How to Make Your Own Ugly Christmas Sweater

Make Ugly Christmas Sweater

Guest post by Lindsay Olsen

In the beginning, there was Great-Aunt Mabel, a woman blessed with a lot of creativity and an endless supply of yarn. What Mabel lacked in taste she made up in energy. Her nieces and nephews could always count on getting a warm, comfortable and utterly hideous sweater every Christmas.

Great-Aunt Mabel, and others like her, produced knitted monstrosities that could only be worn by the brave. Want a puffy, three-dimensional Christmas tree? Mabel had a stitch for that. Need to make sure that Rudolph’s nose is placed in a socially awkward location? Mabel’s knitting needles came with an anatomical GPS. It’s a shame she isn’t still around to wrap us all in the warm glow of holiday embarrassment.

Nowadays, the ugly Christmas sweater is a tradition to be celebrated, not worn once and hidden away in shame. If you don’t have a Great-Aunt Mabel and don’t have time to knit for yourself, there are still some options available for your Christmas party wardrobe.

Find an  ugly christmas sweater

Finding Great-Aunt Mabel

Exploring thrift shops is like searching for buried treasure. You never know what you’ll find. These stores often get donations from estates or from people who are simply cleaning out their attics. Great-Aunt Mabel’s work has been known to make an appearance. Vintage ugly Christmas sweaters can also be found in online shops and auction sites. Read the descriptions carefully to make sure the garment is the right size, and keep in mind that the actual quality and condition may not be apparent from the photos.

Tulle ugly Christmas Sweater

Starting From Scratch

The nice thing about creating a custom ugly Christmas sweater is that it doesn’t have to be a sweater at all. Any knitted top that’s heavy enough to support your decorations will do. Here are just a few of the ways to get ugly:

Artwork appliques.
This is a patch or other shape added directly to the sweater. You can draw your own designs using markers or fabric paints. Another easy option is to use iron-on transfer paper to print images you find online. Craft felt and a glue gun makes quick work of geometric designs like Christmas trees — not to mention snowpeople of either gender.

All the trimmings.
Craft stores and fabric stores are great places to find interesting and kitschy trim to add to your ugly Christmas sweater. Use string or yarn fringe to mimic icicles. For strings of ornaments, try ball fringe. The tiny yarn balls have a fuzzy texture and will sway as you move. Rickrack is an easy way to decorate a felt gingerbread house. Sequin trim adds flash and can be used to trace outlines or even woven in and around other decorations.

Light it up!
If sequins aren’t flashy enough, try battery-powered LED lights. These can be found in hobby stores or purchased online. Use strings of tiny lights as tree decorations, edging on a cottage roof or an outline around your own special sweater billboard. Larger individual lights work as noses for reindeer or for buzzed elves. Lights will need a power source and a controller. A simple pocket sewn into the lower edge of your ugly Christmas sweater will make these easy to reach.

Entering a new dimension.
Great-Aunt Mabel’s puffs and cable stitches gave her sweaters a bulky, three-dimensional look. You can do the same by adding on yarn pompoms to create Christmas trees or snowbanks. For a more sophisticated effect, try using tulle flowers. These come in a wide range of shapes and colors, and can be attached to any sweater with just a few stitches or a dab of glue. You can even use them to turn yourself into a Christmas present. Simply cover the front of the sweater with a large square of felt. Next, add a cross of wide satin ribbons. Finally, attach a cluster of tulle flowers as a bow.

make ugly christmas sweater

What to Do When Time Is Short

If you’re running short on time, searching the Web or hot-gluing elves onto your shoulder pads may not be an option. That doesn’t mean you have to attend that holiday party dressed like a civilian. Your custom ugly Christmas sweater is just a click away. Just choose your color and pattern, then add your artwork. It just shows that you can wear an ugly Christmas sweater and still be a snappy dresser – no glue gun required.

Just don’t tell Great-Aunt Mabel.


Sew a 15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RitzFilledNotHangry #CollectiveBias

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

My toddler son is a picky eater. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s the truth! That’s why when we are going out and about, I fill up my “mom bag” with tons of snack options for him. His go-to “meals” these days are peanut butter sandwich crackers, applesauce pouches, fruit snacks, and almonds. Thank goodness there is some protein in there, because meat is one of the toughest things to get him interested in!
I thought it would be cool to make him his own little placemat, so that whether we are at home just hanging out in the living room, he can have a cute place to enjoy his snacks (that’s not our leather sofa).
I’ve had this laminated cotton fabric designed for a while now, and I’m so happy I found the perfect little project for it! To make one 13″ x 17″ placemat, you’ll need:

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial


– 14″ x 18″ piece of laminated cotton fabric
– 14″ x 18″piece of quilt batting
– 14″ x 18″ piece of backing fabric (I used inexpensive white muslin)


15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

1. Layer your fabrics as follows: quilt batting on the bottom, laminated cotton fabric on top of that (facing right side UP), and backing fabric on top of that (facing right side down).

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

2. Sew around the perimeter of the stack of fabrics, about 1/2″ from the edge. Leave a 3″ section open on one short side for turning. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″. Use your scissors to trim the corners at an angle, which will make it easier to poke out the corners in the next step.

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

3. Turn the placemat right side out, using a pencil or a chopstick to poke out the corners. Take the placemat to your sewing machine and pin the 3″ opening closed. Sew where you’ve pinned about 1/8″ from the edge to close the hole.

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

4. Next, topstitch 1/4″ from the edge around the perimeter of your placemat. If the laminated fabric sticks under your sewing machine foot, you can place a piece of masking tape on the underside of your sewing foot to keep it moving smoothly.

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

5. When sewing with laminated cotton fabric, it’s still okay to iron it, but always use a pressing cloth (another piece of fabric) so it doesn’t melt under your iron!

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric and Cardboard Box Tray Tutorial

6. Inspired by Pinterest, I also made my son a little tray to use with it out of a cardboard box. To make this part, just cut the flaps off of a box, and then cut “tunnels” in the two wider sides. I also taped a smaller box to the side, to make a storage container for toys or other snacks. The placemat fits perfectly on top!

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric Sewing Tutorial

Ta da! This placemat is the perfect size for a toddler to enjoy their favorite snacks. We love RITZ Peanut Butter Filled Sandwich Crackers and the cheese ones come in a close second.

15-Minute Placemat with Laminated Fabric and Cardboard Box Tray Tutorial

My nearest Kroger store is one of my favorites to visit, because it has everything I need, but it’s also not huge, so I can get in and out quickly. When my son gets kind of hungry… I mean “hangry”… he’s far from my favorite shopping companion. But I do keep lots of snacks in my mom bag, and a pack of these crackers always put him in a better mood. I’m so glad that RITZ Filled Sandwich Crackers are now available at Kroger stores! I usually find them in the lunchbox section, nearby the applesauce pouches my son also loves.

I hope you have fun making this placemat, and good luck keeping your kids from getting too “hangry”!

‘Sew Place Like Home’ Gift Idea for Sewists

Are you looking for a gift for your best sewing friend? Something to warm her heart this holiday season?

I’m excited to share with you a brand new book filled with sewing-related stories, essays, tutorials, recipes and more! The e-book can be downloaded instantly to your Kindle, or a free Kindle reading app on your smartphone or computer.

Sew Place Like Home

Sew Place Like Home: A Collection of Essays and Projects for People Who Love to Sew is edited by my sewing friends Jessica Abbott and Melissa Mora, and includes contributions from Stacey Byrne, Elizabeth Evans and Liz Evans, Shannon Clarke, Deborah Moebes, Jenny Rushmore and me!

To give you a little taste of what’s inside, I’m sharing a free excerpt of one of my favorite essays from the book. As I grow into motherhood myself, I am drawn to Jess’s story about sewing for her daughter:

Sew Place Like Home eBook

Excerpt from “She’ll Thank Me For This Someday,” by Jessica Abbott

It’s 1a.m., and here I sit. In front of my sewing machine, trying to desperately finish up the dress needed for tomorrow’s big school recital. The quiet whir of the machine, the feel of the satin as it slips through my fingers, a silent house, it almost has a dream like quality as my eyes start to blur from sleepiness. I stopped saying ‘5 more minutes’ hours ago.

You see, the thing is, the dress is not desperately needed. Truth be told, I could have easily gone to our local department store and picked up something similar for under $30. It would have saved me hours of time, and probably sanity.

But I am a seamstress. Do I really need to say any more than that?

My love for sewing is in my bones. And the thought of my daughter up on that stage in anything other than a handmade dress keeps me up at night…sewing.

Tomorrow morning I might wake up bleary eyed, regretting my life decisions as I reach for my third cup of coffee. But for now, all I can think of is the joy I will feel as I watch my daughter up on that stage. Walking down the center aisle, knowing that she draped in love.


Sew Place Like Home Kindle

I can’t wait for you to read the rest of her story, and the other wonderful pieces in the Sew Place Like Home e-book! I’ve downloaded it to a Kindle app on my phone for late-night reading.

There is so much to be thankful for in this life, and I’m very proud to be this book because it shares some of life’s simply beautiful moments. Sewists will appreciate it the most, but it’s also great for those who love to bake, craft or create in their own ways. In addition to the essays, there are several holiday gift tutorials and recipes that are perfect for giving! I can’t wait to try the Quilt-As-You-Go Pot Holder project and the Spiced Hot Chocolate recipe mix.

Get the book

Disclaimer: Affiliate ads are included in this post, but all opinions are my own. Happy reading!

Free Christmas Printable: Rustic Holiday Gifts Tags

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

Free Printable: Rustic Christmas Gift Tags | Craft Buds

Christmas is just around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited to spend it creating new family traditions and and sharing the season with loved ones. Today I’m going to share a super-quick tutorial showing how to make a rustic gift tag for your edible gifts. There’s even a free printable you can download!

Free Printable: Rustic Christmas Gift Tags | Craft Buds

You know when you’re in a mood to eat Christmas cookies, but you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen? Or perhaps you’re looking for a quick holiday gift for that special teacher, neighbor, friend, or service provider. I recently decorated some store-bought brownie bites with white icing (the tube kind with a star tip from the cake mix aisle) and sprinkles. They were so tasty and quick to put together.

Free Printable: Rustic Christmas Gift Tags | Craft Buds

Toss those cookies (no, not that kind of “toss”) into the ultra-convenient Rubbermaid TakeAlongs, and it’s an instant, thoughtful gift. And you won’t even have to break a sweat.

Rubbermaid TakeAlongs + Free Holiday Gift Tag Printable | Craft Buds

The next time you are at Walmart, look for the green and red Rubbermaid TakeAlongs for a perfect, no-fuss gift. Fill them with trail mix, cookies, candy, or other treats. The endcap display includes lots of sizes and shapes (squares, rectangles and bowls), and they are easy to use, with no spills! If you are lucky, you might even find the limited-edition holiday prints. Since I am making cookies to freeze, I was glad to know they are freezer safe!

Making the Rustic Holiday Gift Tags

Free Printable: Rustic Christmas Gift Tags | Craft Buds

1) To make the holiday gift tags, use scissors to trim one side of a paper grocery bag to the same size as your printer paper (8 1/2″ x 11″). Insert the new “paper” into your laser or inkjet printer.

Free Printable: Rustic Christmas Gift Tags | Craft Buds

2) Download the free Printable Gift Tags here! Print a test sheet on regular copy paper, and when you are ready, print out the sheet of four gift tags on your paper-bag paper.

Free Printable: Rustic Christmas Gift Tags | Craft Buds

3) Cut out a gift tag and poke a hole into the top and loop through a piece of ribbon or twine. Tie a piece of festive, wire ribbon around your Rubbermaid TakeAlongs container, and tie on the tag. Slip in a candy cane, and you’re done!

I’m planning to take some sweet treats to my son’s teachers this Christmas. I know this free printable gift tag will come in handy! For more great holiday inspiration, click here!

DIY Catnip Mouse: Free Cat Toy Pattern

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ToPetsWithLove #CollectiveBias

DIY Catnip Mouse, Free Sewing Pattern | Craft Buds

Does your furry friend need a little extra love? Today I’m excited to share a free cat you pattern inspired by my two cats, Murph and Chloe. Their favorite toy is a catnip mouse. However, the ones we buy from the pet store are a little too realistic (think HUGE, brown RAT) and sometimes they even cause me to do a double-take. Even if you are a beginning sewist, you can make this with materials you probably already have around the house!

DIY Catnip Mouse, Free Sewing Pattern | Craft Buds


  • Old t-shirt or small scrap of knit (stretchy) fabric
    • Cut two ovals 2″ x 4″
  • Contrasting color fabric for ears
    • Cut two ears, each about the size of a dime
  • Embroidery floss in a contrasting color
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Fiber filling
  • 12-inch strip of ribbon
  • Catnip


1) Stitch a face onto one oval as pictured, with contrasting embroidery floss. Add eyes, a nose and whiskers. Use a single strand of thread and a hand-sewing needle to stitch one ear to the mouse.

2) Tie 3 knots into the ribbon tail at regular intervals. Zig-zag stitch one end to bottom of the mouse (the oval without the face) with your sewing machine or hand stitch if preferred.

3) Place the mouse top over the mouse bottom and stitch using a sewing machine or hand sewing needle about 1/4″ from the perimeter. Leave a 1″-opening near the tail for stuffing.

4) Use scissors to make small snips 1/4″ from each other around the perimeter of the mouse toy, making sure not to snip into the stitches.


5) Fill the mouse with a small handful of stuffing.

6) Sprinkle catnip into the opening.

7) Stitch the mouse closed using your sewing machine or a hand sewing needle. Alternately, you can leave it open if you want to refill it often.

DIY Catnip Mouse Free Cat Toy Pattern | Craft Buds

Tip: If you’d like, you can tie a mouse to a dowel rod and ribbon to make a magic cat wand toy!

DIY Catnip Mouse Free Cat Toy Pattern | Craft Buds

My cat Murph loved the catnip mouse toy on its own, but Chloe definitely preferred the wand. It was really fun and easy to sew up these cat toys, and I’m happy that I got to use up so many fabric scraps that I just had laying around!

DIY Catnip Mouse Free Cat Toy Pattern | Craft Buds

My cats love crunchy Friskies Party Mix when we sprinkle some on top of their dry food. Fancy Feast Purely is something I can feel proud to feed our cats, because it has real protein and no by-products or fillers. And, the little size makes them great stocking stuffers!

DIY Catnip Toy

For the holidays, I’m planning to treat the cats to some more handmade toys and some of their favorite treats that I picked up at Kroger on a grocery run. It’s a great one-stop shop for pet food, treats and toys!

Visit Purina for more inspiration on how to treat your furry friends for the holidays!

Spread holiday love to your furry friends with the help of Purina! Now through the end of November, take advantage of great savings on your favorite Purina pet products available at Kroger with this link, while supplies last.

DIY Toddler Train Costume for Under $10


My son loves trains, and since it’s close to Halloween, I thought it would be fun for us to make a DIY train costume together. So I searched Pinterest for ideas, and I was inspired by this train costume so much that I went into the garage in search of boxes!

DIY Toddler Train Costume | Craft Buds

Here’s the finished product! This DIY train costume was easy to make, and it cost less than $10! I used almost everything I already had at home, and you probably have many of the materials in your junk drawer. The only things I purchased were this blue spray paint and this Gold Duck Brand Tape (affiliate links) on Amazon.

DIY Toddler Train Costume | Craft Buds

1. To get started, I chose a deeper box for the base and a shallow box of the same width for the front. After cutting off all the box flaps (set these aside for later!), I cut a hole large enough for my son to squeeze through in the base of the deeper box. I cut a slot for the shallow box to insert it into the end of the deeper box, then curved the front to make a space for the wheels.

2. Use as much strong tape as you can to secure the two boxes together. You’ll spray paint over this later.

DIY Toddler Train Costume | Craft Buds

3. Gather materials from around your house for the other elements of the choo-choo train. Have fun! Cut 6 circles out from cardboard for your wheels. I printed off this train wheel clipart (resize as desired) and used a glue stick to adhere to each of the cardboard wheels. I think they turned out so cute, and they were much easier than drawing my own.

DIY Toddler Train Costume | Craft Buds

4. I used an oatmeal container with a toilet paper tube stuck inside (not pictured) for the train’s “nose.” Any time I could, I cut the boxes and inserted one shape into another to make them fit snugly. This is more secure than taping. After you get the shape of the box to your liking, spray paint it!

DIY Toddler Train Costume | Craft Buds

5. Let the box dry and apply gold Duck Tape to decorate the train. To get the number, I printed a number on computer paper, then traced the outline of the number on the back of the paper. I then covered the number completely with gold tape, and cut it out using my outline on the back. The number can then be glued onto your train!

DIY Toddler Train Costume | Craft Buds

6. To adhere the wheels to the box, I used e6000 glue (affiliate link) I already had at the house. It is super strong and worked the best out of anything else I tried!

DIY train costume | Craft Buds

7. You’ll notice that I took the straps off the train, because my son didn’t like them. To make the straps, I put a safety pin in each end of a piece of ribbon, then used the pin to feed the ribbon through 4 tiny holes in the box, criss-crossing the straps. For an older child, you could leave the straps straight. I tied a double knot and just left the safety pins on the ribbon in case they needed to be adjusted.

Thanks for checking out this toddler DIY train costume! Read about Mary’s fabric pumpkin tutorial to help you get into the spirit of the season.

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