1. Knit scarves
I do know a basic knitting stitch, but I literally can just do straight lines. I cheated this year and let someone else do the knitting for me, and I just did decoration. I bought a set of jersey knit sheets at Target. (A queen-sized set was $24.99; I probably could get a much cheaper set on clearance somewhere, but I really liked the bright red one I found. Anyway, since it was lots and lots of fabric, I figured it was worth it.) Then I picked out the seams; I only ended up using the fitted sheet, so I left the other parts alone. (I will be making pillowcase dresses out of the two pillowcases, and I am currently using the sack the whole thing came in as a portable DVD player case. The flat sheet will get used for another project in the future.) Next, the hardest part: cut the entire length of the sheet into 16-inch sections. I found that the entire length was a bit too long for a scarf, so I ended up cutting off about ten inches. Basically, just hold it up and wrap it as you'd wear a scarf to test the length. No need to hem anything; it will coil up naturally and just look cute. If you want, you can stop right here and have a solid-colored scarf, but I decided to do some decoration with a bleach pen. DON'T use the color safe one; use the one for whites (about $4 at Target). Stretch the part of the scarf you want to decorate -- I suggest the ends -- over some plastic or cardboard; cereal boxes work well. Secure it with alligator clips. Then "write" or "draw" with the bleach pen. It's a sort of gel, and it WILL splatter, so wear old clothes! Allow the design to sit until you see it start to change color; mine took about 20 minutes. Then rinse off the excess bleach and wash the scarf in cold water. I had enough fabric in the fitted sheet to make five scarves, so even without utilizing the other parts of the set, the scarves were about $5 each. I found lots of instructions and tips for painting with bleach and bleach pens by Google-ing "bleach pen art". You can do this on t-shirts and tablecloths too!
2. Kitchenaid Mixer Cover
I'm especially proud of this one, because I didn't have a pattern! I borrowed a store-bought Kitchenaid cover from a friend and laid it on fabric to trace. You'll need to use heavier fabric than just cotton; I used a home decor weight. It takes two pieces that are essentially semi-circles. (For a 4-quart mixer they were about 13 inches wide and tall, but with the top two edges rounded. You'd make it bigger for the 6- or 8-quart mixer, and make sure to leave 1/2 inch on all sides for a seam allowance.) Then cut a piece to put them together. For my mixer, it was 4 inches by 38 inches. Pin the center piece and one semi-circle piece with right sides together, then sew; do the same with the others. Then make a narrow hem all around (I did 1/4 inch double-folded), and you're done! I searched "Kitchenaid mixer cover" online and found basically these instructions; I modified them a bit because I didn't feel like doing any quilting or using seam binding.
3. Bow Holder
I got the idea for this one from the blog Make It and Love It (www.makeit-loveit.com). It started with a really ugly $4 picture frame from the Salvation Army. I threw away the picture in the middle and the glass, but the glass could be useful for something else if you're industrious. I cut a piece of fabric that was big enough to cover the frame. I laid the empty frame over the fabric, then cut about one inch larger than the frame all around. Then I cut out the center of the fabric, leaving about one inch around the inside of the frame as well. I use Mod Podge to paint the frame and stick the fabric to it. To do this, you need to cut the inner and outer corners in a slit to fold them over nicely. Once the fabric is all glued down, Mod Podge the outside to make it stiff and shiny. After that, find a contrasting fabric and lay the cardboard interior over it; you just need to cut enough to cover the inset, then hot glue it down. Finally, cut enough ribbon to put at intervals along the inset -- I used five. You'll hot glue only the top and bottom of the ribbon, leaving the lengths of the ribbon loose to put bows on.
I had a really good time doing these, and so far the recipients have been pleased!