Bucking the Registry: Giving Homemade

August 6th

bridesmaid bag, nl

Finished bag, with tag and ribbon key fob inside.

I’m not anti-registry. If anything, I wish birthday registries were socially acceptable because I’d sign up for a long list of practical items at Target I’d love to have, but haven’t yet budgeted for. That said, I’m bored with wedding registries. I like my gifts to be memorable and special. There is nothing special about Pyrex, no matter how much you think of me when making those 10,000 casseroles during your marriage.

pile of wedding bags

All eight, stacked and ready to be delivered.

As of late, I’ve been asking girlfriends who are getting married if I can help them with wedding crafts instead of going the registry route. Did they need anything sewn? Could I create invites or thank you cards?

tagges tied on the bags

I used a couple stamps to create personalized tags for each bag. The bride’s colors are pink and brown. I love the new sepia stamp pad I purchased for this project. It is just the ride shade.

One of my girlfriends will be getting married this fall; I offered to create gifts for her to give to her bridesmaids. Colleen whole-heartedly inspired this notion by the incredible tags she similarly created for a friend’s wedding. I approached the bride and she was thrilled by the offer.

Clasp wristlet for bride

The bride, of course, needs a zipper pouch for her bag. And with a clasp that connects to the key fob inside? Perfect.

I’ve yet to give these to her and the anticipation is killing me. {Fingers crossed she doesn’t read my blog.} This is one of those rare projects where everything came together just right. I had been thinking about the color, design and details for several months before starting. I saved coupons from local fabric shop to get the supplies at a discount. I spread the production time over several weekends so I wouldn’t rush or get discouraged.

zipper cu

This tutorial greatly improved my zipper sewing skills. It is fantastic!
I am tickled pink with the results and can’t wait to give these to the bride this weekend. Yippee!

wristled clasped to bride bag
Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, June Cleaver
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49 Responses

  1. Lovely! I am sure the bride will love them. Handmade makes the best gifts.

    That is a genius zipper tutorial – thanks for sharing the link.

  2. ooooh goodness, you out-did yourself. they all look awesome!! i’m sure that it was a lot of work, but your right on when you say that it’ll have more meaning then a registered gift. thanks for the zipper tutorial link. i’ve been wanting to learn to do that little tab thing for a while.

  3. Those are absolutely beautiful! I’m sure she’s going to love them.

  4. Wonderful ideas, Kelli, and beautiful gifts. I think that helping with weddings would indeed be much more memorable than a Pyrex dish. Thanks also for the tutorial link–I can always learn and improve my skills, too.

  5. Oh! I’m very excited about that zipper link. The ones I’ve done on wristlets and such in the past have been horrible. Woo hoo!

    The bags are so cute and I l.o.v.e the tags. I’m pro-registry, because it gives me a better idea as to the couple’s style, but cannot seem to stick to it. Gotta split it with something handmade, sorry. (Not really sorry, though.)

  6. awesome work!

  7. Fabulous!
    I love them:)

  8. Now, this one me likes… πŸ™‚

  9. love the idea of offering your gifts as your gift!!! such a cool idea!

  10. eight? wow. those are lovely. you are so thoughtful and creative. i’m sure that any one of your friends would so love and appreciate having your time and energy as opposed to having something picked straight from a registry.

  11. nancybee August 6, 2007

    ooohhh I absolutely love those bags. What must I do to get one??? Get married? wink

    Anyways, if I ever do get married, you’ll be the first person I call because I’m not creative what so ever!! πŸ˜‰

  12. How cute! I think that homemade gifts are so much more special!! Great work!

  13. *said in best Napoleon Dynamite voice*



    Love ’em!!! πŸ˜€

  14. Very lovely! πŸ™‚

  15. The presents look lovely… I’m sure the bride will love it all! Handmade gifts are the best!

  16. Very nice, indeed, Kelli. What careful thought you put into them.

  17. Great job! I really like the colors and how you combined them. What is that main fabric? Is it some kind of linen?

  18. What a wonderful idea! They are super cool too, everyone will love them, Kelli. Thanks so much for the zipper tutorial too. My boys want custom pencil pouches for their one day a week school, so I’m going to need it!

  19. How cute are those! Foohey, I should have had you make me some for my wedding!

  20. hey kelli – i just found this other zipper tutorial that is, in my opinion, pretty ingenious…


    i’m adding your source to my favorite tute’s list…:)

  21. What a fantastic idea! So much more personal and your gift is filling a need for the bride at such a stressful time.

  22. Oh, sew cute! You’ve really stepped it up a bit!
    Loved the zipper technique.
    Moms (who sleeps with snakes)
    (You’ve heard of Hoffa who “swims with the fishes”, well my new moniker is “sleeps with snakes”)

  23. what great pieces. looks terrific. love the label.

  24. Those are great and it is a terrific idea! I am one of those people who bought the gift that 3 other people bought too. Something one of a kind that can take some of the pressure off the bride is fantastic.

  25. Can you see the green that is creeping up on me? Yeah it’s jealousy all right. If I was getting married (which I’m not) I would for sure be hoping for someone to do this for me! They are beautiful Kelli! Even more reason for me to learn to sew……yeah gotta get on that! πŸ˜‰

  26. Good job! I love the tags. I may have to use your idea for tags.

  27. What a great idea! They’re really cute and I’m sure they’ll be greatly appreciated.

  28. so very cute! and what a thoughtful thing to do, i am sure that any bride to be would be happy to receive such a great gift.

    and i totally agree with you, i wish that it was more acceptable to have birthday registries. i think everyone should have an amazon wishlist for that very reason. πŸ™‚

    hope you are having a good week so far!

  29. Great work, Kelli, fabulous tags. Registries… always thought why bother choosing from a list instead of just giving money. I don’t like that at all. Nothing personal about it.

  30. Yay! They look so great. I love the colors and the stamps and the zipper worked out so nicely. I’m glad to know my little tutorial worked too. I’m sure she’ll love them.

  31. Great bags, absolutely lovely! I’m sure they will be very appreciated, as every gift made by the heart. How about making a job out of your hobby? But I guess it wouldn’t be this funny, right?

  32. How lovely, what a lucky friend you have!

  33. Lovely gifts! I hate the idea of registries and would have loved a special gift like that at my wedding!

  34. Oh how cool are those. Very nice. The sewing is fantastic!

  35. I’m a big supporter of deviating from the registry. Sure, I understand the practical nature of it & all, but who wouldn’t rather have hand-crafted African Kelli gifts?

  36. Great job Kelli! I’m sure she’ll love them, and I love the colors!

  37. The totes are ab fab. I love the colors. You’re such a wonderful friend!

  38. fantastic! very cute and so non-generic. rock that sewing machine.

  39. Time for you to open an etsy shop, i’m afraid. those are stinkin’ AWESOME!!!! I LOVE the tags with the little grommets. Every detail is perfect.

  40. I am continually amazed and inspired by africankelli!!

  41. As usual, I love it! I have a friend who had a baby this year and I “bucked” the registry by creating some wall art for the baby’s room.

    Hope you’re doing well Kelli!

  42. What a great idea. We rarely buy solely from a registry anymore. We usually buy one smaller gift and then I add something crafted to it. Like buy the baking pan, and then make an apron and pot holders to go with it. But I like your idea of offering crafting services. Awesome work.

    When I have my second wedding (to the same hubby I have now) I’ll make sure to book you well in advance!

  43. this is wonderful kelli! two of my closest friends are getting married in sept and oct and we had a reunion here last month… a very fun evening spent perusing martha stewart weddings and planning crafts πŸ™‚ i’m so excited to help them with the handmade part!

  44. those are fab! I have a wedding in Oct and will head this route. You are such an inspiration!

  45. michelle August 9, 2007

    Love the bags and the key fobs. That is such a sweet idea.

  46. I just checked that zipper tutorial. FABULOUS… I will try soon… just made a bag for myself, but no zipper because i have trouble sewing them;)

  47. What great bags! I’m sure that the bride will be pleased and happy to hand them out to her bridesmaids (they of course will squeal with delight over them). Thanks for the link to the zipper tutorial. πŸ™‚


  48. Good idea. I just got a wedding invitation the other day from the couple who already has everything. They said in lieu of gifts, they would like us to donate to one of three charities provided. What a great idea! πŸ™‚