If you know someone who loves to sew and are stumped for a suitable holiday present, this list might help …
Books: Sewing books are always a good idea, and you really can't have too many. There's always more than one way to accomplish any given task or technique, and the more sewing instruction you read, the better the odds of you finding the way that 'clicks' with you.
First on the list this year is a lovely new book from Ruth Singer (whose blog you may know):
It's called, in full, The Sewing Bible: A Modern Manual of Practical and Decorative Sewing Techniques and it's really a lovely book. Clear, well-illustrated, and helpful, with a range of projects from the very simple (envelope-back pillow) to the more elaborate (handbag with pockets, circle skirt).
A book that is probably on a lot of internet-enabled sewists' list this year is Diana Eng's Fashion Geek: Clothes Accessories Tech. I know that there are projects in this book that I've been eyeballing for some time …
And it's not quite in the "books" category, but either a subscription to Threads Magazine, or, if you're feeling really Santa-like, the new giant all-the-issues Threads DVD.
Fabric: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sewist in possession of some fabric is always in want of MORE fabric. However, if you don't sew, buying fabric for someone else can be a bit tricky. What do you buy? How much do you buy? I think you can never go wrong with high-quality natural fibers (or, of course, Liberty). My advice? Either buy four yards of something gorgeous, or try a gift certificate to one of the posher online fabric shops.
Notions: Go. Nuts. Seriously. Wander into a chain sewing store and hit the notions aisle with a basket and an open mind. Don't know what a bodkin is? Dump it in the basket. Throw in whatever little tools or gadgets or thingamagigs take your fancy, put them all in a nice covered basket, and call it a day. If your recipient already has one of whatever it is you picked up, she could probably use another, newer, sharper one, and if she doesn't, she'll have fun figuring out how to use it. Wandering in a store is more fun, but if you don't know where to go (or, cough, have ridiculous problems with going to a "girly store"), try Clotilde's or Nancy's online or even Amazon.
Patterns: This, surprisingly, is less fraught than buying fabric, IF you already feel confident when buying clothes for the same person. You just choose a pattern that looks like something your recipient would wear, IN THE RIGHT SIZE. Remember, pattern sizing is different from "normal" sizing, so go by measurements and not the size number. A better strategy is to get a fancy vintage pattern in an approximate size (or even a couple of patterns) so that you have some redundancy in the system. Bonus points for saying "These were so beautiful, they reminded me of you," when you give them.
And if your budget is tight this year (and whose isn't?) one of the best gifts you can give to someone who loves to sew is time. Offer to run a weekend's worth of errands, make dinner, answer the phone, watch the baby, walk the dog, or anything else that would allow for a four- or five-hour uninterrupted block of time. (And make the sewing time real time — no interruptions, if you please, unless someone is bleeding or on fire.)
Do you sew and have a gift wishlist of your own? Leave a comment!