1. Quick Throw Pillows
Fat quarter cuts of quilting cotton are just the right size for squishy sofa pillows. Stitch around the edges, leaving a gap to turn your pillow right side out and stuff it. Clip your corners for a nice square look. After you've filled it with polymer stuffing, use ladder stitch to invisibly hand-sew the gap closed, and you're all set! Fifteen minutes well spent.
2. Pocket Square
Typically, a bit smaller than a handkerchief and with many more fabric options, pocket squares are simply colourful squares of fabric that are hemmed and folded to add a bit of colour to a suit jacket. If your sewing machine has a narrow hemmer or rolled hem foot, you won't even need fifteen minutes to finish up this project.
3. Fabric Napkins
Keep your iron hot, as all this project requires is neatly pressed hems. Opt for natural-fibre fabrics like cotton or linen, as they tend to be more absorbent, or a blend of natural and synthetic fibres, which tend to be more stain resistant.
4. Baby Bib
If you need a gift for a new arrival, a stack of these will only take a few minutes to assemble. Use a soft, absorbent fabric, like towelling, to cut the main shape of the bib, then add colour and hide the raw edges with double-fold bias tape. Apply a snap or button to hold the bib in place, and you're ready to go!
5. Kimono-inspired Shrug
No one would ever guess this only took ten minutes to make! Soft, semi-sheer fabrics like chiffon and organza look especially nice; use French seams to avoid fraying edges. For the simplest design, cut a broad rectangle of fabric and hem all the way around. Stitch the bottom edge to the top along the long side for 10-12 inches, forming loose sleeves. fabric to make sure they're correct.
6. Infinity Scarf
This quick project is a perfect gift for any season. In the winter, use fine woollen flannel for a version that will keep the wearer cosy no matter what the weather. In the summer, opt for light, floaty fabrics in bold prints and patterns. French seams work well to hide raw edges in lightweight fabrics, but for heavier versions of this project, try a flat felled or lapped seam to reduce bulk and prevent fraying very stretchy and malleable.
7. Microwaveable Heat Pack
These reusable heat packs are great for sore necks and backs, and they're so easy to make. Use a sturdy woven cloth to make a simple pouch, leaving a gap to tum and stuff. Fill with regular uncooked rice or flax seed, leaving just enough room for the rice to move and settle. Stitch firmly closed. You can use your pouch as is, or add a removable cover for easy washing.
8. Reversible Placemats
This is a great way to practise working with vinyl and other water-resistant fabrics. Since vinyl doesn't turn well, lay a rectangle of vinyl and your backing fabric wrong sides together and stitch around the edges. Use bias tape to bind the raw edges, and you're done! The vinyl side will easily wipe clean and prevent spills from soaking through when the fabric side is upright.
9. Quick & Easy Skirt
Use your measurements to cut a length of elastic that will fit snugly around your waist and stretch over your hips. Cut a rectangle of fabric that's twice as long as your hip circumference, and as wide as your skirt should be long. Hem one edge. Join the narrow ends to form a loop, then add a casing at the top for your elastic. This pattern works best with lightweight fabrics without a lot of bulk.
10. Embellished Tea Towels
This handmade project will give you a chance to play with all the fun stitch settings on your sewing machine! Start with regular shop-bought tea towels, and choose brightly coloured, contrasting thread. Use a disappearing marker or washable fabric pencil to mark straight lines across the ends of the towel, then set your sewing machine to one of its decorative stitch patterns and sew away!
11. Hostess Apron
A fat quarter of fabric is all you need for this quick project. Cut strips to form the apron's waistband and ties. Stitch into one long strip, then fold in half and press. Open the folded strip, fold the raw edges to the centre, press again, then fold the whole thing in half once more. Hem three edges of the remaining fabric and gather onto the waistband. Stitch the waistband closed from end to end, and your apron is complete and ready to wear.
12. Plush-Lined Baby Blanket
These plush blankets on the other hand are perfect for a last-minute gift. Cut two squares of fabric, one in quilting cotton or soft flannel, the other in a plush fabric like minky. Lay the squares right sides together and stitch the edges. Clip your corners and turn right side out, then top-stitch around the edges to close the remaining gap and provide extra stability. This project works best with short pile minky. Fitting and adjust your pattern before making the real thing.
13. Gift Bag
Why use disposable wrapping paper when you can present your gifts in beautiful handmade bags? Use scraps of bright fabric, or spring for luxurious satins for a high-end look. Stitch into a quick bag, and tie with ribbon.
14. Market Bags
Heading to the market? Don't forget your bags! All you'll need is a length of easily washable, sturdy fabric, like lightweight canvas, and nylon webbing for handles. Remember to use a heavy-duty needle and thread when applying your nylon webbing. The last thing you want is a bag with weak handles.