Personlizing Gifts

Gifts and cards remain one of the best ways to surprise and delight friends and family. Doing it with care and love makes a gift invaluable. Store bought gifts can be personalised and presented with love. Small ways like creating our own gift wrappers, greeting cards, greeting tags etc can make the gift interesting and unique.

Remember the “Best Wishes” card sold in gift shops ? Say bye-bye to those mundane tags… a small sheet of paper, a small piece of fabric, a marker pen or colour pencils are enough to make numerous cute tages… This is one such tag:

It is heart shaped. I covered the tag with a piece of cotton fabric. The grey cotton fabric can be opened to see the tag inside. I drew the lotus motiff with sketching pens. Makes the gift interesting 🙂

Then comes the greeting card… This one is a single sided card with a paper swan inserted into the side.

This swan’s wing can be flipped open to read the birthday message!  I first painted the card with water colours, cut the swan and a paper flap then joined them together.

This is another card.. It is a simple card made using handmade paper board sold in art stores. I painted two coats of dark red paint as base. On this I drew my own mango motiff, using gold colour paint. The inside is plain white sheet with a simple message.

This is another cute one… 🙂  A nice way to say “Missing You”, “Thinking of You”…

Every person has his own way of adding charm to a gift. Please share your ideas and suggestions too.

DIY with fabrics

Shopping for accessories is an interesting way to spend time. Hopping from shop to shop, searching for the pattern, colour, fabric you have in mind… But it is still true that it sometimes takes a long time to find the right product. 

It seems to be easier to rely on my own hands and restless mind to create what I like. Once I find a fabric to my liking, it is interesting to transform it to the accessory I have in mind. In addition, DIY fabric projects also have the advantage of recycling used fabrics. 

Here are a few of my craft experiments… 

This is a simple one… A cell phone pouch made from the pallu portion of a recycled cotton saree, with a flap for closing the pouch 🙂  


 During my granny’s childhood days, ladies used pouches instead of handbags. Drawing inspiration from days of yore, I made this pouch as a gift for my aunt. It is made from silk, with cotton lining inside. Pattern on it is applique work using cotton fabric. Instead of buttons / zipper, I did a traditional string choker for closing and opening the pouch.   


  It is easy to use pouches. They can accomodate anything from currency, cosmetics and even a camera. Of late I have realized that pouches are environment friendly, can be made from recycled fabrics and washable too. Do try them once 🙂

 Light curtain for a narrow window. I made this  one from my dupatta and painted it in bright colours with flower patterns.  


Handloom dresses are comfortable in warm weather and are made by local craftsmen, but are mostly plain with no designs on them. This is one such handloom dress. Since the original dress was too plain, I printed leaf patterns on it… done by engraved the leaf pattern on a potato and printing using fabric paints. 

leaf print

It is joyful to play around with a bunch of fabrics, threads, needles and paints. Whether the result resembles what I plan or not, it is thoroughly satisfying to enjoy using something I create by myself 🙂

Crafts of Tamil Nadu – Applique

Applique work is the use of cloth / felt pieces for decorating fabrics. Cloth or felt pieces are cut into various shapes and sizes. They are stitched over dresses or contrastics fabrics.

Colour plays a major role in all oriental cultures. Any tradition / craft in this part of the world involves bold colours and bright designs.

The traditional “thombai” applique work of Tamil Nadu is one such traditional craft designed to add colour and cheer to celebrations.

Sewing works are mostly used in dress making. Unlike the rest, this applique work is mostly done on Temple decoratives like door banners, decorative cloth pillars, umbrellas etc.

It was done by hand, but of late sewing  machines are used, making the process simpler. This umbrella or canopy has colourful applique work and “kuncham” border.


Parrot designs on umbrella

Parrot designs on umbrella

Mirror work and zari borders are increasingly in use now, adding more beauty to the already beautiful pieces. The below image is the sun motiff with floral border.
Kavadi banner - applique work

Sun design with floral border


During days of maharajahs, when new temples were constructed, years of manual sewing resulted in huge banners and decors for the new temple. Artisans resided at the temple site for years, cutting and stitching colourful thombais and umbrellas needed for the temple.


Banner applique

Cock design with floral border


Every temple, even small ones, have a complete set of  thombais, banners and umbrellas with applique work. They appear at the beginning of any religious procession or temple functions in Tamil Nadu.


Preparing for the start of a procession

Preparing for the start of a procession