Gifts for Coworkers

Can’t go wrong with Christmas ornaments!

When I started planning this post about gifts for coworkers, I brainstormed ideas for items that would be relatively easy to make, and that could be similar to one another yet still one-of-a-kind. The idea being that if you give gifts to coworkers, you probably have to make more than one or two, and you don’t want one person’s gift to be really extravagant and another’s to be some little trinket. You probably see your coworkers more than some of your own family members, so it’s nice to include them in the celebrations when you’re in the throes of the holiday spirit.

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Christmas fabrics are a great place to start when planning Christmas gifts. Panels from Robert Kaufman on the left, Northcott border prints on the right.

My brainstorming ended with two ideas that I was pretty happy with–one idea that incorporates sewing and quilting that is a bit more involved to create, and one idea that can be made pretty easily, with no sewing at all. Both are easy and fun. Both use Christmas fabrics. I had a two Christmas tree panels with some coordinating prints from Robert Kaufman as well as some border prints from Northcott, and I was able to make quite a few gifts from these. My reasoning was that I could make 2 quilted Christmas Tree panels and have just 2 gifts, or I could cut up the panels and borders and make a whole bunch of gifts.

My first idea won’t be a surprise to anyone who has read my blog posts over the years–it’s a glasses case. I just love making these! Not everyone wears glasses but pretty much everyone wears sunglasses, so I like to think they’re very useful and welcomed by everyone. The pattern was first published in the 2013 issue of Quilters Newsletter Best Christmas Quilts.  The specifics are all in the pattern but I can walk you through it here since I happen to have a bunch of these in various stages of completion. I started making them a little while back to prep for the gift-giving season. You can see how easy they are!

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Northcott border prints will make some great glasses cases!

First, you’ll need a piece of fabric that is slightly larger than 4” x 15”. This can be pieced or not, that’s up to you. After it’s quilted, you’ll trim it to 4” x 15”, so having it be a bit larger makes the trimming easier. I have quite a few pieces cut out and ready to quilt. Most are single pieces of fabric but some are pieced a bit. Once you choose your main fabric, you’ll need backing and batting that is an inch or so larger on each side. Once those are layered, it’s ready to quilt!

When the piece is ready to quilt, you can baste it with a few safety pins and quilt it. It doesn’t have to be a lot of quilting, and since it’s a small piece this step usually goes pretty quickly. I often quilt along the printed lines to make the print motifs stand out. It’s nice to use fabrics with metallic accents too, since the quilting tends to make the metallic parts really sparkle. The two next cases are both from the Christmas tree panels–they both are the trunks of the trees, fussy cut. One has the bias binding attached on one end, the other will soon.

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Quilted fussy cut fabrics. Panels can always be cut smaller to get more mileage out of them.

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These are coming together pretty quickly! The ruler in the photo shows how I use the 45-degree line to trim the corners.

After quilting, the pieces are cut to 4” x 15”, and then we add bias binding on one end. I cut the bias binding at 1 3/8” wide. To avoid bulk I don’t do a fold down the center, I just fold under the raw edge and stitch it down. Then the panels are folded in half, with at least a ¼” stagger to make room for the final binding, basted in place with safety pins, and the top corners are trimmed. I selected and pieced the long bias binding for these cases already, I just need to attach it. I don’t remember exactly how long the pattern says this bias should be; I just make sure to always have more than enough.

Pinned and almost done!

Pinned and almost done!

I pinned the final long bias binding on one of the cases so you can see how I do it; the pivot points on the top corners are pinned sideways to make them more obvious.

Once the final binding is stitched on, I fold the binding to the back, tuck under the raw edge, and stitch in the ditch from the front, catching the fold. It might be tricky at first but believe me when I say it gets easier with practice. Here’s one that’s almost done, I just left the threads so I can stitch up the bottom by hand and bury the threads. Also shown is a completed case that I made for myself a while back. Just to show that these can be made in so many styles. You could easily adjust the dimensions to make a phone or tablet case too.

And voila! So easy, so fun, and I’m done!

And voila! So easy, so fun, and I’m done!

OK, but say you’ve waited too long and you don’t have time to spend making these, no matter how easy and fun they are. You need some gifts to give NOW! Don’t worry, I have another idea you might like, also using Christmas fabrics. In fact, I used all the leftover fabric from the glasses cases described above to make a whole bunch of handmade, one-of-a-kind Christmas cards. Your coworkers will think you are so talented and creative, and will hopefully appreciate the time and effort you took to make a custom card for each and every one of them. If you put a gift certificate or something nice inside the card then you will be the best gift giver of the year, in my opinion.

Fuse a pretty part of the fabric right onto the card. The metallic sparkle makes it special!

Fuse a pretty part of the fabric right onto the card. The metallic sparkle makes it special!

To make the simple, easy holiday cards, you’ll need some blank cards with envelopes. I got a pack of 25 at my local craft store for around $6. You’ll also need some fusible web and the aforementioned Christmas or holiday fabric. Fuse the web onto the back of the fabrics and cut out the printed motifs. Then fuse the motifs onto the cards. It’s that simple! The fusible web bonds really well to the paper and you can really do all kinds of designs. You can just cut a rectangle and fuse it onto the card, for example.

Or you can cut up portions of the border prints and rearrange them into fun compositions.

Border prints offer lots of creative choices.

Border prints offer lots of creative choices.

Can’t go wrong with Christmas ornaments!

Can’t go wrong with Christmas ornaments!

Or you can cut out individual ornaments and stars and stuff and arrange them in all different ways. It’s even kind of meditative to sit and cut out all the motifs–use sharp scissors for best results!

So, these are two totally different but totally great gift options, for coworkers or anyone on your list. The glasses case takes more time, but you can make them in an assembly line manner to get more done more quickly. They can be used all year long, so they don’t have to be made with Christmas prints, but I figure it doesn’t hurt for the recipient to have a festive reminder of the holiday season when they reach for their sunglasses. The cards can be made so quickly, as long as you prep with a little bit of fusing and precision cutting, and it’s fun way to flex your creative muscles without too much fuss.

I hope you try making either one! As you can see, I’ve already made quite a few of both so I can cross a few names off my list. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner, but it is, so you might be able to fit either of these quick and easy projects into your present making schedule. Whether you need 2 gifts or 20 gifts, you should be able to finish in time!

Happy quilting!
Gigi

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