Stuffed Animal: Horned Nerite Snail

Here’s an unusual project I did over the weekend with my son – a stuffed Horned Nerite Snail.  This is a real snail that tends to live in brackish water.

Inspiration for Stuffed Horned Nerite Snail

My son learned about them from a virtual aquarium game he has, and wanted to make one.  Since we had to work with scraps from my stash, our color choices were limited which explained the electric orange color for the shell.

Stuffed Horned Nerite Snail

It took about an hour to make it.  My son did the original design and selected the fabrics.  He also drew the face.  As a special bonus, he drew the templates and wrote his own directions for the pattern on a very wrinkled piece of newspaper. The templates were too small to actually use, so I made my own with his careful oversight.  Next on the agenda is to make the snail a pair of pajamas, again based on my son’s design.

Keep it Thimble!

It’s never too early for Halloween

My pumpkin obsessed son already has me working on things for Halloween!  Threads that Bind has a very cute pattern called Pumpkin Farm that makes five  stuffed jack-o-lanterns.  My son saw the pattern and insisted that I buy it.  Now he is expecting me to make him one new pumpkin each day for the next week.

Crack the Pumpkin

“Crack” is the first pumpkin to be finished (although it will probably take a few more weeks to finish all five) and he turned out pretty cute.  This is made with a very easy reverse applique process and only took about an hour to make.  Since I know these pumpkins will get a lot of attention from my son (ie, he will eat, sleep, and play with them), I went ahead and used the cheaper wool felt blend for it.  I don’t really care for this type of felt, it doesn’t look as nice and it pills quite easily.  However, for a kid’s project, it’s just the ticket.

Keep it Thimble!

The Easter Bunny Came Early!

Last week, my husband discovered a nest of baby rabbits in our back yard!  They grow pretty quickly and recently were big enough to leave the nest.   It was hard to get a good picture of them since we didn’t want to disturb them.  The mama rabbit would come by in the evenings to check on and feed her two little bunnies.  They are so cute and we were sad to see them go, but maybe they will come back to say “hello” on Easter.

Baby Rabbits!

Speaking of Easter, you probably have everything you need for your baskets, but if you are looking for a fun and quick project, click HERE for my tutorial on how to make a Sock Bunny!  I made these last year was very pleased with the results.  If you have time, you can also make a colorful vest, dress, or bonnet for your rabbit.

Sock Rabbit (aka Bunny)

Keep it Thimble!

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!

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!