When asked, I always flatly state, "I don't sew for other people." The end.
However, when contemplating holiday gifts for my family I was sort of at a loss. I usually make at least some token item for most people (though male personages are nearly impossible to make anything for unless you have Karen's shirt tailoring skills)--one year I made everyone fleece hats--but mostly buy gifts according to what everyone wants.
I am very blessed to be an aunt many times over. My sister has three boys (3, 8, and 10) and my brother has a son (3) and my only niece (2)...and will have two more little boys any day now!!!!! My sister's boys are old enough that homemade=bad in their minds; for them I have to wait a couple of decades and then homemade will be good again. At least that's the way it worked for me. I used to think we were SO PUT UPON that my mom made all our bread and we didn't get pre-sliced loaves from the store, and of course nowadays I make all my own bread.
Anyway, my brother's kids are still young enough to appreciate whatever gift you give them. My niece absolutely loves girly dresses. When they first watched Cinderella they almost had to turn off the movie because she got hysterically sad when the ugly stepsister's ruin Cinderalla's dress. They had to tell her that she gets a new one. For my niece's gift they made her a little dance stage with mirror and ballet barre in the playroom. My nephew is into kings and castles and so for his gift they turned the closet under the stairs into a castle.
Both of these are perfect for sewn gifts! I asked my sister-in-law (trivia: when I moved from Texas to DC my sil rode with me because she wanted to see some of the country; we had so much fun on our road trip!) for their measurements and then started brainstorming.
For Marvel (my niece), I decided on a girly peasant top and matching skirt, a tutu, and a scarf/boa out of a funky faux fur. She's too small for BWOF's kid's patterns. I don't want to hurry her up, but I'll be excited when she gets into their size range!
Since I didn't have any patterns for her I drafted a simple peasant top with cut-on sleeves based on her measurements. I added a neck binding/elastic casing and elastic casing bands around the sleeves about three inches from the hem in the skirt fabric. I loved being able to use these crazy fabrics from my stash. The skirt fabric is leftover from one of my perennial favorite skirts that I made years and years ago while I was still in law school (I graduated in '01, if we're counting). I used the sequined butterfly fabric for my Carnaval costume several years ago. I think they look so cute together. You can see that I put a little rick rack bow on the front of the blouse so it would be easy to tell which side is front and which is back (I cut the neckline slightly lower in the front for wearing comfort). I don't have any photos of the tutu--it was just a couple layers of tulle sewn around an elastic waistband.
For my nephew I wanted to make a dress up item and a clothes item. For dress up, he had to have a king robe to wear in his castle! This was the only fabric I had to buy; everything else for both of them was from deep stash (at least two years old). I used a purple moleskin from Joann and trimmed it with leftover faux fur from my Down With Love project. I based it on Simplicity 2738, a pajama pattern. I cut it a couple sizes too large, and cut the front on the fold, adding some ease. It has slits on the sides for walking ease and a big "J" for "Jet." Plane tickets were so expensive when I was buying for the holidays that I ended up with a long layover; I sewed all the trims onto Jet's king robe by hand during the layover. I also made the crown out of tissue lame, with plastic needlepoint canvas for the headband (I passed my plastic needlepoint canvas tip on to Cidell for her Weekender bag; I've been using it for purse bottoms for years).
For his regular clothes, I was inspired by the other thing besides kings and castles that he loves: Spiderman. I bought some netting spiderweb on Joann's clearance after Halloween several years ago with the idea of maybe making some simple Halloween costumes to sell on eBay, but never got around to doing so. I realized that I could combine it with a red silky poly remnant wrapped around my exchange gift at PR Weekend 2006 for a really awesome Spiderman shirt. I used the same Simplicity 2738 pajama pattern; instead of using a facing I used self-bias tape at the neck. You can't see all the details in the action shot (taken in Marvel's "dance studio"); here's a photo of the shirt flat.
All of my photos are here. My sister-in-law's set of photos has more shots.
Making kids' clothes turns out to be pretty easy and fun. They're little so they take less time, and they don't need all the details adult clothes need. Plus, I could just finish all the hems with the serger!
So I have added a caveat to "I don't sew for other people."
I will sew for other people (1) whom I love dearly and (2) who will wear whatever is put in front of them. That pretty much limits it to young children who are related to me and my mom. More on the latter later this week!