Useful gifts made of beautiful fabric
May 12, 2012 8:31 PM   Subscribe

What (relatively useful) items/gifts can I make out of beautiful fabric? I'm developing a dangerous Spoonflower addiction.

I found a gorgeous fabric I know my husband would love and I'd like to make him something -- but what? And I've got a bunch of other fabric hanging around the house waiting to be used. I have more quilting cottons than anything else, but I've got other stuff hanging around too, so don't feel limited. Links to patterns/instructions are great if you've got them, but I can usually fumble my way through simple projects on my own. Something a man could use would be extra great (I don't think my husband needs a purse. well, that's not true, he totally needs a purse for his 8 million little gadgets, but I don't think he'd carry one).

I have enough throw pillows to supply a small nation, and I'm already working on a quilt (and would like some smaller ideas that could highlight a single fabric). I'm also about to make some placemats and children's hats. I have turned some fabric in the past into reusable fabric gift wrap and I have plenty of that.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good luck sewing pen wraps as gifts (something like this). They're a great way to show off pretty fabrics, since the back is pretty much completely plain. They're also super-easy, and unisex. Sleeves of various devices (iPad, kindle, laptop, whatever) are another pretty easy and nice gift sewing item. You can get a lot of good inspiration for how to do closures, etc. for them by poking around on Etsy.
posted by duien at 8:36 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wall pocket organizers are really useful and you can go crazy with fabric choices and using up scraps. You can put grommets along the top to hang them off of hooks, or use different types of edging for ties, or make them double length with weights in the edges so they'll sit over a closet door and give you pockets on both sides. You can give some pockets zippers and make some deeper than others, you can mix up the sizes and shapes or you can make them very even and symmetrical, depending on your needs and the look you want. I could see making a sort of manly gadget organizer out of canvas, like a tool belt for your wall, or a minimalist mail organizer with a pop of asymmetrical color on one pocket and maybe something with a nice texture for the background piece.
posted by Mizu at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2012

If you wear makeup, a brush roll would probably be very simple to sew and show off the fabric well, and they're great for travel. You'd want something washable, I don't know anything about fabric but I have this as an Etsy favorite - maybe you can adapt from looking at it.

Obviously this isn't going to be a good gift for your husband, but it sounds like you're generally interested in things that can be made out of fabric as well as gifts for him.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:01 PM on May 12, 2012

Here are a few ideas I've been wanting to make for a while:

Macaron coin purse

drawstring beach bag

Fabric covered bins (this one could be man-friendly!)
posted by brilliantine at 9:08 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, while I do want to find something to do with this fabric for my husband, all fabric project welcome for any recipients ... Both for the future use of searchers, and because I want stuff for meeeee! Also the kiddos.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:28 PM on May 12, 2012

I like making fabric napkins as a gift - they're very easy to make and everyone uses napkins.
posted by kyla at 9:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Does he wear ties? Googling "necktie patterns sewing" throws up quite a few. For example, here and here.
posted by Logophiliac at 9:40 PM on May 12, 2012

Was going to say napkins. Tablecloths too. Curtains.

Also, aprons. Aprons can be unisex and they are awesome.


Some nifty ideas in this book I just googled, including fabric basket and framed tackboard.
posted by bunderful at 9:49 PM on May 12, 2012

How about those neck warmer things you fill with rice? Maybe a toiletry travel case?
posted by Glinn at 9:54 PM on May 12, 2012

I just bought three huge pieces of gorgeous fabric at a thrift store with no idea what I intend to do with them, so I am watching this question as eagerly as you are.

So far my thoughts include throw pillows (I know, I know), tote bags, little drawstring change-purses, doll clothes, miniature stuffed critters for my daughter (I was famous as a teenager amongst the little neighborhood kids for my stuffed critters I would make them out of random old clothes and buttons and such)... Maybe some wall art or fabric-covered picture frames (depending on the style of the fabric). I like the tie idea, maybe not for cotton though? Hair accessories! Kitchy yes, but always popular anyhow. Not so much for the husband though I suppose. For a guy... Maybe you could decoupage something? I'm thinking as I go here, but I've been really into decoupage lately. I'm doing the front of a dresser in old maps and poetry, so I suppose you could use fabric similarly; on a chest or a stool, or one of those wooden breakfast-trays. I could see a breakfast-tray lined with cool fabric and coated over in polyurethane or something similar to keep it wipe-able. Or lining a trunk. Or on a lampshade.

I'm going to keep thinking about this.
posted by celtalitha at 11:47 PM on May 12, 2012

How about a fabric book cover? I would like one for my binders, with internal pockets for pens and other useful stuff.
posted by b33j at 12:24 AM on May 13, 2012

And also, heat bags.
posted by b33j at 12:25 AM on May 13, 2012

Whee, I found this link a couple days ago: More Than 50 Fabric Scraps & Remnant Ideas, with links to their free patterns :) Possible man-friendly ones (I've copy-pasted links for some of them): fabric camera strap, keychain, business card holder, covered Altoid tins, water bottle tote, envelope pouch, fountain drink sleeve, reversible coffee cozy, coaster(s), eyeglasses case, checkbook cover, Kindle case, phone sleeve (this one can be adjusted, but was designed for an iPhone 4).

Likewise, cash-n-card wallets are easy to design and throw together. I've made coasters for friends too, from really fun fabrics. If he uses a tote bag for shopping, it could be fun to do one of those as well? Loads of possibilities for its design and fabric usage! There are a few online tutorials for fold-up grocery totes, here's one example.
posted by fraula at 3:28 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Japanese-style furoshiki, gift it along with instructions on various ways to fold.
posted by illenion at 5:45 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

A robe! I am thinking of something like this recycled dress-shirt robe.

Bath robe/day robe/kimono style – A traditional gift troughout the years.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:58 AM on May 13, 2012

I totally love these book bags (it's like a book sleeve with handles) and will definitely make one some day. The ones I saw also had a zippered pocket on the outside.

Other things I have on my Pinterest sewing board:
- modified T-shirt
- cute square pouch
- bunny sachets (I know they're kinda useless, but so cute! In the same vein, I made these birdies for Christmas, filled with lavender.)
- fabric memory game to use up those tiny leftovers of amazing fabrics.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:11 AM on May 13, 2012

Tote bags/reusable shopping bags
Quilted cases for laptops/iPods/phones/sunglasses/cameras
Oven mitts
Little drawstring baggie for earbuds
Lunch bags
Chair covers
posted by elizeh at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2012

For a knitter friend: Knitting needle case. Other examples.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:04 AM on May 13, 2012

For the past two Christmases, Sew Mama Sew has had a smorgasbord of ideas to make gifts. You can poke around under the categories button to see what kind of items they have suggested. They include links to the original post, and have a lot of tutorials as well.

Kimono's are a great way to feature fabrics.
posted by annsunny at 10:55 AM on May 13, 2012

I have used this tutorial multiple times to make "unpaper towels"- basically terrycloth towels that snap together so they can be put around a paper towel holder. They are now my go-to for gifts for my more eco-friendly friends, and they look like they took a lot more time to make than they actually did. Other useful things I have sewn with fabric scraps include mixing bowl covers (to keep crumbs and things out of the bowl), scissors caddies (to keep our million pairs of scissors corralled), and produce bags (using this tutorial.
posted by kro at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the Spoonflower Flickr discussion group there is this thread, which has many suggestions about what to do with all those proof swatches Spoonflower makes you order before you can put fabric up for sale.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2012

I have made many versions of this tote bag and find it an excellent way to feature a pretty fabric in a useful way.
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2012

What about some re-usable sandwich and snack baggies? I made some with some pul that you can find at Joanns. I have extra and can send some when my metaquilter fabric goes out next month. :)

(that butterfly fabric from your quilt month would be awesome!)
posted by Nickel Pickle at 3:51 PM on May 13, 2012

Stuff sacks - drawstring bags to hold a sleeping bag, tent, or other gear. I got a bunch of nylon dry cleaner bags at Goodwill (from other parts of the country, so too much hassle to return) and they're quite useful.
posted by theora55 at 5:20 PM on May 13, 2012

Response by poster: These are great ideas! I think I most like the water-bottle bag and an electronics pouch for my husband. (This is the fabric that I like for him. He bikes and gardens, so I think he'd love the bikes-turning-into-flowers.) For the fabric I like for me, I might do a clutch.

For my existing stash, I'm thinking of more pouches & little bags, a wall sorter, and some tote bags. I really like that foldable shopping bag pattern, I've never seen the folding part set up so clearly. (That spoonflower samples thread has a lot of really great little ideas too!)

I actually have made a bunch of the rice-heat-pillows, only with cherry pits, which makes them EVEN BETTER. I make them with flannel for its softness. (If you make any, you want to use all-cotton fabric so you can stick it in the microwave to heat it.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:40 PM on May 13, 2012

This is my favorite grocery bag. I've made over a dozen of them. I've used twill cottons for a little added strength. You can easily carry two gallons of milk in one bag. It is also designed to fit over those plastic bag holder thingies that the grocery stores use.

Bonus! You can sell the bags you make, as long as you credit Keyka Lou for the pattern :)

It does not, unfortunately, have the foldability bonus, but I just stuff five of them inside a sixth bag and it'll handle most medium-sized grocery trips. Plus they're great for toting pot luck items to friends' houses, toys for car trips, etc.

I also have a pinterest page with a ton of tutorials bookmarked. PM me if you'd like a link.
posted by wwartorff at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2012

And of course [url="[]=tags&q=fabric+kindle+cover]Kindle covers[/url]
posted by bunderful at 4:33 PM on May 14, 2012

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