Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gift for a New Baby

Recently my husband asked me to make baby gifts for three of his co-workers who were expecting new additions in the near future. I love to make handmade gifts. However, I tend to shy away from making the traditional baby blanket.


After the birth of my second child, I noticed that I had received A LOT of baby blankets between the birth of my first two children. 32 baby blankets to be exact, 7 of them lovingly handmade. In my case, I'm also a military spouse, so I know that most of my husband's co-workers are going to have to pack up everything they own and move cross-country every couple of years. 

Handmade Embroidered Baby Blanket
A lot of times with new babies, I have no idea if the family has really crafty relatives, godparents, or other very close friends. Nor do I know what other people are going to give them. I realize that they may (or may not) receive a lot of blankets as gifts. However, I know the family is going to have to move. A lot. And if they need to get rid of a lot of stuff to fit into a smaller home at their next duty station, then the blanket from grandma is probably going to mean more to them than the blanket from one of Daddy's Marine Corps buddies. 

So what do you give a new baby when the parents don't have a lot of space or don't want to haul around a bunch of stuff through multiple moves?

Personalized Christmas Ornaments. 

They're small. They're useful. They outlive the lifetime of the average baby blanket (babies outgrow most blankets by the time they're two, whereas a Christmas ornament may survive until the child starts out on his or her own). And the family is going to see it and remember who gave it to them at least once a year when they hang it on the tree. Since the ornament is personalized with the child's name or initial, it will probably become special to that child as he or she grows up and sees his or her name up on the family tree. 

I've done a few variations on personalized ornaments in the past. For example, here's an ornament that doubles as a candy cane holder: 
Personalized Snowman Ornament

This one uses metallic thread:
Xmas Ornament with Name in Metallic Silver Thread

For this particular baby, I wanted to do something a little bit different. And here's what I came up with: 
Jacobean Initial Christmas Ornament

Now the most recent ornament isn't the child's full name, but I think the initial alone is gorgeous. It's a beautiful, traditional-looking ornament, which has a lot of color. The embroidery harks back to the Jacobean style, which developed during the first quarter of the 17th Century during the reign of King James I. The style was very popular and moved to Colonial America. I like the idea of giving a little bit of history with my gifts.

I like to lay my threads against the
fabric in a group so I can see how
everything will look together. 
To make it, I had a lot of colors to coordinate. Sometimes people think embroidery is easy and that the machine does everything for you. It certainly speeds up the process, but I'm the one who picks the colors and materials. In this case, I went through my 200-some collection of colors and picked out the shades that I thought worked well both together and with the dark green fabric. 

This was a bit more tricky because there are a lot of shades in the flowers, and I also had to account for those little acorns. (Acorns are a traditional motif in both Jacobean embroidery and the earlier blackwork style.) 

Partway-through the stitching process.
I ended up testing out about 4 different shades of pink before I found a light and dark tone that I was happy with.  In this case, I wanted something that was bright and cheerful - appropriate for the birth of a new baby girl. I could have used different shades, but the result would have been a different look. (I could have used less saturated hues for a more subdued, antique look.) 

The initial ornament is a decent size.
Big enough to be seen on the tree
without overwhelming it. 
From there, I got to stitch it. I have to make sure I stop at the right time to add a backing so you don't see the backside of the embroidery once it's on the tree. The final step is to add the decorative stitched border and to cut out the shape. Oh, and add the ribbon, which involves using a large needle threaded with satin ribbon, so I can have it go through the ornament where I've reinforced it with a ring of embroidered satin stitches.  

I think the end result is perfect for a little girl. I hope the family loves it.  

Oh, and there's one more thing I like about these ornaments. Sometimes, you want to get a personalized gift but the name is unusual or there are several different spelling variations. (My own name of Michelle could be spelled as Michele, for example.) With just the initial, you can go with either the first name or the last name, and you don't have to worry about accidentally using the wrong spelling variation. 


  1. What a wonderful idea for a baby gift! It's personal and can be enjoyed year after year. The initial ornament is stunning! These would also make great gifts for grandparents, with the initials of all their grandchildren.

  2. Perfect gift ideas indeed! I think it's wonderful how you show the process behind the embroidery too. It's always interesting to see how an item is made.

  3. It is great that you understand your husband's coworkers' needs to pack up and go and keep it light. The embroidered Christmas ornaments are perfect - thoughtfully made, and easily packed. They could also decorate a new baby's room door or bedside table, dangling from a drawer pull or knob. The snowman candy cane holder is very cute, but the colors and style of embroidery really stand out on the initial ornament.

  4. Michelle, your intuition really works ;) And your sense of design. I would have blithely gone with just one shade of pink and there would be less dimension to the pattern. Beautiful work! And happy birthing -- not so far away ;)

  5. Wonderful gift ideas. I am sure these will be a BIG hit for Christmas!!

  6. What a fantastic idea for a baby gift. No matter how many times a family has to move these ornaments will be easy to pack. I'm sure that parents will love them!

  7. That's very thoughtful of you! I love the ideas: size and monogram, and it's OOAK!

    Adorebynat - Handmade Party Decorations and Stationery

  8. Wow! How gorgeous! And it's something that will definitely be treasured and hopefully passed down to the next generation . . . and the next . . .

  9. I think the ornaments are a great gift idea. We always used to buy them when our kids were little - Baby's 1st Christmas, 2nd Christmas, etc.

  10. Brilliant, Michele. Those are simply adorable ornaments, and I just love the initial. Those are lasting heirloom gifts.

  11. Great idea for unique and personalized baby gifts, that don't take up much room and will last a lifetime. Excellent post Michelle.
    Lisa :)

  12. Wonderful concept. I think everyone likes this concept. Baby Gifts