Library Makerspaces: Handcrafted gifts using technology

Looking for a place to make gifts, craft projects, or bring the kids for some science and technology fun? Library makerspaces are the perfect place.  With embroidery machines, 3D printers, a large-scale printer, Glowforge laser engraver, and more, The STREAM Center at the Kenton County Library lets you DIY without needing your own equipment.  I’ve partnered with the STREAM Center this month to show you some of the handcrafted gifts you can make at the library’s Erlanger branch using the embroidery machine and the Silhouette cutter.

Kenton County KY library Stream Center Makerspace. Learn about handmade gifts you can make in a makerspace

What is a Makerspace?

A makerspace is a collaborative workspace filled with communal equipment. Creative people can gather there to learn, share, or create. It often includes a variety of tech equipment, craft tools, and educational activities for adults and children. A makerspace increases access to equipment that may be cost or space prohibitive for individuals. Some independent makerspaces charge a monthly fee to cover the equipment costs, but library makerspaces are usually free to use.

What is STREAM?

STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Local library makerspaces are ideal for combining all these elements in creative exploration. Children under 12 can make their own projects or use learning toys like Arduino, LEGO and Little Bits with adult supervision.  Make an appointment to use Kenton County Library Makerspace for your next creative idea. Using the equipment is free, there may be a small materials fee if you don’t bring your own. Click for a list of all STREAM Center items.

Library makerspaces are low or even no cost if you bring your own materials, or you can purchase materials there.Materials costs for Kenton County Library Stream Center Makerspace
Materials costs for Kenton County Library Stream Center

Make Embroidered Handcrafted Gifts

Embroidered burlap stocking handmade gift. Learn how at
Embroidered burlap stocking

I used the embroidery machine at the Kenton County STREAM center to personalize a Christmas stocking. I don’t have an embroidery machine at home, so it was an ideal machine for me to use in the Makerspace. Because I chose a stocking with a thick sherpa cuff, I needed to remove the cuff from the stocking to fit in the machine’s hoop.  That’s fairly unusual, so no worries on having to make complicated projects. Plus the STREAM Center also has regular sewing machines, so I was able to stitch it back together in no time.

Embroider a name or image to personalize a handmade gift. Use an embroidery machine at a library makerspace if you don't have your own.
Embroider a name or image to personalize a handmade gift.

There are plenty of thread colors available to choose from to match your handmade gift project. I chose a wintery turquoise blue to contrast with the cream material, plus it’s the recipient’s favorite color. Threading the machine is easy, and there’s an attendant there to help if you need it.

Choose from a colorful variety of embroider threads to match your project.
Choose from a colorful variety of embroidery threads to match your project.

It only took a few minutes to embroider the stocking, and now I have a pretty personalized gift!

Embellish a Tumbler with Vinyl

Vinyl is a versatile product that you can use to embellish all sorts of different projects. From funny sayings to elegant images, it’s easy to add to your handmade gifts. It’s available in iron-on for apparel, self-stick for crafts, as well as permanent and non depending on the need.  I embellished this plastic drinking tumbler for my sister in her school colors with permanent self-stick vinyl.

Embellish a plastic tumbler using vinyl. DIY at a library makerspace, or at home. Learn more at
Embellish a plastic tumbler using vinyl.

The library has a variety of vinyl colors and types to choose from for a small fee (only $1/foot!) or you can bring your own.

Vinyl available at the Kenton Co. library STREAM Center. |Find out more about library makerspaces at
Vinyl available at the Kenton Co. library STREAM Center

If you’ve never used a vinyl cutter before, there are attendants to help you. You can choose a font and type a phrase, use one of the Silhouette software images, or bring your own svg cutting file. The machine also cuts paper to use for crafting projects. I brought my own file for this tumbler.

Silhouette vinyl cutter available at the Kenton Co. library STREAM Center. |Find out more about library makerspaces at
Silhouette vinyl cutter at the STREAM Center

No matter what you choose to make at the STREAM Center, you’ll have all the tech and all the help you need to make personalized gifts for all your family and friends. Enjoy the process!

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