Sunday, August 31, 2008

Monster Pirate

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tickle ...
Happy Birthday, Mr. Tickle ...
Happy Birthday, Mr. Tickle ...
Happy Birthday to you!

Yup, it's Mr. Tickle's official birthday, so he had better open his gift. If he sneaks a peak on the web as his mommy is looking, well, too bad. So happy #4, Mr. Tickle!

Okay, he really does rock the boat, doesn't he? Meet Monster Pirate. Ready to battle any mischievous monsters that lurk under beds, in closets, and down dark hallways. This guy will save the day. Rough, tough and ... made for snuggling.

Best part? He has a mini me in his back pocket. Just in case there are any itty bitty monsters lurking in really SMALL places. Send in the little dude and he can expunge the minis.

Let's see ... what's there to love about this duo? For starters, that Alexander Henry Baddanna fabric (both the red and the black) just screams angry pirate, but in a kid-friendly-enough way. Even Miss E loves it. And the charcoal skulls (also AH fabric) were a must-have. Mix that with some black polka-dots and you've got a great start.

I was satisfied with his pirate pants, but they are definitely not my best work. In fact, until he was fully done, I was ready to discard them! I had to mish-mash a vest together; regular vest patterns don't fit a flat monster. I doubled the fabric for the front part so that the skulls were always present, even when flapping in the breeze. He does look awesome without clothes, and that's good because even the craziest monsters prefer to be nekked sometimes.

His belt and sword are a monster pirate necessity, with or without his pants. Lucky for him, the sword (in felt) slides quickly in and out of the belt due to a nice ribbon loop.

Oh, and the teeth! I've seen a few other monsters running around with great fangs, and I had to try it. With some random, crazed sewing, they don't look half bad. (Don't consult a dentist for a second opinion!)

Ah, and for grins, I made Mr. Tickle a matching baddanna of his own, so he and Monster Pirate and Mini Monster Pirate can all coordinate while battling evil monsters. Cool, huh? ;)

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Miss E has this really cute growth chart behind the door in her bedroom, and every time I look at it, I want to smile. It has three adorable little fairies on it, and each has a pretty floral dress and gingham wings. I've been wanting to create little plushies like them, so last night, I took an hour or two to get one started and then finished her up this evening.

As prototypes go, there are things I'll do differently next time, but I think the pattern is a keeper. I started with the pattern I've been using for the dolls like Chloe, reduced it 60%, tweaked the hair (next will have longer hair) and added some butterfly wings. Wings were a bit of a challenge, so Miss E has the first one to play with. I decided to leave them to fray, much like the bits and pieces of fabric on the front of her dress. The wings are made from muslin and lined with flannel, making them incredibly soft yet stiff enough to stand out. Her dress has a little collar and pockets (sorry, fake) to match her sleeves; the last little bits of that gorgeous Amy Butler Gothic Rose. (I really might have to get more. Love it.)

I practiced my embroidery on the face, and it's not half bad. I'm signed up for an embroidery class in early October (yippee!), hoping to improve my doll faces. I've got at least 20 faces sketched out to try as I go, but Miss E loves the sleepy smiley look on this little fairy. She makes me smile just looking at her.

She's tiny -- maybe 7 or 8 inches, head to toe, at most. I should measure her, but she's currently sleeping in Miss E's arms, so that is not possible. Turns out, she and Chloe are BFFs, and both are being hugged tonight. I wasn't sure how the small size would be for a toddler, but she seems to just adore the tiny size, so it's a hit! I like the size because it's easy for her to carry around, and small enough that I can stash her in my purse if Miss E gets tired of carrying her. I was toying with the idea of calling them Pocket Fairies, but haven't researched to see if anyone else has those already. She's a bit too big for a pocket, really, but so dang cute! I'm ready to make more! :)

Snuggle Bunny

We had a last-minute kind of surprise baby shower for a friend today, so I put together a gender-neutral bunny for the upcoming baby. Yup -- they're waiting to find out if it's a boy or girl, so no cute girlie flowers and pink. And no trucks. Fabric shopping in town was challenging, but I finally found a really cute primary-colored flannel that ended up working perfectly with the red polka dot I already had.

We call it (him? her? not tellin' yet) Snuggle Bunny, cuz this bunny is super soft and super snuggly. I used felt for the eyes and nose, added a big red heart, and if you flip the bunny, you'll find a big, red felt tail sewn on the back. Just right for a tiny one to play with.

Big Sis will be getting something in October when the baby is born ... Maybe a mini bunny? We'll see when the time comes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

but I can't ...

Oh, I so badly want to show off my latest creation. He is awesome. Really awesome. But ... he's a birthday gift, and just got put in the mail. Birthday is this weekend ... So, not to give it away in case of snooping almost-4-year-old eyes, I will wait.

He was hard to send away. Miss E gave him a big hug and a farewell kiss. We sealed him up in a plastic bag for protection and took him to the post office.

This weekend, I can reveal. There were moments where I was frustrated, worried, afraid he just wouldn't come out as I wanted. I guess that's what you get when you dive in without a pattern, only a loose sketch, but when all was said and done and I put all of his accessories on for a photo session, he looked spectacular.

Of course, I can nit-pick and say that I need to work on my seams, embroidery, and maybe pattern placement, but I prefer to say he was a fantastic learning experience, and I know this particular dude will receive lots of love from Miss E's cousin.

And now that he's done, I wanna make a girl version, perhaps a doll, using the same fabrics. Miss E has another cousin who would totally dig a doll (or yeah, a monster; she's not all into dolls like Miss E) like this.

Grr. Argh. Grrrrrr. Arrrrgggghhhh. I probably shoulda labeled the box like that, but that mighta scared the mailman ... Heh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Holy guacamole, Batman!

Central Texans, check this out ... Maker Faire 2008. Not your normal craft show, no. It's a crafty showcase of amazing things, and even my engineer husband is excited. He may enjoy it more than me, but I doubt it. Check it out ... read more under Participate | Call for Makers, and read about the 2007 show (link is on the home page at the bottom of the screen, in case you missed it). Rock on!

I mentioned this at a party over the weekend, and several friends had heard of it but no one had been ... yet. Get yer tix and join us! Heck, it's the weekend before our anniversary, so what better way to celebrate 4 years than with a geek meets crafter fair?! Miss E should love it, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh deer

Oh my ... how adorable. Miss E and I went shopping yesterday, and though she didn't really *need* a new t-shirt, I couldn't resist this one. It's just too cute. I'm going to have to use it to create either a little felt or fabric deer, perhaps even with a bit of embroidery. I am eager to practice embroidery, so maybe something like this is in my future ... But isn't it just the cutest?! And she LOVES deer, so it's quite appropriate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Next birthday doll

It's hard when you don't name a doll, but then, it's hard to name a doll that is for someone else. Therefore, this one will be Birthday Girl for this post. I am very happy with the results. I drew a different head shape for this one, and it seems to hold up much better than the other two. She also has "puppy ears" as Miss E calls them ... A classic toddler 'do, just like the girl I made her for.

Instead of a cupcake, Birthday Girl has her favorite kitty in her purse. I tried flannel first, with whiskers of floss, but Miss E vetoed it. Well, until the next kitty was done and the first was given to her. Suddenly, it was the coolest kitty EVER. I think both are cute, but the second attempt worked out far better, and I love the flowers. Her back has a big pink poppy on it, and I gave her a solid base (that probably should have had cardboard in it so she sat up more). The first kitty got a little pink felt tail; the second has a slightly-stuffed tail. It's a little high up, which can throw her off balance, but then she's meant to be carried around in her bag, so that is okay.

I played with some of the embroidery options on the sewing machine this time, but when the doll is slightly stuffed, it makes embroidery a bit trickier, so the "scrunchies" in Birthday Girl's hair are not as elaborate or even as I'd hoped. Overall, though, I like the effect and I'll have to try that again. I love the "puppy ears" ... She's such a cutie!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I didn't

I did. We got to the party last night and as I got Miss E out of the car, I reached for the ... gift bag ... and realized it was sitting at home, thirty minutes away, in my closet. I worked for a whole week on this doll, and then left it at home. Hubby was going to go all the way back and get it, as he said, because, "It's a shame!" Miss E repeated that all night at the party. But ... We're instead going to have a playdate later on this week with the birthday girl and this time, I WILL NOT FORGET THE GIFT!


I did get the teeny cupcake made, along with one for Chloe. And a purse for Chloe. Miss E will often steal the purse from Chloe, with the cupcake, and carry it around on her tiny wrist.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Birthday presents

We have a number of birthdays fast approaching, so we started in on all gifts last week, beginning with a Birthday Bot. One of the boys in Miss E's music class is turning two this week, and she wanted me to make him a robot, so last week we whipped up our third Recycle Bot. This one is fully recycled, which is pretty sweet. His body is from the corduroy shorts that hubby was trying to pawn off on Goodwill ... They had such big wear spots on the bum that Goodwill would have put them in the trash! But they will make awesome doll clothes -- and robots! I totally forgot to photo his backside; he is complete with a small patch on the back, just for grins. His arms, legs, antennae, and face are all made with recycled felt (from plastic bottles), and he's stuffed with fiberfill made from spun recycled bottles. Pretty cool, huh? Miss E kept trying to name him, but I said that it was up to the birthday boy to choose a name. We like to just refer to him as the birthday bot.

After playing next door with Miss E's BFF the other day, I was inspired to make her a girlish monster. Nothing scary. All girly. We have this great pink bubbly fabric (Miss E says it looks like eyeballs!) that worked perfectly. Her body shape was inspired by "Where the Wild Things Are", which happens to be Miss B's fav book right now. She's all about monsters, and I couldn't wait to get started on this one. I sketched out a few ideas, and got one that won Miss E's approval and put it together. Miss B is fixated on bellybuttons, so her monster (which Miss E calls the Bubble Monster) has a rather prominent bright pink bellybutton. Miss B was pleased, and calls it "cow monster" or "girl monster". Cool! Definitely what I'd call a cute monster!

While I worked on the Bubble Monster, Miss E took the scraps and made her own monster. I was impressed because it's the first time that she has made a recognizable head, arms, legs, and body. We added a nice bejeweled bellybutton, naturally! She has "robots" she has made from fabric and felt scraps, two of which keep resurfacing. They are known as "Dee Dee" and "Cee Cee". Now and then, she pulls out the pieces and wraps them in bigger pieces of fabric and says she has made presents for people. I do like the little bubble monster, though. Pretty cool for a 28-month-old, huh? She's a natural crafter.

And last but not least, I finally sewed up the second Lucy-like doll, who is for a five-year-old's birthday party this weekend. The theme is Berry Princess, like Strawberry Shortcake, so I picked some pink fabrics (all Amy Butler). I even made a teeny little purse for her (maybe I'll have time to make a tiny cupcake?) and a couple of strawberries. I'm debating whether I want to go back and try to add eyelashes; I think that gives Chloe such a cute expression ... but I'm scared to try to add them now that she's finished! We'll see.

One more girl birthday the next weekend, so I'm thinking another doll, one that is a hybrid of Ella Bella and perhaps Chloe. The week after that, we have a birthday for one of Miss E's boy cousins, so there's probably another birthday bot on the horizon as well, then back to aprons and dresses perhaps.

There's just never enough time!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This week in fabric ...

I got the new doll put together. Meet Chloe. (Please excuse the long cat hair that I somehow missed ... it's stuck to her eye during her entire photo shoot.) She's based on a hard vinyl doll that we got for Miss E, a Beedibies from Corolle. We have the brunette; we call her Lucy Beedibies. Chloe was supposed to be a gift for an upcoming birthday, but after a couple days of extreme crying fits, I have given in, primarily because *I* am attached to Chloe, too. She's made of all Amy Butler prints, and plain muslin. As I mentioned previously, I learned over the weekend that Brits call muslin "calico"; it's all unbleached cotton, and it's the perfect fabric for doll faces and arms. It's even an exact match to the off-white in the pink peony fabric I used. Just lovely, ducky! I like the flannel, but love the muslin.

I have decided that I don't like having to attach the head to the body by hand. She's a bit floppy, though that is not all bad, but I also ended up with a ribbon around her neck (sorry, a dashing scarf) to give her support and cover the stitches. I've cut out the pieces for the next doll, and this time will be sewing the face to the body prior to stuffing. Each one is a new experience, but this is darn close to what I was trying to achieve. And fat quarter bundles rock ... I just love having all these small pieces of fabric that coordinate. It makes it so easy to crank out a doll, or whatever other project comes up.

Like yesterday. I started out planning to make a robot for a boy gift, but due to the fact that I'm sick and tired of dripping iced latte glasses every day, I decided it was Coaster Day. I was going to make one coaster for me and one for my neighbor BFF, but that of course turned into two for me and four for my BFF. I am seriously addicted to my morning latte (and sometimes an afternoon or evening one, too), and in Central Texas, that means it's iced 9 months out of the year, and we just don't seem to have any good coasters around the house. It was a great way to practice cutting perfect (or nearly) squares and sewing on bias trim, not to mention sewing straight lines and doing some edge stitching. I only had to rip out one seam, and they don't look half bad! But then, you can't go wrong when you start with gorgeous fabric, can you?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ella Bella

Me thinks me has a new addiction ... dolls. Here's number 2 -- Ella Bella (who hangs out a lot with Cinderella)! She's more Waldorf-inspired in that her face is limited to just eyes; expressions and features will be imagined by Miss E. I saw some adorable dolls similar to this and decided to give it a whirl with the pattern from the book. (The book, by the way, is "Toys to Sew".) I shortened the legs and arms and then split the head from the body to use two different fabrics. I used the last little piece of the fabric from my apron for her body and bow, and some leftover baby blue yarn for her hair. Miss E *really* wanted the blue hair. The eyes need some work. I forgot to embroider them before I sewed the pieces together. D'oh! And she has an internal unibrow due to that. But ... Miss E didn't care; she was tickled pink ... er ... blue.

Today we got some muslin (known I guess in the U.K. as calico; took me awhile to figure out what the book author was using) and I'll use that for the face and arms on the next doll. I've been using vanilla flannel and though I sort of like that for the softness, I want to try the muslin to see how it works.

I've also seen some other fantastic dolls on Etsy and they have inspired me further. I've got tons of ideas flying in my head, and I've sketched out a few. Hopefully I'll have time to create a doll tomorrow based on all of this, and if that goes well, then we'll be taking handmade dolls to the two upcoming birthday parties we have. Yippee!

Miss E, by the way, is just as addicted to fabric as I am. I'm not sure which of us had more fun browsing the aisles today, but she sure did squeal with delight when I found a misplaced pink geometric print. I think it would be awesome with the brown floral fat quarter she's been hoarding ... but I'm probably pushing my luck to try to use both of those, so I may have to pair it with a different fabric for the next doll.

My mom and I made bears, bears and more bears when I was in high school, but I think dolls will be even more fun, especially since I've got a little girl who loves dolls!