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A Handmade Christmas part 1

January 3, 2011

I wasn’t able to take pictures of all the Christmas gifts that I made this year.  I think it had something to do with finishing up the last of them 10 minutes before we were out the door to the party.  But, I do have a few.  And these first two are my favorites.  Last Spring Scott’s dad Lynn passed away very unexpectedly.   It wasn’t long after that I got the idea to use his clothes to make gifts for Scott and his family.  My first project was this quilt, but these next two are much much cuter.


This is LT and LT 2.  Two little softies for Lynn’s granddaughters.  But not just any softie.  These are just a little bit different.

Here is Scott and his dad and grandpa at our wedding 7 years ago.  Do you see that suit that Lynn is wearing?  And the shirt?  And the tie?  They were his favorite.  He wore them for every important occasion.  And now they will hang around for a while longer, watching over all those important occasions that Lynn’s isn’t here to see.

rufus details

This first guy, a nice little dog named LT (a knickname Scott’s dad used all the time), is made from this pattern.  I cut the buttons off Lynn’s suit and shirts so I could reuse them in the joints and eyes.  Each animal was a labor of love.  But they didn’t cost me anything, everything I needed came from Lynn’s favorite suit and my stash.  And close to thirty hours of stitching and stuffing later, I have two very cute somethings to show for it.

rufus sitting

Each little necktie took an hour to make, at least.  Turns out making teensy little ties from slippery big ties is not easy.  At all.  And trying to press those teensy little ties left me with a few seriously painful steam burns.  But I wouldn’t have done it any other way.  They are beyond cute, but not easy.

parsley and rufus

Creamie’s is still in pieces.  I’ll finish it for her birthday in a few weeks.  Turns out I was maybe a teensy bit too ambitious in my handmade gifting this year.  But I’ll have hers done in no time.  Well, that’s the plan anyway.

parsley copy

This is LT 2, because I couldn’t think of another name for him that suited him as well.  He is made from the Parsley and Beet elephant pattern by my favorite pattern maker, Jodie.  (You can buy her patterns here.)  This guy gave me a run for my money.  I cut out the pieces in September, and had him completely sewn together, and stuffed and nearly finished before I realized I was missing one of pieces in the back of his head.  Sigh.  I tore him apart, and then spent a good frustrating evening with the seam ripper trying to get both ears back on straight.  And they still aren’t perfect.  But since no one’s ears are perfectly perfect I figured he could get away with it.  And besides, a two year old isn’t going to care much about that, right?


In September I made a quilt cut from Lynn’s clothes for Scott’s birthday.  And it is still just a quilt top.  But by nothing short of a miracle I was able to finish these two in time for Christmas.  And these two were wrapped on Christmas morning in the back bedroom, I cut it a little close to do any pre-photographing.  But they did get done on time.  Barely.  Do you want to know my secret? Ask for help.  Lots of help.

Scott ironed on all the interfacing. Some of those shirts weren’t sturdy enough to go into a quilt.  But after 15 yards of interfacing all three quilts should stand up to wear and tear for a long long time. And as soon as he was done ironing on the interfacing, he spent a long long time pressing my seams as I sewed the blocks together.  I gave these to my friend Elizabeth to quilt (see her post here) and she did a fantastic job.  That’s the other secret to finishing them on time.  Give them to someone else to quilt, someone who has some real life experience in the quilting department.  I can sew blocks together just fine, but quilting?  Well, maybe next year.

quilts details

Each quilt is different.  The backing fabrics are all different, the bindings are different, the quilting patterns are different and the actual pattern the blocks are in is different.  All different, but all the same.  I love how they turned out.  And I hope that they are loved for a long long time to come.  I have one more post about Christmas gifts and then I’ll  share some of my goals for this year and some other projects that have been simmering away on the back burner for a long long time.

UPDATE: I’m adding this post to Sew+Tell this week.  And in the spirit of following the rules, check out my part 2 post to see the other handmade Christmas projects.  It’s a beautiful little bit of handquilting if I do say so myself!

34 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2011 2:30 am

    Hi!, sending gentle blessings!, thankyou for a touching read!…

  2. January 3, 2011 4:21 am

    I have been waiting for this post – not for my pattern but to see all the projects and to hear a little about the man who wore the clothes. You have made something very very special and i am so excited to be a teensy part of this.
    I hope 2011 blows your socks off !!!

  3. Susan Twilley permalink
    January 3, 2011 6:37 am

    You should be so proud of yourself. What a great way to honor your father in law and his family. The dog & elephant are just adorable and the quilts are amazing.

  4. January 3, 2011 6:43 am

    Wow – what a great story. And what lovely & thoughtful gifts. This post brought tears to my eyes.

  5. Paige permalink
    January 3, 2011 7:23 am

    What a wonderful story and gifts. It was very thoughtful of you to create the quilts and softies to honor your father in law.
    Hope everyone is much better by now. Can’t wait to see what else you’ve created!

  6. January 3, 2011 9:20 am

    Oh my LD and LD2 are wonderful. What a perfect way to remember a special man. You did an amazing job on them. Clarice

  7. January 3, 2011 9:25 am

    These are adorable!!!!

  8. lacey permalink
    January 3, 2011 10:14 am

    So awesome! seriously those gifts are incredibly heart felt. not only are your blood sweat and tears in those but some serious meaning and behind it. you are amazing!

  9. January 3, 2011 12:52 pm


    LT is so adorable. I’m so glad I actually got to hold him! And LT2 is awesome too. This is some seriously thoughtful crafting you’ve done. I love your memory quilts. What a special way to honor Scott’s dad. You get serious props for all of your hard work. And I am honored to have been a teeny part of it. Can’t wait to see Creamie’s little animal. Oh, and those ties are SO amazingly adorable. I am just blown away with all of your creativity and thoughtfulness. You are amazing and I’m so glad we’re friends.

    xo -El

  10. January 3, 2011 3:11 pm



  11. January 3, 2011 4:16 pm

    Three things: 1. Those stuffed animals are so special–well done. 2. I LOVE your tutorials, and I have been having so much fun catching up on your blog!! 3. Your comments have really made my day. Thank you. Really, thank you.

  12. January 3, 2011 6:20 pm

    I lost my dad in February 2010. I’ve emailed your post to my mother who has been filling her time teaching herself quilting….I hope to see her incorporate some of your suggestions.

  13. January 3, 2011 9:35 pm

    *sniff sniff*

    I knew this post would get me.

    I love how much heart (♥) you put in these.

    bravo my friend… bravo.

  14. sara permalink
    January 4, 2011 2:17 pm

    you are amazing and thoughtful and superwoman, i swear! i can’t get over how much you did to make both families christmas’ handmade, and so incredibly loving. you continue to amaze me, even in my silence! (i swear, i’ll get that package to you SOONISH!)

    (and i’ve missed you!)

  15. January 4, 2011 6:11 pm

    Stupendous. What incredible gifts you’ve given your family. They are so fortunate to have you. I can believe those gorgeous stuffies took that many hours – your work is so beautifully done. I can’t imagine working to such detail! Taking Lynn’s clothing and transforming them into so much more is incredibly inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing, e. You’re the best.

  16. January 7, 2011 9:21 am

    i love these critters almost as much as the meaning behind them. such treasures! and beautiful work by you!

  17. January 7, 2011 9:36 am

    Wow – great, great softies full of meaning. And the quilts. What terrific gifts!

  18. January 7, 2011 10:05 am

    AWWW! these are just precious!! so sweet and perfectly perfect!!!
    I have 2 flannel shirts from my dad that my mom gave me after my dad passed away and have been wanting to make a quilt for my son with them, so I thank you for sharing yours!

  19. January 7, 2011 10:44 am

    Oh my gosh, your softies are just darling!! What wonderful gifts 🙂

  20. Kikka permalink
    January 7, 2011 10:45 am

    I love thoughtful gifts. I’m sitting here crying while reading this. The stuffed animals are so amazing! You really are honoring your father-in-law’s memory so sweetly.

  21. January 7, 2011 10:57 am

    Those softies are adorable & so perfect that you made them from his favorite suit. Such love went into them, I hope they’re cherished for a very long time!

  22. January 7, 2011 2:34 pm

    What a story! There will be nice connection the children will have with their stuffies.

  23. January 7, 2011 4:27 pm

    What you did is awesome and so thoughtful. These gifts will be cherished for years to come. Thank you for sharing your story with us here.

  24. January 7, 2011 4:54 pm

    What wonderful thoughtful gifts. Those little neckties are so SO cute. Fabulous job!!!!

  25. January 7, 2011 7:55 pm

    What a wonderful way to remember someone! My grandmother made quilt with anything she had around the house. My grandfathers old pj tops, fabric my mother gave her left from dresses she made me ect. I had a quilt I could pick out who wore what. Good job.

  26. January 7, 2011 8:07 pm

    Can I just say that you’re awesome? I love this. All of it. Your family is so lucky to have you.

  27. January 7, 2011 8:47 pm

    Your projects are wonderful. I loved reading about them.

  28. January 7, 2011 10:32 pm

    This is precious beyond words! Fantastic!

  29. January 8, 2011 8:46 am

    Holy Smokes! Those animals are so great — and I really love that you are using your father-in-law’s clothing. It is such a great way to honor him. I know everything will be treasured.

  30. January 8, 2011 4:02 pm

    This is a very touching post! What a loving and creative way to incorporate his memory! Good for you for asking for help…it meant more people received their gifts 😉 Wish I had done more of that. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

  31. January 8, 2011 6:11 pm

    Those are the most adorable and thoughtful gifts that I’ve ever seen. I won’t have thought to make something from clothes. I’m going to assume something and just ask you what temple is in the picture of your husband? It looks familiar to me. I’m going to click on the link to the blanket you made next.


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