Crafting kits are a gift that keeps on giving

  • By Jonetta Rose Coffin Special to The Herald
  • Wednesday, November 21, 2007 2:06pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

This week’s Craft Corner is designed to help make a dent in your holiday gift list, especially if you have a couple of fiber arts fans in mind. The kits require little time and money, and can be personalized to suit different styles and tastes.

Our sample suggestions are basically starter kits geared toward beginning fiber artists, but you can customize them for more advanced crafters if desired.

Your kit should include a finished sample of the project, instructions, basic tools and enough of the required materials to complete at least one item. If more instruction is needed, include a coupon for a couple of sessions with you as the teacher or a video or book.

Package the kit in a seasonal gift box, bag, basket or other container of choice.

Felt hot pads

An inexpensive kit for those who want to learn basic sewing stitches. Our sample features both applique (using the penny rug circles we’ve recently come to love) and reverse applique techniques.

Include: pre-cut felt pieces, heavy duty needle and embroidery thread for basic kit; add scissors, pattern and uncut felt for advanced kit. Materials for the basic kit will cost less than $5, but adding scissors will bump up the cost by at least $10, as you won’t want to skimp on the quality. Cutting felt with cheap scissors is crazy-making.

Your part: Make at least one sample, cut the designs and circles and package the materials with written instructions.

Instructions: For applique, cut circles of various sizes from felt, sew them on top of each other using a straight stitch, then sew the circle stacks to a felt square. Add some embroidery touches if desired. Add a second felt square as backing, attached with a blanket stitch around the edges. For the reverse applique, use three pieces of felt (different colors) and cut designs in two of them. Place the uncut felt piece on the bottom, then add the cut pieces, one on top of the other, so that the bottom colors show through the cut-outs. You might want to use some fusible tape to hold the pieces in place. Stitch around the cuts using a straight stitch; set aside. On a separate piece of felt (the same color as the bottom piece) applique the pieces you cut out using a straight stitch, then sew the first group of three felt pieces to the piece you’ve just appliqueed (wrong sides together) using a blanket stitch around the edges.

Felted soap

A very inexpensive kit suitable for all ages and skill levels, the cost will depend on the soap and quality of wool used. We used Ivory for our samples (about 50 cents per bar in bulk), but better quality soaps are pricier. The cost of unspun wool varies depending on quality, but you can furnish enough to make several bars for less than $5. Find it in some craft or yarn stores, but online sources are best.

Include: soap, wool and knee-high nylon for basic kit; add small washboard or bubble wrap, hand towel, wire rack and timer for upgrade.

Your part: Make a sample bar or two to include and write out instructions. Be sure to include a note about storing finished soap; it can’t sit in water.

Instructions: Wrap soap with wool fiber, making sure that soap is entirely covered. Sprinkle wool with hot water and massage gently with your hands until thoroughly wet. Add a drop of dish soap and massage a bit longer, then place in toe end of stocking. Set timer for 10 minutes and begin wet-felting process by alternately (and gently) rubbing the bar on washboard or bubble wrap and working it in your hands for the full 10 minutes. Remove bar from stocking. Make sure felted wool is smooth and fits snugly around the soap. If not, work a while longer in your hands. Rinse off lather with cold water, blot in towel and set on wire cooling rack to dry.

More kit ideas…

Knit/crochet starter kit: Include knitting needles, crochet hook, sample swatches (showing stitches), yarn and pattern for a simple project; cost, less than $20. Upgrade can include lessons with professional instructor. Finished project sample could be a set of knitted or crocheted coasters.

Spinning starter kit: Include drop spindle, unspun wool, video or instruction book and contact information about local spinning groups; cost, $40 and up, depending on cost of spindle and instruction method. A skein of hand-spun yarn can be included as a sample.

Weaving starter kit: Include lap loom, yarn (use leftovers from your stash), video or instruction book and contact information about local weaving groups; cost, $50 and up, depending on choice of loom and instruction method. A woven eyeglass case or other small project can serve as a sample.

If you need help…

We can provide you with information on local spinning, weaving and knitting and crocheting instruction resources. Call 425-238-4985 and leave a message, or e-mail us at

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