When it’s time to buy a gift for family and friends, the possibilities are endless but, unfortunately, your funds are not. When budgets are tight, there is one thing you can do to make a gift memorable yet inexpensive. Personalize it.

There are thousands of options available to make your gift one-of-a-kind – with the help of a sewing machine. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t even have to be a sewing pro.

With the holidays fast approaching, you have the opportunity to turn ordinary, off-the-shelf items, such as towels and pillowcases, into customized gifts that will be appreciated for years. Initials, decorative flowers and shapes make even the simplest items seem posh.

Need a quick gift for the newlyweds or new homeowners? Stitching their initials in the corner (or even just the first letter of their last name) on inexpensive hand towels makes your gift comparable to the items in expensive home decorating catalogs.

While most retail monogrammed items are created with expensive embroidery machines, the same effect can be achieved with monogramming and decorative stitches on a standard home sewing machine.

Other projects such as handmade wine bottle covers and gift bags require a little more sewing expertise, but make a simple gift seem much more unique.

Make a few at a time and store them for last-minute hostess gifts. They can be made with small amounts of fabric and can be as simple or ornate as you like.

Do you have finicky teen-agers in your household? If so, you know they are always looking for the hottest new trend. Why not purchase a plain pair of jeans and turn them into fashionable attire by adding delicate patterns to the waistband or cuffs? A few swift stitches will give everyday jeans instant style and personality.

For those of us who don’t have the time to venture through piles of patterns at the local fabric store, Janome.com has innovative patterns and projects for every sewing level. There’s even an embroidery-only machine. From handmade holiday stockings to sweet teddy bears for children, there is an idea for everyone on your list. All it takes is a little imagination.

For more projects, techniques and inspiration, flip through Janome Digest Magazine. It’s published quarterly and available by subscription. – NU

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