Gettin’ Guesty (and Crafty) with Hazel and Mare

getting guests

We’ve got ANOTHER great contributor this week!

Gifts are one of the trickiest parts of the Spending Fast/Spending Diet. Just how do you show someone you care without spending money on them? Here’s a post on JUST that topic (from Day 29!).

Today’s contributor has created a great Do-It-Yourself gift idea that I think just about anyone would love to receive. The little heart is soo cute! (you’ll see!)

Katie Naugle of Hazel and Mare

My name is Katie, and like many of you, I fell victim to societal pressures to spend. I read fashion magazines and saw cute spring clothes that I just had to have. I bought a new phone because all my friends’ phones had video cameras and internet, and my old, normal phone seemed so old… and normal. I spent $20 on pretty measuring cups from Anthropologie (that now I’m too afraid to use because they cost $20). However, I realized that working 40 hours a week just to shop away all my paychecks didn’t make me a happier or more fulfilled person. Instead, that lifestyle led to a closet filled with clothes I never wear, too much credit card debt, and a plan to change it all.

I come from a long line of crafters- creative and imaginative people who made things instead of bought things. When I was a child, I couldn’t care less that my Halloween costume was homemade. In fact, I thought it was pretty cool. I cherished my glamorous Barbie mansion made from shoeboxes and painted popsicle stick furniture. And I will never forget the fun times we had creating something together- it made it way more special than just running over to the mall.

So I’m on a mission now to follow in my ancestors’ creative footsteps. I’m going to rid myself of bad shopping habits by putting my sewing and crafting skills to good use. When I see something I want to purchase, I will instead just try to make it myself. Nowadays, it is so easy to just hand over a credit card that we forget how fun, simple, and inexpensive the Do-It-Yourself version can be.

Let’s take Anthropologie, for example. I swoon over their mix of rustic, eclectic, and elegant styles, but their prices are much too high for your average recessionista. $128 for a pillow? I could make two student loan payments with that. Or buy a month’s worth of groceries. Or 128 bottles of Snapple.

Since we are all on our own missions to stop spending and get out of debt, I’m going to show you how to make a pretty, Anthropologie-inspired gift for a fraction of the Anthropologie price.

Home is Where the Heart is Pillow

What you will need:

– ½ yard fabric with a cute print, or a pre-sewn, blank 14” x 14” pillowcase

– Sewing machine (optional- you can also use a pre-sewn pillowcase as mentioned above)

– 1 skein (8 meters) of embroidery floss in the color of your choosing

– Needle

– Pins

– Pencil or invisible ink marker

– Embroidery hoop

– Small piece of red felt

– America template (PDF here)

– 14” x 14” pillow form

*Note: I purchased all the supplies for this pillow at a craft store for about $11.

How To:

1)    Iron fabric flat.

2)    From the fabric, cut out one square that is 15 ½” on all sides. Then cut out two rectangles 15 ½” x 10”.

3)    Cut out America template. Tape the cutout in the center of the square piece of fabric.

4)    Carefully trace around the outside of the cutout with your pencil or invisible ink marker. (Once you embroider over the lines, you won’t be able to see the pencil marks).

5)    Place the area with the design inside the embroidery hoop to hold the fabric tight.

6)    Take a piece of your embroidery floss. Each piece is made up of 6 smaller strands. Split the piece of floss in half so that you are holding three strands in each hand. Thread your needle with three strands and set the other three aside.

7)    Even if you have never embroidered before, this is a piece of cake! You are just following the lines that you traced with the embroidery floss. Poke the threaded needle from the back of the fabric to the front, then back down about 1/8 of an inch from where you started. Then make the second stitch, moving the needle from back to front about 1/8 of an inch from the first stitch. Bring the needle back down right where you ended the previous stitch, so that the stitches connect in a line. This is called a backstitch. Continue these stitches all the way around the traced area.

8)    Make a heart cutout from your red felt and place it over the state you love! Sew in place by making a simple “X” with your embroidery floss.

9)    Set the square piece aside and place the two rectangle pieces next to each other with the printed sides facing down. Along the long side facing the middle, fold the fabric back ½ an inch and pin. Do this on both pieces. Sew along this seam on each piece, removing pins as you go.

10) Place the embroidered piece facing right side up. With printed sides facing down, line up the unfinished long sides of the rectangle pieces with the right and left sides of the square, and the hemmed sides facing the middle (these pieces will overlap). Pin the pieces in place. Note: the printed sides of the fabric should be facing each other, not the outside.

11) Sew around entire border of pillow. Turn fabric right side out and gently poke the corners with the eraser of your pencil. Topstitch around the border of the square to create a finished look.

12) Insert pillow form, and you’re all done!

cute, cute, cute

Katie Naugle from Hazel and Mare ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And ThenWe Saved!


10 thoughts on “Gettin’ Guesty (and Crafty) with Hazel and Mare

  1. Peg Yates

    I love the idea that homemade is better. It is certainly more meaningful, and I love that Katie is learning at a younger age how debt can overwhelm us. She is bright, smart, pretty and very crafty….thanks Katie!

  2. Chelle

    Wow, Katie, I love it! I'll bet you've had a lot of success giving these pillows as gifts. Isn't gift giving such a huge problem these days? That is one area I simply cannot seem to get under control.

    I have cross stitched all of my life and love giving them as gifts. The cross stitch gift that I was most successful with from a financial point of view was one that I had my mother, who is a quilter, make a fabric "frame" for. I have found that the 50% off framing at Michael's still ends up being about $200 for an average sized piece. So I like the idea of making your gifts a lot and I love your pillows! Very pretty and so personal.

    Here's my question. How do you spend only $128 for an entire month of groceries? We are spending between $800 and $1000 a month for a family of five, with three teenage boys. I know we're doing something wrong. What's your secret?

  3. Katie

    @ Peg: Thanks, you're so sweet! <3 Crafting is super fun, isn't it?

    @ Chelle: Yeah, I know- framing is so expensive! I usually just get frames at Ikea or figure out another way to display work. Framing should never cost more than the actual product, hehe. As for the grocery bill… hmmm, I just eat a lot of vegetables I guess! I can imagine that would be hard with teenagers though.

    Thanks for checking out my post!

  4. Chelle


    You're so right that the frame shoudn't cost more than the piece that you're framing. Although, I do feel that all the hours I put into making something make it kind of priceless in a way. It's such a gift from the heart when you spend thousands of hours making someone a gift!

    You're right about the teenagers. They don't eat anything remotely resembling the color green. We have a lot of processed foods in our house and they go through them like a plague of locusts. It's impossible to keep anything in the pantry.

    I think you could do a whole guest post about how your grocery bill breaks down. That would be very instructive!

  5. Maryl

    Chelle, I think you just answered your own question why your grocery bill is higher than you would like. "We have a lot of processed foods in our house." Take chips, pop, and other snack food items off your grocery list and let your kids eat apples and peanut butter, flatbread and hummus (really inexpensive to make), air pop popcorn, and if they want chips and pop tell them they'll need to earn their junk food money outside the home. I am not going to tell you we never eat junk food, but we're eating far less of it and I feel a lot better. I also have found that my beloved Fritos aren't nearly as delicious as they once were.

  6. Marshall

    Love that pillow…what a great idea! Making an individual state pillow with the heart over your city would be a great gift too…unless the person lives in Wyoming….which would make for a slightly boring pillow :/

  7. marianney | A Life Set Free

    i love your story Katie and your pillows are adorable! i also can't believe how ridiculous the prices are at Anthropologie. I have never bought anything there bc even their sale racks are too expensive! Good for you for fighting back! Your pillows look way better than anything you could get there anyway ;)

  8. Katie

    Thanks, that's so nice! <3

    I think their stuff is so cute, but with a little creative spirit, it is really easy to make your own versions of things they sell. And when people ask where you got it, you'll have a much better story than if you just bought it at the mall!

  9. home stager in toronto

    The cross stitch gift that I was most successful with from a financial point of view was one that I had my mother, who is a quilter, make a fabric "frame" for. I have found that the 50% off framing at Michael's still ends up being about $200 for an average sized piece.

  10. Chelle

    Home Stager, were you wanting to comment on what I said? I was the one who posted about the cross stitch I made as a gift and had my mom quilt a frame for. I wish I had a picture of it, but alas I gave it to my brother's girlfriend without getting a picture and they are no longer together. Such a shame.

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