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.

Cassiy

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.

Cassiy

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.

Cassiy

 

Little Digger

I was trying to think of a gift for Mr 5 who loves all things construction and decided I wanted to make him a bull dozer or digger machine. Now I would have thought with how much kids love lego and all things construction it would be easy to find a soft toy pattern that was a construction truck or something, wrong I couldn’t find a large softie pattern suitable. There are lots of car patterns, not many trucks but nothing construction wise. The closest pattern I found which I adapted was Bugga Bugs Construction & Hauler pattern.

If you made the toys the size it is in pattern they are very tiny. I wanted a toy the size you could cuddle because who says you can’t cuddle a digger machine. After printing the pieces I then photocopied them on to A3 paper enlarging them to 200% Some of the pieces didn’t fit all on the one page so I did have to adjust the way I traced them out but that was easy to do.

I used wool felt for this toy to make it stronger. I could have used fabric but I haven’t made a felt toy in a long time plus I could buy a suitable colour in felt. I underestimated how much felt I would need so the inside of the bucket you can see the stitch lines but I cut them with pinking shears so it doesn’t look too bad. This is made with a mixture of hand sewing and machine sewing. The windows are hand embroidered on and I attached the digger arms which move and the tire treads by hand.

This was a fun toy to make. Mr 5 wanted to take it on holidays but it wouldn’t fit in the suitcase sadly.

Cassiy

Cloth Books – Prep

This year I’m going to make 2 cloth books as gifts for a 2 year old. I have made cloth books a few times before, they are a great gift to give toddlers as they can’t rip the pages and it doesn’t matter if they chew on them. Over this Easter weekend one of the tasks on my “todo” list was to make a start on them.

In the past I have followed patterns to make them but this time I’m just making everything up. They are really easy to do without a pattern. For my pages this time I’m using white calico with a piece of sew in medium interfacing behind each one. In the past to stablise the back the pages I have used different vlieseline products, I have a roll of sew in interfacing now so I just used that as it isn’t too thick. I cut my pages 9.5″ x 10.5″ it will give me a nice size book, perfect for small hands. On the sewing machine I have tacked each page and lining piece together. I used the basting stitch setting which is probably a stitch length of 5 on my MC 11000 as I know that is the longest stitch length that I can do. I will remove the basting stitches after I finish each page.

The books I am making are colours and numbers. I used my sizzix cutting machine to cut all the pieces out of wool felt. I just realised that I never cut the pieces needed for the 2 front covers but I will do those pages at the end and will cut more. One of the cutting dies I have is numbers but I will trim some of those as they have a curved shape at the end of them and I don’t like that look. On the colours book I will free hand write the colour and embroider of over. I will hand sew all the pieces on to the pages. I don’t need these books until August so I have given myself plenty of hand sewing time to do it, mindless tv work so easy to do. Now that I have sorted my embroidery threads it will be easier to find the colours I need too!

Cassiy

Patchwork Dolly Blanket

When I made Daniella I wanted to make a little blanket to go with her. My original plan was to crochet her one but the one I started with some scrap yarn in my stash looked terrible to I raided my fabric scrap stash and came up with this little blanket.

I have a basket of scrap pieces just under my ironing board. This project actually started with finding the back fabric first. I found a rectangle scrap of the flannelette paw print fabric in the basket and measured it over the doll.  It fitted well so I decided to use this as the size blanket. The pink around the edge is part of the front boarder folded over and hand sewn in place to bind the edges. In between the 2 layers I placed a scrap piece of polar fleece to make it into a mini quilt.

In the basket I initially found a pile of the little aqua heart scraps that were offcuts from when I made a previous project, they were just bigger than a 2.5″ square so I decided to use them as the guide for my pieces. In the basket I also found pieces of the 2 grey bubble fabrics, these were perfect as the blanket was for the child that I used those fabrics in originally in. I love it when I can incorporate the same fabric into multiple projects for the same child. The other fabrics were from strips I found in the basket, I wanted to keep mostly pink to match the doll. I cut all the fabrics I found to a 2.5″ then played around to get them to fit the backing fabric nicely. I took a photo of the final layout on my phone to ensure that I stitched them in the correct order, thankfully I didn’t need to refer back to the photo as I got the order correct.

I am super happy with this little blanket as it turned out really well. The colours all match in with the doll and as a bonus I used fabrics from a previous gift for the child. The child can actually use this on the other toy I made her too if she wants. This project cost me nothing as it all came from my stash which was another bonus and it helped me declutter some of my scraps so everyone was a winner.

Cassiy

Daniella Aka Polly

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to make another version of my go to softie dolly pattern… Introducing Daniella

Once again the pattern I used was Polly from The Big Book of Sofites. Polly is a really simple cloth doll pattern. Polly is a great doll to make from stash as you don’t need that much fabric to make her. As she doesn’t having any choking pieces this toy is great for a child under the age of 3. The only thing I needed to buy to make this doll was the yellow wool felt for the hair, all other fabrics used were from my stash. For this doll I have used the same fabrics on all the limbs but I have made other versions where the arms were different fabrics from the legs, this is can easily be made from scraps. The face is hand embroidered and I hand stitched it to the head with just regular embroidery floss.

This time on the back I decided to put the yellow felt on the back like hair, the original pattern has the back area plain. The child I am making this for has blonde hair so I wanted her doll to match. I made the hair piece a little shorter than the entire head piece as I wanted it to stand out as hair. I just did a row of hand stitching with embroidery floss to hold it down, the top section is just stitched into the regular seam allowance. I must point out that I make this doll a little larger than the pattern, I had length to the head and body sections and make the arms and legs slightly bigger. I just like the look of the slightly bigger doll. I am really happy with the main body section as I cut the pieces so that the stripes would continue the same way and line up at the sides and bottom. Little details that I know are there but aren’t that important. As you can see from the way she is sitting her limbs are fully flexible so she is perfect for cuddling.

Little bit sad now I don’t have anymore kids to make Polly for now, I think each family I make toys for has a Polly in their toy box.

Cassiy