Gift Post #5: Cardholders

We give small and/or handmade family gifts to DH’s siblings (5 of them) and his cousins (5 on one side, 1 on the other side) plus small gifts to a few hangers-on who attend our Christmas Eve celebration. This year DH and I made cardholders. Just so you don’t have to do the math, I made about 14 cardholders.

Original Card Holder
Original Card Holder

DH’s mom has a cardholder in the shape of a Santa (oddly shaped, but Santa nonetheless) that I have long admired. She bought it from a door to door salesman in the 1950s or 1960s. She may have told me the name of the company, but I don’t remember. I have wanted to replicate it for a long time and decided that this year would be the year of the cardholders. I also quickly decided that I was not going to make the cardholders in the shape of a Santa.

Original Card Holder - detail
Original Card Holder - detail

I searched the web to get some ideas and found very few ideas online. Apparently, this is not a popular gift. I did find a few, but no free patterns that I liked.

What I find were ideas for shapes. I decided that a long rectangle with a pointy bottom would be easiest to sew and look the best.

DH and I sat down with the measurements of felt (72″ wide) and an idea of what I could sew in a reasonable amount of time. He did most of the heavy math lifting while I stuck to the practicalities of sewing.

Once we had the dimensions down I set about cutting and figuring out the sewing process as I wanted to do as much assembly line sewing as I could.

Testing Ribbon Trims
Testing Ribbon Trims

I have a can full of various odds and ends of ribbon. I use that ribbon when I make gift bags. Some of the saved ribbon is too short for gift bags so I got it out to test trimming the pockets. Above is some really interesting French gold ribbon that I sewed on to a pocket. I liked it, but thought it was a bit wide.

I have several rolls of 1/4″ ribbon in red and green that I got when I cleaned out my Aunt’s craft room after she died. Since I have a lot of it, I used quite a bit to trim various pockets, even though I thought it was a bit thin. The best size turned out to be 7/8″ ribbon, which DH got when I sent him to the store to get some silver ribbon.

Assembly Line Pocket Trimming
Assembly Line Pocket Trimming

I got the assembly line figured out eventually. Above it looks like I am just putting a bunch of pockets on a line of ribbon and sewing. Actually, I cut the pieces of ribbon, wrapped them around the pockets. This enabled me to sew through two layers of ribbon and one layer of felt to anchor the ribbon and keep it from fraying a bit. As soon as I was done sewing one, I would put the next pocket very close to the one exiting the presser foot and keep sewing.

Figuring out color schemes
Figuring out color schemes

You know my rule is to “make visual decisions visually”, so we laid out all the cut pieces and rearranged them until we were happy with the color combinations. After this step, I got down to being serious about trimming the pockets.

Measuring pockets
Measuring pockets

Once all of the pockets were trimmed, I sewed the sleeve and then pinned them to the back, measuring down from the sleeve’s seam line (above).

Cardholder: pinned & ready to sew
Cardholder: pinned & ready to sew

The pockets required more thinking to sew on. I ended up pinning as many as I had cut and trimmed and then sewing like colors on. First I sewed all the red pockets. That left some cardholders with white and green pockets only trimmed and pinned. Once I completed all the red pockets, I changed thread and worked on green, then white. This method prevented me from having to change thread (to match a pocket color) every 5 minutes.

One evening I was home alone, so I took all the cardholders down to the TV and embellished them with buttons, sequins and beads. It was nice to do a little handwork and get away from the machine for a couple of hours. I also think it gave them a bit of a one-of-a-kind look.

Little did I know that DH was surfing the web and had embellishment ideas of his own! He found patterns/templates for some stars, ornaments, mittens and holly.  Again, I hauled all of the cardholders downstairs and we figured out what would go where.

Holly Embellishment
Holly Embellishment

It was very clear that the red buttons I sewed on a whim would make excellent holly berries. I would have liked to put some kind of spine or shading on the holly leaves, but ran out of time to figure that element out. These are some of the cardholders we made.

First Completed Cardholder
First Completed Cardholder

This is the first completed cardholder. We gave it to our friends, Eric and Yar, when we went to their Christmas party at the beginning of the month. They also invite us over for dinner every year and we have yet to reciprocate. Now that the dining room is painted, I think the time has come.

This was is more plain than the later versions. I should call it subdued!

Hanger detail
Hanger detail

We are using some Lucite rods, that didn’t work as quilt hangers, to hang the cardholders. They look nice, were easy to cut, did not need finishing other than a bit of sanding and work very well.

2 Mittens & a Star
2 Mittens & a Star
2 Stars, Mittens & Holly
2 Stars, Mittens & Holly

I had to pay attention to what color embellishments went on which color of pocket or background. If I didn’t, the embellishments wouldn’t show up. This war particularly tricky for the mittens, because of the white cuff. I tried some other colors, but they didn’t look right. This is why the embellishments ended up on the two middle pockets on the card holder on the right, above.

Holly & Gold Ribbon
Holly & Gold Ribbon

The gold ribbon in the card holder on the right, above, had a papery feeling. I didn’t like the feel of it after I put it on. I had to chalk it up to experience, though, as those were some of the first pockets I embellished and was still in the learning process.

Embellishments

Ribbon trim
Ribbon trim
Stars
Stars
Mittens
Mittens
Gold Sequins
Gold Sequins
Buttons & thick ribbon
Buttons & thick ribbon

I also made one with a winter theme, rather than red and green, for a family that celebrates both Christmas and Hannukah.

Winter theme with Holly
Winter theme with Holly

Here are the two winter themed card holders I made with one of the holly versions. I had fun embellishing the blue and white with silver beads, sequins and pearls.

Winter beading - large detail
Winter beading - large detail

The beading does help keep the embellishments on as well.

Winter theme - detail, small
Winter theme - detail, small

I thought the turquoise snowflake added a bit of shading or interest to the Winter card holders.

One of the good things about making many of a project is that you know how to make it well. I would say that I am a master card holder maker now, if there is such a thing!

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

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