Gift Ideas,  My Sewing Thoughts

10 Reasons You Didn’t Finish Making That Gift (And quick alternatives you can do in minutes)

I never learn. Every year, I over-commit myself to a number of gifts that I can actually make and give people for Christmas. And every December 26th I resolve to start earlier so I can actually get them all finished. One year, I failed so miserably at finishing gifts, I literally just gave my family the fabric with ‘IOU’ notes attached. My family members were not thrilled. I didn’t get the normal warm and fuzzy feeling that I cherish from giving people I love handmade items. No, instead, I felt horrible. Not a great way to start Christmas morning!

In order to help you avoid that feeling, here is a list of great excuses (and quick gift alternatives) when you don’t get everything quite finished.

  • “Pinterest”


I know, this may sound crazy, but as great as Pinterest is, it can also be paralyzing. I have often gone on Pinterest to look for an idea for a hostess gift, or gifts for college students, and am inundated with so many ideas that I just can’t choose! I just keep looking and looking and somehow end up watching hours of video tutorials on how to make Christmas trees out of toilet paper rolls and bottle brushes.

Gift Alternative: Kitchen towels with cheeky sayings on them are all the rage this year. I love the ones from Urban Threads. Since I don’t like to give gifts that can’t be used, I always stitch towels with Sulky 40 wt. Poly Deco Thread, as they are colorfast and even bleach-able! You can stitch most designs out in a couple hours. To make the process go even faster, use Sulky Sticky Plus in the hoop and just stick the towel down to that instead of hooping it.

  • “I was busy making teacher’s gifts!”

journal_closed w appleThis excuse is best accompanied by a gift card to a favorite store or coffee shop. No one will fault you for wanting to make handmade fantastic gifts for the people who put up with your children for 6 hours a day. Not to mention the need to prove to those teachers that you are creative, capable and talented despite the way your children may act or dress at school.

Gift Alternative: I have a standard teacher’s gift. Here is the tutorial. Change the fabrics to something your gift recipient would like and just make a few extra when you are making these for the teachers. Who doesn’t love a journal cover!

  • “I’ll teach you!”

    Remember the year I just gave fabric? Well, this can be a viable gift if accompanied by the statement, “I want to teach you how to sew!”. Now your lack of time to make the gift has turned into the gift of time with your friend or family member. Fair Warning: Don’t give this to someone who you don’t want to spend time with or doesn’t want to learn to sew. Just give those friends a bottle of wine and move on.

  • “Do you like this?”

Sometimes not finishing (or even starting) a gift can work to your advantage. If you want to make a quilt for someone, print out a picture of the pattern and fabric swatches and put it in a cute card. When you give them the card, simply say, “I wanted to be sure you liked this pattern and the colors I chose!” Note of Caution: If you ask for their opinion, they will give it to you. Be prepared to change the quilt design, the colors and the fabrics. And if you are giving this to someone who doesn’t sew, remember they may ask for something far more complicated than you originally expected to do.

  • “My sewing machine is in the shop.”

Do you just need to get out of making any gifts at all? This one works like a charm. Everyone knows you can’t control when or how long your machine is in the shop.

Gift alternative: This excuse works best on friends who are sewists, so give them the gift of color with one of these great thread packs. Add a Sulky Tool Kit to the mix for a great finishing touch.

  • “Those darn Elves!”

This only works on kids, but it does work.
When my girls were little, I would make them new Christmas PJ’s and they always looked forward to their new ones every year. More than once, I have led my kids to believe that their Christmas PJ’s were not ready because the elves ‘stole the fabric’ or ‘wanted to take them to the North Pole to show Santa.’ That bought me a few more nights of sewing to get the PJ’s finished.

Gift alternative: Go buy the PJ’s. You can still have homemade ones, just not made by you. Etsy has tons of adorable PJ’s made by real people who are sewing in order to make a living.

  • “I was working on charity sewing.”

No one will ever fault you for sewing for a charity over making gifts for your friends and family.

Gift alternative: Give to a charity in honor of the person you were supposed to sew something for. It shows you are really committed to the charity!

  • “I wasn’t sure of your size.”

This one doesn’t get you out of making the gift, it just buys you some time. Once you have the size, you have to make them something in their size. Never fear, here is a link to a great pattern than everyone would love!

  • The long winded excuse

“I ran out of fabric, so I went back to the store but they didn’t have it so I had to go look for it online and you know how that can go! Anyway, I finally found it online and ordered it but it just got here yesterday, so I don’t have your present.” One of two things will happen here. The person will just tune you out before you finish and say it’s no big deal just to get you to stop talking, or they will believe you. If they believe you, you have to make them something. Preferably with fabric that’s looks slightly hard to find (this is not the time to use Kona Cotton).

  • Tell the truth.

I know it’s crazy, but sometimes it is the best way to go. Simply saying, “I really wanted to make you something this year but I just ran out of time.” is often the best excuse. It’s true and it shows you were thinking about this person. If the gift recipient is a sewist, she will completely understand. If she isn’t, well, she will probably still understand. Who doesn’t wish for more time in the day?

Best Gift Alternative: The gift of time! If she is a sewist, gift her a sewing class online or at your local shop. If she isn’t, a gift certificate to the local nail salon or coffee shop may be perfect.

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2 Comments

  • Karen Poole

    Great ideas! I run out of time every year and now I’m helping my grandsons sew their gifts which takes even more time! I have to really plan around all that! So this year I’m doing a mix of purchased gifts and a quick hand made gift.

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