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!

Lunch Bags and Ballet Bags

Miraculously I finished both the ballet bags and lunch bags that I posted about last week!  I was pretty pleased with how both projects turned out, but also glad I didn’t have the pressure of sewing deadlines!  The next big deadline I have is getting ready for the Porch Sale in October (more details later).

Lunch Bags

Heather Bailey’s Jack and Jill pattern is very cute, but the bags were not as simple to make as I thought.   And since I was making two bags at the same time, any missteps I made were multiplied by two!   Laminated fabric was used for both the interior and exterior  – this is a medium weight fabric that is lighter than oilcloth, but sturdier than cotton.  It was very easy to work with – and I had no issues with cutting or sewing with it.  I did have a teflon foot which made the fabric slide very easily through the feeddogs.  If you don’t have a teflon foot you can also use the walking foot.

The pattern instructions were clear enough in most places, but I think she may have missed a minor step when you have to cut out the fabric for the side tabs.  Easily remedied, but it slowed me down because I spent a few minutes looking for the missing step.

Lunch Bags with Accessories

The thing that is most confusing is keeping the top and bottom oriented correctly on the top flap.  The finished flap works just like a brown paper lunch bag – you pinch in the sides and fold over the top twice.  Velcro secures the flap, so precise placement of the hook and loop strips is important.  You must also stay on your toes when sewing the lined flap to the bag body so you don’t sew it in upside down.  This is very easy to do – take it from me :).  I spent about 30 minutes ripping out stitches since I didn’t realize my mistake until three seams later!  Thanks goodness I didn’t make the same mistakes on both bags.

Once finished, I added in a plastic sandwich holder and small soup-thermos (color coordinated, of course).  The teachers loved them!

Ballet Bag for Pointe Shoes

The second project were the ballet bags from my friend April.  I plan to post a tutorial about how to make them in the near future – so stay tuned!   The cute thing about these bags was the monogram in the lower corner.  You can use the iron-transfers for the craft store – there are many styles and colors to choose from.

Pink Ballet Bag

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!

Party Favors

My son is at that age where he gets invited to lots of birthday parties, so I am always on the look-out for fun little things to make for party favors and little gifts.

This first favor is one I made for my son’s Pirate themed party.  The pattern is the Child’s Coloring Bag from Clothesline Quilts.  What’s great about these bags is they don’t take up a lot of fabric and you can easily make 8 in about 90 minutes (which includes the time to quilt the fabric).  Next, go to the Dollar Tree and pick out some crayons and other little things to go inside!

Pirate's Booty Party Favor

The next favor is a Zipper Critter by Indygo Junction.  The pattern comes with three different sizes and three different types of of animals (dog, cat, pig).  It’s great for using up scraps and any old zippers you have laying aroud.  What’s nice is that you can personalize the fabric choice for each child, or do it all based around a theme.  These critters also make nice package decorations – especially the smaller one that is attached to a lanyard.  One of these takes about 30 minutes to make (although you can speed things up if you want to make several by cutting them all out at once and sewing them assembly line style).

Zipper Critter

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.

Halloween!

I was hoping to get this posted yesterday, but I think today is fine  – the sugar high has finally worn off!  My son wanted to be a spider for Halloween this year.  I was so proud of myself because we picked out the pattern and bought all the supplies in early September!  I was going to get it down early, but of course I was sewing it at the last minute :).    The costume is from McCall’s 6180, but with a few modifications.

 

Spider 1.0

I made legs longer and didn’t put the ruffle at the bottom.  The ruffles were cute, but since he is a “big boy” now they didn’t suit him.  I had a lot of trouble turning the tubes to make the legs (the fabric was very thick and it was a struggle), so I used black socks for the tubes instead.  Since we wanted to have some bend in the legs, my husband taped up florist wire to create a frame, wrapped batting around it, and then we put the sock over it.  It yield nice long and fat spider legs – but the costume was very heavy!  My son was a real trooper and wore it to a party on Friday night, but we figured we could do something better for the legs for the BIG night.

 

Spider 2.0

For Spider 2.0, my husband taped together 6 dowels, and covered them with electrical wire.  We then cut the legs off of Spider 1.0 and used the socks to cover the dowels.  More electrical tape was used to tape around parts of the socks (which created a nice jointed leg effect).  The legs were much lighter, but since they stuck out it was a bit harder to navigate.  My husband rigged up a harness so the legs would slip over my son’s arms, and then we tied them down with a piece of ribbon.  All in all, Spider 2.0 was a great success and he got a lot of compliments while trick or treating.

Hope you all had a great Halloween!