Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Handmade Does Not Mean Cheap!

I had so much fun on Wednesday when Amber, Christen, and I talked about all the handmade gifts we’ve given and received over the years. While some people may think handmade is the cheap way out, most of us who do a lot of crafting know that handmade items are anything but cheap, as there is a lot of time and effort that goes into making a handmade gift, and often the supplies to make them are anything but cheap. Skill, too, is a consideration, since a person can’t just simply decide to take up crochet and then whip out an afghan in a couple of days. And since handmade gifts are often specifically tailored to the recipient, there is a lot of thought and planning that goes into each gift.

One such example is the t-shirt quilts I’ve made for members of my family. I’ve done two so far, and have a good start on a couple more that I’ve shelved for the time being. Each of these projects took months of my limited craft time to cut and stabilize the t-shirts before I could even lay them out into something that looked like a planned and cohesive design. Then I had to find and purchase suitable fabric to use for the sashing, binding, and backing. The hours of sewing the blocks (called piecing) made for hours and hours of mindless sewing in front of the TV. Then the quilts had to be quilted, which is the process of sewing through multiple layers of the pieced quilt top (the t-shirts), batting (the inner layer that provides weight and warmth), and the backing (usually a solid piece or large blocks of coordinating fabric). For my husband’s rock bands quilt, I paid a quilter to sew it on her long-arm quilting machine, which cost almost $200. I chose to quilt my son’s school quilt myself on my used Brother sewing machine that I bought at an estate sale for $25. Let’s just say, you get what you pay for – the professionally sewn quilt has a beautiful design in a contrasting color of thread and is elegantly detailed.  The quilt I did at home took untold hours of work, has a lot of mistakes, and is not nearly as detailed since I just used an organic, wavy lines technique. Once the quilting was done, I was able to cut strips of binding (yet another coordinating fabric) and sew it around the edge of the quilt first by machine to attach it to the quilt, then by hand to finish it off

Don’t get me wrong, I do not regret spending the time, money, and effort on these quilts. I love the way they turned out, and I have plans to make several more, but this is why I get hot under the collar when people insinuate that a handmade gift is either cheap, easy, or a cop-out. The people who say that are the people who spend their time browsing Target or Kohl's or Amazon until they find something that will work, and then complain about handmade gifts because they have no idea how much time, thought, and effort goes into each one. It’s also the exact reason why I will NEVER make a quilt for hire. I get asked all the time how much I would charge to make a t-shirt quilt, and the answer is, “No! You can’t afford it, but I will teach you how to do it for yourself.” I feel the same about my hand-crocheted afghans like the NASCAR-themed ones I made for my Dad and my husband, Mark.

Along those lines, if you are interested in crocheting some handmade goodies for Christmas, I have a few free patterns available on my crochet website Cindy’s Crochet Pages. I have several patterns for easy/beginner items like neckwarmers (scarves), trivets, and washcloths plus more challenging patterns for a few NASCAR and sports-themed logos, as well as tutorials on some of the techniques I used.

I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever made handmade items as gifts? Were they received well? Has anyone ever insinuated that your handmade gifts were cheap or a cop-out? Leave your comments below, or join us in a discussion on our MMC Chat Facebook group. And don’t forget to listen to this week’s podcast!

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