Christmas crafting

Obviously Christmas is going to be that little bit more special for us this year, our first Christmas with the little one. With this in mind I decided that he needed his own special stocking. Now actually designing one was a little beyond my brain at the moment so I decided to go down the kit route and so purchased a Dimensions Felt Works kit called “Toboggan Trio”.

The kit

The kit

The kit has everything you need in it except some softie guts and a piece of tissue paper (I was glad of the excuse to go out and buy a massive bag of softie guts). It is a lot like sewing by numbers, each piece has a number and you have step by step instructions about how to sew them together provided. You need to have a pretty steady hand to cut the pieces out, especially as some of them are pretty small. The in depth instructions mean that even a beginner could easily manage this project.

I am about a third of the way through at the moment and I am pleased with how it is looking so far. It is time consuming but a lovely way to unwind at the end of the day when the little one is in bed. I love to create my own designs but sometimes it is nice to turn the brain off a little and let someone else do that hard work and know that you are going to get a lovely item at the end of it. I will keep you updated on progress.

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Making new friends

I had so much fun making the little monster (now named Blob) yesterday that today I decided to make him a friend (as yet unnamed). He’s made in the same way but obviously he is a little different. I decided on ears instead of antenna this time and thought a different body shape would be in order. He has a lovely big heart to show how much love he has to share too! This will have to be my last cuddly for a while though as I am back in work for two weeks tomorrow (boo!) and I have run out of softie guts (double boo!).

I should probably stop procrastinating anyway and concentrate on the jobs that actually need to be done, like packing my hospital bag. I just have to work out what I should be putting in there…any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Crafting away a hot sunny afternoon

Being 8 months pregnant means that hot sunny afternoons are not as pleasant as they might be … finding a bit of a breeze and trying to get comfy are my big priorities at the moment. So with the windows and doors wide open I decided a bit of crafting in the afternoon was required. If I’m going to hide away inside I just as well do something productive!

planning the monster

planning the monster

The husband wanted me to make a robot for our little one but I wanted to try something different so decided a cuddly monster was in order this time. A few minutes on the internet to research and a plan started to form, a few more minutes with a sketch book and the plan was finalised. Next I dove into the fabric box again and selected what I was going to use, part of an old red towel, some of one of hubby’s old t-shirts (again!) and a few scraps of patterned fabric.

I created a pattern using pieces of newspaper and cut out all the pieces needed. Next I appliqued the face and tummy parts onto the towel piece as I had decided I wanted my monster to have a textured front. I added a bit of stuffing behind the face and tummy pieces to give them a little extra “puff” when the monster was finished. The arms, legs and antenna then needed to be sewn and stuffed. It is helpful to use a chop stick (or something similar) to turn these pieces the right way out as their narrow ends can make this tricky.

The pieces ready to sew together

The pieces ready to sew together

Next, just like with the robot, I pinned all the pieces together making sure that the arms, legs and antenna were pointing to the inside so that when I turned him the right way they popped out. The extra stuffing and all the appendages meant he was quite bulky and so I had to be extra careful when sewing around the edge to make sure everything was caught in and in the right place. Again don’t forget that you need to leave a hole to turn your cuddly friend the right way round, I normally leave this between the legs.

The final step is to stuff your new friend, being careful to work the stuffing into all the nooks and crannies. I always take my time to ensure that I am going to be happy with the finished shape. I then carefully pinned the hole shut and used a ladder stitch to close the hole (I sew this twice to make double sure that it’s not going to pop open again).

The completed monster

The completed monster

I’m really happy with how he has turned out and absolutely love his little face with its wonky smile and odd sized eyes. I love the way these handmade cuddlies have there own personality and that even if I tried to make another one it would look different with a slightly different character. It was a great excuse to repurpose a few old bits and pieces again as well, this time a towel and two of hubby’s t-shirts (don’t worry dear these were both in the approved pile!). I love recycling old bits and pieces, giving them a new life. By making it myself I can make sure there are no little bits and pieces to be pulled off as well making a little more baby friendly and of course it costs a fraction of going out and buying a new cuddly (plus I think he is better than a boring one-a-dozen shop bought one). Above all else though it is a great excuse to let your imagination run wild on a hot, sunny afternoon!

Making new from old

My husband loves t-shirts. He has lots of them and so every few months I have to force him to cull them otherwise we will quickly find that all the clothes drawers are full of them! In an effort to lessen the pain of one said t-shirt cull I promised to make something cool with them. Originally this was going to be some cushion covers for his study but with the little one on the way and the nesting instinct kicking in badly I decided I wanted to make something baby related…the t-shirt bib was the answer.

Monster and slodge t-shirt bibs.

Monster and splodge t-shirt bibsbib was the answer.

A couple of years ago hubby bought me the book “One Metre Wonders” by Rebecca Yaker. It is full of fun little projects that can be made with a metre of fabric (or less) and in it is the pattern to make a baby bib. I located the pattern,
cut it out and then grabbed two of hubby’s t-shirts (pre-approved ones!) and an old but still fluffy towel.

First I pinned the pattern out on the t-shirt, making sure to line the design on the t-shirt up with the design on the t-shirt so it became the focus of the bib. Then I carefully cut the bib out before cutting another bib shape out of the old towel. Sewing the bib up is pretty easy, with correct sides together I used my machine to stitch the two pieces together but remembering to leave a small hole large enough to allow you to turn the bib correct way out. When it was turned out I carefully pressed it (watch the print on the t-shirt as this might ruin if you use a hot iron directly on it) and then stitched a running stitch all around the edge, being especially carefully to catch the ends of the turning hole so that it becomes closed. The final step was to add a snap or some velcro to allow the bib to be attached around bub.

Applique bibs

Applique bibs

My husband does have cool t-shirts so I love the designs that have ended up on the front of two of the bibs, especially the monster! I decided to make some more as well as so employed a bit of applique to decorate two more made with other parts of the t-shirt (I’m sure you can never have too many bibs!). An awesome charity called CanTeen has an annual bandana day each year selling a number of cotton bandanas with cool designs on them. I hacked into a couple of old ones of these and so now we have a rather cool boom box bib and one with hand prints on too.

Fingers crossed they are going to look pretty cool on the little one when he is here and at least hubby is happy that his old t-shirt has become something funky for his son. Now to work out what else to do with the left over t-shirt fabric!

Cuddly Robots

One of my favourite things to make are soft toys (or cuddlies as I like to call them). I make them from crochet, socks and fabric. In fact we have quite a few crazy creations in the house already that have sat on shelves waiting for someone to give them a purpose other than decoration (after all toys are made to be played with, aren’t they?).

After a trip to New Plymouth to visit some friends and their little boy I decided a cuddly thank you was needed as they have very kindly lent us a lot of clothes and baby bits and pieces. Two fabric friends I had bought a while ago were my inspiration and I set about making a robot. Again the fabric box was raided for scraps that would stand up to the task of being played with, I choose a piece of stripy upholstery fabric and a piece of denim type fabric with stars on it. These would form the basis of the robot with a few other scraps to be used for arms, legs, antenna, and decorations. A quick sketch to visualise what I wanted to achieve and then off with the sewing.

A robot ready for a cuddle.

A robot ready for a cuddle.

The first thing I did was cut out and then sew the decoration onto the face of the robot. I used the denim fabric for this part and a selection of rectangles, circles and cog designs came together to create a face and some buttons. On the back of the robot I used the lettering feature o my sewing machine to write “this robot belongs to …” just to add a personalised touch. When the decoration was complete I sewed the arms, legs and antenne together (right side together) before turning them right way and stuffing them with fluff (known as softie guts in our house!).

The last step was to pin the front and back of the robot together with the arms and legs in place (make sure they are pointing towards the inside of the robot so that when you turn him right side out they pop into view!) and then sew all the way round leaving a gap to allow you to turn him out. I stuffed the robot to be quite firm and then, using a ladder stitch, closed up the gap.

Obviously because he is intended for a little boy (not quite 1 year old) I didn’t use toy eyes etc but if you were making this for an older child you could use these things too. Fingers crossed the little man will like his new friend and maybe I will have to sit down and make one for our little one too!

(the inspiration for this little guy came from two cuddly robots I bought from a lady called Paisley Jade. She is an awesome cuddly creator and blog writer based in Whangarei, New Zealand. You can check out her blog here.)

Crafting works of art

Applique artwork

Applique artwork

I love pictures, we have quite a few in our house. Some are bought, some are taken and some are created by me. I am also a fan of unique things, if its a little different or a one of a kind it will appeal to me more. I love the thought of the care, attention and love that goes into something that has been handcrafted. With that in mind I decided that the nursery needed some pictures and that I should make them but I wasn’t sure what to create. Do I paint something? Do I take some photographs and frame them nicely or do I go for something totally different. After a rummage around the house I managed to find two unused square canvases and when I looked through my fabric box inspiration struck.

The fabric owl

The fabric owl

As you have already seen there is a rather friendly owl sitting in our nursery tree so I decided to create him a friend. I found some lovely leaf pattern fabric in my scraps box (doesn’t every serious crafter have a scraps box?) and cut off a piece big enough to cover one of the canvases. Next I drew out a design and found a selection of different fabrics to applique the design with. I love quilting fabrics as they are so pretty but I’ll use anything and in fact one of my husbands old t-shirts got chopped as it was just the right shade of brown!

After all the pieces were cut and their position worked out I set to on the sewing. Using a basic quilting stitch each piece was sewn into place using an appropriate coloured thread. It’s a good idea to iron your base piece of fabric before you do this (especially if it has been living in the bottom of your scraps box!) so you get a nice smooth finish.

The fabric hedgehog.

The fabric hedgehog.

Once the sewing was done I gave the design another iron and then grabbed my staple gun and stapled it to the canvas, making sure to stretch the design nice and tight and ensuring it was sitting in the correct position before starting. I found it best to work on opposite sides first, I started at the bottom and then did the top to ensure I got a nice tight finish. The corners can be a little tricky to get nice and neat but if you fold carefully it should look nice and professional (on the front and sides at least, no one is going to see the back after all!)

When the owl was finished I set about making a hedgehog with the other canvas in exactly the same way. The only addition to the hedgehog was adding some accent stitching to create spines on him. I am particularly fond of the little heart on his nose, a cute little addition I feel!

I now want to find another canvas as I have plans for one more picture. Annoyingly so far I have only been able to find canvases that are too thick so my search continues … watch this space!