Cotton Spice presents… Nancy Flynn from Belle Epoque

Make a Travel Kit in a Hurry for Your Favorite Jetsetter!

by Nancy Flynn

I love the idea of embellishing store-bought items to make them more personal and special. But turning a $40 hemstitched linen napkin into a sachet? No thank you. I could buy something indie and awesome for the giftee on Etsy for $40. It seems to me that the original point of handmade gifts was not only to be special, but economical too. So I set myself the challenge of buying a few reasonable items readily available at the local drug store and combining them with supplies most crafty folk already have at home to make a gift that is not only unique and fun, but also quick and inexpensive.

To make an gift in a hurry for your favorite world traveler, you’ll need:

From the drug store (you shouldn’t spend more than $5-$10):

Foam Ear Plugs


A sleep mask

A pack of gum

A wash cloth or small dish towel

Chenille socks in a cute color

From the Craft Closet:

1 small piece felt

Embroidery thread to match or contrast your dish towel and felt, as you like

2 buttons

1 foot-long piece of ribbon

Embroidery needle

Make the Pouch:

Don’t have time for hemming and lining a pouch? Use a ready-made cloth to save time:

1. Fold up about 4.5 inches of the towel, making sure to leave at least an 1.5 inches above for a flap:

2. Blanket stitch the edges together from the fold to the beginning of the flap:

Repeat to stitch other side together too.

3. Find the center of the pouch and sew buttons on to the flap and pouch, leaving about 1/2 inch between them:

4. Tie the end of your length of ribbon in a knot around one of the buttons and wind the ribbon around the second button to keep the pouch flap closed:

Yay! Your pouch is done, now to give the things that go in it a little bit of pizazz

Snazzy Sleep Mask

If you’re in a hurry, you can buy a sleep mask and embellish it like I did. However, it is also very easy to make your own by drawing a mask shape on a piece of paper and using it as a pattern to cut layers of cotton, linen or silk to sew a sleep mask of your own, then including ribbons or an elastic band to keep the mask on snugly. If you choose to do this, embroider the eyelashes before sewing the mask together.

1. Draw closed eyes with eyelashes with chalk pencil on the sleep mask

2. Using running stitch or split stitch, embroider over the eyes you drew in a light colored embroidery thread

Yay! On to the ear plugs

Shhhh… Ear Plug Cozy

1. Cut a rectangle of felt that is 3.5 inches by 1.5 inch.

2. Fold the rectangle in half and on one half write Shhh… across the diagonal.

3. Unfold the fabric and embroider over the letters and periods using two strands of floss. Small split stitch is great for the letters and French knots work well for the punctuation.

4. Fold the embroidered felt piece in half again and use a blanket stitch or whip stitch to close up the long sides, leaving the top open for putting in the plugs.

5. Pop in the ear plugs.

Assemble your pouch, tucking in the folded face mask, ear plugs in their cozy, gum, chapstick and fluffy socks. You could also include drugstore and travel favorites like a mini pack of tissues, cough drops, a contact lens case, cuticle butter (Burt’s Bees makes a tiny tin that is solid and will not hold the traveler up in security!), a pen and tiny pad of paper, or a tube of homeopathic anti-germ fizzy tablets, whatever your particular traveler likes.

While the materials used in this example are obviously rather girly, this gift can easily be made to suit the manly man in your life — use a darker-colored washcloth, embroider his initials in floss on the pouch itself (and forgo the eyelashes on the sleep mask), and continue the rest as written. Next time you’re at the drugstore, the dollar store, or even the grocery store, just use your imagination, and you’ll surely come up with even more fun and economical handmade holiday gift ideas! And when you do, please share over at the belleepoque tutorials Flickr group.

Visit Nancy Flynn from


3 Responses to “Cotton Spice presents… Nancy Flynn from Belle Epoque”

  1. Vickie Says:

    This is a wonderful idea! I have two or three travelers on my Christmas list!
    This would make a great stocking stuffer!
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Stacy Says:

    I LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Lisa Says:

    This is really a good idea & it looks like fun!

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