• No Products in the Cart

Living a Semi-Handmade Holiday: Part 4

semi_handmade (5 of 6)

This adventure – living a semi handmade holiday – began as an endeavor to create a memorable holiday story. Storytelling is powerful. Appealing to both our emotions and our intellect, we remember parables more than data, facts or figures. Rather than this year’s parable involving entirely store bought items, I committed to crafting at least a portion of gifts, which is a feat I conceded to years past when the pace of December got out of control. Like most of you, I have other commitments – it’s called having a life – so making everything from scratch was unrealistic. Plus, I had to tackle what I would be wearing for the holidays! Did I mention I’m a selfish sewer? So, while shopping reached a peak, I was not where near a brick and mortar store. I didn’t even succumb to online shopping and email marketing gimmicks. A round of applause for me, please! In the depths of Chateau Madalynne, which boasts a whopping 550 square feet, I sewed away December so that my family would feel my love on December 25th – the love I put into their hand crafted tees and ties.

What to make was the biggest question, but since gifts are as subjective as art, I did just as any artist would do – created from the heart. Would my stepmom and stepsister appreciate Katy and Laney’s geometric top? Would my brothers and dad wear Named Patterns ties? I didn’t know, but I went ahead anyways.

Michelle and Kirsten received an oversized, loose fitting blouse. The main fabric is a silk linen from Mood Fabrics and the side panel is a green linen from a thrift store. The floral linen was inspired by a similar top Sonja made. Also, living in Florida where it’s summer year round, the fabric was fitting to their climate. So too was the silhouette. I cut the same size for both and luckily, if fit! Other than eliminating the sleeves and finishing the neck with a binding applied with a reverse Hong Kong technique, construction was as per instructions. My only call out would be to hang the top for 24-48 before hemming. Because the side panel seams are on the bias, it stretched out. This was exacerbated by the loosely woven fabric. Overall, I’m really happy with the way the tops turned out and I copied the pattern onto oak tag so that I could make myself one in the future.

semi_handmade (1 of 6)semi_handmade (2 of 6) semi_handmade (6 of 6)

Now onto the ties. I wasn’t a pattern tester, so I can state my honest opinion, right? I’m going to be straight, I’m slightly embarrassed of my work, but it’s important to share failed me-mades as well as successful ones. For a quick and dirty way to sew a tie, this is a great pattern. Sewn completely by machine, you can whip up many in an afternoon. Hell, you could even churn out a couple dozen if you cut and sew in bulk (I read that it takes approximately 2 hours to sew a tie the “real” way). Although my brothers appreciated my effort, the quality shows. Next time, I’ll use Vogue 7104, which both Renee and Julie have used and raved about. I’ll also use a tutorial Renee shared with me on how to sew a tie as well as her tutorial on how to sew the point in the tie blade (on Named Patterns, the lining was not cut smaller than the point, so the lining wouldn’t have rolled back if I pressed it). I might even order one of the tie kits Jane mentioned in a recent post.

So, with plenty of planning, I transformed a stressful seasonal sewing task from an unwanted lump of coal into a heartfelt gift. Sidestepping any pitfall, I accomplished what I set out to do, which is live a semi-handmade holiday and write a indelible Christmas 2014 tale. Thank you for sharing this story with me and I hope that next year, you’re inspired to write (a sew) your own.

It got a little hectic Christmas morning and I forgot to take photos of the giftees wearing their gifts, but I did take lesser-quality images after. Here is my brother in his tie – doesn’t he look ecstatic?! Michelle and Kirsten were more thrilled with their tops and shorts, as evidenced by both wearing them during a trip to the keys that weekend. Don’t they look great?


  1. Reply


    Ahhh, that fabric! It’s the best! 🙂 It looks cute on both of them!

    • Reply


      It looked cute on you too! Happy New Year, Sonja! Thanks for being an inspiration for this project as well as all others!

  2. Reply


    Props to you for hand making so many gifts! Somehow December always gets away from me. I love your reverse Hong Kong finish on the tops. I’m going to have to try that technique. It’s such a nice detail.

    Happy New Year Maddie!

    • Reply


      I’ll be posting a tutorial on it next week, so stay tuned!

      • Reply


        Perfect! 🙂

  3. Reply


    Ooh I make all of my own Christmas gifts too. It;s amazing how well received they are not matter whether or not they are very clever or very easy. People have such a brilliant reaction to something thats personally made. yay you!

    • Reply


      Yay to you too!

  4. Reply


    I had no idea tie patterns existed! But I’ve been interested in making one for a long time. I even have some tie silk…

Leave a Reply