Gertrude The Guinea Pig

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.

Cassiy

 

Brutus

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.

Cassiy

Baby Animal Burp Cloths

Burp cloths are one of the most easiest gifts to make for a new baby. They are practical and you can never have to many from what I hear.

I have made burp cloths a lot of times and didn’t follow a pattern anymore the steps are really simple

  • Cut a piece of towelling and cotton the same size
  • Place cotton right side down on top of towelling
  • Stitch around edge leaving a turning gap
  • Clip corner points
  • Turn right sides out
  • Top stitch around edge of cotton topper folding the turning gap closed

You can make them any size you like. I like larger ones that you can place over your shoulder or wrap around the child as they get older. I used a large towel that I cut in half, I than cut each half into 3 pieces. Without realising it I cut the 2 halves different ways – one I cut along with width of the towel, the other I cut along the length of the towel so I have 2 different size burp cloths. Both are long enough to go over the shoulder – one set is narrower and longer, the other set is slightly wider and slighter shorter. The narrower ones were cut across the width of the towel, the wider ones across length.

Originally I was planning on using leftover fabrics in my stash but when it came to cutting these fabrics up I realised I didn’t have enough. I went to my local quilt shop and found this gorgeous baby animal print fabric on sale it is perfect. I don’t normally do babyish print fabric because I want the person to be able to use it as the child is a little older. This fabric is cute, baby animals are good for any age child. The print is also subtle so afterwards when you don’t need to use it for the child you could use it in other areas of the house when you need a quick absorbent cloth.

Another gift off my list for this year

Cassiy

Pillows – I,L,M

I have made more pillows using McCalls 3274. These make quick and easy gifts.

The L pillow was very easy to do and I would say the easiest letter in the alphabet to make as you really don’t have that many angles to push stuffing around into. With some of the letters I had to modify the shape a little but with the L  it is very clear so perfect.

On this M pillow I did change the shape around a little. The letters are all in a bubble font style so they are meant to be curvy and puffy but on some letters it means you can’t really tell what they are. On this M I made it is so the middle point was more prominent allowing you to see the shape more. I also changed the position of the turning gap which is your stuffing gap so that made stuffing the angles easier, alternatively you could do 2 stuffing gaps (one on each straight side) to make stuffing easier.

The I pillow I modified a lot. The original pattern is just a long centre piece with a rounded top and bottom that is it. I didn’t like the shape you couldn’t tell straight away it was a letter so I added to the top and bottom bar. In hindsight perhaps I should have made the 2 ends wider as it does look a bit anchorish but you can still easily tell it is a letter I.

The fabrics used was some leftovers I found in my stash. From a distance it looks stripy but when you get closer you can see a white floral pattern on it so it is child like but can see be teenageish as the kids get older.  I still have more of these to make later this year. It is a great pattern for the stash even if you do modify some of it.

Cassiy

 

 

Eel Softies

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.

Cassiy

Football

I have finished my first ever crocheted toy a little football.

I was wanting to make a football for a newborn gift. I knew I could sew one but I wanted to try making one out of yarn for a change. I searched online and found a great little pattern on Interweave. It was in US terms and I am used to using UK terms so it took me a little bit to get my head around which stitch they were referring too in it. It is a very simple pattern and worked up pretty quickly. The only thing I found a little confusing with the pattern and I’m not totally happy with is the top laced up section. The pattern just says to refer to a picture on the page on how to lace it up but the picture doesn’t give you a good indication on how you actually do it. My one doesn’t look too bad but it would have been easier with actual instructions. The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK which is an acrylic and I used a 3.5mm hook.

I had never done any form of shaping before in crochet. This was a really great pattern to start on. The ball in made up 4 pieces that are joined to form the oval shape. All but one turned out the same size, I have no idea why but one was a little larger and I can’t remember if it was my first one or second one. It all joined up the same and you can’t notice on the final piece. The only thing I did differently to the pattern instructions was they said to slip stitch around the edge of each piece and I did a UK double crochet instead. Once I joined all my pieces there was a gap in either end which I closed up using some of my end tails. All other end tails I didn’t weave in I just left them long inside. I was fastening off each time I joined a piece I just wasn’t cutting the yarn so it is secure and shouldn’t unravel.

I’m now inspired to try doing other crocheted toys. I did each panel in sections and marked every 10 rows so if I did have to frog back I had row placings so I could keep count. It was fun to do but was something that had to be done with total concentration, no talking, no tv.

I would like to mention that Interweave had really good customer service. There was a mix up and I accidentally purchased 2 copies of the pattern at once and due to trying to work out the exchange rate in my head I didn’t notice until I got my receipt emailed to me and saw the quantity as 2. I emailed Interweave and explained what had happened, they replied back very quickly and refunded the cost of one pattern within a couple of days. They were wonderful.

Cassiy

Plattie

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.

Cassiy