‘Tis Better To Give…

Early on, as I began stitching, I thought stitching gifts would be a wonderful idea. It was the perfect hand-made touch. I didn’t have much money, but I did have time; cotton floss wasn’t that expensive, and I could pick up patterns and supplies for reasonable cost. I remember one Christmas I stitched cartoon characters on sweatshirts for everyone in my family. Another year I stitched end-of-year gifts for my children’s teachers.

But I gradually made a shift and stopped stitching gifts for anyone else. I kept all of my stitching for myself. Christmas stockings, an afghan, ornaments – I spent too much time on those things to give them away.

And as I became more involved in the stitching community, I began to hear horror stories: “I gave her a beautiful wedding sampler and she never hung it”; “They sold the afghan I made for them in a garage sale”, “they let the dog sleep on the baby quilt!”. Isn’t that the worst? We know how much effort goes into placing each stitch by hand, but the recipient doesn’t appreciate the gift.

Some still have good experiences with gifting their stitching, but I hear far more of the opposite. And yet wedding and baby themed stitching remains the most popular in the needlework shops, and I know those things aren’t being stitched for the stitcher!

So how to resolve our need to stitch and share what we’ve stitched, and to insure the delight of the recipient? Here are some suggestions:

  • Give the gift to another stitcher – even that isn’t a sure thing, but it increases the odds
  • Do some research – what is the intended recipient’s favorite color? their decorating style? Just because you love hearts and flowers doesn’t mean they do, so try to match the gift to the recipient
  • Keep the project small – the less you have invested, the less potential for hurt. An ornament is almost always universally appreciated, a large wall-hanging not so much unless specifically requested
  • Don’t make it a surprise – get the intended recipient involved. Take them to the local needlework shop to pick out the project, the threads, the fabric/canvas, and the framing. And allow them to say “no, thanks” if they don’t want a stitched gift

And finally, learn to stitch for yourself. It’s ok, really, to stitch for your own pleasure and to KEEP what you stitched. If you’ve run out of room to display your stitching, consider a rotation system of display, or loan your stitched pieces to the local shop to display; they will probably be delighted to display your stitching because it will help sell what they have in the shop. Or, contact Habitat for Humanity or shelters in your area to see if they would like to have stitched pieces as a donation to brighten their buildings (there may be restrictions).

How have your stitched gifts been received? What is your favorite thing to stitch as a gift?

2 thoughts on “‘Tis Better To Give…”

  1. Sadly, I’m with you on this. I’ve quit stitching gifts for other people, even other stitchers. I’m a process person = I love the process of stitching, knitting, making. I don’t like the pressure of the deadline. I may not even want to finish the piece!

    If, occasionally, the opportunity arises, I might gift someone with a piece of needlework right off my wall, but that’s serendipity.

  2. I have learned to only give stitching gifts to specific people I know who appreciate it. These are mostly people who are crafters of some sort, or who have tried to stitch in the past and didn’t have the patience for it. They all know the amount of time it takes. I recently learned to crochet, and am making crocheted gifts for birthdays and Christmas this year. It’s faster for me to crochet a gift – and less expensive — and I can make more utilitarian objects. Everyone is getting a crocheted gift this year, but only particular people will continue to get gifts of needlepoint or cross stitch in the future. I learned that lesson a long time ago, unfortunately. I have also learned to stitch in colors or themes that the person likes, as was mentioned in the blog post. Seems like a “duh” kind of thing, but I think we often (at least I do) get caught up in what we want to make that we forget to take specific styles into account.

    I also used to give everything away, until about 14 years ago when my boyfriend noted that nobody would know I stitched by looking at my walls. He convinced me to start keeping more for myself, and it has made a big difference.

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