Some Home Made Gifts
For 1885

Home made gifts are often the most memorable and cherished gifts one receives. The time and thought that goes into these types of gifts make them special. The following items was published in Harper’s Bazaar in November 1885 to help gift givers with ideas on what to give those special people in their lives.



Some Homemade Holiday Gifts

At this season there arises in many minds the sometimes troublesome, and yet pleasant, questions, “What shall I make for Christmas?”

To the masculine members of society this is not a disturbing thought, since they have, in any case, no resource but to buy, and seem usually to enjoy a Christmas Eve onslaught upon the shops rather than a more deliberate selection.

But the larger proportion of womankind everywhere, from grandmamma down to the little eight-year-old, prefer to make at least a few of their Christmas gifts, and to these the following suggestions for home made gifts may not be unacceptable. The range of articles described is wide enough to enable everyone to select the style of work best suited to her capacity and taste; and if the directions are followed exactly, there should be no difficulty in obtaining a satisfactory result.

Home Made Gift #1

The Pitcher Pincushion

This home made gift costs but a trifle, as it can be made of small odds and ends of silk or satin (satin is the prettier), or of either one of these combined with velvet. It is made usually in two colors, but if the pieces to be used are not large enough to admit of having the entire pin-cushion in this style, make a harlequin pitcher, with every piece different; if taste is used in combining the colors, this is often prettier than the others. The one described is of pink and blue.

victorian pitcher pincushion template small

Click on picture to see more detail.

Out of thick writing-paper, or card-board so thin that it will bend without cracking, cut six pieces the exact shape of Figure 1. Cover three of these with pink satin and three with blue, simply basting them smoothly as for patchwork.

Victorian pitcher pincushion template 2

Cut four pieces like Fig. 2 (above), and two pieces like Fig. 3 (below), covering them in the same way, an even number of each color.

Now overhand the large pieces neatly together, with the right sides laid next to each other, using the color of sewing silk that will show least. Put first a pink, then a blue, and so on, and when each two are joined, push them right side out into shape

Leave the last side open, that you may work more easily upon the rest of the pitcher.

Sew the two forms of Fig 3 together at the sides marked A, and overhand them on to whichever end of Fig. 1 you may select for the top. Put them on so that the pink comes above the blue and the blue above the pink; they form the spout of the pitcher Sew the forms of Fig. 2 on in the same way, alternately, and join all these upper pieces at the sides also. When this is done the pitcher begins to take shape.

Cut one piece of card-board like fig. 4, cover with pink satin, and overhand it on to the lower edges of Fig. 1 to form a bottom. This and the open side, which can now be closed, have to be overhanded on the right side as neatly as possible.

When card-board is used for the foundation, do not run your needle through it in covering the pieces, as the holes will lump up afterward and look badly; Catch the satin together with threads at the back.

Now fill the pitcher with bran, packing it down as tightly as possible, and when full, cover the top with a piece of blue satin cut roughly to fit the shape. Leave open a little corner of this top covering, and at the last stuff in as much bran as possible with the end of your finger, so that it will round prettily over the top.

Sew pink chenille around the top for a little finish, and have the joining come at the seam opposite the spout, so that the handle will cover it.

The handle is made of ribbon wire doubled together (the single is not strong enough) to form a strip about ten inches long, Cover this first with old silk or muslin, and then twist around it pink and blue chenille so as to give a striped appearance. Then bend the wire into the shape of a handle, and fasten one end at the top edge exactly opposite the spout, and the other just above the curve of the lower part of the pitcher

Tie pink and blue bows of narrow satin ribbon at top and bottom of the handle. Fill the top quite closely with pins driven in to the heads, and stick a tow of them around the middle of the pitcher where the sides and top pieces join.

The success of this novel little cushion depends upon the accuracy with which the shapes are cut, the neatness of the joining, and the thoroughness with which the pitcher is stuffed.

Victorian pitcher pincushion templates

Home Made Gift #2

A Round Silk Bag

For this wonderful home made gift, take half a yard of orange-colored surah or China silk, and cut from it as large a circular piece as possible. Hem this neatly all around, and edge it with “Oriental” or some other delicate white lace about a finger wide. Then, two inches above the hem on the right side, sew around the circle a thin ribbon or silk braid, to serve as a casing for the drawing-strings. These may be either of white silk braid or ribbon, and an opening should be made in the casing at opposite sides of the circle, so that the strings may be double. When the strings are drawn up, the outer rim of surah, with its edging of lace, will fall outside the bag, making a pretty finish. This is an extremely dainty bag, and very easily and quickly made.

For the young lady or gentleman who plays lawn tennis, no more acceptable or appropriate gift can be found than the

Home Made Gift #3

Racquet Case

This requires three-eighths of a yard of double-wide felt, and any desired color may be used. To avoid mistake, first cut out in paper a pattern the exact shape and size of your racquet, but half an inch larger all around, and a trifle longer in the handle to allow for shrinkage in working.

Then cut two similar shapes from the felt – one for the back, which is plain, and the other, upon which the design is to be worked, for the front. Any design may be stamped or transferred upon this. Many such are published in various papers, which may be transferred with impression-paper, and only part of them used if desired. A pretty one represents a net spreading across the racquet and down the handle, and upon this are grouped four racquets and balls. An ingenious person might draw such a design for herself.

The net is outlined in light gray linen carpet thread. The racquets are in shades of gold and dark brown embroidery silk, worked solidly in Kensington stitch; and the gut strings are of dull yellow button-hole twist, waxed. The best way is to copy colors of the racquet. The balls are worked also in solid Kensington stitch with white embroidery silk.

When this or any other design you may select is completed, press it smooth and flat on the wrong side upon a blanket. Use a moderately hot iron, and if necessary a damp cloth, with a dry one between it and the felt.

Cut a strip of felt long enough to go all around the racquet case, about an inch and a half wide where it goes around the main part, and widening to about two inches for the handle; this allows quarter-inch seams only. Stitch this strip around the front of the case on the wrong side, and then stitch the back to the other edge of the strip in the same way. Put a square piece in at the end of the handle, and leave the large end of the case open where the front joins the strip. This is where the racquet is to be put in.

For the lining make of some contrasting shade of Silesia a case the exact shape and size of the felt one, and put it inside the other so that the seams go in toward the felt This can be done by turning the felt case wrong side out and fitting the other over it. Sew it in several places to hold it fast, and then turn the case right side out again. The top opening is tied with two sets of ribbons, and a ribbon is carried from half-way up the handle to one side of the opening to hang the case up by.

Home Made Gift #4

Fan Wall Pocket

Cheap, effective, and quickly made, and useful as a receptacle for slippers, papers, or anything else, down to a duster. 

Cover one side of a common palm-leaf fan with bright cretonne, just turning the edges over to the other side, and basting at first.

Take a straight piece of the same about twenty-five inches long, and deep enough to reach three-quarters up the fan from the bottom. Turn a hem, and gather it into a ruffle with two rows of stitching an inch from the top, like a picket. Let the raw edges turn over on to the wrong side and cover that with a piece of the same cretonne cut the shape of the fan.

Turn the edges in all around, and hem it down upon the raw edges of the front pieces close to the rim of the fan.

Cover the handle also, and fasten a small brass curtain ring at the top to hang it by. Sew a bow of satin ribbon in two or three colors at the point where the handle joins the fan.

Home Made Gift #5

Tobacco Pouch

This is a beautiful little pouch, and much more suitable for a gentleman’s use than many of the fragile articles made for that purpose. It requires fourteen inches of handsome soft-finish grosgrain ribbon, and twelve inches of dark brown trimming fur, which can be bought by the yard at comparatively little expense.

Dark brown ribbon makes the most appropriate combination for a pouch, the fur and ribbon should each be an eighth of a yard wide.

Join the ends of the fur together by the foundation and sew two sides of it together to form the bottom of the bag. In this way the long fur covers the seams entirely. Join the ends of the ribbon, and catch one edge of it all around the open edge of the fur foundation, gathering the extra two inches of ribbon in t make it the same size as the fur; this forms the outside of the pouch. For the inside bag or lining which holds the tobacco make a little bag of chamois leather, the same size at the top as the ribbon, and rounding a little smaller toward the bottom. Place this inside the ribbon and fur so that the seams do not show, and turn about a quarter of an inch of the ribbon over the top edge for a finish, hemming it neatly down upon the chamois.

Make a casing for the drawing-strings by running a line of hand stitching all around a little way from the top of the bag. Make two eyelets close together in the inside edge of the ribbon by the seam, and two others in the opposite inside edge.

For drawing-strings use fine brown silk lacing cords, and run them in so as to form a double drawing string. This is done by running one cord through the first in the usual way, and sewing the ends together, and then running a second cord through from the opposite set of eyelets; this gives a loop at each side of the bag, which will draw it up much better than a single cord. Upon the end of each loop fasten a small brown chenille ball, such as can be bought for three or four cents apiece.

The idea can be utilized in making work and other fancy bags, using sash ribbon or surah silk to increase the size. A beautiful combination is pale old-gold satin with cords or ribbons to match, and the fur and balls of dark brown. Pale blue satin is exquisite with trimming of gray fur.


Note: The information above was edited for use on this site.


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