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Springtime Felt Finger Puppets

7 Apr

Felt finger puppet bunny chick pig

I love springtime. I love pastel Easter eggs, bunnies, chicks and little piggies. (Pssst… I love bacon. But don’t tell that to the little pink one on the right. He already looks a little high-strung.)

I also love felt – soft, comforting, colorful felt. I have lots of scraps left over from when I made my daughter a felt “paper” doll set, so when I saw a photo of felt finger puppets in Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt: 25 Whimsical Sewing Projects, I decided to give it a try.

The book has patterns for a little mouse, but I wanted to make Easter-themed felt finger puppets instead. So I did these freestyle. The bunny, pig and chick are three different sizes; all three can fit on either an adult finger or a child one.

Felt finger puppet bunny chick pig

All you need are some felt scraps, embroidery thread and a needle, scissors, and peace and quiet for about 30 minutes. Because that’s about how long it will take you to make one of these little guys, once you get started. I just used a basic running stitch, the whip stitch, and the satin stitch for the eyes, the bunny’s nose, the inside of the pig’s ears and his nostrils. Stitch the face details first – I think freehand stitching makes for a fun and interesting expression – then attach the front and back pieces and whip stitch them together, leaving the bottom open. If your creation has ears, attach them when joining the front and back. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. I vote simple.

(Note: If there’s interest I’ll try to create a basic pattern for these. Just post in the comments if it’s something you would use.)

These would make a cheerful addition to an Easter basket or even a springtime flower arrangement. So hop to it! Felt finger puppet bunny chick pig

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I Spy a Super Quiet Toy

2 Apr

I Spy Bag

Ahhh, do you hear that?

No?

It’s the sound of a child quietly playing with a favorite toy – a toy that doesn’t have flashing lights or music so loud you have to put a piece of tape over it to muffle the sound. That is my kind of toy.

I Spy bag

Don’t get me wrong. I believe a child’s work is to play, and play often and with joy and exuberance. It’s not the child I am hoping to silence, but the toy.

And one of the best quiet toys I’ve found is the I Spy bag. A while back I did a swap with a fellow sewing mom – her son received a crayon roll and my daughter an I Spy bag. This toy has lived in my diaper bag for well over a year and it hasn’t lost its allure. We bring it out at doctor’s appointments, car rides, and cart rides.

I Spy Bags

Recently I bought a new sewing machine (the Brother CS6000i Sew Advance Sew Affordable 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine), which I love so far and would recommend if you are in the market for an inexpensive hobby machine. So I decided to break it in (and end my four-month sewing hiatus/babymoon) by sewing vinyl. Smart, no? I quickly found myself Google-ing “how to sew vinyl without driving yourself to the madhouse and destroying your project” and discovered this tip for sewing with vinyl. Hooray!

Essentially your standard I Spy bag consists of fabric of your choice (fleece from Jo-Ann), a vinyl window (I went with 20 gauge and also found it at Jo-Ann), clear plastic pellets (hmmm… Jo-Ann), and a variety of trinkets to be found among the pellets (fine, Jo-Ann was having its big weekend sale and I went a little overboard). I found a variety of tutorials on the bags using both cotton and fleece and tried it both ways. I found the fleece easier to work with since there aren’t fraying edges to contend with.

I Spy Bags

Here’s my ultra-basic tutorial sans photos. Use your imagination!
1. Cut two matching pieces from your fabric. Mine were around 6″ by 8″ to give myself some room to mess up pink the edges.
2. Trace a shape in the middle of one of your pieces and cut it out. This will be your window. It can be any shape but let’s face it, rectangles are far easier to sew around than circles.
3. Cut a piece of vinyl (larger than your window with at least an inch to spare around each side) and, using the tip above for sewing vinyl OR a teflon foot, attach the vinyl to the fleece. Be careful with your stitching – you do not want to end up with a bazillion poly pellets buried in your carpet or scattered across the floor at Costco. I double stitched for added security.
4. Cut the excess vinyl.
5. Place the two pieces of fabric wrong sides together and stitch around three sides. Fill partially with pellets and trinkets, sew the fourth side together. Don’t stuff it with too many pellets or it will be difficult to find the trinkets. At this point I added a second row of stitching around the first one, and used pinking shears to pretty it up.

These would be a fun addition to Easter baskets, don’t you think?

I spy bag

I Spy bag

Make it in an Hour: Tutu Tutorials

15 Oct
Tutu tutorial

Halloween 2009

We’ve been sorting through our closets this week, and one of the things I dug out was the shoes I wore at our wedding. I’ve been holding on to them for 4 1/2 years now, for no good reason really. They don’t go with jeans and they’re a little too dressy for dinner at Jalapenos.

I handed them to Kaitlyn and told her she could keep them. Her eyes widened and she said, “Oh THANK YOU Mommy, THANK YOU!” She immediately put them on and starting shuffling around the house. On a whim, I dug out the tutu I made for her last Halloween. Honestly, this was such a hit I should have just put it all in a box and given it to her for Christmas. She wears it up until bath time and pulls it on first thing in the morning.

Toddler tutu tutorial

You can find hundreds of tutus for sale on Etsy or at boutique shops for $20 and up, but I’m here to tell you that this is a project you can – and should – do yourself! Once you have your supplies you should be able to bust one out within an hour. The longest part of the process is cutting the tulle. I was being super thrifty last year so I bought tulle off the bolt, which meant I had to cut it in width and length. If you’re wanting to make a tutu in specific colors, for example black and orange for Halloween or red and green for Christmas, this may be your only option. But a much faster way is to buy the spools of tutu they sell in craft stores, generally in the wedding section, for about $2.99 a spool. Look for these on sale or use a coupon. You’ll need three or four, and a package of 1/2 inch elastic (I like the ribbed non-roll elastic). (You can also find tulle on the spool from online shops, and even on Etsy, with a little searching.)

Now for the tutorials. They are all very similar, so pick one that speaks to you.
Tutu Tutorial
How to Make a Tutu
Tutu Tutorial Time

All right folks. I’m off to look at last year’s Halloween pictures some more and reminisce. Sniff, sniff. They grow up so fast. Let them be princesses/ballerinas/fairies for as long as they want.

More Fun with Felt: Flannel Board Doll Set

12 Oct

As promised, here’s another fun felt gift idea for the toddler in your life.

Flannel board doll set felt

It’s a felt doll set in its own travel carry case!

I would have loved this as a kid. Actually, when I was taking pictures, I wanted to keep dressing up the dolls in all the outfit variations. So I guess sometimes you just don’t grow out of that sort of thing.

I purchased this dress up felt doll pattern on Etsy – it was well worth it! The seller e-mailed me the pattern within a few hours of payment and I printed it out on cardstock and got to work.

The pattern includes one 7 1/2 inch doll (with her own little doll), four hairstyles, 12 items of clothing and four pairs of shoes.

Felt doll set

Felt doll set

Honestly, I probably could have kept going. I did at least one of each item, and a couple extra. I cut two of the 7 1/2 inch doll so Kaitlyn can play with me a friend. I was really enjoying working with the sheets of high-quality, wool-blend felt I purchased at a local quilting shop. I highly recommend using the pricier felt for this project. I cut a dress and shirt out of the less-expensive Eco-Fi felt I had on-hand from Jo-Ann, and those pieces stretch, pull and just generally look cheap. The wool blend looks durable and doesn’t stretch. With all the handling I’m hoping this set gets, I’d rather have something that will last.

I used fabric paint to add very basic eyes and a mouth. I didn’t want to get too carried away decorating the clothes – I love the simplicity of the felt and the dolls. I couldn’t resist, however, adding little pink ears and a nose to the bunny slippers.

I originally planned to make Kaitlyn a full-size flannel board, but then I realized how nice it would be for this to be a portable set. This way, we can bring it on car trips or to the doctor’s office, and when I’m nursing the baby she can play with it quietly on the sofa next to us.

A lot of the travel flannel boards I found online rolled up, which is a nice design too, but I wanted it to have handles and a place to keep the dolls and their accessories. So I drafted up a pattern for this travel case. It has batting to add a bit of thickness without being firm, and pale blue flannel on the playing surface. There is a velcro pocket on the outside to store the dolls, and a small velcro closure to close the case itself. Little handles make it easy for a toddler to carry around.

The seller of the e-pattern, luckypennymake, is generous enough to allow me to sell items created from her pattern. If you’re interested in ordering a set of these felt dolls with or without a travel carry case, let me know! Your set would include two 7 1/2 inch dolls plus the full set of clothing and hairstyles, unembellished and unpainted, for $20 (including shipping); $35 including the travel flannel case (I’ll send you fabric options to choose from). I can also do the dolls in a variety of skin tones. Contact me at karen@domesticatedmama.com.

Of course you can also purchase the pattern and the felt yourself, and make your own version. Either way, your little one is bound to have hours of fun with this set!

Simple Trick or Treat Bag

1 Oct

Halloween trick or treat bag

During one of our many recent trips to Jo-Ann, my daughter picked out this Tossed Pumpkins fabric for a trick-or-treat bag. While the name doesn’t do anything for me, except reminding me of Halloween when I was a kid and ate so much candy I thought I might toss my pumpkins, I picked up half a yard on sale and got to work using this Classic Tote Tutorial from Sew Mama Sew as a guide. The nice thing about this tutorial is that it uses French seams to avoid the necessity of a lining, and it’s fast.

French seam sewing

French seam

Boxed bottom bag

Boxed bottom

I made a few variations on the pattern: Instead of home decor fabric, I used a standard woven cotton; I cut my working bag pieces to be 12 inches by 12 inches; and I didn’t include a pocket. I made the straps shorter and wider – the perfect size for toddler hands to be able to hang on to comfortably and protect that stash from hungry Moms and Dads candy thieves.

Trick or treat bag

This project took less than an hour from start to finish, not including prewashing and drying the fabric.

Oh, who am I kidding. Sometimes I still eat so much candy I think I’m going to toss my pumpkins.

Trick or treat bag

Toddler Costume: Clifford the Big Red Dog

29 Sep

Clifford costume toddler
When our daughter told me she wanted to be a red dog for Halloween, I immediately started searching online for Clifford costumes. Most were in the $25 to $35 price range. I knew I could do better.

First I started looking for basics – perhaps a plain red long-sleeved t-shirt and pants, or even a footed sleeper. Then I remembered the pile of red fleece I had left over from another project. Bingo! I took a sample to Jo-Ann to find the same bolt, and bought another yard for a few dollars. I also picked up this See & Sew pattern for a pajama top and bottoms. I was a little nervous – I’ve never successfully sewn a top before. But fleece is so inexpensive (and so forgiving) that I figured it was as good a time as any.

All together, I spent (approximately):
$4.50 on 1 yard of fleece (with some left over)
$2.99 for the See & Sew pattern
$3 for a four-pack of headbands
$1 for black face paint (for the nose)
Total = $11.49

And from my own supplies, I used:
Around 1/2 yard fleece
Red velcro
Batting
Thread
Small strip black felt

I made some minor alterations to the pattern, skipping the bias tape around the neck and the trim at the bottom of the pants and shirt. Because fleece doesn’t fray, theoretically I could have left these seams unfinished, but they were driving me crazy so I chose not to. And because it was my first real attempt using a pattern, I tried it on Kaitlyn multiple times during the process to make sure everything was going to fit. (It did, although I ended up adding a few inches of fleece to the bottom of the shirt for my long-waisted girl.)

Clifford costume toddler sew

For the tail, I cut two curved shapes out of fleece, sewed them together and turned them right-side out. I stuffed it with batting and sewed the end shut, adding a strip of velcro. I added another small piece of velcro to the back of the pants to attach the tail, thinking that after Halloween I can rip out the velcro on the pants and she can wear them as snuggly house pants this winter.

Sew a Clifford costume toddler

I covered a headband in a scrap of fleece, hand-sewing around the edges. I cut four pieces of fleece for the ears and sewed them the same way as the tail, but without adding batting. Then I hand-stitched them onto the fleece headband. I added a black felt collar, also fastened with velcro.

On Halloween night, all this little puppy needs is a little black nose and she’s ready to go!

Sew Clifford costume toddler

Felt Birthday Crown

27 Sep

felt crown birthday

Kaitlyn’s birthday isn’t for three months, but as soon as I saw this felt birthday crown tutorial I knew I had to give it a try.

The crown in the tutorial uses 100 percent wool felt, which I’ve never worked with or purchased, so I started researching the difference between wool felt, wool blend, Eco-Fi and acrylic. For a while there I had a week’s worth of grocery money dedicated to some beautiful pure wool felt on Etsy, but then I came to my senses.

felt toddler crown

I ended up buying 1/4 yard each of four colors of Eco-Fi felt from our local Jo-Ann, and because it was on sale, my cost for felt before taxes was only $3! I also bought some fusible interfacing and a spool of metallic thread. I used some buttons I found in my sewing box and scrap fabric for the elastic band that goes around the back.

felt crown princess toddler

While I think the wool felt would have made a beautiful crown, I’m happy enough with the result using the Eco-Fi.

felt crown

(Aside from a very, very crooked hand-stitched “K,” which has nothing to do with the felt and everything to do with me.) I can’t wait to see this pretty pink princess crown on my daughter in a few months. In the meantime, I may start wearing it around the house when she’s at preschool.

More fun with felt:
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