The first thing you need to do is get it out of your head that your friend has everything. She most definitely does not. There are basic tools that everyone needs to get started sewing (I shared some here), but there is a whole world of notions beyond that, specially designed to make all the tricky little techniques of sewing easier. And don't forget a lot of the basics need constant replacing. Take it from someone who has collected many tools over the years, sometimes in doubles and triples, here are some things I would love to find in my Christmas stocking this year.
1. Carolyn Friedlander appliqué patterns. Not everyone loves hand sewing, but if you know someone that does, these patterns are a guaranteed hit. Beautiful, modern designs that are easy to adapt to a variety of projects, like pillows, wall hangings or quilts. Carolyn's instructions are always clear and easy to follow as well, which is helpful for appliqué newbies like me.
2. Wonder clips. If your friend is a quilter, they may already have a set of these babies. Mind you, I've been sewing my whole life and still don't have any. They're used to hold down bulky or shifty layers of fabric, when pins just aren't cutting it, like quilt binding, zippers, or knits.
3. Little scissors. These are pretty basic, but one pair definitely will not do. They are never there when you need them, so you may as well get a bunch and leave a pair on every table in the house.
4. Specialty needles. There's nothing more basic than a needle and thread, right? But did you know that needles come in every shape and size for every type of sewing? And before you ask, yes, it really does make a difference. For example, quilting needles are extra strong and sharp to poke through several layers of fabric and batting; whereas appliqué needles are fine, for tiny detailed piecing. Experienced sewers know this, but often ignore it, using whatever old needle is lying around. You also have to replace needles often, another fact sewers often choose to ignore. So this falls in the gift-they-won't-buy-themselves category.
5. Giant thimble jar. This is just cool. I saw it in someone else's sewing wish list and wanted it in my workroom instantly. Everyone needs somewhere to store all their tools, why not make it a giant gold thimble, right?
6. Swedish tracing paper. I've heard sewers rave about this stuff for years, but I've never been able to justify the expense. That's what Christmas is for! Ha! It's basically tracing paper made of fabric, which helps preserve the life of your patterns as well as allow you to actually try them on and make fit adjustments directly on the pattern pieces.
7. Colette Sewing Planner. Now that I'm sewing a large majority of my clothing, it can be overwhelming to prioritize and keep track of it all. The idea of keeping my goals, design ideas and completed projects all in one handy planner is very appealing. Is your friend more of a quilter than a clothing sewer? Don't worry, there's a planner for that too!
8. Rotary blades. This may not seem like a very exciting gift, but trust me, a new rotary blade is heavenly. It cuts through fabric like butter. And again, we often don't replace them as often as we should.
9. Needlework enamel pin. Enamel pins are all the rage right now and there are several sewing-related ones popping up; Colette and Abby have cute ones, but obviously I'm partial to my friendly local fabric shop's.