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23 February 2013

Tutorial: Teddy Taggie Blanket

Alice is almost 5 months old. Just the age when they start stuffing everything into their mouths. So I made her a taggie blanket with a soft minky backing and a crinkle layer in the middle, and attached some plastic rings for her to munch on. She is slightly obsessed with it!



MATERIALS:

For the blanket:
- The pattern (download it as a PDF and print to A4)
- Fabric for the front, 10"x12"
- Minky for the back, 10"x12"
- An oven roasting bag (if you want a layer in the middle to make that cool crinkly sound that babies go nuts for), cut a 10"x12" piece. I know it's a bit strange, using a roasting bag, but trust me it works!
- Coordinating ribbons, cut into 4" pieces (as many as you want). Nothing too stiff or scratchy.
- Plastic links from the toy store (optional)

For the name patch: (you can leave this out completely, but I think it's a nice touch)
- Felt, 3"x4" (longer names may need a larger piece)
- Patch fabric, 3"x4"
- Scallop edge pinking scissors (ordinary zigzag pinking scissors as an alternative)
- Embroidery thread (6 strand cotton - e.g. Anchor, DMC)







STEPS:

1. Prepare the name patch first. You will need your computer to print out the name in a font you like (I like cursive fonts, but you can use any font for this). Trace the name on your fabric (you can use my tutorial on this if you aren't sure how). Also draw an ellipse around the name (or you could do a circle, or a square, or any shape you like). Note that I am using my beloved Pilot Frixion pen, which looks like ball point, but magically disappears when ironed.




2. Embroider the name. I used 3 strands of cotton here, and stitched the name entirely in back-stitch (here's a video tutorial for back-stitch). For the thicker parts I used several layers of back-stitch, side by side (the first picture below was taken after only one pass of back-stitch, the second is after the thicker parts were filled in). You can also use stem-stitch instead of back-stitch, which gives lovely results - it's a slightly more advanced technique, video tutorial here.

3. Pin your patch fabric onto your felt, then stitch on the line of the ellipse. Carefully cut off the excess fabric about 1mm from your stitch line (be careful you don't snip off your stitches or the felt backing!). Then trim the felt around the patch using your pinking scissors. This creates a nice lace-like frame for your patch.

4. Cut out your pattern and trace it onto the right side of the front fabric. Then trace a second line by hand, approximately 1/4" larger than the first (this doesnt have to be very precise, it's only a guide for your ribbons).



5. Position the patch where you want it, hand sew it on with a running stitch (I used 3 strands of white here). You can machine sew as well but I love the hand-made look of the running stitch, and also I find hand sewing much easier and quicker with a small item like a patch.


6. Now it's time to attach your ribbons. Put your fabric down right side up. Position the ribbons where you want them, fold over and pin in place, with the ribbons' raw edges against the outer trace line, and the fold pointing towards the centre of the fabric.


7. Stitch all the way round on the original (inner) trace line, securing the ribbons in place, and pulling the pins as you go. (Note: Please supervise your child so their fingers don't get caught up and twisted in the ribbons. If you are worried about this happening, then you can snip the ribbons off at the loop end and seal the edges to stop fraying, or you can sew them in the middle along the length of the ribbon to stop tiny fingers going through the ribbons).
8.  Now it's time to assemble the blanket. Put the minky over the front fabric, right sides together. Then put the crinkle layer over the back of the minky. Pin together securely.

9. Sew all the way around again, just slightly inside the first stitching line (this will secure your ribbons a second time). Leave a 3" opening on one side to turn it inside out (Tip: Don't forget to secure your stitches well at the start and when you finish, so the stitching doesn't unravel when you turn the blankie inside out).


10. Trim off the excess materials with pinking scissors. (Tip: I like to leave a wider 'lip' at the opening for a neater finish in the next step). Cut a notch with ordinary scissors where the inner curves are (making sure you don't snip off the stitches).



11. Turn inside out, tuck the 'lip' neatly into the opening, press with a steam iron (put a small piece of fabric over the felt to protect it from the hot iron). DO NOT IRON THE MINKY SIDE AS THIS WILL REMOVE THE DOTS!


12.  Slip stitch the opening closed for best results (though if you are lazy like me you can skip this step).

13. Top stitch all the way around as close to the edge as you can (this will also secure your ribbons a third time, and if you can get close enough to the edge you can get away with not slip stitching the opening).


TIP: When top stitching an item with a minky backing, put your needle down into the fabric before you start, and go slow. Minky is a soft stretchy material so it can slide and stretch and bunch up, making it hard to follow a precise curve. With the needle in the down position you can stop sewing when that happens, lift the foot up (needle still in fabric), tidy and re-position the fabric, put the foot down and continue sewing. This way any small corrections you make to your stitch direction will not be visible and there won't be any big jumps in your stitches.

You can also attach plastic links to the ribbons (from any toy store) - they are great for teething babies and also for attaching the blanket to the stroller or high chair.

Hope you found this tutorial easy to use, and your baby enjoys their cute cuddly crinkly taggie blanket! Alice sure seems to love hers. 





19 February 2013

Alexander 'the little' turns two

Today is my little man's second birthday. I can't believe it has been two years since he arrived into our lives and changed it forever. The hardest two years of our life - but also by far the most precious and rewarding. Words cannot begin to describe how much we love this little guy.




His main present was a quiet book I made for him out of felt - he is playing with it already but the pages are still loose. I need to sew them together into a book before I share all the pictures with you (here are the Very Hungry Caterpillar pages which are a particular favourite). It gives me such a sense of satisfaction watching him play with something I have made from scratch.



Happy birthday my gorgeous Alexander! I can't believe how much you have grown this last year, and the amazing little person you have turned into... You are definitely my favourite son!


17 February 2013

Amigurumi love

I need to stop spending so much time on Pinterest. But what's a crafty mum to do when she is feeding an infant in the middle of the night? Browse Pinterest for inspiration of course. I confess there is a tiny part of me (a VERY tiny part!) that gets excited about getting up at 3am so I can look at Pinterest. The problem is there are too many great craft ideas and my project list is not getting any shorter these days...

Anyway, yesterday my husband was talking about a crochet elephant which was his favourite childhood toy.  So imagine my surprise when later that night I was Pinterest-ing - and I came across one! So I clicked on the board - and discovered... the world of amigurumi.

Just look at these.



And these.







How cute are they? I am hooked! I have always had a soft spot for Japanese animal characters - just love their distinctive features.  And I have been crafting for years, how did I not come across amigurumi before?!

So I looked into it a little bit. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small stuffed animals and dolls. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. There are literally hundreds of free patterns for amigurumi animals and dolls on the web, and loads of supercool ones also for sale. I simply have to brush up on my crochet skills to have a go at making these little cuties. I used to crochet as a child,  mainly doilies and doll blankets in garish colours. But I am hoping it's like riding a bike and it will come back to me!

So I leave you with some more amigurumi wonderfulness (Elvis is my favourite). Links to all the amigurumi on this page are on my Pinterest board here.



Have a great day!


14 February 2013

A day for romance

And just in time for Valentine's Day,  my tags for the tag-a-long are complete - ta-da!






The drawing came from a vintage Whitman colouring book, published in 1949. I adapted it though, the original drawing had the little girl and boy holding hands (how evil of me to separate them).





In keeping with the romantic theme of the day, I completed these tags whilst catching up on the first two episodes of a BBC period drama called The Paradise - which just started showing on Australian TV. I am hooked, but then again I am a hopeless period drama addict. It's about Britain's first department store in the Victorian era - full of beautiful dresses, frilly stuff and luxury goods to appeal to the ladies. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. Nobody does period drama quite as well as BBC does.



In other news I submitted my gingerbread house tutorial to craftgossip.com and it got published! And the next day a tutorial I guest-wrote for another blog also got published (links to both are on my Facebook page if you are curious). To say I am chuffed is an understatement. And the best part (other than the massive jump in traffic and loads of lovely people discovering my blog ofcourse) some of you have left me comments! Actual comments, in the posts. Thank you! Now I feel a bit less like I am just talking to myself here. :)

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


12 February 2013

Month of love

February is a month of love for me. It's Valentine's Day soon and my little guy's birthday soon after that... The funny thing is, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to Valentine's Day. My husband and I don't really celebrate it. We do make a bit of effort with silly little love tokens - but no sweeping grand gestures in the form of giant bouquets or candle-lit fine-dining or huge boxes of chocolate truffles (I know, I am SO missing out).  However, my crafty alter-ego goes all gooey inside and adores all things pink and sparkly and lovey-dovey at this time of year! So I simply had to make something to satisfy her - so here it is, a little linen heart.



I was going to write a tutorial on how to make this heart but it is really simple, so I will just tell you quickly now. Cut two heart shapes out of linen. Print out the word "LOVE" in big bold letters, then cut each letter out of different fabrics (or for a more authentic hand-made look just free-hand cut the letters). Applique the letters onto the front piece of linen (I hand appliqued these with a blanket stitch but you can use a sewing machine), and embellish with a running stitch around the letters. Put the back and front of the heart together (right sides facing) and sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, trapping the hanging twine/ribbon at the top and leaving a 1 inch gap on one side. Cut off excess seam allowance with pinking shears, turn inside out,  stuff with filler, and blind stitch the opening closed. Easy peasy.

So Miss Gooey inside me satisfied, I thought that was enough Valentine's Day crafting for this year - until I found out that Amy from Nana Company and Kristyne from Pretty by Hand were running a Valentine's Day tag-a-long. They did this last Christmas and I found out about it too late to join in, so I couldn't not do it now! Here's a sneak peek of the fabric tags I am making for it - so cute.



Until next time then - when I shall be back with my finished valentine tags... In the meantime, I leave you with my pick of Valentine's Day inspiration from Pinterest. Have a great day!















1. Heart bunting pillow 2.  Valentine's Day pom pom flowers 3. Fabric tag 'Love' 4. Hugs & Kisses valentine banner 5. Felt valentine lollies 6. Hanging heart with buttons 7. Rice Krispie valentine lollipops 8. Floral design 9. Patchwork heart 10. Crochet heart garland 11. Valentine macarons 12. Valentine's wreath 13. Valentine's Day cupcakes


9 February 2013

Feeding the chicks

Life has been hectic as usual. In between looking after two kids and making bibs for customer orders, I somehow managed to find some time to complete the "Feeding the Chicks" embrodiery. I decided to put her in a frame for now, until I can figure out a permanent home for her (at the centre of a pillow perhaps?). The pattern is by Tasha Noel and available in her Etsy shop. I really enjoyed stitching this little picture. In fact I think I am addicted to Tasha's patterns as well as her fabrics, I may have to do a few more. ;)



She has been done mainly in back stitch. But I have used satin stitch for her shoes and the flower on her bodice, lazy daisies for the bows in her hair and the little chicks' collars, long and short stitch for the poles, and french knots for the seeds. 

I am also very elated to have shipped off my first batch of customer orders - it's all become very real.  I gift wrap each bib individually, as a lot of people are buying them as presents. I am a little bit in love with these cute gift tags I made for them, an idea I picked up from Pinterest (isn't Pinterest amazing?). Great scrap buster idea too.



This week the postman has really spoilt me. He brought not only a big parcel of clothes for Alice, but some Etsy fabric too! This is the best thing about online shopping, the pleasure of opening parcels :) The outfits for Alice were from Plum, and I am especially smitten with this little blue floral number (didn't I say I am partial to blue florals for girls?). She is still too small for it, otherwise she would have modelled it herself. Soon, I promise.



And just look at the fabrics in this bundle. I have a few favourite Etsy sellers, but every once in a while I discover a new one and I have to restrain myself from buying their entire stock. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love every single fabric in this bundle. A lot of these will feature in my second bib collection, coming soon.



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