Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
Two days in a row! Woo-hoo!
And another big Christmas project, though this one was from last year. Looking back, I’m not entirely clear how I managed to needle-felt three stockings with a newborn, though I guess he was still sleeping a lot of the time in his father’s arms, so maybe that explains it. Years earlier, I had decorated felt stockings for our little family of three people and ten animals, but I’d used the cheap synthetic stuff and had never gotten around to making one for Lucas after he was born. So I was determined my children would have lovingly-crafted felt stockings, newborn baby or not!
I found a pattern for a Santa on etsy for Jonah’s stocking:
I’m really proud of the Santa — and I was impressed how much heftier he was than he would have been had I not followed a pattern — I actually needle-felted him first and then sewed him on rather than needle-felting him directly onto the wool felt. I am disappointed at the shape of all the stockings — they ended up too long and skinny, with boxy toes. But I do love that Santa:
For my ballet-in-general-and-Nutcracker-in-particular-obsessed daughter, I attempted a Sugar Plum Fairy. Mia loves her, but I’m afraid she turned out a little too manly in the face and shoulders. I tried and tried to fix it until I’d needle-felted everything so firmly there was no more tweaking. Oh well!
And a close-up of Mr. Sugar Plum:
The animals ended up a little cartoonish, but I still think it’s sweet. It’s decorated with strings of popcorn, apples and oranges. The family in the book goes to the edge of town each year to decorate a tree for the animals. It’s such a wonderful story, and when they are back home, there’s a scene where the little boy is lying in bed, thinking of all the animals coming out to eat from the tree. Covering the little boy is a quilt with a tree and all the animals on it — a sweet touch this crafty mama really appreciated!
Here’s a little more detail on Lucas’ stocking:
And now I need to get to crafting for this year! I have lots of littler gifts, plus a large crafty gift for each child still to make! I’ll be back in this space, sharing a little of our decorating and crafting as we go!
Our family was lucky enough to get to experience a perfect and wonderful homebirth under the care of our dedicated and much loved midwife. During the course of my pregnancy, we bonded over our mutual love for animals, and both she and her birth assistant enjoyed having our pup Audrey there for Jonah’s birth. When it came time for me to make a gift for her, I decided to attempt to render in felt a photograph of Audrey and Jonah shortly after his birth. I also included a little vervet my midwife raised and who now lives at The Primate Rescue Center in Kentucky.
Here’s the original picture:
And my attempt to recreate it:
I don’t think I succeeded in recreating sweet little Jonah — his nose is clownish, I couldn’t get his hair right and those adorable little forehead furrows… I think I should just stick to creating REAL babies. But I’m pretty pleased with how our Audrey lady and Bob the vervet ended up looking.
The founder of the sanctuary where Bob now lives is featured in part of the book Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species, a chilling investigation into the trade in exotic animals in this country. It follows paper trails that lead from AZA accredited zoos to canned hunts, explains the dangers and cruelties of keeping wild animals as pets and is just generally one of those books that you can’t “unknow” after you read it. You’ll find yourself recounting horrifying details to innocent bystanders, but who knows, you might end up influencing just the right person to make a difference… [steps off soapbox...]
The crafting is coming along slowly around here with a baby who has suddenly started making the distinction between Mama’s arms and just about anyone else’s. So while we manage to never actually put him down, he’s needing specifically me in the evenings when I would be crafting. I’m still getting a few minutes in here and there, and I have some plans for Valentine’s Day, but progress is slow. I’ll try to post some older projects if the newer ones take too long, so keep checking back!
I’ve been working on these little felt mailboxes for ages now, and had planned to finish them much earlier. I have visions of leaving little love notes to my littles for them to find in their mailboxes. I hope they’ll be as popular as I keep imagining… things rarely are!
I was sort of making it up as a I went along, and now looking at the finished project, I’m thinking they are a bit long… they could stand to be a house shorter, or maybe even half the length they are now. And the felt on the inside is a bit loose because of some spatial-relation deficits on my part, but otherwise, I’m pretty pleased.
I think if I made them again, I’d just glue on the countless little, itty, bitty, teeny, tiny windows and doors rather than blanket-stitch them all. Really, what was I thinking? So now, I definitely should be back here more often. No more marathon projects for a while… I need to do some Easter crafting and a few other little things. But for now, I’ll enjoy the finished mailboxes (and the freedom their completion gives me to FINALLY move on to the next project).
Our little friend Meredith turned three yesterday, and I thought she should have a little fairy for each of her years. I (well, mostly Tony) followed along with the camera so that you can make some little fairies of your own if you like.
little boy wooden peg shapes
fine paint brushes
drill with very small drill bit (Tony used 1/16″, but I had skinny 3mm pipe cleaners, so you might need a larger one for larger ones)
felt in assorted colors
embroidery floss to match the felt
First, I took three little peg dolls — these are the little ones, called boy peg dolls. I painted their heads in a peachy color using about three coats of acrylic paint.
When they dried (I didn’t wait very long at all), I painted on their hair, parting it in the middle and sweeping it out and then down to frame the face. I very carefully dotted on the eyes, and carefully drew a little mouth with a very fine brush. I really need a finer brush and found myself having to paint over and redo the mouths a couple of times — don’t be afraid to make a mistake, it’s fixable with a little more peachy paint. Then I mixed a little pink with the peach of the skin and added a hint of pink cheeks just below the eyes.
I was inspired by these clothespin dolls at Posie Gets Cozy, but wanted something a little smaller and simpler to start (though I’m definitely planning to try some clothespin dolls before long!)
Here are Meredith’s three girls in production:
I realized only after I had finished them that I’d forgotten the little hair bows, so I painted those on at the end. It’s a much better idea to do all the painting BEFORE dressing them — all went well this time, but it would be sad after all that effort, to have to start over on an outfit.
Then, as Lucas slept on my lap, Tony took the dolls and drilled small holes through at shoulder height. They should be just large enough to fit a pipe cleaner through the hole, but preferably no larger than that! Here are the rather creepy pictures he took of this step:
I fed the pipe cleaners through the dolls so that 2 inches extended on either side. I bent them to find the middle and then wrapped the pipe cleaners using the technique I learned from Felt Wee Folk. Basically, you just tie the floss onto one part of the pipe cleaner, wrap down around the bend of the pipe cleaner that will be the hand (be sure to cover all the fuzzies!). Then, just above the hand, pinch the two pipe cleaners together and wrap the rest of the way up the arm, tying the floss off at the top. Repeat on the other side.
Print and cut out the fairy pattern for the fairy dress and wings. Cut fairy dress and wings out of felt, making sure to make the neckline no bigger than it is drawn in the pattern, maybe even a little smaller.
Pull the dress over the fairy’s head and position the wings in the center back, high enough that the wings don’t extend too far below the base of the fairy. Use a double strand of floss to do a chain link stitch to sew the wings onto the dress (you can take the dress back off of the fairy for this step).
Basically, pull your thread up through the fabric, then put the needle back through the same hole (or near it). Before you pull all of the thread back through, push the needle back up through the fabric where you want your next stitch to go, but pull the needle through the loop of the thread that you have remaining from your first stitch. Does that make any sense? Then you repeat it again — putting the needle back through where you just emerged, but not pulling the thread all the way through, instead leaving a loop through which you push the needle when you make your next stitch. Here’s what it should look like:
If you wish, you can add a little embellishment to the front of the dress (such as the hearts on Mia’s Valentine fairies), but I think they are pretty cute plain, too.
Using a single strand of floss, blanketstitch to sew up the seams along the lower arms and sides of the dress, but also to finish the sleeves, bottom and neckline of the dress. A great blanketstitch tutorial can be found here.
For a little added durability (and sheen), I rubbed the painted faces of the fairies with a little beeswax polish
I finished up our gift for Meredith with a little woodland box home for the fairies. But I’ll be back tomorrow or the next day to share a little tutorial for that!
I could have just gotten the Tinkerbell valentines at the drugstore. It would have been quick and easy, and Mia would have been over the moon about them. But I couldn’t resist making handmade valentines, and figured out a simple way to not only make them, but have Mia do some of the work (an older child could do ALL of the work).
I’ll go ahead and do a little tutorial here (though you hardly need one!), and leave my going on and on about us for the more skippable bottom of the post.
Here’s what you’ll need:
First, trace the bear, heart and muzzle patterns onto the corresponding pieces of felt. Cut out the shapes.
Next, cut the folding cards along the fold (optional, keep them whole if you want cards that open). You can go ahead and write your greeting on the other side now if you wish. Especially if you have little people doing the writing who you know will long be in bed by the time the cards dry!
Cut the scrapbook paper to cover the cards and glue on with a glue stick.
Glue bears onto the cards, the muzzles onto the bears, the noses onto the muzzles, the eyes onto the bear faces and the hearts onto the belly.
Give to someone special!
I think we both would have enjoyed the process a little more if it hadn’t been such beautiful weather today. So beautiful that we we had no choice but to go to the park with friends instead of staying home to make the 17 Valentines for Mia’s class, which are to be turned in tomorrow.
We probably would have finished them by bedtime, but Mia wrote each child and teacher’s name. She did a beautiful job, and I was really surprised how few letters I had to show her. She has trouble with drawing an “s,” and she likes to add five horizontal lines to her “E,” but wow, she’s got many of the others down pat. I can’t believe she had the patience to get through all 17 of them. Though that may explain why the joy of gluing, which she had been looking forward to all day, had worn off by about card number five.
I’m proud of my girl and her pride in our handmade valentines. I hope her friends at preschool like them!
Oh, it’s been a long time since I posted! I’ve been busy working on Mia’s Valentine’s Day present, and there’s still an awful lot to do and not much time. This is further complicated by the fact that I have two other non-crafty projects that are requiring a bit of time, and although very worthy expenditures of time, they are not quite as enjoyable as sitting on the couch with my sweetie, watching a movie and stitching away.
And then there’s of course the additional complication of completely winging this little present, having to rethink and redo and restitch and replan as I go, knowing all the while that it needs to be something she will like at least as much as she likes The Mitten I made for Lucas.
Here’s what I have so far. These little Valentine’s Day fairies have been painted (which is stressful, but I’m mostly pleased with them), and clothed (after much restitching, removing extra embellishments, worrying about colors):
I painted the little hairclips without thinking about the colors much. But then when I got to making their little dresses and wings, and picturing them all together, I realized the pink and the red would clash pretty horribly. But then Tony reminded me, our girl, she’s all about the clashing:
So, I went with it, even sewing a little pink heart onto the red fairy. It is for Valentine’s Day after all. Though I confess I sent Tony off to photograph them with instructions not to put the red and pink fairies next to each other.
The rest of the project doesn’t just involve sewing, I’m afraid. There will be paper mache, there will be paint, there will be a great deal of hoping I pull this off in time!
Thanks for visiting and happy crafting!
Wow! I am completely blown away by the overwhelming response to my Mitten critters! Thank you all for taking the time to visit and leave comments!
I need to get started on my daughter’s Valentine’s Day present, but needed to recharge my creative energy a bit, so I borrowed some from this great post on a wonderful blog I discovered through Crafty Crow.
Here’s my version, made in chocolate, since I didn’t have any tan felt, and with extra sprinkles because once I get started, I apparently can’t stop:
These were super easy to make and really rewarding. I’m sure I would have gotten them done even faster if I had followed the tutorial and done a running stitch instead of a blanket stitch, but I still finished them in one (long) crafting evening.
They were very well-received, and when I peeked in at Mia tonight, still looking at books in bed, to ask her where they were so we could take a picture of them, she informed me, ” They are in my fort, right by where I saw the little red dustpan, under my farm.” And there they were!
We had a wonderful day today — it was beautiful, sunny and unseasonably warm. We spent all afternoon at the park with friends, the kids playing in the woods, on the playground and on top of a gigantic mountain of dirt while we parents mostly lay on our backs in the sun. As we drove home, watching the brilliant red sunset, we knew it had been a day well-spent. I hope yours was just as enjoyable.
The calendar is finally finished and I’m pretty pleased with the result! Here are some pictures of the final product:
If you want to recreate one of your own (for personal use only), here’s what you’ll need:
Step 1. Create the tree
In order to create the tree, first lay a very thin layer of roving in your leaf colors on your background felt on the foam pad. I recommend using at least two shades of the same color for your leaves and really teasing the wool apart to make it thin. Then lay a thick layer of dark brown roving — the more shade variations the better — to form your trunk and main branches. Pull apart the wool as you continue to create forks and more branches. I curved the branches to form a sort of of lower arc beneath the leaves for a rounded look, but you can make your tree into anything you like. Here is what mine looked like at this stage:
For my browns, I have a wonderful bag of alpaca roving our friends Charlie and Sarah of Pearbudget fame brought me from their alpaca farm neighbors. It’s a great assortment of various browns mixed together, so when I formed the tree, it happened by accident that the very dark brown followed the curve of the tree and the lowest branch on the right. I remember Michelle teaching me how to draw trees as a child. By drawing the line darker and thicker on one side of the tree and on the lowest branch corresponding to that side, she showed me how to create a shadow, giving my tree more depth and realism. While it happened accidentally this time, I would try to recreate it if I made another one.
The next step is to actually needle felt the tree and leaves onto the background. Try to keep your needle(s) straight so they don’t break. Basically just poke around in the roving, shaping branches and roots as you go. The fibers will be pulled through to the other side and sort of knitted into the felt background. I added more branches in the center, and you can always add more — needle-felting is mostly very forgiving, though the needles are not, so be careful! Here’s what mine looked like after that stage:
I then added a couple of layers of leaf colors over the whole tree and needle-felted those, though not as intensely as I did the trunk, to leave a more airy feel to them. Here’s a picture, though I ended up adding a little more roving at the top to give it a rounder feel:
Finally, I added a little green grass around the roots. Voila! The tree is done!
Step 2. Create the animals and other pocket goodies
Print out the animal pattern, cut out the shapes, trace them onto felt, and cut out the pieces. I chose colors of felt that wouldn’t look odd if edges of them showed around the needle-felting. This is where you will discover how free-form needle-felting is, and how it will sometimes lead to masterpieces and sometimes, well, sometimes not.
For each animal, pick the colors of roving you want. I would usually felt a very thin layer of roving to hide the base felt, and then start adding a little dimension by shaping and needle-felting on additional roving for the tails or ears or faces. By patiently needle-felting repeatedly along the same line, you can create indentations to give your work more form and depth.
Here are the animals and other pocket inhabitants. Just start with the felt base and see where your needling takes you!
I made the lollipop by rolling two thin strips of different color roving into skinny snakes, then twisting them together before felting them to the base in a spiral pattern. I loved some of these, felt sort of “meh” about others and really didn’t like the poor squirrel. He was an example of when adding more and more roving to try to fix a mistake just makes things worse. Tony could not identify his species, so I think that qualifies him as a fail. I didn’t have the right color brown for the deer, and the tiny flower was difficult to give much detail, but I love, love, love the fox, all curled up in that bushy, snuggly tail of his. See, I wasn’t just being modest about the squirrel.
Step 3. Create the pockets and numbers
Print out and cut out the pockets and numbers. Before proceeding, check to make sure your needle-felted pocket inhabitants would actually fit in the pockets, in case you’ve added more roving or detail than I did. Add a little allowance if this is the case when you trace the pockets. For the numbers, I found it helpful to trace them backwards so that I didn’t need to worry about pen marks showing up on the fronts.
Cut out the pockets and numbers. I used fabric glue to glue the numbers onto the pockets, being sure to stay far enough away from sides and bottom to allow for stitching the pockets onto the border with large blanket-stitching. You can also stitch them on if you have an extra forty hours or so that you weren’t sure how to spend.
Step 4. Create the bird banner border
Print out the banner, bird and small banner heart patterns, cut them out and trace them onto felt. Carefully plan out the spacing for Happy Valentine’s Day. I’d recommend using a very thin pen or pencil because I free-handed it and ended up having to cut off a bit of the end of the banner, which meant I also had to reshape my birds a bit. It wasn’t a big deal, but the letter stitching was not very enjoyable since I kept wondering where it would end and I also started to make the letters in different sizes and had to backtrack a few times. I used 6-ply embroidery floss for the letter-stitching. After I had stitched the letters, I added a heart at each end of the banner, blanket-stitching them on with one-ply floss.
For the birds, I needle-felted a bit of roving onto their bellies, and also needle-felted their beaks and eyes, but chose to leave the rest of them as just wool felt.
Step 5. Create the pocket border
Now you have your finished tree picture, your animals, your pockets and your banner, but you still need a border. Take your piece of flannel and center the tree picture on it. Spend as much time as you need to lay out the pockets around the picture and the bird banner along the top. You can tuck the raw end of the birds’ wings a little under the banner. Be patient while planning the layout. Remember to leave enough room along the edges to wrap it around the cardboard for stapling and make sure there’s enough space between the pockets that little fingers can reach in and pick out the inhabitant.
Once you have your layout just the way you want it, use just enough fabric glue to hold everything on until you can stitch it. Make sure not to glue the middle of the pockets, since they will need to be open. Just add a thin layer of glue along the edge, preferably so close to the edge that you won’t be stitching through it with your blanket stitch, which can be rough when the glue has dried hard. For the center tree picture, you can put the glue a little further in to miss the stitches, but it should be close enough to the edge that you’ll be able to stitch evenly without bunching the flannel.
The stitching is pretty time-consuming, but can be done snuggled on the couch under a blanket watching a movie, which is my favorite kind of crafting! I used fairly deep blanket stitches to hold the pockets on, since I figured they’d get a little wear and tear with little fingers reaching in for their treasures. Just be sure they aren’t so deep that the treasures no longer fit in the pockets! I used medium-length stitches for the tree picture, and tiny stitches for the banner and birds.
Finally, place the entire calendar over your piece of cardboard, cutting the cardboard so that it is large enough to form a background for the pockets and banner, with a little flannel along the edges, but small enough that you can wrap some flannel around it and staple it to the back. My piece of cardboard ended up being about 15″ x 19 1/4″ for my 16 3/4″ x 21″ piece of flannel. When I said in the supply list that I would have used a slightly larger piece of flannel, that was just to I would have a little bit more to wrap around and staple. Though it may hold just fine with the size I have. Here’s what the back looks like:
Step 6. Fill the pockets and enjoy
The pocket inhabitants *should* stick to the wool, but mine aren’t doing it terribly reliably. If I sort of rub them against the picture, they stick a little better. That’s why I decided to make a cardboard back, so that I could lean it back a little, instead of having a wall hanging, which was my original intention.
Here is a picture of the calendar with full pockets:
I have to thank my sweet husband, who spent hours scanning and reconfiguring pdfs, programming code, photographing the steps and keeping the kids busy while I worked. I couldn’t have done it without him!
Enjoy, and please leave a comment if you decide to make one — I’d love to see them!
My sweet little sheep has proven pretty popular, so I thought I’d post a little about how I made him (and his fellow sheep). The body of the sheep is just a simple sheep shape cut out of white felt, along with two white felt ears. I then blanket-stitched him to the background and embroidered his facial features. The blanket-stitching was the most time-consuming part; the easiest was needle-felting a bit of wool onto his body. I got the general idea from this precious book, which has so many inspiring wool felt projects and little bendy dolls (I’ll share some of those in another post). The sheep in this book also has a sleepy little embroidered face, but his fleece is made of french knots rather than wool roving. Honestly, I’ve never been able to master french knots, so I redesigned him a bit (i.e. took the easy way out), and I’m really pleased how he turned out.
Originally, the sheep was meant to decorate a little felt purse from the book, but he was just too charming to only make one. This year we created sets of handmade ornaments for our families, and I couldn’t resist including a little sheep in each set. As with any handmade item, each sheep looked a little different, had a little different charm, and in the end, it seemed almost a shame to separate the flock. But then I thought of each going to hang on the tree of one of my flock, a small bond in a world in which we all live too far apart.
Here they all are, waiting to be packed up and sent off for Christmas. Each one a little gift of heartfelt handmade.