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How to Make Handmade Gifts for Friends and Family

Updated on January 12, 2015

Tip: Choose your fabric first then math the paint to it perfectly

You will be delighted with these projects – they are practical, pretty; all are very achievable and will make great gifts for friends and family. Only problem is, which one to try first….?

Update a Chair

You will need: Wadding or foam, scissors, fabric, staple gun, paint, paintbrush

  1. Remove the old seat pad.
  2. Cut out 5-6 layers of wadding (or use foam) for the padding.
  3. Put the fabric right side down on a table, padding on top, then lay the base on top.
  4. To secure, start in the centre at the top and put three staples at that edge. Pull the fabric taut and repeat at bottom edge. Do the same for each side.
  5. Pull the corners of fabric taut diagonally and staple. Make sure there are no lumpy folds or the seat base won’t fit back on.
  6. Clean the chairs, then apply two coats of paint. We used a clay-based paint with no need for priming or sanding. If you use satinwood paint the wood may need to be sanded.
  7. Once completely dry, add the new seat bases.

Update a Chair
Update a Chair

Tip: Choose small plants that need little water to thrive. We choose a mini orchid and some succulents

Terrarium from Lidded Glass Jars

You will need: lidded jars, mass, small plants

  1. Start by giving the jars a good clean.
  2. Fill them with a little moss, then carefully place one plant in each jar. Secure with a little soil, then cover with more moss.
  3. Water the plant sparingly.
  4. Remove any seal on the lid or make a small hole at the back of the lid to prevent the har steaming up.

Terrarium from Lidded Glass Jars
Terrarium from Lidded Glass Jars


You will need: 0.6m floral fabric, 0.6m striped fabric, scissors, sewing machine, pins, and threads.

  1. Cut out fabric for the apron. You’II need two body pieces, one pocket, two ties and one neck strap.
  2. Make the front pocket by folding over a top hem, pinning and sewing. Now fold over and pin the other three sides. Pin the pocket in place on the front of the apron and sew on. Sew a line up the center of the pocket to create two pockets.
  3. To make the neck strap, fold the fabric right in along the length, then pin and sew the edges. Turn the right way using a large safety pin. Repeat this process for the ties. Tuck in the ends of each and sew closed.
  4. Lay the front and back apron pieces right side together and put the neck loop between (on right side of the fabric) with the ends sticking out of the top, so that when your turn it the right way round, the ends are on the inside. Position the ties at the waist in the same way. Pin and sew around all sides except the bottom.


Tip: To speed up the drying process, pop the shapes in a cool oven (50C) for 4-5 hours.

Salt Dough Magnets

You will need: 130g plain flour, 130g table salt, 120ml water, letter stamps, circle cookie cutters, magnetic stick tape.

  1. First make the salt dough by mixing the flour, salt and water together in a bowl. If you want your magnets to be colored, mix in a little powdered paint when you make the dough. Food color also works, but tends to give a paler shade.
  2. Roll out the dough to around ½ cm thick. Press your letter stamps into the dough to make up the words you want to say, or use any other stamp or surface to put a patterned imprint in the dough, and then cut out the circles.
  3. Place the shapes on kitchen paper and leave to dry – they will take around 4-5 days to dry out thoroughly.
  4. Once completely dry, attach magnetic tape onto the back (most magnetic tapes come with a sticky backing).
  5. Place on your fridge.

Salt Dough Magnets
Salt Dough Magnets

Tips: Wedge a piece of cardboard the same thickness as the iPod under the wooden strip as it dries, to ensure it will fit.

IPad Stand

You will need: chopping board, L-shaped wooden strip, pencil, ruler, wood glue, polyboard, hot glue gun and glue, sharp scalpel, cutting mat.

  1. To make the iPad ‘shelf’ cut a length of the L-shaped wooden strip to fit your chopping board. Make in pencil where it needs to be positioned. Apply wood glue to the strip and position on the pencil line. You may want to hold the board and strip together with clamps. Leave to dry completely – this may take up to 24 hours.
  2. Once dry, cut out three triangles from polyboard. These are going to form the stand for the back of the chopping board. Check that the angles of the triangles are at the desired tilt before gluing them on place with a hot glue gun.
  3. Allow the glue to dry completely before placing your iPod on your stand.

How To Make Keepsake Books
How To Make Keepsake Books

How To Make Keepsake Books

You will need: an old hardback, PVA glue from Hobby craft, heart cookie cutter used as a template. Fiskars cutting knife (straight) or an artist’s scalpel, embellishments for decoration.

Start by applying PVA glue to the edges of the book to stick all the pages together (but you can leave a couple of pages at the front floating free if you wish).

Take the cookie cutter (or another heart template) and start cutting into the main body of the glued-together book with your cutting knife. Take care, go slowly and just cut a few pages at a time. When you’ve cut a decent-sized hole, you can neaten the inner edges with more PVA.

Decorate as you wish and fill your keepsake box with secret treasures!


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