Oodles of Bunnies

Posted in Sewing , on March 21, 2007

Well, it’s officially Spring and Easter isn’t too far off… so I’ve been busy with an Easter project that involves bunnies, and then bunnies also became the theme of a set of gifts we sent off to various couples that we know who are expecting this year.

First, the “baby” bunnies

These little guys are 10 inches tall and made from mint green fleece. They have peachy fleece cheeks and felt eyes, all handsewn on. We know 4 couples that are due this year, including 2 from our families (Lucas’ brother, my cousin) and so we wanted to send something cute and cuddly to congratulate them and wish them luck. Don’t worry, I added a note to the tag to remind the expecting parents to remove the ribbon before giving to a little one. (because someone always asks.)

So there are the first 4 of a total of 12 bunnies I’ve made in the past week. Next up, the Easter bunnies! These will be gifts to our family members – my family in Indiana, and Lucas’ family in BC. At the time of this writing I’ve got 4 of 8 completely finished and the last 4 are halfway done and just in need of some facial features and accessories.

Made from the same template, these are also about 10 inches tall and made from fleece with the same fleece and felt features. The biggest difference here isn’t the color of the bunnies, but the fact that they come bearing gifts! In the left hand of each bunny you can see that it’s holding a string, and hanging from the string is a tiny plastic Easter egg. Each egg has little hinges that allow you to open it and stick lots of goodies inside. An Easter gift that carries additional gifts… how genius! The real genius with this idea was Lucas, who saw the plastic eggs in a large variety pack at Michael’s this weekend. I was originally just going to make 2D eggs from felt to have each bunny hold in their hand, but he saw these eggs and noticed that each had a pinhole in the top so I could easily string them up and sew the string to the bunnies’ hands instead. I think they turned out much better this way!

So what kinds of goodies do I plan to put inside? I originally decided to make a set of spring magnets to put in the eggs using the glass pendant technique I described in an earlier blog. Lucas (always the genius and such a supporter of my crafts) suggested putting each of our faces on one and our dog’s face on one to make a complete set of 3 magnets. The small pictures of us aren’t showing up very well using the glass pendant idea, so I pulled out the bottlecaps I’d saved from our last poker night and started painting them. The idea is that I’ll put a photo of each of us inside the painted bottlecaps, gloss and seal them, and then glue the magnet on the back. They’re a work in progress, though. So far I have only painted the bottlecaps. Eventually each bunny will be bearing gifts of magnet sets ;)

Whew! I think once I’m done with all of this and have shipped off the last bunny I won’t be making anything that has to do with bunnies for a very long time.

Simon the Claustrophobic Turtle

Posted in Sewing , on March 16, 2007

Meet Simon the Claustrophobic Turtle. You might think that the idea of a claustrophobic turtle is funny, but to Simon it’s definitely no laughing matter! Because of his affliction, he wears his shell like a backpack instead of retreating inside of it when there’s danger. So how does Simon protect himself if he never goes inside his shell? Why, he takes his shell off his back and uses it like a shield, of course!

Watch out for that angry murloc, Simon!!

Simon is made from felt and stands 6.5 inches tall and is 4.5 inches wide. He is a special present for my little (21 year old) brother, who actually has a live pet turtle named Simon, the inspiration for this project and its name. More pics from different angles here.

Plush House Ornament with Tutorial

Posted in Knit & Crochet, Sewing, Tutorials , on March 14, 2007

Some good friends of ours just got engaged AND they bought a house and move in on April 1st. They have a thing for Christmas tree ornaments, so I decided to make them a little congratulations gift for their engagement and their new house by making them a little plush house… ornament :)

I had the idea the other night when I went to bed, and layed awake making a list in my head and designing the house and how I would make it and put it together in my head. (my brain never sleeps it seems.) The next morning I started working on it. I don’t have a pattern to share since it’s just a bunch of squares/rectangles with a couple triangles, but I did take a lot of pictures along the way to give you an idea of what I did so I could present a half-tutorial for anyone that might want to make one for themselves :)

Plush House Tutorial

First I cut out the pieces – no bottoms or tops for the square that made up the shape of the house nor the rectangle that made up the garage:
Every little item like the bushes, fireplace, window and door was cut by hand from felt and carefully handsewed on. No machine on this one! It’s way too small and intricate for my personal sewing machine abilities, anyway. I’m digging the handmade look that the showing stitches give it, though.

I formed the roofs and then started putting the walls together:

Once I had made the walls and sewn the roofs to the walls, it finally started to look like a house. But as you can see in this pic, it wasn’t holding its nice square angles very well, so I made a miniature cardboard version of the house to insert inside. It’s important to note that even though the cardboard model looks like the house and garage are connected, they’re not, and I inserted them separately.

Once the sturdy cardboard inserts were in, I stuffed it with polyfil and then traced on a piece of cardboard the shape of the full bottom. (instead of a separate bottom for both the house and garage.) Theoretically this shape would just be one of the squares that made up the house and the longer rectangular side. I also cut a felt piece of the same shape to form the final bottom:

I sandwiched the cardboard between the bottom of the freshly-stuffed house and the white bottom felt piece and sewed up around the entire bottom edge:

Voila! I forgot to mention that just before I inserted the cardboard supports in the house that I used embroidery floss to make the hanging loop, and knotted it well inside so it’d not come out. I chose a spot in the roof that was somewhat centered as far as the entire final piece goes so it’d hang as evenly as possible.

And that’s it! This is a really basic house – if you use your imagination you could make many more squares and rectangles and make your house much bigger and more complex. It’s all up to you! I hope that our friends like it! :) The cardboard inserts and polyfil really makes it sturdy and hold its shape well. I’m really happy with it!

Maple the Miniature Moose

Posted in Sewing , on March 12, 2007

Maple is a legend (to me) and she doesn’t even know it.

Much to the dismay of my close-knit family, I moved 1800 miles away from my hometown in Indiana to Calgary, AB Canada back in June of 2006. No regrets… it was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made, and I am now living happily ever after here and am really happy :)

I planned to make a trip back to Indiana to visit my family at Christmas, but by the time October came around, I realized that the Canadian Immigration process takes much longer than I had anticipated, and I had to accept that I’d not be able to make the trip as planned. Instead, I decided I’d handmake something soft and huggable to send home to my family members in my place for Christmas.

I’ve always been crafty, but I’d not done much with plushies, let alone made a pattern for what’s in my head. Back in 1995 I created a group of storybook characters for a children’s book project that I wrote and illustrated. It wasn’t until 1998 that I finally got the series of characters copyrighted, and by that time I had written several children’s books that I’d also illustrated using these little characters. (I never pursued getting the books published – that college thing and starting my teaching career was a bit more important.) Anyway, my family was well acquainted with the whole gang because I used the characters on the front of all the handmade cards I’d made for various occasions. They were “famous” to my family and friends.

So here I was, back in October, trying to come up with what I’d make for my family for Christmas that could be hugged in my place since I couldn’t make the trip personally. I wanted something that was somewhat representative of Canada since that’s where I was, and it hit me… Montgomery Moose! One of the characters from my little series seemed perfect. The problem was capturing the original drawing of Montgomery in a plushie pattern… something I had no experience with. I knew how Montgomery needed to look when finished, but creating a pattern that preserved that look was harder than it seemed. I tried, but it didn’t seem to be quite right. I was talking to a new friend here in Calgary who told me to check this great crafting forum, Craftster, and see if I could find a pattern or someone else who had made a moose plushie before to give me a hand or help critique the pattern I’d tried to make. And the rest is history. Here is my original post (one of my first!) looking for a moose pattern. In the end, I scrapped the pattern I’d made and modified a plushie pattern from a japanese crafting book that sewingstars had posted in another thread, and I was happy with how the new Montgomery turned out. I then crafted 4 that got sent to my family back in Indiana for Christmas. They were a hit!

So where does Maple come in? Well, today I was cleaning out my craft pattern drawer and trying to organize. I found the original sketches of Montgomery Moose from back in October – my first attempt at a pattern – and I decided to finish that original moose that never came to be. I also decided to name it Maple instead, since I’d made a little maple leaf cut-out to put on her tummy… it seemed more fitting. Now that she’s done, and not to mention now that I’ve had several months’ worth of experience in making plushies and even drafting my own patterns now (thanks to the great people of Craftster and their support!), I can see where I’d make changes now in order to get her to look just right. I know what I’d do differently “next time”, and if there is a next time with this pattern, I know I’d make it better. But for now, the one-and-only original Maple will sit here next to me at the computer so that I never forget where I’ve been and where I’m going… in life and on many other different levels, too.

Maple is made of felt, and for this project I completely sewed her by hand because it only seemed natural… when I designed Maple’s pattern, I didn’t have my sewing machine yet, so I would’ve sewn her by hand anyway. The one arm and leg that I’d already started on before scrapping the project was handsewn, so I made sure the rest was done just the same.

What else did I do this weekend craft-wise? Well I made a decorative gift bag to package up my Stuffiepup for craftymumto2 so I can send it to her this week. It’s denim on the outside and lined with cute spring Scooby-Doo fabric that has Scooby-Doo wearing a raincoat and playing in puddles with a little yellow duck. I love it! And I hope she does, too :)

More Plushies – New Stuffiepup and Penguin

Posted in Sewing , on March 9, 2007

Meet Roger! Roger is intelligent and spends his days working crosswords or playing chess when the humans are away. He has a real knack for Sudoku puzzles, too. Roger is the fourth stuffiepup in the series, and there are two more yet to be made to complete the full set of them. With a busy weekend coming up, it’ll most likely be next week sometime before they’re finished.

After I made a red penguin stuffie for a friend, another friend of mine has been wanting a penguin of his own, too. He hadn’t told me what color(s) he wanted for his penguin so I hadn’t made one yet. This week he got into a bad car accident. Thankfully he will be alright, and so I decided to just make a normal colored penguin stuffie to send as a get well gift. I think it turned out okay.

I think I’m finally getting “sick” for the first time since I moved to Canada 9 months ago. I was amazed that I didn’t get sick during the worst of the winter at all. Normally I get sick a few times in a single winter, but I’ve been lucky so far. I felt a little under the weather once, but it didn’t last and I didn’t really get full-on sick or anything. I’ve been feeling a bit sore and swollen in my neck glands recently and I finally started feeling a twinge of a sore throat yesterday. I’m hoping it’s just a bit of a cold and I’ll be able to combat it with Neo Citran and cold meds. Guess that means I’m gonna have to get working on stuffing those lambs… all four are waiting to be stuffed and sewn shut now, and that sounds like the perfect “lying on the couch getting plenty of rest” project.

Meet Walter

Posted in Sewing , on March 8, 2007

Walter is the newest Stuffiepup member. Walter is always on the go (a little A.D.D.) and enjoys hanging his head out the car window and eating grass. He’s a bit of a brown noser and likes playing hide and go seek at night.

The gang at this point includes Dennis, Doug and Walter, but there will be more before I’m done.

Pieces for Roger are all cut out so I should finish him soon, and there are two other variations I have pictured in my head that I need to start cutting out to make Oliver and Frankie. (Oliver will be tan/brown and white [not a coincidence, it’s on purpose] and Frankie will be black and white.)

So far:

Spring Purse & Stuffiepups!

Posted in Sewing , on March 7, 2007

Thanks to craftymumto2, I was inspired to make a spring-y purse. I made this one today, and have decided to give it to my mom for mother’s day. Ya, I know mother’s day is still months away, but when you find the right fabric that just seems to fit… you go with it, ya know? I think she’ll like it. I used the glass pendant technique to make a matching zipper pull from scraps of the outer fabric, but since there aren’t any zippers on this purse, I’ve just tied it decoratively to one of the handles instead. I love it!

I finished my first official, finalized version of my stuffiepups yesterday evening. The golden one’s name is Dennis, and Dennis has a stumpy discolored tail, but it’s not polite to bring it up because it brings back painful memories. He’s pretty sensitive about it. The white one’s name is Doug, and he enjoys bubble baths and likes having his nails clipped regularly. Doug is a die hard Sinatra fan, too. I have the pieces cut out to make two more variations for now (with two additional variations in my head), and then I plan to photograph them together. Dennis will be sent to craftymumto2’s loving home after the photo shoot :)

I made a bunch of the glass pendants to be used as zipper pulls yesterday with my logo on it to use on purses I sell. It was a fun project and Lucas helped me out while we watched hockey. (Yay, the Flames beat the Blues!) I’m still working on those lambs, albeit slowly. I’m in the middle of too many crafting projects I think. Is that even possible? Right now the fourth one is waiting to be sewn together on the sewing machine, and the three others are waiting to be stuffed and sewn shut. And they’d probably like me to put their ears on, and give them eyes and a nose. Lamb stuffies are so demanding!

Tropical Blue Triangle Purse

Posted in Sewing , on March 3, 2007

Yes, I’m at it again. This time I’ve made a new purse. I haven’t decided which city in Alberta I plan to name this one after to stick with my purse-naming theme (which will be noticeable once I actually finish that store website), but I LOVE the shape of this purse.

I made a bit of a flaw in this one that is hidden in the way that I photographed it, so I’ll need to make another… but now that I’ve made one, I know what I’m doing and the next ones will be even better :) I can’t get over how much I like the shape and proportions of it. I think my next one will be a tad bit taller, however.

The purse is made from the same tropical blue canvas outer fabric and soft blue floral print cotton lining that I used to make the tote bag from last week that ended up being a wedding/honeymoon gift for my best friend’s sister. I can’t get enough of this great fabric! Now that I’ve found a new design I am in love with, I’m picturing all kinds of different fabric pairs that I want to try with this one. I think on my next go around I will reinforce the canvas a bit more with fusible interfacing just for added sturdiness. What do you think?

Commission Project: Plush Mokona

Posted in Sewing , on March 2, 2007

Someone on DeviantArt commissioned me to make a plush version of a Japanese manga character named Mokona from CLAMP that they had done a drawing of. Click HERE to see their drawing.

After checking it out and working on a few rough draft patterns, I came up with a pattern I felt did the project justice and came up with this interpretation.

Ta da! A plushie version of Mokona. I don’t know much about Japanese anime or anything like that, so here is some information from Wikipedia:

“Mokona is the pen name of the lead artist, colorist, and composition designer of the all-female manga-creating team Clamp. Mokona is the main artist of most stories and was also several times in charge of design. Her art style is the trademark of the studio. She is the namesake of the character Mokona, who appears first in Magic Knight Rayearth and later in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and ×××HOLiC.”

My plush Mokona measures about 10 inches tall and body-wise is about 8-9 inches across including arms, or 15 inches wide if you measure ear to ear. Perfect hugging size! I’m really happy with how it turned out! Made from baby soft flannelette and fleece with some felt features, all handsewn on. If this thing is popular, maybe I’ll make more and sell them ;) Speaking of selling things, I really need to finish my store website. I would also like to make a few variations of the stuffiepups to show off. I got a bit more helpful feedback and would like to make a 100% finalized version that I plan to sell available. So far I’ve come up with some different names for each variation, and am working on their “backstory” and a way to market them. I’m thinking of a simple collar around their neck that I can then attach the little info card onto about each one. We’ll see how that goes.

Update on Stuffie Dog Prototype

Posted in Sewing , on March 1, 2007

So after some suggestions on craftster, dA and from friends, I decided to try out arms/legs on the prototype.

Someone told me that without arms/legs/something that it kinda just looked like a golf club cover. We want to steer clear of that connotation! So here is my first go at it with only arms:

I was still getting the “golf club cover” vibe, so I tried adding feet, too.
I think this looks much better! I don’t know what it is, but with these arms/feet he seems to suddenly have more character than a “cover for something” … I think I like the arms and feet combo best so far.

And name suggestions so far have been “stuffiepups” and “logdogs”.

Any thoughts?