Make your own clothing labels using stamps

One of my favorite finishing touches to a handmade garment is a personalized tag. I've seen all kinds of beautiful DIY versions, like overstitched fabric scraps, screenprinted bits, and even just special ribbon loops. I've also recently come across lots of label producers who are offering small minimum orders for professional looking woven labels.

Since I love a good DIY fix (and find most woven labels very itchy) I thought I would share my favorite tag making method, using ribbon or fabric and stamps!

The process is very straightforward. Get stamps, stamp on ribbon or fabric. Set with iron and sew in!

Here's what you'll need:

Something to stamp on

1. Use a flat, plain weave ribbon. The smoother, the better. This helps get a nice, clean stamp. Any ribbon that is tightly woven and made from natural fiber should work well.

My favorite ribbon for tags (pictured above) is a chambray ribbon made in France, which I buy locally. Your local fabric shop might carry something similar. I had a bit of a hard time tracking down an online source for it, but came across this Etsy seller that offers the same ribbon.

2. If you can't track down the right ribbon (or you just want to start your project right away) the selvedge from your favorite light hued fabric works well in a pinch! You can also use bias tape.

3. You can also use any plain woven fabric. Light colors and tight weaves (like poplin, voile, or shirting) work best. Trim the edges with pinking shears, cut on the grain and pull away some threads to create a fringe, or finish the edges with a serger. Press your fabric to get it nice and smooth before stamping.

2. Twill tape, which is a bit easier to find in shops, works okay but the texture prevents you from getting a really clean, clear line. Pressing it with a hot iron first will help smooth the texture a bit. This guy should be a last resort.

Stamps

Text

My favorite way to get clear, consistent text on tags is to use alphabet stamps or kits that include stamps and letters. Kits are great because they include multiples of each letter, upper and lower case, and symbols. You can arrange the type and stamp them over and over.

Each type has their pros and cons. I have a few vintage kits I've collected over the years and I love them. Kits make stamping easier, but leave you a bit limited in terms of font. Loose letter sets come in a wider variety of size and font, but you have to stamp each letter individually and line them up.

Your local craft store will have a variety of alphabet stamp sets and Etsy is a great place to track down old stamp kits. You can also find new stamp kits at office supply stores. Martha Stewart makes a kit that comes with round pieces to set letters in a circle. If you know of any other brands that make these stamp kits, please share!

Images & Decorative elements

Your local craft or stationary store will likely have a nice variety of fun stamps. Keep in mind the size if you want it to fit on ribbon of a certain width. Sets of small stamps are a great way to add decorative elements to your text.

You can also create your own stamps! I wrote a holiday tutorial a few years back that covers the basics. Remember, your image will stamp in reverse, so be sure to draw it backwards.

Ink

You can use any stamp pad that is formulated to work on fabric. Be sure to check, because many of them are not. My favorites are Yellow Owl Workshop's large stamp pads (note that their smaller ink pads are not formulated for fabric!). Tags I've made using this ink have withstood years of machine washing with little to no fading or bleeding. They'll also last at least a couple years without drying out (as long as you keep the lid shut). Mine are about 5 years old and still work brilliantly.

Remember, most fabric stamping inks must be heat set using your iron! Be sure to review the instructions for heat setting that come with your ink.

You may also want to run a stamped piece of fabric through the wash if testing out a new ink to make sure it doesn't run or fade.

Tips

IMG_0534.JPG

+ Test your design on paper first! I can't tell you how many times I've flipped something upside down printed the wrong thing. Do a test first.

+ Plan your spacing. To keep stamps in an even line, use masking tape to create a guideline on your fabric or ribbon.

+ Ink evenly and press firmly on your stamp!

+ Mind your P's and Q's! Remember, certain letters look the same backwards and forwards. Always do a test print to make sure you've got the right letters.

+ Heat set your tags! Iron on the cotton setting for 5-10 seconds and let cool.

+ If you want to print only part of a stamp, or break up lines of text, use a piece of scrap paper to catch the ink and only stamp the part of the text or image you want on your fabric.

Do you have a favorite technique for making your own tags? Please share!

Travel Journal: Greece

It's been rather quiet around these parts for two reasons. Reason number one is that I was traveling! My partner is working in Greece for the summer on an archeological dig and I had the opportunity to go visit him in the middle of his stay. (Reason number two is that since I've been home from this trip, I've been hard at work prepping Saltbox for its paper pattern release later this summer).

I had never been to Greece before. In fact, I'd never been anywhere in the Mediterranean (though I have done a bit of the pre-college backpacking in Europe thing). This was such an amazing opportunity to explore and I thought I would share some of my findings and reflections with you all!

I traveled with my dad and mother in law which made for lovely company. We were there for 11 days, joining up with J for 6 of them. We arrived in Athens after a red-eye to London, followed by a shorter morning plane ride. The travel was exhausting and I tried my darnedest to stay awake the rest of the afternoon to avoid jetlag. I managed to stay up until 7pm and slept straight through til 7 the next day. Success!

We stayed in a fantastic AirBNB in a very cool neighborhood called Psyrri which is adjacent to the Acropolis: a big hill upon which sits the Parthenon, among other amazing and super old things. Athens is in many ways a very metropolitan city. It reminds me of Manhattan set in the hills of deserty Southern California. Parts of it are very gritty, but aside from petty theft there isn't too much crime. There's graffiti everywhere. People are generally very warm and love to chat. There are stray cats all over the place.

I've been keeping up with the news about Greece and its economy, especially since J has been working there the last couple of years, not to mention its central role in the refugee crisis. Most folks I spoke to said that the economy was improving. I imagine that the economic state is more apparent when you get outside the city, even perhaps when you get outside the hustle and bustle of central Athens. Many of the areas we spent time in were full of tourists from all over and many of them from the US. I hope that, to some extent, this tourism is helping the economy.

Despite the economic climate, the shopping scene was quite fascinating. I can't help but be interested in commerce and manufacturing and how each country or area has its own culture surrounding it. One thing I noticed in particular about Athens, or at least the neighborhood we were staying in, was that aside from restaurants I saw very few chain stores. On each block, you'd find a collection of small shops, often open different hours. Some sold antiques (in fact, I believe we were in a sort of 'antique district' since there were many of these shops clustered around), others sold door & drawer hardware, metal items, cafe chairs, doormats, leather hides, sandals. There was even a sort of fabric district, which I was more that happy to peruse. While I wasn't able to find any fabric specifically made in Greece, I did come home with some lovely gems from some small, family run shops. Many of them were very busy, hopefully because folks in town were there to shop for their sewing projects!

If you're at all a shoe person - though I like shoes, I don't qualify as one since I tend to stick to one or two pair at a time - you'll loose it in Greece. There are shops everywhere selling a huge variety of gorgeous, handmade leather sandals. Though I can't be sure they're all produced ethically, it's very clear that many shops are concerned with the quality and how/where they are made. Often times, one family is at the helm. You'll find little shoe, belt, and bag shops all over Athens.

In fact, I encountered all sorts of craftspeople or purveyors of goods who cared about what they were making and were proud to make it in Greece. I found that both small boutiques and touristy shops alike had an emphasis on Greek made products and when speaking to folks in these shops, quality and craftsmanship was very important. Such a contrast to many other places I've traveled, where the 'tourist' areas are largely filled with items made elsewhere but emblazoned with the name of a country. I'm not much of a shopper, but I relished in the opportunity to support the local economy by picking up a few beautiful, well made pieces.

One of my favorite shops I visited was called Forget Me Not, which included a lovely selection of independent Greek design: clothes, books, housewares, and more. I also discovered a lot of awesome Greek indie fashion labels. One of my favorites was Heel.

Athens is a modern city that is absolutely packed with some of the most ancient man made stuff you can find. It's not surprising that their crafts are still appreciated...these are folks who know how to make things last. We of course ventured up to the Acropolis and I was most struck by how in-progress everything was. There were many people and machines actively restoring these ancient buildings. Throughout Athens, the juxtaposition between the ancient and the undeniably modern was astounding. There was even a tourism campaign touting this concept - A bearded hipster's profile artfully photoshopped over a picture of the Parthenon, subtitled with the word "Hipstorical" and its definition.

In the rather touristy Plaka neighborhood, one of the older neighborhoods adjacent to the acropolis, I discovered a narrow shop where a lady was selling woven tapestries. She had been weaving them for 35 years and they ranged in size and content, but mostly showed graphic scenes of Greece and the islands. She had yellowed newspaper clippings of her trips to Paris, Taiwan, and other places where she'd presented her craft. I purchased this lovely weaving of Santorini from Rita. I asked her, had she ever thought of teaching? Tapestry weaving is making such a comeback. She smirked and said she didn't like people very much.

Mid way through the trip, we traveled to Chania, a large city on the island of Crete (the largest of Greece's many islands) with a beautiful old Venetian harbor. Similar to Athens with its blend of modern amenities and 500 BC charm. It had many old, winding allies and small tavernas. We ate at an outdoor restaurant built into the ruins of an old building and watched couples browse the wares of a boutique across the street. And more stray cats, of course. You can even buy souvenir calendars featuring 'The Street Cats of Crete'.

One night, I stumbled into a shop because I saw what looked like cross stitch through the open doorway. The shop was packed with stacks of handwork: crochet, weavings, embroideries and more, lovingly organized into wooden shelves and cubbies or hanging from the walls and ceilings on department store pants hangers. Galatea, who ran the shop, specialized in traditional textiles made by craftspeople from around the island. I ended up purchasing a souvenir here too (can you blame me?) and settled on an embroidered piece created in a village called Meskla, near the island's famous gorge. Apparently, it was one of the few pieces left in this style and perhaps there might never be more. She seemed happy when I explained my keen interest in embroidery - continuing on handcrafts of past generations.

After Chania, we returned to Athens for a few more days amidst a rather intense heatwave, with temps nearing 105. We opted to spend the day in the archeological museum, which was air conditioned. The amount of objects collected and their age is unimaginable. (This is the case all over Greece. We even found washed up sherds of ancient pottery on the beach.)

One thing that was curiously absent on this trip was wool! I even asked around at local yarn shops and nearly everyone seemed surprised I would even be looking for wool from Greece. Though I know there are plenty of sheep, having eating quite a bit of their delicious cheese and yogurt. The shepherds mostly shear the sheep and dispose of the yarn, which I know is not unusual for sheep raised for dairy and meat. Perhaps the growing trend of 'multi use' sheep will spread to this part of Europe :) I wonder if the wool is being used for other things like insulation, felt, or rugs...

Here we are at a restaurant with a rooftop view of the Acropolis!

Here we are at a restaurant with a rooftop view of the Acropolis!

And since this is not a food blog, I will simply make one statement in regards to cuisine: The food in Greece is awesome. At one restaurant, the owner even showed us pictures of his farm in a nearby village on his cell phone, including the lamb we had the option of choosing from the menu.

And then, before I knew it, we were heading home. I'd love to have the chance to go back some day and explore further.

Have you ever been or wanted to go to Greece? What places are on your travel wishlist? Do you like to seek out local crafts when you travel?

Shapes and Shades March Update

February flew by. So did March (which, I know is not over yet, but I can't believe it's half over).

I hate to say it, but when things are really cooking in the real world, this blog goes dormant. Such is the balance of work and social media, I guess. Even my instagram feed, with which I try to be a diligent post-a-day woman, has grown suspiciously sporadic*. But this is all for a good reason, my friends. A new pattern is coming.

I'll keep my details brief, since I like surprises, but this one is fun. I can't wait to share it with you in April.

Earlier in February I posted about my plans for re-evaluating and honing my wardrobe. Today I'm going to report on my progress with this!

*I can't help but associate this word with the movie Clueless.

Shapes & Shades March Update: Color Balance

For the last few weeks, I've made a concerted effort to think very intentionally about my outfits. I'd say this intention came to full fruition about 50% of the time. Since I work from home a lot, and the weather is still cold, there were plenty of days where a sweatshirt and a pair of flannel lined pants sufficed, though I didn't feel particularly stylish at the grocery store. I focused my energy on days where I taught, or had meetings, or went out. Here are some moments:

  • Vintage Bobble Sweater
  • One of Jordan's old EMS T-shirts, re-cut and refashioned.
  • Green french terry pencil skirt
  • Ceramic bead necklace (from a lady at the farmer's market)

A friend/former student gifted me this incredible vintage sweater. It's fussy in all the right ways. I was almost skeptical of its wearability but somehow it works. I think it's best when paired with simple solids. I decided I love cream as a color. And I also love bobbles. Another thing I realized is that texture is like a better version of print for me. More subtle and versatile.

I also discovered that sometimes I like plain tshirts. And I like that stiff, cottony jersey men's shirts are made of (this is a shirt J was giving to goodwill when I rescued it from the bag, intrigued by its color.) And I also really, really like grey. Need more grey.

What works: The color combination. The balance of colors. Texture as print.

What's next: Work more with texture. More grey pieces and perhaps work with some 100% cotton jersey like the Alabama Chanin variety.

  • LL Bean Button Down Shirt (2nd hand)
  • Uniqlo wool sweater (shruken, hand me down)
  • Levis Jeans
  • El Naturalista Boots

Sometimes it's just one of those days that you reach for the RTW. I didn't wear jeans for about 10 years until I discovered that Levi's makes a 'Bold Curve' stretch jean. No more waist gaping. Mid rise. The quality of the denim is pretty poor, and the polyester content forces me to launder them more than I'd like to, but they work. They are very wearable. I admit that I have become one of those people who defaults to jeans. It's weird.

But since I love to sew, I fantasize about replacing all of these pieces with handmade versions. The blue sweater is on its last legs...very mothy and pilly and stretched out. Again, not the best materials, but the color & cut are spot on. The shirt is a boys button down from LL bean circa 1992. I bought it used and it shows its age. I made a rub off pattern from it, but it needs some tweaking. I go back and forth on button down shirts. I think I'm for them.

What works: Boyish (but not too much so), rustic, comfortable, functional.

What's next: Ginger jeans to replace the so-so Levis. Knit a blue sweater to replace this one. Sew some button ups.

  • Cashmere/Silk grey v-neck pullover
  • Slouchy cotton slub tee from
  • Handknit Shawl (FunFunFun by Andrea Mowry)
  • Green French Terry pencil skirt
  • Black wool tights
  • El Naturalista Boots

This one's about the colors again. And the fact that really, really comfortable clothing makes me feel good. There's no reason to wear things that are stiff or uncomfortable. Though I don't necessarily want to make everything from knits (far from it) I want to prioritize making things that feel good physically, as well look good. And more grey.

I also love this shawl. I was on the fence basically the whole time I was knitting it. But once finished, I was in love. I never thought I'd say this, but I think I want to make another one. Perhaps in yellow?

This pencil skirt gets so much wear! I've started to seek out other fabrics in this color, because I LOVE it. And to think, this piece was an afterthought when I had fabric left over from making a shirt...

What works: Colors. Comfy Stuff.

What's next: Grey is a theme. Perhaps weeding my stash of fussy or uncomfortable fabrics. Knit another shawl.

  • Handknit Sweater (thrifted)
  • Tweedy Knit Skirt (hand me down)
  • Black Tights
  • El Naturalista Boots

I bought this sweater in the summer of 2010 at a goodwill outlet in Austin, TX while my band was at SXSW. I bought it for my partner, but it didn't suit him. I ended up throwing it on at a party on a chilly night and decided it worked as an oversized pullover. It's incredibly comfy and the best colors. I love how it's graphic but still simple. And I love brown. This sweater is a love letter to the color brown (and to wool).

I often wear it with a tweedy knit skirt that my Aunt gave me. Why haven't I ever knit a skirt? Knit skirts are brilliant and probably easy. Plus, remember how to talked about texture?

What works: Brown! Handknits!

What's Next: Knit a skirt. More brown.

  • Handknit Vintage Swacket (sweater-jacket)
  • Green french terry shirt (yes, same fabric as the skirt!)
  • Handmade Necklace (by me)
  • Grey knit skirt (thrifted)
  • Red tights (gifted)

I'm on the fence about this one. I like all the colors. I like all the pieces. Maybe it's something about the red legs that feels unbalanced? If the skirt were red and the tights were grey? The robin's egg blue is not usually a color I wear, but the sweater is too cool. So perhaps I need to work through some outfits that highlight and complement it better.

What works: The individual pieces

What's Next: Play around with other pieces to see what works best with pieces I like but aren't in my usual palette.

The Plan

So far, I have determined that I have a few holes in my wardrobe that would help expand my outfit possibilities if filled. My goal is to have many of my pieces go with the others. I have my color palette worked out pretty well, but I think really honing in on the combination of colors will be key. So far, my most successful outfits pair a neutral, earthtone, and pop color. In theory, if I have a few items of each color in the top, bottom, and outerwear category, my combos will be endless!

With spring in mind, I don't want to focus too much on coordinating with wintery outfits, but I think a lot of the concepts from these outfits will translate to spring/summer sewing. Of course, now that it's warmed up a bit, I'll be looking for similar combinations in current wardrobe and plan sewing projects for what's missing using my color palette. I hope to report back soon with some projects! I already have a few in mind, including some Closet Case Files Ginger jeans, a few button up shirts using my own pattern, a Merchant & Mills Factory Dress, and an A-Frame skirt in grey.

Have you be updating your wardrobe this year? Have you been able to nail down any key ideas that stem from successful outfits?

 

Refashion to the rescue!

I spend part of every fall and spring, culling my wardrobe as many of us do. Lots of folks lately are writing about this process. The Coletterie has touched upon this more recently as part of their Wardrobe Architect series.

At this point, I feel like my style is shifting again. Maybe it's getting older, moving to the country, feeling subtle shifts in how I want to be perceived. As a result, the need to re-evaluate my wardrobe as I have in the past is unavoidable, but familiar.

I know what I wear all the time. And I know what I'm not going to wear. Since I cull my wardrobe so frequently, I don't have too much to work with as things start to change. There are some serious gaps. And I'm also at the point where a majority of my garments are self made. I've astonishingly been able to part with a few ill fitting or ill conceived makes, but it's the pieces in between that confound me.

I'm still figuring out what to do with the maybes...

There's loads of criteria for whether or not to ditch something and many of these maybes only fulfill one: they don't get worn. For many, I like the fabric, the style, the color, and they go with things I own. But I don't wear them, and I think that's due all sorts of factors.

I find one of the hardest things to do when making clothing for oneself is to distinguish between what you like and what you like to wear.

I decided to take some unworn pieces from my wardrobe that I really, really like and figure out how to make them wearable:

Exhibit A

This is a Hazel Dress by Victory patterns, modified to be a shirt. I used some incredible cotton voile and lightweight sateen. I love the colors.

But I discovered that despite the fact that bow blouses were designed for small chested women, it doesn't feel right for me. It's too fussy and feminine, even though it's made up in the least feminine colors possible. Too much bow.

I think the best way to save this is to do away with the bow. There's quite a bit of fabric in there that could be used for other details, but I think it would be best to stay simple. Perhaps I'll keep the neckline as a sort of band collar and add a button placket. I'm a big fan of the Henley shirt and fantasize about making them all the time (though no pattern exists to my knowledge...I'll have to make one!). The silkiness of the fabric will be the star, offset by a more masculine palette and balancing out the feminine puffy cap sleeve.

Exhibit B:

This was a pattern I was developing for myself after seeing a little boys shirt with button closed neckline. I had, I believe, 1.5 yards of this awesome Nani Iro double gauze and decided to make it happen with this shirt. I think the fact that I was short on fabric, combined with the fact that my posture has changed a lot in the last year, resulted in a shirt that's just a bit too short. It's not a crop top, and it looks ok with high waisted skirts, but as a result of being a pants person lately, it's just not getting worn.

I'm thinking for this one, my best bet is to turn it into a dress, or at least a tunic. The drawing on the left: Find some more of this fabric and attach a skirt right below the purple stripe at the waist, then add elastic. On the right, cut shirt in half as pictured and throw in a contrasting double gauze to add length...most likely cropping right below the bust line.

We'll have to see if I can find a fabric that works...

Exhibit C:

P2071130.jpg

This is from the Japanese pattern book I Am Cute Dresses.  I made it originally as a sample for JP Knit & Stitch and took it home when the fabric (one of my favorite - and unlikely - Denise Schmidt prints) and the book were out of stock.

In theory, I love this dress. It's over sized and very Japanese, just right. Since I'm a similar build as the models, it looks quite nice on me too. But here's the problem: I don't want to look girlish and demure like the book models. Which I certainly do, despite using a fabric one could describe as feedsack-goth (can that be a thing?). I think this look is great for others, but for me is somewhat retroactive.

The plan here is to eliminate the 13 yr old dressed in mom's 90's sundress cut and make it into something more oversized-in-the-right-way Japanese artist in late 1960's New York.

I decided to crop the dress at thigh length (right now it hits at low calf) and use the remaining fabric to create raglan-ish dolman sleeves. This one inspired the most clear and manageable fix, so I decided to give it a shot. I wrote the majority of this post before attempting this fix, but decided to wait to post until I had a picture of the finished product.

That night, we had out annual JP Knit & Stitch holiday/winter dinner party and I decided to wear this to it.

Here's me an Genevieve at the party (she's wearing her Cabin top in Nani Iro sparkley double gauze.) I can definitely foresee this getting a lot of wear!

I've noticed a lot of other folks taking this approach to their handmade garments, too! Teresa of Dandelion Drift recently made a Cabin shift out of a lovely double gauze. When she decided she didn't like the length and wasn't much for tunic length tops, she decided to turn her potentially unworn Cabin shift into a shirt, and it turned out awesome!

Stay tuned for the other two rescued tops!

Have you performed any successful wardrobe saves? Was it a simple fix, or did it end up being more complicated than the original?

It's that time of year

The holidays are upon us. Whatever holidays you celebrate, nearly all of them involved food and/or gifts.

I love all the holiday stuff. I was raised in a fairly secular household. My extended family runs the gamut from born again christian to orthodox jew, with a few Buddhists thrown into the mix. But family has always been important, so that is what holidays have always meant to me. Plus food.

While I love food and cooking, I'll save my arsenal of recipes for another time. Today we'll talk about the later: Gifts.

I love giving gifts. In fact, I'm a year round gift giver. When I find something that reminds me of someone, I like to give it to them right then and there, without having to wait for a designated time. This, however, probably makes me a bad holiday gift giver. As soon as I need to find gifts for somebody, inspiration vanishes.

My business is new. I wish I had all sorts of fun promotions and specials to offer you all, but I do not - though believe me, my brain has been bursting with ideas for next year! Since I only have one pattern, Black Friday and other holiday promotions seemed like overkill.

So I thought instead, my gift to you would be a collection of gift ideas for all types of people. This collection includes things you can make and (for those who have yet to realize their true crafting potential) things lovingly crafted by others.

A note about this list: These are all online resources for gifts, since this is a blog gift guide. I've tried to show only items by artists, craftspeople, and small businesses. If you are able, shop local for some of your holidays gifts and help out your local economy! Also, this list is far from complete, so if you have awesome shops you'd like to recommend, leave them in the comments!

Don't forget to check the links page for more places to find awesome, ethical, fair trade, usa made, and more!

*Click the image to reach its retail page*

Art

Art is an awesome gift. People can always use more art in their life, regardless of what type of person they are. Most people have a few empty walls to call their own. Art is not always expensive, but it is always valuable. Plus, isn't it cool to give your gift money to an artist trying to make a living instead of throwing it at Target or Walmart?

Dogs Watercolor Painting  by  LizzyStewart  (etsy.com)

Dogs Watercolor Painting by LizzyStewart (etsy.com)

Golden State of Mind  by  Jenny Sharaf   (thetappancollective.com)

Golden State of Mind by Jenny Sharaf (thetappancollective.com)

The Dream Catcher III  by    fricdementol   (etsy.com)

The Dream Catcher III by fricdementol (etsy.com)

The Old Frontier - Las Vegas  by  stoopidgerl  (etsy.com)

The Old Frontier - Las Vegas by stoopidgerl (etsy.com)

Etsy is a great place to find all kinds of art in any size or medium. The nice thing about Etsy is, due to the volume of artwork on it, it is easy to search for "boat" for a fisherman uncle or "Pomeranian" for a pooch loving aunt to get a truly personal gift.

Other websites like The Tappan Collective and Saatchi Online are places to buy art at a range of prices as well. Look for local galleries in your area if you want to support your community.

Are you an artist (even if it's just after work and a few cocktails)? Be bold and make some art for your friends and family!

Useful Things

It's often tempting to get somebody something super cool and exciting, but one thought that rarely crosses the gift giver's mind in this instance is, "is this useful to the recipient?" Why not get somebody a super nice/cool version of something they will absolutely, 100% use?

German made dustpan and brush set from  Schoolhouse Electric

German made dustpan and brush set from Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Scissors from  Present & Correct

Brass Scissors from Present & Correct

Net Grocery Bag from  Kiosk NY

Net Grocery Bag from Kiosk NY

Pallarès-Solsona Aragon Knife from  QuitoKeeto

Pallarès-Solsona Aragon Knife from QuitoKeeto

Clockwise from top left, a selection of super useful gifts from some of my favorite places:

Schoolhouse Electric- Lighting, as well all all sorts of other fine home goods and accessories. Well made useful thingd

Kiosk - A shop in NY that sources all sorts of interesting objects from around the globe. Sort of like a globally curated general store.

Quitokeeto- A kitchen supply shop run by one of my favorite chefs, Heidi Swanson. You may know her from her recipe blog 101 Cookbooks (if you don't, there's a start on the recipe guide mentioned above)

Present & Correct - The most delightful stationary and accessories to brighten up any desk or office.

Clothes & Accessories

Now I know what you're saying: A. How do you buy clothes for other people and B. Aren't you supposed to tell me to make the clothes? Well, certain kinds of clothes are supposed to make good gifts. Here's some novel clothing type gifts:

Settlers of Catan Socks by  Betabrand

Settlers of Catan Socks by Betabrand

The Ten Year Hoodie from  Flint & Tinder

The Ten Year Hoodie from Flint & Tinder

Seed Stitch Raglan Sweater by  Everlane

Seed Stitch Raglan Sweater by Everlane

The Albatross Skirt  from  Paridaez

The Albatross Skirt from Paridaez

Betabrand is based in San Fransisco and makes all sorts of clothing novelties (and not so novelties) including bike-to-work pants, discoball hoodies, and brain-scan print dresses. Everything is made in SF. The Catan socks above come with sock insurance, meaning they will replace your lost socks!

How about the most basic, comfy, and lovely sweater from Everlane, a clothing company that makes awesome basics and preaches radical transparency. Their webshop used profits from Black Friday to build recreational facilities for their factory workers. Awesome.

I recently helped a friend Launch Paridaez, a yoga apparel company geared towards women who need more versatile clothing that works both inside and out of the studio. The kickstarter ends Christmas Eve, so you have plenty of time to get the yogi in your life something special. While items won't be delivered before Christmas (you'll receive a nice 'coming soon' postcard), they'll help you get a good start on your new years resolution ;)

Made in the USA, Flint & Tinder's 10 Year Hoodie is guaranteed for 10 years. They even offer free mending service!

Books

When I was a kid, the rule was that I only received toys on holidays or my birthday, but I could buy a book anytime I wanted to. Books are awesome...and in a day and age where so much is digital, kind of special? Here are some cool ones:

We received this book one year from my grandparents in Maine. It is an awesome visual dictionary of farming illustrated by Julia Rothman. Always a pleasure to pick up and peruse.

We received this book one year from my grandparents in Maine. It is an awesome visual dictionary of farming illustrated by Julia Rothman. Always a pleasure to pick up and peruse.

A gateway book for those who don't read yet. This dollhouse book has pages for kids to draw their own interiors by   Rock and Pebble

A gateway book for those who don't read yet. This dollhouse book has pages for kids to draw their own interiors by Rock and Pebble

Home Comforts  by  Cheryl Mendelson  is to housekeeping as Emily Post is to etiquette. This is a great gift for those who are too old to live with their parents, but too young to have taken home economics in High School. Maybe even for anybody who's just bought their first home. I use it as a reference for how long certain types of leftovers stay good in the fridge and pre-treating stains.

Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson is to housekeeping as Emily Post is to etiquette. This is a great gift for those who are too old to live with their parents, but too young to have taken home economics in High School. Maybe even for anybody who's just bought their first home. I use it as a reference for how long certain types of leftovers stay good in the fridge and pre-treating stains.

Full disclosure: I helped write this book on Knittings, Crochet, and Sports. However, I think it would make an awesome gift to anybody interested in crafts, activism and/or basketball. As a bonus, 50% proceeds before x-mas go to sister organization  Voces de Cambio .

Full disclosure: I helped write this book on Knittings, Crochet, and Sports. However, I think it would make an awesome gift to anybody interested in crafts, activism and/or basketball. As a bonus, 50% proceeds before x-mas go to sister organization Voces de Cambio.

Subscriptions

Call me old school, but there's something really cool about somebody gifting you a magazine subscription. I also recall as a family getting fruit-of-the-month which is a little weird but pretty cool. Here are some subscriptions for all kinds of people in your life.

The old school gift subsciptions:  Fruit of the Month Club from  Harry & David

The old school gift subsciptions: Fruit of the Month Club from Harry & David

Why get somebody a tie when you can get them a tie-of-the-month subscription where ties are mailed back for new ones, a la original netflix:  Monthly Tie Subscription from  Tie Society

Why get somebody a tie when you can get them a tie-of-the-month subscription where ties are mailed back for new ones, a la original netflix: Monthly Tie Subscription from Tie Society

For the Green Thumb or aspiring greenish/grey thumb:  Green Box Subscription from  Homegrown Collective

For the Green Thumb or aspiring greenish/grey thumb: Green Box Subscription from Homegrown Collective

Or go with the traditional print based magazine (we have to keep them alive!!). Wired and Frankie are two of my favorites.

Last Minute Handmade Gifts

You love making things, especially for other people. But you lead a busy life, are working on a budget, or need a gift for a ton of people. Here's some quick and awesome DIYs.

Tea towels are super quick to sew and most people use them. The above tutorial from Spoonflower shows you how to create fabric of beloved family recipes and create tea towels. They also have a great selection of yearly calendar tea towels by designers...or design your own tea towel. One yard of fabric will make four!

Tea towels are super quick to sew and most people use them. The above tutorial from Spoonflower shows you how to create fabric of beloved family recipes and create tea towels. They also have a great selection of yearly calendar tea towels by designers...or design your own tea towel. One yard of fabric will make four!

Fancy washcloths are a lovely gift and very classy. These are designed by Kate Alvis and you can find the free pattern on  Ravelry .

Fancy washcloths are a lovely gift and very classy. These are designed by Kate Alvis and you can find the free pattern on Ravelry.

Coasters are always nice, and this tutorial from  Purl Bee  is no exception. Their website is a treasure trove of DIYS, so check it out if you have not already fallen in love with their style!

Coasters are always nice, and this tutorial from Purl Bee is no exception. Their website is a treasure trove of DIYS, so check it out if you have not already fallen in love with their style!

Diy Pet pillow, easy to make one of any of your furry friends, or friends furry friends. Here's a  tutorial !

Diy Pet pillow, easy to make one of any of your furry friends, or friends furry friends. Here's a tutorial!

I wish you the best of luck in all your gifting this season. But remember, it's the thought that counts! (No, seriously...it's the thought that counts). If you know of lovely stores in your area or awesome items, share them in the comments!

Stay tuned...next week I hope to offer up some cool and super last minute DIY gifts and corresponding tutorials!