Where I grew up in the Midwest, people didn’t distribute “goody bags” at birthday parties. That’s a phenomenon I first encountered here on the East Coast, and at first it struck me as a little weird. Since then I’ve come to think of it as akin to [START GEEK ALERT!] the Hobbits’ tradition of distributing gifts on one’s own birthday [END GEEK ALERT!], and I think it can a nice way to teach small children about being hosts and thanking their guests for sharing a special day for them (and not just giving thanks for gifts received).

p5027714goodybags.jpgJan and I wanted the gifts to be something special, so I decided to start by using my newfound sewing skills to make the bags themselves. Each is a simple rectangle with two drawstrings. I went a little nuts and did applique letters (corresponding to the initial letter of each child’s first name) on each bag, too. With her pre-reading skills, Sylvia really enjoyed identifying which bag went to which child and handing them out herself.

p5027716bagsample.jpgEach bag contained a little fairy doll (Sylvia chose fairies as the theme for her party), some multicolored pencils, and a set of mini sketchbooks. The books were a lot of fun to make, not least because I used images from Japanese coloring pages for the covers. Those little animals are just so darn cute!

p5027713ethanbag.jpgSince one of our guests is only 17 months old, I figured he wasn’t quite ready for those items. So I made a stuffed rabbit-thingy for his bag. I winged it, so its ears are as long as its body, but it was fun to make. Experimenting with fabric is a lot faster than experimenting with yarn!

p4267532dolls.jpgThe little fairies were a lot of fun to make, too. I used recycled felt for the bodies and wings, a pipecleaner for the arms (with polyfill-stuffed muslin hands), and polyfill-stuffed muslin for the head. For the hair, I ordered four different sets of hand-dyed Border Leicester locks from Enchanted Yarns. I told her what I was going to do with them, and she suggested using needle felting techniques to attach them to the heads. Amazingly, I was unable to find any local vendors (either large craft stores or local yarn shops) that carried them, and by the time I started on this project I didn’t have time to order them. So I took a chunk of locks and used invisible thread to sew down where the center seam would be, thus creating a “wig” of sorts, which I then hand-sewed to each head. Perfect, no—but I think they turned out all right.

11 Responses to “I finally learned how to use my sewing machine, part 2”

  1. Chrison 11 May 2009 at 8:46 am

    I hope the bags were well-received – they look so cute!

  2. Pshortenon 11 May 2009 at 9:44 am

    Love this idea for a gift bag!!

  3. Kiranon 11 May 2009 at 11:24 am

    Adorable! I love coming up with creative and not junky things for party favors. These are great, I especially love the little fairies!

  4. Marshaon 11 May 2009 at 3:06 pm

    @Chris: As far as I could tell, the bags seemed to be a success with the kids!
    @Pat and @Kiran: Thanks! These really were lots of fun to make, so I think I enjoyed them as much as the kids did. :)

  5. Bethon 11 May 2009 at 9:47 pm

    As a family who attended Sylvia’s birthday it was a huge success and the goody bags are a big hit in our household! No mention of the cake? Which by the way was one of the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever seen.

  6. Marshaon 12 May 2009 at 8:27 am

    @Beth: Thanks! :) Don’t worry—the cake will get its props!

  7. Katie Jon 17 May 2009 at 12:30 pm

    The bags were fantastic Marsha and the party was an absolute success. We were so happy to be invited.

  8. Marshaon 17 May 2009 at 5:52 pm

    @Katie: Dude, it would not have been a party without you! :)

  9. Teresa aka Tesson 09 Jun 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I think this looks like a fun and great gift. I think your floppy eared bunny looks fine. The fairies are so cute. Well done and thanks for your comment on my blog.

  10. Evelinon 12 Jul 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Those goodie bags are amazing.

    Is it really an east coast thing … or is it just that we are parents now thing?? Because I don’t remember getting goodie bags at parties, either. And I’m definitely east coast.

  11. Marshaon 12 Jul 2009 at 8:46 pm

    @Evelin: Maybe it’s an East Coast parents thing? :)