A time for giving

So it’s that time of year again – no not Christmas itself, I love Christmas –  it’s the time for forking out to give the school teachers gifts. Now contrary to what you may think, I am not adverse to giving teachers gifts.  My problem with the whole giving of gifts to school staff members is the snobbery that goes with it, which is an unfortunate part of living in a good area.  You see, you get the good school but you also get the snobs and those who think that everything they do must be a competition!  Usually it doesn’t bother me because those people are not the circle I move in 😉 but when it comes to ‘big events’, that is when the competition and snobbery really gets to me.

And the ‘big event’ of the moment is, of course, Christmas.  So first off was my daughter’s nativity play.  Now, in Reception, she was a star.  that was easy:  One of her dad’s white shirts, silver tinsel sewn round all the edges and they did a paper hat in school which they stuck on their heads.  Then came year one.  She was a traveller.  Even easier: Button down check shirt and jeans.  But this year, year two, she d was a shepherd.  So I knew all the other shepherds would have either bought costumes or really well-made ones.  I figured I had better put in extra effort.  Below is the result. (Yes she has no face, I didn’t want her image on here, my choice!)

shepherd outfit without face

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

So after the whole nativity thing comes the giving gift to teacher thing (as mentioned at the beginning of the post).  Now I had the option of giving money to the class rep to go towards a combined present and then I would have the honour of signing the card.  Now I would think that £2 a combined present is appropriate.  After all, if every parent in the class gave £2, the teacher would be getting a present worth £60 pounds.  If I were a teacher and I got a gift worth £60, my eyes would pop out my head.  And yes, I was a teacher in South Africa.  And no I never received a gift worth £60 pounds (but maybe that’s just me and I’m bitter haha).  And for someone who loves to shop at discount stores and on Ebay, I would say a gift of more than a tenner for a teacher is a lot (OK, I concede that I could be a bit of a cheap skate :D) but really, can you imagine, as a teacher, getting a present worth that amount! Besides, the money was collected by the class rep. Now, I am pretty certain she wouldn’t say anything but you never know – Can you believe that Karen only gave £2 pounds when other were giving £10!!!! – yes that would be fun…

So I decided it would be a better idea to do my own gifts for the teachers, homemade gifts.  So I bought two wooden Christmas decorations for my daughter to paint and the result is below.

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

And seeing as I am into my sewing at the moment, I may as well use it – before I lose it 🙂 and have made some wonderfully simple yet great looking gifts (and hopefully useful to boot!).  So, two of each item as my daughter has a teacher and a TA and I don’t like leaving anyone out 🙂 Now for all the sewing patterns listed below, I have folded and sewn very small seams as I currently don’t have a working overlocker.  It looks neater and more professionally done that way!

First off, I made them each a drawstring bag (useful for makeup, toiletries, etc):

  • Making a drawstring bag

Cut a square of fabric: 35.6cm by 40.6cm.

From this rectangle cut two strips of fabric measuring 2.5cm × 40.6cm

Sew the ends of the two strips together creating one long strip. (This doesn’t have to be neat as it will be hidden)

Fold the strip in half horizontally and sew. If using a serger you can simply serge the edge of your strip, without folding it in half.

Lay the rectangle down so the wrong side is facing you. Take the top edge of the long side and fold it towards you about 3.8cm, pin and sew this 0.6cm from the bottom edge.

Fold the rectangle in half, right sides facing. Sew around the edges of the bag with 1.3cm seam allowance, be careful to not sew the fold you have created.

Turn the bag right side out.

Take your long strip of fabric and feed it through the tube you have created and you’re done!

Below is my effort:

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Next, I made them each a pocket-sized tissue holder (and as a great addition to this, scented tissues :D)

  • Making a Tissue holder


Scraps of bright print fabric

7.6cm x 12.7cm tissue packet

Assemble Tissue Pack Cover

From bright print, cut three 8.9cm x 14cm rectangles.

With right side of fabric up, fold one long edge of a print rectangle under 3.8cm; press. Repeat with a second rectangle.

With right sides facedown, overlap folded edges of rectangles 1.3cm. Place remaining rectangle right side up on your work surface, then position overlapped rectangles on top so right sides are together; pin.

Using a 0.6cm seam, sew together and turn right side out to complete tissue-pack cover. Insert tissue packet through opening.

Below is my effort:

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Next came a stationery holder roll.

  • 10 Minute Stationery holder roll

Materials – 12 coloured pencils (7 inches tall), calico (or cotton fabric of choice) piece about 30.5cm x 31.8cm, cotton tape or ribbon about 50cm, thread, tailors chalk(optional)
Tools – scissors, pins, sewing machine, quilting guide and overlocker (both ideal but not essential)

Step 1 – gather your materials, you can choose any mid to heavy weight fabric for this project, the pencils pictured are 17.8cm long, if yours are longer or shorter I will show you how to adjust your measurements in step 2. 10.2cm fold

Step 2 –Cut your fabric into a rectangular shape. My measurements are 30.5cm tall by 31.8cm wide. You may need to change this measurement if you have more pencils or they are longer or shorter than those pictures.

How much to cut? Length = 2.5cm per pencil + an extra 1.3cm, Height = finished height (pencil height +2.5cm)+(half-finished height)

Step 3Overlock top and bottom edges. If you don’t have an overlocker, you can zig zag around the edges or use pinking shears so the fabric doesn’t fray. I’ve used red and blue thread to add a bit of colour Step 4 – fold the bottom half way up and pin into place, you can use the pencils as a guide Step 5 – Now mark with pins where you will stitch your lines to make the compartments for each pencil. I have allowed 2.5cm between each seam. You can reduce this if you want a snugger fit for each pencil. Start you measurements about 0.6cm from the left side. If you like, you can mark your lines with tailors chalk as a guide. Step 6 – sew a nice straight line 0.6cm from the left side to use as a reference for your quilting guide (if using one). Set your quilt guide to 2.5cm and sew a line from the bottom to the top of the pencil roll. Remember to do a couple of backstitches at the start and end of each row so the stitches do not unravel.

Step 7 – Continue sewing rows all the way to the end of the roll. The straighter your guideline is the straighter the stitched lines that follow will be.

Step 8 – Trim treads. Overlock or finish sides as desired. Neaten threads on corners.

Step 9 – Optional, zigzag stitch down the length of tape.

Step 10 – Find the centre of the length of the tape/ribbon. Stitch centre of the tape securely to the outside edge of the pencil roll halfway up the roll. Insert your pencils and you’re done!

As I said above, if you don’t have an overlocker, fold a narrow seam and sew.  It looks better 🙂  Below is my effort:

Copyright © 141212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Finally, I made two little lavender bags for keeping clothes fresh.

  • Lavender Sachet  

Cut out two squares of fabric

(some sites suggest using felt but I think any material that is not too thick will suffice, in whatever size you choose.

Cut a length of narrow ribbon (about 0.5cm width) as long as you require for hanging (you don’t have to have this but it makes the bag more versatile).

Fold the ribbon in half then pin to the top of one of the right sides of fabric squares.  The ribbon must be placed so the loop is toward the bottom of the square.

Pin the right sides of the fabric squares together and sew around, leaving a small gap of about 1cm and double stitching over the ribbon.

Stuff the sachet with stuffing and lavender and finish sewing along the seam.

You can get really creative with these, making different shapes, adding lace, applique or quilting, felting, beading ,etc.

If you do not have lavender, you can always use potpourri or add an essence to the stuffing 🙂

Below is my effort:

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze

And that’s it, my teacher’s Christmas gifts 🙂

Now I certainly need a rest and I hope those of you who celebrate, have a peaceful and restful Christmas 🙂

PS: I must give my thanks to those sites where I found my Christmas patterns:

Thanks to all these sites for always inspiring others 🙂

Copyright © 191212 by Karen Payze



  1. See, you just wanted to boast about living in a nice area, and being able to send your kids to a nice school.

    You’re quite the artsy-crafty type, and they’re rather nice presents to give.

    • Ha 😛 and thanks 🙂

  2. Your attitude and creativity are to be commended. Those are lovely gifts.

    • Thanks 🙂

  3. I enjoyed reading your post, I can relate to your gift story…… But Im afraid I would fail if I tried my hand at matching your sewing skills 🙂

    • Haha, yes the gift thing is always a bit of a pain 🙂 Thanks for the comment 😀

  4. Love the gift ideas. My son always made his gifts for his teachers. Way back then he would design a card on the computer then he’d color it. They always looked so surprised to see their name printed in font somewhere on the front.

    Merry Christmas All.

    • Yes, I always prefer homemade. It’s more personal than a gift card, which is always lovely to receive but at the same time very impersonal. I was once given a journal , each page with a little quote from the Bible and in the front cover, a lovely message from the child. I still have it 🙂

      Merry Christmas xx

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