Friday, December 21, 2012

Cloth Gift Bag

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Double-Turned Hem
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric (your desired size, depending on the size of your gift)
  • Coordinating thread
  • (2) - 12" satin ribbons
Rather than wrapping your gifts in traditional wrapping paper -- or using those recycled gift bags from last year, perhaps you would like to spruce your gift up by making a home-made cloth gift bag. This project is simple and quick, so you may still have time to squeeze it in before Christmas!

You can make the gift bag any size that you desire depending on the gift going into the bag. The instructions below are for a gift bag used to "wrap" a wine bottle.

Supplies: 12" x 13" piece
of fabric and (2) - 12" strands
of satin ribbon

First, cut out your material the desired size. (For the wine bottle, I cut the fabric 12" x 13".) To limit the number of seams you will need to sew, I use one piece of fabric and simply fold it over, so you only have to sew the bottom and one side. However, you can certainly cut out two pieces of equal size and sew three sides of the fabric.

Once the fabric is cut, sew a double-turned hem along the opening of the bag. Using the iron, press the fabric approximately 1/2 inch along the top edge. Then, fold the fabric over again another 1/2 inch and press with the iron. Pin the hem in place and sew along the edge of the fold. (Refer to the "Linen Napkin" post for more detailed instructions on a double-turned hem.)

Iron a double-turned hem along the
top edge of the bag.

After the hem is sewn, fold the fabric in half so the right-sides are together (or if you have two separate pieces of fabric, place the pieces right-sides together). Pin the fabric in place along the bottom and side edge.

Bag pinned
right-sides together
Before we sew the bag together, we need to insert the ribbon. Take the two pieces of ribbon and insert it approximately 3 inches below the top edge with the hem. (You can certainly place the ribbon higher or lower along the edge depending on the gift you will be placing in the bag.) The long part of the ribbon should be "inside" the bag (or in between the two "right-sides" of the fabric). You will only have a small tail hanging over the pinned edge.

Sew along the outside edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Be sure not to sew the opening shut where you have just sewn the double hem. Before you turn the bag right-side out, clip the corners to avoid bunching. 

Clip the corners to avoid the fabric from
bunching when turned right-side out.

Turn the bag right-side out and press. You have made a home-made cloth gift bag your friends and relatives are sure to appreciate!

May you feel God's love through His ultimate Christmas gift:  His Son, Jesus. Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Mint Creams

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Drop Cookies
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Spatula (for removing hot cookies)
  • Electric mixer 
  • Mixing bowl
  • Microwave-proof bowl
  • Rubber spatula
  • Butter knife
  • 3/4 cups butter (softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (or baking chocolate bars)
  • Melt Away Mint Candies - approximately 48 (and a few extra to nibble on while you bake:) These can be tricky to find in the store sometimes. Hickory Farms makes these, but I have also found the "off-brand" in Target and Walmart. The recipe calls for the larger size (1" diameter), but you could also use the "minis"; you would just need to use multiple mints on each cookie. Here is a picture of them:

 This post is in honor of my wonderful mother-in-law! She is an extremely talented homemaker, and I aspire to be as joyful and self-sacrificing as she is in serving her family. Last year, she shared with me the recipe for one of my husband's favorite holiday treats: Chocolate Mint Creams. I am sure you will enjoy these little bits of chocolate goodness as much as our family enjoys them!

Beat together the following ingredients in an electric mixer until the ingredients are combined:
  • 3/4 cups butter (softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
If you forget to leave the butter on the counter to soften, you can put it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften it. 

Then, beat in: 
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients: 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Using the electric mixer, mix the flour mixture into the sugar/egg mixture that is in the electric mixing bowl until they are just combined (don't over-mix).

In the microwave-proof bowl, melt the 16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave. Do this in 30 second intervals; stirring after each 30 seconds until the chocolate is melted.

Mix the chocolate into the cookie batter using a rubber spatula.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes is almost finished, begin preheating the oven at 350 degrees. 

Remove the batter from the refrigerator, and drop rounded tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. You can use a spoon to drop the cookies, but you may need to use your hands a little bit to form the balls. Bake in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes.

Immediately after pulling the cookies out of the oven, place one Melt Away Mint Candy in the center of each cookie. Wait a few minutes until the mint has begun to melt. Then, take a butter knife and spread the mint over the top of the cookie like icing.

Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Yields approximately 3-4 dozen cookies. 

I hope you have a very merry Christmas! Enjoy the season we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty GodEverlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~Isaiah 9:6~