Christmas Is Coming – The Geese Are Getting Fat; although before we get there, it is my birthday. It is around this time of year (the start of a new school year, and just before my birthday) that I start to feel a bit maudlin; I’m not sure whether it is the nights drawing in, or the idea of being a year older that does it. However, it does bring about another phenomenon; that of present lists.

In our house, we have also made birthday lists and Christmas lists – lists of things we would like as presents. I suppose this should not come as a surprise to people who have read my previous blogs, as I am one for making notes and writing things down. The benefit of having a list, is that people have the option of buying things from your list (in which case, they get to see your delight in getting something that you asked for), or they get you something totally different. Making a list isn’t such a surprising thing – after all, we encourage children to write to Father Christmas – in my family we’ve just continued with it!

What do you get for a quilter, an embroiderer, a sewist? Well, I’m here to give you some ideas – and this is likely to form part of my lists as well! (So I’d better make sure that I really publicise my post with my family!)

Let’s start with big presents! Big presents could be a quilting machine / long arm quilting machine and frame – yes, I know – that it verging on the ridiculous, but it may be something to include anyway, as you never know when you may have a lottery win, a Premium Bond win, or a legacy. Is there another machine that you quite fancy? An embroidery machine, an embellishing machine perhaps? Make sure you include the make and model of the machine! If this is too much – how about some appropriate lighting? I’ve been having a few problems with getting enough suitable light in the evening to be able to see well enough to sew or embroider; my husband suggested that I look at lights – he thought there must be something better on the market now, and so I acted on his suggestion. I discovered on the Cotton Patch site some lights called PureLite – the best thing about these lights is that they are adjustable – they can be clip on, table lamps or floor lamps – perfect for me, as our living room is in the top of the house and where I sit there is a sloped ceiling – which makes it awkward to get a lamp to fit in the right place for me.Thinking of lights, what about a new light box? My current lightbox is over 15 years old, and it was a present. I’ve seen some recently that at A3 size, dimmable lights, and thin. Even better, the design and light makes transferring quilting or embroidery designs much easier, so I think that this needs to be on my list.  If you don’t need a lamp (and really, who doesn’t need a good lamp) – what about new feet for your sewing machine, or some quilting rulers?

Books can be a good present – and many magazines have reviews of books. Ladies at my quilting group often bring along books with patterns in them, and I’ve taken photos of quite a few front covers. Even better is taking a photo of the back cover as well, so that you have the ISBN, which makes it even easier to locate the book. Magazine subscriptions can be a lasting gift – it’s like you get a present every month, and it could be the ideal opportunity for you to try a totally new magazine; perhaps an international magazine if you already subscribe to UK ones. I’ve subscribed to Quilting Arts in the past, and it has given me quite a lot of ideas for quilting patterns, quilts, and wall-hangings. Make sure you keep a look out for the special subscription rates, and subscription gifts.

Ideas as to what you can expect from Quilting Arts – new techniques and ideas to try!

Gift vouchers for a favourite shop are always a winner – I remember getting a gift voucher as a wedding present, which was a winner for me! If not a gift voucher for the shop, what about asking for a voucher for a course? There are lots of quilting related courses around, – you only need to have a look at the UKQU Continuing Development Facebook page to see! I’ve seen courses for polymer clay beads and buttons, and also courses for manipulating and distressing fabric which appeal to me. I also quite fancy making myself a tuffet – what a great way to use your favourite fabric, and I’ve seen local courses for making them.

The tuffet has become quite popular recently – and I’m not thinking that perhaps I should make more than one. I found this image while searching for pictures of tuffets, and I love the embroidery and embellishment on it!

Craft shows are great for new ideas and extending your stash and crafting skills, so why not pick a craft show, and ask for tickets for it – and perhaps some spending money too! Quilt shows are fantastic, but don’t forget shows such as Craft4Crafters – these shows feature other crafts that can be incorporated into quilting, and I’ve indulged in felting equipment and embellishments at these shows. In addition to the new crafts, there are people exhibiting – and they may offer courses…in fact, at quite a few shows there are workshops on offer, so why not ask for a craft show ticket and a workshop or two?! In fact, now could be a very good time to get in your order for Festival of Quilts next year!

Embellishments such as angelina fibre and film make great stocking fillers, and may prompt you to go out of your comfort zone, and try something new

Now for the small presents; these are the stocking fillers or the items you could be putting in for Secret Santa. Needles – make a note of the needles you use most, and put them on your list – Sharps or Universals for the sewing machine, and your preferred brand and style for hand sewing. Thread is always essential, and the more the better in my opinion – make sure you put your thread preference on the list, otherwise you could end up with any old thread… Other ideas – pins, quilting pins, bobbins, bobbin case. One of the best presents I ever got was from my stepmum; it is a thread-untangler, or strand separator (it probably has another name, but I can’t remember what it that is) and is used with embroidery floss: you clip the thread on one end of the floss, and then choose the number of strands you want, and gently ease them apart; the crocodile clip holds the loose thread and spins round, separating the strands of floss. This nifty little gadget has helped me with the problems of separating the strands on numerous occasions, and stopped all the problems with the thread getting tangled. They can be found at www.puffinco.com and they really are fantastic!

This little gadget will ensure you don’t get a tangled mess when trying to separate embroidery threads – practical and pretty too!

Patterns and small projects are great for small presents for friends, or for stocking fillers. There is a real trend for adult colouring as a way to reduce stress and encourage mindfulness; there are a number of zenbroidery designs around, and these are perfect for people who enjoy some simple stitching. I’ve not yet tried them (emphasising the ‘yet’ – I hope to have at least one to try out, and I’m quite happy to review them too…hint hint!!). Thinking of the colouring, if you haven’t tried Inktense pencils or pastels, this could be the time to give them a go!

I can see these pencils being used on the zenbroidery panels – combining embroidery and the pencils for intensity of colour.

If none of these are suitable, what about a custom made gift voucher? One made for a morning, an afternoon, an evening, a day or even a weekend free from all forms of housework or other responsibility – a quilting day!

As a parting thought, how do you keep track of all these items on your list, and where they can be found? I use an add-on to my internet browser, so the items can be added to my Amazon wishlist. This has allowed people to see what is on my list, find out where to buy the items, and decide what they want to buy! Around the time of my birthday and Christmas, I don’t look at my list much (although I still add to it) – and I don’t notice if something has gone from the list (because it has been bought). The products do not have to be bought through Amazon, and it is so easy to add items to the list, and for others to find them.

When you take a short break from making all those Christmas presents for others, start having a look and making your own lists – imagine all the fun you can have in selecting items for yourself; and I hope that you get at least some of the items on your list!

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