I don’t often send projects to the naughty corner for a time out but I have decided to on this toy.
This pattern is by a designer which I have made many of her toys before and loved them but this pattern just isn’t working for me at the moment. I had gotten to this stage couple of months ago and never got back to it. I don’t know what it is about this pattern but for the moment I don’t have the enthusiasm to finish it. I have had this pattern for many years in my stash and have never made it and now I am thinking I know why… It isn’t screaming out “make me finish me” like other toy patterns have done. This was due to be a gift for my niece and I have come up with plan b (a different owl pattern) This one shall sit in the naughty corner and eventually I will finish it off and donate it to Softies for Mirabel. I hate seeing waste and if I was to just bin it (which I could never do) this would be a waste of fabric, wool felt and time so I will just set it aside for now. I’m trying to keep sewing fun for myself so I have decided if I don’t find the project fun or love it I’m not going to sew it. I’m sure this project will be fun one day but just not a the moment.
There is a new lady guinea pig in town Gertrude.
Gertrude is the latest toy from Funky Friends Factory. I seem to be making a lot of Funky Friends Factory toys of late but it was love at first sight when I saw this toy and I instantly went and purchased her. She will be a gift for a 3 year old next month.
This toy is a great scrap busting project and I made her all from scraps but you could also do it from a set piece of fabric or two. This is not a difficult toy like some of the FFF toys can be but I will be honest and say I did struggle with trying to get the pattern pieces to fit with the scraps. Some pieces were easy other pieces you had to do one in reverse and it got me. I messed up 2 pieces during the cutting stage but luckily I was able to salvage them or cut more and later towards the end I discovered a big boo boo which I think related back to the cutting in reverse issue. I think if I slowed down and really thought before I cut I could have avoided a few errors but I must admit I was just wanting to jump in and make her.
Sewing wise I didn’t have really any issues with her. I did a lot of hand tacking first and she even has stuffed limbs! For those who have read my previous posts about toys know I hate sewing in stuffed limbs. I hand tacked each limb then went over each one with a basting stitch on the machine so by the time it came to sandwiching them in between a seam they were not going anywhere. On some seams as I was reversing or starting the seam my sewing throat did eat the fabric a few times, when I got to the ears which were light weight and had nothing in between them they jammed down in the feed dogs. To over come this I cut a narrow strip of tear away stabiliser (about an inch wide) and used that just under the tip of each piece. It feed much easier through my machine and didn’t jam. I then just tore it off after I finished that section. When it came to do the other end of the ear I grabbed my strip again and placed it underneath, once again it didn’t jam. I’m now going to always have a piece next to my machine to use on ends when it looks like my machine will eat the fabric. If you didn’t have tear away tissue paper or even a bit of old computer paper or envelope would also work. It was easy to pull away from the seam line at the end.
So my big boo boo. Once I had sewn on the head I noticed she had a hunchback (Kyphosis – yes I looked up the official terminology) I laughed and called her the Hunchback of Notre Piggy but she didn’t look right. At first I was going to leave her but she looked like a rhino or buffalo not a guinea pig. It was when I looked at the pattern pieces again I realised I had cut one the wrong direction or got confused which was the way I was meant to pin it on the fabric or something along those lines. At this stage I only had 2 small seams to do to close her and I really didn’t want to pull her apart and start from scratch or ditch her. I decided to do a bit of cosmetic surgery to remove her hump.
From mid way down her spine to her head I pinned her and drew a curve with a pen. I machine stitched from my original seam line on her back to down past where her head was joined. I went over the seam twice then cut the hump away with pinky shears.
She looked much better after her surgery and it was a very simple way to fix her. Ok so she is a little more rounder than the one in the picture but I have never known a skinny pig, all the ones I have ever owned became round.
Pauline has created a tutorial to go along with this toy. I only followed it in sections as the construction of this one is pretty straight forward. If I was to make another one I would as mentioned take more time to make sure all my pattern pieces were the right way up. I need to do more research on how to easily do one piece in reverse. I tend to cut my pieces double layers, for non directional fabric that isn’t an issue but if I am working with scraps or want things the same direction I need to learn some tricks. She was fairly quick to sew up. Her facial features were just some leftover wool felt scraps from my stash.
Don’t be put off by my little adventure with her she is a fantastic toy. She is a nice size too, great for cuddles, now I want to be a 3 year old so I can have one too.
Introducing Brutus the Bulldog. Brutus is for a gift for a new born who is from a Canterbury Bulldogs mad family. I just had to make baby’s first bulldog. I’m calling this one Brutus after the team’s mascot.
To create Brutus I used Butch by Funky Friends Factory. I will not lie this is the most complicated toy I have ever made. Luckily Pauline has created a great step by step tutorial on how to make this pattern which I followed otherwise I would have really struggled with this pattern. This is not a beginner’s toy. Funky Friend Factory patterns are great but sometimes they can be a little hard to follow, they have more written instructions without step by step photos. If you are a visual person like me you tend to get a bit confused in them as they are very wordy if that makes sense. I had my tablet set up on my craft table and followed each step in the tutorial and it made it fairly easy.
Pattern labels were a must for this project. There are 21 different pieces! Some pieces you only cut one piece of fabric some you cut 4. I pinned all my pieces to my fabric before cutting and had my labels ready to go so as soon as a piece was cut I pinned a label onto it and put it on my ironing board. When I need a particular piece I went to my ironing board and grabbed it easily.
For the eyes I used wool felt scraps that I cut into circles. For the pupils I did French knots before stitching the eyes to the head. I love diving into my wool felt scraps whenever I need small pieces for facial features, you can always find just what you need. One step you could do differently to the instructions order is the facial features. Once you finish piecing the head you could do the hand sewing of the nose, eyes, tongue and teeth. The instructions have you put the head aside and come back later to hand sew these on. I was doing this toy in stages to give myself a break from it at the sewing machine and had I realised about the head I could have worked on it during my downtime from the machine. I did buy all the fabric for him. I went to my local quilt shop and looked for fabric that looked like it had texture but didn’t necessarily look like fur. I’m really happy that I was able find this bubble print fabric and get it in both a darker and lighter shade, it gives the appearance of texture but doesn’t scream out I am a printed fabric.
I worked on this toy over the Easter long weekend and finished him the following weekend. One day I traced out all the pieces, next day I cut all the pieces, next day started sewing him in stages etc. I did a lot of hand tacking on this toy, it took longer but I think I saved myself time as I didn’t have to keep redoing my seams. The only piece I unpicked was his forehead as it was off centre. I will be honest even with all the checking and tacking that I did after I stuffed him I found a tiny hole in his outer leg seam on one leg. Luckily I was able hand stitch it closed and you can’t really see it. Next time I will check even more. The hand tacking was without doubt worth doing. Even though he was such a complicated toy he wasn’t stressful to sew as I wasn’t getting flustered on all the curves and odd shaped seams.
Even though I am not a big Bulldogs supporter now they were my first football team as a kid. All these years on it was very ironic that I ended up making mascots representing the Bulldog and Eels around the same time. We had a family friend who was a big Eel’s supporter and at the age of 2 years old I was going for the Bulldogs just to annoy her. One of my earliest memories is going to her house on Grand Final day when our two teams were playing each other, under my jacket I had the Bulldog motives from the newspaper pinned to my jumper and I took my jacket off and showed her just to stir her up. I still don’t like the Eels but I had to get a photo of these two together.
I do love it when an idea in your head works out the way you hoped it would.
I have made another version of the Flosstyle Spiral toy and again I have made it a little different to the basic pattern. Last time I turned it into a snake this time I turned it into eels well to the point Parramatta Eels and have created two little Erics. If you are not familiar with Rugby League in Australia there is a team that’s mascot is an eel called Eric, I have a work colleague who is a devout fan of the team so this year when she finally became a Granny I thought it was only fitting to make her grand kids little eels.
I followed the basic pattern but omitted the ribbons. Once I joined all the circles which formed each side of toys together I created stripes down each piece using a twin needle, on each piece I marked where to stop so the lines would be even on each side. The yellow fabric I found in my stash and I just had enough to do all the pieces. The wool felt on the eyes came from my scrap stash, using pearl cotton I did a French knot in each pupil before I stitched it to the toys. The mouth is done in regular embroidery floss using a back stitch, I didn’t mark it this time I just eyeballed it.
Once again I left multiple stuffing gaps in the toys not just the one just suggested in the pattern. The spirals can be very tricky to stuff and the multiple gaps allowed you to stuff smaller sections which made it much easier and I think quicker. I used interfacing on these ones too which made it a little bit stiffer than the first time I made this so the stuffing smaller sections was a must on these.
This week the toys were given to the new Granny and she loved them. She couldn’t believe that I had made them. She has already given one to the first grand child’s parents who are excited to put it on their pram, the other eel is ready to be given to her next grand child later this year when they arrive. I had a lot of fun making these. I looked at the mascot and thought of how can I recreate this. I thought about ways to do the stripes down the side so they would stand out. I loved the challenged and even I really don’t like the team I do like these little guys.
Normally I am so on top of things but I’ll admit one child who was having a birthday had crept up on me. I was planning on making the child a different toy but the materials I had weren’t suitable and before I knew things it was nearing time to post the gift off and I had nothing done so Plattie came to the rescue.
Plattie is a Funky Friends Factory pattern. This pattern had been in my stash for some time to make. When I realised my impending deadline I remembered this pattern and knew it was perfect, the toy was going to a child not living in Australia. What a cute little native animal to make them. Construction wise it is a really easy and quick pattern to make – providing you cut out all the pattern pieces! In my rush to get the pattern traced out and pieces cut so I could take it to my sewing group meeting to stitch up that day I missed a piece and didn’t take the leftover fabric with me so I had to come home early to finish him off in time. There is an online tutorial you can follow for this pattern but I didn’t need to. The only way I differed from the pattern was I ironed on pellon on each of the paw pieces (double thickness in each finished paw) Unlike a lot of toy limbs you don’t stuff the paws on him so I used the pellon to make them a little bit more fluffy and cuddly rather than just straight thin cotton in the paws.
The fabric used were caramel fabric leftover from the Activity Go Case and some brown spots from the Kids Messenger Bag. Confession I have a basket of fabric in my lounge room waiting to be put away downstairs in my stash which comes in handy when I am wanting fabric at odd hours or last minute as you never know what you will find in it and generally the fabrics in it have been pre-washed and ready to use. Plattie has turned out to one of my all time my favourite toys. I don’t say this often but he is totally adorable, it was hard to give him away. In my gift stash I found a cotton crocheted blanket I made as a test piece a couple of years ago which was perfect to wrap around Plattie as toys do like to snuggle in blankets.
So my theory is that you learn something from each project you make. From this project I learnt the value of being organised so that your aren’t in position of rushing to make a deadline. When you rush you make mistakes like forgetting to trace out a pattern piece. I also learnt that what seems the most simplest project can also be the best looking if you do it correctly, the old principle of Keep It Simple works.
I first made Lego Man at the end of 2014. Lego man is a softie I designed myself from a free colouring in page I found online. I have made him again but I changed things around this time a little.
Lego Man 2017 is little larger. I photocopies my pattern pieces from last time but this time increased the size to 150% which basically means he is 50% bigger than last time. I than added extra seam allowances to the pieces which I can’t remember if I did last time. This what I was trying to use my seam allowance guide on but unfortunately couldn’t. The larger pieces made it a little bit easier to sew around the tight curves and angles. Also this time I have changed him from an all in one jumpsuit to pants and a top.
I love both versions and don’t have a favourite. I have had fun designing both. Each one has its own personality. Both were fun to make and I enjoyed the process of working out pattern sizing and fabrics. Sewing them was fun. Both are unique. I’ll possibly make Lego Man again next year but for that one again I will change it around somehow so he is different to these two.
Once again this year I will be contributing to Softies For Mirabel a toy drive hosted by Pip Lincolne (Meet Me At Mikes) where toys are hand made for the Mirabel Foundation who support children abandoned due to parental drug use.
This year I tried out a new pattern I had in my stash Simplicity 1549 making 2 toys from it an owl and a bunny. I brought this pattern I think at the start of 2016 but never got around to making it last year.
The owl is made from brown fabric leftover from draft stoppers I made last year. The leg fabric is the same fabric but in a stone colour. The fabric had a very open weave so I decided to use a double layer of it on the body and legs as these areas would be stuffed and I didn’t want it falling apart or the stuffing getting out. The wings are a single layer with a layer of pellon inside each one. I did they eyes differently as I think I have mentioned before I don’t like closed eyes on toys. Eyes give the toy personality and I like them open.
For the bunny I used more of the stone fabric again doing double layers but this time on all pieces. The ears aren’t stuffed but I wanted them to hold their shape so that is why I did double. The purple body is leftover polar fleece as is all the applique on the eyes, ears, nose. The mouth is some pom pom trim from my stash, I love the added bit of texture it gives.
These toys were very easy to make as there wasn’t a lot of pieces or complicated sewing. I did all the applique bits by hand as I enjoy hand sewing but you could have easily done them on the machine.
I hope some little kids enjoy these toys and the toys make them feel safe. They were made with love.