The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Present Cupboard. Getting the ball rolling!

This year I am looking at my present making as both a Christmas and a Birthday Challenge.   Having a good stash of gifts is a huge money and time saver.   I never need to run out to buy a card and gift.  The times I have really gone over budget have been due to the pressure to find something fast... so you are kind of desperate and it is all downhill from there!

I look in my planner and see the birthdays and special occasions coming up so hopefully none sneak up on me!  In our family there are a lot of Birthdays in January and I am happy to say I have got them all.  I have two to wrap yet!

After Christmas the present cupboard is very depleted and it is time to start again!  Post Christmas and January sales help a lot.  I am re stocked in Christmas wrap and tape all at 70% off normal prices.  I notice after Christmas all this is about half price.  I wait.  Once we are at 70% then I'm interested!   And it worked this year so I am stocked back up.

A supply of ready to go gifts is like the pantry, it is like money in the bank.  Come Christmas we really only have to think about the food side of expenses.  But even those I watch during the year for specials and stash things away.
If I hear of someone having a baby or some kind of need I usually can go to the present cupboard and gather together baby supplies and a baby blanket.
So there are many advantages!

All year I watch for perfect presents, great deals and I work on making things.  Right now it is hot here and there are indoor days.   It is lovely having things to work on happily when it is too hot outside.   The tennis is on in the evenings so I am using my crochet cotton to make some baby rugs.  During the day I usually get to my sewing challenge and do my fifteen minutes of sewing.  I haven't done very much but I got the ball rolling!

The first thing I made was Harpers first pillowcase.  She loves anything to do with ballet so I made her a ballerina pillowcase.

She loves it!   It looks very pretty in her room as well.

I have a lot of very soft pre used flannelette that I have saved and I have cut this into large sized handkerchiefs for sick times.   I used to make them as disposables as they are so much softer than tissues but no one will throw them out. So now I hem them.   They are just so much softer than tissues (Kleenex) or regular cotton.   They are a life saver when sick!  I have a stack for the Harper and Scarlett so far.  These go into my medical cupboard. 

Also I had thick velour and I have this cut to make heat packs for winter.  A couple of these will be gifts.   I have enough for six packs and I now have the wheat! 

Then I went on to another pillowcase so they can be rotated and washed. 

This one has two different sides and a trim of white daisy braid from my box of bits and pieces.

When cutting them out I ended up with a few ballerinas that I can appliqué somewhere in the future.

Smaller bits of fabric could make little pillowcases or cushions,  book bags or a little skirt I am thinking...

I am counting some of my jam making as gifts too!  I have a few little baskets so I can make mini hampers with three types of jam.   Plus I already gave some away as gifts of help.

I have some baby items to embroider.  So by the end of the month I will have an ok start on re filing my cupboard.  This doesn't sound like much but as the year goes on it is amazing how this all adds up!  

Next week we will start Show and Tell.  Already I have some beautiful photos of some of your creations!   If you would like to join in please email me at or post photos to the Bluebirds Facebook page.  We have all shared so many ideas and this is such a help to find things to make especially from supplies we might already have on hand.  I am very much on a "use it up" challenge.  This turns all kinds of things you have stashed away into beautiful gifts plus also maybe useful and lovely things for the home.  

For lots of you this is indoor weather due to the cold not the heat!  Either way it is so nice to be perfectly content and have projects to work on.  As our school holidays usually had some really hot days when the girls were little we would all craft and make things during the day then in the evening  we used to go to the beach for a swim.  There is no boredom when you have things to make!  It is so much fun!  These times can be great for learning a new skill or improving one.  

I hope your week is going well!  What are you working on?   If we get started now we will have so much by December and have lots to give during the year as well.  Busy hands really do make happy hearts! xxx


  1. Harper is just going to love those pillow cases! The Balerina's look like they are jumping out of the fabric! A gift closet to me means I'm not rushed when a birthday or Christmas comes up. I have time to think about the person and know what they might want or desire. I'm able sometimes to make it or find a great deal. They are happy that I care and I'm satisfied I've done my best.

    1. Dear Vickie, This really is a big saving. Also do you notice when we dont need it we see a perfect gift. When we do need it we can find nothing! So if I see the perfect thing at a good price I grab it and put it away! Shopping is always like this! Mostly these are small things and I add something I made to them. It works out usually! I did a little bit more sewing today! With love

  2. The ballerina fabric is so pretty. I know Harper is excited to have the pillowcases. I've been able to add a few things to my gift trunk this month as well. By December it will most likely be full again and ready for use, taking the stress out of the gift giving season.

    1. Dear Patsi, We were both doing ballerinas at the same time! Below Aly mentioned using tiny little bits left over to make a doll pillow to match the little girls pillow. Genius! I am off to size up my left overs now! With love

    2. Annabel, those little girls in our lives inspire us to do 'girly' sewing, don't they???

  3. The pillowcases are wonderful! I saw an idea to make tiny cloth napkins for the granddaughter's play kitchens and I do want to do some of those to send to Germany since they will be small and light. She would love the ballerinas too!

    I am more of a bargain shopper than crafter these days. I have several birthday gifts on hand already that I purchased for an average of 70% off. The only problem is that once I have great gifts on hand for grandchildren I want to give them!

    1. Dear Lana, I love this idea. Harper has her little kitchen... it would be great for that. And yes light for you to post! Aly mentioned a little pillowcase for a doll so I am on to that as well as I have suitable left overs!
      I am bad at hanging on to gifts and not giving them... I do a bit of each I have to confess! Oh well! We cant help it thats my argument! With love

  4. Annabel this is just lovely and so true. Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. One of my favorite quotes from him is "If you can't fly run. If you can't run walk. If you can't walk crawl." In other words move forward. Get the ball rolling. I like the doing things in small steps. That way it is not overwhelming. I am still working on reorganising the house. I find it easier to create in a clean an organized space. We have donated many things to charity and have a bunch more sorted out. My sewing machine is set up in a corner of the dinning room so I can popover for just a minute and sew one seam. This year I would like to finish some sewing projects that my Mom started. I am so excited about a new year and what will get done in just a few minutes each day.
    Much love,
    Patti from San Diego

  5. Annabel, what beautiful pillowcases! I have been sewing gifts for my friend with 3 girls who have January birthdays. For the girl turning two, I made a set of 10 beanbags (in 5 different fabrics) with a drawstring bag to hold them in, and a card listing some toddler bean bag games/activities they can do (like matching the fabric patterns, tossing in a bucket, balancing on her head, practicing counting, etc). It turned out cute! Next, for the 4 year old, I am sewing a "swoop" bag. This is a large round play mat that has a drawstring around the edge, so she can play with small toys like Legos on the mat, and cleanup and storage is easy by pulling the drawstring to make it into a bag. And finally, for the 10 year old, I'm making a craft kit; I haven't decided the details, but probably a hand sewing kit where I will cut fun shapes out of felt for her to sew into little stuffies to hang as a banner (maybe hearts or emojis or cute animals, I haven't decided yet). But I will include thread, a needle, the felt shapes and instructions. I thought I'd share these ideas with you in case you need gifts for these ages. Thank you for inspiring me to try to make birthday gifts this year; it's been really fun and money-saving already!

  6. Could someone please point me where to find instructions for making cloth paper towels and flannel hankies? Thanks! Nancy

    1. Dear Nancy, Years ago I found soft well worn and washed many times flannelette is so so soft and when someone is really ill with a sore nose this is far softer than tissues or hankies. So I started to save all old sheets etc and tear them up for the medical cupboard. I also make my dusters from then up soft cloth. I mentioned it here:
      And here
      I always just tore up large squares but then the family liked them so much they wouldnt treat them as disposable as I intended so now I hem them. There are not instructions except to hem them as you like and make them the size you like. I watch for flannel sheets in the op shop. Currently I have some old cot sheets in nursery rhyme prints so I am doing these for the little girls. I will keep on hand and deliver them when needed. I always wash them up so they are clean and fresh. Ive just been hemming some more today since its hot outside. I hope this helps. Garden Pat was making some and she did them double sided I think so sewed them up like you would make a pillow cover and the seams inside. I just do single layer but I make them later than a normal handkerchief. Its not until you are sick that you discover how much better these are than regular kleenex or hankies! So so soft and gentle! I hope this helps! With love

  7. What gorgeous pillowcases Annabel. When I had small amounts of left over fabric left I would make a small pillowcase for DD7's dolls. This was special for her as they both had matching pillowcases.

    This year I have told DP that I am going to learn to sew properly be it going somewhere to learn or from tutorials on line. I am now going to have sometime to myself now that I am no longer working or being so hands on at school.

    On the weekend I was at Myers and purchased some Christmas cards at 90% off. These cards were marked down from $12.95 so I was amazed at this. I also got a few kitchen bargains for us as we threw a few things away when moving that we intended to replace in the near future but with 30 to 50% off we got them earlier than expected.

    Last week I was able to get 4 skorts for DD7 which were down from $16 to just $10 each so I was happy that I waited and they came on special at the right time.

    Things are still busy at the moment as I have enrolled DD7 into an intense swimming course which requires a drive to town each day for this week but then weekly thereafter. I still get a sleep in though which is great.

    School holidays are coming to an end here this week so we have been having lots of simple fun. Things like rebuilding lego that was broken and crafts. Crafts are always fun to do and Santa was very generous in supplying us with crafts.

    Hope you have an amazing week
    Take Care
    Aly xxx

    1. Dear Aly, The doll pillowcase is brilliant! I could make little sheets and a pillowcase and I would have just enough! Genius! Thank you!
      Well done on the cards! They would have been beautiful ones too!
      It sounds like you are using school holidays well. Going to a new school will be big! I hope this all goes well and not too many nerves.
      Sewing is just lovely. I will think of helpful blogs that I know of. One I can think of now is Flamingo Toes. She has a lot of ideas i.e. what to do with small bits of material etc. Pinterest of course too!
      Thank you for the great idea... consider it done here! With love

  8. Thankyou Annabel for sharing photos of your gorgeous pillowcases, so sweet also your other great ideas.
    leighsabey, I love your ideas too. Just brilliant about the 2 yr old gift. Would you have any ideas for me? I have two beautiful granddaughters who I love to sew for, they are 9 and 7 yrs old. I really want to make them more gifts this year. Would you have any ideas please? They seem to have every present on the market. Thanks in advance, Lorraine 💕

    1. Dear Lorraine, Thank you! Well I have a coupe of thoughts... the first is if you know what they are mad keen on i.e. mermaids seem to be big and so do unicorns. But knowing this is helpful plus favourite colours. Then get some fabric with the theme on it to incorporate into your projects. Possibly co conspire with Mum as you never know even curtains might be an option for their room or sheets that are trimmed. Possibly nighties or pyjamas. The second way I would go is they are old enough to be crafty and to learn to knit, sew, crochet etc so actually give them the gift of lessons and get them started. I can think of nothing better actually. My Nan helped me get going on so many things I still do today and I think I crocheted pretty good at around six but sewing we did not much later. They may love this! I hope this helps! With love

    2. How about these Lorraine? I make tons of these throughout the year

  9. Dear Annabel,
    The ballerina fabric is so charming. I can just imagine Harpers squeals of delight when she sees the pillow cases. Did you also make the wand and crown?

    This is the second year of my "use it up" challenge. So far this year I've used up some flannel and made 4 quilted burp clothes, 2 flannel receiving/swaddling blankets with crocheted edges, and little baby wash clothes with the left over flannel. Also one knitted cap (beanie) and am currently working on a table runner which will have hand embroidery on it, and given as an anniversary gift. Two quilts got finished and quilted and have been added to the closet as well. Some time in the next week we'll be having fun making valentines and hot cocoa on a stick to pass give out.

    Aside from being able to gift loved ones my gift closet is also used to provide quilts, mittens, caps, etc. for disaster relief or for those in need. Our quilting group makes quilts for the Crisis Pregnancy Center, as well as quilts that the police and fire departments have onboard if needed. Like you said, "busy hands make happy hearts". Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      Harper got the wand and crown from ballet class. I thought they matched! I am making her the ribbon twirling wands to wave around. I must get on to this! Anything dancing related seems to be a hit!
      Having a baby to sew for it wonderful! I love everything you have made! I hope you will send me some pics! You are off to a wonderful start.
      Also I better start thinking of Valentines Day too!
      I love the work of the quilting group. There is so much need and we have supplies in our cupboards... this is a good reminder for us all!
      Thank you Cookie! With love

  10. Dear Annabel, Garden Pat did tell me how she made hers but when I put two thicknesses together I felt they were too thick so I am glad to know I can do them one thick. The flannel I have is new but leftovers so maybe that is why it is so thick. I have a bad cold and need to get some made up today! Why didn't I do it sooner! Thank you and Garden Pat both for your help. I love the Bluebird blogs! Nancy

    1. Dear Nancy, Often I feel the oldest, most worn out flannel is the softest. It is almost a velvet feel to it. Heavenly when sick. You can just make them disposable for emergencies. Thanks so much! Love

  11. Annabelle, this is my new catch phrase: "Get the ball rolling!" I always just said the hardest part of any task is just starting, but your phrase is much better. Although sometimes I think I'm juggling balls at the same time!
    I have some pictures of some of my past projects. Would you like me to e-mail you some of them even though they're not current?

    1. Dear Phyllis, Yes please I would love to see! Ideas are such a help to everyone! I think the hardest part is starting and we can build some momentum when we do start... i.e. my 15 minutes of sewing often turns into more! Many thanks! With love

  12. Such cute ideas. I admire your skills.

  13. I agree with that ate, they love to craft! Maybe put together a little kit and take some time to teach them a new skill. My 9 year old is into making beauty products (we've done lip balm, melt-and-pour soap, and bath bombs. Or teach her to crochet a long stretchy "rope" and then teach her to play cat's cradle with it. Another thing my 9 year old loves to make is play-doh. You could put together a kit with instructions, ingredients, cute containers and a few fun play-doh tools, like cookie cutters and mini rolling pins. Another idea is cake decorating equipment and fun sprinkles, cupcake liners, etc. Depending on the season, a garden gift with seeds, garden markers she can paint, a pot, soil, and maybe gloves or tools. Or supplies to make a fairy garden! I bet that your granddaughters' parents would appreciate gifts like these that get "used up", instead of more toys to add to the bin, and time with you learning a new skill is priceless!

    1. I am strong all these up for when my two are a bit older. Learning with my Nan was so much fun. Treasured

  14. Beautiful ballerina gifts!

    I do almost everything in bits and pieces. I babysit my two year old granddaughter for about 20 hours a week, so my work progresses at the pace of her attention span.

    I have to make the minutes count or I wouldn't get a thing done. Thanks once again for all your beautiful inspiration!

  15. Hi Annabel, your pillowcases look lovely! I'm sure they will be a hit! Some other ideas of things that can be made for children are zip pouches - my kids love these for storing little toy collections, coins, treasures or even just pencils & textas. So handy! Another thing they have loved that I made is their own personalised apron. They love wearing it when they help me with baking. Thank you for such an inspirational start to the year. Cheers, Kelly

  16. Cute little pillowcases; I'm sure Harper loves them! My present tub is very depleted, that's for sure! I am making steady progress on finishing up half-completed projects, even though it's not all that inspiring! :) Really looking forward to seeing the Show and Tell!

    xx JEn in NS

  17. Dear Annabel,
    Your pillowcases are so pretty! I am keeping the pillowcase idea in mind for a little girl who has a birthday in September.
    This week I finished knitting washcloth number two as part of a birthday gift I put together. Now I can continue on with John's quiet book and trying to meet my scrapbooking goal for this month! Bit by bit, as you said!
    Love, Kelsey


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