April 23, 2012

Quiet Book: The Felt Safari

Hey, remember when I said I was working on a quiet book?  Well....it's still not done.  But my posts about the quiet book get a LOT of traffic (thank you!), so that encouraged me to keep stitching away!

I have two pages to share with animal templates in the hopes that you won't judge me on my felt-craft laziness.

Welcome to the jungle.  The wee critters finally have a place to call home!

The monkey swings on an elastic-y 'vine'.  It's attached to his bum, not his hand but I'm hoping Rowan won't notice the inaccuracy.

The lion is stuck on the savannah.

The viper (yes, not snake...viper) waits in the long grass to ambush his prey.

The hippo chills out in the pond.

 There's also a shiny mirrored sun just for extra shiny fun.

Templates for the hippo and monkey are here.  The viper and lion are here.  The files will open in Google Docs.  To print, you need to find the little printer icon on the upper left and click it.  A new screen should come up with the PDF and just head on over to 'File' under whatever internet browser you're using and select print from the drop-down menu.

You will need:

felt (one sheet per colour will do)
embroidery thread
embroidery needle
small amount of stuffing

Now, let's talk about construction.  Basically, the rule is embellish first, sew second.  This means that any facial features, tails, or decorative stitching should be sewn on before sewing the animal together.  Limbs or tongues should be also completed before sewing the body.

The viper is the easiest animal to construct.  Simply embellish the top and sew the two body pieces together, leaving a hole for stuffing.  Sew up the hole and knot off the thread!

Let's make a monkey:

First, sew the eyes and nose onto the face.  It's a good idea to pencil in where you want your facial features to be so they are even.  Sew the face onto one of the head pieces and set aside.  Sew the feet pads (oatmeal colour) to the main feet.  I now realize that I didn't include the feet pads on the pattern sheets, so just cut out an extra set of feet and trim them down.  Sew each foot to one of the body pieces and set aside.

Using the second body piece, sew the tail on.  If you're going to be adding something to attach the animal to the quiet book, now is a good time to add that.  Sew the body: lay your body pieces on top of each other, wrong sides together, and starting at the 'neck' sew around the entire body and end at the other side of the neck.  Knot off the thread.  Leave the top open and lightly stuff the body.  Set aside.  Grab the to head pieces and starting at the 'chin' and sew up around the ears and head leaving the bottom open.  Do not knot off yet!  Lightly stuff the head.  Sandwich the head around the body and finish sewing.  Knot it and you now have a monkey!  As Rowan would say: "Eeee Eeee!"

I didn't add the velcro to the lion until after he was finished.  Thus, the messiness.  Do as I say, not as I do.

Construction for the other animals is pretty much the same.  For the tail on the lion and hippo, I threaded two long pieces of embroidery thread through the felt and divided them up evenly into three strands.  Braid your desired length and knot off.

A note about the hippo arms:  they aren't stuffed and are sew together first before inserted and sewn to the body.

 I had a lot of fun designing and sewing these little creatures, and I hope you enjoy making them.  I don't mind if you use the pattern for your own children or to give as gifts, but please don't rip me off and sell them.  That's so not cool.  If you're dying to sell them, shoot me an email about purchasing a license.

Sew on, my friends.

April 18, 2012

'Antique' Ottoman Tray

After trading my over-sized, glass topped coffee table in for an ottoman, I gained living room seating and more space for Rowan to play.  In turn, I lost a place to put stuff.  Like coffee.  And coffee deserves a good place to sit.

I saw this dynamite wood serving tray at a thrift store.  I loved the colour of green and simple design.  The flowers just screamed "PAINT ME!!"

So I did.  One coat of spray paint in 'antique white'.  If you're looking for a cleaner finish instead of my 'antiquing' method, you'll want to sand the entire tray before painting.  I'm looking for imperfections, so I skipped that step.

Sand with a fine grit sandpaper.

Another coat of spray paint.

Another round of sanding.

The last sanding I really dug into the paint, so I had a lot of dust.  I made sure that the tray was completely dust-free with a paint brush before I coated it with spray-on Mod Podge.  The Mod Podge acts as a sealant, you don't want to skip it!

My happy accident.  A little heavy on the first coat of Mod Podge and you'll get bubbles from the paint.  I liked it, so I went with it.  I lightly sanded over the crackles after the first coat had dried and sprayed on a second coat.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out!  Since I already had the spray paint and the Mod Podge, this project only cost me $6.00.  Love me some cheap DIY!

April 12, 2012

Little Vintage Sundress

Inspired by a dress I spotted in a 1950s nursery rhyme book.

This sweet little dress has a dropped waist and a ruched front panel.

Roomy enough to do fun new things...like walk!  Once again, fabric is from Tonic Living.

Perfect for summer!

Dresses and pattern will be available for purchase soon.  Yay!

April 9, 2012

Felt Finger Puppets and Carry Bag

Knowing that my niece would undoubtably receive (and have access to) a hoard of edible goodies this past Easter weekend, I opted for a gift that contained few little things made out of felt.

The delightful little finger puppets are made by Christine Elliott.  I saw her table at the Mamas and Chicks show at the end of March and obviously they were just too cute to pass up.  She does beautiful monogramed pillows, be sure to check out her Etsy shop!

I thought the wee critters could use a little home.

So I made up a little felt bag.  I'm feeling lazy today (chocolate comma), so a tutorial will arrive later.

And in case you were wondering, the puppets were a big hit.  I overheard Brianna pleading to take them to bed so she could put on a play :)

April 5, 2012

This Post Features Kittens

I thought I'd post an outrageously adorable photo of the R-man and some kittens while I wait for my iron to heat up.  Did you know they are the official alternative Easter animal when bunnies, chicks and lambs are unavailable?

That might be a lie.  At four weeks old, they're pretty darn precious.  Rowan has his keester parked on the floor of my dad's workshop and is getting an 'are-you-a-kitten-slayer' inspection from Mama Cat.  He passed.

And yes, he's also wearing a new Urban Hoodie.  Considering the pattern goes up to size 5T, you'll be seeing a lot of them!

This weekend's goal is to not go into a chocolate induced comma.  Success is unlikely.

Happy Easter!

April 3, 2012

Amy Butler's Weekender Travel Bag - A Review

Recently, I turned 29.  My last year as a 'twenty-something'.  Before all of my 30 and over readers begin an unanimous eye-roll, I will assure you this is not one of those posts.  I'm actually looking forward to turning 30.  Really, really.

Being on the cusp of 30 means I have a few things to consider.  I think of myself more as a grown-up now (I'm really hoping those of you who know me well won't giggle at that comment) and while I'm very comfortable in my own skin, I'm thinking I need to put a little distance between 19 year old me and 29 year old me.  There are a few things that I desire to improve and/or change.

Or remove.

For instance, a few years ago, I thought: "When I turn 30, I'm going to take out my industrial ear piercing."

I've had this piercing for ten years.  The first time I saw it, I was 17 and sitting in a tattoo and piercing studio in Berlin, waiting for my exchange student's sister to get hers.  I thought it was uber cool.  But is it cool at 30?  Now that I'm here (or...almost here), I think so.  I'll post-pone removal for another decade.

One thing I chose not to delay was my overnight/weekend clothing-and-assorted-essentials vessel.  Up until a few days ago, this is what I was using:

Yeah.  For shame.  The Ralph Wiggum applique really isn't doing me any favours.  I can only imagine what Stacey and Clinton of What Not To Wear would say.  Probably something along the lines of, "What are you, 19?!?"

Please enter Amy Butler's Weekender Bag.  And I need to make a correction:  it's not a 'bag' it's luggage.

This was my first Amy Butler pattern, (of course I picked the biggest bag she has!) so I was excited to see how she does her packaging, pattern, and instructions.  Of course they are all polished and professional - very impressive!!  I've read posts on other blogs about how much she loves to use interfacing.  I thought it was a humorous comment.  Then I read the list of materials.

Amy Butler loves her interfacing.  Thick, stiff, interfacing.

That didn't discourage me!  I'm incredibly stubborn and I had been coveting this bag for a long while.  The super cheery fabric is from Tonic Living.  I used Tempo, Mambo for the outer bag and Joy, Fiesta for the lining and piping.

The sewing process was....interesting.  I should have suspected something while reading the instructions.  The first line (even before the materials are listed) goes like this: "This bag gets cumbersome when stitching some of the heavier seams.  Be persistent.  The finished bag will be worth it.  Have fun!"  Even Amy Butler thinks this bag is a real bitch to sew.  That's not daunting at all.

To sum up the entire process: I was frustrated but determined to finish.  Just like the instructions said I would be.  The interfacing was challenging to work with and I may have dropped a few f-bombs when the piping kept shifting on me.  After breaking three needles within 5 minutes (nine...*NINE* heavy duty needles in total for the whole project), spilling coffee on one of the side panels, stabbing myself repeatedly with pins, and burning my finger with the iron; I decided that since I wasn't quitting, I needed to find the humor in it.

It definitely helped to vent to a friend.  She certainly saw the humor in it.  Thanks, Kennedy :)

Hopefully this won't intimidate you.  In all sincerity, I do love the bag.  Just as Amy said I would.  I mean...it fits an 'In Style' magazine in the side pocket!  What's not to love?

Thanks to Kennedy for the photos!

If I make another one, I would add a pocket or two on the inside and maybe skip the end pockets.  I wish I had read this post before starting to sew, though.  Some great tips and modifications can be found there.

Proceed with confidence, coffee (but not too close to your workspace!) and a sense of humor.