Category Archives: Dolls and Softies

March Flea Market Finds

Here’s a smile for you – my son holding up this love bug mask and saying “Hello Spring”!  How can you resist?

Hello Spring!

Hello Spring!

I had some good luck with flea market finds this month and found some great knick knacks.  I’m not sure what this first item is; it is some type of souvenir tray from Florida.  I think this might be for carrying drinks?  If anyone knows, please tell me!

Souvenir Tin

Souvenir Tin

This is a handmade Raggedy Ann doll.  Her face is hand embroidered and she is stuffed with fabric scraps (very old-fashioned).  I figure she was probably made in the 60’s or 70’s based on the fabric used for her dress.  I plan to make a new dress for her from my plethora of civil war fabric.  She looks perfect sitting on the school desk I found a few months ago.

Handmade Raggedy Ann Doll

Handmade Raggedy Ann Doll

Here is a wooden bread box.  It needs a bit of cleaning (there are crumbs in it), and I may end up painting/distressing this.  It would make a perfect sewing box – especially since you can see your project through the window.

Bread Box

Bread Box

When I saw this piece with the handcarved star and the little drawers, I had to have it! According to the signature on the back, this was made in 1986, which makes it 26 years old – so it just qualifies as being vintage!

Handmade Drawers

Handmade Drawers

Lastly, here is a very clever tote bag.  This is made from a paper-pieced quilt block that shows a girl jumping rope.  Do you see how her rope is actually the handles of the bag?  Also, I love her braids!

Jump Rope Quilt Block

Jump Rope Quilt BLock

Good luck with your flea market finds!  If you find something fun, let us now by posting in the comments.

Keep it Thimble!

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Mini Tutorial – Stuffed Apple for Teacher

My son wants to be a mad scientist when he grows up (see Exhibit A):

Mad Scientist

Today, he took a big step towards this lofty goal – starting Kindergarten!  He wanted to bring an apple to his new teacher (where do kids get these ideas – TV?), so I figured a stuffed one is the way to go.

Basically (for sewing purposes), an apple looks like a tomato expect that it is taller.  I made up a template that looked like an oval that came to a point at each end.  The size was about 2″ x 5″.  I cut out five (5) of these ovals from quilter’s cotton (although you could also use wool), sewed them together, and left one side open for turning.

Stuffed Apple for Teacher

Turn the piece inside out, stuff, and then hand sew opening closed.  Get a small button for the bottom of the apple.  Next, take an upholstery needle and thread with strong twine (I used linen thread).  Poke the needle down into the center of top and come out through one of the button holes on the bottom. Poke the needle back into another button hole, come out through the top, and then pull tight.  Do this 2 more time so that you can create a nice dimple in the top and bottom of the apple.  Don’t cut the thread.

Next, cut out two leaves from felt and sew to the top of the apple.  You can use the same thread you used for making the dimples.  Tie off thread and cut off excess.  Get a black pipe cleaner and cut it about 3″ long.  Near the base of the leaves, poke a very small hole with scissors and insert the stem.  You can use a dab of glue to hold into place.  Voila – an apple for the teacher that will never spoil.

Keep it Thimble!

Tutorial – Sew a Stuffed Paramecium Toy

My son enjoys all kinds of creatures, both big and small.  A few weeks ago he asked me if we could make a stuffed paramecium.  He learned about these one-celled organisms from watching the “Cat in the Hat” (proof that television IS educational 🙂 ).  For those of you who need a refresher in biology, here is a picture of what one of these critters looks like:

Diagram of Paramecium

As you can see, it is a simple oval, with some colored shapes inside the body, and a row of little hairs around the edge – simple enough to make with some fleece, felt, and pom-pom trim!  This is a great project for you to do with your children since there are so many things they can do in the process.  I didn’t take photos of the actual project in process, but the tutorial is fairly straightforward (I hope!).

Perry the Paramecium - Standing

To make one Paramecium toy you need:

  • 1/2 yard fleece
  • Craft felt in assorted colors
  • 3 yards pom-pom trim
  • 1 bag Fiberfill
  • Google Eyes / Buttons (optional)

1.  Starting by drawing 10 – 12 different shapes on the felt.  Use a variety of colors and shapes to add interest.  The shapes should be various sizes ranging from 2 x 3″ to 6″ x 6″.

Shape suggestions:  circle, square, rectangle, triangle, oval, egg, dome, X, star, straight ling, squiggly line, tulip, flower, pentagon, octagon, trefoil.

2.  Cut out the shapes and set aside.  I found the shapes to be the most fun for my son.  He drew and cut out all the shapes by himself.  The bonus was that this kept him busy for about 2 hours (off and on) which gave me time to sew some other project.

3.  Take 1/2 yard of fleece and cut it into two equal-sized rectangles (it’s easiest just to cut where the fabric was folded on the bolt).  These will be the front and back of the paramecium.

4.  Take one fleece rectangle and arrange the felt shapes on it.  Again, my son did this step.  He took each piece and placed it where he wanted on the creature.  Be sure to leave about 1 – 2 inches seam allowance around the perimeter.  Pin the shapes to the fleece.

Paramecium - Ready to Sew the Shapes

5.  Using your machine, stitch the shapes onto the fleece.  Stitch on top of the shapes (basically like raw-edge applique).  Since this was a toy, I just stitched around the inside edge of each shape, leaving the edges of each shape raw.  Don’t be a perfectionist about this, just get them stitched down securely.  For example, I stitched through the center of each star point instead of trying to stitch around the perimeter of the star.

6.  Take the pom-pom trim and loosely arrange in the shape of an oval around the perimeter of the fleece rectangle (the one with the shapes).  You will have excess fabric at the corners.  Caution – do not actually cut the fleece into the shape of an oval, this makes it harder to stitch together later on.  Instead, just shape the trim into an oval shape and pin around the edges.  Make sure the pom-pons are pointing towards the center of the fleece.

7. From the front, stitch around the pom-pom trim with your machine.  You can use a basting stitch to complete this step more quickly.

8.  Take the second piece of unembellished fleece and place it RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER with the piece you just finished embellishing.  Pin around the edges.

9.  Turn the piece over (pins and all) so you are now looking at the wrong side of the piece with all the felt shapes stitched onto it.  With pins, clearly indicate where you will start and stop the seam in order to have a 6 inch opening for turning and stuffing (pick the center of one of the long sides).

10.  You should be able to clearly see the stitching line around the perimeter that is securing the pom-poms. Using this seam as a guide, stitch the front and back together just inside this seam (about 1/8″ seam allowance).  Again, no need to be a perfectionist about this.  Remember to leave 6″ open for turning and stuffing.

11.   Trim corners so that you now have a nice oval shape.  Turn the paramecium inside out.

12.  Stuff with fiberfill.  This will use an entire bag of fiberfill!  Again, kids can participate in this step and handle the stuffing themselves.

13.  Once stuffed, whipstitch the opening closed by hand.

14.  Optional:  Glue on google eyes or sew on button eyes.  My son opted to draw some eyes and mouth in the middle with a marker (can you see it in the picture?).  However, he did mention he would like to sew on some buttons for eyes so you can see them better.

15.  Name your new creature!  My son called his “Perry.”

Perry the Paramecium - Sitting

For another fun project, check out the Radiant Folded Star and Covered Box pattern!

Keep it Thimble!

Tutorial – Sock Rabbit (aka Sock Bunny)

Diamond the Rabbit

Happy Easter everyone!  This tutorial might be a bit late, since you can’t make these for an Easter Basket, but I really wanted to post this cute little rabbit I made from some socks bought at Target for a dollar!  My plan was to make up my own directions, but I figured someone had already done something like this and a quick Google search turned up a free sock rabbit pattern at Clubhouseb.com.  Download the pattern and cut out the sock pieces per the directions listed.  This tutorial assumes you have the pattern handy for reference.

Step 1 - Plain Sock

As you can imagine, you start with a plain sock.  Turn the sock inside out and arrange the heel so that it is facing you.   Following the directions on the downloaded pattern, draw lines on the socks for the ears and legs.  Stitch around the lines (per the pattern) and cut the ears and legs apart.

Step 2 - Stitch along lines for ears and legs

Turn the whole thing inside out (there will be a opening in the crotch for this).  Use a point turner to poke out the tips of the ears and the corners of the feet.

Step 3 - Turn inside out

Stuff with fiberfill.  The socks I used were children’s size, so the rabbit will be about 7″ high (the ears add about 4″ more height).  Be careful when stuffing – you don’t want to overstuff and you don’t want the sock to run near the raw edges between the legs.  Whipstitch the opening shut with matching thread.

Step 4 - Stuff and stitch

Next, make a running stitch around the base of each ear, pull to gather, and tie off  (the pattern indicates doing the running stitch across the ear, but I did it around in order to make it easier to gather and tie off).  Figure out where the neck is going to be and make a running stitch around the neck, pull to gather, and tie off.

Step 5 - Make the face

For the face, take two buttons with shanks and sew on according to the directions.  If you try to use buttons with holes you will find that the eye indentations will not look correct.  Rabbit eyes are positioned more to the side instead of the front, so using the shank buttons makes the indentations appear on the sides of the face, instead of the front.   Create the mouth and nose per the directions. I didn’t statin stitch a nose since the pink diamond from the argyle pattern is positions perfectly for a nose – what a happy accident!

Step 6 - Make arms

Take the other sock and create two arms.  For my arms, I cut off the toe of the sock and stitched down the middle (like I did with the ears) so that the arms would be pointed on the end like paws.

Step 7 - Sew on arms and add bow

Stuff the arms lightly and whipstitch them into place at the neck.  Tie a bow around the neck to complete the look and you have an Easter Bunny!   If you have the inclination, you can also embellish him (or her) further by adding a hat, shirt, dress, basket, etc.  If you want to get really fancy you can sew a running stitch at the wrists and ankles to make the paws more defined.

Keep it Thimble!

Spring is Here (I think)!

The birds are chirping the flowers are blooming, and spring is finally here (I think).  Last week we had a blast of winter weather and we are supposed to be in the 30’s tonight.  But after that, it is supposed to be consistently in the 60’s and 70’s for spring!

Nest of Easter Peeps

Here’s a cute spring project – a nest of Easter Peeps!  The original pattern from Liberty Rose was a much larger chick that could be used for a pincushion.  I downsized it and stitched it up in some yummy spring colors!  You could also make some cute Easter Rabbits and use brown floss to add in the distinctive Rabbit Peep face – 2 small dots for the eyes and one for the nose (note:  writing this on my to do list).

Easter Pillows - Photo Transfers

Easter Pillows - Photo Transfers

This spring pillows were also inspired by Liberty Rose!  These are really easy to stitch up and are great accents for your spring decorating.  Pick out a few vintage images (we used postcards) and then transfer them to fabric.  You can buy the photo transfer fabric at Jo-Ann’s (bring your coupon).  Cut out, sew on a backing, and stuff – viola!  The neat thing about this is that you can use any image – there are lots of goods ones the internet, just do a search for “vintage ____ images”.

Easter Pillows - Photo Transfers

Easter Pillows - Photo Transfers

Happy spring and Keep It Thimble!

Miss Emily

Here is my first attempt at making a primitive doll – Miss Emily.  I made her in cottage style fabrics, so she doesn’t really look prim – but I like the general effect.   I might end up staining her with a walnut crystals as she looks too clean :).

 

Miss Emily

I can’t remember who made the pattern, but it was easy to follow.  Dollmaking is a little bit different than I thought it would be (actually easier).  For one thing, you don’t cut out the pattern pieces and then sew them together.  Instead, you trace the pattern onto the fabric, and then place the fabric right sides together, and sew around the line you traced.  This eliminates the problem of the cut pattern pieces sliding around as you are trying to sew around curves.

She is a basic cylinder with arms and legs sewed on separately.  The arms and legs are filled partially with sand so you can pose her easily (she looks great sitting on top of the fireplace).  Her hair is made from doll hair (you can get this at the craft store).  I decided to give her bangs since she has such a high forehead, but may end up redoing her hair with thin yard instead.

The dress is simple to construct.  The shirt is “flat construction”, meaning you cut out the front and back of the shirt and sew it together.  The neckline and the sleeves are finished by simply turning the raw edges to the inside.  The skirt is a long rectangle that is gathered at the waist.  The apron is a rectangle hemmed on 3 sides, with a small waistband.  Overall, her outfit turned out really cute!

Keep it thimble!

For the Birds!

My friend wanted to make some little peace doves to give as gifts this year, and asked me to help her since she knows I love to sew!  She emailed me a few pictures of some stuff birds she liked, and I was able to find a great FREE pattern at Spool Sewing for these birds (the free pattern is available for download in the right hand sidebar).

Little Blue Bird Softie

I stitched together a quick prototype on my sewing machine so we had a better idea of the finished product.  It took no time at all and you could easily create a dozen of these in an evening.   You can embroider little eyes using french knots, or you can attach a beads (be sure to do all these embellishments before stitching and stuffing it).  Another idea is to embroider designs on the body, or create little wings in a contrasting color and sewing them on.

I don’t have a picture of my friend’s, but she used white felt for all her pieces, and then hand sewed them together with a blanket stitch (in white).  It would have also been cute to sew around in contrasting color like red or blue.  I plan to make some of these as well, but wanted to get this posted in so you can get the pattern and start making some yourself.

We used the pattern as is, and then used copper jewelry wire to make little feet.  I pocked a hole in the bird body with a little awl, stuck in a dab of hot glue, then pushed the feet inside.  Since the birds are pretty light, they stand up pretty well on the feet.  You can adjust the feet after you get them glued in.

Snowman Family Make-dos

Introducing the Snowman Family!  Here are some snowmen and women I’ve been working on for the past few weeks.  I had an idea in my head about how to create some snowmen, but wasn’t quite sure what the end result would be.  I didn’t want something too primitive – instead I was looking for something more retro and nostalgic.   Vintage postcards provided the inspiration for the faces, which were painted on.

The Snow Family

I started by created a ball out of canvas, which was then painted off-white.  I played around with some ideas for faces and created two different looks – the “sweetly sleeping” and “happy jolly”. The “sleeping” look was more feminine looking, which is why it was used for snow women.

Husband and Wife Snow-people

The first set was a snowman and wife.  The top hat was made out of muslin and then painted black.   The ears muffs were created from wool yo-yos and a strip of wool.  After the headgear was glued on, they were painted with a coffee wash to lend an antique look.

Frosty the Snowman

Frosty was fun to make!  He has the same top hat as the other guy, but also earmuffs (so he is double warm).  Muslin was sewn together in a small cone to create the nose and then wrapped with string to give it a carrot texture.  The face was painted on (eyes and mouth) and then the nose was stitched one.  Next came his earmuffs and hat, then he was also brushed with coffee.

Candy Cane Snow-woman

This last one is my favorite one since it looks so different from the other ones.  I knew I didn’t her to have an antique look – I wanted to keep this one more retro.  I thought about adding the Santa hat when trying to think of another type of hat that wasn’t as involved as a top hat or bonnet.  When the hat was placed on her head, she reminded me of a candy cane!  This inspired me to paint her candlestick a cheery red and white.  I just need to figure out a better way to paint on the white lines so they don’t look as wobbly.  Any suggestions are welcome!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a great turkey day!!!

Turkey Table Topper

This is the wool applique table runner I started working on last year.   This is from one of  the Need’l Love books that features fall patterns.  I added acorns and oak leaves for that extra touch.

Plaid Owl

This guy wanted to have his picture on the blog too!  He is the cousin to the other owl I made.  My son has named this owl “Fancy” and the other owl is called “Sooder” (not sure how he came up with that one!).

Porch Sale – Part 2

First, a big thank you to Sharon of Liberty Rose for hosting the first annual Fall Porch sale at her house.  I can’t even tell you how much work Sharon and Evette did to get everything arranged and set-up for Saturday.  Everything was perfect, down to the last detail!!  I am very honored that Sharon asked me to be a part of this show and I look forward to doing it again next year (yes, we are already planning another one!).

Porch Sale

This is what Sharon’s back porch looked like before the sale.  All the tables are loaded down with goodies and the tree is full of ornaments.  By the end of the day, everything was bare (I wish I had some after pictures).

 

Hootie Owl Display

Ladies started lining up well before 10am, eager to look at all the beautiful items that were for sale.  This display features a wool Hootie owl I made and some pot holders and candle mats made by Laura.

 

Heather's Corner

Here is the main corner where my wares were displayed.  The stand is my grandmother’s spool tree – it’s perfect for hanging purses and other small things.  The doll was made by Jennifer :).

 

Halloween!

Here is the Halloween corner.  You can see Bartleby the Pumpkin with his sly grin, hanging out with the other witches and ghosts.  Evette had some beautiful wool Halloween ornaments, Jennifer made some witches boots, and Sharon had a cute little embroidered witch.

Thank you to all the ladies (and gentlemen – I saw at least two) who came to the sale.  It was wonderful meeting everyone and I look forward to seeing you all again next year!