s for sure! The hat is extremely slow going because I’m new to knitting and I’m even starting to regret making this one gift. There’s no time to sew or knit anything for meeeee! (whining)

  11. Great post Karen and I totally agree with you about recipients often not really appreciating or even wanting what you make. You can be totally frazzled by Christmas day, and all for very little really. I don’t do it any more. I just make for those that I know really want or need what I can make. You can’t blame it on them though and must recognise that the gift is more often about us, and our enjoyment in making it than about the other person.

  12. dogsndolls2 says:

    I’m with you! There’s too much pressure this time of year without trying to finish handmade things.
    Love the phrase “stress-to-appreciation-ratio” πŸ™‚

  13. Jenny says:

    haha – I love this post. I thought about all the gifts I could sew and then I thought about the time it realistically takes me to make something for ME. I’m going shopping this weekend instead!

  14. annie says:

    Last Christmas I gave two king-sized quilts that I had really slaved over for several years. I spent time and money looking for the right fabric for each one. One quilt had 90 squares and though the background was the same the components were different. And hand-appliqued. And designed to the interests of the recipients. The look on their faces told all. Put me off making things for other people.

  15. Well, I have the same fillings, that’s why long ago we all decided to just be together and enjoy the time of the year totgether – no presents.

  16. Sarah says:

    I’ve come out of lurkdom to agree Karen!! I made stuff two Christmases ago I never saw used so last year said I’m not making anything again to which my Mum protested so I gave in and yet again haven’t seen/heard of the gifts since!!

    I still make for fellow crafters as they do appreciate handmade, I particularly enjoy making for a friend and her children – had an early present opening yesterday and I was so thrilled with how pleased she was.

    So I guess the bottom line is pick your recipients wisely!!

    S x

  17. jenni says:

    You are right it is up to you if you want to make gifts for presents. No its not being selfish at all. If i’d make something i would like to see the person wearing it and have a huge amount pleasure seeing them like my work.

    I’ve never thought about making presents for gifts.But i might have a think about it properly and ask people in the New Year

  18. prttynpnk says:

    I am so with you on this. Sewing is my stress relief, my outlet. Sewing for people who might not really love it is too much work. I’m a selfish sewist- tho this year I am making my Ma some caps for her to wear during chemo and I will not grouse about it.

  19. Lucym808 says:

    As a dabbler in sewing without a fraction of the talent of everyone on here, can I just say that I LOVE having things made for me! It makes me feel incredibly special because I know how much time has been invested. So I understand the can’t be arsed-ishness, but will also say that if any of you ever make me anything, you will see it worn on a regular basis!

    • I’ve made two dresses for Lucy and I can testify to this. In fact, Lucy’s the only person I’ve ever sewn anything for. My sewing time is for me! I knitted a scarf for Nic when I first learned to knit and he wears it all the time, even though it’s quite crap, but I probably wouldn’t bother knitting or crocheting for other people either. The last time I did, and for a fellow crafter no less, it was totally unappreciated. Eff that.

  20. oonaballoona says:

    i’m with you eight thousand percent.

  21. ‘Can’t be arsed’ is totally my motto this year too Karen, I’m with you all the way. I’ve been inundated with friends commissioning me to make things for them to give as presents. Which is great for the fabric fund, but has made making my own gifts the LAST thing on earth I want to do!
    Very flattered that your sister has asked you to make a Handmade Jane wash bag! They’re definitely bottom of my list though, I’ve made about 40 in the past few weeks! x

  22. Totally applaud your can’t-be-arsed approach! It’s the way forward for life in general πŸ˜‰
    However, I am making all pressies this year, mainly due to a severe lack of dosh. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate it also wouldn’t appreciate the scented candle, bath oil [yawn] etc I’d probably get them otherwise! They certainly wouldn’t be getting an iPad off me…
    So at least I get to stash-bust and save my pennies? Main issue is oops it’s nearly Xmas… How did that happen?!

  23. Janet says:

    Me and my best friend have challenged each other to both knit a scarf to exchange as we had a conversation along the lines of we can’t knit for toffee about six months ago.

    Beyond that, I am making one present for each of my little girls (aged 2, 4 and 6), and, to make sure all creative glory goes to me (and not Santa’s elves) AND they get something they genuinely want, I am letting them choose something each. So, a rag doll, a penguin rucksack and a toy town (out of blocks of thick sponge and covered in fabric – maybe even glued!) are what I am making.

  24. Totally with you on the “can’t be arsed” bit…except for one friend who absolutely loves everything I make for her…she’s got hand made for Christmas and for her birthday this weekend.
    Everyone else…nope! Once knitted sweaters for Christmas presents which I haven’t seen since. I’d rather spend the time knitting and sewing for the kids, the husband and me…all of whom totally appreciate everything I do. And the rest are bought online…even less stress!

  25. Kerry says:

    I only make things for people who I know will appreciate it – family and a few close friends. And if I make something that the recipient never refers to again then that’s the end of their handmade gifts. I have actually mentally struck people off my ‘to make for’ list because of this. Though that being said, last year I offered to make a knitted accessory for someone and said I wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t need it but if they wanted me to make it, for them to tell me colours they would like. I have never seen this person using the item and they have never referred to it. Wish I hadn’t bothered! Life’s too short to make things for unappreciative people.
    This year I made an apron for my Mum but I know she will appreciate it so I enjoyed making it.

  26. It’s not that you can’t be arsed – it’s just so stressful – particularly if the recipient clearly doesn’t understand that it really has been a labour of love.

    I’m only knitting one gift this Christmas and it’s pushing me to my limits – working long hours and trying to cram in Christmas shopping and sleep leaves little time for crafting. At this rate it’s going to be a new year gift! (Date unspecified!)

  27. Nope, NOTHING! I rarely, rarely make Christmas gifts anymore. I used to do it a lot and sometimes it went over well, sometimes not, sometimes I felt like it just took forever and overall it just ceased being enjoyable. I am hand-making a felt ornament for one friend as a hostess gift because it will be cute and fun to make, but that is literally it! All the other crafting is for me me me.

  28. soisewedthis says:

    I’m sewing christmas presents, but mostly because I’m a sewing newbie – so my recipients will just be impressed that I made the gift myself! (i hope) hahaha

  29. Lorna says:

    Yup, makes sense to me. Never again – after this year, that is. I’m making three bracelets and two necklaces (all silver with semi-precious stones,i,e, lots of soldering and polishing – why didn’t I just say no?!) all requested from friends and family, and a little toy bed complete with hand-sewn mattress, sheets and blankets for my daughter. I draw the line at making the occupant of the bed. Have I started ANY of this stuff? I’ve made two bracelets, but I’m not happy with them and am contemplating re-making. Or just running away.

  30. Anne W says:

    I’m making pressies, a new coat for daughter no1(almost finished), cushion covers(done) & hotwater bottle for daughter no2 (not started yet..), bag for husband’s car wahsing goodies so they don’t lie all over the place in the shed (done), and a special applique cushion cover for my bestie (done). I’ve also made brooches, some jewellery and felt goodies for overseas friends. I like making stuff and trying out new things, so there’s always something I can do for someone else that I may not have for myself. I do it because I want to, not because I am asked. I guess I am lucky that those I choose to make for know exactly what goes into the making, so the stress to appreciation ratio is good for me! πŸ˜€

  31. Vicki Kate says:

    Hear hear! Limited makery here apart from Boy who thinks I’m a rock star when I make stuff for him! Some selected people will get baked pressies because they’ve asked and I’m designing and making my Mum a bag, again because she asked! Photo box satisfies a lot of the personalised with minimal effort pressies an after that its online all the way!
    Plus I LOVE that monkey / mouse fabric!

  32. Sunni says:

    I couldn’t agree more and actually stopped making gifts for others a few years ago. I’ll occasionally make something for my mister, but he lives with me and has to put up with my inquiries into why he’s not wearing his christmas pj’s everyday. But yes, otherwise, I find that people don’t use, like or they even give away what I slaved over making them. Forget it! I’m more attached to the gift I’m giving them than they are! I’ve even stopped baking for others! Bite me! Nobody appreciates handmade presents anymore so why waste my time! I would rather give all that time to myself. Thank you very much! You are AWESOME! Take your stand and stay firm!

  33. Abby says:

    I only started making things in the last few years, and only if I’m at least 90% certain the recipient will love said gift. I knit an infinity scarf for my sister (she’d been bugging me about when I would knit her a scarf for a year by then), I made a small clutch for my best friend (made of vintage-feel fabrics that would fit perfectly with everything I’ve ever seen her in), I crocheted a scarf and hat for my partner (in colors she picked out). This year, I’m making a pair of pj pants for my partner (something she’s been hinting at but not directly asking for), a scarf for my dad (this was an actual request, and he never manages to ask for anything!), and a clutch for my sister (also a casual request she mentioned over the summer). Hope I have time for it all!

    I have to say, though. I would never, ever make something for someone if I were less certain that my labor of love was going to be thoroughly appreciated. πŸ™‚

  34. LinB says:

    On a family holiday gathering at the beach one late November, it turned cold — yes, even in South Carolina, temps drop below 70F sometimes. My “seeing eye” foresaw a cold snap (that, and perusal of weather forecasts for the area), so I emptied my sock drawer into the suitcase the day we left home. When winter winds blew chill, I pulled out a bright bunch of handknitted, woolen socks from the suitcase. I loaned out socks to everyone at the beach house, expecting to lug home a load of smelly socks for laundering. None of them returned my socks to me. Indeed, they all asked me for more socks! Therefore, for the past few years, I’ve turned my addiction to sock-knitting into Christmas presents for my family (and into replenishing my own sock drawer). My husband’s family we still have to shop for: they disdain “home-made” anything.

  35. Lynn says:

    Oh – rolling around in a pit, definitely! πŸ™‚

  36. Karen Shaw-Jones says:

    I totally agree. while friends and family are appreciatively ooooing and aahhhing at various projects you have on your cutting table and have made. when you slave over a hot machine to produce them something as a gift, you never see them wear it!
    So this year i have made a couple of decorations with my girls (23 & 18)! And an ipad case for other half cos i know he’ll use it til it falls apart!
    Merry Christmas

  37. shivani says:

    I learned this the hard way. so this year, I’m only sewing for ME! and my husband – but he vaguely asked me to sew him something a while back, so I decided to do it for Xmas instead. Sometimes, I want to demand the return of my handmade presents, because I definitely would love them more than the recipients did. but that’s not the done thing, apparently πŸ˜‰

    • Miriana says:

      perhaps handmade gifts should come with a note that says ‘if I don’t see you wearing this, I have the right to snatch it back’

  38. Portia says:

    I didn’t make ANY gifts last year for all of the reasons you list above, and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it either πŸ™‚ I guess I’m just in a different mood this year!

  39. lisa g says:

    completely agree!!! i know very few people that would actually appreciate my hard work. the last time i made something by request (it was bathrobes for her kids because she saw my kids’ robes and loved them), i barely got a word of thanks and it just made me realize that they can’t possibly appreciate the process and emotion that goes into a handmade gift. i sew for me, my family or to help someone out. not as a commodity. that said, i did sew up some infinity scarves for my sisters this year because the time/$$ investment was very low. and i made a three piece outfit for a little girl as a charity donation… but other than that, i’m with you all the way!

  40. Marie says:

    Yes, yes, yes – thank you for airing your prerogative Karen!!! I am totally with you for all the same reasons. I literally don’t have the time to do it and I’m so not convinced they get appreciated when I do. I find that my sewing time is so limited that I want to be totally selfish with it…so there….mwahahahaha!

  41. Roobeedoo says:

    I’ve done some knitting and some sewing for close family and one knitterly friend.
    To be honest, the family will laugh at me. But the things I have made are practical (warm mitts for the impoverished student) and/or within the limits of their taste boundaries (i.e. BLACK for the goth girl). My husband always gets handknitted socks: it’s a tradition.
    The knitter could have made her own gift, but hey – it’s Christmas!
    What I will NOT do is make huge garments for any of them. It’s a creative gesture more than anything else.

  42. Taja says:

    Have to agree–for the most part I do not make Christmas/birthday gifts unless specifically asked to do so! Most of my family disdains anything not “designer” (a famous name slapped on something they never could create and frequently poorly made). Those who do like clothing I make have serious fitting issues–usually fluctuating weight–requiring multiple fittings. I’ll make things for them at other times of the year, but not at the holidays!

    Thankfully, I have a five-year-old young lady in my life who allows me to make a few outfits for her and her dolls. πŸ™‚ I’m not much of a baby doll person, but love creating clothing and accessories for Barbie and other fashion dolls, as well as American Girl and other 18″ dolls.

    Sometimes I’ll make personal or home accessories as gifts, but usually not for the holidays. I’ve learned to minimize holiday stress by limiting sewing, crafting and baking. Sad, but true!

  43. Andrea says:

    I just read this post to my husband and here is what he said: “I’ve been telling you this for years – tell that lady I totally agree with her”. He’s right of course, just as you are. After years of suffering through self imposed handmade Christmases that are very rarely appreciated the only handmade gifts I’ve made this year are a hat for my two year old nephew and a set of napkins for my mother in law. Both gifts were requested by the recipients. Next year I won’t make a thing, except maybe a lovely dress for myself because no one will appreciate the time and effort that goes into the make the way that I will.

    • Yay, yay, yay! Tell your husband that great minds think alike! I LOVE it when people’s partners end up getting in on the blog reading (or in your case listening!). Happy Non-Handmade Christmas to you both.

  44. Meaghan Read says:

    Love your blog. I have given up sewing for other people. I only sew for a select few and my family who actually appreciate the value of a handmade gift. I made a diaper bag and two baby quilts for grandnephews some years ago (at no small investment of money and time) and my daughters were visiting a year or so after and found them shoved up inside my sister-in-law’s closet. The daughter- in law/ mother did not want them as they did not match her decorating theme. It is so unfortunate that people would rather spend hundreds of dollars to carry and wear a label, just to look like the person standing next to them in a cheap knock-off! But that is why we sew..Creative Individuality. Happy Christmas to you!!

    • I couldn’t agree more on the ‘designer label’ issue. People clamour to pay a shed load of money to basically wear a uniform that makes them feel that they fit in. Seriously? You’re a grown adult and you’re THAT uncertain of your own identity? You gotta feel sorry for them.

  45. Karen says:

    I’m sewing for myself this Christmas (at least I will if I can squeeze out the time…). I wrote about this about a week and a half ago on my blog! AND – I don’t feel guilty at all!

  46. Lisa says:

    Yeah, I mistakenly agreed to handmade Christmas items this year & it has been SO stressful! I think next year I am ONLY buying gifts. And we have an amazing craft show here every year, so I could just buy gifts & support local crafters instead of struggling to do it myself–and then maybe I’ll enjoy the holidays too!

  47. Michelle says:

    I actually already knitted a scarf for my four year old and I plan on making some clothes. That being said, I know for a fact that she will love anything I make for her. She is kind of obsessed with handmade things and appreciates the hard work that goes into making things…probably because she likes to sew as well. Yes she’s four πŸ˜‰

    • EmSewCrazy says:

      Love that you are teaching your daughter to sew! Do you have a specific method or just set her on your lap and go? I think kids can learn young and it is so exciting to hear of someone else doing it!

  48. MrsC says:

    Oh you are so right, who can be arsed? Really?! I don’t really go in for gift giving at Christmas, anyway, I think it has become way too much of a commercialised process. So, I bake up a HUGE batch of Christmas cakes and puds (completed this past Tuesday) and give people something they can eat. Maybe a few will get chocolate made things too if I’ve time. Working 7 days and several evenings is seriously cramping my making style anyway!

  49. sewbusylizzy says:

    I’m not much of a Christmas person – least of all a Christmas gift maker… however I could not resist making my MIL a Christmas apron using my Peter Pam collared apron pattern… and I must say it’s quite fabulous! She is Christmas mad so it’s just a bit of fun. I’ve also been making bow clutch/purses for my daughters’ friends. They are 7 & 9 and the kids adore them – it’s usually adults that are ungrateful… especially the non-crafty sorts!

  50. I sew for clients who pay me. I sew for my daughter and husband who give me clear instructions of what they would like. I do not sew for friends/relatives who appear to be looking for the receipt to take it back. i would rather spend the time on myself.

  51. EmSewCrazy says:

    I love making and giving so Christmas is a great excuse. That being said my sewn gift list gets shorter every year! I have gotten to the point that I only make if I know it will be liked and used. I am making a quilt for my brother but he picked the fabric and pattern because there was NO way I was going to put all the time into a quilt he wouldn’t like and use. The not-nieces and nephew are getting vests because that was what their Mom requested. So I only make for those who have specific requests or something that is screaming a person’s name; or my Grandma, cause she loves everything I make.
    Love your fabric too, btw! I think it is great that you blogged about this and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it!

  52. I’ve made things for friends who appreciate the thought but not the finished object, “not quite their style”. I’ve also given handmade gifts that have been loved. Either way however the stress is way too much and even when the gift is liked I don’t think the recipients really understand the effort that goes into it. But I’ve found a bottle of home made lemon cordial is always very much appreciated! And easy to make.

    • MrsC says:

      I wuv your homemade pressies, Joie. I always smile when using my cupcake stand bag, and tell everyone you made it for me! My cupcake dish has pride of place on the kitchen bench! xo

      • That cupcake dish that was only one step away from macaroni glued onto a photoframe? πŸ™‚ That is why I adore you MrsC!!! Hopefully today’s will be OK even if not handmade! And I am feeling all fired up to do handmade next year, for those that will appreciate it.

        And I’ve almost forgiven you for ruining my plans for a handmade birthday present for you!xx

  53. Debby says:

    I have already made some gifts and have a further three to make this weekend, I try and tailor my gifts to suit the recipients. I make to sell at craft fayres and the web and hope that people buy to give so I have to be happy to make to give as well. The way I look at it is they might not like something I was to buy in any case.

  54. As usual I’ve stuck myself in a gift making frenzy when I wish I could be adding to my wintery wardrobe instead!! I make for people who appreciate it, but do wonder if as others have put it, the things I make mean more to me. But then I always chose simple quick makes ( except this year maybe gloves which took far longer than I expected !!) so nothing complicated, and a week of boxer short sewing and pj trousers looms….maybe next year I will put my selfish foot down. πŸ˜‰

    • LinB says:

      It’s the impulse to give that is the important thing! Handing over a precious, precious item that you’ve made or bought, that means a great deal to you, is the whole purpose of giving a gift, imo. You are metaphorically giving a piece of yourself away. (Organ donors are literally giving a piece of themselves away.) That said, once you’ve given something away, you no longer have any say in how it is used, or whether it is worn, etc.; no matter how much it hurts that your gift was not appreciated. (Still, I wouldn’t ever again waste crafting time on anyone who does not appreciate “hand-maden” over “store-boughten.”) BTW, your gloves are amazing — I would be completely daunted at sewing up gloves. Knitting a pair was enough of a nightmare.

  55. Lori says:

    Phew! What a relief! thank you for this post!

    I have made a couple of gifts this year and still have another two to make! But (and mark my words on this!) I will not be doing it again! Mainly because I realised my own two chidlers and darling husband never get anything made for them as I am too busy concentrating on everyone else. It is time to start making things for the people who count (and me, myself and I are at the front of the queue!)

  56. Brenda says:

    Bathrobes for the three granddaughter, an apron for oldest daughter and one for husband. Easy stuff!

  57. Stephanie says:

    I’m beginning to wish I was rolling around in a pit of unapologetic selfishness, but, of course, I’m making gifts again. Loads. It never seems to end. And yet again, like every year I won’t have the time or energy to make an X-mas dress for myself. But then again I really love making and giving handmade gifts. Ahhhhh, confused. I should really put this post in an e-mail to myself, to be sent to me in November next year, so I can learn from you and spend the festive season only sewing for myself: an x-mas and a new year’s eve dress. It’s a plan!

  58. Miriana says:

    I’ve knitted a lot of gifts and quite enjoy doing it. I’ve probably had mixed results, but I tend to remember the positive ones…. (a rather happy approach that I wish I could apply to the rest of my life)…
    – my dad wears the scarf I knitted him all the time in Winter. However, he’s so worried about losing it, he only wears it out if he knows he’s not going to take it off before he gets home.
    – my sister gets a hat every birthday and wears them all (and even loves the one I made her this year that I thought was a bit hideous)
    – My (slightly drunken) friend spent fifteen minutes in raptures about a pair of wrist warmers I knit her – I found it hilarious as they were the second thing I ever knit and are a seamed rectangle with a hole for the thumb.

    I love knitting for kids so am made very happy by the news of pregnancies for that reason.

    My tip is make things for birthdays rather than Christmas – it spreads the pain.

    All that said, every January I swear blind that ‘this year, I’m knitting for no bugger other than me’.

    • Miriana says:

      Oh, and I’ve been commissioned twice, and only took it on as I felt that sewing roman blinds for my mum was not even close to being adequate compensation (even though it was like being in one of Dante’s circles of hell) for looking after my daughter two days a week for more than two years. My sister requested that I knit her a top, and when I balked at the idea, she pointed out that she had made hand carved wooden animal letters in my daughter’s name (which are amazing) and wondered (out loud) whether I appreciated how long that took, and while she was at it, why did we give her such a bloody long name.

  59. Yay – well done for sticking your head over the parapet on this. My sentiments exactly (particularly the can’t be arsed part)!

  60. I find I only make gifts for certain people. I always make things for one of my sister-in-laws kids because I know they are really appreciated and I always see them being used. Also my mum, dad and sister I always make things for. I find it hard making things for people that I don’t think will appreciate the hard work.

  61. Liz says:

    I have given handmade gifts for a few years. Last year I took a year off and bought presents and actually found that more stressful than making presents (even the year I started knitting a long jumper for my sister 10 days before Christmas – I finished it on the afternoon of Christmas Day, but didn’t see her until Boxing Day so got away with it!)

    This year I have settled on a mixture as I know some people (e.g. teenage nephews) will not appreciate a jumper or something else knitted. I’m hoping I’ll have mostly targetted people who will appreciate what I’ve made, but if they don’t, I have to learn to let go once a gift is given – it’s not mine to decide what is done with it any more and at least I’ve had the enjoyment of making it – it’s harder not to take it personally than it is if I buy a book for someone and they don’t like it, but I’m working on it (I have been known to offer to take gifts and rehome them if the recipient doesn’t want it and find them something bori… that they will like).

  62. Loving your honesty πŸ™‚ I made a Kelly Skirt for my daughter’s teacher as a thank-you gift and it was well received. I’m planning on whipping up two dolls blankets on my knitting machine between now and Christmas. One is from my youngest daughter (she’s selected the yarn and all!) and the other for my niece. Don’t ask me about the beret that I promised my sister-in-law for her birthday in July and is still unmade!

  63. Bama says:

    I only make things for my kids and grandkids now. One year I made shopping/tote bags, taking into account each recipient’s color preferences and only one person liked theirs (where I live if you don’t bring your own bag you get charged for each bag your purchases fill up). The others didn’t care and continue to use the $0.99 cheap ones that can’t be washed. My daughter on the other hand just asked me to make her six more. She likes having things no one else can by. πŸ™‚

  64. 5currantbuns says:

    Given up. People just see the present and price it up. They don’t take account that it means I like them enough to give them my time. I am a working Mum (37 hours a week) who spends 4 hours a day commuting…the most valuable thing i can share with you is my time… I am making one thing this year, my boy has asked me to knit his teacher a hat… she won’t appreciate it but he will…

  65. Melizza says:

    All these comments have helped relieve me of so much guilt! I was feeling so so bad that I did plan homemade gifts. But the truth is the idea of making gifts like work. But now I don’t feel too bad. Why create more stress? Gift cards for everyone!

  66. I don’t think that people who don’t sew or knit or crochet realise just how long things take. I crocheted a blanket for my dad’s 60th and after assuring him that I had indeed made it myself and not bought it (yes I was able to create an item to that standart oh dear family) his words where ‘have you not got anything better to do’.

    My kids seem to like ‘mummy-made’ things so I’ll see whether I do something for them, but otherwise I have resolved to avoiding handmade presents as much as possible πŸ™‚

  67. Lizzie says:

    Great discussion! I have heart heartedly decided to make a couple of presents but they are only for people that would appreciate it. I find that I make lovely things that I would love to have and they are not received as I would like them to be. Then half the time I end up getting a generic gift back with no thought in it πŸ™ Why don’t people seem to care as much as I want them too?!

  68. Tamsin says:

    I am making Husband a shirt at his request with material we bought 2 years ago in NZ. He wanted a waistcoat, but I haven’t got time to fit it properly. Am also making eldest a Renfrew so she doesn’t keep eying up mine! I was going to make some of Tilly’s necklaces but I think “can’t be arsed” might come in to it!

  69. Kerstin says:

    OMG Karen, you hit the nail on the head!
    All those scarves, make-up bags, table runners, placemats, and even tops that I gave to people (last year I even ventured in DIY and made my dad some wood chopping boards!), either for Christmas or for their birthdays, seem to have vanished into thin air. What do my friends and family do with “my” stuff? Why do I actually never see one of my makes? …
    So this year I decided to be all selfish and only make things for myself! A skirt, two tops, a little crochet rug, a knitted hat … And this one thing I can tell you, I do appreciate my new clothes!

  70. MrsAlex says:

    I knit only for carefully-chosen family members who will wear my lovingly-created hats/scarves/socks and appreciate them. All of these enlightened people seem to be the ones living in chilly Cumbria, who really know that handknits keep out the cold!

  71. Alicia says:

    I am not giving any handmade gifts this year because I just don’t have the time, but usually I do at least one or two. I do very carefully select who I do that for, and only give handmades to people who really really want what I make, cause otherwise it’s just a gift of guilt.

    One thought though, on never seeing your gifts again. I had made my mother several pairs of socks and was despairing that I never saw her wear them. Then I attended a small get-together at her house and when the subject came up that I knit, she ran upstairs and brought down the socks, which she had carefully packed away wrapped in tissue paper. Turns out she wasn’t wearing them because she thought they were too nice! and she was afraid to ruin them. I told her I wouldn’t make her more unless she wore them, and now she wears her socks all the time. πŸ™‚

    So when you don’t see your hand-made gift in use there is a possibility it’s being stored away somewhere as a treasured heirloom. πŸ™‚

  72. Regina says:

    Sewing for others just stresses me out! I have made a vow to myself to only crochet/sew for my granddog, Kingston, who happily wags his tail and prances around the room when I gift him a crocheted or sewn outfit. Honestly!

  73. Totally with you on this one!! I’m being selfish this Christmas too!

  74. Totally get the can’t be arsed to make stuff for others. I really don’t mind making stuff for other people, but it’s the time to do it that is the problem. So this year I have made just a few things. and they’re all done and almost all wrapped up. But will I get time to make the dress I want to wear with the fabric I had back in July?

  75. stitchywitch says:

    I don’t make things for other people. Sewing is my hobby, and I don’t find that anyone appreciates the time and thought that goes into things. I won’t even take commissions because I find that most people think I will be cheaper than a store, and are shocked to realize that I charge for my time. When I was knitting more I made a few gifts, which were never appreciated. Now I just order all my Christmas gifts on Amazon and they arrive at my house… and I can make myself a great holiday dress instead!

  76. I’m sewing some gifts for Christmas – just call me an ijit! The project list goes like this:
    For DD
    – 2 pairs pyjama pants (I couldn’t attend your party, however, your posts are a great help!)
    – 2 tank tops using Pamela’s Patterns The Perfect Tank Top

    For DS
    – 1 pair pyjamas – a refashion from a “brand new” pair of men’s pj’s from the ’60s – I just love the funky flannel

    For M-I-L
    – 1 PortaPockets Purse Insert from Studio Kat Designs (this one has me shaking in my boots!)
    I know that my mother-in-law will appreciate her gift. I’m fortunate; she’s a very sweet lady.

    This gets me back in my sewing groove for 2013, which will be “My Year of Sewing Selfishly!”

  77. Annette Watkinson says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, may as well save the stress, make something nice for yourself and give them some old tat from boots.

  78. Bethany says:

    Actually signed on looking for inspiration for a quick gift I could sew up for my mom. She was so happy last year that I had actually made her something. I think she often despairs that although she sewed her several perfectly tailored 3-piece suits in the late 70s when she couldn’t afford to buy any, I sew sporadically, with little patience, and mixed results (which leads to the sporadically since I’m horribly immature about not being good at something). It was a rather simple skirt last year that I still ended up in tears over (I could not get the gathering at the waistband to work and the fabric ended up being weird) but she looked like she could burst with joy when she realized this was something I had MADE and therefore I had occasionally listened as she tried to teach me. This year won’t be a garment, but maybe a pencil bag? Or a hand protector/coffee sleeve since she likes to take her laptop to coffee shops to work?

  79. Bethany says:

    Oh, and quick addition, I now feel good about making a point of always wearing what my mom makes when I’m visiting her or she’s visiting me. I also try to always shoot her a quick text when someone compliments something she’s made that I’m wearing. A gorgeous olive old-fashioned military coat (think Captain Jack but different color and with a belt for ladylike shaping) gets the most compliments with “wait, seriously, your mom made you that!” and I grin because it’s my favorite of the pieces she’s made for me.

    I did avoid sending her my measurements when I went up in weight though because I can’t stand to get rid of anything she’s made and I knew I’d want to lose weight fast!

  80. Kate says:

    Well written post and I agree totally. As it is I am just making some “christmassy” stuff for the kids (stockings, santa sacks) that we will keep on using in years to come (hopefully).
    I have toddler twins so luckily they are too young to be into labels yet and just love anything they get given pretty much! As it is just making these few things are taking up what spare time I have so I couldn’t possibly make any pressies for anyone else!!!
    The *only* thing I have made for someone else is a felt ornament for the Perth Burdastyle December meet, where we will be having a lucky dip style swap.
    Next Christmas I will be making something nice to wear for ME πŸ™‚

  81. I quit making gifts a long time ago. The last gift I made was for my mother. I made her a quilt with quilt blocks I found in her deceased mother’s home. I worked all year on the quilt and thought it would have at least sentimental value.
    “I don’t remember Grandmother making these quilt blocks. I don’t think these are hers.” she said.
    Now the quilt is hidden away somewhere. N E V E R A G A I N will I invest that much time and effort into a handmade gift.
    Others include pillows, cosmetic cases, vests etc…………..
    Now it’s Merry Christmas with a gift that can be exchanged πŸ™‚

  82. Oh this is great. I love all the comments about wishing you could take back gifts.

    The first (and only) thing I ever made as a gift was a laptop case for my boyfriend. It was his idea. He sent me a pic of a black knitted case he wanted. He picked the wool. He decided how it would close.

    And then a year and a half later I found it in the back of the cupboard, never been used.

    The nice thing though, was that because I know him so well, I told him how unappreciative he was, calculated the number of hours for him that went into sewing the bloody thing (alot – I was a terrible knitter at the time). And then I took it back. πŸ™‚

    Frustration! But a sort of vindictive pleasure in getting it back.

    And I’m never making anything for him again.

  83. I’m fortunate to have quite a few family members who do appreciate hand-made gifts so, if I have time, I generally try to make something for them (perhaps more often for their birthdays than at Christmas). On the other side of the fence we have those family members whose beautifully made hessian gardening aprons were not only never used, they were never even mentioned. At all. As if they’d never existed (no, not even a courteous thank you and then not using them; I might have been able to cope with that).

  84. kiwiendormi says:

    Interesting to hear such a contrarian view! You know what, you are probably right. I also wonder how appreciated handmade gifts are and this year I’m also not going that route. I think the exception to handmade gifts is when people ask you specifically for something (e.g., my sister asking me specifically for peplum skirts because she could not find one that fit in stores). Then you can be pretty sure it will be appreciated. πŸ™‚

  85. Susie says:

    Just blog-vented about this yesterday! Most of my gifts, virtually all of my gifts have been appreciated and well-worn or happily used until this year. I will continue to make for loved ones. My husband is begging for more pjs and my daughter treats my work as haute couture. I guess they just don’t know any better!

  86. Pamela says:

    Well thank goodness someone finally said it in the UK. I thought it was only us American’s that felt this way. I live by the 3 A’s don’t make anything, for anyone, anymore! I haven’t seen one item I have made over the years for anyone on them, wrapped around them, even lying around. The last thing I made was for my 26 year old daughter…she said, mom I don’t like things knitted or crocheted it reminds me of old people.” Do you believe that!! I mean it was a pineapple shell christening gown made out of vintage thread. Hello….

  87. gingermakes says:

    Haha, I don’t blame you for feeling this way! I’ve gone crazy a few years and made tons of things for the people in my life, but now I’ve kinda calmed down and I only make presents for the folks that really appreciate them. For example, my sister understands how much work it is to make something by hand and will really take care of a gift like that (plus I know her style well enough to make things she will love). My brothers? They’re philistines and will never receive a handmade gift from me. πŸ™‚

  88. ZoSews says:

    I am making for others, wish I wasn’t though lol. It just seems like such a good idea at the time. Note to self for future reference – it’s not a good idea. I just want to work on my Ceylon!! It’s supposed to be my Christmas dress, but I don’t know if she’ll be getting done or not in time…

  89. I love making gifts for people, but then again I only swap gifts with my immediate family. Each year we each send a Christmas wish list to mum who distributes them out, anything on there that I can make I snag as the gift to give first. At least that way I know I am making something they want. I made my little sister a handbag two years ago and this year I am making her another one from the exact same pattern but in a different fabric choice because she literally used the first one til it dropped apart. The only one who has no handmade gift this year is middle sister’s husband and that is because there was nothing on the list I could make, I’m not going to impose a gift for gift’s sake so he had a shop brought gift. I totally agree though I would never make something if I didn’t feel it was appreciated.

  90. Sheree says:

    It makes a lot of sense not to make presents. It stands to reason that people do not always like a gift (regardless of how wonderful we think it is) so why do something that takes so much time and effort. Far too risky.

  91. Pingback: Finished: Dove T, and a Christmas giveaway! « ZoSews

  92. I only make gifts for people I really love… and never too close to christmas.. i craft my heart content all year and if keep it.. if there is someone I feel would appreciate the gift and like what I make, I would give it away. I love small gifts that I can make 10 or more in one hour. those are my ” oh my gosh, I need a gift in the next 15 mins before i leave” and they save me every time….
    Like this tissue holders, perfect stocking in one hour sitting.

    I never do clothes for others, besides mom ( as she gives me fabrics, call me on skype from brazilian stores so i can virtual shop) and grandma…

  93. Sandra says:

    I hear you. This year I’m sewing several items but I make things like placemats, shoe bags, etc.
    which I know will be used and I make it a rule to sew for family only, although that can backfire.
    I remember a few years ago making my 12 year old niece a pants and vest set which looked
    great on her and fit her beautifully because I took all her measurements….and guess what…
    she didn’t like it and never wore it. I don’t sew things every Christmas just when I’m in a pinch

  94. SΓ­lvia says:

    When my friends knew that i was learning to sew, some of them asked me to do things. I always said no. It’s a joy…for me only. I made a few bags for some of my friends on their birthday and it was so funny to see their happy faces when they saw the label inside with my name. one of them actually said :” now i have one too! ” Looll . but you’re right it takes a lot of precious time…and i’m selfish since the begining , it’s my time = my things! πŸ™‚

  95. velosewer says:

    I’ve only made gifts for the people I love to and I have avoided doing this around key events like birthdays, Christmas, Easter, weddings etc. They’ll get them way before or way after.
    I enjoy making things when I have the time and motivation.

  96. sophie o. says:

    I did absolutely nothing this year! And I’m not feeling guilty about it! As an avid knitter and with my new skills in sewing I could have had plenty of opportunities, but no! I think the main reason is your second reason: I’m not sure recipients will like what I make for them so why bother?

  97. Yep, I hear you. I often stress myself out making things (that granted I enjoy doing) for others. This year, I just couldn’t be bothered. The closest I came was making Nuts & Bolts after realizing the post it note on the second bag of N&B from my in laws was hiding my parents name. I ate their gift from my in laws. So I made a batch and refilled the bag for my parents (I did own up to the error to my parents but not my in laws) and gave some to my aunt & uncle (because apparently I can’t make a small batch of N&B) and I have eaten most of the rest.

  98. Kyle says:

    Amen sister!
    One Christmas I handmade EVERYTHING for like 15 people…I think 2 of the 15 appreciated it…never saw/heard about the other items…never again!
    Then I was into making for birthdays for people who seemed to appreciate it. I always made a friend an apron til she said “I have enough aprons now, thanks”.
    Now it is super RARE for me to sew for someone else. I have to know up front that they really, really want it and it will be SUPER appreciated.
    No reason to feel guilty not making stuff for others.
    Gosh, I might need to go find that old song with the lyric “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself”

  99. Hello Everyone

    Late coming to this post, or early ;-).

    I don’t do christmas (note the small ‘c’) in general – don’t like it, so I don’t make anything for anyone during that period.

    I remember making a bag for someone I thought would appreciate it, and when she looked at it with a look of dismay on her face (which was very loud and clear), she said: “Couldn’t you afford to buy me something?” And with that – seriously – I took the bag back from her and took it home with me. She didn’t get a replacement and I haven’t made or bought her anything since.

    But that is just me ;-).

    Cee Jay

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