Mini Counting Book

Over the years I have made many fabric books as they are great gifts for babies between 0 – 2. In the past I have followed patterns but to be honest I don’t remember if I even own the patterns anymore or if I have passed them on. Fabric books are really easy to make so a pattern isn’t required.

Books can have as many pages as you want in them. You can do numbers 1 – 10, the entire alphabet, shapes. For old toddlers you can make busy books adding zippers, buttons, buckles, ties that they can play with to help develop their fine motor skills. The pages can be as large or as small as you want too. This time I decided to only make a mini counting books and only did 1 – 5. This was an additional gift to go with the bibs I made.

I make any fabric book I do low maintenance for mum and dad which means all fabrics used need to be machine washable. The book will be chewed on, have stuffed dropped on it, sticky fingers etc. I want my books to be used and when they get dirty to be thrown in the wash. On this book I used linen for the pages and wool felt for all the shapes. The binding strip on the outside is cotton. If you are using felt I do suggest using wool felt as it holds up better to washing than the regular felt you buy. It does cost more but long term it is better value if you want to wash it.

I raided my felt stash for suitable size pieces of felt then cut most of the shapes and all of the numbers using my Sizzix Big Shot machine. I do trim some of the numbers as the die design I own adds a few extra curves to the numbers on the ends which I don’t really like.

I hand embroidered all the pieces to each page before assembling the book on the sewing machine. I didn’t use any interfacing behind each page this time but it isn’t noticeable. I’m quick at hand sewing so I got all the hand sewing done in no time. In past books I have hand stitched the numbers or words which does take a little longer than just blanket stitching around a felt number.

I think this is the smallest book I’ve made in terms of page size. I wanted a mini one that mum or dad could thrown in a bag before they go out the door or something they could give bub during change time to keep them distracted (feedback from previous recipients have said they are great for this) Making this book I forgot how much fun I have during the process of it. Even though I have kept this book basic in terms of shapes and fabrics it was still fun to raid my felt stash seeing which bright scrap pieces I could use and where to place each one . I have said it many times over the years I’m sure I get more enjoyment during making the toy than the child does playing with it. I’m a big kid who never has really grown up and my inner child comes out in every toy that I make.



Polka Dot Unicorn

When I came across the Rebecca Page Unicorn Pillow pattern I knew I needed to make it. The pattern is free if you sign up to her newsletter. This is technically a pillow but you could also call it a stuffed toy as it is more 3 dimensional than a regular pillow.

Depending on how big you call a fabric scrap you could make this all from scraps. For me I term scraps as offcuts leftover from other projects. I went shopping my fabric stash for a piece of fabric large enough for the main body and the ears which is the main part of the pillow. I found a thickish quilting cotton that was just about the right size to use it all up. I then raided my scrap stash for the mane, horn and inner ear fabrics. Both the horn and the mane have a gold glitter print on them. A unicorn needs sparkles. The inner ear fabric was just another scrap of quilting cotton. You don’t see the inner ear that much so it doesn’t need to be fancy. I don’t normally sew closed eyes on toys but on this occasion I followed the pattern and did so, her head is down so she does look like she is sleeping. Instead of using felt or embroidering it on as per the instructions I used pom pom trim. It adds that extra dimension and texture.

For the nostrils instead of using felt or fabric I crocheted a heart using a variegated embroidery floss from my stash. I think it is adorable. I used the heart pattern from another crochet pattern I was making at the time. I remember years ago crocheting a tiny heart so I know there are heaps of free pattern out there for them.

This was a simple yet very cute pillow. I do have another one semi cut out so I will be making it again for another gift. 


Emoji Pillows

I do love a simple project and these pillows fall into the simple project category. If you are wanting an easy gift to make for Christmas this year these pillows are perfect.

There are a few YouTube videos on how to make emoji pillows but I used the free Patterns For Pirates pattern as my inspiration. You purchase the pattern by adding it to your cart from their shop but you don’t actually pay anything during checkout. I “purchased” the pattern and had thought I’d printed it out but when it came to making it I couldn’t find it so I’m thinking I never printed it. This is one toy which you don’t really need to print the pattern, I just traced around a dinner plate for the circles. I’ll discuss the facial features a little later. The pattern doesn’t come with instructions but there is a tutorial on how to make it here. If you are new to toy making the tutorial is good to follow, if you are a seasoned toy maker like myself you’ll easily work out how to make it.

The pattern has the pieces for the heart face but the crazy face I just made up myself. I found myself studying emojis on my phone to see how it was. For the hearts and white eye circles I used my Sizzix Big Shot to cut the pieces from scraps of wool felt. The mouth shape I drew out on a piece of trace and toile. I made the crazy mouth a little smaller than the mouths on the heart pillow. In my “study” I saw that the mouth is smaller on the crazy emoji. For the tongue and black pupils I just free hand cut shapes from wool felt scraps. I attached all the features on by hand. Originally I used a running stitch but after the first face was done I didn’t like it so I unpicked it all and used a blanket stitch instead. I used a double strand of embroidery floss as my thread.

To stuff these I used a mixture of hobby fill and leftover yarn scraps. One thing I did learn is that if you stuff a pillow/toy with something other than hobby fill such as threads or yarn either make sure the fabric you are stuffing is dark or that you place threads/yarn in the centre and not near the fabric otherwise you will see them. I placed a heap of scraps in before the hobby fill then had to shift them into the centre of the pillow as you could see them through the yellow. When you only have about a 1″ gap open to stuff your item it can be very tricky shifting things around inside. 

These will become 2 Christmas gifts for this year and one birthday gift for next year. Finishing these in July is the earliest I’ve ever made a gift for the next year. It was easy to make an extra one at the time of making these as everything I needed was already out right in front of me. Sadly this Christmas will be the last time I make gifts for 2 of these kids. The kids are getting a little bit older now. Sewing for girls is easier as you can keep doing bags of some description, boys are tricker. They get to an age where they are out growing soft toys and there is only so many pencil cases you can make for them. They will get presents in the form of gift vouchers most likely from now on as it isn’t fair to make for one child and not the other. I’m going to miss making gifts for them as I have had a lot of fun over the years making their stuff but it is time to stop. I’ll still be making gifts but that is 4 less gifts a year I’ll be making. 


Monster Fun

Some projects are just fun to make and this is one of them. I love this little guy.

The Monsters Mix and Match pattern by Funky Friends Factory is a pattern which I have had in my stash for years just waiting to be made. As the names suggests and what I really like about this pattern is that you can mix and match the main body, facial features and limbs of the different monsters to make your own unique one. If you just use the standard size it is a small toy only measuring 8″ tall. For me that was too small so I enlarged all the pieces printing them at 125% to make it larger. Modifying a pattern just by printing it at a larger scale is the most easiest pattern modification to make. You can do it via a printer or photocopier.

The fabric from this all came from my stash. I started with fabric for the body which was a fat quarter. The original body piece had a square top. When I pinned my pattern piece to the fabric I noticed I had some fabric leftover so I decided to make a triangle top to get maximum use of the fabric. For the arms and legs I decided to use opposite fabric on each one because why not.

For all the facial features I raided my wool felt scrap stash. I use wool felt from My Felt Lady who I delighted to meet in person at this years Craft and Quilt Fair. I looked at the pattern face options as guide then kind of just had fun and made things up. I used a mixture of regular felt and glitter felt. I really like the eyes. I cut the circles out on my Sizzix Big Shot. I first stitched the blue circle to the white one. I then placed the green circle behind the white and stitched it on to the toy. After all the eyes were stitched on I went and clipped around the green circles. It really adds dimension to the toy and is just fun.

He is one of my favourite all time toys and I have made many toys over the years. I had a lot of fun making him. I’ve often said I think I get more fun out of making the toy then the child who gets it. It was fun to just play with fabric and felt, making things up as I went along. At the time of making this I had a lot on my mind so it was really therapeutic to get lost in the toy making world and focus on him.


Toy Desserts


If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand you may not be familiar with lamingtons. I always thought lamingtons were originally from Australia but looking online it thought they actually came from New Zealand. It doesn’t matter who invented them they are delicious. Lamingtons are square piece of sponge cake that is coated in chocolate icing and then covered in desiccated coconut. Although I don’t eat chocolate anymore a nice lamington still looks tasty.

This was a project I started years ago. I cut out the squares from felt. Using white embroidery floss I hand embroidered all the “white coconut” to each piece. Some pieces were already finished when I picked these up again, other pieces hadn’t been started yet. This was a lot of mindless embroidery. I didn’t follow a pattern I was more or less just filling each piece with thread. I hate to think how many little stitches are on each one. It was fun doing all the small stitches. I worked on a little space at a time filling it with stitches going in all directions. I used up a lot of white embroidery floss from my stash. Once each piece was done I stitched 6 pieces together on the sewing machine to form a cube. I left a small gap along one edge to stuff and hand stitch closed.


From memory I cut these out using my Sizzix big shot. I first cut out a larger circles then cut out a smaller circle in all the pieces of felt. There are 3 layers of felt for each one, two in the tan colour and one in the icing. The sprinkles were done in embroidery floss the same way as the lamingtons, no pattern just filling the space. On the sewing machine I layered the 3 circles together and machine stitched around the outer circle. I will be honest I don’t remember actually making these. I found them with the outer edges already sewn waiting for them to be stuffed and the inner circles sewn shut. To finish these off I whipped stitched a small segment of the inner circle then started stuffing it hobby fill. I continued doing this all around until the entire inner circle was sewn shut.

Chocolate Eclairs

Again these were all cut out years ago from felt, I never got around to actually starting these though. I machine stitched the “chocolate” into place then hand stitched the “cream” on top following the curve of the ric rac. The “jam” is hand embroidered with back stitch. These were assembled as basic rectangles and stuffed.

When I originally cut all these out my plan was to gift them so a child for their toy kitchen but good intentions never followed through. As mentioned on some I started parts of, others just sat all cut out. As I was making my Christmas gifts I remembered seeing them in a bag as I unpacked after the move in 2020. I decided it was time to finish them but instead of making them for a child I would turn them into cat toys. Along with the hobby fill in each toy I placed a couple of teaspoons of dried catnip. I tried to place catnip throughout the toy so it was bit of hobby fill, catnip, hobby fill, catnip, hobby fill. I think these make good size cat toys. They are soft enough so that the cat can bite them or carry them in there mouth. They are light enough so they can bat them with their paws. Do cats fetch? You can toss these around without doing any damage.

These were made for 2 cat families. It was good to finish one of my UFP’s (Unfinished Projects) that have been lingering around for years. Part of my move to more sustainable sewing is looking around first and seeing what I have already before starting something new.


Crocheted Digger

This is the 2nd construction toy digger that I have made. My first was done in felt this time I crocheted one. I admit to after finishing him realising I had missed a step but I’ll explain that later.

The yarn for this project is a mixture of different 8ply/DK acrylic yarns I had in my stash. In Australia we call it 8ply but many places refer to it as DK weight. The pattern I used was a free one on Ravelry called Digger Loader. The pattern is in US terms. I won’t say it is the easiest pattern to make so if you were to crochet a toy for the first time I wouldn’t try this one. I found some of the instructions a little confusing, a typical pattern might say
Row 1 – Increase every 4 stitches until you get back to the start of the round
Row 2 – Turn work and slip stitch around the entire row back to the start of the round
But in this pattern the instructions would be
Row 1 – Increase every 4 stitches until you get back to the start, turn work and slip stitch around the entire row back to the start
This isn’t one of the actual instructions but an example of how some instructions are combined into a single row which makes it very wordy and hard to keep track of where you are up to if your brain likes simple instructions like mine does.

The other thing I found difficult with this pattern was colour changes for all the windows. When you were crocheting the windows in white you were carrying the base colour under the white along the work so you could pick it up again on the other side of the window to continue on with the row. No matter how much I tried I couldn’t hide the orange base yarn behind the white. I have crocheted over the ends of my yarn on previous projects but this was more difficult. In the end I made the windows separately and stitched them on.

This toy is made up of lots of little components that you attach on afterwards. I struggled making the little buckets that go on the front and back. I couldn’t get my head around the instructions so I just made my own that were a similar shape. The step I missed was I think you were meant to stuff the wheels before sewing them on. I never stuffed them I just attached them. They are three-dimensional so you do have some space in which to add stuffing. These are ok they just look a little floppier than they are supposed to.

I gave myself months to make this toy and I started strong on it but put it in the too hard basket once I got to the more difficult instructions giving myself days to finish it before I had to post it off. Despite the issues I had I did enjoy making this. I love the wheels. I had a bit of fun and took a photo of him at the construction site at the side of our place when he was done. It was a spur of the moment decision to run down there in my pajamas after the worksite had closed for the day to take the photo. I am that crazy person who doesn’t care what the neighbours would think just so I could take some fun photos.


Smile Crocodile

I finally finished the crocodile which I was aiming to make for this time last year!

I don’t have a nickname for this one. I must admit I think he turned out rather cute. The pattern used is Crocodile Steve from Funky Friends Factory. All the fabrics for this toy came from my stash. The mosaic tile fabric reminded me of the cracks you see on a crocodile’s skin so I had to use that for the top of him. From memory I think it is a Michael Miller fabric which probably explains why I like it a lot (I’m a Michael Miller fan) The fabric used for the underside of this toy is the same fabric as his spines.

The wool felt used on the face is also from my stash. I made the teeth section last year when if first started work on this toy. Just prior to packing away my felt I pulled out a couple of pieces to make eyes for toys. I wasn’t really thinking about the colours I picked so perhaps maybe I should have chosen a different colour blue. For the eyes I normally use black floss but blue was all I had still left out so he became a blue eyed crocodile. My only other option was red but I thought that would make him look a bit crazy.

I have said it before I do like Funky Friend Factory patterns but they can be a little bit difficult to construct. The patterns have all the instructions but there isn’t too many photos so it is more wordy. The pattern might be sew piece D to piece H. You need to really clearly label all your pieces otherwise you will have trouble even on a more simple toy. I mentioned I started this toy last year making the scales, the embroidery for the teeth and cutting out all the other pieces. My mind is having a blank I think I again attempted him before Christmas and I stitched the wrong leg pieces together and clipped the seams but didn’t notice it until I started sewing him again in March and the pieces didn’t match up when I attempted the next section. In the end I had to recut some of the pieces again and made sure I labelled them correctly. With the new pieces and reading the instructions carefully I was able to finish him. I hand basted nearly every step particularly curves or when I assembling different sections together which wasn’t part of the pattern instructions. It did take longer but it meant I wasn’t missing parts of the seam and having to go back and redo sections too many times.

After I finished stuffing him I noticed a very minor hole on his leg which I must have nicked with my scissors. I pinched the section around it together and slip stitched it closed so it looks like an extra dart on his leg.

I had a few dramas with this one but I am glad I was finally able to do him. He turned out rather snappy!


Confession Of A Toy Maker – Time To Say No

Let me set the picture in Sydney for you today. Saturday 8th February 2020 after weeks and months of heat we have a wet weekend with rain falling since Thursday. Perfect weather to bunker down in the house in your pj’s with your sewing machine.

Last year I started a toy cockatoo which I never got finished. I’d cut out all the pieces and started sewing the crest (yellow comb on head) when I first made the crest from felt it looked awful. I put the toy away and decided I would finish it for a birthday this March. Even then I just wasn’t feeling the toy, some toys I’m excited to make this one I wasn’t. My plan for today was to stop procrastinating and to finish the toy as my deadline is looming. When I started preparing it this morning for sewing I was getting really negative vibes and I just didn’t want to sew it. I again stitched the comb using a cotton I found in my stash a few weeks ago and I wasn’t happy with it.  As I was pinning the next lot of pieces I kept thinking I really don’t want to make this. I have never actually felt this negative about sewing before I’m thinking this is silly it is just a toy, you have all the stuff there just sew it. This year I said I wasn’t going to change my mind last minute with the gifts I was making. Part of my brain was saying just stick at it and make it, you’re being silly it is just a toy. Then I started thinking about other things I have told myself like “sew because you want to not because you have to” I continued on sewing the toy making part of the foot which again I thought looked awful and I decided no I’m not going to continue with this toy. I don’t care if today is perfect sewing weather, I don’t care if I have all the pieces cut out already I don’t want to force myself to sew something that I feel so strongly against. I have never felt this way before about sewing. I am already not liking this toy I know I won’t like the finish product and I don’t want to make it just because I decided at the start of 2019 I would make this toy as a gift. I want the gifts I make to have love from the heart in them. This toy has no love. This toy is full of negative vibes and I don’t think that is right to continue making it.

Plan B for the gift will be a book pillow. I will have to see if I have enough supplies from the remaining things which are yet to be packed so I may need to buy a couple of things. A book pillow is going to be more relaxing for me to make. I know I can still get it done before my deadline. I’m going to have fun making this gift. Sewing is something I want to regularly do but I want it to be fun.

I don’t know why this toy made me feel like it did. It wasn’t a reflection on the toy designer as I have made some other great toys from this designer. This entire project just didn’t feel right. I’ll keep the pattern in my stash who knows maybe one day I will attempt it again but not this time.


Hot Air Balloons

I have always had a fascination with hot air balloon since I was a kid. I’m not sure what sparked my fascination but I had jigsaw puzzles of them and once my mum did an embroidery for me of one. Whenever I saw them in the sky I was mesmerised by them, I think it was the bright colours and designs of the balloons. I have been lucky enough to go hot air ballooning twice, Albuquerque in New Mexico and Christchurch New Zealand. I loved every minute of it. When I was a kid I received a birthday gift from my sister’s friend gave of a hot air balloon mobile. I loved it and kept it pretty much until I moved out of home. This year for my niece I made a hot air balloon mobile.

I guess a mobile is a toy. These were really easy to make. The balloons are machine sewn and the baskets hand sewn from felt. The baskets being so tiny were a little fiddly but they are so cute and worth feeling all fingers and thumbs making them.

I wish I could share a picture of this hanging up but sadly I was posting this gift through the mail which meant I couldn’t assemble it. I did buy some doweling which I sent with the gift so it could be hung. The only items I needed to buy for this gift was the doweling and the split ring all other items came from my stash. It was a good project to use bright colour fabrics in.

I’m glad I finally got to make this. I had the pattern in my stash for years meaning to make it one day. I don’t think I have the pattern anymore, I think it was one of the ones I decluttered a few months ago. I have made it once and it was fun to make.


Cloth Books 2019

I haven’t made any cloth books for a few years but I made a couple this year for a little one turning 2. Age 2 I think is a good age for cloth books as they are starting to getting into looking at books and fabric books don’t tear easily plus they are washable.

I didn’t follow a pattern I just cut a heap of white calico into squares roughly the size I thought would be large enough for me to easily work with. I decided to use sew in stabiliser behind each page so I also cut squares that size too.

There was a lot of preparation work that went into these before I could actually start working on each page. Once all my squares were cut out I took them to the sewing machine and tacked a piece of stabiliser behind each calico square. This gave me a reference point into which I could work in but also meant I had some stability behind all my stitches.

After I prepped all my pages I went about designing each book and cutting out all the pieces. I wanted something simple so I thought numbers and colours. Things that a 2 year old are starting to learn and can point out if they see them elsewhere. I used wool felt for all my shapes and numbers. As there is a good chance that these will be washed I used wool felt. Most of it I did have in my stash already but I did have to purchase some more.

On each cover and on the colour pages I wrote out the words in chalk pencil then went over them with hand embroidery doing a chain stitch. When I want something to stand out I find chain stitch gives me the best result. It is like doing things in bold

Most of the felt pieces I cut out with my sizzix big shot machine. It was a lot easier then cutting out things individually. I placed a piece of felt over each cutting die and cut multiple shapes at once. To attach each shape to the page I used a blanket stitch. Felt doesn’t fray but I like the look of blanket stitch, it gives it a nice even texture around each piece.

I stitched the pages together on the machine. After all the pages were done I stitched them together on one side to form a spine. Doing the numbers book I broke 2 needles as all the layers were very thick by the time I stacked the pages together. To cover the spine I hand stitched the yellow strips in place. It was much easier to do them by hand then face more broken needles at my machine. There was a lot of work that went into these books but they were worth it. I spent many hours in front of the tv hand stitching these.