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.
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.
I have made many softies (soft toys) over the years and have countless books with different patterns but my go to book is The Big Book of Softies published by Penguin books.
The most pattern I have made from the book is Polly. She is a really basic doll and she is my go to dolly for little girls but I make her without the ears. She makes a great 1st birthday present as she is cloth doll without any buttons or things that could be choking hazards. This pattern is great for using up scraps because you can make each section out of different fabrics. For the body it is basically a square rectangle with a little curve over the head area. I have added hair before using yarn but I have also made it without hair. I am actually planning to make another Polly in the coming months for a gift.
Looking back I have made the Gnome. I thought I had a photo of it as I made it purple but I can’t seem to have. Sometimes I make things and forget to blog about them.
The Lizard was another pattern that I made from this book. Not everyone has a pink lizard but at the time my niece was liking the colour pink and like reptiles so this was a good combination. That is the best thing about toys that you make you can make them in the combination that you need for that child.
Another pattern I have made is Maisie. Again this is a great scrap busting project because you can make the different sections in different fabrics. This pattern is for more your older child if you add the buttons on the ears, you could make it for a young child without the buttons.
My most favourite toy I have made from the book is the Car and Caravan. As soon as I saw this pattern in the book when I purchased it I thought of my childhood neighbours and the caravan they had. I made this for their great grandson. This is a very sentimental toy.
The instructions in this book are very easy to follow. The pattern pieces list what size to photocopy them to but you can easily make the toys larger or smaller by photocopying them at a different amount eg 120% not 100%. This book doesn’t just have toys to sew but also some to knit and crochet. It is a really comprehensive book to have in your stash if you are thinking of making softies.
Another Christmas gift completed.
I was planning on making a dinosaur tail earlier this year for a gift for this child but the fabric I had chosen wasn’t suitable, it was a stretchy knit type fabric and I thought it was going to end it tears if I tried to use it. The pattern I used was a free pattern by Running With Scissors, it is a great little tutorial to follow. I think I pinned this on Pinterest years ago and hadn’t got around to making it until this year.
I did do a couple of modifications to the original tutorial. Instead of doing straps that go around the waist to hold it in place I used cross grain ribbon. I wasn’t sure the size of the child so I didn’t know if the straps in the pattern would fit him. I thought by using ribbons it can be tied around him no matter what he was wearing or how he wants to wear it (he could even wear it on his head if he wants) The other modification I did was inside the spikes I used a fusible interfacing to stiffen them. I’m not sure the exact one I used but it like a heavy Vilene, I have used this before in bag making and fabric buckets. The spikes are still flexible but hold their shape. The easiest way I thought to add this was iron a flat rectangle piece of interfacing to the spike fabric first and the follow the rest of the tutorial. I used pinking shears to cut the spikes once they were stitched. My spikes are a little bit shorter than the pattern and that was due to the size of the scrap of interfacing I had. When your making something you make the rules and this dinosaur has spikes that don’t go to the end of his tail. The fabric is regular homespun I brought at the local shop, I was happy to find these colours as I had it my mind to be something like this. The ribbon I found in my stash that happened to match perfectly, I did seal the ends of it with a match to stop them fraying. I also had a to add a touch of fray stops to one of the spines as it didn’t fully catch in the seam but it should be ok.
So who says you can’t make these for adults. Ok so this one doesn’t exactly fit me but if the ribbons were longer I think it would. The finished size of this one is around 23″ long (it will be fun trying to find a bag big enough to post it off at Christmas) You could make it any size you wanted by following the directions in the pattern and adjusting your fabric. This was really quick to make so perfect for those last minute gifts or for a kids sleepover or when the kids are board and want to make something.
The first of my 2017 Christmas gifts have been finished.
For a pair of siblings I decided to make matching Hipster Teddies. One of the testers who made this toy prior to its release in issue 15 of One Thimble magazine made the teddy in a check print fabric and it looked good. Recently I was able to find check fabric in 2 colourways at my local shop and I thought it would be perfect for these bears. It really was a case of buy the fabric, prep it in the washing machine as soon as you get home, cut out the pieces the next day with these bears. In my felt scrap stash I was able to find all the facial features so they matched too.
The fabric isn’t a quilting cotton it is more like muslin or a linen perhaps. It is a lighter fabric and the weave isn’t as dense as a quilting cotton. It wasn’t so open weave that I needed to use double layers on all the pieces but I was worried it would fray as I stitched it so I cut out all my pieces with my pinking shears. This ended up serving 2 purposes.
- The fabric didn’t fray as I worked with it so I didn’t have hundreds of little fabric fibres on the floor
- I didn’t need to go around and clip all my seams after I stitched them.
I’m going to cut my pieces out with pinking shears again I think as it was a big timesaver. I did have to clip into a few inner curves and cut away excess fabric from my seam line when I stitched in the limbs but that is only a couple of snips.
I added pellon inside the ears again to make them squishy. If I am not stuffing the limbs or the ears I like having the pellon or wadding in that section just to plump the area up. Toys are meant to be cuddled and I like them to have that inviting feel that makes you want to snuggle up to them.
These bears were a really easy project to make multiples of. I cut each bear out at once. Where possible if the fabric is non directional I fold the fabric so I have 4 layers and cut out any pieces that way, if your fabric isn’t thick as you long as you have enough pins it is easy to do. On these bears I used black thread and chain pieces all the ears and limbs. I knew the machine would eat the fabric so at the start and end of each seam I placed tearaway stabliser underneath it. None of my pieces got caught in the feed dogs and it only took seconds to remove all the tiny bits of paper from the stitching when I was done.
2 gifts down more to go!
When One Thimble Issue 15 was released I knew I would make Hipster Teddy at some point, it was one of those patterns which really spoke to me. I kept seeing all these wonderful versions of it in such different fabrics that it went on my to sew list. The fabrics I used were some leftover pieces in my stash from other projects I have been working on this year. By chance I had enough entire pieces that I could get the stripes all going the one direction. The fabric has a feint paisley print on it that isn’t at first noticeable but when you get up close you can see it. I only have a small amount of this fabric left which is sad because I really like it and have no idea where I got it from.
My favourite part of Hipster is her face. I used scraps of wool felt which I hand stitched on. I altered the nose to be a heart because why shouldn’t teddy have a ♥ nose. Normally I would add pupils to the eyes but this toy doesn’t look scary without them, some toys give a vacant stare if you don’t. I will be honest and say I didn’t follow the pattern instructions only because this wasn’t a complicated toy to make so you can stitch it anyway you feel comfortable if you have made toys before. I added a layer of pellon to the back of each piece of the ear just to give it a bit more squishiness and texture, the ears aren’t stuffed with hobby fill so otherwise they would just be flat.
I just want to make everyone a Hipster Teddy now.
Polka Dot Pup is based on Madame Sausage by Ric Rac. I have had this pattern in my stash for a number of years but never got around to making it.
I say Polka Dot Pup is based on the pattern as I haven’t done it exactly like the pattern. The pattern has little Miss wearing clothing, I used polka dot fabric I found in my stash instead to create interest, had I just chosen a plain fabric I think she would still looked ok. This polka dot fabric I was finding hard to use in any project so it was good to use it in this. Sadly little Miss sat in pieces for weeks (or maybe a month or two) before I recently had a deadline and finished her. It didn’t take long to stuff her and attach her arms. I think she is rather cute looking.
Did I learn anything from this project? Yes don’t put off doing the finishing a project. Had I not put her aside once she was assembled I could have had her finished in no time. I suddenly put myself in time pressure to finish things for a deadline when I didn’t need to had I finished them in the first place. Sometimes I have the attention span of a fruit fly and jump from one project to the next but that sometimes (ok often) means I don’t get projects finished. I think I need to stop and refocus and finish things to the end so I get them completed and off my to craft list.